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Perfection in a Cup: The Grayl

Leave it to a busy business woman who loves the outdoors to come up with the best of the best water filtration cup!

The components of the Grayl have been well thought out and only the best, least toxic materials have been used ( 18/8 Stainless steel and zero BPA).

According to Grayl’s website, drinking water can contain..

“… trace amounts of a wide range of impurities – heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, lead), industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals, elements you can taste (chlorine, iron, copper) and even uranium. The activated carbon used in GRAYL has been proven to greatly reduce many of these contaminants. The result: great tasting water and one less thing to worry about.”

The Grayl can filter the following…

Both the G3+ Filter and Purifer are effective against a broad range of impurities. They greatly reduce metals and chemicals that make water taste and smell bad, industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals commonly found in tap water. The Filter and Purifier are both effective against germs that cause gastrointestinal illness such as giardia (protozoa) and bacteria. The G3+ Purifier adds protection against viruses like Rotovirus and Hepatitis A.
If you are like me and like to reduce your everyday chemical/toxin exposures, this is the cup for us!
Like all good things, patience is key; The Grayl is not yet available, but is coming soon.
Your can pre-order your Grayl on the Grayl website here


PVC Free Air Mattresses

You know you are an eco, healthy living geek when you get super excited about things like this, but it is about time someone got smart enough to make PVC free blow up air mattresses.

Alicia Voorhies, well known blogger and healthy living advocate just posted a blog about PVC free air mattresses on The Soft Landing.

According to The Soft Landing, here are three options for safer, air beds:

Kelty Sleep Eazy

AeroBed Pakmat

Aerobed Ecolite

For more info, check out Alicia’s PVC Free blog HERE



Artificial Dyes – Can Be Even More Dangerous Than the Toxic Cleaners!

 A lot of talk has been kicking around lately regarding Kraft Foods and the use of artificial dyes used in foods marketed to kids. This is a good thing. We want companies and more importantly, PARENTS to be AWARE of the chemicals we are feeding our kids.  Being informed is the best weapon we have until we have regulation on our products and food.
In our house, artificial dyes are a no-no when we can help it….But many times during the day, we are exposed to dyes in things we don’t even question, like medicine for example.
I was talking to a friend and she mentioned she had changed thyroid medication and broke out into a body rash.  Thankfully her Dr. quickly traced her rash to the yellow #5 in her new thyroid pill.  Pharmaceutical companies typically make dye free alternatives so make sure to always request the dye free option.  This is especially true for the kiddos too.  I use to rep Benadryl and 3/4 times the Dr.s asked for more of the ‘colored and flavored’ samples vs. the dye/flavor free samples.  This was many moons ago so my hope is more Moms are aware now and hopefully would be asking for the dye/flavor free options.
Things will not change unless we ask for change.  All companies are looking to make money so stay aware and remember that demand can make change happen. Moms have a lot of power, we hold the purse strings so never be afraid to ask for an alternative.
While on this subject, I came across this article from Forbes, written by Rachel Hennessey that is well worth a read…

Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes

Try going a day without exposure to artificial colors. Kool-aid and Jell-O may be among the most obviously artificially colored products, but they’re far from being the only ones that Americans use on a regular basis.

Adding colors to food can make them look a lot more appealing – a tactic the food industry has been capitalizing on for decades. Would your children rather eat muted brown cereal or the rainbow-colored brand? Are you more tempted to purchase a bright green pickle, or a grayish one?

Many popular candies, drinks, popsicles, puddings, yogurts, gums, boxed mac n’ cheeses, baking mixes, pickles, meats, fruits, sauces and chips contain ingredients such as Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40 – three of the most popular FDA-permitted ones. As if that’s not enough, the dye in our day isn’t limited to food. Chances are, if you take vitamins, use cough syrup, brush your teeth, wash your hands, shampoo your hair, launder your clothing and moisturize your lips on a daily basis — you come into contact with artificial dyes quite frequently.

