Fabulous #EcoWed Twitter Party – Cooking with Kids & Family Meals

We’ve got a fabulous #ecowed Twitter party lined up for Wednesday, February 23, 2011 from 7 to 8 pm Pacific (that’s 10 to 11 for you Eastern peeps). EcoMom is sponsoring the party, and we will be talking about cooking with the kids and family meals. Our wonderful guest expert will be Diana Stobo, author of Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down  (if you click the link and buy the book, I will get like $0.00025 or something like that from Amazon).

Diana is a raw foods enthusiast, award winning author, educator and motivational speaker. She uses her personal health struggles to help people live a life of health, vibrance and beauty. Her non-judgmental and honest approach to incorporating more unprocessed food into the diet is designed to help you Get Naked Fast.

I’m excited for this party. I am in the process of planting my rooftop container garden, and I really, really want to incorporate more interesting foods into my diet. I’m planting them, and now I want to focus on how to use them in a way that will make my kids happy.

So, get ready to party, Twitter style. Get your questions ready for Diana, and make sure to follow her on Twitter as DianaStoboLive. Also follow our fabulous sponsor, EcoMom on Twitter as @ecomom.  

If you aren’t familiar with EcoMom, then you MUST go check out the website. EcoMom has everything a green mama could want, and then some. Really – go check it out. And also check out the EcoMom blog.

And of course, we’ve got prizes from our sponsor, EcoMom. We’ve got three $20 gift certificates that can be used at the wonderful Ecomom website, and the grand prize is one heart shaped bamboo spoon (cutest thing EVER); Endurance heart shaped measuring spoons – set of 4; and a Love Reusable Stash It Bag. Now that is a great grand prize!

To be eligible to win, you must leave a comment below – any question you have about family meals, making foods kids friendly or going naked (raw, that is) and participate at least once during the Twitter party on 2/23/11 from 7 to 8 pm Pacific using the #ecowed hashtag.

#Ecowed Twitter Party – Staying Healthy Naturally

This week’s #ecowed Twitter party is right on topic for this time of year – EcoMom Healthy Prevention and Remedies for the New Year with Dr. Alan Greene. As the title and topic suggest, this week’s #ecowed is sponsored by EcoMom, and our guest expert will be the fabulous Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician, father of four, and author of Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyondand Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care. Dr. Greene has a plethora of awards and media appearances, including an upcoming appearance on Dr. Oz.

If you aren’t familiar with EcoMom.com, you should be. EcoMom makes healthy living happen. As I always say, healthy living doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. Small steps matter and do make a big difference. EcoMom was founded to address the connection betweeen the health of our environment and the health of our children. EcoMom is committeed to making eco-conscious living easy and affordable. Plus, EcoMom has tips, tricks and information to make your healthy living easy.

So, this week’s #ecowed Twitter party will focus on health and wellness remedies and prevention for the whole family. EcoMom and Dr. Greene will gives us tips and tools to stay healthy more naturally. Get ready to ask your questions this Wednesday, January 19, 2011, from 7 to 8 pm Pacific. Just tweet with the #ecowed hashtag, and make sure to follow EcoMom (@ecomom) and EcoMomKimberly (@ecomomkimberly) as well as DrGreene (@drgreene) and me of course, TheSmartMama (@thesmartmama).

We have some fabulous prizes. To win, you must RSVP to the party by leaving a comment below – ask Dr. Greene or EcoMom a question, give a tip of staying healthy naturally, tell me something you love about ecomom.com, or just tell us you plan to join the party – and you must be present during the #ecowed party and use the #ecowed hashtag. Don’t forget – the party is from 7 to 8 pm Pacific on Wednesday, January 19.

The prizes are:

  1. Episenscial Soothing Cream (1 oz) (a $10 value);
  2. 1 bottle of SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins (a $24 value);
  3. 1 original and 1 orange and vanilla 1 oz Clean Well Spray; and
  4. a Grand Prize of Nature’s Artifacts Salt Inhaler (a $40 value) and a $25 gift certificate to EcoMom.com.

Tweet with you Wednesday, January 19, 2011! A link to the party’s tweetgrid will be tweeted at the beginning of the party.

