Reasons Borax is Questionable as an Alternative Washing Agent

borax-safe-cleaner

When you checked the label on your eco-friendly detergent, you may have noticed the term “borax” listed among the ingredients. Borax, a naturally-occurring white mineral salt used in the production of boric acid, dissolves readily in water when in powdered form and contains chemical properties that help change some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide, a liquid with oxidizing properties often used in bleach and disinfectant. When compared to commercial brands of powdered detergents or laundry soaps that include chemically engineered and potentially harmful compounds, borax may sound like a perfect alternative. But before you pick up (or mix up) a washing solution with borax, you may want to consider some studies conducted on the safety of this mineral. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, even touching borax can cause skin irritation or a rash. Inhalation of borax can lead to serious respiratory problems, nausea and vomiting. A boric acid fact sheet published by The National Pesticide Information Center warns that eye exposure to borax can result in eye irritation lasting up to 21 days, or, in severe cases, irreversible corrosive damage to ocular (eye) tissue.

Borax may damage the male reproductive organs and even harm fetal development. In clinical trials involving rats, The National Pesticide Information Center reported testicular atrophy in test rats that ingested borax, along with a link to fetal skeletal deformations and reduced fetal weight in pregnant rats.

Borax also poses some serious health hazards for infants. Accidental ingestion of borax can lead to convulsions, seizures, headaches and even coma or death in infants.

Exposure to borax can also harm your pets. The National Pesticide Information Center lists abdominal pain, fever, retching, and diarrhea as symptoms suffered by animals after ingesting just a small amount of boric acid. Large amounts of consumed boric acid can result in depression, seizures and even death in animals.

 The warnings linked to borax make it highly questionable as a safe washing agent, not to mention a serious potential health hazard around pets, infants and other members of your household. Consider substituting baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, for borax the next time you’re in need of a nontoxic cleaning product. A solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda combined with a quart of water makes an effective cleaner and odor remover that you can use safely throughout your house. When choosing an alternative washing solution, check the ingredients carefully to ensure your product is not only all-natural, but also a safe choice for you and your loved ones.

References: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/borictech.htmlhttp://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2005-0062-0004http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/consumer/fact_sheets/Cleaning_Budget.pdf  (baking soda solution)

Originally posted 2013-10-23 11:35:36.

Uses for Coconut Oil

uses for coconut oil

Consider the coconut. Crack open this fuzzy, hard-shelled tropical fruit and you get a nutrient-rich feast with a host of health benefits. Indeed, the coconut has long been acclaimed not just for its vitalizing water or its sweet kernel, but also for its edible and surprisingly versatile oil. Coconut oil, which is extracted from the fruit’s kernel, is a pretty hot topic these days. The proven benefits from coconut oil, in both food and medicinal applications, almost seem to make the news daily. Consider these uses for coconut oil the next time you’re cooking pastry, searching for a good repellent, moisturizing your skin and more!

Coconut oil increases “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein): Coconut oil is rich in fat. More than 50 percent of this fat comes from lauric acid, a type of fatty acid that can have a more positive effect on serum lipoprotein levels (comprised of the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood) than other oils. “Good” HDL can mean better cardiovascular health.            

Coconut oil for cooking: Coconut oil’s sweet flavor makes it a perfect medium for roasting, frying or sautéing a wide variety of meats and vegetables. It also provides a great flavor-and smell!-enhancing ingredient when added to cakes and other baked confections. Anyone with dietary restrictions (such as vegans) or with dairy-related allergies can substitute melted coconut oil for butter, or room temperature coconut oil for shortening.

Coconut oil as a stain remover: The next time you have a greasy stain, try combining 1 part coconut oil to 8 parts of cleaning solvent (dry) and then dry spotting the stain to help remove it.

Coconut oil for moisturizing skin: The botanical (plant-derived) ingredients in coconut oil helps to preserve your skin’s outer layer, and keep your skin moisturized and firm.

Coconut oil treats atopic dermatitis: One study suggests that applying virgin coconut oil topically can improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema), a chronic condition resulting in inflamed, itchy areas of skin.

Coconut oil for preterm baby health: One study suggests that a coconut oil massage can improve growth and help expedite weight gain in preterm babies.

Coconut oil promotes hair health: Coconut oil, when applied to the hair, helps to moisturize hair follicles and protect them from damage caused by combing.

Coconut oil as a mite repellent: Coconut oil, when combined with jojoba, has been shown to help repel scabies mites, or tiny insects that tunnel beneath the skin, breed and then hatch their eggs, which then results in scabies, or a highly contagious rash.

Coconut oil for soap: The high lauric acid content of coconut oil makes it an ideal ingredient for bar soap. Lauric acid contains antibacterial properties, increases soap lather and enhances the hardness of the soap bar.

