45 Earth Day Resolutions

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the air smells brand new. It’s Earth’s promise of fertile prosperity, her reminder of new beginnings. Earth Day represents a time to reflect and find more ways to give back, above and beyond the good habits we’ve already adhered to for her benefit. Let’s think of it as Nature’s New Year and set Earth Day resolutions!

134466058_aa119a8ac9-1

 

This Earth Day, let me plant some seeds. We need to be thinking of our impact on Earth every day. It really is up to us to support her health. Our health is dependent on hers and vice versa. Here are some excellent things we all can do this year:

 

1. I will plant some of my favorite veggies in a garden or pots.

2. I will keep clean reusable produce bags in my grocery bags.

3. I will keep shopping bags in my purse or car and use them when I shop.

4. I will only use safe, biodegradable cleaning products.

5. I will teach my kids to read labels.

6. I’ll just get the economy car instead of the SUV.

7. I will stop buying single-use non-biodegradable trash bags.

8. I will replace all the incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs.

9. I will cook more foods from scratch, in order to use less packaging.

10. I will take a walk or hike at least once a week to connect with nature.

11. I will not buy another “bottled water” again, ever.

12. I’m going solar!

13. I will keep my air conditioner set 3 degrees warmer.

14. I will keep my heater set 3 degrees cooler.

15. I will choose organic cotton instead of conventional or synthetic material, at least once.

16. I will plant a tree and nurture that tree.

17. I will look for locally produced items before buying imports.

18. I will not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides on my property.

19. I will purchase organic foods whenever my budget allows it.

20. I will start composting kitchen scraps.

8633679629_5f5ed8f7cc

21. I will use reusable containers instead of plastic zippy bags.

22. I will sign those land-saving petitions each time this year.

23. I will ask a friend to sign those petitions too.

24. Instead of party favors, we’re doing planet favors.

25. I will consume less meat.

26. I will turn in a “litter bug” if I see one.

27. I will drive 5 mph slower on the freeway.

28. I will consciously slow down at times to take in Earth’s beauty.

29. I will buy more food in bulk in an effort to create less waste.

30. I will shop at farmers’ markets at least once per month (seasonally).

3646347359_1bee254c83

31. I will focus on buying produce when it’s in season.

32. I will ride my bike to work/school at least once a week, because it’s only 2 miles.

33. I will never use chlorine bleach or ammonia again. Ever.

34. I will read the label of every garment of clothing I buy this year – where it was made and what it was made with.

35. I will not buy any more synthetic body care items. Ever. Because it is body pollution, it goes down the drain, and my body is her body.

36. I will turn my water heater down.

37. I will not buy a plastic one if there is a glass or metal one.

38. I’m just going to go ahead and get that hybrid or electric car I’ve been thinking about.

39. I will volunteer at my local watershed cleanup.

40. I will pick up random trash when it is within my passing reach.

41. I will subscribe to a new media source for Earth news.

42. I will take shorter showers.

43. I will eat more organic raw foods.

44. I will kick my big-box store shopping habit.

45. I will drop-kick my dollar-store habit.

Doing Laundry The Non-Toxic Way

Switching from conventional laundry products, loaded with preservatives, artificial fragrances and a toxic soup of hazardous chemicals, to safer, natural laundry products can be confusing and frustrating. Years ago, when I was making the switch, I noticed the natural detergents would often leave my clothes, well… not as fresh-smelling as a mountain breeze. I wanted those “fresh scents” back to mask the odor. Later, I realized my laundry wasn’t even getting really clean, whether I used natural detergents or not, because I wasn’t using them right!

Three children later, I’ve found the cure for the stinky-laundry blues, using pure, biodegradable, septic- and gray-water-safe Lifekind products:

1920px-Hallig_Hooge,_Germany,_view_from_the_Backenswarft

Pre-treat

Grease Stains: For grease stains like salad dressing, apply All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser directly to the spot on dry fabric, vigorously rub the area together, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then rub and rub while rinsing under hot water. (Hot water is more effective than cold at dissolving and rinsing away oil.) Next, apply more of the product to the spot, leave it in, and put in the wash. *Use hot water if the fabric’s washing instructions permit it.

