As a parent of three teenage boys, I’m constantly on the lookout for a parenting guide. Wouldn’t that be nice? We could all turn to page 14 for advice on how to deal with a teen attitude. Page 45 could help us when there’s a question about the school dance. But unfortunately, there’s no such guide so most days we’re forced to just wing it….until now! Paige Wolf, mom, and healthy living advocate, just released a new book, Spit that Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt. Her humorous book provides much-needed tips, advice, and information on manageable ways we can keep our children safe and healthy without going crazy.
I have known Page for many years and am honored to call her a friend. We’ve been involved in a growing, national green community, comprised of passionate writers who promote environmentally-conscious topics. We’ve attended quite a few conferences together and run a few road races.
In this book, Paige helps us cut through the eco-jargon to make sustainable living practical and attainable for all. Finally! There’s a parenting guide on “eco-cool” parenting. The pages are filled with inspiration, humor, and words of empowerment.
I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Paige to ask about her newly released parenting guide, Spit That Out!
Why did you write this book?
Wolf: I wanted to write a book to speak to all the parents – and nonparents – who are overwhelmed by the insane amount of environmental and health concerns in our everyday lives. When I was pregnant with my first child I was overwhelmed by all the conflicting information and constant barrage of things to worry about! What was in the rice cereal, the cleaning wipes, the baby shampoo, the pacifiers?
What if we couldn’t pull off cloth diapers and breastfeeding? Talking with other new parents I realized I was not the only one up Googling these things every night. Many of us feel paralyzed by all of the “eco-anxiety” and “green guilt” and I wanted to find straight answers and real ways to make green and healthy living more manageable, practical, and affordable. The book is part commiseration and part solution!
Who should read this book?
Wolf: The great thing about the book is that you don’t have to be a new parent to appreciate it – or even a parent at all! We can all relate to the struggle of staring at the back of a bottle of shampoo or a box of cereal wondering if it is something that could potentially contribute to cancer down the road! Many of us feel a pang of guilt when we forget our reusable bags or buy that plastic cup of Starbucks. This book helps you know you are not alone and helps find some practical answers to these dilemmas.
What are the top 3 things environmentally conscious parents can do to raise healthy kids?
Wolf: Lead by example. You can’t tell your kid soda is terrible when you drink it all the time. (OK, I admit to having it maybe 3 times a year at a pizza place if they don’t have iced tea!) Which leads me to….number 2.
Don’t strive for perfection or force them to live in a bubble.
If you try to force the always and never rules they are bound to rebel as they get older. No, I won’t buy Oreos, but if he wants to eat them at a birthday party, fine. I actually had a hard no line on Gatorade but my husband thought we should let him try it assuming he wouldn’t like it. It was a risky gamble but it paid off – he hated it. That said, I hear there is a new organic Gatorade on the market. It’s still loads of sugar but may serve us in a pinch!
Teach good habits and an appreciation for their space and the community. My kids are troubled by litter and “cigaretting” and sometimes we go for “mitzvah walks” to pick up trash. We aren’t very religious but do instill Jewish principles of mitzvah (good deed) and tikkun olam, which literally means “repair the world.”
Can you explain the “age of environmental guilt” referenced in the title of your book?
Wolf: When I was a kid in the ‘80s I was taught that leaving candy wrappers on the floor of movie theaters was common protocol. Now not only would we never consider littering (and I’m sure my upbringing was a bit odd), we might hold on to the boxes until we found a recycling bin. We’d also give serious consideration to the candy itself, and possibly even the content of the movie! That conscious awakening is a good thing but it can put a serious damper on everyday things like shoe shopping and packing lunch. It requires a lot of bandwidth!
What’s your advice to parents on how to deal with “environmental guilt”?
Wolf: The guilt part is hard. Sometimes we have a “bad eco-habit” we just can’t kick. But there are always ways to make it better. For example, I can’t kick my Keurig coffee machine even though I know those pods may lead to the collapse of mankind. So I scoured the earth to find the most eco-friendly pods that still produced really good coffee and came up with biodegradable organic K-cups. For me it was a compromise I could feel pretty good about.
What’s your top tip for staying sane and healthy in an increasingly toxic world?
Perfect is unattainable – but better is always possible.
My microwave is (now was) a complete disaster. We don’t use it very often, but when we do everything seems to explode. And it’s generally not a mini explosion. I’m talking a big, powerful explosion that leaves sauce or grease everywhere. Over the years we’ve all tried to keep up. Each person is responsible for wiping out the microwave after warming or cooking something. That strategy worked for a while, but then the build up couldn’t be stopped.
The inside of the microwave started to look like a war zone. It got to the point where it was better to never open it so we wouldn’t have to look inside.
Vacation week wasn’t filled with as much skiing as we had hoped so we had to be creative with our time. My husband stumbled upon a CNET video, How to Clean Your Microwave With Just a Bowl of Vinegar. We watched the one minute video as a family, because we all knew that the microwave was just that bad. There were a few oohs and aahs (or maybe they were groans of boredom?) and I knew we had to give this a try.
It was so simple. Seriously simple.
