Lately I’ve been receiving oodles of amazing green questions from Groovy Green Livin readers through Facebook, Twitter and email. I love that so many of you are reaching out. While I try to answer each and every question individually, there are times when it’s impossible. There are also many times when your fabulous questions deserve to be shared. So in light of all of the above, I’ve decided to create a weekly post dedicated to your questions!
This weeks question comes from a longtime groovy green friend and was raised during our monthly book club.
Baking soda is touted as an all natural cleaner and we use it for so many things, but I have no idea what it is and where it comes from. Can you help?
What is baking soda?
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. In its natural form, baking soda is called nahcolite, taking its name from its chemical formula.
It is a naturally-occurring mineral that is chemically known as sodium sesquicarbonate. Trona is the raw material which is refined into soda ash. Soda ash, in turn, is used to make glass, paper products, laundry detergents, and many other products. It also is used in the manufacturing of other chemicals, such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium phosphates (detergents).
Baking soda is considered very safe and non-toxic. So many foods contain baking soda. I use it to bake with constantly. It doesn’t taste very good straight up, but you technically could take a teaspoon of baking soda and eat it.
Any environmental issues with baking soda?
My friend Umbra over at Grist raises an interesting environmental issue with regard trona mining:
“…the wastewater is very salty, and when it is piped away to a holding pond, it can make the birds that visit said pond fall sick, and sometimes drown.”
What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate (the only ingredient in baking soda), but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tarter), and also a drying agent (usually starch). You can substitute baking powder for baking soda, but you can’t use baking soda in place of baking powder.
Baking soda uses
There are so many amazing uses for baking soda. I use it for everything from baking to cleaning. Think outside of the cookie box and the baking soda options are endless. Here are a few great resources to help find ways to use baking soda that may not have crossed your mind.
Now I need some help from you: I would like to name my weekly Q & A post with a catchy title-something like Dear Groovy Green Livin (but much more creative!). Let me know if you have any ideas! Also, send your groovy green questions to me and you could be featured as next weeks question of the week!
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Deb Nystrom/Flickr]
In my everyday life I work hard to care for my little corner of the earth. I’m not perfect, but I try to make a difference. Whether it’s recycling, eating organic foods or supporting companies that share my views, I continue to plug along-taking baby steps towards making the world a better place.
Being green on vacation takes effort
I just landed from an incredible family vacation. Incredible in the sense that we just spent 10 days hanging out, eating well, watching the sun set and doing a whole lotta nothing-together. What I noticed on this vacation is how easy it was to place most of my efforts to make the world a better place on hold.
Being green on vacation seems to be counter-intuitive. Vacation is for relaxing and letting go of all effort. So why does it take so much more of an effort to be green and make eco-friendly choices?
I think it comes down to being outside of our normal routine. Also, I’m relaxed and just plain lazy on vacation. Isn’t that a sign that the vacation is doing its job?
Now that I’m home I thought I would take a moment to reflect on my eco-errors and make a list of all the things I could have done to make this vacation, and all vacations, greener. I’m bringing this list with me next vacation!
How to have a green vacation
Bring reusable bags
There’s always enough room in the suitcase for a few reusable bags. We did a lot of grocery shopping this trip and it would have been nice to have my arsenal of reusable bags on hand.
Pack reusable water bottles
We all know that you can’t bring liquids through security. The solution is to pack a few empty reusable water bottles for the family. When you arrive at your destination fill them up and use them for the duration of the trip. Say goodbye to those plastic water bottles that are calling your name in every airport.
Conserve those towels and sheets
Many hotels have sheet and towel cards asking guests to consider not having sheets and towels changed every day. I don’t change my towels and sheets every day at home so why would I need that service on vacation? What a simple way to conserve water and energy.
Our room didn’t have any recycling options. It would have been simple to designate one of the garbage cans as a recycling bin to use throughout our stay. There were recycling bins on the grounds which could have been used to dump the recyclables from our room.
Bottom line: Vacation is a lot of fun, but we all have to work a little harder to keep it green.
Everything from the food we eat to our cleaning products, furniture, personal care products and our yards can contain toxic chemicals. No one wants to be exposed to these harmful chemicals, but where do we begin? How do we sort through all the information? Sometimes it just makes sense to combine forces to find an answer. The astonishing and knowledgeable women of the Green Moms Carnival have once again joined together to share their wisdom, tips and stories, helping to shed some light on a confusing and overwhelming issue: how to keep toxins out of our home.
Margie from Healthy Child Healthy World shares Eight Steps to Purging Toxic Chemicals From Your Home. Healthy Child Healthy World’s motto says it all: “No one can do everything but everyone can do something”.
Betsy from Eco-Novice sheds some light on Avoiding Toxins in Baby Products. Betsy has a three month old and this is her third child. She has lot of tips to share about what she’s learned along the way.
Danika from Your Organic Life talks about the whys and hows of buying second hand furniture in her post: Buying 2nd-Hand Furniture that’s Off-Gassed from Model Homes.
INSPIRATION FOR NON-TOXIC LIVING
Carolyn of Women of Green shares a podcast with Liberty Phoenix, the sister of River and Joaquin Phoenix. Liberty’s story is heart-wrenching: she experienced the death of her baby due to toxic out-gassing in his nursery and started a green building store so no other parent would have to ever experience what she did.
