Introducing Our New 20th Anniversary Certified Organic Mattresses!

The Sorell is a luxury certified organic mattress* made with a medium-firm core of individual pocket coils individually wrapped in a biodegradable fabric protector made from corn. The coils are then enclosed in a durable certified organic cotton envelope, then finally topped with 3” of luxurious rubber-tree latex. The latex layer can be ordered in either medium, medium-firm, or firm. Unlike the one-piece Bonnell-spring construction of our Traditional and Combo mattresses, pocket coils respond individually to a sleeper’s weight and position, and deliver comfort with less motion transfer while retaining the feel of an innerspring. As with all our mattresses, our certified organic wool provides flammability protection without the use of chemical flame retardants or synthetic fire barriers. Height: Approximately 12”. Handmade in the USA.

The major difference between our two 20th Anniversary mattresses is that while the Astar has a loose, removable cover that feels softer and allows for changing the inside latex surface, the Sorell is a tape-edge product that is sewn closed and, because of the tightness of the cover, provides sleepers with a firmer surface. The latex layer of the Astar is available in medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, or a custom firmness. Also, due to the Astar’s cover being removable, this mattress can be shipped in several boxes via a parcel post service for a nominal fee. The boxes are small enough to leave at your door, just as any other parcel post items would be left, so you do not have to be home for delivery. Simply bring the boxes inside to the desired room, unbox and assemble using the enclosed assembly instructions.

The Astar and Sorell mattresses require a unique foundation. Please see details at www.lifekind.com or call 800.284.4983 for more information.

*Certified to GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard) and to GOLS (the Global Organic Latex Standard) by Control Union.

 

Free Ebook Download: Sleep Safe in a Toxic World

Whether you’re interested in a cleaner environment or improved health for you and your family, Sleep Safe in a Toxic World by Lifekind® co-founder Walt Bader is essential reading for a good night’s sleep. Learn why beds are one of the single most overlooked causes of chemical exposure. Download your FREE copy today:
Sleep Safe in a Toxic World - Walter Bader
Click to download a free copy of Sleep Safe in a Toxic World: Your guide to identifying and removing hidden toxins from your bedroom

 

A Nod to Earth, Mother of Us All

This is about how WE are all in it together. How every action leads to reaction. It’s about balance and responsibility. And grounding.

On a physical level – if we break down human needs – food, sleep and shelter are at the top of the list. Take care of those needs, add some love, hard work and fun, and life is good. In the West we place a great deal of value on shelter, and food is pretty important, but we may take sleep for granted.

While we go about our days fulfilling our needs we’re reminded of the needs of homeless people in our community or starving children in Fallujah, and the ominous climate change that will undoubtedly slash a new path for future generations (whatever that looks like). And we go, “What in the world can I do about all this!?”

Source: Public Domain
Source: Public Domain

We look to the stars for advice, pray to the gods above, and may even take part in solutions first-hand. But what I’m asking you to do is quite unconventional: get down and dirty. Go outside, find some dirt, sand, or grass, and take off your shoes and socks.

What you are doing is called earthing, or grounding. It feels good. You are literally connecting to the Earth (a very big thing) without the barrier of man-made, synthetic, energy-blocking materials holding you at a distance. You’re experiencing the benefits of contact with a vast supply of free electrons that have been found to reduce pain and improve sleep!

Picture the dirt below you under a microscope, teaming with life! One scoop of dirt contains as many microorganisms as there are people on the planet. So, there you are touching millions of life forms with your bare skin. Now picture the web of life that flows beyond you, through the soil, roots, and water, and you are connected energetically and physically to the rest of the planet. Nice. Now is also a good time to deepen your spiritual connection and pray, commune with Nature, or simply worship the dirt we all walk on.

Source: Wikimedia
Source: Wikimedia

Why is dirt so important here? It is earth, which is exactly everything to us. Our planet is called Earth. We grow our food in earth. We build our houses from trees grown in earth. Our water is filtered through earth, and protected by earth. We are Earthlings.

Affecting climate change is about sequestering more carbon than we are losing, keeping it in the earth. We hear about the problems causing high levels of carbon loss, like deforestation and extracting and burning fossil fuels. When you dump a load of pesticide on a crop, it kills the beneficial microbes in the soil. Do that season after season, scraping and tilling in between, and the poor soil struggles to bear any life at all, holds less moisture and erodes. So synthetic fertilizers are added to replace nutrients that could have been there all along if the land had been managed organically.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

We shouldn’t be eating food, clothing our bodies, or outfitting our homes with goods grown in dead soil. And petrochemical-based plastics are obviously not the answer for a healthy future. Let’s start conversations about solutions.