The applications for coconut oil are many. Whether you use it in a cake, in your hair or to treat a bad case of eczema, you’re sure to benefit from this amazing, sweet smelling tropical oil.           

 

References: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2011/May/coconut-oilhttp://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/articles/Do_skin_creams_deliver.htmhttp://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=630167http://www.uvm.edu/~edstudio/Information/april10/products/soapmaking.pdf (lauric acid research), http://www.pjm.microbiology.pl/archive/vol5812009043.pdf (lauric acid research), http://www.human.cornell.edu/fsad/outreach/upload/removingstains.pdf  (stain removal)

Originally posted 2013-10-17 15:55:52.

How I Killed a Sea Turtle.

sea turtle plastics north pacific gyre garbage patch plastic bagsLast December, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Hawaii and go snorkeling in Maui!  The water was blue and clear.  The reefs were beautiful and teeming with life. Among the many fish we saw, one of our favorites was the state fish of Hawaii, the Humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apua’a.  But I’d have to say that our favorite creature overall (dolphins included) was the sea turtle!  

These guys were so chill and seemingly indestructible.  They weren’t bothered at all that we were swimming in their surf —  they just looked at us and swam by at their own pace.  I could almost hear them saying, “Wasup bro!” as we passed one another.  Inadvertently, we almost swam right into one that was surfacing for air.  We were so happily splashing about looking for sea turtles through our foggy snorkel masks that we didn’t even notice the one that was right in front of us!  While it’s not a good idea to get as close as we did to that sea turtle, it was amazing to see him up-close, catch a glimpse of his unique skin art, and slap some fin (OK, maybe not).

After that encounter, it felt like we had become friends with a turtle that day, so you can image how sad it was to discover a few months later that WE HAD KILLED SOME OF HIS FRIENDS!  Yes, I am responsible for killing sea turtles. I must give a response because I’ve participated in the thoughtless wastefulness that has resulted in the death or sickness of numerous sea turtles.

You see, I’m guilty of using plastic bags and other plastic products even when I knew that plastic is a material that never goes away.  And now there’s a MASSIVE garbage dump floating in the Pacific Ocean that’s estimated to cover 3,000,000 square miles of ocean!  This garbage dump, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is composed primarily of small plastic particles.  These particles are toxic, and birds (like Albatrosses) and sea turtles are eating the plastic and becoming sick, even dying.  Fish are also consuming plastic from the Garbage Patch, and it’s thought that the ingested plastic in the fish may pose a toxic risk for humans.  This. Is. Simply. Unacceptable.

It’s been said that if we want to see change in this world then it is has to start with us.  

Well, I want to make a change.

According to researchers, 80% of the plastic found in the ocean is from land waste such as plastic shopping bags.  If that’s the case, I’m not going to make excuses for forgetting to bring my own reusable bags to the grocery store anymore.  I will minimize my use of plastics as much as possible.  This goes for me and for CREUS, too.  All of our products are currently in recyclable packaging, but we want to do more to be better stewards of God’s creation.  Keep an eye out, because we’ll be aggressively moving towards biodegradable packaging options wherever possible.  

This wasn’t supposed to turn into an angry tirade or an ode to environmentalism, it’s just that it makes sense to be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.  I know how easy it is to go along with the waste and consumption that’s accepted by our society.  The plastic bags are right there.  They’re so easy and convenient.  The disposable doesn’t require any forethought or any planning.  I know, I’ve been there too, but we can’t really live life by floating downstream with the rest of society.  Join me in living intentionally, thoughtfully, and lovingly towards all of God’s creation — every man, woman, child and….sea turtle.

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Sources: Environment California, Global Analysis of Anthropogenic Debris Ingestion by Sea Turtles

Originally posted 2013-08-08 16:49:49.

DIY All-Natural Laundry Detergent

Purchasing all-natural laundry soap is certainly the easiest way to greenclean your laundry.  However, finding eco-friendly detergent at a budget-friendly price can be time-consuming and marketing is becoming increasingly deceptive; some products that claim to be green can still contain harmful chemicals.  

We know there’s only so much time in the day to make your own products, so is DIY detergent worth it? After investing a little time in some research, we learned that laundry detergent is definitely something that can be made easily and affordably, leaving behind only the peace of mind that your clothes are getting their cleanest without the use of any toxins.

Need another reason to switch to DIY detergent?  According to Wikipedia, sodium triphosphate can comprise up to 50% of traditional detergents.  The discharge of soluble phosphates like this one has led to problems of inhibited growth of living things in streams and lakes. The European Union is already banning the use of phosphates in domestic use.  Add this to the fact that many ingredients in conventional laundry detergents (ethanolamine, ethoxylates, sulfates) are irritants, some of which are linked to cancer and have reproductive concerns, and we feel that the need to steer clear of traditional laundry detergents is a pretty high priority.

