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Archive for Healthy Living
July 22nd, 2014
Non-GMO verified is NOT the same as organic.
Something to keep in mind the next time you head to the supermarket.
Over the past few years GMO labeling has come a long way …..but we have a long way to go.
Non-GMO Project Verified labels are popping up on more and more products on the shelves in our markets. I use this label more and more to find products that don’t contain GMOs and to support companies that label their products.
Sometimes a Non-GMO Project Verified label will appear along with other labels and other times it will stand alone.
Labeling, while so important, can also be very confusing. It’s time to clear up any confusion!
What is a Non-GMO Project Verified Label?
I generally find the Non-GMO Project Verified label at the bottom of a product. The label provides consumers with independent, third party assurance that the product contains no GMOs (products tested must contain less that .9percent GMOs, which allows for unintentional contamination). Yes, there could be unintentional contamination.
What is USDA Organic Certification?
In a nutshell, products with an organic certification are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
USDA certified products cannot intentionally contain GMOs. The USDA does not require testing for GMOs, so accidental contamination may occur.
So there you have it. A non-GMO label is only certifying that a product does not contain GMOs. An organic certification provides much more, including a certification that the product doesn’t contain GMOs. Both certifications leave a bit of wiggle room for unintentional GMO contamination. So yes, your food could contain GMOs even if there’s a non-GMO and/or organic certification.
Buy organic food whenever you can. A new study found substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides in organic fruits, vegetables and grains compared with conventionally grown produce. Look for the Non-GMO Verified label as another resource when shopping for cereals, snacks and other foods.
When you shop do you look for the Non-GMO Verified Label?
July 14th, 2014
A few days ago I went on a walk with my sister and stumbled upon this Little Free Library. Have you seen one in your neighborhood? What an amazing concept.
What is a Little Free Library?
It’s a “take a book, return a book” philosophy where neighbors share their favorite books. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone can stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.
Have you seen them in your neighborhood?
I recently found one in my neighborhood, just outside our local bike shop. It’s been there for about three months and according the bike store owner it’s getting a lot of action.
How to Add a Little Free Library to the Map
If you’re curious and want to know if there’s a Little Free Library in your neck of the weeks take a look at this map. Not every Little Free Library is on the list, since someone has to manually enter each library.
To add a new library to the list be sure that your library has an official charter sign and number. If you do not have one, you can order one on the Make It Official page. There is a one-time payment of $34.95 per Library. If you already have your charter sign, then all you need to do is fill out to the register your library on the map form.
Did you Hear About This?
A Kansas family put up a Little Free Library in their front yard and then received a letter from a town official stating that their Little Free Library was in violation of the town code which bans any freestanding structures or buildings that are not attached to a person’s house. Say what?
Rather than immediately fighting the violation, the family voluntarily removed the library from their front lawn and then started a petition which over 22,ooo people signed. Good news! The Kansas town where this took place is now allowing Little Free Libraries! One more example of how consumer pressure really can make a difference.
Is there a Little Free Library near you?
photo credit: ali eminov via photopin cc
July 9th, 2014
Empty Stonyfield yogurt containers usually end up in the recycle bin over here. And there are plenty of them!
Many of you know that I’ve been working closely with Stonyfield as a Stonyfield Yo-Getter and have had the privilege of trying out Stonyfield products and reporting back to you. Thus, there are empty yogurt containers everywhere.
We’re pretty diligent about recycling and after much trial and error we have a good recycling system in place.
Have you heard of the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to recycling and reusing. Before I throw things in the recycle bins in my garage and before I chuck something in the garbage I’m trying really hard to pause and consider whether it has life left in it.
Quite simply, reusing an item lengthens its life span. What if before those empty yogurt containers landed in the recycle bin we gave them one more job?
While all three of my kids are at sleepaway camp our house is going through a major overhaul. We are purging. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!
New Uses for Yogurt Containers
Over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of art supplies. The latest art projects over here have everything to do with gimp or lanyard. We’ve made key chains, necklaces and more. There are spools and strings of lanyard everywhere.
Thanks to an empty Stonyfield yogurt container the strings of lanyard now have a new home. The spools didn’t quite fit.
