Figuring out the Fragrance Free Workplace

September means, for many, goodbye to sunny summer days and vacation, and back to the routines governed by work and school. As a parent I’m concerned about what kind of environment my kids spend the day in. That means things like safety, kindness and air quality are all things I appreciate about our school.  We are fortunate that our kids go to a school with a fragrance-free policy which protects the quality of the air they breathe. This means that students, employees and visitors are asked not to use fragranced products while on school property and no fragranced products are used in the maintenance of the school.

Read this to learn what “fragrance” is, exactly. You’ll be glad you did.

You may have noticed, or will now notice, signs in places of business, notifying personnel that the location is a Fragrance-Free Zone.  And although sales of fragranced products seems to be at an all-time high, these signs, increasing in frequency, are an indication of things to come.

Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

Put non-toxic clothing on your back-to-school list

Toxins come at us from a variety of consumer products, most of which we can’t see or smell.  One type of consumer product that contains many toxic chemicals that we use daily is clothing.  Most people know to wash new clothing before it is worn.  This is because there are manufacturing chemicals still on the clothing when we bring it home.  Yes, the “new clothing” smell, due to manufacturing chemicals, is often perceptible. Have you ever wondered how much of it gets washed off? How are the remaining chemicals affecting my children’s bodies? And once the clothing is washed, what happens to all those chemicals?

Let me tell you.  They don’t just disappear, they get washed down the drain.  We get to wash it and forget it, but those chemicals still exist and now they are dissolved in water.  As it’s hard to know exactly what and how much, I’ve decided to exit out of this consumer loop of using toxic chemicals for my clothing and washing them down the drain – for health of the planet and for my family.

Continue reading “Clean Clothes for Back to School”

  

A Hot and Soapy Fourth of July

Soapy Fourth of July. Choose pure soap

Much to my children’s amusement, I drank soap last week.  To be honest, it wasn’t a LightenUp stunt. It was a simple act of desperation at the end of a family vacation. We had enjoyed a few days of solitude (well as much solitude as possible with 2 children and an infant) up high in the Entiat River Valley.

The last day of our wilderness excursion was a hot Fourth of July; we stopped at our favorite organic farm, just outside of Chelan, WA on our way out. Rafael, our favorite farmer, had just loaded us up with apricots, cherries, onions, shelling peas, hazelnuts, walnuts and tamales.  The back of the van was now extra full and my boxes of leftover pantry items were precariously placed near the door.

We stopped at Bear Foods, our favorite natural market, for a few snacks on the way to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Wenatchee where we’d be for the fireworks that night. In my rush to keep the family moving along I opened the back of the van and the pantry boxes fell out splat on the pavement. Glass jars and all.

Amazingly nothing broke. But there in the mess was my special bottle of liquid supplement that I usually keep in the refrigerator or cooler while traveling.  It’s a particularly expensive supplement that I’m taking to support my immune system post birth of my son. So it’s pretty important to me.

The lid was cracked and in the heat and chaos of the moment I kind of overreacted…in a graceful way, of course!  I thought “what’s this doing out of the cooler, I’d better have some before it goes bad in the heat and spills out everywhere.” So I snatched it up and took a swig. Eeew! It already tasted like it had gone rancid, souring up my mouth and the back of my throat.

Continue reading “I Drank Soap”

How to Protect Skin Safely During Summer Fun

What's in your sunscreen and swimming pool?

Be aware that sunscreen and swimming pools can contain hazardous chemicals

Sunscreen and swimming pools go hand-in-hand for summer fun, for sure! At the risk of raining on your parade (or at least on your sunny summer day), I caution you to pay attention to what’s in your sunscreen and swimming pool!

I get lots of questions about sunscreen. It’s a tall order to find something that protects kids (and adults!) from sunburn and lasts a long time, even after repeated exposure to water and toweling. Yet it’s becoming more well known that most sunscreens contain hazardous ingredients.

Pools too use chemicals to reduce exposure to harmful bacteria that grow.  I’ve evacuated a few pools in my lifetime that had an unfortunate dose of poop in them. So some kind of anti-bacterial action is really important!

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be complicated to reduce health risks associated with sunscreen and pool chemicals. In order to get you back out there in the fun, I’ll keep it short and sweet for you.

Continue reading “Sunscreen and Swimming Pools”

For the Love of Lilac

Some people think that I’m super sensitive to fragrance.  And it’s easy to understand why. I can sniff out anyone’s laundry detergent floating on the breeze or scented hand soap on my daughter after school.

The word sensitive in our society denotes that something is wrong. Being sensitive to anything is usually considered a fault or weakness.

But when it comes to fragrance, the fragrance of a flower or a chemically made fragrance, being sensitive is a very good thing.

