Homemade lip balm and moisturizer

Ever since the Green Mommy became pregnant with Girl Wonder, she has started educating herself on safer personal care products. She searched through Skin Deep, trying to find better alternatives to the cosmetics, lotions and deodorants she used.

When it comes to the products she uses directly on Girl Wonder, though, she works even harder to find the safest options. The Green Mommy knows she can’t put her in a bubble and protect her from every toxin out there, but for things she has direct control over, she’ll do her best to go the healthiest route.

This winter has been especially windy and cold here in Metropolis, which is doing a real number on their skin. Moisturizer and lip balm are a must these days. Many moisturizers on the “safer” side still often contain chemicals that the Green Mommy just doesn’t feel comfortable putting on her baby’s skin. She had heard about others making their own lip balm but she thought it would be time consuming and difficult. Well, it’s neither! It’s so easy, in fact, that she’s now making moisturizer — and shampoo is next on the list!

There’s no “icky” stuff like chemicals in these gems below. The most time-consuming part is purchasing all the ingredients. With your first batch, you may ask if it’s worth it with each of the  individual purchases, but when you then think about how many batches you’ll get from it all, you’ll change your mind. These make perfect gifts, by the way, and they’re a great project to work on with young girls who you want to steer in the direction of “safer” personal care products. Visit your local health food store — they should have everything you’ll need.

The following recipes have been taken from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organic Living by Eliza Sarasohan and Sonia Weiss. The book is fantastic and has recipes for your face, body,hair and more.

Use recycled small jelly jars for the lip balm or other glass or plastic containers (#5 is best since they can take the heat) from used personal care products. Just be sure to wash them well before using them. If you need to buy containers, check out this site.

The “Balm” (lip or cuticle cream)

1 Tablespoon beeswax
3 Tablespoons sweet almond oil
1 teaspoon honey
8 – 10 drops of essential oil

1) In a small saucepan, melt beeswax with sweet almond oil over low heat. When the wax is melted, remove from heat. Add honey and stir well. When the mixture begins to cool, but before it gets too thick, add essential oils a few drops at a time and stir to mix. Pour into small jars and let cool.

2) The glossiness of the lip balm is determined by how much oil you use. This recipe has a slight gloss. If less is desired, reduce the amount of sweet almond oil by 1 teaspoon.

Variations: If making lip balm, try combining a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil with orange, lemon or lime; if making cuticle cream, benzoin essential oil helps heal cracked cuticles and works well with one or more of the following: lavender, Roman chamomile, tea tree, neroli, palmarosa, sandalwood, jasmine.

Yields: 1/3 cup balm
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serving size: 1/4 teaspoon balm

Lube Ya (moisturizer for hands and body)

A very rich, very smooth lotion with a slight coconut scent (smells like chocolate!) that dry skin will eat right up. A good one for areas that take a beating and where skin can get especially dry, like knees and elbows.

1/2 cup grated coconut butter
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
4 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons avocado oil
2 Tablespoons grated beeswax

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and set in a pan filled with an inch or two of water (this is a bain-marie, or water bath). Melt over a medium heat, then pour into a glass jar. Stir and let cool.

Yields 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons lotion.
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serving size: 1 Tablespoon lotion

If you’re not able to whip up batches now, check out Recycla’s post from this past Tuesday on great winter skin care products you can buy in stores.

Going “green” with craft fair holiday shopping

Every year, around this time, a craft fair assembles not far from where the Green Mommy lives in Metropolis. Just seeing the white and red wooden stalls go up in the park gets her excited for the season to come! It’s full of crafters whose hand-made, unique items are usually locally made and are packaged with minimal materials. Shopping there often gives her the opportunity to give a gift that’s special to her region and there’s always something interesting for even the most hard to buy for on her list.

Photo from Flickr by Back_Garage's Photo Stream

Interested in supporting local artists this holiday season? Here’s a list of sites to help you find a craft fair near you:

Photo from Flickr by LarimdaME

Bring a friend, stop for a hot chocolate afterwards, and make an afternoon of it — Enjoy!

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Green MommyThanksgiving is The Green Mommy’s favorite holiday. It takes place during her favorite time of year and she loves that it’s a day when most Americans celebrate together. Even though it’s been 17 years since she’s dined on the main course of turkey, it hasn’t diminished her love for the holiday’s cuisine.