Food and other stains: Generously spray Stain & Odor Eliminator, with live enzyme cultures, on the spot and rub-rub-rub, then rinse, using cold or warm water. Hot water kills the “live” enzymes, so don’t use hot water. Now ring out the water and spray some more Stain & Odor Eliminator on the spot, then it’s ready for the machine.


SylviaBasket

Washing

Machine: Front loaders are more efficient, use less water, do a better job, and are gentler on fabrics than top loaders. Many front loaders have special settings that are very helpful and can save you time and energy, like “sanitize” and “hand wash.”

Detergent: Choose all-temperature Laundry Powder, which contains Oxygen Bleach, or use Laundry Liquid. Both are safe for people with sensitive skin or allergies and for HE machines, septic systems, and gray-watered plants. Both are super concentrated, saving money and resources. If you’re not sure whether to choose liquid or powder, check out Grist’s “Ask Umbra” column What kind of laundry soap is lightest on the land?

Boost: Oxygen Bleach is a non-toxic, chlorine-free, color-safe powder bleach that whitens, brightens, and softens fabrics. It can also be made into a paste by adding a bit of water to use as a pre-treatment for spots. For washables that have been tainted with unpleasant smells or mildew, I always add a healthy dose of Stain & Odor Eliminator directly to the wash cycle (remember – cold or warm, not hot water).

Please, No Fabric Softener: According to the Environmental Health Association of Ontario, fabric softener is the most toxic product produced for daily household use, and the neurostimulant/irritants and central-nervous-system toxins used in these products are known to produce an addictive-type response that may cause a user to experience a feeling of pleasure when the product is directly inhaled. Well, I’ve never been a fan of oily fabric softeners anyway, because I like my towels to actually absorb water, rather than just smear it around. But if you’re like me and you don’t like crunchy towels either, just add ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle.

il_570xN.136590343

Drying

No Dryer Sheets: Aside from the Amish way, hanging out to dry, the healthiest advice I can give you is DO NOT USE DRYER SHEETS! Chloroform, A-Terpineol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Acetate, Ethanol, Pentane, Ethyl Acetate, Camphor, Linalool, Phthalates, and Limonene are some of the chemicals found in dryer sheets. And people add this stuff to their already cleaned clothes! Stick to the baking-soda-in-the-washing-machine trick. And you can try wool dryer balls, found in most natural-food stores and online. Add 2 drops of pure essential oil to the dryer balls and you’ve got “fresh scent.”

Iron_Board_Cvr

Ironing

Synthetic-Free Ironing Board Cover: Use an Ironing Board Cover that is free of synthetic and chemical flame retardants to avoid ironing chemicals into your fabrics.

No Aerosol Spray Starch: The chemicals in conventional spray starches are no better than the fabric softener’s plight. You can find natural alternatives for sale online or at your natural-foods store, or you can make it yourself for just pennies. I never iron anything. Ever. So I haven’t tried the homemade kind, but Bren did. Check out her blog post here.

Folding

Sorry, I can’t help you with that. But enter your email address above to subscribe to our blog and receive future posts, and you may see me demonstrate the magic of folding a fitted sheet.

 

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/laundry/techfact/keychar.htm

https://www.lifekind.com/laundry-cleaning

http://saferchemicals.org/2014/08/21/is-your-laundry-clean-or-just-greenwashed/

http://www.naturalnews.com/034617_fabric_softeners_toxic_chemicals_laundry.html#

http://www.ehaontario.ca/help-with.htm

Ask Umbra reference: http://grist.org/living/what-kind-of-laundry-soap-is-lightest-on-the-land/

Bren Did blog: http://brendid.com/3-ways-make-non-toxic-spray-starch/

Turning The Tide on Convenience – statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags

Great news! California Governor Jerry Brown just passed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. Starting in July 2015, large grocery stores in California will no longer ask “paper or plastic,” because they won’t have plastic! Are paper bags the best option compared to reusable? Nay. But I’d like to hear more conversation about what’s going into those bags.