How to clean your microwave with a bowl of vinegar and water
What you’ll need:
Water, vinegar, bowl and damp cloth
Watch this video for the full instructions. Make sure your sound is turned on so you don’t miss the snazzy tunes.
Now give it a try! I would love to hear if it worked for you. I have to admit that I needed to do the 7 minutes twice, but my microwave is looking much better.
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We walked to school today. To some of you that may not sound like a big deal. Walking or biking to school may be a part of your daily routine. But for us it’s not a regular occurrence. Today was walk or bike to school day in our community, a day where the big yellow bus didn’t take our kids to school.
Way back when someone had the not-so-brilliant idea to create little pockets of housing around town without sidewalks. We happen to live in an area where there are sidewalks, but once you reach the tip of the neighborhood you’re dumped onto a main thoroughfare without sidewalks and without a safe way to school. Big bummer.
So today we joined together with a few neighbors and met up with kids from all over to walk and bike to school together.
My oldest decided to bike to school. I walked to school with my younger two.
Why walk or bike to school?
It’s fun. And that it was. I had a chance to walk and talk with my kids and others for a mile walk. Usually we’re rushing around trying to get out in the morning so this was a great way to start the day.
We used our feet instead of a car or bus. When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car or bus, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted.
In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). Teaching children how to look both ways and walk or bike with caution was a big component of the walk. We had our own police escort with flashing lights. Very fancy.
We clearly weren’t the only ones who decided to walk or bike to school today.
Why we should ride or walk to school more often
A Danish study this past year looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19. It found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.
And then there’s the benefit of physical fitness. Being active before sitting in a classroom all day is priceless. Learning to incorporate fitness into your daily routine is a precious life skill.
We are active as a family, but I’m determined to make walking or biking to school happen more often. Logistically it’s not that easy, but it’s doable and it’s a necessity.
Garlic is one of my all-time favorite spices. I add it to almost everythingfrom pizza to roasted vegetables andbroccoli. Not only does garlic add exceptional flavor to food, it also has several other super powers. Here are a few of the many uses for garlic.
Home remedy for acne
Garlic is know for its antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties. Slice open a clove of garlic and rub onto the effected area. You can also crush the garlic and apply the garlic juice. You might want to shower after this one!
Garlic as glue for glass or paper
Yes, you read that correctly. Garlic can be used as glue since it’s a natural adhesive. Take a few garlic cloves and crush them. Rub the garlic juice on the paper, porcelain or glass and voila! In China, where over three quarters of the world’s garlic crop is grown, the sticky liquid that comes out of the cloves is used as glue for glass and porcelain.
Cold sore treatment
When cold sores decides to make an appearance we will do almost anything to make them go away. Next time a cold sore shows up give raw garlic a try. Cut a clove of garlic and place it directly onto the cold sore for 10 minutes at a time. Do this three to four times a day.
Sore throats can be incredibly painful. Here’s a home remedy that will hopefully help. Take two cloves of garlic and crush them. Place the raw garlic in your mouth and chew and swallow.
Another option is making a garlic tea to sooth a sore throat. Take several cloves of garlic, whole (2-4 depending on the amount of water) and add
several pieces of fresh ginger
as much cayenne pepper as you can take
a flavored tea bag (for taste)
honey (to taste)
My kids get a lot of splinters and they are no fun. When the tweezers come out they run the other direction. Garlic can help with the splinter removal process. Place a thin piece of garlic over the splinter and place a band-aid on to hold it in place. Leave it on for a few hours. The garlic naturally draws the splinter out and because of its antibacterial properties will help prevent infection.
These are just a few of the many ways to use garlic. What are some of the other uses for garlic?
Use organic garlic whenever you can. Please be sure to check with your physician before trying any of these home remedies.
It’s officially cold and flu season. Everyone seems to be sniffling, sneezing and coughing, trying desperately to find remedies to ease their symptoms. I tend to get sick like clockwork this time of year. Last year around this time I was feeling pretty miserable. This time around it seems to be a bad cold with lots of uncontrollable coughing. In between coughs, I decided to check in with some great green minds from around the blogosphere to see how they would combat a vicious cough the non-toxic and natural way.
Here’s what the great green minds from around the blogosphere had to say about treating a cough the natural way:
Sarah from Practically Green mixes ginger, honey, lemon and garlic into her green tea (or rum).
Boiron’s homeopathic cough medicine, sucking on peppermints, and/or honey (the whiskey trick is good as well!). To get better colloidal silver, Emergen-C, olive leaf extract, elderberry extract and oil of oregano.
She also found this interesting concoction works: take an onion and slice it, then pour honey over it, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours and then take a spoonful every 15 minutes. Sorry Lisa, that doesn’t sound very appetizing.
Hillary finds that 9 times out of 10 when she gets a cough it is post-nasal drip-related. She uses her Neti pot twice a day. She remembers her family physician recommending a couple teaspoons of Crème de Menthe.
Julia from It’s Not Like a Cat suggests making a cup of tea with eucalyptus, licorice, wild cherry bark, and mullein and honey. She has also had luck with sipping very hot chicken broth spiked with lemon, garlic, and cayenne or red pepper.
