by Maureen O'Connor @ 10:36 am post a comment »
Summer’s fast approaching and many of us will be increasing our time in the sun while pursuing all our favorite outdoor pastimes. Having a nice deep tan can make you look like your favorite celeb on DWTS (they use spray tan) but also expose you and yours to some very harmful sun-related effects. One of our favorite people-friendly orgs, Environmental Working Group, has just published its 2013 Guide to Sunscreens and a list of things ‘not’ to bring with you on your next vacation or trip to the beach. Here’s a quick look at their recommendations:
- No to Spray Sunscreens – What price convenience? Mom’s may appreciate the ease-of-use of these products but there’s a looming concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks. The spray also makes it easy to to miss a spot or have thin areas of application – leaving bare skin exposed to harmful rays.
- No to Super-High SPFs – Products with sky-high SPFs don’t necessarily provide more protection than SPF 30, and though they may protect against sunburn, they can leave your skin exposed to damaging, deep-penetrating UVA rays. Consumers can also be lulled into a false sense of security by staying out in the sun longer while using a high SPF product. The higher SPF products may prevent sunburn during extended sun exposure, but that extra time in the sun will increase the risk of other kinds of skin damage. Note: only one in seven sunscreens in EWG’s sunscreen guide this year boasts SPFs higher than SPF 50+.
- No to Oxybenzone – Check those labels – oxybenzone is a common ingredient in many sunscreens. The chemical penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can also trigger allergic reactions. Preliminary data has found links between oxybenzone and endometriosis in older women and negative effects on pregnant women.
- No to Loose Powder Sunscreens – Like sprays, loose powder sunscreens can expose users to the inhalation of chemicals like zinc and titanium. Sun care products designed for the face and hair often contain loose powder. If they do, don’t use them. The FDA no longer allows manufacturers of over-the-counter products containing loose sunscreen powder to advertise and SPF or claim sun protection claims.
- No to Retinyl Palmitate – This chemical form of vitamin A is often used in night cream beauty products for its supposed anti-aging properties. Unfortunately, government studies have indicated, that when applied to sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Almost one in four of the SPF-rated sunscreens, makeups and moisturizers in this year’s EWG suncare guide contains retinyl palmitate.
- No to Combo Sunscreen/Bug Repellents – Here’s a case where multi-tasking can be a bad thing. Two notes: bugs are not a major problem during the hours when UV exposure is at its peak and sunscreen may need to be reapplied more frequently than repellent, or vice versa. Studies have indicated that combining sunscreens and repellents leads to increased skin absorption of the repellent ingredients – so keep that stuff off your face.
- No to Sunscreen Towelettes – In 2011 the FDA updated sunscreen rules to end the sale of sunscreen wipes and towelettes. Some small companies have been granted another year to remove them from their product lines. The towelettes can provide too little sunscreen to provide adequate protection. Chuck em’ out.
- No to Tanning Oils – Though you may admire the deep brown, leathery look of George Hamilton in his prime, these products don’t provide enough protection and promote risky behavior by encouraging users seek out intense sunshine and pursue tanning behaviors that can result in skin damage and increased risk of developing skin cancer. EWG recommends avoiding products with SPF values lower than 15 or those that don’t contain either zinc oxide or avobenzone for UVA protection.
We would also recommend that you always cover-up when out in the midday sun. Wear a big hat, a long sleeve shirt (when appropriate) and get out of the sun when you start feeling the heat and/or get pink. Garden or do yard work early or late in the day when the sun’s rays are less intense, always wear a healthful sun protection product and… George Hamilton… don’t be so darn vain.
related: here are some additional skincare, sunscreen and health and beauty reviews from The Alternative Consumer
Monday, May 20, 2013
by guest @ 8:18 am post a comment »
If your bedroom is currently looking a bit stale and dreary, leaving you feeling flat and uninspired, it’s time to banish those bedroom blues and go eco with an economically upcycled room makeover! It’s a fantastic opportunity to let your imagination run wild and easily add some vitality and natural character to your sleeping environment, whilst helping you do your bit for the environment. Read on for a few ideas to get you started re-crafting your exciting, eco and purse-friendly bedroom:
Just think of how much valuable Rainforest is lost every day due to trees being chopped down for new furniture (240 square miles!). So re-use any old furniture you own for the bedroom before you head to the shops. A quick coat of non-toxic paint or wood oils, and it’ll be as good as new!
Spring has sprung and we can finally banish those bulky jumpers for another year. If you have any you no longer like, chop off the sleeves and separate the front and backs. Stitch several square pieces together to create a snug patchwork floor rug, which can help warm up your room and toes.
A fresh bunch of flowers will not only make a bedroom look nice, but smell nice too. Put old glass bottles and jars to good use, instead of chucking them out, to contain your fancy floral arrangements. Old waste paper bins also make good flower holders, as long as they’re water tight!
However, some things can be beyond salvaging, so if your mattress has lost its’ spring, and is sagging and uncomfortable, it’s time to invest in a new eco bed. Mattress Online provides a wide range of brand new mattresses, with several made from organic cotton and wool. Natural mattress materials last much longer than processed, synthetic mattresses, without the need for harmful chemicals in their production. With Mattress Online offering up to 70% off usual prices, you can save money whilst still being eco in your mattress style choice.
Don’t worry about how to get rid of your old mattress. Instead of sending it to landfill, consider getting it recycled, or donating it to worthy causes, such as Homeless shelters or pet charities. It can continue to be used, even though it no longer has any benefit for you. So you can feel good whilst helping others and the planet, whilst ensuring you always get a good night’s sleep!
