Please pass on the plastic

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#34-Non- Stick is Sticky Issue July 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 12:21 pm
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Many people still haven’t gotten the message about the chemical that makes non-stick pans work, so it’s worth repeating. The manufacturers of non-stick cookware have all agreed to voluntarily phase out 95 percent of perflurooctanoic acid, or “PFOA,” by 2010. That’s because the chemical has been associated with increased rates of several types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic and testicular. (The evidence must be pretty strong for companies to stop selling popular products!) PFOA is also used to make fabrics and carpets stain-resistant, and is a common ingredient in cleaning products, shoes and cosmetics. But it’s the high heat that apparently makes it really dangerous. Cast iron or stainless steel pans are great for cooking, and a thin pat of butter will improve flavor while keeping most food from sticking.Long Island Press, 35 (plus 20) Green Ways We Can Save Your Money, Your World and Your Life

PFOA is used in many household products, including cookware, carpets (Stainmaster carpet treatment), draperies, pillows, adhesive tape, clothing, and food packaging (from microwave popcorn bags to pizza box liners). It makes sense to eliminate PFOA’s in as many areas of our lives as possible. (in the last couple of years we’ve eliminated all microwave popcorn–just the thought of the steam that comes out of that bag being laden with PFOA’s………., we’ve switched to stainless steel cookware, and I don’t treat our carpets and furniture with stainmaster).

According to SlashFood, here are some great alternatives to non-stick cookware:

  • Hard Anodized Aluminum – This finish is produced by exposing aluminum to an electrochemical bath. The anodization process hardens the surface of aluminum cookware making it non-stick, scratch-resistant and easy to clean. Unlike uncoated aluminum, it does not react to acidic foods. With no chemicals lingering on its surface, this is a great choice to replace chemically treated nonstick cookware.
  • Copper – An excellent conductor of heat, copper cookware looks beautiful as well as cooks beautifully. It must be lined with aluminum or stainless steel, however, as soft copper is easily dissolved by foods.
  • Stainless Steel – Made from iron and a combination of other metals, stainless steel is durable and non-corrosive. Cookware made from stainless steel will often have a copper or aluminum bottom, which will conduct heat much more evenly than the steel alone.
  • Cast Iron – Not only does cast iron provide reliable and sturdy cookware great for frying, it will add some of the important mineral iron to every dish cooked in it. Iron can rust, however, and must be sealed (seasoned) with oil or fat before use.
  • Enamel and Ceramic – These finishes are found on iron and steel cookware, making them scratch resistant as well as colorful. Otherwise, they have similar properties to their base materials.

According to the green guide, a trusted green health website, if you are not ready to get rid of your non-stick pans, here are some things to consider:

  • do not put pans on high heat (extreme heat)
  • place foods in pans before you turn on heat
  • avoid scratches and dents
  • do not use for broiling

It’s widely known — and perhaps it’s time for a refresher course — that overheating nonstick pots and pans may release fumes and produce symptoms called polymer fume fever. Humans get temporary flu-like symptoms, but birds have sensitive respiratory systems and can die. In fact, birds are sensitive to odors in general — they don’t have to come from nonstick pots. Birds should be kept away from kitchens and cleaning products.

My favorite pans to use are LE Creuset, but they are pricey. Over time it is worth phasing out your non-stick pans and replacing with alternatives. In the meantime, NO microwave popcorn!


#33–Green Cleaning (peace of mind included!) July 11, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 6:06 pm
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5 years ago we started using green cleaning supplies and I haven’t looked back since. There are so many effective green products out there and if you buy truly green you don’t have to worry about any negative side effects that go along with conventional cleaners.

The main issue with regular cleaners is that they contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds–in this case organic is not a good thing. VOC’s are petrochemicals that give off gases at room temperature which is a horrible thing for your health as well as the environment.

Ingredients to avoid (I hate to waste stuff but if you have these in your house now, they are really worth getting rid of. For responsible dumping please, please read following link on hazardous waste disposal. Every town as a HazMat waste site–our towns is every sunday at a local dump site, dumping down drain can cause issue with water supply and also clog sewers. HazMAt sites also collect paints, TV’s, computers, etc…so you could bring a whole collection and really clean up!)

