Cleaning Products – Allergies & Asthma

When did cleaner become better? Have we forgotten great things can come from a little uncleanliness like Penicillin or blue cheese? Walk into a grocery store and the aisles are filled with hundreds of candy colored cleanings products. Turn on the news and listen to a breaking story about the secret mold growing on your child’s school desk. Daytime talk shows warn about the dangerous bacteria festering on your purse, and commercials for cleaning products are endless. It’s easy to see why we are all so scared of a little dirt.

Parents and individuals alike are scared into disinfecting, deodorizing, and decontaminating every inch of their homes, but there can always be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to cleaning. Research shows that children are more likely to develop asthma when they grow up in an environment devoid of viruses and bacteria. The immune system needs to be faced with viruses and bacteria at an early age so it develop and strengthen itself.

The issues do not end there. Cleaning products not only make children more susceptible to asthma, but the ingredients in everyday cleaning products trigger allergies.

Common ingredients and cleaning practices that can lead to heightened allergies:

-       Using anything with strong odors like ammonia

-       Synthetic fragrances or musk

-       Air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which may lead to asthma in children

-       Regular use of aerosol sprays

-       Dish detergents and soaps can lead to redness, heat, and swelling of skin (a condition known as ‘contact dermatitis’)

-       Lighting citronella candles can trigger asthma

-       Oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide which is highly toxic and known to irritate airways

Tips for cleaning to minimize allergies and asthma:

-       Clean in a ventilated area, open a window

-       Wash clothes and bedding regularly with hot water

-       Use cleaning products with minimal odors

-       Consider rubber and spider plants in your home, they are known to be natural odor absorbers

Cleaning with products that are made with natural ingredients is better for you and better for the earth. You can make effective cleaning products with items that are likely already in your kitchen including lemon, vinegar, baking soda, salt, water, and vegetable oil. You can even prevent mothballs with natural and fragrant herbs like rosemary or mint.

Next time you clean remember that if the cleaning agent has a strong odor (i.e. bleach and ammonia), it is likely triggering allergies while disinfecting. If you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, chose a natural cleaner that does not contain VOC’s or artificial fragrances. Finally you can always choose to make the cleaning product yourself. When you know the ingredients of what you’re cleaning with, you know you are cleaning safely.

Toxic Cleaning: Bad for the Environment and Your Family

Did you know the average American uses 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products each year? These cleaning products aren’t just terribly detrimental to the environment; they can negatively affect the health of you and your family members. Think about how you use cleaning products: they are sprayed into the air, poured into sinks, flushed down toilets, and dumped into landfills. When put into landfills or incinerated, the noxious ingredients from the cleaning products seep into soil and water, and cause harm to people and animals.  The harmful ingredients in cleaning products contain carcinogens, heavy metals, and nervous system depressants that contribute to allergy problems, respiratory issues, and even cancer. Below is a chart of toxic chemicals commonly found in cleaning products:

Phosphates Dishwasher & Laundry Detergent Phosphates cause algae bloom that is toxic to fish, plants, and people who drink the water.
Chlorine Bleach Detergents & Other Products They break down slowly in the environment and can build up in the fatty tissue of animals.
Napthas Furniture Polish They are neurotoxins that contaminate the air and water.
Phthalates Furniture Polish Cause genetic defects in humans and animals & disrupts hormones.
Formaldehyde Furniture Polish & Other Products Cancer causing in humans and animals.

Keep your family safe by making the switch to all natural non-toxic cleaning products. Items that are found in common household kitchens can be used as eco-friendly cleaning alternatives. Baking soda, cornstarch, isopropyl alcohol, lemon juice, and vinegar can all do double duty as natural cleaners. The eco-conscious options for cleaning products available in grocery stores keeps growing, so as a consumer it is becoming just as easy to pick up a non-toxic cleaning product when shopping.

A common worry when making the switch to all natural cleaners is they won’t work as well as the tried and true brands and products we have grown up with and become accustomed to. The truth is that often times plain old soap and water is the best cleaner of them all, and even the big name cleaning products can’t compete. Chemical cleaners can actually breed “super bacteria” that is resistant to soap and water. Toxic cleaning products warn you not to inhale or get near your eyes because they are so hazardous to your health. There are many eco-friendly products that you could safely ingest without harming your body. Also keep in mind that mixing chemical cleaners can be extremely harmful or even deadly. Mixing cleaners made with natural ingredients is not only safe, but it can sometimes make them even more powerful.