Disclosure – If you didn’t figure it out, by having a sponsored party, EcoMom is providing me with compensation for hosting the party.

The Smart Mama on CBS’ The Talk

So, accordingy to my sister, I finally made it. I appeared on CBS’ The Talk on January 4, 2011. Woot!

I was so excited to be asked to give some tips for going non toxic at home on CBS’ The Talk. I had the pleasure of being on camera with fellow green mama Sara Gilbert, the amazing Julie Chen, and the tireless and formidable advocate Holly Robinson Peete. So check it out my segment on Tips for a Non Toxic Home (okay, and I’m having a fabulous hair day)

I also got to talk briefly off camera to Sharon Osbourne about, of all things, the presence of hormone disrupting phthalates in conventional air fresheners. 

Just ahead of my segment was Dr. Jay Gordon. He talked broadly about the potentially toxic chemical soup facing children today. I urge you to check out his segment on Poisons and Your Kids too.

Book Review: 48 Things To Know About Sustainable Living by Victoria Klein

When Hachette Book Group published my book, Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure, I participated in a course with Blog Book Tours and really learned a lot. But a lot of the books were fiction, so I couldn’t help out many of my fellow authors. So I’m thrilled to be able to tell you about a fellow BBTer, Victoria Klein, who just released 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living (Good Things to Know).

48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living (Good Things to Know) is a fun book, filled with easy ideas for sustainable living. From the beginning, Victoria reminds us about the difference between a want and a need, and how living sustainably mostly involves making do with what you got.

I appreciate that Victoria admits she used to be an avid shopper, and ran up credit card debt in pursuit of pleasing the shopping gods. It makes the rest of the book seem more real – if she can do it, then anybody can do it.

The book isn’t preachy or bogged down in technical details. For example, in the section on green cleaning, there is encouragement to make your own clearners, but simply resouces to find out the recipes. And while she recommends several green cleaning lines, she doesn’t take the time to analyze the “greenness” of the various lines.

The book is an easy read. It really makes living sustainable seem attainable for all of us.

Now, if you are already living pretty green, some of the ideas may not be new to you. But, even in the short chapters that tackle topics with which you may be familiar, nuggets of wisdom exist. And, Victoria has provided lots of resources (although I’m sad to say my website and book are mentioned).

There are some minor quibbles. In the section on sex toys, Victoria mentions that most sex toys are made of phthalates. It is more accurate to state that most sex toys are made of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) and that PVC is usually softened with certain phthalates, so most sex toys may have phthalates present. But, in that same chapter, I was surprised to learn that there is a way to recycle sex toys. The book references the Sex Toy Recycling Program at  recyclemysextoy.com which doesn’t work, but I did find SexToyRecycling. Who knew?

And, if you are looking to green your sex toys, several resources are given. However, a big player in the mommy blogger world was left off – Eden Fantasys.

The book would make a fab present this holiday season –  perhaps a hostess gift or teacher gift?

#Ecowed Twitter Party – Method’s New Antibacterial Cleaning Products

Do you think that bleach is necessary to kill germs in your house?

Do you want to cheat on your bleach but are worried that surfaces just won’t be clean enough without it?

Are you tired of making your own cleaners but don’t want to buy conventional cleaners because they can contain nasty chemicals?

Well, come learn about Method’s new line of anti-bacterial cleaners during this Wednesday’s #ecowed Twitter party. The party is sponsored by Method, and we will be talking about Method’s line of botanical based antibacterial cleaners. These products use thymol as the active ingredient to disinfect.

The #ecowed party is November 17, 2010 from 7 to 8 pm Pacific. You  just need to tweet with the #ecowed hashtag during they party and follow me, TheSmartMama, and our sponsor, MethodHome.

