Archive for the ‘Toxic Talk Tuesdays’ Category

Toxic Talk Tuesday – Plastics

plastics (1)

Last month on Chris and Andrea’s Toxic Talk Tuesday broadcast, they tackled the issue of plastics.  Andrea begins by once again testifying to the fact that she used to be the “‘Paul’ of plastics”–that is, she used to speak against people who spoke against plastics.  But when their family faced a major health crisis, she found herself having to concede that perhaps plastic is not as great as we once believer. Plastic is one of those things that is absolutely everywhere around us now, and yet it hasn’t been around for that long.  More and more studies are revealing the possible dangers from the use of so much plastic.

What IS plastic?

Plastic is the term used for a wide range of synthetic solids (polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc.) derived primarily from crude oil.  Variants of plastic formed out of organic compounds have been traced as early as the Middle Ages, but it wasn’t until after the First World War that improvements in chemical technology led to the highly plasticized world in which we now live.  As Andrea points out, we have always lived with scarcity.  For instance, before WWII hardly anyone had a plastic comb, and after the way nearly everyone did. Now we’re not even sure what a comb without plastic would be made of! (bamboo, anyone?:-)

What is so wrong with plastic?

The newest research shows that the BPA and phthalates in plastics are endocrine disruptors. That’s fancy words for chemicals that mess with our hormones. The disruptions can cause anything from cancer, to birth defects, to developmental disorders. Studies show even low level exposure can be harmful to people, especially  fetuses.  While it is becoming much more widely accepted that plastics are harmful, it is taking some time to see that carry over into any sort of government regulations to that affect.  For instance, BPA has been proven to be harmful in plastics and many other substances, however, the FDA only recently banned in from baby bottles and sippy cups.  In the US, even though it has been proven to be harmful, they did not also ban in from food packaging, such as canned goods and frozen foods stored in plastic bags.

As Andrea so wisely notes in the program, it would be all but impossible to go totally without plastic in our world.  But finding as many alternatives as possible would seem to be a wise choice. Being informed is the best way to combat this challenge!

Here are Andrea’s suggestions on how to Life with Less Plastic in 10 Simple Steps!

We use this shower curtain!

Bottled Water Contaminants Study

10 Canned Foods to Avoid due to BPA


2012 Chemical Elimination Poll: Is it worth it?

Yes, I am still alive here. I have just continued in my laxity on all things blogging. Honestly, it is mostly because I feel like I am writing into emptiness. I have two small children (one who rarely sleeps), a teenager, and a husband to care for. I only want to blog if it is of some benefit to someone. And I have to ask myself, am I the only one interested in the chemical elimination goals I set out to accomplish for the year? It is a lot of work to do the research, implement changes, and then blog about it every month. But it is totally worth it if it is benefiting my family (in living cleaner, safer, healthier) and others (who have the same desires). But honestly, every month that I embark on the topic for that month, I feel a bit like 1) nobody cares 2) if they did care, all of the information is out there for them to find anyway. Am I really doing anybody a service, or am I just wasting time?

This is not a blog post to instigate pity. I just really need to know if it is worth the time and effort to do the last 4? months of the Chemical Elimination posts. I saved the most intimidating ones for last, and we will not actually be able to implement many of the changes I would be researching into our own home until a later, less penny-pinching time. So I feel like a bit of a hypocrite to write about the dangers of flouride, hormones, and pesticides seeping into our drinking water, when the only solution costs more than we can afford anyway. There is also a sense in which I feel that ignorance is bliss if I cannot do anything to change things anyway.

So I am looking for input. Is there anyone out there who is just dying to see the last four Chemical Elimination posts and would benefit from them? Or does everybody have more pressing things to occupy their time? Because I really, really hate to feel like I am behind and not finishing what I started if people are counting on it…but if they’re not, I don’t want to waste my time or theirs.

On the other hand, I myself am curious about the last five topics (Shampoo/Conditioner, Medicine Cabinet, Laundry Soap, Safe Drinking Water, Home/Personal Fragrances) and have half of them halfway drafted and would be more than happy to post about it if other people are interested. I just need to know that so I am motivated:-)

So what do you think? Should I press on and finish the final 5 posts in the 2012 Chemical Elimination Challenge?