Convenience is a pill offering instant gratification, but can leave one with feelings of regret and dissatisfaction. Three words from my mom two decades ago, like a prophet’s counsel – “don’t cut corners” – ring through my mind ironically as a remedy for complexity and chaos. The idea is that you expend a little more energy now to save you later. This idea has saved me bundles of time and money over the years, has spared me from buying items that were cheaply made, and reminds me to evaluate whether I really needed certain items in the first place.

Landfill

Speaking of complexity and chaos, have you seen the news lately? It’s really hard to look at humans and animals suffering, effects of global warming, Ebola outbreaks, and plastic and toxic chemicals in everything, everywhere, without wanting to fix it. What I like to focus on is what I can personally do today to help change the world for the better. Knowledge is my leverage. The more I learn about which chemicals are where and why, for example, the easier it becomes to change my ways. One good habit builds upon another. That’s convenient. Since I’m bringing my own cloth grocery bags shopping, for example, I automatically have a place for reusable produce bags and bottles to refill with bulk liquids. Pop it in the trunk of my car and I conveniently have them when I go to the store.

Check out this one-minute National Geographic Video:

Other examples of toxic convenience in the average American’s life are: fast food, driving when you can walk, dollar store and GiantMart shopping, microwaves, spraying chemical herbicides to kill weeds, using chemicals in your home to “clean” it, and buying cheap clothes to fill a closet. Just say no! Or at least start saying no to more of these things. Don’t wait until there’s a universal bag ban. Ban the bag on your own.

grocery_bags

I realize everyone has different circumstances and most people can’t afford organic food and goods all the time, but reevaluating what we really need and how it gets to us is something we all can do. Imagine if EVERYONE was willing to carry their own clean, cloth grocery bags into stores! With a little effort and forethought we can all make a huge difference.

Image of landfill:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landfill#mediaviewer/File:Wysypisko.jpg

Lifekind Organic Mattress Profile: The Combo Natural Rubber Latex / Innerspring

LifekindComboOrganicMattresswatermark

The Combo organic mattress is often the best choice for people who prefer the traditional “bouncy” feel of an innerspring mattress yet want the cushiony comfort of natural rubber latex. It’s also ideal for sleepers of different weights and statures who share a bed.

combo-cutaway-white
Lifekind Combo Organic Mattress cutaway

Available in two versions, the one-sided, non-flippable Combo has a two-inch layer of natural rubber added to the top of the innerspring core, and the two-sided, flippable Combo has two inches of natural rubber added to both sides.
Either version of the Combo can be supported by a boxspring for added “give” and softness, or by a wood-slat foundation or platform- style bed for a firmer, more stable feel.

Click here to view more details and pricing: http://goo.gl/YmokOa

As always, Lifekind’s Product Specialists are happy to answer all your product questions or help you decipher which firmness or type of mattress is best for your personal needs, and can be reached between 7:30 and 5:00 Monday through Friday Pacific time at 800-284-4983. Give us a call!

Our independent third-party certifications are shown below:

GOLS •  Certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)

 

GREENGUARD_Gold_RGB_Green

•  20-year limited warranty, and meets the GREENGUARD® product emission standard

 

 

gots-logo_cmyk_epsKO

• GOTS prohibits the use of ingredients like formaldehyde, GMOs, heavy metals, copper, fumigants, fluorocarbons, aromatic solvents, and chlorophenols in any part of the production process. Raw materials known to be toxic (to the earth, the ozone layer, or any living organism) are also prohibited. Additionally, GOTS explicitly requires that organic materials do not come in contact with non–organic materials.

7 Mindful Shopping Practices

Twenty years ago organic food was not so popular, but I sought it out. People would ask me, a struggling single mother at the time, how I could afford organic groceries. The heart of my decision to shop organic was, and still is, the principle of it. I know I’m directly supporting the environmental movement every day, plain and simple.

Today organic groceries can be found in almost every grocery store in America. Healthier, organic food has become the norm for many, and there is more collective knowledge about what organic means.

 Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 11.44.53 AM

 

This message isn’t about healthy food. It’s about sustainable choices. We need to embrace change (yesterday!) and apply what we’ve learned about the food we eat to products we buy for everyday use. The chemicals used in conventional products and their manufacturing are just as dangerous as chemicals used in agriculture.

Observing the explosion of Whole Foods Market all over the map, it’s not hard to imagine a paradigm shift from “more for less” to “less is more.” Are you with me? Great! Read on for seven simple tips to help you keep your mind where your heart is while you’re shopping for everyday items.

1. Think quality, not quantity. Once you adopt a minimalist mentality, it is very difficult to go back. No more going to a dollar store for two items and ending up spending $20.

2. Support local. Read labels to find out where things are made. Unfortunately most items are made elsewhere, but it’s like striking gold when a surprise “Made in America” label is found. When you find products you love made in your region, state or country, latch on and don’t let go. Why not inform friends and neighbors, as well?

3. Disposables and planned obsolescence. Seek out longer lasting, recyclable, reusable or compostable alternatives to disposable or short-lived products you currently use, like diapers, razors, toothbrushes, feminine products, light bulbs, paper towels and napkins, paper plates, plasticware and cups, trash bags, sandwich & storage bags, and grocery bags. If you’re unsure where to find these alternatives, please leave a comment for us below.

 

DSC_0013

 

4.  Think about sources. What materials were used, using what chemicals in the process? For example, cotton fabric is made from soft plant fibers, so it’s perfect for textiles, but cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop involving tremendous amounts of pesticides, chemical treatments and water. Organic cotton is an excellent substitute, and as we continue buying more of it, more options will become available.

5.  Awaken your senses. Commercial household cleaning products and personal-care products are made with chemicals that are toxic to the people manufacturing them, the people using them, animals that come into contact with them, and the water systems where they end up. You can smell the pollution walking down the cleaning-products isle at conventional grocery stores. If it doesn’t smell like something from nature, don’t buy it. Tip: go to a health food store and sniff the pure essential oil samplers to get a better idea of what non-toxic scents from nature smell like.

6. Educate yourself and others. Tell people what you learn about consumerism, toxics, trash, and great alternatives. We have an opportunity to change the future for the better by educating children. To get my daughter to understand what clothes (something she has a genuine interest in) are made of, we made up a game I’ll call “animal, plant or other.” Her eyes lit up when she realized that the cotton shirt she was wearing was made from plant flowers. When I explained that rayon fabric is mostly made from wood pulp, she was like, “Whaaat?!” In a fun way, that forced her to think about material processes.

 

images

 

7. Take it in stride. Don’t go out and replace everything all at once. I suggest you take it as it comes, which will give you time to research better options. When you need new sheets, buy organic cotton sheets. When you need new razors and toothbrushes, buy Preserve recyclables. And on and on.

 

“Change is the only constant.” –Heraclitus

 

 

 

How to Choose the Perfect Pillow

You may be thinking….that’s easy, you go down to the bed and bath store and pull a few off the shelf and squish, press, lay your head on them and whichever feels good and is within your budget will be fine (trial and error, I guess?). Or maybe you’re replacing your old pillows with cruelty-free, organic alternatives, but don’t know where to begin.

Everybody is unique, so there is no one “perfect” pillow for everyone. It’s just not that simple. Deciphering the “pillow puzzle” might have you throwing in the towel and settling for anything soft-ish to prop your head up on. Read on for advice on how to best match your comfort needs to various types of pillows.

Sad man holding pillow

 I believe the first thing to consider when purchasing anything really, is what it is made of. Since about 1/3 of your time is spent in bed and pillows are right in your face, I wouldn’t recommend petroleum-based poly-fill or memory foam, which is found to contain 60+ toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The healthiest choice is always organic.