Now, I have to admit, the cleaners aren’t perfect in terms of ingredients from a green perspective. For example, the Method Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner has thyme oil, oregano oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, citric acid, copper sulfate pentahydrate (< 15 ppm Cu++), a fragrance oil blend, and water. Now, the sodium lauryl sulfate may be of concern to some. But, this isn’t sodium laureth sulfate, which can be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane. No, this is sodium lauryl sulfate which has a reputation for being a carcinogen. But, there is no evidence that SLS is a carcinogen. In fant, that story persists online despite the complete lack of scientific support. SLS can, however, be an irritant in beauty products, but that usually isn’t a concern when it is used in cleaning products. Of more concern is that SLS is synthesized by reacting lauryl alcohol with sulfuric acid, and the lauryl alcohol usually comes from coconut or palm kernel oil. Since palm oil raises concerns about deforestation, Method only works with suppliers taht are part of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and is also working to develop a sustainable American source of palm oil. As for the fragrance oil blend, it is a combination of synthetic and essential oils. Synthetic oils can be problemmatic, and are derived from a non-renewable resourc. However, the synthetic oils are phthalate free. So, good, but not perfect.

But, all in all, these are pretty good products to buy if you want a greener product from a company committed to doing good things and trying to be green.

During the Twitter party, Method will have an expert environmental chemist to answer questions about the products and their ingredients, as well as concerns over sources of ingredients and packaging.

Not sure if the products will work? You can check out the reviews from some of the bloggers that participated in a tour of the Method Antibacterial products:

And we’ve got prizes to boot. We’ve got Method’s Fight the Flu kits and a dish soap/kitchen hand wash bundle. Just leave a comment to be eligible to win a prize about questions or comments on cleaning and fighting germs. Then tweet with us Wednesday, November 17, 2010 from 7 to 8 pm Pacific (that’s 10 to 11 pm East Coast). Follow me, TheSmartMama and MethodHome and use the #ecowed hashtag.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Did you know that even today, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children?

That even today, nearly a quarter of a million children in the US have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health. And this is based upon an action level of 10 ug lead per dL of blood. Studies in the last 10 years show that blood lead levels significant lower cause permanent health problems, so the number of at risk kids is actually greater.

Children with elevated blood lead levels can suffer damage to the brain and nervous system. They can develop behavior and learning problems, such as learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, speech problems, language problems, poor muscle coordination, hyperactivity, slowed growth and other health problems.

Most of us dismiss the risk of exposure to lead. And yet. Lead exposure still occurs. In Nigeria right now, more than 400 kids have been killed from lead poisoning as a result of gold mining, and more than 30,000 people have been poisoned. A tragedy of horrific, immense proportions.

Yet lead poisoning doesn’t really occur in the United States still. Yes, it still does, even if your kids don’t lick the paint on the walls. Take a family in Tennessee living in a rental house built before 1978. They have discovered that all 3 children have elevated blood lead levels – child that is 12 has a BLL of 14, child that is 11 has a BLL of 8 and child that is 7 has a BLL of 21.7.

Or take the story of 8 month old Oskar Ryan-Garrad. He didn’t lick the walls. He didn’t eat paint chips. He didn’t suck or swallow lead contaminated toys. He simply acted like any baby and crawled around his home – a home constructed in the early 1900s. An optional blood draw found dangerously high levels of lead in his blood.

A risk assessor found lead laden dust on the windowsills of Oskar’s home, and on the floor and porch where he played. And his dad, a house painter, had lead dust on his clothes.

Monday kicked of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and it is a great time to talk about how to reduce lead exposure. You can take some simple steps to reduce lead.

  • Wash your hands and get your kids to do so too! Easy, peasy step – washing your hands regularly with plain soap and water can reduce lead exposure. We pick up lead contaminated dust from lots of sources – washing it away means that we don’t get exposed.
  • Leave those shoes outside. We track in the bulk of the dirt in our home from outside. And with that dirt comes lead, cadmium, pesticides and more. Leaving your shoes at the door means that the dirt and the lead and other nasty stuff doesn’t come inside. One study found the checking shoes at the door can reduce exposure to lead by as much as 65%.
  • If your home was constructed before 1978, you may have lead based paint. Be careful of peeling and chipping paint – take care of it safely or at least make in inaccessible to kids. But even if your paint is in good condition, you can have lead contaminated dust. So make sure you wet wipe regularly and use a HEPA equipped vaccuum to keep dust bunnies down.
  • If your water pipes are older, you may have lead solder present, or even lead pipes. You can test your water with a simple home test kit that you mail to a laboratory. If you do have lead in your drinking water, consider a filter designed to remove lead. If you suspect lead in your water, one thing is to flush your pipes before drinking when the water sits for more than 6 hours. Just wait until you feel that slight temperature change.
  • If any adult in the home engages in an industry that results in lead exposure (construction, demolition, etc.), change your clothes and shoes before your come inside, and preferably before you get in the family car, so that you don’t bring lead contaminated dust home.
  • Skip vinyl products. Vinyl needs to be stabilized, and metallic salts are usually used to stabilize vinyl. Lead is often used. It doesn’t matter if you don’t suck on your fake leather (vinyl) purse – handling it can result in transfer from your hands to your mouth, or from your hands to your kids to their mouths, or from the purse directly to your kids hands and then their mouths.
  • Don’t give infants brass keys to soothe them. Brass can have lead added, and infants can be exposed as they mouth brass keeys.

