Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moving Already!!

I've moved all of the posts from this blog over to my new blog....

A Home Made By Kiki

Please follow me over there from now on and don't forget to share it with your friends! Thanks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Top 2

In this post, I am going to give a brief summary of the top 2 endocrine disruptors: BPA, and Phthalates.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

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This is probably the one that most of us are already somewhat familiar with. It has been in the news a lot lately in regards to its presence in baby bottles and other household items. It’s basically a chemical that helps to hold plastic together to make it hard and durable.

BPA can be found in baby bottles, reusable food containers, and the linings of metal cans of food as well as other items.

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The most well known risk of BPA is that it is a “synthetic estrogen.” It has been found, in studies with lab animals, that early exposure to BPA predisposes them to prostate and breast cancers. It has also been suggested that it may lower fertility, increase asthma rates, increase the risk of developing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, cause insulin resistance/diabetes, and increase cardiovascular problems! Yikes!

Plastics are all around us so I will be realistic in saying that I will not be able to rid my home of all traces of BPA or other chemicals. I’ll be honest that I quickly dismissed all of the “hype” that initially developed a couple of years ago regarding BPA. In fact, I was pregnant with my second baby and we chose to reuse the bottles from our first baby (not BPA-free). Today, if I have a choice between a food container with BPA and a BPA-free container, you can be sure that I will be choosing the BPA-free one because of what I have learned recently!

imagePhthalates

Phthalates are chemicals added to plastics to make them flexible. They can be found in teething rings, pacifiers, shower curtains, plastic wrap, and plastic food containers. They can also be used to lengthen the life of fragrances in personal care products. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 banned the use of phthalates in products for children 3 and under, but they are still easily found in many products especially if they were made before the ban.

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Phthalates have been associated with reduced testosterone levels in children and adults which could lead to lower fertility rates as adults.

Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center performed a study that found that children exposed to phthalates before birth were more likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD between the ages of 4 and 9.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to determine which products contain phthalates. Many personal care products list “fragrance” in their ingredient list and since it is considered proprietary information, they do not have to specifically list each chemical contained in their product.

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You can check the Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database, to see information that they have on various products. They take the ingredients in more than 25,000 products and matches them with 50 toxicity and regulatory databases.

I just want to put it out there that I am not judging anyone on what they change or do not change in regards to this information. I am just putting the information out there. It is definitely a personal choice. In fact, the changes that I am making are very small in the scheme of things. Most people that are educated on these things will probably “judge” me for not making enough changes in my home. Oh well! Even a few little changes are better than none at all….and it is up to me (and you) to make the changes that I choose for my own family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Baby’s first “environment”

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, just over 6 years ago, I implemented a *few* lifestyle changes. I decreased my caffeine intake, tried to eat healthier foods, started taking a prenatal multivitamin, and assigned the heavy lifting to my husband….Ha!

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Ultimately though, I felt as if the major changes were going to have to take place after I gave birth. I already planned to move the poisonous cleaning chemicals to the cabinet above the refrigerator, instead of under the sink, as well as purchase the typical baby-proofing items such as gates and outlet covers. In my mind, my baby was safer where she was than when she would finally make her entrance into the world!

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Let’s have a quick science lesson….we already know that the umbilical cord and the placenta are the link between the mother and the baby before it is born. The mother’s blood enters the placenta and then travels through the umbilical cord to the baby. Then the baby’s heart pumps the blood out of its body and back through the umbilical cord to the placenta. The blood in the placenta is completely replaced 3-4 times each minute! A typical red blood cell will make a complete round trip every 30 seconds. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 300 quarts of blood per day will take this route! So what is my point? Along with the blood entering the baby’s body are elements that can harm an unborn baby.

Scientists used to believe that the placenta filtered out the chemicals and pollutants and therefore protected the baby. Recent studies have proven otherwise.

A few years ago, the Environmental Working Group conducted an umbilical cord blood study that revealed some scary facts. They found a total of 287 different industrial chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of the babies tested. Of the 287 found, 180 have been known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. (You can find the complete report here… “Body Burden—the Pollution in Newborns")They found an average of 200 chemicals in each baby including mercury, fire retardants, and pesticides.