Do you plan on having a vegetarian guest this Thanksgiving? Interested in trying something new? You could always go with a Tofurky with vegetarian gravy, but here are some other worthy creations that would satisfy both meat eaters and vegetarians!

veg1

Winter Greens Lasagne

veg4

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

veg3

Pumpkin Stuffed with Vegetable Stew

veg5

Butternut Squash-Chestnut Soup with Caramelized Pears

veg6

Savory Ricotta-Squash Tart

If you really want your vegetarian guest to be able to enjoy everything you offer this holiday, remember to watch for meat ingredients that sometimes are added to side dishes, such as meat or meat stock in stuffing or bacon on vegetables.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Baby’s first Thanksgiving – making it special

Green MommyWith Thanksgiving around the corner, many of us are planning our menus. What will it be this year – traditional fare or something new? Whatever it may be, effort and care will often go into the preparation. After all, it’s a special day that centers around a special meal.

So why not also make it just as special for your little one? Which would you prefer on Thanksgiving Day – a meal processed months ahead of time or one that was made from fresh vegetables and produce? If you’ve never made your own baby food, please take a look at an earlier post I did on how easy it really is, not to mention a lot less expensive than what you buy in stores.

Did you know that so many fruits and vegetables can be made easily by just steaming them in a steamer basket and then pureeing them? Why not consider giving your baby any of these listed below on Thanksgiving Day? (Remember to always give your baby a new food for 3-4 days in a row to test for allergies – this will mean planning ahead if your child has not had any of these foods yet.)

Simple steamed vegetables:

  • sweet peas
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • corn
  • parsnips
  • pumpkin

Or, make some combinations:

  • carrots and squash
  • apples and squash
  • carrots and parsnips
  • corn and sweet potatoes
  • cranberries and apple juice

To make turkey:

  • Saute 1/2 cup of chopped carrots and onions in olive oil.  Brown 6 ounces of boneless, skinless turkey breast in the same pot along with a little bit of low-sodium chicken broth. Simmer until the turkey is cooked. Puree to the consistency you want.

If your baby is a vegetarian, for protein sources, you can serve any of these:

  • tofu
  • egg yolk
  • quinoa
  • cheese
  • beans
  • yogurt

For dessert, how about some:

  • steamed apples and cranberries
  • steamed apples
  • rhubarb and apples
  • pumpkin and apples

So consider a home-made meal for your baby’s first Thanksgiving – you just may end up sticking with it long after the holiday is over.

And now a new concern with Bisphenol-A…

Green MommyLast year, the realization of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in our toilet paper was all over the blogosphere. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that can cause disorders with chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy. BPA is not put in toilet paper intentionally, but rather due to post-consumer sources of recycled thermal printing paper such as credit card receipts.

Just this week, I read an article from U.S. News & World Report (thanks Vital Juice Moms for bringing it to our attention!) in which one scientist’s concerns over BPA exposure from receipts is reported. John C. Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry feels this BPA exposure is more harmful than that from cans and baby bottles. BPA from receipts can be transferred from your hands, onto your food, or is absorbed through the skin.

Mr. Warner explains that:

“When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out]. The average cash register receipt that’s out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.”

U.S. News & World Report explains that by free, “it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake.”

Mr. Warner  suggests that pregnant women should wash their hands after touching any receipts since the ones containing BPA are indistinguishable from those that do not. Mr. Warner’s observations have not been published yet or peer-reviewed.

Photo from Flickr by Dan4th

Photo from Flickr by Dan4th

Diapers, diapers, and more diapers: What’s a Green Girl to do?

Green MommyBefore Girl Wonder was born, I looked into different diaper options for her. I started at the top of the eco-friendly choices and considered cloth diapers. I live in an apartment, though, with a washer and dryer four flights down, so washing them would have really been time consuming. I also didn’t think my neighbors would appreciate using the machines after I did.

So what’s a Green Girl to do when cloth isn’t an option? Let’s take a look.

gdiapers

gdiapersGdiapers are probably your “greenest” option after cloth since they’re plastic free and biodegradable. They can be flushed down the toilet (after giving them a “swirl” with a stick that’s part of the gdiapers kit), composted, or tossed into the garbage if you don’t compost or trust your plumbing. I tried gdiapers but didn’t stick with them because I personally didn’t like how wet they got so quickly. It is recommended that you change gdiapers more often than other “disposable” diapers and this, along with the fact that they’re a bit more costly, led me to look for other options. Gdiapers can be found at Babies R Us, Diapers.com, and Amazon, to name a few.