CottonPillowInside

The inside of our Organic Cotton Pillow

Next, consider your sleeping position(s) and the pillow loft (or height) needed:

  • Side sleepers: Choose a pillow that is the proper loft, so your head and neck are supported in a neutral position. For example, if the pillow is for a child, you may need a light-loft pillow. If it’s for a person with broad shoulders you may need a full-loft pillow, and medium- and full-loft pillows are generally best for the average-sized person.
  • Back sleepers: A puffy, light- to medium-loft pillow is usually best, to gently lift your head without putting too much pressure on your neck.
  • Belly sleepers: Try a light-loft pillow, or none at all, so your head isn’t too high.

PillowChart1

 

Now for the fun part. What a pillow is stuffed with greatly determines how it feels. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, click on the links to the organic pillows after the question, and that pillow could be the best one for you.

If you’re still unsure, just call and talk to one of our knowledgable pillow experts at Lifekind at 1-800-284-4983. I love getting calls about pillows, because I enjoy using adjectives like “puffy,” “shmooshable,” “buoyant,” and “moldable.”

Our Christmas Wish for You…

…is the gift of calm. While you prepare for your holiday activities, don’t forget to take moments to relax and de-stress. During this time of giving it’s easy to forget about your own needs. Remember, Santa knows if you’ve been good… to yourself, as well.

8231690670_ab59d510fc_o

Also, a reminder that we will be closed December 24th and 25th so our staff can enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends.

~Healthy Holidays from all of us at Lifekind~

My Top 10 Tips for Warming Up

Are you one of those people who gets cold easily, and has a hard time warming back up? I am! Here are my top 10 ways to warm up. Much of my advice is common sense, but my hope is that you’ll get at least one new warming idea that will enhance your autumn and winter experiences.

 

1. Get Moving: It’s simply the most effective way to warm up. Even 5 or 10 minutes does the trick.

2. Eat Something Warming: Each food ingredient has a warming, cooling or neutral quality. Chinese and Eastern Indian medicine uses this principle to help create balance in a person’s system. Spicy foods like cayenne, onion, ginger and garlic are warming–you can tell when your mouth catches fire and you break out in a sweat.

 

fresh_herbs_and_spices-other2

 

But there’s also a slew of less likely foods that have warming qualities. I thought all mints were cooling until I viewed the charts. It turns out spearmint is warming and peppermint is cooling. Check out these links for more warming and cooling foods: Warming and cooling characteristics of common foods (Ping Ming Health)

Food as your Medicine (Le Shiatsu)

 

WarmingFoods by Lifekind

3. Have A Cuppa: Bring a thermos of spicy tea with you to sip, as needed, throughout the day. Coffee is on the warming list (YAY!). So is black tea, but green tea is cooling. I love chai tea, the spicier the better. In the winter I enjoy chai lattes with a shot of espresso added. Herbal teas are a delicious and healthy way to bring warmth into your body. View the food charts to find warming herbs to add to your tea collection. You can also add a tiny bit of ginger or cayenne to your favorite tea or coffee (but be careful–HOT)! If you drink chilled water, stop it! Drink room-temp water instead.

 

relaxing-bath-300x168

4. Get In Hot Water: If you have the time, take a hot bath or hot tub. Simply washing hands in hot water is good for an instant blast of warmth. When I’m cold, I’m the first (and only) to volunteer to do the dishes. I use a sink full of hot soapy water for the washing, and rinse in fresh hot water.

5. Layer Up: Wear breathable clothes that won’t collect sweat and make you cold. Wool naturally wicks moisture and will keep you warm and dry. Wear a scarf out in the wind, and indoors, as needed.  Fingerless gloves are great because you can wear gloves, but still use your fingers for typing or work.

 

6. Be Prepared For Your Environment: Keep a throw or an extra sweater and a space heater at work, especially if you sit stationary while working.

 

7. Use Warm, Breathable Bedding: Get the synthetics out of your bed. They’re typically found in mattress pads and comforters, and don’t wick out sweat, in turn making you damp and cold. Use 100% cotton sheets and mattress pads. Add a wool mattress topper and wool comforter and Zzzzz, you’re a cozy sandwich.