Make the switch to all natural cleaners to reduce the harm done to you, your family, and the environment. Using products from the earth won’t damage the earth the way toxic chemicals will. You’ll feel better knowing you’re being environmentally responsible in helping the water, soil, and air stay clean for your children, their children, and the generations to come.

Sites Cited
http://volunteerguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/natural-cleaning-products.htm
http://www.thegreenlivingexpert.com/organiccleaningproducts.html

How To Make The Most of Earth Day

Have you been brainstorming ways to “go green” this Earth Day?  Maybe you’re looking for ideas to help you stay green throughout the month of April, the Spring season…or all year long!  If you want to do your part to clean up and protect the environment, but aren’t exactly sure how to start, you’re in the right place!
Earth Day is the perfect time to take a few small steps toward making positive and lasting improvements in your environmentally-friendly lifestyle!  April 22, 2011 will be the the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. Why not make this the year you go green?
In addition to turning off the lights as you leave the room and minimizing water use when you are washing dishes or brushing your teeth (oldies, but goodies!), here are a few “new” ideas for you this Earth Day:
Paying your bills online takes a huge burden off of our environment. If each household in the United States switched to paperless billing, 18 million trees would be saved every year.
Cutting back on the use of plastic bags is an easy task to accomplish.  Taking reusable bags to the store is simple and even trendy!  Reusable bags are now available in various colors and patterns, and many stores now have them available as an alternative to plastic or paper.
Your pets want to reduce their carbon footprint too!  Using biodegradable plastic bags for pet waste is another very simple switch you can make that will have a positive impact on the environment.
Minimizing personal vehicle use and using public transportation just a few times a week are both great ways to help our environment.  Walking, riding bikes, or taking the bus will help you to save on the cost of fuel and will reduce overall air pollution.  If you leave your car at home for two days of the week, you can cut back on greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds on average, per year.
Involve the whole family in your Earth Day activities and your “going green” resolutions!  Educating the next generation about environmental issues is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids.  Creating an “Earth Day, Every Day” activity chart is a great way to get kids interested in helping, and it will keep you on track, too.  Charting your family’s progress (keeping track of buying “green” products, riding bikes in place of driving, etc.) with a piece of poster-board, markers, and stickers will be motivating and rewarding for everyone. Making these quick, simple changes will be a great first step on your “green” pathway.
Make Earth Day 2011 YOUR time to go green!
Consulted Sites:

Annie’s Homegrown: Deliciously Green

Annie’s Homegrown is a company which has been a part of the Green movement since it introduced ‘Shells & White Cheddar’ in 1989. Annie Withey is a mother of two and a farmer by trade who has always believed in sustaining our natural environment, and caring for the planet as we should also care for ourselves. When she started her company, her personal mantra became her business mantra: ‘Eat Responsibly. Act Responsibly.’ Offering only all-natural and organic foods and snacks, Annie’s provides healthy options for our bodies and for the planet.

Aside from producing delicious organic foods, Annie’s also meets several other markers of the Green movement:

  1. Annie’s uses only real ingredients—this action in itself supports over 75 family farms.
  2. Annie’s uses packaging that can be recycled 5 times before the fibers become too short to form paperboard.  All of the packaging used contains recycled material—the boxes containing ‘Bunny Grahams,’ ‘Cheddar Bunnies,’ and macaroni & cheese are made from 100% recycled paper fiber.
  3. Annie’s supports Eco Energy by giving money to NativeEnergy to offset her carbon footprint.  To offset emissions of carbon dioxide resulting from corporate headquarters, manufacturing facilities, the distribution warehouse and the mobile tour, Annie then provides funds to NativeEnergy who in turn builds wind farms.
  4. Annie’s offices in California rely completely on 100% recycled paper stock for their everyday use, and reusable packing material and boxes are also used.
  5. Last but not least, when Annie is on the road for her mobile tour her team uses forks and spoons made from bioplastics, and plates and cups made from sugarcane waste.

Annie’s passion for food, people and the planet has manifested in many great ways over the years. Annie’s gives back to the community not only by supporting numerous community and family farms, but also by providing ‘Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships’ and ‘Community Giving Programs’ which include specific programs to promote organic gardening in schools. To learn more about the positive impact Annie’s is making across the country, you can visit www.annies.com or www.nativeenergy.com for detailed information.

