Monthly Archives: August 2010

Spring veggie planting

Today Olly and I planted our first Spring vegetable seeds. Since it has been so lovely and warm I’m hoping that the seeds will think it’s spring and not the winter that it truly is… sweetcorn, silverbeet and green dwarf beans, along with basil and oregano to go with the skerricks of tarragon that survive from last summer. There is so much hope with planting – in my case the results rarely live up to the expectation – and the fabulous feeling of actually having got out there and pulled the weeds out of the bleedin’ beds first. A tick off the to-do list, hooray! I will be smugly satisfied for a while now every time I look out of the kitchen window to our green-thumbed work…one big bed down, now only one small one to go…

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Baby Bath Wash etc – organic greenwash?!

I’ve recently been doing my bit to rid the house of sodium lauryl sulphate, especially in my children’s bath wash & shampoo. One product I’ve been using is the Natural Instinct range, and I’m starting to think I’m being taken for a ride with its ‘Organic’ labelling… on the Natural Instinct Natural Baby Bath Wash bottles it is printed: No Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (amongst other things) but then in ingredients the second listing is Sodium Laureth Sulphate (plant derived). What’s the diff?

I read this today from Dr Mercola:
HEALTHBIT: Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, a common chemical in cosmetics, could be putting you at risk for hair, skin and eye damage, immunological problems, and even cancer. http://mercola.com

Skin Deep says:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
scores 3 out of 10
– linked to cancer in government or academic studies
– linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity
– has restrictions and warnings in countries other than Australia
– linked to toxicity of one or more biological systems in the body
– linked to irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs according to government assessments
– linked to neurotoxicity & endocrine disruption

Sodium Laureth Sulphate
scores 4 out of 10
– may be contaminated with toxic impurities, many of which are linked to cancer
– linked to organ system toxicity
– linked to irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs according to government assessments
source: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

Oh good, well that clears it up then…? From where I sit right here I don’t think that the ‘plant derived’ bit on the bottle means much with regard to lack of irritation or potential harm minimisation, instead I think it’s a type of greenwash, meant to make unsuspecting parents think they’re doing the best for their kids. It even says ‘No Harmful Chemicals’ on the bottle! How disappointing.

I’ve just trolled down through all the list of ingredients for the A’kin PureBaby Softening Body Wash & Shampoo (why they need to ‘soften’ a  baby’s body is beyond me (!) but they’ve checked out ok, nothing on the list scores more than a 2 on the evil scale. So A’kin it is! And Australian made & owned, hooray!

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Sunscreen 2

So I have followed Friends of the Earth’s advice and got some Woolworth’s Select Kids Very High Protection Sunscreen Lotion – this one also says, ‘Not suitable for children under 18 months’ but the active ingredients & preservatives still seem to rate low to moderate on the EWG potential calamity scale. One unusual ingredient is:

Diazolidinylurea:
This ingredient may be derived from animals. From PETA’s Caring Consumer: Excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels. Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid. Alternatives: synthetics. Source: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

Mmmm, lovely. At least they’ve removed the awful loo cleaner smell that it had last year.

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Sunscreen for our kids

And so another season of warm weather unfolds – time to wade through the quagmire of toddler/ kid sunscreen to find one that will not give my children something worse than the melanoma which I am trying to avoid. It’s absolutely shocking to me that the majority of sunscreens available at supermarkets and pharmacies in Australia have ingredients that are so very dangerous. The US website Environmental Working Group has a cosmetic safety database called Skin Deep that you can access to find out about individual ingredients, which is an invaluable resource if you have the time to do the research  http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com 

Recently I bought the Sunsense Toddler Milk sunscreen from a pharmacy. I see this brand everywhere so assumed it to be safe. How wrong! This product has many potentially harmful actives. Here is a summary of one of the ingredients:

Oxybenzone 2.0%   This chemical scores  9 out of a possible 10 = Very High Hazard
– Linked to cancer in goverment or academic studies
– Linked to developmental & reproductive toxicity, can range from infertility and reproductive organ cancers to birth defects and developmental delays in children
– Prohibited for use in cosmetics or subject to restrictions according to government regulations from US, EU, Japan & Canada
– Linked to immunotoxicity, or harm to the immune system
– The ability to affect the body at a cellular or biochemical level
– Enhanced capacity to absorb through the skin by virtue of chemical properties or small particle size (incl nano) or where it is applied on the body (ie infant skin)
– moderate evidence of human endocrine distruption

How can it be that this product is allowed to be slathered on our children? Or at least that this information is not commonly known?