Lilacs have been in bloom here recently.  My neighbor and I swoon over the scent of them wafting between our houses. Lilacs remind us of special times in our childhoods. When cut and placed in the kitchen, their scent in the morning lifts my spirit. And catching the sweet scent of lilac during story time in the hammock makes the moment even more magical.  I’m delighted that I can smell even the faintest hint of lilac.

Benefits of the Olfactory Sense

Our olfactory sense, or sense of smell, is for enjoyment, health and protection (among other benefits).  I enjoy the scent of real lilac, the salty ocean and chocolate.  When I smell dinner cooking it begins the process of digestion. And when a scent is added to natural gas, it can warn us of a dangerous natural gas leak because we associate that added scent with a gas leak.

Continue reading “Fragrance Sensitivity is a Good Thing. Really.”

Grow a Wellness Garden

Grow Wellness in your own backyard

In my case, I grow Wellness in my front yard. Here, Wellness comes packaged in juicy fruits, dirty hands and vegetables bursting with flavor and life. Each spring I anticipate the beauty of green shoots pushing through the earth with their promise of nourishment and deliciousness.

The front yard happens to be where we have the most sun to grow vegetables and fruits.  It’s not a large garden, nor do I spend a lot of time in it.  This year, since the arrival of our baby boy, I spend even less time there having put my 9 year old daughter in charge of it.

My garden could be considered by some to be a hobby garden, but to us, it’s much more than that. It’s where we exchange soil and sunlight for wellness. It is our Wellness Garden.

Continue reading “Grow a Wellness Garden”

Non-toxic gifts for those you love. Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash,

Gifting can be Noxious or Nourishing

As Christmas draws nearer, the days become darker and colder as well. Here in the Pacific Northwest, darker, colder days often come with rain, lots of rain.  Instead of surviving the holidays and the dreary weather (as many people tend to try to do), my family has developed a soothing rhythm of Hygge – embracing the season for its’ opportunities for indoor coziness, togetherness and nourishment of body and soul. This season allows us to enjoy togetherness and warmth created by relationships, time spent together and a heart-warming home.  I believe we thrive on the beauty and hygge-inspiration of this season, just as we do in the spring and summer when we get to do the outdoor things we love and eat from the bounty of the growing season.

It’s this enjoyment and nourishment of the season that I desire to share with others, whether it be in my home or in the gifts that I choose to give at Christmas.  

So often there is a shopping frenzy driven by marketing that is intended to SELL and not necessarily nourish or benefit the recipient. Many gifts bring with them toxic substances like fragrance, radiation, textile processing chemicals and other toxins that just aren’t obvious to the eager shopper.  But I’m here to help!

Maybe in your press for time, you just aren’t sure which gifts will bring the true intent to the recipient…I think it’s safe to assume you want to benefit those on your gift list and not fill them and their homes with potentially toxic gifts.

Add some ‘Merry and Bright’ to your list

Ensuring your gifts are non-toxic can be simple. Using my ideas for non-toxic Christmas gifts may even bring simplicity to your shopping list!

What’s the best Christmas gift for everyone on your list?  Something that is truly non-toxic, nourishing, and thoughtful.

Non-toxic Christmas Gift Ideas

Toys

HABA & Hape toys are the toy brands that I prefer my kids to play with, especially when they were young.  Many of their high quality toys are made from wood, even bamboo, (not unknown plastics), water based stains, using sustainable sources.  In addition to them lasting through a lot of play, they don’t require batteries…typically making them toys that encourage creativity, which nourishes the mind.

Clothing

Pact & Hanna Andersson Clothing

Chemicals coming from the manufacturing of clothing is something most of us don’t think about when we’re shopping.  According to this MindBodyGreen article, clothing retailers “are not required to disclose any of the chemicals used in the production process, even though by  some estimates there are upward of 250 “restricted substances” used in textile manufacturing that pose potential health concerns.”  These chemicals contribute to the toxic soup that we easily get mixed up in, so I believe its best to avoid them as much as possible.

Stink the Movie, a documentary about fragrance in our society, exposed the addition of fragrance to a popular brand of girl’s clothing, through the investigation of a concerned Dad, with no accountability from the manufacturer.

Unfortunately it’s true we can’t avoid all of it, but why not avoid what we can and support the companies who produce products with a conscience?

Pact and Hanna Andersson clothing brands tend to be accessible and reliable when it comes to safety (and quality). Most Hanna Andersson clothing is certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, which means they’re tested down to the very last strand of thread for over 100 harmful substances using strict European certification standards. Hanna clothing is mostly for children, but they do have matching family jammies! Hanna can be found at HannaAndersson.com, Amazon and sometimes Costco.  Pact clothing has clothing for men, women and children and is made from certified organic cotton.  They have great sales going on right now and are also available on Amazon!