10 More Ways to Recycle

Every day people waste electricity, water, food and household items – here are 10 ideas, as sort of a part 2 on one of our previous blog posts sharing ways to be eco-friendly in your everyday life:

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1. Keep electronics out of the trash - have old TV’s, home appliances and cell phones picked up or donate them for parts. For example, www.iphonesintocash.com, will give you cash for your old iPhone, (even for a broken iPhone), so why not give it to them instead of throwing it in the garbage?

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2. Pack your lunch with reusable containers and a reusable lunch bag instead of the typical brown paper sack and plastic sandwich bags – this will eliminate waste and save you money each month.

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3. Embrace newer, greener ideas - Rubbermaid has recently been advertising a new mop – Reveal Spray Mop. Save money and the environment with a micro fiber pad that is washing machine safe and a refillable spray bottle that allows you to use your favorite Carribean Mist cleaning product. No more buying ‘one time use’ mop pads and being forced to purchase a specific brand of cleaning product.

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4. Check out area garage sales and Second Hand stores for gently used items, or visit www.ebay.com and www.craigslist.org before purchasing new items – you’d be surprised what you can find!

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5. Donate your gently used items to Thrift Stores instead of throwing them in the garbage. Someone else will be happy you took the time to donate that old lamp, or sweater you haven’t worn in years. Looking for local thrift shops in your area, visit www.thethriftshopper.com.

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6. Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden.  Green architects are finding creative ways to incorporate rainwater harvesting into their designs, especially in locales that have drought issues.  Saving water is good for everyone.

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7. Switch to cloth diapers – or at least combine the cloth diaper usage with disposables.  Every little bit helps, and cloth diapers have come a long way.  www.zbeardiapers.com has eco-friendly products for green babies and their moms.

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8. Save plastic Chinese delivery boxes, butter and Cool Whip containers instead of throwing them in the recycling right away. Wash them and use them for every day leftovers, or leftovers for your guests to take home with them – this way you won’t have to worry about getting your containers back.

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9. Make only one trip for weekly errands instead of several, and travel the speed limit.  Walk or bike if and when possible.  There are all types of racks and bags that can be affixed to a bicycle for traveling with groceries, children, and pets.

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10. Put a stop to unsolicited mail - sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers.  The Federal Trade Commission has a great resource for information on opting out of snail mail, email and telemarketing: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm

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Every day can be Earth Day if we all put a little thought and creativity into it! Enjoy my 10 new tips, and feel free to share any of your regular recycling tips with us!

Historical Cape May, New Jersey

Colorful Victorian Homes are Modern Day Inns and B&Bs in Cape May

Picture beautiful, clean, family friendly beaches with well kept local owned restaurants and stores; sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Next time you take a trip, you should head to Cape May, NJ. Cape May was recognized as one of the top 10 beaches in America by the Travel Channel in 2008, and is known to be one of New Jersey’s finest beach areas.

Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, in the 1700’s Cape May became a destination for Philadelphia vacationers and was announced as the countries oldest seaside resort.

Not only are the beaches beautiful and the water kept clean, Cape May has the second largest collection of Victorian Homes to feast your eyes on each day as you walk around town. Known to be a summer vacation spot, Cape May blooms from just over 4,000 year round residents to over 40,000 between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

On the Victorian Homes Tour, we learned that one source of employment that’s always necessary in Cape May is the house painter.  With the salty water and east coast weather, blocks and blocks of Victorian homes need to be painted on average each 1-2 years.  The detail work is breathtaking.

If you’re looking for a beach with a lot of people, bars, restaurants and shops, the city of Cape May has several;

Blue Pig Tavern, Congress Hall, Cape May

The Cove, Broadway, Grant Street, Windsor, Congress Street, and Steger’s Beach, just to name a few. These are the most popular beaches and you do have to pay a small fee for a tag to enter – tags can be purchased before you enter on a daily basis (3-day, weekly or seasonal passes are also an option). There are quieter beaches around, with fewer amenities: Sunset Beach offers beautiful sunsets each night, and you may even find Cap May diamonds – but you have to know what you’re looking for. This is not one of the beaches you would want to spend the day at, but it is worth a visit. Cape May State Park is the perfect place to dolphin and bird watch, and is home to the world famous Cape May Lighthouse. Any atmosphere you desire in a family friendly beach can be found within Cape May, just ask the locals.