October & Breast Cancer Awareness Month Means Pinkwashing At Fever Pitch

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

And I hate it. Don’t get me wrong – I am all for raising money and bringing more awareness and education to breast cancer issues.

But I detest pinkwashing. And October just brings a ton of companies promoting products that contain ingredients that are linked to breast cancer or are hormone disruptors. Companies like Avon, Aveda and Estee Lauder who claim they are pink but there products are loaded with the very chemicals that may contribute to breast cancer.

So, it isn’t very PC, but I sort of hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So, this week’s #ecowed we will talk all about #pinkwashing. Just tweet with me on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 7 pm Pacific time. Follow @thesmartmama and bring your pinkwashing examples.

And, all this month, I’ll be posting the pinkwashing examples I find.

The Story of Cosmetics and the Dangers of “Scare” Legislation

If you read this blog, you’ll know that the beauty product industry and misleading claims of natural or earth-friendly really annoys me.

So, I was excited when I learned that The Story of Stuff Project, in conjunction with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, was releasing a new video – The Story of Cosmetics. (And, in the interest of full disclosure, 3 Green Angels has been hired by The Story of Stuff Project and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to host an #ecowed Twitter party to promote The Story of Cosmetics.)

The video is really great – informative, clear, concise. I was thrilled that the video targets some big name cosmetic companies. Absolutely thrilled it mentioned L’Oreal’s pinkwashing. Ecstatic that the video talks about misleading claims of natural. You really should watch the video:

But I do have an issue with the desired action urged – legislation to regulate the cosmetic industry based upon the precautionary principle. I do think that the current regulatory scheme leaves a lot to be desired. I do think that chemicals used as ingredients in beauty products should be more thoroughly assessed, particularly for endpoints such as reproductive harm. I don’t think that you should need a chemistry degree to buy products.

But I can’t advocate for legislation without knowing more. Without knowing exactly how the legislation is worded.

I am too familiar with bad legislation developed in response to scare tactics. Legislation that harms small businesses.  For example, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) seemed fantastic with its marketing spin – let’s get lead out of children’s toys. And with that I wholeheartedly agreed. But, of course, the legislation wasn’t just about getting rid of lead in children’s toys where there was a risk of exposure. No. The CPSIA went way too far. Even the lead regulations reach too far – beyond risk of actual exposure. Rick Woldenberg repeatedly blogs about it and the just plain stupid and unduly burdensome reach of the CPSIA. Like the impacts on the ATV industry. On bicycles for kids. Even the loss of bling (and while getting crystals out of children’s clothing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, without a risk of exposure, it is stupid). And the CPSIA imposes too many burdens on the smaller, often greener businesses that should be selling toys to our kids. The kinds of companies featured in the Handmade Toy Alliance’s blog week, which features some dynamite companies and products.

And all the money being spent on testing products for lead that pose no risk of exposure would be much better spent addressing lead based paint in residential housing. With a much more significant reduction in risk.

Now, I know that I often use my XRF analyzer to bring attention to products being sold that aren’t compliant with the CPSIA. That is because the CPSIA is the law we have, and companies need to comply with it. But I still can think the portions of the law are silly. Just like I frequently have to help companies comply with California’s Proposition 65 even if I think Proposition 65 is a bad law.

