5 Ways to Green Childproof Your Home

Beautiful baby trying to catch green leaf

5 Ways to Green Childproof Your Home

You’ve heard of childproofing and already know the importance of protecting kids from dangers in the home, but what is “Green Childproofing”?

As a certified Eco-Maternity Consultant and Greenproofer, my job is to educate and protect families from unsafe exposure to potentially harmful substances in their home, body and environment. In a nutshell, I work with families to help create a safe and healthy home environment by identifying exposures, prioritizing their specific needs and removing toxins. Here are my top 5 suggestions for Green Childproofing your home:

1. Safety First: When baby proofing your home, look for the dangers (outlets, corners, cabinets, etc.) and choose products that are eco-friendly and made of safer materials for your little one. One of my favorite brands is Rhoost which is BPA free and eco-friendly.

2. Choose Natural Toys: Everything they can get their hands on goes straight into their mouth. If you have unsafe toys in your home, they will eventually end up in your child’s mouth and leach dangerous chemicals. It’s best to get rid of any unsafe plastic toys or toys with peeling paint. A few good websites for safer toys are Baby Naturopathics, Bloume Baby and Natural Pod.

3. Sleep Easy: A baby’s room should be a safe place to sleep. This means protecting your child from the dangers that you can’t see with your eyes, like off gassing furniture and bedding sprayed with flame retardant. I recommend an organic, Greenguard certified mattress, organic bedding and organic cotton sleepwear. Furniture should always be given time to off gas and use VOC free paint if you must repaint the room.

4. Bath Time Basics: For your baby’s bath time routine choose trusted, non-toxic brands like Honest Company and California Baby and only use what you need. So many wonderful lotions and potions can be made for baby with a few ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. Check out Healthy Child for a few ideas on how to make your own.

5. Cleaning Green: Whatever you clean your home with will end up in your baby’s body. Opt for safer, non-toxic cleaners or DIY with Vinegar and Baking Soda. You’ll have to worry less about calling poison control if you don’t have poisonous cleaners in your cabinet. Also my favorite rule of thumb, if it smells toxic, it probably is. Trust your nose and your common sense when choosing a cleaner.

Creating a safe place for your family to live and grow is so important. If you can make a few small changes they will make a big difference.

To learn more about my professional services, visit www.generationpure.org.

Healing Soup

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While I would never consider myself a chef, having a family of four on a whole food diet has forced me to learn how to cook. This is one of my favorites because it’s quick, easy and 100% from scratch.

Why do we call it “healing soup”?

My 4 year old daughter came up with the name as we were eating the soup and discussing all of the ingredients. When you add organic vegetables, homemade bone broth from grass fed cows and spices like turmeric that reduce inflammation, you end up with the perfect answer to the cold and flu season.

It’s super easy…no really!

All the veggies that you see in the photo are tossed into my vitamix to chop, then I add my homemade bone broth and some diced rotisserie chicken and spices. The prep time is so quick! You will get to sit back and enjoy the warmth and smell of the soup until it’s time for dinner.

Ingredients:

1/2 head broccoli

1/2 head cauliflower

3-4 bell peppers

2 carrots

2 celery

1 onion

2 sprigs rosemary

2 bay leaves

2 cups bone broth

1 cup water

Salt, Pepper

1 tbsp Turmeric

1 heaping spoonful Ghee

1/2 rotesserie chicken, chopped

Directions:

Chop all vegetables in processor and add to pot. Add broth, water and chicken. Heat to boil then reduce to simmer for 1 hour.

Bone Broth:

I always have some homemade bone broth in the freezer for recipes like this one (it’s even easier than the soup to make). If you go to your local butcher you can ask them for bones (make sure they are 100% grass fed and finished). Sometimes they will even give you the bones for free.

2-3 small bones from a grass fed cow (although you can use bones from any animal)

2 carrots

2 celery

1 onion

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

1/2 cup fresh parsley

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

8-10 cups boiling water

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Add ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Let simmer 4-12 hours. You can also do this in your slow cooker. Remove bones and strain. Keep the liquid for your broth and store in the freezer.

For more information on the benefits of bone broth check out this article posted on MindBodyGreen.

What’s in that smell?

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Fragrance and our Health

We live in a culture where fragrance is everywhere. Consider for a moment all the fragrant things we come in contact with during a typical day: laundry detergent, soaps, lotions and body care products, cleaning supplies and air fresheners.

The pictures on the labels tell us that these products are made from something natural like flowers, citrus and vanilla…but what’s really in them? Good question, no one knows because there is no US regulation that requires a manufacturer to put the ingredients of fragrances on the packaging.