How do we build healthy soil to sequester carbon while doing our daily life? Learn about permaculture and spread the word. Think about it like this: permanent + culture = permaculture. It’s a design for living, really. A permaculture perspective is to study the elements in nature and use the power and cycles of sun, weather, and biology to benefit life, not damage it. Permaculture principles can be used on a small scale – at your home – or on a massive scale, the way Nature intended and already manages life on Earth by itself.

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

A “food forest” is a good example of permaculture principles used to grow food while building living soil that regenerates itself, and the air we breathe in return. We’re quickly moving beyond the need for global sustainable agriculture because of the spike in greenhouse-gas levels. To sustain current levels is not enough. What we need now is regenerative agriculture, in which we build healthy soil everywhere we grow by keeping deadly chemicals out and using Earth’s biology first, sequestering carbon in the earth faster than we can burn it up.

No matter how you look at it, Earth is quite awe-inspiring. She will outlast humans in a blink. We need to learn how to support and respect her great power while caring for ourselves.

Microplastics: No Small Issue

Leading a “green” life is certainly a process. Every day I hear of some new catastrophe that is threatening our already-fragile planet. And while I’m learning to pick my battles — or at least be realistic about how many battles I can take on at once — there are some topics that really hit home. One issue that really grabbed my attention when I first learned about it is the issue of microbeads (also known by the more generic term “microplastics”).

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In case you hadn’t heard, microbeads are the tiny plastic pieces found in many personal-care products. While these tiny scrubbers can certainly help you get smooth skin, they also pollute our waterways (their small size makes them very difficult to filter out). Finding out that microbeads are one of the biggest contributors to the garbage patch — and oceanic pollution in general — launched me on a months-long journey to replace my microbead-laden facial scrub with a natural alternative. After a few years and a LOT of failed attempts at using things like coffee grounds or cold-pressed honey, I have finally settled into a happy natural-exfoliation routine (turns out there are some pretty great options in the organic section that are less messy)!
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Fast forward to the present and we’ve made considerable headway in the effort to eliminate microbeads: several major companies have pledged to phase them out of their products, and some states have passed legislation banning the manufacture and sale of products containing them (hooray for the recent victory in California)! However, we’re not out of the woods yet. And in case I was in danger of becoming complacent, I have just learned of ANOTHER way in which these microplastics are finding their way into the ocean: through synthetic clothing.

According to good ol’ Wikipedia, there are two types of microplastics: primary microplastics, which are made intentionally (like microbeads), and secondary microplastics, which are the result of the break-down of larger plastic materials. The synthetic clothing fibers I am speaking of fall into this second category. And while it comes as no surprise that big pieces of plastic break down into smaller pieces, I can honestly say that I never gave much thought to the fact that the plastic polluting our oceans could be coming from the clothes I wear to yoga class (what a terrible irony)!

FullSizeRender

According to this article, a single piece of synthetic clothing can shed approximately 1,900 microfibers every time it is washed! Dr. Mark Anthony Browne, an ecologist with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), arrived at this number after conducting an experiment in which washing-machine wastewater was examined to determine the microplastic content after a regular cycle. Even more shocking is the fact that Dr. Browne went on to study the plastic debris found on 18 shoreline sites around the world and found that 85% appeared to be consistent with the type of fibers shed by synthetic clothing. This means that the plastic pollution we are causing unwittingly — in the form of secondary microplastics — is more of an issue than the pollution being caused by the intentional manufacture of primary microplastics (like microbeads). Check out this video to find out more about how these microplastics affect habitats, wildlife, and humans.

Microplastics_impact_on_biological_communities

So what can we do about this? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there is nothing worse than finishing an article that opens your eyes to some terrible calamity happening in the world and then being left without any suggestions about what can be done or info about what is already underway. The simplest suggestion is this: wear natural fibers. Organic cotton is a versatile and practical option for most day-to-day clothing, and its breathability makes it more comfortable than synthetics anyway. When it comes to technical wear — that is, the clothing we wear for exercise or in extreme weather conditions — there is nothing better than merino wool! Wool truly is cool in the summer and warm in the winter (which is why we love to use it in our bedding here at Lifekind).

Of course, changing your clothing doesn’t solve the issue of all of the microplastics that have already found their way into the ocean, nor does it prevent the pollution that is likely to be caused by the millions of synthetic garments already in existence. Fortunately, there are organizations in place that you can partner with to help raise awareness and address these issues. One such organization, 5 Gyres, is busy petitioning our legislators, organizing clean-up efforts, and even launching research expeditions that you can be part of! The ecologist that I mentioned before, Dr. Browne, is heading up a campaign called Benign by Design that aims to form a collaboration between clothing manufacturers, textile suppliers, and environmental scientists to find low-impact, cost-effective alternatives to the fabrics being used today. You can help this cause gain momentum by spreading the word!

Microplastics may be small in size, but the impact they have on the environment (and therefore on YOU and ME) is huge. We can’t afford to let this one slip past us, so let’s step up and do our part to get microplastics out of our waters!