The safety of products containing artificial colors has been a point of debate for decades – adversaries claiming that they are toxic, carcinogens and contributors to ADHD. Still, seven dyes remain on the FDA’s approved list for use in the United States. Whether or not external exposure to artificial colors is hazardous to our health is even less evident. Because personal care products that contain artificial colors almost always contain numerous other unnatural chemicals, (sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, etc.) if a consumer experiences skin irritation or a reaction, determining the culpable ingredient can be tricky.

For centuries, people and companies used dyes derived from natural ingredients to color food. But many of these natural colors contained toxins such as mercury, copper and arsenic. Around the turn of the 20th century, scientists began formulating synthetic colors, derived from coal tar, to replace the existing toxic natural ones. Unfortunately, these synthetic alternatives have proven to have their own slew of problems.

In 1906, the Pure Food and Drugs Act (a.k.a. the “Wiley Act”) instituted the first restrictions on color additives in the United States. In general terms, the law banned artificial colors that proved “injurious to health,” and the government hired chemist Dr. Bernard Hesse to investigate which of the existing 80 dyes being used in foods were safe enough to keep legal. The next three decades saw a process of eliminating colors that caused recurrent adverse health effects in the public. By 1938, only 15 synthetic colors were still legal, and those were subsequently divided into three categories: those suitable for foods, drugs, and cosmetics; those suitable only for drugs and cosmetics; and those suitable only for cosmetics.

Today only seven colors remain on the FDA’s approved list. Almost every decade, another coal tar issue surfaces, eliminating more and more of the artificial additives in America. For example, after Halloween in 1950, the government banned Orange #1 when many children became ill after consumption. In the 1970s, scientific testing pointed to Red #2’s potential carcinogenic properties (caused intestinal tumors in rats), and it too was banned. Yellows #1, #2, #3, and #4 are among the others that have since been made illegal, and Yellow #5 is currently undergoing further testing for links to hyperactivity, anxiety, migraines and cancer (the color has already been banned in many European countries).

The link between artificial colors and behavioral problems is a concern, especially for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD. But conflicting results from studies among scientists explains why there are still seven approved colors in the United States. The CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), a non-profit watchdog group, continues to push to ban the existing dyes, or at least apply warning labels on products that contain them, like the E.U. does for six. After a study in 2007 at the University of Southampton, the six dyes that came to be known as the “Southampton Six” were linked to hyperactivity in children, and now require warning labels in the E.U. The FDA, however, is not so convinced that such measures are necessary.

Not surprisingly, the Grocers Manufacturing Association, whose members include Coca-Cola, Nestle and General Mills, questions the validity of these studies and claims made by groups such as the CSPI. While the FDA does not reject the proposition that the remaining approved artificial colors may carry adverse health effects, its representatives generally agree, stating that further evidence is needed before another ban is enacted. FDA scientists have theorized that bad reactions to artificial colorings in certain individuals may be similar to a food allergy, in that they only affect a small group of people and need be avoided by those select individuals only, as opposed to the entire public.

The IFIC (International Food Info Council), an independent foundation that strives to communicate “science-based information on health, nutrition and food safety for the public good,” has weighed in on the labeling debate too. According to Senior Director of the Food Ingredient department for the IFIC, Lindsey Loving, warning labels could do more harm than good. “Adding a warning statement could confuse the general public for whom the message is not intended, and could cause alarm regarding safe food ingredients that have been consumed by the general public for years,” Loving stated.

In the U.S., many popular products rely heavily on artificial colors, placing pressure on the FDA to both protect the consumer, and avoid making unnecessary regulations based on shaky evidence that could put such companies out of business. While companies that use artificial colors as subtle ingredients to enhance the appearance of food would have to tweak their recipes, candy and cereal companies would take the hardest blows. If Red #40 and Yellow #5 disappear, how will children be able to “experience the rainbow” (Skittles’ tagline)?