According to the Environmental Working Group, “When you see “fragrance” on a personal care product’s label, read it as “hidden chemicals.” A major loophole in FDA’s federal law lets manufacturers of products like shampoo, lotion, and body wash include nearly any ingredient in their products under the name “fragrance” without actually listing the chemical.”

In reality, these fragrant products are littered with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) that can be hazardous to your health. Many of their negative health effects include asthma, eczema, migranes, infertility and cancer.

What can we do?

Start to read labels, if you aren’t sure if your products are harmful, search the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

Choose “fragrance free” products whenever possible. If the product has been labeled “unscented” the manufacturer has probably included other chemicals to mask the scent.

Never use air freshners, they pollute your indoor air and will leave you with a room full of toxins. Instead consider opening windows and doors and using natural deodorizers like vinegar and baking soda.

Scented candles are very popular around the holidays but are also very toxic. Consider buying essential oils like cinnamon or peppermint and put them on a cotton ball or cloth. They will have the same effect without all of the dangers.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/chemicalsodors.html

http://www.organichealthandbeauty.com/EPA-Fragrance-Study_ep_46-1.html

Raising Strong, Healthy Kids

Raising Strong, Healthy Kids

Healthy Body:

Get your kids involved in food early. Teach them how food grows and where it comes from. This is a good exercise for parents too (Mom, where does spinach grow?).

Eating clean and organic food takes extra planning and preparation but it’s always worth the effort. Preservatives and dyes have been linked to a variety of health issues including hyperactivity, allergies and even cancer. Processed foods aren’t worth the risk to their young, developing bodies.

Healthy Space:

If you can make one change to reduce the toxic burden on our kids, do it in the bedroom. Kids sleep 12 plus hours per day and the air quality in their bedroom will have an impact on their overall health. Consider organic bedding and mattress, cotton PJ’s to protect them from flame retardants and a high quality air filter.

Healthy Mind:

We usually relate toxins to chemicals found in products but a toxic mind can be just as damaging. Kids need love, play and a stress free environment. Think of ways you’ve learned to cope with stress and frustration in your adult life and give them those same tools.

Resources:

http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/avoid-risky-food-additives-preservatives/

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-28/news/ct-met-flames-test-mattress-20121228_1_tdcpp-heather-stapleton-chlorinated-tris

What’s all the fuss about BPA?

Three Cans of Vegetables

What is it?

Bisphenol-A or BPA is a chemical used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins. It is found in numerous products including canned food, plastic beverage containers and kids toys.

Why is it so dangerous?

According to the Environmental Working Group, “BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the endocrine system, even in small amounts. It has been linked to a wide variety of ills, including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments.”

BPA mimics estrogen. Can you imagine the impact this has on a young child’s developing body? Researchers have linked BPA and other endocrine disruptors like phthalates to the new puberty age of 10. According to a study in Pediatrics, 15% of American girls experience puberty at age 7. Do any of you remember what you were doing at age 7? I can remember playing outside on the playground and learning simple math in the classroom but I was definitely not worried about puberty.

How much exposure is too much?

This was my personal wake up call. A Harvard study found that when only one serving of canned soup was consumed every day for 5 days the amount of BPA concentration increased by 1,000%, compared to those who consumed fresh soup. Even one serving has a significant impact on our health.

How can I avoid it?

-The biggest offender is canned food. Buy fresh or frozen instead.

-Never microwave your food in plastic. Heating up these chemicals leaches them into your food.

-Avoid plastics marked #7 or PC

-BPA is also found in thermal paper, like store receipts. Avoid handling them if possible and never give them to kids.

-Dental sealants can contain BPA, ask your dentist before you get one.

-Buy wooden toys for kids or look for safer plastics

My final thought:

Canned food has been a major part of our culture for over 60 years and it is very convenient to reach into the pantry and pull out a canned food product when preparing dinner. We are used to this lifestyle of convenience, and that’s ok…it’s the culture we live in. But challenge yourself to look for safer options, read labels, and care about whats in your food, because I guarantee no one else is doing it for you.

A Wake-Up Story

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This video is my inspiration.

A family suffering from the loss of their 4 year old daughter has made it their mission to improve the lives of all our children.

See how being informed and empowering others can make a difference in your life.

(And grab a tissue, this video hits me to the core every time I watch it)

Is organic really necessary?

We have many options when deciding what to buy at the grocery store and many times cost is a major factor in that decision. So is it really worth it to buy organic? Lets take a look at the cold hard facts: research proves that organic diets lower exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. 

