Flame Retardants: Toxic, Ineffective, Everywhere



The more I learn about synthetic flame retardant chemicals, the happier I am about all the effort I've put into avoiding products that contain them. The Chicago Tribune has been running a fascinating series about flame retardants called Playing with Fire.

Here are 10 interesting takeaways from the Chicago Tribune's coverage of flame retardants (indented passages are quotations from Chicago Tribune articles):


1. Flame retardants cause more harm than good. The evidence regarding the harmful effects of flame retardants is much more extensive and reliable than the evidence for the benefits. Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to neurological deficits, developmental problems, impaired fertility and other health risks.
[S]cientists at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have determined that the flame retardants in household furniture aren't effective, and some pose unnecessary health risks. (source)
The bottom line: Household furniture often contains enough chemicals to pose health threats but not enough to stem fires — "the worst of both possible worlds," [fire scientist Vytenis Babrauskas] said. (source)

Experimentation = Success + Failure






Since I embarked on my green journey, I have made numerous gradual changes to our lifestyle as time and budget have allowed. Making these changes has usually required not only some time-consuming research but a fair amount of experimentation. But here's the thing about experimentation. You will fail. At least some of the time. And that's kind of a bummer. Even when you know it's just part of the deal. Here are some of my recent green successes and failures.

Failures

Yogurt
Most of the time when I make homemade yogurt, it turns out pretty well. But every now and then, the yogurt doesn't set. So after incubating the yogurt all night, in the morning I find....warm milk (with a little yogurt in it). I have no idea if I can use this milk for anything safely (anyone???), so I end up throwing it away. Which is very depressing. Not least of which for the poor cow who put a lot of energy into making that milk (as I, a milk-maker myself, am well aware). When this happens, it takes me weeks to summon up the ganas to make yogurt again.

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Early Potty Training at 6 Months



For the past several weeks, my baby has made a deposit in the potty every single morning. We are well beyond this being a fluke.I've been putting her on the potty first thing in the morning for nearly a month. If I get her on the potty really fast, often her diaper is barely wet at all. Ninety percent of the time she pees and poops. And on those days I rarely have to change a poopy diaper. She spends five to ten minutes on the potty at a time. I still have to hold her on the potty as she doesn't yet have the control to sit up unassisted.

Lazy Homemade Ice Cream Cake


Ice cream cake: name is obscured because I'm a privacy nut

I never saw it officially announced, but it looks to me like the Green Phone Booth theme for May is Greener Parties!

If you are too lazy to make the ice cream cake posted earlier this week, here is the truly lazy method:

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth

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Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt: delicious with homemade granola

Homemade yogurt is one of those things that is so easy... once you figure it out.  There are about a gazillion posts and web pages about how to make homemade yogurt. And all are determined to convince you how very simple and doable it is. And yet they all give slightly different directions. And often give pseudo-scientific reasons for doing so (e.g., if you add too much starter the bacteria in the culture fights with each other and won't work correctly). The problem is the number of variables involved:
  • Milk (whole, 2%, skim, raw, pasteurized, goat, cow, sheep)
  • Type of starter (brand of yogurt, greek or regular, flavored or not, powdered)
  • Ratio of starter to milk
  • Method of heating milk
  • Temperature milk needs to reach to kill vagrant bacteria
  • Temperature milk needs to cool to before adding starter
  • Other ingredients (powdered milk, gelatin, flavorings, sweetener)
  • Incubation temperature 
  • Length of incubation period 
  • Method of incubation 

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