Outlawing the seven remaining artificial colors is like requiring that car manufacturers make only electric or extremely fuel-efficient automobiles — forcing companies to either drop the products from their line or create entirely new formulas in the interest of public health. For companies that rely on coal tar colors, the cost of finding replacement ingredients, changing recipes, and possibly losing sales due to a less visually-appealing product, may be a death sentence.

Luckily for the concerned consumer, the future is not all grim. More and more companies are taking a different approach to marketing by tapping into buyers’ desire for natural products. The cheese industry is making a shift toward using annatto color (natural derivative from achiote seeds) to replace Yellow #5. Naturally colored and flavored alternatives to gummies, lollipops, cereals, yogurts and gums stock the shelves of many American grocery stores; you’ve surely seen that label by now: “Contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.” Even pet food manufacturers are heading down the natural route. So while the FDA may not outlaw the seven remaining artificial colors tomorrow, Americans increasingly have access to naturally colored products, thus bestowing upon us the power of choice.

Skip the Flowers for Mother’s Day!

Today I learned flowers are full of pesticides.

My friend (name withheld in case PETA is reading!) hosted a wedding shower and put fish into large vases, each having a flower. Soon, the fish were nose diving into the glass marbles at the bottom of the vase (perhaps they were trying to flee?) and before they could be saved, they all died.

They all died immediately after the flower was introduced to the water. Thats how much crap was on the flowers. I had no idea, never even thought about it.

Banned pesticides in the US are being used in Ecuador on our pretty little flowers that sit on our pretty little tables or float in our pretty little frozen drinks.

Dang, is anything good anymore!?

One Green Planet wrote an article, Flowers, The Ugly Truth and said …

…Pesticide runoff also continues to contaminate the water supply in areas surrounding flower farms. A 2007 study by the Labor Education in the Americas Project (LEAP) found that, in addition to being a human rights issue, pesticide abuse is a significant environmental threat in Colombia and Equador. According to the study, Ecuadorian flower companies use over 30 different pesticides on cut flowers, and 20 percent of the chemicals applied during flower production in Colombia are restricted or banned in the United States and Europe.

What Can You Do?

Consider choosing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly gift for your loved-one this Valentine’s Day. Although flowers have long been regarded as symbols of beauty and romance, the practical truth is that they will fade within a few days…

If you do choose flowers, opt for those grown organically, and under socially responsible conditions. Look for products that have been certified under the Fair Trade or VeriFlora programs.

For entire article click here

So for Mom’s day this year…I’m gifting chocolate.


Every Mom Needs A Red Twist for Mom’s Day!

OMG, I can’t believe I haven’t written about The Red Twist cashmere sweater/wrap/twist thingy yet! Whatever you want to call it… it is the BEST GIFT EVER!

I met Amy Cooper, the founder at a local Crave Austin event and have lived in my cashmere twist ever since.  Not only does Amy make these amazing, feel good cashmere wraps, she also donates back a good portion of her proceeds to help fund higher education for girls in China – The Josephine Charles Foundation. (yes, some people are just that good!).

If you are looking for a gift that has meaning and style, check out The Red Twist.

Oatmeal Twist

It’s Not Just Red Lipstick

DANG IT!  Lipstick was the one thing I was not willing to pass on for a non-toxic life…  I love my stick, but looks like I need to find  a new lipstick without chromium, cadmium, and manganese!

According to Rodale, new research shows levels of chromium, cadmium and manganese levels in lipstick to be potentially too high for repeated use.  These metals can build up in our bodies, harming our kidneys and other organs.

Check out Rodale’s lipstick expose here.

To find healthy lipsticks, check out my favorite database, EWG – Skin Deep Database – Lipstick

So now what should I use???  Looks like my Mac does not score well and my rule of thumb is to stay away from products that do not openly share their ingredients so that deletes a lot of options from the EWG database.  Coastal Classic Creations is the top lipstick for safety.  I have not ever heard of this company, but after reading about them, I will order some and let you know if I have found a non-toxic replacement for my beloved Del Rio!