And while we’re at it, were people benefiting from my write ups of the Fabry’s Toxic Talk Tuesdays?

Toxic Talk Tuesday – Natural Pest Control

I am excited to announce yet another edition of the Fabry’s Toxic Talk Tuesday, and this time, it is  topic I am over-the-top excited about–natural pest control!!

Ever since I began the journey into healthier, more natural living, I have been concerned about the chemicals we so readily turn to to kill unwanted pests in an around our homes.  It disturbs me that we will spray toxic chemicals in our homes, on our floors where our babies crawl, and not give a second thought to the possible danger we may be causing.  But we also do not want bugs, spiders, ants, and mice invading our homes! So what is the answer?

Thank you Chris and Andrea Fabry for once again enlightening us (as always, in a broadcast so humorous I was laughing aloud) to natural forms of pest control.  After all, pests have been around for as long as people, and people have never been too keen on them living in their home.  So what have people done throughout the centuries to keep pests from invading?

You can go ahead and listen to the whole broadcast, but Andrea’s website had far more easily accessible information.  I have reproduced it here.  Following are the four R’s of natural pest control: Remedies, Recipes, References, and Resources from Andrea’s website, MomsAWARE:


  1. Garlic and/or onion and/or cayenne. Liquid sprays can be made with any or all of these to help deter/kill pests inside and outside.
  2. Cedar is often used as a moth repellent, but is also effective against other pests.
  3. Diatomaceous earth (DE) consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. DE is effective against insects with an exoskeleton. Be sure to choose food grade.
  4. Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum powder comes from ground chrysanthemum flowers and contains pyrethrin, a natural pesticide. This is not the same as pyrethroid, which is a synthetic pesticide. (Cats are sensitive to low doses and some may be allergic to pyrethrum.)
  5. Borax and all derivatives. Borax is a natural compound with powerful dehydrating affects and a wide range of applications as a pesticide. Borax is a toxin and must be used cautiously when children and pets are nearby.
  6. Neem oil. The key insecticidal ingredient found in the neem tree is azadirachtin, a naturally occurring substance that disturbs or inhibits the development of insect eggs, larvae, or pupae. Diluted neem oil sprayed on plants can control aphids, moth larvae, spider mites, whiteflies, and Japanese beetles. It will not harm insects that do not chew the leaves, like butterflies, ladybugs, and bees.
  7. Essential oils. Peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, basil, and clove are just a few of the effective oils.


Downloadable Pest Punching Printout from MomsAWARE

    1. All-Purpose Pesticide Powder
      • 1/2 c. bay leaves
      • 1/2 c. peppermint leaves
      • 1 1/2 tsp. each citrus peel, garlic powder, diatomaceous earth, cayenne pepper, pyrethrum, salt

      Grind the ingredients into a powder using a blender or mortar and pestle. Dust along affected areas.

    2. Homemade Ant Trap
      • 1 tbsp. hot water
      • 1 tbsp. honey or sugar
      • 1/2 tsp. borax

      Place the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake to mix. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture, slightly squeeze out the excess liquid, and put the cotton ball on a small lid. Place the ant trap where you see the most ants. After the ants have disappeared, discard the cotton ball and keep the lid for reuse.

    3. Neem Oil Insectide
      • 1 qt. warm water
      • 2 tsp. dishwashing liquid
      • 5 tsp. neem oil

      Mix water and dishwashing liquid. Slowly add the neem oil while stirring the mixture vigorously. Don’t prepare more of the neem oil insecticide than you’ll need, as it will lose its potency if stored. (1 oz. neem oil mixed with 10 oz. coconut oil makes an excellent mosquito repellent!)

    4. All-Purpose Onion/Garlic/Cayenne Spray
      • 1 garlic bulb, chopped or ground
      • 1 small onion, chopped or ground
      • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
      • 1 qt. boiling water
      • 1 tbsp. liquid castile soap

      Mix garlic, onion, cayenne pepper and water; add liquid soap. Shake and pour into spray bottle. Freeze for long-term storage.