Beautiful Beaches, Cape May - Jersey Shore

Not only are there several beaches to relax and play on, Cape May is full of daily activity for any season. Take a whale watching tour (though it’s probably more likely you’ll see dolphins), mini golf, or visit the free zoo. On a rainy day you may decide to take in a wine tasting at one of their local wineries, a relaxing spa day, or an arts and crafts day with the kids.

The historic Carroll Villa has the best view in town if you’re willing to climb some stairs to the turret.  Might I suggest the Mad Batter.  A line outside is almost guaranteed during peak breakfast hours, but the food is amazing on their picturesque front porch as is the dinner in the garden dining room.

No matter what the weather or the season, there is always something wonderful to do in Cape May, New Jersey.

Ink, Wax and Wine… Oh My! Remove Those Nasty Stains with Ease.

I am prone to stains.  I’ll admit it.  But because I’m so used to invariably spilling something somewhere, I’ve developed a superpower out of it.  The ability to get stains out has been quite helpful in the past, so I thought I would share some of my secrets with you. While most of my encounters with messes happen to befall my clothes – which is why I can’t have nice things – I’ve developed solutions for most of them.  First and foremost – if the stain doesn’t come out in the wash, do not put the item in the dryer; doing so will only “set” the stain.  That said, pre-treating a stain as soon as possible is your best bet at getting it out in the first wash. Some stains are more difficult than others, so handy little tricks are necessary.

Remove Red Wine from Carpet
Aside from various carpet cleaners I’ve tried, pouring a little white wine on the red wine and dabbing with a towel really does the trick.

Ink Stains in Clothing  and Upholstery
Ink can be effectively removed using rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush.

Strong Urine Smells
Urine can be removed by adding a cup or two of ammonia to the wash cycle.

Blood Stains
Blood, if treated before it has dried, is fairly easy to get out.  It can be removed using hydrogen peroxide, or if that isn’t readily available, salt works too.  If you can’t find any salt, use your own spit.  The enzymes in your saliva will act as a pre-treater and breakdown the blood.

Ketchup Spill
For those seemingly fatal ketchup stains, blot up the majority of the stain without rubbing (or spreading it around), then spray foamy shaving cream on the spot.  After allowing it to set, gently massage the foam upwards and out of the fiber, and repeat as necessary.  Salt can also be effective on ketchup.

Candle Wax Mess
One of the more difficult stains I’ve encountered was candle wax on carpet. To best contain the mess, do the following:  If possible, keep the wax from spreading laterally.  Let it pool up on itself and allow it to dry. Once the wax has dried completely, try to peel the majority of it off of the carpet.  Then, using paper grocery sacks and an iron (on a low to medium setting) go over the area until a waxy build-up appears on the bag.  Once the bag seems saturated with wax, gently lift the bag off of the area, and repeat with a fresh bag.  Repeat this process until the bag begins to come up clean, and you can no longer feel the wax on your carpet.

Hopefully these few tips will help you avert any stain crisis.  If you have any stain success stories – or stain myth busters – let us know!

Grand Haven is a Summer Fun Must!

I have been to many places in Michigan but I had never visited Grand Haven. I have always heard how beautiful the beaches are there so when a mini vacation opportunity came up we chose to take the family to the allusive Grand Haven.

Grand Haven turned out to be one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to in Michigan.  Over 10 miles of beaches is what Grand Haven promotes and that was not a disappointment. For as far as you can see either direction, as my feet stood in the warm Lake Michigan waters, there is white sandy beach.  The gorgeous, lapping waves poured over my feet as I took in the scenery around me. A lighthouse with a pier to walk down, summer houses in the trees behind me, water as far as I can see in front of me, sand volleyball courts for the popular beach sport, boats in the water and kids making sandcastles.  It was truly an amazing afternoon watching Michigan around me.

The little downtown of Grand Haven was just as fun to be at as the beach. Quaint storefronts, to shop at, outdoor patios to eat on, and a true vacation staple:  ice cream.  The stop for Hudsonville waffle cones were essential (and delicious).