 

If you’re looking for citric acid, we found ours here.  The other ingredients can easily be found in your local grocery store. 

Four all-natural, whole ingredients.  

How easy is that?!

detergent1

Originally posted 2013-08-05 13:30:19.

DIY Goo Remover

DIY goo remover

Chemicals easily sneak into many household products, but they don’t have to fill your home. Make simple switches like this one to rid your life of toxins.

Create your own DIY goo remover from two ingredients and easily get rid of stickers, adhesive gunk, gum, and other sticky messes.

Step 1. Measure ¼ C baking soda into a small jar with a screw-top lid.
Step 2. Add ¼ C coconut oil and mix well.

Goo Remover

Step 3. Use to remove stickers and make your life a little easier!

photo-4

Just like other goo removers, test in an inconspicuous area before use and do not use on cloth, silk, leather, or suede.

Originally posted 2013-06-25 23:26:46.

What's the point of organic fabrics?

organic-cotton-health-benefitsContrary to the belief of some, purchasing clothes or products made from organic fabrics won’t immediately reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.  Non-organic fabrics are washed and don’t contain the chemicals that they’re grown with (What you wash your clothes with is more important).  Since that’s the case, you might be wondering, “Then what’s the point of organic fabrics?” Well, even though you don’t need to worry about harmful chemicals remaining in the clothes you buy for yourself or your family, there’re definite reasons to be concerned about all the chemicals used to get non-organic fabrics onto the shelf or hangers.

Non-organic cotton fabrics are the most egregious of all.  In 2003, over 50 million pounds of chemical pesticides were used on cotton crops grown in the United States.  Of these pesticides, several of them are known carcinogens, and many of them are harmful to animal species.  It’s important to remember that when chemicals like pesticides are sprayed into the environment, they don’t just go away.  They permeate the air, ground, and water supply.  On that same token, in the year 2000, over 2 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were used to grow cotton.  Synthetic fertilizers like nitrogen are extremely disruptive and damaging to natural plant and animal ecologies.  To put in perspective how much synthetic fertilizer is used to grow non-organic cotton, think about this: the cotton in one non-organic t-shirt takes 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizer to grow.

So, when it comes to the question, “What’s the point of organic fabrics?” The answer is that by choosing organic fabrics you choose a healthier environment for you, your family, and our non-human animal friends for years to come.

References: Organic Trade Association, Patagonia

Originally posted 2013-05-01 23:16:13.

Avoid Harmful Toxins Without Living in a Space Suit

With the number of chemicals that we’re exposed to on a daily basis and the growing dichotomy between people who are either hysterical or extremely skeptical, it can be difficult to sort out what chemicals pose a real threat to our health. Perhaps even more challenging is figuring out how to take practical steps to limit exposure to the substances that are truly harmful.  After all, it’s not very practical to walk around in a space suit or (if you’re a parent) to provide space suits for all your children.  In an attempt to make things a little simpler, we’ve compiled a list of a few of the chemicals that pose real threats and ways to easily avoid them.  

BPA – Bisphenol A: an organic chemical used in the production of hard plastics.  BPA is a xenoestrogen and functions as a hormone in the body, disrupting the endocrine system and the body’s normal hormone function.  Studies have found that even low doses of BPA can affect reproductive health and normal development.  There’s evidence to suggest that ingestion of BPA can also contribute to neurological problems, weight gain, thyroid disfunction, and cancer.

  • Common sources of exposure: Canned foods, water bottles and other #7 plastics, coffee makers made with hard plastic, and receipts.
  • Ways to limit exposure: Instead of buying canned foods, buy frozen or jarred foods.  Purchase BPA-free plastic drinking bottles or use stainless steel containers.  Handle receipts as little as possible and be sure to wash your hands after touching them.  

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroetheylene) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid): chemicals used in the production of non-stick cookware, as well as waterproofing, friction-reducing, and stain-resistant technologies.  PTFE is relatively stable and harmless in its solid state, but when heated at high temperatures it breaks down (starting at 392 degrees) and emits toxic fumes.  PTFE fumes have killed pet birds and are toxic for human inhalation.  PFOA is a toxic and highly pervasive pollutant and can last in the environment indefinitely.  PFOA disrupts normal hormone function, damages cells, and is carcinogenic.

  • Common sources of exposure: teflon, non-stick cookware, snack food/popcorn bags, stain-repellant sprays and coatings.
  • Ways to limit exposure: Cook with stainless steel or ceramic coated cookware.  Eat less greasy snack foods and more whole foods.  Avoid using stain repellants by getting a cover for your furniture.  Wear untreated cotton or wool fabrics.