    5. Apple Cider Vinegar JarPour an inch or so of apple cider vinegar into the bottom of a wide-mouth jar. Make a funnel with a sheet of white paper with a 3/4-inch hole on the bottom. The bottom should not touch the vinegar. Place the funnel into the jar and tape edges to secure the funnel to the jar. Effective against fruit flies and gnats.


Here are a few natural solutions recommended for specific pests.

  • Ants: Peppermint, soapy water, cucumber peels, mint tea bags, dry mint leaves, cayenne pepper, borax and sugar (see ant trap recipe above), diatomaceous earth (DE).
  • Aphids: Spray streams of water onto plants to dislodge heavy concentrations of aphids. Use a mixture of castile soap and water to spray on smaller concentrations; the soap will dry out their exoskeleton and dehydrate them. Add peppermint essential oil for added potency. Garlic spray can also be effective.
  • Beetles: Pyrethrin, neem oil, peppermint, thyme.
  • Fleas: Borax, DE, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint , citrus peel extract. See the Resources section below for a natural flea-control company.
  • Flies: Basil, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint.
  • Four-legged garden pests: For squirrels, chipmunks, deer, etc., onion/garlic/cayenne spray can be an effective deterrent (see recipe #4 above).
  • Gnats/Fruit Flies: Apple cider vinegar jar (see recipe #5 above).
  • Mice: Mice tend to avoid mint. Place fresh mint boughs where mice are present, or spray diluted mint oil. For bait, crush a vitamin D pill and blend with cheese.
  • Spiders: Spiders help keep the pest population at bay, but too many spiders can be unnerving—to say nothing of the poisonous ones. Diatomaceous earth is effective because as spiders walk across it, the razor-sharp microscopic fossils penetrate the exoskeleton, causing the spider to dehydrate and die. Suggested spider repellents include essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, citronella, and peppermint.
  • Termites: Cedar oil, nematodes.
  • Ticks: Cedar oil, DE, rose geranium oil, lavender, lemongrass, citronella.


Beyond Pesticides

Natural Pest Control: State-by-State Guide

Further Resources:


Toxic Talk Tuesday: Pests Broadcast

Toxic Talk Tuesday: Lawn Care

It’s that time again! Chris and Andrea Fabry delighted us with yet another broadcast of Toxic Talk Tuesday, and this time, the topic was lawn care–just in time for summer!

Definition of the Day

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for:

  • preventing,
  • destroying,
  • repelling, or
  • mitigating any pest.

First, let’s start off with the quiz of the day.  To take the quiz yourself, click here.  I have listed the questions, answers, and more information to help set the stage for understanding pesticides.

1. Which of the following is NOT classified as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Pledge Furtniture Spray

While Pledge contains hazardous chemicals, it does not fall into the pesticide category. Products containing chlorine bleach, triclosan (hand sanitizers), and mold/mildew remover are all classified as pesticides. According to the EPA:

Many household products are pesticides. All of these common products are considered pesticides:

• Cockroach sprays and baits.
• Insect repellents for personal use.
• Rat and other rodent poisons.
• Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars.
• Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers.
• Products that kill mold and mildew.
• Some lawn and garden products, such as weed killers.
• Some swimming pool chemicals.

More information here and here.

2. Which herbicide product is represented a label containing 2,4-D, a chemical used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam era, which according to the EPA is “reported to result in blood, liver, and kidney toxicity”?  Ortho Weed B Gone

Roundup, Touchdown, and Kleeraway are all trade names for the chemical glyphosate, which is also hazardous.

According to the organization Beyond Pesticides, 2,4-D has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and much more. Because it is widely available, the health effects “are of particular concern.”

More information here and here.

3. According to the EPA, children are exposed to the chemical 2,4-D through lawn care products. If a child is exposed to 2,4-D indoors, the exposure most likely comes through: Dust on shoes of person applying the product.