Many of the chemicals found are considered endocrine disruptors. Remember this because I will be doing future posts regarding these. These chemicals throw the hormones in our bodies (and even our unborn baby’s body) completely out of sync.

Since the baby’s body and organs are still developing before it is born, its liver and kidneys are not mature enough to filter and get rid of these chemicals from their bodies as well as yours or mine. This causes the chemicals to accumulate in their bodies in higher concentrations than an average adult. Remember……up to 300 quarts of blood a day!

According to Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and director of its Children’s Environmental Health Center, many of the chemicals that were found during the EWG’s study “weren’t in most consumer goods as recently as 40 years ago.” This means that there have been a limited amount of studies done to show the long-term effects of these chemicals throughout a lifetime. What we do know is that as the exposure to these chemicals has increased so have the rates of many chronic issues that we deal with today:

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While it isn’t clear yet as to what levels of which chemicals may have an impact on various diseases and issues, the evidence shows that we are coming in contact with various endocrine disruptors throughout our day from various sources.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again….

I understand that there is no way to protect ourselves and our children (born and unborn) from *every* dangerous thing in our environment. In fact, this isn’t an “all or nothing” deal. Even the smallest changes in what we buy and what we use can make a big difference. Many of these changes are very simple and can actually save you money. This blog is a place for me to share the changes that I will be making in my own home. Each person needs to make those decisions for themselves and their own families. No one has the right to judge other people for the decisions that they make.

Remember….

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Basic H2= “Liquid Gold”

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Basic H2 from the Shaklee Get Clean line is my absolute favorite product so far. I have been so amazed by how well it works on so many different surfaces. It can be used on any washable surface….inside and outside! Here are just a few quick facts about it before I show you some results:

  • Non-toxic
  • Made from natural sources
  • Hypoallergenic
  • No harmful fumes
  • Contains no phosphates
  • Not tested on animals
  • Rinse free, no residue
  • has a pH of 6.5 (right in the range of human skin)
  • Ultra concentrated!!

There are literally hundreds of uses for this product, but I am only going to “scratch the surface” of that and share the basics. Watch for future posts on my blog or on my Facebook page sharing some of the many ways to use liquid gold Shaklee’s Basic H2.

1. All purpose Cleaner: add 1/4 teaspoon to 16 ounces of water

2. Window Cleaner: add 2 drops to 16 ounces of water (that’s right….. DROPS!!)

3. Degreaser: add 1 1/2 teaspoons to 16 ounces of water

I use Basic H2 to clean my windows, mirrors, counters, floors, furniture, appliances (safe for Stainless Steel), pre-treat stains before laundering, and so many other things!

One of the first things that I tried the Basic H2 on was my windows. We have a full glass front storm door. Between my 2 kids, my husband, and my dog, this window needs to be cleaned on a daily basis! Since the window cleaner only calls for 2 drops of Basic H2 in 16 ounces of water, I was a little skeptical. I mean…how well would you expect 2 drops of cleaner to clean your windows?!? At that point, I felt like it was still just water in my spray bottle. Let me tell you….those are 2 powerful drops!! When I sprayed the solution on the window, it sprayed and looked just like water. The natural surfactants basically break the surface tension of the water and make the water “wetter”! This streak-free formula gave me clean windows without all of the harsh chemicals….like ammonia! They were so clean that the butterflies were running into my windows!

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Look at that clean glass…..you can even see her reflection in it!!

At first I was just using whatever rags I normally use for cleaning, but I recently started using the Shaklee Super Microfiber Window Cloth. I really didn’t think that it would make much of a difference, but I was wrong! This lint-free, ridiculously absorbent, washable, and reusable cloth makes all of my other cleaning rags seem useless when cleaning windows!

Next up…my stainless steel appliances:

Basic H2 is safe to be used on stainless steel and it gets the job done. Once again, 2 kids leave lots of fingerprints around my house. Here is the front of my stove on a normal day:

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….my dishwasher…

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IMG_6988, edit2Say goodbye to your stainless steel cleaner…..one more cleaning product that you will no longer have to buy since Basic H2 will take care of that too!

I also use Basic H2 to clean my floors….

