Hair and Nails

Is it safe to get your nails done while pregnant?

Recently a pregnant woman posted this question on our midwives' yahoo mail group:
Is it really all that bad to get a perm or color my hair while pregnant?  And, how about getting a mani/pedicure?  I was hoping that someone would know if the chemicals used are really all that harmful to the baby.

Since I posted a lengthy answer, I thought I'd share it here as well.

Eco-novice's Green Gift Guide



Still looking for the perfect green gift for that special someone?  Here are a few ideas.
  1. Disposable to reusable.   Such as water bottles, reusable food baggies, cloth napkins and so on.  These are gifts that keep on giving while reducing consumption.  Reuseit.com has gift ideas for everyone on your list (use the index in the left sidebar).  If the recipient isn't so into green things, make sure to give something extra stylish that anyone would want to use.

Lunchskins Sandwich and Snack Bags

LunchSkins snack bag  ($7.85) - sleek and stylish

When I opened the package of LunchSkins bags, I was first struck by how darn cute they were (even though I'd seen the designs online)!  Now, I'm normally a function-over-form kind of person, but these really are lovely baggies.  My husband preferred them to other reusable bags we've tried because they took up very little space in his lunch bag since the fabric is so slim.  I love the small sizes (about the same size as a regular sandwich baggie and snack baggie).  I think anyone, even a non-greenie, would appreciate receiving these well-designed reusable food bags as a gift.  And they are perfect for kids' lunch boxes.

I have used the LunchSkins with cheese, fruit, veggies, sandwiches and cookies in the freezer.  It performed wonderfully with all of them.  The horizontal Velcro is strong and keeps the contents securely inside.  Although the horizontal Velcro means these bags aren't adjustable on their own, you can adjust the size of the LunchSkins bags (or any reusable food baggie) with a rubber band.  I do this for cheese mostly.

LunchSkins sandwich bag  costs $8.95 and measures 6.5" x  6.5"
 Here are 10 things you should know about LunchSkins bags.
  1. Super cute, lightweight, low-bulk fabrics
  2. High-quality cotton with food-safe polyurethane coating (meets US and EU standards) -- the same material that is used at high-end bakeries
  3. Fabric and ink are BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free
  4. Made in the USA (fabric made in Germany)
  5. Quick-drying and greaseproof
  6. Can hold hot items
  7. Dishwasher safe
  8. Secure horizontal Velcro closure goes across the entire bag
  9. Convenient area to write owner's name
  10. Will help you say goodbye to disposable Ziploc baggies

I highly recommend LunchSkins reusable food bags.  I'll probably be purchasing a few more myself soon.

Full disclosure: 3GreenMoms sent me (free of charge) the LunchSkins sandwich and snack bags to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

This post is part of

Some Thoughts on Cost (The Cost of Going Green, Part 3)

This post is the third in the series, The Cost of Going Green.  
Previous posts include:
How we eat determines how the earth is used. -- Wendell Berry 

In many cases, going green is totally compatible with being frugal.  Our consumerist culture has gotten us into a lot of trouble with chemicals and climate, and you can take a large step in a greener direction simply by buying less.

But sometimes being green does cost more money.  For example, organic and natural food usually cost more money than conventional food.  And it can be tough to pay more for the organic milk, when you know exactly how much the conventional milk costs, because it's right there next to the organic milk on the shelf.  And since we have to buy food over and over again, we face this decision -- Should I pay more for the organic apple, the hormone-free milk, the grass-fed beef, the free-range eggs? -- over and over again.

a gift for the birds

Get ready to enjoy another guest post by Kelly from miskellany.




We have a lot of family traditions to celebrate the holidays. Some of our favorite traditions are those that are inexpensive, good for the environment, and fun for the whole family. Last weekend we sipped hot chocolate while we decorated our Christmas tree inside. Today we decided to do another one of our favorite Christmas traditions, decorating a tree for the birds. Here’s how you can do it, too!

WRAP-N-MAT® Wraps and Snack Pouches {GIVEAWAY}

The WRAP-N-MAT® Wrap ($6.99 - $8.99)
If you're trying to reduce your plastic consumption and save money, WRAP-N-MAT® Reusable Sandwich Wraps and Snack Pouches are a wonderful solution to lunchtime waste from disposable plastic baggies. They are sort of like a sandwich baggie and plastic wrap in one because they securely close but also can be opened up into a flat surface.  The Wraps have been around for over 10 years, but the Pouches were recently created due to numerous requests from customers for a snack bag that opens up flat for easy clean-up.  We have used them for sandwiches, cheese, crackers, pretzals, sliced fruits and veggies.  They work great!  WRAP-N-MAT® provided me with a Wrap and a Mini Pouch (free) so that I could try them and review them on my blog. 

