Please pass on the plastic

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Get Rid of ALL Those Chemicals Now October 19, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,healthy school — michelleodonoghue @ 2:00 am

Today the Wall Street Journal reported that governments around the world are calling for consumer product companies to reveal the lists of  chemicals that exist in their product. That’s huge—but, and its a big but—this is not mandatory yet and since it’s taken years for the people at the top to ask for this type of information–it’s going to take years for it to become public info.

What to do?  I started eliminating chemicals from our family’s everyday living 10 years ago, one product at a time. It is not only possible, but relatively easy at this point to dramatically reduce everyday exposures at home, the office, and possibly even the kids’ school.

AT HOME:  (these are not in any particular order and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, are ALL extremely important in reducing chemical exposure)

use green cleaning supplies–it is not an option to do otherwise, its a must-do for the health of your family’s lungs and brain cells. the green products out there are so capable. list to follow soon on my favorites.

–use no-VOC paint. 10 years ago there was only low-VOC, today there is no-VOC. Again, this is a must

NO Pesticides on your lawn. They do make their way into your home and the water supply.

Organic / natural skincare, shampoo/lotions/ make-up. Again–a must. Your skin absorbs everything you put onto it. it has been proven several times over that a women who is getting ready for her day, puts on more than 100 chemicals before breakfast. Eliminate parabens and sulfates and you are eliminating a huge intake of chemicals.

use house plants throughout the house–the bigger the better! they absorb the chemicals that may exist. plese check for poisonous plants as I am not familiar with these.

ONLY BUY ORGANIC MATTRESSES. that way you are not breathing in flame retardents all night long. especially important for babies and children.

organic fruit and vegetables are a must. (and hormone free meat and dairy)

no microwave popcorn and no teflon. they are both coated with chemicals that are terrible for us.


–again, set up some plants

NO plastic water bottles, both the single use and the 5 gallon containers are laden with chemicals.

–choose organic meals whenever possible

–do NOT USE ANY STYROFOAM–ever!!!!!!

only use green dry cleaners–the perc that is used in conventional dry cleaners is toxic


no idling bus policy: many school districts are adopting a no-idle policy. If yours has not done so yet, encourage the supervisor to make this a priority. Diesel fumes get into the buses and the children ride to and from school surrounded by the cancerous fumes.

encourage school to use green products. it is NOT more expensive and makes a huge difference as children tend to have their hands in their mouth all day and easily absorb the residue from the cleaners.

a large entryway carpet encourages children to brush their shoes off when they enter the building, which eliminated a lot of dirt and pesticides and chemicals from entering the classroom, where young children lay on the floor and play with toys.

no pesticides on the fields. and NO TURF! standard turf is made from recycled tires, which are hazmat–every footstep sends up loads of toxic dust into children’s lungs. there are other green turf options. After children play gym/ sports they must, must, must wash hands before eating, so that most chemicals are off hands before ingesting food. also wash cuts well.

MY favorite organization in the world, paving the way for all of us in this chemical-free movement, is grassroots environmental education. They have kits you can order for minimal amt (i think $15) that coach parents and educators on how to go chemical free at school. Their site is filled with the most pressing, relevant, cutting edge research out there and makes this mission to go chemical-free very do-able.

During the last 3 years I have touched upon alternatives for all the things mentioned above, so peruse blog for more detail, or comment, or do a little research. the info is out there and its up to the consumer to make these changes happen NOW.

more to come……


We’re All In This Together February 7, 2010

A friend recently said to me, as I was rattling on and on about the importance of eliminating chemicals from our lives, that we are each entitled to our own opinion. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that so I took it as a subtle way of disagreeing with me…

In regards to politics, sushi, or a favorite form of exercise,  a different opinion than me would be ok. But, this topic—–eliminating chemicals from our lives—it’s not OK. We are all in this together. It does matter first and foremost to rid your own  home and school of toxins. But, unless all of us take / make great efforts to denounce  the 80,000 chemicals that contaminate our lives, we are all going to suffer the lousy consequences of toxins polluting our bodies.  If I stop using pesticides on my lawn but none of my neighbors do,  the water supply will stay contaminated. If I demand that diesel buses stop idling, but no other parents do, than all of our children will inhale the carcinogenic fumes. If I insist that only organic cleaning supplies enter my house but none of my relatives and neighbors join in, then toxic agents will still pervade. If I stop using plastic shower curtains but our friends don’t, then 38 poisonous chemical fumes will enter my bloodstream every time I hang out for a cup of coffee.