Researchers looked at a group of elementary school children and had them replace their conventional diets with organic foods for 5 days. They concluded that the “organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 114 (2006)

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This graph shows that when the children switched to an organic diet, their daily concentrations of pesticides were dramatically lowered.

If you are still on the fence about organic just remember that our kids are at the highest risk  because they are still developing and their tiny bodies are exposed the same toxins as a full grown adult.

Tips:

1. Always refer to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” when buying fruits and vegetables. Did you know apples are the dirtiest of all fruits and vegetables?

2. Always wash your fruits and vegetables, even the organic ones to get rid of residue. We use “Veggie Wash” but there are many versions of this at your local stores.

3. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, the food will be fresher and have traveled less to get to you.

4. When buying packaged organic foods, look closely at the label to make sure it is certified organic, not just made with “all natural” or “organic ingredients”…what does that mean anyways?

5. GMO’s are not allowed in organic food! We’ll dive deeper into that one on a different post.

Ditch the non-stick!

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Non-stick cookware makes cooking fast and easy but at a major cost to your health. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is one of the many toxic chemicals found in non-stick cookware.

According to the EPA, the chemical PFOA has been under investigation because:

    • Is very persistent in the environment
    • Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
    • Remains in people for a very long time (The Environmental Working Group estimates it would take 4.4 years for your body to get rid of 1/2 the PFOA in your organs and tissues)
    • Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.

Additionally, according to the CDC, “In laboratory animals given large amounts, PFOA can affect growth and development, reproduction, and injure the liver.”

The problem with the non-stick pans is that the chemicals that make the surface so user friendly become toxic when they are heated, thus releasing dangerous toxins into the air and your food. If your non-stick cookware has scratches in it, you are at a higher risk of toxic exposure.

But what should I replace it with?

Safer alternatives include stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic.

In my home, we use The GreenPan, which has a ceramic non-stick surface without the risk of PFOA’s, lead or cadmium. I love it because it’s inexpensive, easy to use and available at Target! There are more non-stick ceramic pans popping up everywhere as the safety issues regarding non-stick cookware become more prevalent.

Healthy Cooking Tips:

  • Get rid of your traditional non-stick pan, especially if it has scratches
  • Always cook your food at medium temperatures, burned food becomes carcenogenic
  • Use different oils for different purposes: olive oil for low temp, coconut oil for medium temp and avocado oil for higher temps.
  • I have found that the ceramic non-stick pans perform best when you cook with them at a medium temperature and hand wash after every use. That said, I usually replace mine every six months.

The green smoothie both you and your kids will love!

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Fact: Greens, berries and amino acids contain essential nutritive compounds that enable us and our kids to eliminate harmful toxins. Compounds such as I3C, polyphenols, selenium, chlorophyll and amino acids such as cysteine, glycine and glutamine are required in the diet for toxin protection.

Reality: Most of us know vegetables are important but you don’t need to know what all these nutritive compounds do in the body. You just need to feed them to your kids. It can be challenging to get my kids to eat all their vegetables. I rely on our daily smoothie to incorporate some of the greens I may have missed at mealtime (i.e. spinach, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, etc). The trick is to make it taste great and change up the recipe often. This is one of our favorites:

Chocolate Green Smoothie

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 frozen banana

Handful of frozen berries (we usually use strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)

1 cup greens (kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, or whatever you have in the fridge).

1 scoop almond butter

Ice

1 cup water

Mix and enjoy!

Tips:

  1. Sometimes I make extra and turn them into popsicles.
  2. Also, if you have a picky eater, start with spinach, it has the most mild flavor of all the greens and mixes easily.
  3. An easy way to always have a mix of greens in your fridge is to buy an organic premade salad mix. I usually go for the “Super Greens” at Whole Foods.

Easiest, cheapest, quickest way to reduce the toxins in your home

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As a busy mom I know how hard it can be to make any changes in your home, especially if they cost a lot of time or money. According to the EPA, there’s one thing you can do to cut your exposure of lead dust and other harmful chemicals by 60%…leave your shoes at the door!

Think about all the places your shoes go throughout the day; parks, public bathrooms, stores, sidewalks and other public spaces. During your normal day, shoes pick up harmful chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, lead dust and bacteria.

Taking off your shoes is the easiest way to cut down the amount of toxins in your home. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Place a basket, bench or shelf for shoes at the door or just outside
  • Invest in a pair of “house shoes or slippers” for family members
  • Get in a habit of asking guests to remove their shoes or consider posting a sign
  • Paws get dirty too! Make sure your dog or cat has clean paws before entering the home.

Habits can be hard to break, but this one is worth enforcing especially if you have kids crawling and playing on your floors. Plus, just think how much cleaner your floors will be on a regular basis!