 

8. Tell Yourself You’re Warm: Adding warmer colors and images to your house and work environment, via paint, decorations, etc., will offer a warmer feeling. Picture yourself on a hot sandy beach in the tropics, baking in the sun… Yeah.

 

9. Invite The Sun In: Open the curtains and position a comfy chair and a throw in a sunny spot in your house. In the winter the sun is lower in the sky and will stream further into your house.

 

palm-tree-shadow-on-golden-sandy_1920x1200_519-wide

10. Choose Cinnamon Over Peppermint: Toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, breath mints, etc. have warming, cooling, or neutral qualities, just like foods. You can also avoid using personal care items with mint: lotions and shampoos, for example.

 

What’s your favorite way to warm away the winter chills?

If Textiles Could Talk: “I’m clean and green with nothing in between!”

In past ‘If Textiles Could Talk’ blog posts, I wrote about the dreadful overuse of water, pesticides, and toxic chemicals by the textile industry. Cotton is the most extensively produced natural textile fiber on the planet, and according to the USDA, in 2003 55 million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on 12.8 million acres of conventional cotton in the U.S. alone.

7900525012_f8ff87dbd1

The Organic Trade Association lists the many reasons why cotton should be grown organically in the link below.

http://www.ota.com/organic/environment/cotton_environment.html

 

At Lifekind, we only use organic cotton, and our colored items are not dyed. They’re made with cotton that grows in colors naturally on the plant, a.k.a. colorgrown cotton. For example, our Organic Cotton Travel Pillow and some of our Baby Products like the Certified Organic Cotton Play Mat this little farmer’s on:

GardenKOWhy colorgrown cotton is great:

  • The cotton’s natural color doesn’t fade!
  • It has softer feel than conventionally grown and processed cotton!
  • It’s naturally pest resistant, so toxic pesticides are not needed!
  • No bleaches and dyes are needed, saving energy, water, and the environment!

Kudos to Sally Fox, a modern-day textile hero, for reinventing colorgrown cotton! While naturally pigmented cotton is believed to have originated 5,000 years ago, the fibers were not long enough to be used in today’s textile machines. Through careful breeding, in the 1980s Sally created colorgrown cotton with a longer staple suitable for spinning on a modern machine.

Colorgrown cotton is being used in eco-fashion and by handcrafters. You can find these healthy, earth-colored products under the trademarks FoxFibre and Colorganic: http://www.foxfibrecolorganic.com/en/

 

3290524473_0c7dc5c882

I’m a huge fan of FoxFibre socks, and they’re available at my local natural foods store: http://www.vreseis.com/socks.html

For more about Sally Fox, read Karen Brown’s Etsy blog post:

http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/sally-fox-and-the-world-of-naturally-colored-fiber/

 

And for more history on Sally Fox: http://vreseis.com/sally_fox_story.htm

The Down Pillow Lover’s Cruelty-Free Alternatives

If you love down pillows and are looking for a cruelty-free organic option, or want to get away from the allergens caused by the dust mites that like to cozy up in down, look no further.

Lifekind carries two pillows that possess the qualities of down pillows, but are more breathable and better for temperature regulation. The Natural Rubber Molded Pillow and the Wool Wrapped Shredded Rubber Pillow are made of pure, natural-rubber latex, which repels dust mites naturally. The wool in the Shredded Rubber Pillow also repels dust mites. You can decide on your own which one is right for you, or if you’re still unsure, call and talk to a Lifekind Product Specialist at 800-284-4983.

lifekind molded pillow

The Natural Rubber Molded Pillow

  • Our softest-feeling pillow
  • Supportive softness elevates the head without pressure
  • Light, buoyant, flexible and squish-able
  • Molded rubber bounces back to pillow shape, softly

The Wool-Wrapped Shredded Rubber Pillow

  • Filled with small pieces of fluffy natural rubber inside an outer chamber of wool
  • Can be customized by removing some fill; the more you remove, the fluffier it is, like a down pillow
  • More fill has a “feather pillow” feel and is heavier
  • Can be fluffed, shaped, and “smooshed” like a down pillow