Anastacia starts with her Neti Pot and then makes a mixture of minced garlic mixed with raw honey.
Amity from Green Gifts Guide has found that Eucalyptus Oil worked well for her last spring when she had her first (and hopefully last) case of bronchitis. She made a steam tent in the bathroom sink and inhaled it.
Jennifer from It’s Not Easy to be Green suggests mixing generous amounts of honey and lemon juice in hot water. The alternative is a salt water gargle.
Xinyu, Jennifer (buckwheat honey) and Local Bites agree that honey is the cure (with a little lime juice). Sam agrees, but adds a little citrus and whiskey to his mixture.
Laura says a Neti pot will flush the sinuses that may be draining, wild cherry bark tea for the cough & elderberry to boost your immune system. Zinc and echinacea are also helpful.
It seems the general consensus for treating a cough the natural way is:
According to the New York Times, the thinking is that sweet substances of any kind help soothe the back of the throat and break up mucus in the airways. Honey is also known to have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Citrus juice helps
Most citrus juices (lemon, orange) are rich in vitamin C, which helps to strenghen the immune system. Vitamin C is also acidic so it will help thin the accumulated phlegm in the airway passages.
Looking for more natural ways to soothe your cough?Hop over to Healthy Child Healthy World for a few more suggestions.
I’ll add my own tip: sleep and lots of it!
Do you have any favorite all natural cough remedies?
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be medical advice. I’m not a physician. Please consult a physician if your cough persists.
One of our sponsors, Essential Safe Products (ESP), has some BIG news to share. They are heading to the Grammy Awards and Oscars in 2012! No, they haven’t been nominated for an award, but they will be hobnobbing with some of the biggest celebs.
ESP has been named the featured sponsor for the 2012 Grammy Awards Backstage Talent Gift Lounge and coveted Gift Bag. How awesome is that? For those of you not in the know, there is an entire gift lounge filled with all of the hottest and trendy brands for the celebs to check out and take home. There will be a small section in the gift lounge completely dedicated to ESP.
Take a peek at last years Grammy Awards Gift Lounge:
I recently introduced you to Essential Safe Products, a site started by a Florida mother of six who has always been dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for her family. She created ESP as a one-stop, easy and friendly resource for those looking to learn about and lead a non-toxic lifestyle in the kitchen and on-the-go.
ESP will be the only non-toxic kitchen and on-the-go product company represented in the Grammy Gift Lounge. What a fantastic way to spread the ‘green and eco-friendly’ word. Over 150 celebrities will walk out of that lounge with gift bags from ESP with all sorts of non-toxic offerings valued at over $250.
Hannah from ESP shared with me why she is so excited to be a part of the Grammy buzz:
We are really hoping that by being a part of the gift bags we can help get the word out about hazardous chemicals and give people a place where they can find products to help them make chemical free changes in their lives at their own pace. There are so many people in this country who have never heard of BPA, and if they have, they don’t know about the dangers or other chemicals in products! By being in the Grammy Lounge, I am hoping the media exposure will get various newspaper and television outlets to start talking about toxic chemicals…..
ESP will also be a partial sponsor for the 2012 “Everybody Wins at the Oscars” nominee gift bag. These bags are given to those celebrities who don’t actually win the Oscars, but who were nominated.
At the Grammy Awards Hannah will be working the booth with her fiancé (lucky them!) sharing their non-toxic mission with all of the celebs. Congratulations ESP for helping to bring green, eco-friendly living to the mainstream.
p.s. I’m available to help out!
What do you think about an eco-friendly, green company getting into the Grammy and Oscar gift bags?
[Top image used under Creative Commons from Viktor Hertz/Flickr]
In honor of Thanksgiving I am about to close up my lap top for a few days to spend some uninterrupted time with friends and family. I hope many of you get the chance to do the same over this long weekend. Before signing off I wanted to share with you a few groovy green things to think about over the next few days.
2011 Safe Chemicals Act
I had a chance to tune in to last weeks Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on the 2011 Safe Chemicals Act. The 2011 Safe Chemicals Act is looking to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with the hope that the outcome will be placing the burden on manufacturers to prove the safety of a product before it hits supermarket shelves.
What you can do
If your State Senator is a member of the Environment and Public Works committee ask them for their support in passing the Safe Chemicals Act.
Bisphenol A in your Thanksgiving meal
A new report was recently released by the Breast Cancer Fund showing the presence of the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in canned foods used to prepare a typical Thanksgiving meal.
What you can do
This Thanksgiving please try to avoid canned foods and find safer alternatives. To help out, The Breast Cancer Fund has a list of no-can recipes for Thanksgiving.
Around the web
Over at the Clear Conscience Blog for J.R. Watkins Naturals I shared 4 Simple Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving.
Healthy Child Healthy World offered a great round-up of Five Fantastic Non-Toxic Pest Remedies. I also shared my tips on non-toxic pest control.
I can’t wait to share with you the great green tips I learned from Roger Cook, landscape contractor for This Old House during an interview this week. For that you will have to wait until after Thanksgiving!
I am so thankful for all of you who inspire me and teach me on a daily basis. Happy Thanksgiving to all!