Category Archives: Green Tips

Avoid Teflon Pans

Non stick frying panNon-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, a DuPont brand trademark.
Since it comes from DuPont, you know it’s made from chemicals. Non-stick pans have been all the rage for decades, but you are paying a price with your health for their convenience.

Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn’t toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.

Manufacturers’ labels often warn consumers to avoid high heat when cooking on Teflon. But EWG-commissioned tests conducted in 2003 showed that in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases.

The best pans to use for cooking are stainless steel. Cast iron is good, but problems have been reported with people getting too much iron from them. Stainless steel is the safest because it leeches nothing harmful into food. The best pots for baking are glass.

See our main health page, Health Circkles, for much more alternative health information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on health issues, news, nutrition and anything alternative health related.

Flushing Medications Down the Toilet Poisons Us All.

Two-headed-shark--016 Many tests have proven that the medications we flush down the toilet to get rid of are showing up in our drinking water and waterways, poisoning us and the wildlife. Most people do not think before they flush an old prescription medications down the toilet that that is not the end of it.

If you think this is a problem that doesn’t affect you, you are wrong. The improper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs ends up right back in your water supply where you are ingesting and absorbing all kinds of drugs you never planned on in your drinking water through city water systems .High levels of chemical estrogens have already been detected in the majority of city drinking water. These chemical estrogens are up to 1000 times more potent than what the body makes and have been proven to cause hormone imbalances leading to many diseases, neurological disorders, weight problems and digestion problems.

My mother was a member of her lake association, and when she found out that the lake she lives on was actually being poisoned by prescription medications when it was tested by the DNR, she took action to try and educate her neighbors on the proper way to dispose of medications, and set them up with a local medication dispensary that would collect old and expired medications for the elderly.

However, just flushing old meds is not the only way they end up in our water supply and waterways. When we take medications, they are flushed out of our bodies when we urinate as well. Also, numerous medications such as growth hormones, antibiotics and supplements are given to livestock and they in turn urinate these chemicals into their environment.

We’re now at a point where pharmaceuticals in the environment have become a big problem because we have not disposed of them properly for years. Millions of vultures died off in Asia after exposure to an anti-inflammatory painkiller used in cows. Male fish have also been observed with feminized characteristics due to exposure to synthetic estrogens in birth control pills.

2 headed turtleOtters, sadly, may be next in line, as researchers have discovered traces of drugs in their fur, which could be having serious consequences. As reported by the campaign group Chem Trus.

Pharmaceutical pollution is by no means a threat directed at only one species or one country. It’s a worldwide problem, and one that has the potential to threaten virtually every species on the planet.

As recently reported in the journal Philosophical Transactions.

“Expanding and aging human populations require ever increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals to maintain health. Recent studies have revealed that pharmaceuticals, both human and veterinary, disperse widely in aquatic and terrestrial environments with uptake into a range of organisms.

Pharmaceuticals are designed to have biological actions at low concentrations rendering them potentially potent environmental contaminants. The potential risks that pharmaceuticals pose to the health and long-term viability of wild animals and ecosystems are only beginning to be assessed and understood.”

For instance, exposure to low concentrations of psychiatric drugs can alter foraging patterns, activity levels and risk-taking behaviors in fish and birds.

The common antidepressant fluoxetine has been found to cause starlings to eat less, and synthetic estrogens in birth control pills reduce fish populations in lakes. Changes such as these have the potential to affect the entire ecosystem.

As reported in The Guardian:

“Another new study, led by Karen Kidd at the University of New Brunswick, showed synthetic estrogen used in the birth control pill not only wiped out fathead minnows in lakes used for experiments in Ontario, but also seriously disrupted the whole ecosystem.

The lakes’ top predator – trout – declined by 23-42%, due to the loss of the minnow and other prey, while insects increased as they were no longer being eaten by the minnows.”

The Proper Way to Dispose of Meds.

You can help by not flushing unused medications down your toilet or drain. What should you do with them instead? Some states are considering legislation that would require drug manufacturers to develop and pay for a program to collect residents’ unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and safely dispose of them.

As it stands, however, the EPA and other government agencies have released the following guidelines for “safely” disposing of drugs:

  • Throw most drugs in the trash after crushing them or dissolving them in water, mixing them with kitty litter, coffee grounds or other unappealing materials, and placing the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Remove and destroy any prescription labels before throwing away the containers.
  • In some states, pharmacies can take back medications. When in doubt, you should ask your pharmacist for advice.

Unfortunately, some of these suggestions merely move the environmental peril from one place to another — such as diluting medicines in water and mixing them in garbage that eventually ends up in a landfill anyway … but it does stop the drugs from travelling through water treatment systems that are ill-equipped to treat them.

On a larger scale, Chem Trust recommends that new medicines be designed so they don’t persist in the environment, and sewage treatment works be improved to treat medications that come through.

See our main health page, Health Circkles, for much more alternative health information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on health issues, news, nutrition and anything alternative health related.

Avoid Antibacterial Soaps

antibacsoapA U.S. FDA advisory committee found that use of antibacterial soaps provides no benefits over plain soap and water for killing bacteria. But that’s not the most important reason to avoid antibacterial soaps.