According to the EPA’s TEACH Chemical Summary on 2,4-D:

Children are most likely to be exposed following application of 2,4-D as a residential lawn care product. Exposure is most likely to occur via inhalation of indoor air and house dust generally subsequent to lawn care application of 2,4-D, or via contact with 2,4-D-treated grass or turf. Hand-to-mouth activity can also contribute to exposure from 2,4-D-contaminated house dust in younger children. The dust on shoes of the person applying the 2,4-D to lawns may be the greatest contributor to indoor 2,4-D contamination. Exposure of children may also occur from diet, drinking water, and swimming in lakes treated with 2,4-D (with highest concentrations of 2,4-D occurring within 24 hours of lake treatment).

More information here.

4. This pesticide category accounts for 70% of all agricultural pest-control products used in the United States: Weed Killers

According to the EPA:

A pesticide is a chemical used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, weeds, fungi, or microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

The USDA article linked below traces the history of pesticide use in this country, stating:

During the 1960s, agricultural pesticide use was dominated by insecticides, accounting for about half of all pesticides used. The quantity of insecticides applied fell as the organochlorines (DDT, aldrin, and toxaphene) were replaced by pyrethroids and other chemicals that required lower application rates. Today, 70 percent of the quantity of pesticides used in agriculture are herbicides.

More information here.

5. An organic household pesticide may contain harmful ingredients if its material safety data sheet contains what? Propietary blend of emulsifiers and solvents to 100%

The use of essential oils in pest control is positive. When coupled with toxic chemicals contained in the “inert” ingredients, however, a product’s safety may be compromised. This product may or may not be just as hazardous as a product with no essential oils.

According to the EPA:

Inert ingredients are “other” ingredients that do not control the pest, but serve other purposes such as dissolving the active ingredients or affecting how the product works.

Up to 3,000 chemicals may be classified as inert and are not subject to regulation due to business confidentiality.

More information here and here.

6. The EPA says this plant oil is effective for repelling mites, fleas, and mosquitoes: Euclyptus

Recommended for use on cats, dogs, humans and their clothing, and in homes.

For a list of other natural repellents, see the EPA’s Plant Oils Fact Sheet.

7. The first Roundup Ready crop (able to resist applications of the weed killer Roundup) was first marketed in 1996. This biotech soybean was genetically pieced together using this vegetable/flower combination: Cauliflower / Petunia

From the Organic Consumers Association website:

A gene from a cauliflower virus acted as a master control switch. It activated the bacterial enzyme that was able to fend off Roundup while still producing adequate growth proteins. A snippet of petunia DNA made sure those proteins were ferried to the proper location within the soy plant. Another strand of DNA from a different type of bacterium served as a molecular stop sign, preventing overproduction of the proteins.

A good word picture on genetic modification: Suppose you have a preschooler and you get home a letter saying, “We would like to conduct an experiment on your daughter. We would like to feed your daughter 1/4 tsp. of pesticide to your daughter every day until she is 18.  We have no reason to believe this will be harmful.” Would you be willing to allow your child to do that?  We do not have 100 years of study to see what these things are doing to us.  What we do know, is that some of these chemicals have been used to kill humans in the right doses, so is it not logical to ask the question–is this good for us?

More information here.

8. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), originally designed to provide better pest control, are produced by inserting the DNA of one species into the DNA of an unrelated plant or animal. Because living organisms have natural barriers, the DNA must be forced in some way. 

Marker-assisted selection (MAS) is a non-invasive, natural approach to plant breeding.

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology website:

Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have to find ways to force the DNA from one organism into another. These methods include:

• Using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
• Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
• Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
• Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

More information here and here.

9. “Biosolids” is the term given to fertilizer derived from which of the following? Sewage sludge

Biosolids is a term used to refer to treated human waste. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a study of biosolids found 25 active chemicals in each biosolid sample tested. The study raises questions about the “transport, fate, and potential ecological effects of these contaminants once biosolids are applied to agricultural fields, garden plots, and landscaped plants and shrubs.”

More information here and here.

There are a couple more questions on the quiz, but I only included these eight.