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/

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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

 

 

Our Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Spring is here, which means it’s time for spring cleaning!  OK, I know that you aren’t as excited about that as I seem to be, but hopefully these tips and tricks will help you when you are getting your house in tip-top shape this spring.

1. Put an organic bed-bug and dust-mite barrier cover on all of your pillows and on your mattress.  Even though natural rubber mattresses naturally repel dust mites (it’s not a very hospitable environment for the little buggers), these covers can also keep the surfaces of your bedding clean, and can be thrown in the wash very easily.  If you have an older innerspring mattress, a dust-mite barrier cover can keep the dust mites away from you.  If you already have covers on your mattress and pillow, this is the time to throw them in the wash.

WaterMarkDustMiteCover

 

2.  Freshen up your non-washable bedding by airing it out in the sun.  Wait for a nice sunny day, and put your wool comforter, pillows, couch cushions, and anything else that can’t go in the washing machine out in a sunny part of your yard.  You can even sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on the surface while it sits out in the sun for extra freshness.  The sun is a natural brightener, and will make your bedding feel nice and refreshed.

Baking Soda

3.  Instead of using your dryer to dry your bedding, hang it outside to dry.  Not only will it give you that great straight-off-the-line crispness, it doesn’t cost anything, and is a great way to save on energy costs when you are washing all of your bedding.

Fresh Organic Bedding

4.  Is your house feeling a little stuffy after being closed up for the winter?  Open all of the windows on a nice day, and let it air out.  It makes a huge difference in switching your mind from “winter mode” to “spring mode,” and makes the chore of cleaning a little bit more enjoyable.  If your house is especially stuffy, try one of our HEPA air purifiers.  Lifekind has several different sizes that can handle an area as small as your car to a space as large as 1,300 square feet!

 Lifekind HEPA Air Filter

 

5.  Dust all of your surfaces, starting at the top of the room, and work your way down to the floor, saving vacuuming for last. Don’t forget to wipe down your light fixtures and baseboards to remove contaminants that aggravate allergies.

6.  Vacuum after you have done the rest of the cleaning. If you vacuum first, you will just end up knocking all of the dust from higher up in the room back onto the floor, and you will need to do the floors again.  Save yourself a step.

7.  For hard, water-safe surfaces throughout your house, you can use our All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser.  It is made with grapefruit-seed and orange-peel extract, and has a nice, clean scent, so your house will smell great, without smelling like chemicals.  I usually dilute it for wiping down counters, painted walls and other light-duty cleaning, but also use it full strength for tougher cleaning.AllPurposeKO8.  Flip your mattress!  Most of our mattresses need to be flipped only once a year, and this is the perfect time to do it.  If you have a mattress that doesn’t need to be flipped, you can still rotate it (move the head of the mattress to the foot) so that it wears evenly and will last as long as possible.

Lifekind Organic Kids Mattress
9.  Move all of your appliances and clean out from behind them, including vacuuming off the dust from the back of the fridge, getting the schmutz from around the stove (full-strength Cleaner and Degreaser works great for this!), and all of the lint that hides around your dryer.  These hidden allergens can be annoying your sinuses, even if the rest of your house is spic-and-span clean.

10.  Put a few vases of fresh flowers around your house. Even though this isn’t really cleaning, it is a great way to put a smile on your face and remind yourself that spring is just around the corner after a long, cold winter!shutterstock_73432741
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to change your household air filter.  You should be doing this every month to make sure your HVAC system is working as well as possible, but if you haven’t done it in awhile, do it now!

5 Must-Have Organic Items for Baby

As both a mother of two perfect little angels and a Product Specialist, I have the unique opportunity of thinking about babies of all ages, everyday. Life with a newborn can be overwhelming, and every parent wants only the best for their new arrival. With that in mind, here is a simple guide to the basics of the best investments you will ever use over and over again.

LifekindOrganicBaby

1. Organic Crib Mattress – Natural Rubber: Both our natural rubber and innerspring crib mattresses are the purest thing to put your little love on for a nap, or hopefully a full night of rest, but I have some reasons near and dear to heart for recommending the natural rubber first. The properties of natural rubber make it mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite-resistant without the extra layer of a barrier cover retro jordans for sale
. Some other benefits are the even feel, minimal body impressions over time (or through multiple children), and, when baby becomes a toddler jumping, bumping, thumping, and trying to escape, there are no innersprings to damage. If you consider how many children will begin life on that same mattress, the investment pays for itself as a future toddler bed or a crib for siblings yet to come.

