Trying To Be Greener

Safer eco-living, one day at a time

Product Review – Miessence Certified Organics November 19, 2008

Thanks to the Crunchy Domestic Goddess, a few weeks ago I won a selection of products by Miessence Certified Organics. Miessence’s personal care products and makeup are the first skin care line to be certified organic to food standards. They’ve also received the seal of approval by Australia’s leading certifying body, The Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Skin Deep has tested 84 of their products, all of which have a “low hazard” score. Many of them have a score of “0”, the safest score possible.

I’ve had the opportunity to try the Balancing Cleanser, Balancing Skin Conditioner, Balancing Moisturizer, Desert Flower Shampoo, Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner, Mint Toothpaste, Breath Fresh Spray, and Jaffa Lip Balm. They had a wonderfully mild scent and all worked really well. My favorites, though, are the lip balm, skin conditioner and moisturizer.

I’ve mentioned before on my blog about my love affair of lip balms. Miessence’s lip balm definitely rates high with me due its soothing effect and slight sheen, which I though was really nice. Using the skin conditioner and moisturizer together at night left my skin the softest I think I’ve ever felt by morning.

Meissence products are on the more expensive side but their prices are comparable and perhaps even less than other products you would find at health food stores.

Miessence Balancing Skin Conditioner

Miessence Balancing Skin Conditioner

Copyright © 2008. Trying To Be Greener. All rights reserved.

Flame Retardants in PJ’s November 18, 2008

Filed under: baby,children,health — Kirstin @ 9:25 am
Tags: ,

The Smart Mama just wrote a really informative post on flame retardants in children’s pj’s and how to avoid them if you wish to.

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Eco-friendly Gift Guide

Filed under: Eco-Holidays — Kirstin @ 9:10 am
Tags: ,

Green and Clean Mom has put together a great eco-holiday gift guide filled with ideas for babies through adults. Head on over there and take a look!

Green and Clean Mom

Green and Clean Mom

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Motrin’s ad against babywearing November 17, 2008

Filed under: baby — Kirstin @ 9:06 am
Tags: , ,

The other day, Crunchy Domestic Goddess was sending out information on Twitter about a Motrin ad about babywearing.

UPDATE: Motrin has now pulled the ad but you can see it on You Tube and Crunchy Domestic Goddess has received an email from the VP of Marketing at Motrin. You can also see an article written by the New York Times today about the whole story.

Here it is in it’s entirety complements of Barb who seems to have brought it to everyone’s attention:

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.

There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.

And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.

Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.

They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.

But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?

I sure do!

These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!

I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.

Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.

And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

The other day, I wrote about my dilemma with my Baby Bjorn being difficult to use now due to my daughter’s current weight. Some baby carriers are better at different stages in your child’s life – others can go the distance. Babywearing is something by my daughter and I enjoy so I was interested in finding a new one that suited us both at this point in time.

I completely disagree with Motrin’s ad in that it downplays the benefits of babywearing and centers on the “discomfort” of the parent. As I said, finding the right carrier and wearing it properly makes all the difference – there is no need for “discomfort”. What bothers me most about the ad is that it could potentially discourage people from actually trying babywearing. But just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it’s International Babywearing Month from November 12 – 18. If you agree and find it offensive, you can let Motrin know about it here.

As an update to my babywearing post, you should know that I did buy the Ergo Baby Carrier from a great site that offers a 90 day money back guarantee – if it doesn’t work for you within 90 days, you can return it for your money back. They’ll ship it to you free (got mine in 2 days!) but if you return it, you need to pay for return shipping.

Organic Cranberry with Camel Lining

Organic Cranberry with Camel Lining

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Copyright © 2008. Trying To Be Greener. All rights reserved.

For the holidays choose safer, natural toys November 14, 2008

Recently, I wrote about introducing my daughter to toys made of safer, natural materials. My desire has been to try to limit her exposure to lead, BPA, and phthalates, all of which are extremely harmful but even more so to small bodies.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. You can’t always rely on safe toys being sold in conventional places. Many of the products sold there contain the harmful components mentioned above. I’ve always just ended up doing research myself on individual toys and just searched for them all over the internet.

I used to feel uncomfortable about well meaning relatives and friends purchasing toys for my daughter that may not be the safest choices and with the holidays coming up, this could be a time of “plastic overload”. I found, though, that there’s an easy way around this. When asked what they can get for my daughter, I just suggest a store that has a variety of choices with a high standard for safety.

One of those stores is Natural Pod. Natural Pod is a Canadian company that was started by individuals who were just interested in finding safer toys for their own children. Their site has a variety of beautiful toys for babies, toddlers, and young children. These are toys that you’ll want to hang onto for generations to come – how often have you been able to say that about typical toys you come in contact with?

They have lovely toys for babies:

Organic Soft Block Set

Organic Soft Block Set

Stacking toys for toddlers:

Nesting Birds

Nesting Birds

Toys that inspire imagination:

Chef's Kitchen and Hutch

Chef's Kitchen and Hutch

And toys that keep your child active:

LikeaBike Forest

LikeaBike Forest

Not to mention others, like musical instruments, bath toys, arts and crafts, and dolls just to name a few.

Lucky you: Get 10% off your first order at Natural Pod when you use the code “GCM08” through December 31st. Be sure to pass this information along to any family members who may interested in purchasing holiday toys for your little ones.