The main reason to avoid anti-bacterial soaps is its active ingredient: triclosan (and the related triclocarbon). Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical found in many consumer products, and it’s nearly ubiquitous in liquid hand soap. It is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and even low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Further, the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

EWG Guide to TriclosanIt also affects the natural environment. Wastewater treatment does not remove all of the chemical, which means it ends up in our lakes, rivers and water sources. That’s especially unfortunate since triclosan is very toxic to aquatic life.

Make Your Own Laundry Soap.

Goinggreen

Make Your Own Laundry Soap for a Fraction of the Cost.

We should all know by now the dangers soap products are creating for our environment and Tide is one of the worst offenders. Unfortunately, people like to just pour something out of a box. But a box of Tide can cost $20 per gallon and can destroy your septic system and any underground water sources as well. This is easy and very inexpensive, and you can order all the ingredients off of Amazon.com or find them in most grocery stores.

Borax: $2.99 for a box.
Washing Soda: $2.99
5.5 Oz Bar of Fels Naptha Soap: $0.95
Essential Oil (optional)

To make only 1 gallon of soap, cut all the ingredients into 1/4 and mix in a gallon jug filled half way with hot water. Mix and then add remaining water to fill.

To Make 5 gallons of soap:

Step 1: Grate the Fels Naptha soap using a cheese grater.

Step 2: Add the soap to a half gallon of hot but not boiling water. You don’t want it to boil, otherwise it’ll get all sudsy and makes a mess. Stir until completely mixed, usually around 10 minutes.

Step 3: Fill a 5 gallon bucket with four and a half gallons of hot tap water. Pour in the melted soap mixture, making it five gallons total of the mixture.

Step 4: Stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda.

Step 5: It you’re opting to use the essential oil now’s the time. Add in .5 to 1 oz of oil, depending on how strong of a smell you want your detergent to have.

Step 6: Stir continuously until everything has been effectively mixed together. Snap on a lid and let it sit for a full 24 hours. In this time, it will gel and look a lot more like laundry detergent. After 24 hours, pour it into used gallon bottles if you want to make it more convenient.

WARNING: If you have a front load washer, only use about 1/4 -1/2 cup or less. This soap goes a long way, so you may want to start out with a very small amount first and work your way up to more if needed or you could have a mess in your laundry room.

You will get quite a few batches of soap out of one box of Borax and Washing Soda. So a gallon of this laundry soap costs on average about $2.00 – $2.50 . You can’t beat that! Or the savings to the environment. Basically, you are paying a fortune for the convenience of having somebody else make it for you when you buy name-brand laundry detergents.

GREEN TIPS: Going back to using bar soaps.

How-To-Make-Soap1-660x444Liquid soaps, including shampoo, all have the same basic foundational ingredients as bar soap, so in essence, you are paying extra for the water added to liquid soaps and the plastic bottles they are packaged in.

Bar soaps work just as good, and today, they have been modified with extra moisturizing ingredients and herbal oils and scents to be even better than most liquid soaps and shampoo. So why pay extra for the water and plastic packaging.

There are many homemade or artisan crafted bar soaps on the market now that are wonderful. Plus, many of them can be purchased in bulk and don’t even come with any wrappers, or just paper packaging at most. These are much more economical than any liquid soap.

But you are saying to yourself, “What about the mess and when the bar gets too small to use, you end up throwing that part away and it’s wasteful.” Our response: “True, but take all those small, unusable pieces of soap, put them in a bottle of water, shake, and use the liquid soap you just made to wash your hair with. Always put your bars of soap in a soap dish to make the mess easier to clean than if you just put them on the sink.

For more sustainable living and homesteading tips and articles, read our Green Circkles page.

GREEN TIPS: Going Green at the Salon.

Shear-Elegance-Salon-Organic-Color-Photo-1024x819Many conventional body products, like shampoos and massage oils, can contain a litany of ingredients that add to your chemical exposure and contain carcinogens. Nail polish and hair straightening products are very high in carcinogens.

“Exposure to formaldehyde doesn’t end with the treatment—the fumes are reactivated every time heat is applied to the hair,” says Arce. “So when a client who’s had a Brazilian Blowout done elsewhere comes into the salon to get a haircut or color and has her hair blow-dried, flatironed, curled, or processed under the hood dryer, the fumes that come out of her hair make me and several of my coworkers sick all over again.” Says salon worker Jennifer Arce.

A large network of independently owned “concept salons” across the US are connected with Aveda, a national leader in developing hair and body products free from the most dangerous ingredients. More than 90 percent of Aveda’s essential oils and 89 percent of its raw herbal ingredients are certified organic.

“We review all ingredients from a personal health and environmental standpoint and are always working to increase the amount of our products that are certified organic,” says Marc Zollicoffer, Aveda’s director of spa education and sales.

If you’re going to the spa, look for a member of the Green Spa Network, a coalition of green-minded spas across the US that pledge to be energy efficient and sustainable in all their practices.

If there isn’t a green salon near you, bring your own nontoxic products to your salon if allowed.

For more sustainable living and homesteading tips and articles, read our Green Circkles page.