Anyone else looking for non-toxic makeup, W3ll People does it BEST!


Safer Pest Control

Its that time of year again!

For non-toxic pest control, use non-toxic methods. Wondercide, Branch Basics and Best Bug Bait (formerly called Papa Roach) are all our ‘go to’ options in our home.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)is the safest pest control available. (My favorite IPM in Austin is Brian Holmes of Holmes IPM).

Stay away from companies claiming to use the ‘safer’ pyrthroids…”Synthetic pyethroids are synthesized derivatives of naturally occurring pyrethrins. Synthetic pyrethroids are toxicologically similar to the natural occurring pyrethrins, however, pyerthrins have dramatically shorter half-lives and are extremely sensitive to light, heat, and moisture. Pyrethriods are known irritants and can have a high acute toxicity depending on the specific formulation. Pyrethriods have also been connected to multiple symptoms of acute toxicity, asthma, incoordination, tremors, and convulsions.

Pyrethroids have been linked to chronic health problems. Many pyrethroids have also been linked to disruption of the endocrine system, which can adversely affect reproduction and sexual development, interfere with the immune system and increase chances of breast cancer.”

From Beyond Pesticides

To see ‘least toxic options, click here for the beyond Pesticides Database – look for the green leaf.

Beyond Pesticides can help explain pesticide dangers.

Here is some info from Beyond Pesticides Website…


What Is a Pesticide?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government body that regulates pesticides in the U.S., a pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests. Pesticides also include plant regulators, defoliants and desiccants.

Learn about the health and environmental effects of specific pesticides, as well as alternatives, in the Pesticide Gateway.

What’s in a Pesticide Product?

We normally think of a pesticide as the product that can be purchased in the store – the insecticide, the weed killer or the fungicide. But, unfortunately, there is much more to it than that. The product that you buy or are exposed to is actually a pesticide formulation that contains a number of different materials, including active and inert ingredients, as well as contaminants and impurities. In addition, pesticides, when subject to various environmental conditions, break down to other materials known as metabolites, which are sometimes more toxic than the parent material.

Active Ingredients

The active ingredient, usually the only component of the formulation listed on the pesticide label, is by nature biologically and chemically active against a target pest, be it an insect, weed or fungus. By definition these chemicals kill living things.

Contaminants and Impurities

Contaminants and impurities are often a part of the pesticide product and responsible for product hazards. Dioxin and DDT have been identified as contaminants, which have not been purposefully added but are a function of the production process.


Metabolites are breakdown products that form when a pesticide is used in the environment and mixes with air, water, soil or living organisms. Often the metabolite is more hazardous than the parent pesticide.

Inert Ingredients

If you were to go to your local hardware store and take a look at the label on a can of ant and roach killer, the contents might read something like this, “5% Permethrin, 95% Inert Ingredients.” After reading the label, you may wonder what makes up the other 95%. The fact is, the manufacturer doesn’t have to tell you. Currently, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), pesticide manufacturers are only required to list the active ingredients in a pesticide, leaving consumers and applicators unaware of the possible toxics present in the inert ingredients of pesticide products they are using, unless the EPA administrator determines that the chemical poses a public health threat. Pesticide manufacturers argue they cannot release information on inert ingredients because they are trade secrets, and if released, their products could be duplicated. Quite often inert ingredients constitute over 95% of the pesticide product. Inert ingredients are mixed into pesticides products as a carrier or sticking agent, and are often as toxic as the active ingredient.