On that note—the one where we ALL do something– please take 3 minutes to watch this incredible video. There is a way to rid our homes/ schools/ workplaces of chemicals. It’s not complicated and the benefits are astounding for our health.  The ripple effect is truly amazing…..

Here’s to each of us having our own opinion, except for when it comes to chemicals 🙂


A smashing plastic bottle success story in 2009 January 4, 2010

an update on the pledge we (Walrath family of 6) took in Oct. 2009 to never drink from a plastic bottle again……

With the exception of one water bottle at a high school football game, WE DID IT!!!!!!  We travelled 8 out of the 10 weekends, attended countless ice hockey games, a karate tournament, a road trip, and we drank only one plastic bottle of water.

I am bragging, I have every right to do so, but mostly my point is that this is possible. We did it by planning a little bit more (fridge always stacked with stainless steel bottles or my favorite, glass aquasana bottles) and every once in a while we suffered a little bit and felt reeeally thirsty (that only happens once or twice until we remembered to never leave home without water) and we occasionally bought a glass bottle of ice tea or juice BUT overall, we just did it.

I enter 2010 so relieved that this doesn’t even have to be a part of my new year’s resolutions. Our family is done with the plastic bottle for good!


#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……….


#29- Gorgeously Green June 21, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 5:13 pm

One of my favorite new books is Gorgeously Green, by Sophie Uliano. In a really saavy, amusing, light hearted way, the author provides so many great tips for going green in all areas of our life. She provides so many resources and substitutes for eliminating toxic chemicals from our lives. From beauty regimes to cleaning, from our kitchens to decorating the house, she is full of great ideas and resources. If you are looking for a fresh way to start the summer GREEN this a great book to do it with.

Some examples of her life-changing tips:

  • Fill your bed rooms with as many household plants as you can (they eliminate household toxins, especially formaldehyde–a cancer causing substance found in everything from personal care products to no-iron clothes and particle board.
  • Close the loop (my new favorite expression)–buy recycled products–website addresses for tons of choices
  • thestarfishproject–what to do with unused medicines, antibiotics–they should NEVER go in regular waste as they contaminate our water supply.
  • great, easy recipes so we can avoid take-out food and live healthier overall. this is a HUGE step in eliminating plastic, home cooked meals (especially using local, farm stand goods) reduce so much waste. in our house i keep a handful of frozen and pantry foods that are easy to concoct into anything so we rarely have to order take out. (pasta, frozen vegetables, frozen burrito’s (Amy’s kitchen–delicious), rice and beans, ravioli. )
  • incredible resource for homemade gifts, creative, plastic-free giving ex., an adopt an animal site, in which the receiver gets an adoption certificate and a framed photograph of her animal. we’ve done this through World Wildlife Foundation as well (you get a stuffed animal as part of the adoption) and our friends have loved getting this gift.

There are so many inspiring way to go green. Everyone can be a part of this in their own unique way. It just seems like now is the time to start doing as mucha s poss


#25–LUCKY LUNCH BOXES May 16, 2008

I’m writing now, so you have ALL summer to think about plastic-freeing your kids’ (and maybe even your own) lunch box……..
It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school. (laptop lunches)

Laptop Lunches are American-style bento boxes designed to help families pack nutritious, environment-friendly lunches for school, work, and travel. Our sustainable lunch containers–which come with a book of healthy lunch ideas and lunchmaking recipes–are reusable, recyclable, and dishwasher safe. Our lunchboxes do not contain phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), or lead.