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I had a bad experience in the past with cleaning products on my dining room table. I let some all-purpose cleaning product (not sure of the brand) soak on my dining room table for no more than 5 minutes. This is what happened:

IMG_6678, editIt completely took the finish off of our dining room table! I couldn’t believe it!! I had to be very careful every time I cleaned the table from that point on. Then Basic H2 came to my rescue! Here are some examples:

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I left Basic H2 (mixed as an all-purpose cleaner) "soaking" on the dining room table for *20 minutes* just to see if it would affect the finish (since we already have to refinish the table anyways) and it wiped right off without damaging the table at all! I was sold!!

The day I received my Basic H2 in the mail, I went around the house in search of marks and stains to try and remove (we do not have a shortage of those around here). First up, dry erase marker on the dining room table courtesy of my 5 year old. Trust me, it doesn't come off as easily as it does on a dry-erase board! I scrubbed at these marks with my usual all-purpose cleaner and couldn't even get the marks to fade at all!

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I used *un-diluted* Basic H2 on a microfiber cloth:

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Once again….it did not damage the finish at all even though I had to scrub at it a little bit! Impressive!

About 2 years ago, my oldest daughter was left alone in her room for naptime with a Sharpie (thanks to my husband). The miracle is that this is the only mark that she made in her entire room...on her brand new bed though. I scrubbed and scrubbed with whatever all-purpose cleaner I happened to have at the time and I also tried using some alcohol wipes, but the mark only faded slightly. I thought about using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but I didn't want to ruin the finish on the bed so I just gave up.

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Basic H2 didn’t fail me….

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It took the mark right off without damaging the finish at all!  

I have been very lucky that I haven’t had to deal with any “coloring on the wall” fiascos….until my daughter was 4 (almost 5)…..seriously?!? Wasn’t that supposed to happen at 2 or 3? Either way, her masterpiece was a very small rainbow on her bedroom wall….could have been much worse.

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Un-diluted Basic H2 took it right off without taking off some of the paint like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser always seems to do!

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This is my rag after I finished going around the house removing the sharpie marks, the crayon marks, the dry-erase marks, and whatever random marks and scuffs on the walls and furniture that I happened to come across in my search. I am so impressed with all the uses for Basic H2!

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It even helped me to recover from my 2 year olds birthday party which included lots of strawberries (and a 5 year old who decided to place her strawberry caps that she had removed cut-side down on my white tablecloth)…and lots of bright yellow frosting….

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I have yet to be disappointed by any of the Get Clean products that I have used, but I have been especially impressed with the Basic H2.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let’s Talk MONEY!!

I’ll be honest…one of the first things that fueled my interest in the Shaklee Get Clean line was that fact that I would be saving money! I couldn’t believe what I saw in the cost comparison chart:

Shaklee Cost Comparison Chart (click to view larger)

Get Clean Cost Comparison

Many people look at the prices of the products and think they are too expensive, but that is because they don’t understand that most of the products are ultra-concentrated and will last for a *long* time!

Let’s look at my favorite….Basic H2….first:

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  • This little 16 oz bottle creates an unbelievable 48 gallons of super-safe, really powerful, all purpose cleaner.
  • 1 bottle of Basic H2equals the cleaning uses of 5,824 bottles of 26 oz. Windex
  • All-purpose Cleaner: 22 cents per gallon
  • Window Cleaner: less than 1 cent per gallon
  • Degreaser: $1.29 per gallon
  • Not only is Basic H2 cheaper than most cleaners, but it works!!!
  • It is actually cheaper to use the Shaklee concentrated products than it is to use vinegar as a household cleaner!!
  • Many people report that their 16 ounce bottle of Basic H2 lasts over 2 years!!

I will be doing an entire post on Basic H2 and all that it can do.

Next up…. Basic G (Germicide)