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
by Jasmine Petro @ 2:41 pm 1 comment »
Alright, I have a confession to make … (as a Cali-based college student), as much as I try, I don’t bike everywhere. There are mornings when I don’t have the energy to wake up extra early for the bus, and I don’t exactly drive a Prius. Honestly, sometimes driving my car is pretty unavoidable, and no matter how environmentally responsible I want to be, it just isn’t going to be financially feasible for me to pick up the lovely new Leaf anytime soon. But all hope is not lost on me, or any of my fellow classmates who also feel a little guilty about their car usage. Here are a few simple tips for driving a bit greener in whatever wheels you already have:
- Lighten the Load – Cleaning out your car is a quick and easy way to up your mean machine’s green factor (and save money on gas). The more weight a vehicle carries, the more fuel it consumes, so trim the fat for a ride that is lean and green.
- Cruise – Cruise control, if you have it, is a surprisingly useful tool for green driving. Unnecessary acceleration (which many of us do naturally by responding to small changes in traffic rather than taking a long view of the road) is a huge drain on your gas tank. Turning on cruise control is an easy way to counter this troublesome tendency; one test logged a maximum 14% saving in gas consumption just from using cruise control. (more…)
Thursday, May 2, 2013
by guest @ 3:01 pm post a comment »
If you’re someone who is dedicated to saving the environment and living a greener lifestyle, you know how bad having a lawn is for the planet. You’d just as soon rip it up and use the space for container gardening. Unfortunately, the Homeowner’s Association requires you to keep a lawn—and to keep it to very strict specifications. So how do you reconcile your need to be as green as possible while keeping your lawn lush and pretty?
Hire an Eco-Friendly Landscaper
Hiring a green landscaping and yard care company is a great way to get your lawn taken care of without your having to do the work yourself. You can use sites like http://www.greenlawncare.net to help you find local lawncare services.
But what if you can’t afford to hire someone or simply prefer to do the work yourself?
A lawnmower that requires gas is no friend to the environment. A manual push mower (yep, like the kind they used to use in the 50s) is a great way to clip the glass without sending a bunch of fumes into the air. Plus, it’s a pretty great workout (which reduces your need to drive to the gym).
If you have a strict Homeowner’s Association you might have to get creative with your rain barrel placement. You might have to set it up in your backyard instead of alongside your house. Still, collecting rainwater (especially if you rig the collector to your gutters) is a great way to reduce the amount of water you need to run to water your lawn. Rainwater can be used for lawn watering, garden watering and even things like car washing. (more…)
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
by guest @ 9:51 am post a comment »
Recycling has made great strides over the past few years. I wish more people would join me in my search for perfectly good items made of upcycled or recycled materials. It’s a great way to keep reusable stuff out of our ever-mounting landfills.
Four of my favorite recycled items that can be re-bought and re-used by multiple people:
1. Recycled tires. In the US alone there are 300 million used tires disposed of each year. A lot of progress has been made on disposing of them properly. It is too bad not as much has been legislated demanding their recycling. I was pleased to learn that US highways used 12 million of them last year recycled back into components of highways pavement. Another estimated 25 million were used to make rubber mulch for play grounds and gardens and to build sidewalks along city streets that require less maintenance than concrete and are safer. (more…)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
by guest @ 11:55 am post a comment »
Living a healthy and sustainable life means a lot to many and we often unknowingly lead by example — especially when it comes to our eco-friendly habits. Since April is the month many renew their environmental efforts or focus, why not organize an earth-friendly, family-friendly neighborhood event or outreach project?
You can make your efforts as involved or as simple as you are inclined. There are many environmental organizations with resources and ideas available to help you.
Food, Foliage, and Friends!
Having a block party is, first off, a great way to make new friends and help build up your local community. Getting neighbors involved in organizing and later participating is key and can be the boon for many positive things above and beyond the day’s events. Strong neighbor relations build stronger and safer communities.
Here are a few ideas to a get going on a great celebration in your neighborhood …
- Get a Grasp on Your Greenery
Decide if you want to plant tree saplings, foliage, or a whole community garden during your event. If you live in an area in which you can actually create a community garden somewhere, that’s fantastic and you may find many of your neighbors interested in contributing to such an endeavor. If there is no “public” area to make one, maybe one of the neighbors has space on their property that would like to donate.
If a community garden isn’t in the cards, planting trees and flowers throughout your neighborhood can be fun and it is great for beautification and the environment. Be sure to plant native species and check into any permits that may be needed. Talk to local nurseries (especially the “mom & pop” type) to see if they would be willing to discount or donate living plants and seeds.
- Set-up Education Stations
Have families volunteer to host an “education station” at their curb or in their yard during the event. Have several of these spread throughout the party/event area. You can even turn this into a scavenger hunt game where people need to get signed off at or get something from each station to qualify for a great prize.
Each station should have its own environmental focus. People can choose their own topics or you can do a random drawing and divvy them out. Invite local environmental organizations. Many have speakers or educators that would be happy to join you. Also invite participation and tabling from local eco-friendly businesses.
- Promote, Promote, Promote
If you do not get people involved and promote (and remind) people, you will have a dead event and that would be discouraging. The only way to ensure participation is to consistently promote. You can do this with flyers (made from recycled paper and eco-friendly inks, of course) and by canvasing door to door.
You can even have some custom signs made or yard flags and banners from places like FlagsOnAStick.com; leave one with each home that agrees to participate in the event and/or help promote it by displaying the flag.
Don’t forget to take the time to create a press release to distribute to your local media. You never know when they are looking for a feel-good community story like yours.
These are just a few examples, there is much more you can do. Talk to people, do some research, look into what’s available and what’s already going on around you. Maybe, instead of hosting your own event, there is one already scheduled that you can join. The goal is to support in eco-friendly community-building.