In any event, I bring the CPSIA up after watching The Story of Cosmetics because well intentioned legislation can go badly wrong.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t urge you to understand what it is you are buying. To adopt the precautionary principle in your purchasing decisions.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think we should advocate for sensible legislation and regulations.

But that’s it – the legislation and/or regulations must be sensible. And that is hard to do. The devil is in the details. Overbroad legislation has unintended consequences and collateral damage.

As said by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding

June Junk Claim #3 – Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Dish Soap Not So Clean As It Contains 1,4-Dioxane

June Junk Claim #3 is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap and the company’s claim that the products are “always EARTH FRIENDLY.”

Mrs. Meyer’s products are sold and marketed as “green” products. The packaging is retro inspired cute.

But, the thing is, they are not as eco-friendly as you think. For example, the Dish Soap was found to have high levels of the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. In fact, according to testing commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Mrs. Meyers’ Clean Day Dish Soap had the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane in the group of products tested. The levels in the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap were 204 parts per million (ppm), ten times higher than any other similar product in the study.

1,4-dioxane is a by-product of the ethoxylation process. Ethoxylation is used to make certain ingredients milder and change solubility and foaming properties. It involves the addition of petroleum-derived ethylene oxide. You’ll find 1,4-dioxane in products with ethoxylated ingredients, usually identified by the “eth” – such as sodium laureth sulfate. Several “eth” ingredients are derived from natural sources – such as coconut – so you’ll find carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane in a number of products that claim to be derived from natural ingredients.

Unfortunately, the ethoxylation process results in a contaminant, 1,4-dioxane. So those allegedly naturally derived ingredients can have a carcinogence contaminant that is not identified on the ingredient label.

And Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap has it.

I don’t know if using the product poses a health risk. Since it is a rinse off product intended for use on dishes, I wouldn’t think that there is much dermal exposure (exposure through the skin) at all. Even if used as a hand soap I doubt there is any significant dermal exposure. And exposure from inhalation is probably minimal too.

But, the presence of carcinogenic 1,4-dixoane as a result of using petroleum derived ethylene oxide doesn’t really seem earth friendly to me.

June Junk Claim #1: Josie Maran Mascara and Petrochemical Free

So, I recently blogged about how I was tired of chemical free claims when it comes to beauty and cleaning products. And that gave me an idea. I thought for each day of June, I’d talk about a “junk” claim when it comes to beauty and cleaning products.

My first “junk” claim is Josie Maran Cosmetics’ Argan Mascara. I’m picking on Jose Maran Cosmetics to start because of a recent Twitter party that included promoting the products as safe for pregnant mamas, including that they were free of petrochemicals. And while I can’t say whether or not the products are safe, I can say that many of the products are not free of petrochemicals as advertised.

The Argan Mascara, for example, is advertised as free of petrochemicals, free of animal testing, and free of toxic chemicals. The claim “free of petrochemicals” should mean, well, that none of the ingredients are petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are generally considered chemicals derived from petroleum.

So, if the advertising is true, none of the ingredients should be derived from petroleum. The ingredients are:

White Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Polyisobutene, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Quaternium-18, Hecorite, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Isoeicosane, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Simmondsia Chinenesis (Jojoba) Oil, Linseed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Black Iron Oxides, Mica.

Okay, let’s look at some of these ingredients. And, don’t be worried, there isn’t too much chemistry – just a little.

Let’s start with polyisobutene. Polyisobutene is a synthetic rubber, a copolymer of isobutylene with isoprene. Isobutylene is produced from oil, and 95% of isoprene is synthetically produced from oil, although it is possible that the isoprene comes from a natural source. Unlikely but possible. And I could not get a response from Josie Maran Cosmetics.

Isododecane is produced from isobutane, which is produced from oil.

Propylene carbonate is basically produced from propene, which comes from petroleum, natural gas or sometimes coal.

Phenoxyethanol is virtually always derived from phenol and ethylene oxide. Phenol is usually produced from benzene derived from oil, and ethylene oxide comes from reacting ethylene with oxygen. Ethylene is derived from oil.

So, you tell me, how is this mascara free of petrochemicals?

Seems to me that the claim the Jose Maran Cosmetic Argan Mascara is free of petrochemicals is nothing more than junk greenwashing.