All the magic markers that have filled drawers and floors also have a new home.
And the sidewalk chalk fit perfectly.
There are so many more uses for these containers.
Next up…..we’re taking them to the beach for sand castles!
Can you think of any other great uses for yogurt containers?
This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.
July 7th, 2014
How many times have you reached for a drink from the garden hose on a hot summer day? Guilty! My kids love it too.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to stop. That garden hose is harboring all sorts of toxic chemicals.
In 2013 HealthyStuff.org tested 21 new garden hoses from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Target and Kmart. They found:
- One-third of the garden hoses tested contained enough chemicals of concern to be ranked “high concern” including lead.
- Phthalates ,which are currently banned in children’s products were found in water hoses at high levels.
- Water samples from several hoses contained numerous chemical hazards, including phthalates, lead and BPA.
Is there a safe garden hose?
Look for a lead-free garden hose with a lead-free label. This will make taking drinks from the garden hose for pets and children much safer and also cut down on the amount of lead landing in your backyard. Here’s an example of a lead- free garden hose, which is also BPA free and phthalate free (affiliate link).
Make sure to let the garden hose run for a bit before drinking, even if it’s labeled lead-free.
Don’t use spray sunscreens
While spray sunscreens are convenient (I’m the first to admit that!), the FDA is reviewing their safety. I know how challenging it is to get sunscreen on a toddler. I have vivid memories of my three boys resisting sunscreen for many years. I wish I could say that it’s gotten better as they’ve gotten a bit older, but it’s still a struggle. What I will tell you is that aerosol spray sunscreens are not the answer.
Many spray sunscreens-especially the aerosol sprays-contain ingredients that don’t belong on your skin. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is very concerned about inhalation of nano-sized and micronized zinc and titanium in spray sunscreen. When you spray sunscreen you are likely to inhale the fumes and this is a much more direct route of exposure than when you apply the sunscreen directly to your skin. It goes directly into your lungs.
If you just can’t bring yourself to ditch the spray or pump sunscreen make sure you never spray sunscreen around your face or mouth. When applying spray sunscreens on children, pay attention to the wind and spray in a direction that won’t blow into their faces. Lower your inhalation risk by applying it on your hands and then wiping it on your face.
Although the dangers of spray sunscreen are still being investigated, why risk exposing your children to inhalation of harmful chemicals? Switch to a safe, non-toxic sunscreen, or a non-whitening sunscreen and have a fantastic summer!
Have you switched to a lead-free garden hose? On my to-do list! How about non-aerosol sunscreens? Have you found a brand that you can’t live without?
July 3rd, 2014
Kale is on my mind. Keep reading and you’ll see why.
I hope everyone’s having a wonderful summer. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to write much this week so I thought I’d share with you a few of my latest photos from my summer adventures. If you’d like to check out more photos please come and find me on Instagram. I’d love to see what you’re sharing too.
This photo was one of my favorites from this week: Kale is the new carrot. It was hidden under a pile of art work by artist Dug Nap. Voted Vermont’s best cartoonist in 2012, best poet in 2011, and best visual artist for 2008 & 2009 by the readers of Seven Days, Vermont’s alternative newspaper, Dug Nap is a self-taught artist who was born and raised in Vermont. His work is fabulous.
Cycling along the roads of Vermont I came across this.
Yet another reason to love Vermont!
I mailed many letters to my three boys who are away at summer camp from this adorable post office.
One of my favorite breakfasts of the summer to date was this plate of fruit. So simple and easy to prepare. My second favorite breakfast was a smoothie made with many of these fruits and a little kale.
Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July. If you’re firing up those grills here are a few tips to help keep your grilling safe. And don’t forget to use green accessories for the barbecue!
Let me know if you have any incredible summer adventures planned. I would love to hear!
June 25th, 2014
Strange title for a post, isn’t it? Right now there’s a chipmunk in my life. I feel like I’m in my own little Caddyshack -remember Bill Murray chasing a gopher? That’s me right now. There’s one big problem - I have no idea where the chipmunk is.