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Baby’s First Thanksgiving – Making it special November 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kirstin @ 10:25 am

Today I’m over at Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet! talking about making your baby’s first Thanksgiving meal a special one. Go on over and take a look.

Photo from Flickr by Jslander

Photo from Flickr by Jslander

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Rethinking Thanksgiving November 12, 2008

Once again, my friend Jen and fellow Eco Woman is here at Trying To Be Greener. This month, it’s all about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which means that people all across the country will soon be descending on their grocery stores with mile-long shopping lists.  Grocery stores are stocking up such items as turkeys bred for size and not flavor, boxes of instant stuffing, and cans of jellied cranberries.  Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? No, not really.

What if this year, you were to do something truly radical?  What if you were to change all or part of your Thanksgiving dinner to include more homemade foods?  AND what if you were to cook seasonally and only serve foods that are available to you this time of the year?

Hmmm… That makes things a bit more challenging, doesn’t it?

Cooking from scratch is actually less expensive than buying processed foods.  For example, a box of stuffing mix costs $3-$4, depending on what brand you buy.  Instead, you could make your own stuffing and it would taste so much better, as well as contain fewer preservatives and involve less wasteful packaging. And, instead of using instant mashed potatoes, why not cook up some russets yourself?

Homemade food — that’s the easy part.  But what about eating seasonally?

Ahh, that’s a little trickier.

I majored in American history in college and one thing that has always fascinated me is the so-called First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation, which was a simple harvest festival that was held in 1621.  (The reality is that harvest festivals and meals of thanksgiving have been held for centuries and no one knows when the first such meal occurred in what is now known as the United States.)  For their festival, the Pilgrims ate what they had available at that time of the year.  In that part of Massachusetts in 1621 those foods were:

  • fish (cod, bass, herring, eel) and seafood (clams, lobsters, mussels)
  • birds (wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge)
  • venison
  • grains (wheat flour, Indian corn and corn meal, barley)
  • vegetables (squashes, beans, and possibly peas)
  • nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, hickory nuts)
  • dried fruits (raspberries, strawberries, grapes, cherries, blueberries, gooseberries)

Hmmm, no cranberries on that list.  Or green bean casserole.  And definitely no sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

The foods that Americans now traditionally eat for Thanksgiving are actually the result of a national day of thanksgiving that Americans celebrated in 1863, and which has been celebrated annually ever since.  Again, foods that were either readily available or had been stored for the winter were eaten:  turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkins, and more.

Since that time, Thanksgiving dinner has evolved and become much more a matter of personal taste and family tradition than a meal that celebrates another successful harvest and features seasonal foods.  There are debates on the different kinds of stuffing (cornbread, chestnut, etc.) and the different ways to prepare the turkey (roasted, deep fried, and even grilled) and one’s preferences are highly personal and usually based on family traditions.

So, what about eating seasonally?

Well, that’s going to vary, depending on where you live.  For example, I live in Virginia, where cranberries would not normally be found, so I would eliminate cranberries from my meal.  (And who really eats those anyway?)  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are readily available here.  Apples are plentiful in the Old Dominion, so it would make sense to have homemade applesauce, cooked apples, and/or apple pie.   I could make a butternut squash soup, roasted acorn squash, and/or cauliflower gratin.  Late fall greens, such as collards, spinach, and even some hardy lettuces would also be possible.  Pumpkin pie would definitely be on my menu.

In short, for me, it would be incredibly easy for me to eat seasonal local foods for Thanksgiving.  I’m sure that in some regions it might be a little trickier.  But, it is possible for everyone to make at least part of the meal seasonal.

If you are interested in learning more about eating seasonally and locally, I encourage you to read Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful book Animal, Vegetable Miracle (click here for a review), which talks about her family’s year-long experiment with eating locally.  She writes honestly about the challenges and pleasures of their endeavor.  She talks about Thanksgiving, of course, and devotes a very humorous chapter to turkeys, which is we all know is the most important part of the meal.

A hot topic in recent years is heritage vs. conventional turkeys.  The typical Thanksgiving turkey is  a Broadbreasted White that has been raised on a farm, force-fed grains that are not part of their natural diet, and pumped full of antibiotics.  Broadbreasted Whites are grown for size, not flavor.  In fact, they grow so large that they cannot move themselves easily by the end of their short lives and cannot even reproduce without outside help.

Heritage turkeys are the exact opposite.

Heritage turkeys are breeds that have been around a long time — generations.  Heritage turkeys are not kept crammed into cages, nor are they stuffed full of feed and antibiotics.  They get much more exercise and have a varied diet.  Heritage turkeys take longer to reach maturity, but the resulting bird has more fat.  Fat = flavor.  If you are interested in finding out more about heritage turkeys, go to Heritage Foods USA.

Unfortunately, heritage turkeys do cost more per pound.  A lot more.   Usually, 4-5X more, which is just not feasible for a lot of people.  More budget-conscious alternatives would be to check out your farmers’ market or your organic grocery store for an organic locally-raised turkey.

So that’s the low-down on how to re-think your Thanksgiving meal.  My challenge to you is to try to make your meal more seasonal. How you do this is entirely up to you, but I hope you will make at least one change, great or small.  And, don’t forget to give thanks for the farmers who grew your potatoes, corn, and more.

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