I was and continue to be inspired by the untimely loss of a 5 year old boy in our community to cancer. His family’s strength and perseverance inspired me to find ways to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of My Home.
Like many moms, my commitment to a greener lifestyle was strengthened after having children. I’m careful about what we eat, and am selective about products we use to keep our home clean.
It probably goes without saying that in a house full of boys, we do a lot of laundry. I know that some cleaning products are marketed as safe and healthy, but in truth, what’s in the bottle can hurt you.
For example, it turns out that Tide Free & Gentle® isn’t so gentle. A report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the detergent. 1,4-dioxane doesn’t appear on the product label or on the product website, so consumers have no way of knowing it’s even there.
This is especially concerning, because Tide Free & Gentle® is marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their children’s laundry. Infants and children are more vulnerable to chemical exposures, because their immune, neurological, and hormone systems are still developing.
1,4-dioxane is a known cancer-causing chemical, and has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer.
Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide®) already have experience stripping 1,4 dioxane out of its products; in 2010, the company reformulated its Herbal Essences® shampoo to eliminate 1,4-dioxane. Unfortunately, Dirty Secrets test results show that the company has not chosen to make the same effort for its laundry detergent.
The Tide website says: Safety: The Most Important Ingredient in Tide®. If that’s true, then 1,4-dioxane should never have been in the product in the first place.
Please Sign the Petition
With the help of Healthy Child Healthy World, MomsRising and Women’s Voices for the Earth I put together a petition asking Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) to strip this harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®!
Please join me by signing the petition asking Procter & Gamble to take immediate action to remove 1,4-dioxane from Tide Free & Gentle® and any other Procter & Gamble products.
Together we can make change happen.
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Pixel Drip/Flickr
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]
Whew! This week flew by and this Friday brings lots of Groovy Green things to share.
If I haven’t already convinced you that yoga is the bomb-a recent study shows yoga could help ease sleep problems and could be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopause. There’s really nothing to lose so why not give yoga a try?
Groovy Green Livin around the web
Inspiring Change: a free ebook by Lynn Fang
A new ebook has just been released by my friend Lynn, over at Upcycled Love, called Inspiring Change. In the book she gathered 25 bloggers who were willing to share their stories of their ups and downs in trying to have a positive impact. I am honored to be featured in this book, along with 24 caring and talented bloggers.
Buying a healthy holiday pie
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without the traditional spread of pies: pumpkin, apple, pecan and key lime -each one more delicious than the next. Over at Momtastic take a look at a few tips for buying a healthy pie when you just don’t have the time or desire to bake.
Evolving Wellness in Action
Evolving Wellness is a site that provides free, up-to-date scientific research, along with thousand-year-old trusted wisdom of the holistic approach to health and wellness. Each month the sites founder, Evita, shares an Evolving Wellness in Action series where she highlights a person’s evolving journey in health and wellness. During the month of November Evita was kind enough to share my story.
Top 50 Green Living Blogs
Thank you to Seametrics for compiling a list of the Top 50 Green Living Blogs and including Groovy Green Livin (along with 49 other fantastically green blogs).
Have a groovy green weekend and don’t forget to eat your veggies! What are your plans?
As parents, it’s part of our job description to protect our children from harmful chemicals. Most of us know, all too well, that it’s not an easy job. As we go through our daily lives we are confronted with information overload, pressuring us to buy specific brands –the media, our friends, family-everyone has an opinion. When it comes to food products the ingredient lists are long and complicated; when it comes to choices the sky’s the limit. How do we sort through it all? How can we be sure we are making good choices for ourselves and our families?
Katy Farber has written a new e-book, Eat Non-Toxic: a Manual for Busy Parents, to help us navigate through the information and inspire us to create healthy environments for our families. Katy is an author, mother, teacher, and the founder of the well- known blog, Non-Toxic Kids. Her new manualis a guide for busy parents looking to limit their family’s exposure to chemicals and toxins in food and feeding gear.
The book is filled with practical, usable and helpful steps that provide much needed guidance and direction when it comes to protecting your family and the earth from harmful toxins and chemicals. Each chapter is filled with valuable information covering a wide range of topics relating to food and food safety.
A few of my favorite topics are:
Find real, practical, and usable tips and ideas feeding your family in a safe and healthy way.
Fantastic recipes using whole foods.
Learn how to limit toxins in your family’s diet without tremendous cost, effort or time.
Why we should eat local, organic and humanely raised meats.
Cooking and food storage: why we need to limit or eliminate plastic in the kitchen.
As an added bonus for those of us who are really exhausted and crazy busy, the end of each chapter has the Tired Parents Cliff Notes- a summary of all the important stuff for those of us who need that extra help remembering the highlights (me!).
On sale now
Through Friday (October 28th, 2011), the manual will be priced at 25% off its regular price of 9.99. Click HERE to download the book.
This manual will help you simplify meal times, protect your children from unnecessary toxic exposures, eat healthier and tread lighter on the earth.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Disclosure:I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review. There is an affiliate link in this post. Any purchases through the link will put a few pennies in my pocket. The opinions are my very own. Thanks!
I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.