  • chlorine bleach–toxic, corrosive, carcinogenic, irritant, possible neurological and reproductive damage–I could keep going…….when chlorine combines with ammonia-containing cleaners the gas it releases is highly toxic.
  • phosphates–added to dish and laundry soap to increase sud action, suspected carcinogen and not biodegradable
  • 2-butoxyethanol (glycol ether)–in window and floor cleaners, a strong pine and citrus smell-classified as a hazardous air pollutant yet somehow still found in many cleaners, causes lung irritation, dizziness, headache, liver damage
  • APE’s (alkylphenol ethoxylates)–used for stain removal, hormone disruptor.

A lot of typical cleaners claim, “all natural” biodegradable” or “green” b/c they add in some essentials oils……DO NOT fall for these labels. windex, chlorine bleach, Mr. Clean, Fantastic–these are NOT healthy products and there are so many perfectly good alternatives. Here are a few of my favorites……

  • Seventh generation–Whole Foods, local health stores and even some regular supermarkets. I order in bulk from this site, prices are great and so nice to keep extra dish detergent, laundry, glass cleaner, all-purpose, toilet bowl cleaner in the house
  • Method–great scents, everything from baby shampoos to all-purpose wipes, to glass cleaner and stainelss steel cleaner. Target also sells this line.
  •–great dishwashing products, a great collection of all types of cleaners, available at local health foods stores and on the website, and at (discounted!)
  • Mrs–cleaning supplies for every household task, at health food stores and some supermarkets
  • Orange Glo–
  • Citrus Magic 5 in 1–

I love that many of these companies use recycled plastic containers. With these cleaners, a little goes a long way. I dilute mine for floors and bathrooms (ok, well the cleaning lady dilutes them) and they last forever. I know you will love them and you will feel so,so,so good about what you are doing for your health, the kids’ health (not challenging their immune systems with toxic chemicals at such a young age) and what you are doing for the water supply and ultimately the planet.

Oh, and one other perk, I let our kids clean the windows b/c non-toxic = no worries, and we always have a sparkling kitchen window! (and it takes up a good 1/2 an hour while they do it.)

Here’s to breathing free and easy……….


#32- A Messy Garbage Situation in the UK July 10, 2008

Filed under: no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 2:27 am
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In the NY times a couple of weekends ago, there was a disturbing/enlightening/messy/ article about garbage pick up and disposal in the UK. The UK is running out of landfill space………therefore, drastic measures have been taken to force people to stop buying and throwing away so much stuff.

In summary, in many provences in the UK homeowners receive garbage pick up 2x a month. (A MONTH!!!) They are allowed, at each pick up, to have a full bin (regualr sized garbage pail) filled exactly to the brim. If the lid is left open at all the waste company will not pick up the extra garbage. There are “garbage police” giving out tickets and fines for people who are repeat offenders. This is causing major chaos throughout the countryside. There is a wave of trash burning, bin stealing, and illegal garbage dumping like never before. The grabage stinks and people are worried it will cause health problems sitting around for two weeks at a time. This is the disturbing /messy piece of the situation.

The enlightening part is that there are major changes being made. People are buying less, and what they do buy they are trying to buy in recycled products or in packaging that can be easily crushed and flattened. This in turn is forcing manufacturers to produce products with less packaging and less waste.

I day dream of the scenario in which people stop buying plastic…….. no more Dora the Explorer color -coded play refrigerators being purchased (for real, I saw one being thrown away when I took a walk the other day. It was huge!!) b/c there will be no way to EVER get rid of it. And forget those Burger King Sponge Bob toys–if you buy it, you do so knowing you will have to live with it FOREVER!!!!! Whose going to subject themselves to that??

It is helpful to me, when I read an article of this magnitude, to realize that this plastic garbage situation is not all in my head AND we can ALL really do something about it. Think about every single thing you throw away for a week, really keep track. You will be amazed at how much you produce and hopefully by how much you can change: buy less junk, recycled products=good, buy less junk, compost (it makes a big difference), give hand -me- downs to salvation army, buy less junk, re-use everything!, teach your kids to use less (ex, water down the apple juice container, buy a used tennis racquet, grow a vegetable garden). There are so many different ways we each make a difference.

In case my not-so-subtle brainwashing didn’t work, one of the key factors in less waste is buying less stuff. Something to think about……….