Save Money on Food while Going Green (The Cost of Going Green, Part 2)

Visiting the local farm from which we buy much of our organic produce.

In many cases, going green is totally compatible with being frugal.  Our consumerist culture has gotten us into a lot of trouble with chemicals and climate, and you can take a large step in a greener direction simply by buying less.  In part 1 of the series "The Cost of Going Green" I described a number of ways to save money while going green.

But sometimes being green does cost more money.  For example, organic and natural food usually cost more money than conventional food.   Below are some ideas to make greening your food more affordable (I wish I did all of these, but I don't.  I'm working on it):

The Greenest Tree


Are you planning on having a Christmas tree this year?  

Wondering what kind of Christmas tree is best for the earth?   

Click HERE to check out my guest post about Christmas trees on Green Phone BoothIt would be awesome if you could leave a comment on the guest post telling what kind of tree (if any) you plan to have this year.

My 10 Favorite Etsy Wood Toy Stores {GIVEAWAY}



Note to readers (April 2013): Some of these Etsy stores are now closed or not selling products at this time. If the item you are interested in is unavailable, try searching Etsy. Their search engine is pretty good.

Whenever the grandparents give me some cash to buy gifts for my kids, I visit Etsy.  Now you are about to be the beneficiary of my many hours spent browsing the world of Etsy for the coolest wood toys.  You can read all about the reasons why I love buying toys on Etsy HERE.  If you don't have an Etsy account, you might want to make one now, so you can add these stores to your "favorites."  I have purchased toys from the last two sellers listed.  All the others are on my Etsy wish list. 

top 10 eco-books for kids


Another guest post by Kelly of miskellany. 

Looking for environmentally-friendly books for children means more than just picking up a copy of 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth at your local bookstore or library. Tips for environmental action are great for older kids, but cultivating a love of nature can start from a very early age. Here are some of my favorite books that encourage love and respect for our planet for kids of different ages . Any one of these books would make an excellent Christmas gift for a special little someone in your life.

Why I Love Shopping for Toys on Etsy


Made in the USA.  Most Etsy sellers are based in the US (some are in Canada, Europe or elsewhere).  All of my toy purchases have supported a local artisan and the U.S. economy.  My child's toy was not created with questionable materials under sketchy conditions and then shipped half-way around the world.

Designed for the Dump


Click HERE to watch The Story of Electronics.  It will make you think twice about buying that new cell phone and how you recycle your electronics.

You might also want to look at these photos and narrated slideshow of of E-Waste "Recycling."

Make a difference
The Story of Electronics: What You Can Do
Electronics Take Back Coalition: Take Action

Other films you might want to watch
The Story of Stuff
The Story of Cosmetics

Lentil Cheese Loaf/ Vegetarian Meatloaf (Meatless Monday)

I am married to a South American.  And do you know what South Americans like?  Meat.  So I consider it a major accomplishment whenever I sell my husband on one more meatless dish.  The first time I made this Lentil and Cheese Casserole, my husband told me it was better than meatloaf.  And my mom makes a good meatloaf (whenever we visit, because she knows my husband likes it).  It isn't the prettiest dish (you know what color lentils are, right?), but it is delicious and meatless!

This loaf has extra onions (not so finely chopped) and probably some extra cheese too.  I like that this recipe is pretty fudge-able.

Save Money while Going Green (The Cost of Going Green, Part 1)


In many cases, going green is totally compatible with being frugal.  I think of my peasant ancestors living hundreds of years ago.  How big was their carbon footprint?  How many hazardous chemicals were they exposed to?  Our consumerist culture has gotten us into a lot of trouble with chemicals and climate, and you can take a large step in a greener direction simply by buying less.

Reuseit™ Sandwich and Snack Bags

Recently I ran out of quart-sized and sandwich bag ziploc bags simultaneously.  As I pulled the last one or two baggies out of the box, I resolved to stop buying disposable baggies and find reusable alternatives I could use instead. The fact that I was using these disposable plastic baggies up until a couple of weeks ago is why I am truly still the "Eco-novice."

From Disposable to Reusable (Plastic Baggies)

 Ziploc Sandwich Bags - 125-CountZiploc Bag, Snack, 50-Count Boxes (Pack of 12)Ziploc Storage Bag, Quart Value Pack, 50-Count

Recently I ran out of quart-sized and sandwich bag ziploc bags simultaneously.  As I pulled the last one or two baggies out of the box, I resolved to stop buying disposable baggies and find reusable alternatives I could use instead. The fact that I was still using these baggies up until a couple of weeks ago is why I still call myself the "Eco-novice."