Lifekind Natural Rubber Organic Baby Mattress

2. Essential Bedding: Everyone who has experience with babies knows they are messy! So this “must have” is a two-parter, because both are equally essential through toddlerhood and beyond the potty-training years. First up is the non-negotiable Naturally Safer Pure Wool Moisture Protector Pad. This is a liquid-resistance barrier layer to keep any mess off your beautiful organic mattress. This low-maintenance layer requires only a warm-water rinse as needed (which can easily be done in a bathtub) and fresh air to dry. The next essential is the Certified Organic Flannel Mattress Pad to layer on top of the Wool Moisture Protector real cheap shoes
. This organic cotton flannel layer is a soft, absorbent layer to catch the bulk of the mess and prevent shifting liquids from wiggling, like your little one, on top of the wool pad. This more practical of the two layers is machine washable and dryable, so it can be cleaned during play time and be ready when baby is ready for nap or bedtime.

Organic Mattress Layers

3. Organic Cotton Travel Changing Pad: Not just for frequent changing; this genius pad will be used a million times over to create a soft, organic surface anywhere. This can be for tummy time on the floor, or in grocery carts when baby is old enough to sit unassisted cheap ladies air max
. These durable changing pads wash up beautifully and are available in tan or sage colorgrown organic cotton.

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4. Stain & Odor Eliminator: Babies, and kids of all ages, are natural born stain and odor experts. Diapers, spit-up, food, mud, finger paints — children don’t discriminate, and make endless messes effortlessly with an arsenal of everyday items. This is why every new parent I know gets a bottle of this miracle cleaner! The natural enzymes can tackle just about every surface in every room of the house, including carpet, upholstery, and laundry, with the added bonus of taking care of pet messes also. There aren’t enough good things to say about it, and I have never spoken with a disappointed user new balance toddler shoes sale
. Most of the time people are eager to tell me about the challenges it has conquered.

StainOdorKO

5. Certified Organic Cotton Stuffed Bunny: This adorable bunny is sturdy enough to be chewed on through the newborn times, and large enough to be a play companion in the the toddler years and beyond. Another huge benefit to the size of this sweet bunny is that even a new parent can easily spot clean this guy using some Stain & Odor Eliminator on a damp washcloth and giving him a brisk rub down. The perfect organic gift for those parents who want a surprise instead of an ultrasound for either a boy or a girl.

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I hope this helps narrow the choices and support the new little one in your life for sleeping, playing, and living safely for many years ahead!

The Word On Washing

With cold and flu season well under way, most likely you are doubling up on the hand washing. And rightfully so – hand washing is definitely one of the best ways to stave off those nasty viruses. What you may not realize, however, is that too much washing may actually harm your health instead of helping.

According to an article posted yesterday by the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration is finally taking a closer look at the potential health problems linked to the chemicals commonly used in antibacterial soaps. After a 40-year delay, the FDA has been spurred to action by recent studies which suggest that hormone levels can be affected by triclosan and other similar chemicals.  It is estimated that nearly 75% of antibacterial liquid soaps and bodywashes contain triclosan.

Soap
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus arreus (MRSA). Infections caused by these “super bugs” are very painful and difficult to treat.

 

Killing the Good Bugs:

This news only adds to the skepticism that has long existed over the use of these chemical antibacterial agents. First of all, there is no way to target specific bacteria; helpful microbes are killed right along with the harmful ones. The “good bugs” provide a natural defense by preventing the pathogenic microbes from colonizing on our skin. Many people also question the value of exposing themselves to chemicals that have not even been proven to work more effectively than good old soap and water (this is a particular concern for those with chemical sensitivities). Furthermore, medical experts fear that over-use of antibacterial agents may be a contributing factor to the increase of drug-resistant bacteria. If you have ever seen someone dealing with a Methicillin-resistant Staph infection, you know that this is a serious matter!

 

What to Use Instead:

Even if you weed out the antibacterial soaps, you are still left with a lot of options that are less than ideal. For example, many soaps contain synthetic emollients (that’s a fancy word for moisturizer), such as petrolatum or mineral oil. While your skin may feel softer at first, over time these additives clog your pores and actually take moisture away from your skin. This is important because dry, cracked skin is vulnerable and less capable of keeping pathogens out.

Person Washing Hands with Soap in Washbasin

Your best bet is to use soaps with a natural emollient, such as glycerin. Soaps made with vegetable oils are much gentler on your skin – and more environmentally friendly – than those made with potassium tallowate (if the packaging does not say what it is made from, it’s probably the latter). Check out our Naturally Safer Liquid Soap and our Naturally Safer All-Vegetable Soap, which both smell amazing and do good things for your skin!

Lastly, remember that warm water works best. Very hot water can dry you out (especially if you soak long enough to get pruney) and cold water cannot dissolve as many germs and particles. You can read more about hand washing technique on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. The CDC considers hand washing to be so important that they actually call it the “do-it-yourself-vaccine.”

So, keep washing and have a healthy holiday season!

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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?