Nature Babycare Diapers

natures babycareNature Babycare Diapers are what I would consider the next down on the “eco” scale. They have been awarded the Eco Label “Good Environmental Choice” of Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), have no oil-based plastics against baby’s skin, are chlorine-free with natural based material, their packaging is based on 100% natural renewable material which is 100 % compostable, and are latex, fragrance, or TBT (tributyl tin) free. Nature Babycare diapers are made from 60% renewable raw materials, however, they are not 100% bio-degradable at this time. Nature Babycare diapers can be found at Diapers.com and some Target stores.

Tushies Gel Free Diapers

Tushies_AllSizes_LargeTushies Gel Free Diapes are latex-free, perfume-free, dye-free, TBT-free, GMO-free, are made from Chlorine-Free woodpulp, and do not contain recycled materials. Because these Tushies diapers are gel-free, they will need to be changed more often. Tushies Gel Free diapers can be purchased at Diapers.com

Seventh Generation

seventh diapersSeventh Generation’s diapers are Chlorine free, fragrance free, latex free, and hypoallergenic. They are not biodegradable. My daughter uses these at night and I’ve been very happy with them. Seventh Generation diapers can be found at many locations including Babies R Us and Diapers.com. I get mine through Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” where it works out to about $8.00 a pack.

Earth’s Best Diapers

earths bestEarth’s Best Diapers are Chlorine free, latex-free, dye-free, perfume-free, and contain natural absorbent material such as corn and wheat. These diapers also are not biodegradable. I personally feel they have a really nice fit. Earth’s Best diapers can be found at Babies R Us, Amazon, and Diapers.com.

Huggies Pure and Natural Diapers

huggiesHuggies Pure and Natural Diapers are made from organic cotton. That’s where the “eco friendliness” ends. I  feel Huggies is pushing a whole lot of greenwashing with these. Because there’s no law stating how much organic material has to be used to call an item “organic”, these diapers could be made of 100% organic cotton, or very little. These diapers are also bleached with Dioxane.

So tell us, dear readers, have you tried any of these? Do you have any cloth diaper experience? Do you live outside the United States and use “eco” diapers I haven’t listed? We want to know.

Back to School Week: The Eco-Classroom

Green MommyBefore The Green Mommy started wearing a cape and officially began protecting the planet, she was a fifth grade teacher for 15 years. She worked hard to educate her students and often that meant being creative with how she did so. She had organized boxes of “bits and do-dads” to make science, math, and history hands-on. These were things that she came across herself (that others didn’t see the potential in) and were given to her (by those who did). She was “green” then without even knowing it.

This week, the Eco Women have been helping you out with “going green” for back to school. The Green Mommy is here today to get you thinking about ordinary things you may have sitting around in your home that a classroom could get a lot of use out of. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to know that there’s a lot of hard working teachers out there who purchase supplies for their classroom with their own money. Giving them quality supplies is something many of them would appreciate. Think about leaving a message for your child’s teacher or art teacher and ask them if they could use any of the items listed below in their classroom. They may appreciate it more than you would think.

Here’s a list of items to consider:

  • a box of gently used crayons or other art supplies
  • buttons or pom-poms
  • old magazines
  • paper that could be used for drawing
  • glass baby jars with lids
  • toilet paper/paper towel rolls
  • plastic yogurt containers with lids (if your town doesn’t recycle #5 plastics)
  • gently used books for the classroom library
  • carpet squares to make a cozy “reading corner”
  • junk mail envelopes where the corners have been diagonally cut off and made into book marks
  • gently used t-shirts, jeans, or sweat pants for the nurse to have as “back-up” clothes for younger children.

Or, you can suggest having a “teacher’s wish list” at your child’s school, like they do where Enviro Girl’s little Super Heroes-in-training go. Teachers keep an updated list of items they really need in a notebook that’s excessable near the main office so visiting parents can easily take a look. Something they desperately need might be collecting dust in your attic!

Can you think of anything else that should be added to the list?