First I made a list of all the things I use plastic baggies for (I'm sure I've left some things off this list):

10 Tips for Going Green with a Reluctant Spouse

"Why can't he care about the environment as much as I do?"

"How did you get your husband to go along with cloth diapers?"
"How did you get your spouse interested in switching to organic food?"
"Is your husband into going green too?"

These are questions I get on my blog and from friends in real life.  In the beginning, I think it is safe to say that my husband was not as enthusiastic about going green as I was.  Several years later, he is nearly as gung-ho as I am.  I asked my husband for some ideas that might help turn a skeptical or reluctant spouse into a green-enthusiast.  Here is a list of ideas we came up with.

How to Begin


When you decide you want to go green (or get greener) it can be daunting to decide how to begin.

Some general tips:

When you run out of something, don't replace it or replace it with something greener. A few years ago when I ran out of paper napkins, I just never replaced them (and dug out of a bin in the garage the cloth napkins I'd been given as a wedding present years before).  When I decided it was time to replace all my mismatched and weathered tupperware, I decided to invest in Pyrex.  Recently I ran out of quart-sized and sandwich bag ziploc bags simultaneously.  What a great time to search for alternatives and give up disposable plastic zippies all together!

Green Cleaning - Bathroom

 Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir Scent, 32-Ounces Bottle (Pack of 8)Faultless Starch 04403 Bon Ami CleanserMethod All Purpose, Go Naked, Spray, 28-Ounce (Pack of 8)

Possibly the hardest part of switching to greener cleaners is deciding which ones to buy.  Once you have a tried-and-true cleaning favorite, it's hard to bother to switch to something new.  Luckily, I've done all that annoying research plus trial-and-error stuff for you.  In the next couple of weeks I'll be introducing you to all of my favorite green cleaners.  There are definitely others out there that work.  These are just the ones that I've tried that have worked for me.


My Bathroom Cleaners

Bathrooom counters, sink and bathtub

Party Like It's 1999


Last week I hosted a Healthy Home Party, a community event sponsored by Healthy Child Healthy World, LUNA and Klean Kanteen.  You invite a bunch of folks to your home and discuss how to protect children’s health and development from common toxics.

As soon as I agreed to host the Party, I felt twinges of regret and perhaps a tiny bit of dread. Because hosting parties is not really my thing.  Evangelizing about being green is not really my thing.  I mean, sure, I have this blog, but I don't tell everyone I meet about it for heaven's sake.  Half my family doesn't even know it exists.  This is just where I dump information, which I hope will benefit those who are interested.  In social settings, I keep most of my green opinions to myself.

Eco-novice's Top 10 Resources

Here are 10 resources I regularly use in my research regarding healthier products and greener living.
 


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA's mission is "to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment -- air, water and land -- upon which life depends."  The site has information on a range of topics, including human health and energy conservation.

What About Mom?

A reader sent in the question below about organic bras. Since I know very little about the organic cotton clothing world, I asked Rachel (of Euphoria Baby and Euphoria Maternity) to address the question. 


Q: Have you done some research on organic clothing, especially good bras that don’t break the bank and are not made in sweatshops? I see there are lot of organic cotton baby products and not much for mommy.

Green Cleaning - Kitchen

 Heinz Distilled White Vinegar 16ozbiokleen Automatic Dish Powder with Grapefruilt Seed & Orange Peel Extract 32 oz (908 g)

Possibly the hardest part of switching to greener cleaners is deciding which ones to buy.  Once you have a tried-and-true cleaning favorite, it's hard to bother to switch to something new.  Luckily, I've done all that annoying research plus trial-and-error stuff for you.  In the next couple of weeks I'll be introducing you to all of my favorite green cleaners.  There are definitely others out there that work.  These are just the ones that I've tried that have worked for me.

My Kitchen Cleaners

Kitchen table and counters

How I Meal Plan


It's taken me a while to figure out a meal plan system that works well for me.  For many years, I've kept a list of all my greatest hit recipes to refer to when planning the next week's meals, but I always agonized over what to choose that week (Didn't I just make tostadas? Is that too much chicken in one week?) and often ended up forgetting an ingredient (because sometimes I'd forget to check the ingredient list for each recipe before going to the store) or tossing out a perishable ingredient that didn't get used up.

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