Friends of the Earth in Australia have a frequently updated list of companies that use – and don’t use – nanotechnology in their products: well-known and seemingly trustable companies like L’Oreal, Nivea & Ambre Solaire treat their creams and sunscreens with this process, which in a very layman’s nutshell splits the minerals like zinc and titanium oxides into such tiny particles that they are more readily absorbed into one’s skin for cosmetic appearance. http://nano.foe.org.au/ This is not known yet whether it will be a big problem, especially for young skin, as studies have not yet been completed. Check out their list, also mentions non-chemical products

So – using these two sites for my own information, I’ve gleaned that 3 of the 9 brands in the ‘Nano & Chemical Free’ section are locally available to me:

Woolworth’s Select
Invisible Zinc
Cancer Council

I’ll let you know how I go…

Categories: Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chemicals

I’ve always thought that I was pretty clued-up in regard to additives and nasties in personal and home products, however in the last few years my eyes have really been opened to the evils of what surrounds us… chemicals in food, tin cans, baby bottles, containers, shampoo  & body wash etc, house cleaning products, toys – the list goes on and on of previously trusted products with potentially hazardous or even carcinogenic ingredients. My house has been purged as much as possible from these silent killers but has it been too late? It feels like every year cancer in its various guises gets closer to us and more and more people that we know are struck down, and younger and younger.

Reading ‘Slow Death By Rubber Duck’ by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie slowdeathbyrubberduck.com  earlier this year , amongst other things sent all our children’s bath toys straight into the bin; and subscribing to their Environmental Defence site www.environmentaldefence.ca has us rid of perfume and commonly available body and hair cleaning products. Alas their information covers mainly Canadian and North American companies and I find it almost impossible to glean any equivalent quality Australian-based info.

Let me give you all the information I have found!

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Parenting advice…

I’ve just been listening to Conversations with Richard Fidler on ABC radio again… I love his show: his enthusiasm for his guests, the research that goes into each talk, and every single talk he has ends up being fascinating, even though I might not think it in the beginning…

Today he interviewed a clinical psychologist specialising in children & family law – a great chat with very interesting viewpoints – ie that ADHD doesn’t actually exist, that most children who are being given psychotropic drugs shouldn’t be and it is the issue of control that is the problem.

The interviewee (whose name I’m trying to find!) also gave his two most important, and wonderful, points of advice regarding good parenting:

1) Be a good role model.

2) Open up your heart to your children so that they can feel how amazingly awesome you think they are.

So simple, yet I feel so guilty already for being far from a great role model most of the time, and letting my learnt shouty behaviour get the better of me… but I’m trying every day to get better and break away from my destructive past… I hope that I show them how much I love them? He said it’s not just about telling them you love them (although that’s obviously important) but also your body language and how you manifest love in other ways as children are so perceptive.

I’ve just finished a brilliant book – it took me three fricken months to finish it and then had to give it back to the library but I’m so glad I pushed through as it’s given me a lot to think about:

‘When Your Kids Push Your Buttons And What You Can Do About It’ by Bonnie Harris.

In a nutshell: your kids are your teachers. Whatever buttons are getting pushed in you is what you need to deal with from your own childhood and sort out! It’s amazing that I’m only starting to realise that instead of feeling like the grown up, adult mother of two with all the answers, that I thought I would be at almost 40 –  instead I feel immature, unsure, unwise and out of control a lot of the time – and it has been through reading this book to wake me up to the fact that having children will obviously bring up submerged childhood issues that you never realised existed before you had kids… Parenting’s a minefield, I need all the help I can get!

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Wind

Goodness it has been windy here the last 24 hours… windy and cold. I thought a part of someone’s roof had fallen into our garden and was harbouring ideas of wandering along the street door-knocking to find out who it belonged to… until I realised it’s from our own house. D’oh!

My poor nectarine tree is in the middle of budburst: little blossoms have started to appear, beautiful pink delicately-scented flowers – after a lovely warm weekend it must have thought we were ready to start thinking about balmy summer evenings and getting our swimmers out (I certainly was!) but alas, the wintry reality has set in and here we are again with heaters at full steam ahead and me wearing my jacket inside as I type this… sniff (really)

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Water

I went to a talk the other day at my library on ‘Nutrition for Babies & Kids’. Most of what the guest speaker said I thought was pretty obvious but there were quite a few new mums there asking about introducing formula/ weaning etc. I was shocked and dismayed to hear the speaker (supposedly a qualified nutritionist introduced by the sponsors, a local pharmacy) advocating the drinking of bottled water over tap water for kids up to the age of 5. Dangerous and misleading – apart from the expense of buying bottled water & the environmental impact, what about the plastic contamination and lack of fluoride? I’ve a mind to write to the chemist and tell them how I feel, if I only get a minute to find a piece of paper & an envelope!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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