This is not quite how I envisioned my first few days of summer. My vision was in fact very different. Me working quietly from my office, going on a mid-day run, hanging with my husband while my kids kick off 4 weeks at overnight camp.
Everything came to a screeching halt when I saw a small tail peeking out from behind our family room sofa.
Let me take a minute to share the backstory.
Way back around Halloween I decided to store old, unopened bags of Halloween candy on a bench in our garage. I forgot about them. Mistake number 1.
About a month ago my youngest son reported finding an empty candy wrapper outside the garage and proudly proclaimed “it wasn’t me!” We found another wrapper in the garage a few days later, which led us to the bags of unused Halloween candy on the bench. A chipmunk had broken in and stolen a few chocolate bars.
I tossed the half eaten candy and moved a second bag of unopened, untouched candy into a closet in the house.
Fast forward to yesterday. While working, I left the door from our garage into our house open. Mistake number 2.
The chipmunk decided to come in and somehow managed to find the unopened, uneaten bag of old Halloween candy. Seriously smart chipmunk. I found another candy wrapper on the stairs before spotting the chipmunk.
I freaked. Yes, I know that I’m a lot bigger than a little chipmunk, but it was in my house. It had crossed a line.
How I got rid of the chipmunk……I think
I called for help. Thankfully I was able to reach a sweet friend who’s in the know when it comes to this sort of thing. I certainly was not. This was well beyond my pay grade.
I went to a local hardware store and purchased a Have a Heart Trap. This was the two door, easy set trap that took me over a half an hour to figure out. The goal was to capture the chipmunk and set it free outside.
All the bedroom doors were closed before going to the store. When I came home my son’s door was slightly ajar. Then I spotted the tail again in his room. Smart chipmunk.
The Have a Heart Trap was set with peanut butter in my son’s room. I was also advised to open a window and remove the screen so the chipmunk could escape. Done.
His door was closed and I patiently waited for the sound of the trap working. Nothing.
So here’s where I’m at right now: No chipmunk in the trap. No chipmunk sighting. No idea if it exited through the window. No sleep for me.
What would you do? Assume that it’s out? Call wildlife rescue to come over and confirm that it’s out (this one is high on my list right now)? Keep the room sealed for a few days and hope for the best? Advice needed……
photo credit: beckstei via photopin cc
June 23rd, 2014
One question that I’m constantly asked is: “What green cleaning products do you use?”
That’s a tough question to answer since I’m always testing out new and improved green cleaning products, but I’m going to give it shot.
My overall advice when making the switch to green cleaning products is to replace products you’re currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.
So here you go….. Take a rare peek into my somewhat disorganized cabinet under the kitchen sink to see what green cleaning products I’m using right now.
That BIG tank is part of a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Let me know if you want to hear more about it. I’m happy to share the pros and cons.
Here are some of the green cleaning products under my kitchen sink:
Better Life Even The Kitchen Sink
This product is great for cleaning tile and grout, stainless steel, toilets, showers and tubs. I’ve been using Better Life green cleaning products for a few years. I’ve written about Better Life before and shared with you that I was an official blogger for the company. This essentially meant that I had a chance to test out some of their products and share my honest opinion. And I did!
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner and Earth Friendly Products Window Cleaner both work well on windows and other glass surfaces.
Oh how I love this stuff. It can be used for cleaning so many different things. HERE are a few ideas to get you started.
Branch Basics is an interesting concept. If you don’t want to make your own cleaning products this is the next best thing. The starter kit comes with concentrate, an Empty Refillable Spray Bottle and foamer bottle. The unscented concentrate can be diluted with water to make the cleaner. There’s a guide that comes with the kit which spells out how to mix the concentrate. It can be used for laundry, dishes, stains, removing streaks and more.
Check out Earth Friendly Pear Dishmate Dishwashing Liquid. I use this for all dishes. It seems to cut through grease and grim without a problem.
I just made the switch from a powder dishwasher soap to Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel and so far it’s working well.
What are some of your favorite green cleaning products hiding under your kitchen sink? I’d love to hear!
Disclosure: These products were all purchased by me and can be found under my kitchen sink. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
photo credit: judith511 via photopin cc