The Hazards of Inert Ingredients

Despite their name, these ingredients are neither chemically, biologically or toxicologically inert. In general, inert ingredients are minimally tested, however, many are known to state, federal and international agencies to be hazardous to human health. For example, the U.S. government lists creosols as a “Hazardous Waste” under Superfund regulations, yet allows these chemicals to be listed as inert ingredients in pesticide products. Creosols are known to produce skin and eye irritations, burns, inflammation, blindness, pneumonia, pancreatitis, central nervous system depression and kidney failure.

Some inert ingredients are even more toxic than the active ingredients. One of the most hazardous ingredients in the commonly used herbicide RoundUp is a surfactant, which is classified as an inert, and therefore not listed on the label. The pesticide naphthalene is an inert ingredient in some products and listed as an active ingredient in others. According a 2000 report produced by the New York State Attorney General, The Secret Ingredients in Pesticides: Reducing the Risk, 72 percent of pesticide products available to consumers contain over 95 percent inert ingredients; fewer than 10 percent of pesticide products list any inert ingredients on their labels; more than 200 chemicals used as inert ingredients are hazardous pollutants in federal environmental statutes governing air and water quality; and, of a 1995 list of inert ingredients, 394 chemicals were listed as active ingredients in other pesticide products.


Least Toxic Control of Pests In the Home and Garden

If all other methods have failed, and monitoring shows that your pest population is still above your action thresholds, then, and only then, should you consider spot treatment of the least toxic pesticides. You must weigh the risks associated with the use of a pesticide against the problems caused by the pest. Consider your options carefully, being mindful not to blindly jump at a solution that may have risks without first collecting the facts.

The term ‘least toxic pesticides’ does not include a pesticide that is

(a) determined by EPA to be a possible, probable, or known carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, reproductive toxin, developmental neurotoxin, endocrine disrupter, or immune system toxin;
(b) a pesticide in EPA’s toxicity category I or II; and,
(c) any application of the pesticide using a broadcast spray, dust, tenting, fogging, or baseboard spray application.

If you must use a pesticide, you should the least toxic pesticide available. Boric acid, formulated from a natural mineral, is an effective ant and cockroach stomach poison. When properly applied, it has a relatively low toxicity compared to other pesticides. Further, it does not evaporate into the indoor air of the structure, unlike many other pesticides. Look for boric acid that has less than one percent of inert ingredients, therefore you have a better idea of what you are applying and its risks than with most other pesticides. While boric acid is somewhat slower acting than other materials, it is highly effective over a long period of time. But remember, all pesticides are poisons designed to kill, and should be handled carefully and with respect. Boric acid should be applied only in areas where it will not come in contact with people – cracks and crevices, behind counters, and in baseboards. Applicators should wear protective clothing, gloves, and a filter mask.

The following Least Toxic Control of Pests factsheets can be ordered individually or as a compilation through Beyond Pesticides. Check back often as we are continually updating our factsheets that are available online. More information on integrated pest management and utilizing least toxic alternatives, check out our Children and Pesticides page.

Enjoy Lunch Without Plastic.

Plastic containers leach chemicals (carcinogens, hormone disruptors and more) into the foods and liquids it touches.  Commit to removing it from your lunch box as one easy step in reducing your daily exposures to harmful chemicals.

We use glass and stainless steel for all our food storage and containers.  My favorite glass containers are from Wean Green and the BEST stainless steel lunch box system is from Planet Box. If ever in doubt and you do not know what to use or buy, Mighty Nest carries all the ‘safe’ stuff.

Also, ditch the plastic water bottle for a insulated stainless steel  Hydro Flask or  Klean Kanteen. Life Factory glass bottles are also a good option.

Remember : There is NO SAFE PLASTIC.  BPA Free means nothing because instead of BPA -  BPS or another lesser known chemical has been substituted and MAY have even worse side effects.

If you must use plastic, look for plastic #1, 2, 4, 5 ONLY. The rest (3,6,7,) are BAAAAAAAD!

Healthy Child Healthy World has a good article here explaining the plastic numbers. Dr Mercola also explains it well here.