Pesticides: There are a variety of pesticides used on America’s vast crops.  Some of them include: Pyrethrins, dibromochlorophane, Imazalil, organophosphates, and clothianidin.  Government agencies and chemical companies have tried to say that use of these chemicals isn’t posing any real harm, but if that’s the case then why do they cause health problems for the workers that are regularly exposed to them?  In the lab pesticides are known to disrupt the endocrine system, negatively affect reproductive health, cause cancer , and worsen outcomes for neurological health.  There’s also increasing evidence that non-occupational exposure is having negative outcomes for the general population.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently made a recommendation to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides, as early exposure is associated with cancer and decreased cognitive abilities.  

  • Common sources of exposure: non-organic fruits and vegetables, water, and the air.
  • Ways to limit exposure: If you live near an area where there is constant spraying of pesticides, you might consider moving.  Otherwise, buying organic fruits and vegetables is an easy and proven way to reduce pesticide exposure.   According to the the Environmental Working Group, the 10 fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticides, starting with the highest, are: apples, celery, sweet peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, and cucumbers.  Buy these fruits and vegetables organic whenever possible.  

Disinfectant products, Chromium-6, Nitrate, and Arsenic: toxic and carcinogenic chemicals commonly found in our water supply and in some foods.  Chromium-6, in particularly, has been found at levels above proposed goals in a number of municipal water sources.  

  • Common sources of exposure: Tap water, Rice (Arsenic)
  • Ways to limit exposure: Install a charcoal water filter.  If you eat rice, choose brown rice and soak it in water for a day before consuming, then rinse and drain before cooking.

Triclosan: an organic chemical used for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  Its anti-bacterial health benefits, however, are limited.  Exposure to triclosan is connected to an increased occurrence of allergies. It is toxic when inhaled and may disrupt thyroid function.  Triclosan can also react to form dioxins, which are extremely toxic and carcinogenic.

  • Common sources of exposure: Hand soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.
  • Ways to limit exposure: Read the labels on soaps, toothpastes, and deodorants and choose triclosan-free options.

The effect manmade chemicals can have on human health is another example of how human civilization often brings us further away from good health, instead of closer to it.  It’s important to carefully examine and discriminately select human technologies based on the consequences they have for all living creatures.  We don’t have to live in a bubble or wear a space suit; we just need to make smart choices.

Chemical-free product suggestions:
Kleen Kanteen (REI) – stainless steel, BPA-free drinking container
Ceramic-Coated Non-Stick Frying Pan – PTFE and PFOA-free (Amazon.com)
Brita or Under-Sink charcoal water filters
Natural soap -triclosan-free (Amazon.com)

References:
Environmental Working Group, BPA and Male Infertility, BPA Exposure and Child Obesity, PFOA Toxicity, PTFE Inhalation, PTFE and PFOA in Food Packaging,  Are Organic Foods Safer?Pesticides Pose Serious Risk to Children

Originally posted 2013-02-26 23:17:00.

Plants that filter indoor air

A NASA study led by Dr. Wolverton and completed in 1989 once again revealed the power of God’s creation for health.  The study, which began in the 1960s to investigate sealed living spaces like space stations and biodomes, found that a variety of house plants can vastly improve the quality of air in poorly ventilated spaces.   It turns out that while the plants are a key component to the filtering, they primarily serve as homes for friendly bacteria that live in the plants’ root systems.

When exposed to toxins in the air (which concentrate indoors due to synthetic building materials and poor ventilation), bacteria make microevolutionary adaptations to use the toxins they encounter as fuel.  Amazing!  The longer the same plants (and their bacteria) are exposed to toxins in a particular environment, the better they became at filtering those toxins.
plants that filter airVarious house plants host different bacteria.  The type of bacteria hosted determines the type of toxins filtered.  Below is a list of common chemicals/toxins and the house plants that effectively filter them:

Trichlorethylene (a carcinogenic solvent, commonly found in water – thus emitted into the air when hot water is used): Peace Lily, Marginata, Bamboo Palm, and Janet Craig.

Benzene (a carcinogenic petrochemical commonly found in the air and manufactured products): Gerbera Daisy, Pot Mum, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Warneckei, Peace Lily, and Marginata.

Formaldehyde (a carcinogenic, highly toxic, and very prevalent organic chemical): Bamboo Palm, Janet Craig, Marginata, Green Spider Plant, and English Ivy.

Click here to read the entire NASA report.

Beside their air filtering qualities, house plants can brighten up your living environment, provide a lovely fragrance, and put a smile on your face!  We were made to be outside, but we often spend more time indoors than we care to admit.   So, if you don’t already have a few house plants, bring a little piece of God’s creation indoors – it will benefit your health!

Originally posted 2011-09-09 19:38:00.