The night time was no disappointment either.  Depending on the time of sunset and darkness, Grand Haven has a popular attraction called the “Musical Fountains”.  The fountains are located at the end of the downtown street on the bay. Here the fountains dance to music with the display of spraying water!  We sat on the bleachers and enjoyed the 20 minute show of music and lights on a beautiful summer Michigan night.

As much as we would have loved to pack up all 5 of us and jet off to Disney, we truly enjoyed our own little bit of the vacation tropics right here on the awesome west side of Michigan.  We loved enjoying our home state and fueling our own economy in the lovely small town of Grand Haven.

http://www.visitgrandhaven.com/

Starbucks: Green Business Makes Great Coffee!

As consumers, supporting companies who are making an effort to go green, helps make it easier for us to live green. Starbucks, one of America’s most globally recognized brands, has made great strides in going green throughout the years and continues to be a driving force in global brands and their green initiatives.

Starbucks has promoted going green with several different campaigns throughout the years, such as “Green Umbrellas for a Green Cause” and the Planet Green Game. They also take great pride on the fact that most of their coffee is sourced from Fair Trade farms. Starbucks continually looks for new ways to incorporate green designs and materials into their paper products and retail products, and seeks out the best in environmentally friendly store design and operations.

Did you know that you can enter any Starbucks on the planet and ask for used coffee grounds to be used as your very own garden compost? Over 35% of Starbucks waste is nutrient-rich grounds! The company also has been researching how to increase recycled content of packaging (many cups now have 10% recycled fiber), offsetting carbon and sourcing more green certified coffee.

One of Starbucks biggest efforts in going green has been in encouraging everyone to switch from paper cups to reusable travel mugs. Since 1985, they have offered up a discount to customers who bring in their own reusable travel mug, with the long-term goal of 100% reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.

Green advocates are also smiling about Starbucks “bean-to-cup” approach. The program has been a great success. Roughly 78,000 trees per year have been saved since 2006 from the company’s decision to use coffee cup sleeves made of recycled paper.

You can feel good about making the delicious coffee purchase from your local Starbucks. Not only because of their top-quality, tasty coffee, but because the people behind that coffee are doing their part in helping the environment.

Tropical Getaway – Maine

Sebasco Harbor Resort

If you have been craving a little taste of the tropics, or the sound of crashing waves, then Sebasco Harbor Resort in Maine might be the perfect getaway for you. Sebasco Harbor Resort offers a variety of lodging options, and several amenities and activities for people of all ages. A romantic escape for two, a girls weekend at the spa or a family vacation can all be easily planned at the resort. Maine offers endless unique landscapes and beautiful scenic views—with Sebasco Harbor Resort located on over 550 acres of Maine’s Midcoast, including Casco Bay, you are sure to be impressed with the natural breathtaking views, as well as the many amenities and services offered by the resort.

Some of the highlights are the endless options for lodging. Guests can stay in the Main Lodge, the resort’s cozy cottages, the romantic lighthouse or in one of the Fairwinds Spa suites. The resort has received stellar reviews from guests all over the country, partly as a result of Sebasco Harbor Resort tailoring your vacation experience to meet your needs.

Dining at Sebasco Harbor Resort is guaranteed to be memorable and delicious, as the resort only utilizes the freshest locally grown ingredients. The menus at the more formal Pilot House and more casual Ledges Pub are both centered in regional American heirloom recipes, offering their guests a true Pure Maine experience. Don’t forget the camera for dinner at The Pilot House. It is the place to be to watch beautiful sunsets.

One of the biggest decisions to make at the resort is what to do! The choices of activities are endless with dips in their saltwater pool, boat tours on Casco Bay, a trip to the fitness center, spa and golf course. I

f you are looking for a great place to hold your next family reunion or business trip, Sebasco Harbor Resort can accommodate you and turn your getaway dreams into reality. With all of the different vacation packages the resort offers, you are sure to find something that suits you perfectly: The Golf Stay & Play, Lighthouse Romance, Family Gathering Getaway, Spa & Golf or The Mid-Week Bed, Breakfast & Golf Getaway are all options for you when planning your trip. Be sure to contact the resort well in advance to plan some of the specifics you’ll be desiring, as their scheduled amenities fill up quickly.

If you are looking for a fun and exciting tropical vacation, exploring all that Maine’s Sebasco Harbor Resort has to offer would be a perfect decision.

Check out Sebasco Harbor Resort’s website today, and start designing your amazing tropical Maine getaway!

http://www.sebasco.com/