Home

I typically focus on replacing cleaning products for the home with with safer, more natural alternatives.  Since most people aren’t really thinking about cleaning ideas for Christmas, let’s focus on the home health environment from a different perspective.  Two types of toxins that we all deal with at home, but few of us are aware of the health effects are indoor air pollution, caused by a wide variety of household products and activities and electromagnetic radiation (EMF/EMR) from appliances and wireless devices.

I realize I said this could be simple and air pollution and EMF/EMR don’t really sound simple nor do they sound like they can inspire gifts that sparkle.  Fortunately Christmas is a time when people really do desire and acquire gifts that promote health! And unfortunately many well-meaning people don’t realize that the popular wireless technology based gifts can actually cause harm to the recipient. If you want to learn about the concerning health effects of indoor air pollution and EMR, please read here and here. Here’s a handy info graphic from BASF about Indoor Air Quality.

Now, on to the gift ideas.  Yes, this can be simple! Your gift recipients will surely be wowed with your thoughtfulness for their well-being!

Air Purifiers

Blue Air Blue Pure air purifiers are considered top performers by Consumer Reports. Blue Air 211 is for a larger space and Blue Air 411 for a smaller room. We used the 211 during some kitchen remodeling and I didn’t notice any adverse odors from the work being done (like I usually do). I intend to use the 411 for my son’s nursery before he’s born to thoroughly prepare the space and once he’s born to keep his air as clean as possible.

Book

For EMR reduction, Nicolas Pinault’s book The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMF’s is the perfect gift for adults, parents and older kids. It’s a simple how-to household book that examines scientific research and then step-by-step, room-by-room teaches the reader how to make safer use of technology.  Love it! I’ll be purchasing a few of these this Christmas. Great for anyone with a home!

Battery Operated Candles and Tealights

For increasing Hygge and decreasing potentially harmful airborne contaminants from candles (scented and non-scented) I recommend battery operated candles and tealights.  Don’t forget the extra batteries!

Chocolate

Theo organic chocolate. Let your gift of chocolate stand out from the rest! I toured the Theo chocolate factory with my daughter this summer. And since it’s also available at grocery stores locally, I’ve tasted a lot of Theo.  I love that the ingredients are organic, no pesticides included.  And since they know their cacoa bean farmers personally, their high quality beans really are full of all the good health benefits that we love to believe about chocolate (especially when its a truly dark chocolate!). You can’t go wrong with Theo! To the delight of my children, my pantry is currently stocked with the holiday bars.

Beauty

100% Pure keeps beauty simple while providing everything one might want! Choose a gift set (on sale now!), a gift card or anything from their full line of products. Read about their story, values and definition of “Natural” here. Your gift recipient will be delighted and can be sure that what they are putting on their precious skin is nourishing and safe.

And for the perfect home and beauty gift combination, don’t forget about my Cleaner Clean, Better Beauty Consultation – helping reduce toxins in your cleaning and beauty routines.  In my Balanced Baby consultation, I offer a complete set of recommendations to ensure that babies and small children aren’t exposed to harmful chemicals from all the products marketed for them in their earliest days of life. I can’t think of a more valuable life giving gift for a family! When you check out, just let me know its a gift and I’ll take care of the rest. 

I am not an affiliate for any of the above companies.  These are simply non-toxic Christmas gift ideas that I trust enough to recommend to anyone seeking a safer gifting season. 

With a few safer gifts, our Christmases can truly be “Merry & Bright”. Here’s to yours!

Why I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with my husband’s family

why I stay away from environmental chemicals, Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Some things are more important than pumpkin pie, or sitting at the same table with Bachan

Thanksgiving with my husband’s family is always spent with Bachan, his Grandmother, who is now 96 years old. (Bachan is Japanese for Grandma.) His family is very loyal and nobody misses being with her on this holiday and Christmas, except for good reason.

Continue reading “Why I won’t be spending this Thanksgiving with my husband’s family”

 

OK, this is somewhat of a confession. 10 years ago a solicitor on behalf of a Breast Cancer Awareness fund called my house. I declined to donate and when she kept going, I let her know what I really thought of the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.  I told her that money should be going to prevention and not to a cure.  Not really that cruel of a thing to say, but definitely not the popular answer then or now.  At the time I was pregnant and experiencing a lot of back pain, so I’m sure she heard all the emotion of that too.  I do hope it made a lasting impression on her.

Continue reading “Breast Cancer & the Kinder Cure”

Child Health Begins at Home

Simple changes can have big impact
Photo by Tina Floersch on Unsplash

I’m a bit passionate about children’s health. Well, actually, I’m a lot passionate about kids’ health. I have 2 daughters. Both had a rough entry into life, putting them at greater risk for chronic illness and adverse effects related to chemicals in their environment. 

Fortunately, because I am a proactive seeker of health (necessitated by an autoimmune diagnosis in my childhood), my girls caught a break.  Our home and personal care routine is relatively low in toxic man-made chemicals. The benefit of that can be seen in these Beauties’ health today.

Continue reading “Be the Change: Child Health”