Another very inspiring site,

Waste free lunches encourage the following :

  • cloth napkins
  • reusable lunch box
  • reusable lunch mat (wrap-n-mat has a great one.) sandwhich and place mat in one
  • reusable juice container (stainless steel)
  • stainless steel silverware

This can be instituted as a whole school policy. Many schools across the country are starting up these programs, led by parents who are trying to do their part. I know I’ve found it easier to be green when I know others are a part of it. Its inspiring when you now an entire cafeteria has switched to the green ideas, no more plastic, no more disposable water bottles, cloth napkins, etc… the impact is then HUGE! In our school cafeteria we started off slowly, first by eliminating styrofoam (so,so,so important), having a water dispenser (as opposed to water bottles) and using real silverware. Its amazing how much garbage we reduce by taking these steps.

I have a good friend who did a calculation on how long it would take a schools’ usage of juice boxes (530 kids in the school) to reach the top of the empire state building. A year? Half a year? A month? answer: A week! that is crazy. And to top it off, juice boxes aren’t recyclable b/c the cardboard is lined with foil. It can’t be separated in the recycling process. That is just one little school, in one little town, in one little place on earth. We’ve got to cut down on our waste.

great sites:

  •– great lunch boxes, a really functional stainless steel container for hot and cold foos (made in safe factory, BPA free, lead free) I’m ordering onenow so you can check back with me to find out if its as good as it sounds.
  • wrap-n-mat–perfect way to store any knd of sandwiches (including bagels–favorite in our house) and/or snack
  • bento boxes–all of the ablove sold at (best prices) or at the individual sites

#24-some questions answered May 14, 2008

1.) What to do with all the plastic containers / toys?

re-use is great: art containers, garage organization, think of this as a one time cleaning out b/c you will not be buying this plastic again. Donate well organized toys to hospitals, big brother, big sister, salvation army. consignment stores…….the hardest thing for us with plastic toys is keeping them in good shape and all the pieces together, but as I’ve become focused on keeping plastic out of land fills, we’ve started to take good care of our plastic. The main ideas here: REDUCE plastic usage in your life, especially the harmful kind, REDUCE the amount of plastic we are purchasing in this world, REDUCE our impact on the earth!

2.) safe, re-usable sippy, travel cups:

this is a tricky one b/c the cost of the cups are high and the chances of losing the cups are high. from experience with my SIGG bottles I can say this–we are much more careful when we travel with these bottles to make sure that they make it home with us. We’ve held onto our SIGG’s since september and each kid does travel around with their own. Maybe its worth saving a few of the old sippy cups just for travelling around (not the purest plastic-free idea!)

Some Good Alternatives to plastic:

  • SIGG
  • Kleen Kanteen
  • Born Free
  •–3-in-1 bottle/cup that grows with your child, BPA, toxin-free
  • Target-stainless steel sippy cups

3.) Does plastic in your filtration system have the same negative impact as plastic water bottles?

I’m not an expert but from the reading I’ve done it seems the biggest plastic leeching problems are when the water sits in the containers (5 gallon water dispenser jugs) or the plastic gets re-used (deteriorates in dishwashers) over and over. I don’t think water passing by a plastic filtration piece should pose a problem.


4.) Frozen foods in plastic and heating these foods in microwave?

Ughhhhhhhhh……………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (not sure the best way to write that reaction but you get the point) Heat and plastic DO NOT mix!!

5.) Storing foods in plastic bags in freezer?

The worst foods to store in plastic are acidic (i.e., tomato sauce) and fatty (chicken soup) as those types of food break down the plastic. Plastic bags do not contain the BPA (known endocrine disruptor) so less harmful than hard plastics. Do not thaw frozen bags in microwave. Since the idea is to start getting away from wasteful plastic, eliminating plastic bags and using alternatives is a good idea. (glass, ceramic, stainless steel). Glass does have chance of cracking, ok if only filled 2/3rd’s of way.

6.) Do you use a carbon filter for your tap?

I use a Hague whole house filtration system. I am thrilled with the taste and purity of our water. chlorine eliminated as well as pesticides, metals, iron. A whole house system covers every faucet in the house, including showers and baths, which is where most of our chlorine intake comes from. downside, its expensive, but it is a one-time purchase for your home and save lots on not buying bottled water.