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  • Basic G is not included in the Get Clean line, but you can find it in the “home care” section on the Shaklee website. I will discuss this further in the post I have dedicated to Basic G.
  • Toilet Bowl/Disinfectant/Bathroom Cleaner: 27 cents per use
  • One quart makes up to 64 gallons!
  • It is effective against 32 types of bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant strains such as MRSA and VRE) in addition to many human viruses, animal viruses, and fungi……Lysol is only effective against 8 types of bacteria!!
  • Uses the same kind of chemical formation that is used in many hospitals!
  • Basic G has NO FUMES and it cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes in one step! There is no need to rinse unless it is a food prep area. Since, in its diluted form, it is non-toxic, it is safe to be used while one is pregnant, but I give you permission to keep this fact a secret in order to get out of “bathroom cleaning duty” while you are pregnant!
  • Once Basic G is mixed with water in a spray bottle, the mixture needs to be used within 30 days…..When diluted with water, bleach loses its ability to disinfect after 24 hours. Many child-care facilities keep a 10:1 mixture of bleach in a spray bottle to disinfect toys, but it is not disinfecting as they think it is if it has been diluted for greater than 24 hours. Scary!!
  • Once Basic G is used on a surface, it remains effective in disinfecting on that surface for 3 days…..the effectiveness of bleach wears off after 1 hour!!
  • Once again, not only is it cheaper, it is more effective than most household disinfectants that you can buy.

I know there is a lot of information in this post, but I want to make sure that everyone understands that these products will save money AND be more effective than most cleaners you are probably using. I’m just going to touch on a couple more products.

Laundry Products:

laundry mini kit

Dishwashing Products:

kitchen mini kit

Get Clean Starter Kit

GetClean starter kit

This starter kit is such a great deal. You would have to spend more than $3400 for conventional cleaning products in order to get the same amount of clean that is included in this kit!! Just one starter kit keeps 108 pounds of packaging waste out of landfills and eliminates 248 pounds of greenhouse gas.

The starter kit includes:

  • Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate, 16 oz. (1)
  • Germ Off Disinfecting Wipes, 35 Wipes (1)
  • Nature Bright® Laundry Booster and Stain Remover, 32 oz. (1)
  • Dish Wash Concentrate, 16 oz. (1)
  • Dish Washer Automatic Concentrate, 32 oz. (1)
  • Fresh Laundry Concentrate HE Compatible, Fragrance Free  32 oz. (Liquid) (1)
  • Soft Fabric Dryer Sheets, 80 sheets (1)
  • Dish Washer Automatic Concentrate Dispenser (empty) (1)
  • Nature Bright® Dispenser (empty) (1)

Including all the accessories you need to get really clean:

  • Organizer Caddy (1)
  • Spray Bottles (3)
    • Windows and Mirrors
    • All-Purpose
    • Degreasing
  • Dropper Pipette (1)
  • 1/4 oz. Dispenser Pump for 32 oz. Bottle (1)
  • Laundry Measuring cup (1)
  • Dual Measuring Spoon (1)
  • Cleaning Accessories (4)
    • Super Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
    • Super Microfiber Window Cloth
    • Super Microfiber Dish Sponge
    • Miracle Scrubber Pad

How would you like to save 15% off of every Shaklee product that you buy….for life!?

Join as a member for a one-time charge of $19.95 and you will receive 15% off of every Shaklee product for the rest of your life…..without needing to pay any renewal fees….ever! Plus, as a Shaklee Member, you can receive special promotions, offers, and discounts for even more savings.

Don’t forget, you also have an unconditional money-back guarantee and you'll have exclusive access to our Shaklee Member Center where you can find extensive health and wellness information reviewed by the expert Shaklee Health Sciences team.

What a deal!!

Also, if you contact me before placing your order, I can help you save even more!! Just send me an e-mail at healthy-solutions{at}hotmail{dot}com and let me know what products you are interested in.

I will be sharing many more money-saving tips throughout my future posts, but I just wanted to get this info out as quickly as I could since I think it is the #1 misconception in regards to Shaklee cleaning products. Please contact me if you have any questions about any of the information that I have provided!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Breaking the Paper Towel Habit!!

I have a paper towel addiction habit! I go through so many paper towels throughout the day. I use them to completely wipe down my countertops multiple times a day, to wipe my kids’ hands and faces after meals, to clean up spills on the floor, etc…

A few years ago, I started buying the “select-a-size” rolls so at least I was using a half sheet instead of a whole sheet each time. I really felt like this was the biggest change that I could make since I felt so dependent on paper towels.

Did you know?

  • 51,000 trees per day are needed to replace the paper towels that are disposed of each day. --U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Once used, paper towels cannot be recycled and must go to landfill. --U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • If each household in the U.S. reduced its paper towel use by just 3 rolls per year, it would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees. --Arizona State University study (Go Sun Devils!!) {…insert “pitchfork” hand gesture here}

Enter my new paper towels:

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Target bar mop towels….I think they were about $3.99 for a 6 pack. I bought 2 packs, but I think I am going to pick up another pack the next time I am at Target. (which will probably be very soon since I also have a Target addiction habit….I’ll save that for another post though!) I found a basket that we weren’t using and put it under the sink to store the towels in.

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By the way, since I was able to get rid of so many of my cleaning products that were taking up so much space in the cabinet above the refrigerator, I was able to totally rearrange that cabinet as well as the cabinet under the sink. That left me with more than enough room to keep my “new paper towels”!

I also keep a regular cleaning rag under the sink next to the towel basket and I use it for cleaning up spills on the floor like this one…okay, maybe this one needed more than just a cleaning rag! Ha!

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I have only been using these for less than a month, but it has been working so far. I usually go through about 2 (sometimes 3) towels per day. Yes, we still have the paper towels out on the counter. No, my husband is not involved in this “experiment” at all which means he still uses the same amount of paper towels he did before. Yes, I still occasionally use paper towels for: wiping down the counter after working with raw meat, sopping up bacon grease, and other cleaning events that I don’t feel like my “new towels” could possibly recover from!

Not only will this new “experiment” save some trees, but it will also help save some money on my paper towel expense throughout the year. Next up….I have all the materials ready to start making some everyday cloth napkins. I have seen lots of these popping up at some of the craft fairs that I have participated in. If it goes well, I might start bringing them to some of the craft fairs myself. Stay tuned….

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is your home toxic??

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Our homes are supposed to be a safe place that we can feel comfortable in with our families. What most people don’t realize is that, according to the EPA, the air inside our homes is usually more polluted than the outside air of highly industrialized cities such as Los Angeles! Much of that “pollution”, that the EPA is referring to in that statement, is from chemicals in products that we *think* are making our homes cleaner and safer. I sure was surprised to find that many of the products I have been using for years contained chemicals that were known to cause cancer (carcinogens) or affect the nervous system (neurotoxins)  in many negative ways (I will focus on this more specifically in a future post).
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In the past, when I purchased cleaning products, I was more interested in how well they worked than what warnings were on the label. Do you know that the label on the toilet cleaner that I was using instructed me to use safety glasses, goggles, a face shield, and personal protective equipment such as a *respirator* while cleaning the toilet!! What?!?!
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During my frugal shopping trips, I have learned to not be so “brand loyal” in order to get a better bargain. Because of that I have used a large variety of cleaning products from all different brands. A couple of times, I have purchased “green” cleaners because I was able to get them at such a great price. If you have ever shopped for anything “green” or organic, you know that they are typically priced higher than similar “non-green” products. I have only been disappointed with the “green” cleaning products that I have used though. One time, I only made it halfway through the bottle of a “green” multi-purpose cleaner before I decided that I just couldn’t take it anymore and I threw the rest of it out. Another time, I suffered through the 3 bottles of “green” cleaner that I had paid very little for and was so relieved when I was finally finished with them and could go back to my usual brand.
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Shaklee products are different. They are natural, but…..THEY ACTUALLY WORK!! I will even put it out there that they clean better than any other cleaner (“green” or “non-green”) product that I have ever used (examples to come in a future posts). They don’t leave a residue behind or become too “sudsy” which was my main complaint with the other “green” cleaners that I have used.

I think that most of us are aware of the recent controversy regarding BPA (Bisphenol A) and the fact that it is present in so many plastic items we use every day….canned soups, baby bottles, reusable food containers, water bottles, and more. Many of us have probably also heard of the dangers of Phthalates that are commonly found in many personal care items, shower curtains, and more. These are just 2 of the hazards that are present all around us on a daily basis. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosted a two-night special on CNN called “Toxic America”. David S. Martin, Senior Medical Producer at CNN, has a very informative article on the Toxic America website that would be worth your time to read:

“5 toxics that are everywhere: Protect yourself 

 

All Shaklee packaging is free of BPA, phthalates, and toxic inks.
I will be sharing my experience with the Shaklee Get Clean line including before and after pictures as well as what makes Shaklee products stand out from the household cleaners that we are most familiar with.