Know that there are more chemicals than just what it says on the label.  Why? Any label has not only active ingredients, but it also has inert ingredients.  Up to 3000 chemicals are classified as inert ingredients and can make up over 90% of a product.  They are not required to list these because of trade secrets. If you have concerns about what chemicals may make up inert ingredients, go ahead and call the company and ask. Be proactive!

For any weed or plant you do not want try this recipe to get rid of it:

Homemade Natural Weed Killer 

  • 1 gallon white vinegar
  • 1/2 c. liquid soap
  • 2 tbsp. salt

Combine and shake. Place in spray bottle and spray leaves and stems of weeds only. Avoid surrounding plants.  This really works!

For your garden, plant chives to keep the deer away and marigolds to deter the rabbits.  Here is a great website on various companion plants to keep away pests and pesky animals.

The EPA offers these tips for safe lawn care:

  1. Keep grass at a height of 3 inches.
  2. Make sure mowing blades are sharp.
  3. Water 1 inch per week on average.
  4. Allow your lawn to go dormant in July/August.
  5. Consider non-chemical pest/weed control methods.

Consider grasscycling–leaving the grass clippings. It is very nourishing.

Dandilions are very nutritious! Studies are being done on a possible health benefit for cancer!

I can hardly wait for the next Toxic Talk, airing in June.  Their topic will be safely ridding our home of pests! You can be sure I will be posting the summary of that as soon as it airs!

For more recipes, check out this blog.

Check out Andrea’s blog, MomsAWARE!

Andrea also has a detailed blog post about Natural Lawn Care.

Check out the original broadcast!

Read other Toxic Talk posts!


Toxic-Free Gift Ideas

Picking up where we left off in our Toxic Talk Tuesdays, I bring you (albeit a little late!) Chris and Andrea Fabry’s Tips for Toxic Free Living and giving of gifts!  I loved this program, as giving healthy, toxic-free gifts for birthday or Christmas is a desire of mine, but it is not an easy thing to do!

Twelve Tips for the Toxic Trainee:

(Found at  This is my transcriptive combination of the Chris Fabry Live!’s broadcast, mixed with Andrea’s list on her website, along with my own suggestions.)

  1. Books. There’s nothing better than reading how others have created a less toxic environment. Options include:
    • Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond. This is one of the most comprehensive books on the market. From personal care products to cleaning supplies to non-toxic art supplies, the author offers an abundance of recipes and explanations.
    • The Naturally Clean Home focuses exclusively on cleaning your home environment. Karyn Siegel-Maier creatively incorporates herbs and essential oils into her unique recipes.
    • Super Natural Home Beth Greer explains how small lifestyle shifts make a big difference in your health and well-being. Her explanations are thorough and concise!
  1. Essential Oils. Give the gift of natural, healthy fragrance. Beginning oils include lemon, peppermint, and lavender. All three have excellent antiseptic qualities and are versatile. Frankincense and myrrh make great Christmas gifts, and each has unique health benefits. The key is the purity of the oil. Diffuser World offers this list of recommended brands.
  2. Diffuser. Anyone interested in improving air quality in an office or home will appreciate this gift! Diffuser World offers an excellent assortment of products.
  3. Safe Cookware. Enameled cast iron is the least reactive cookware. Brands such as Le Creuset and Staub are made in France with no added chemicals. Costco now offers enameled cast iron products made in France.
  4. All-Natural Makeup. There are numerous options for makeup with no synthetic ingredients, parabens, alcohol, or fragrance. Here are three:
  5. Rhassoul Clay. This luxurious clay can be used for facials, soap, shampoos, and hair conditioning. Sources include:
  6. Natural Candles. 100% beeswax candles are optimal, as they contain no petrochemicals. Sources include:
  7. Car Air Purifier. Great gift for the commuter or traveler. Options include:
  8. Collection of Bottles and Jars. This gift is for the person interested in making their own personal care or household products. Choose an assortment of spray bottles, glass jars, and tins. Sources include:
  9. Gift Card to a Local Health Food Store. Gift cards encourage that detoxifier in your life to try something new!
  10. All-Natural Soap. Look for soaps with natural and organic plant oils, pure essential oils, and minimal other ingredients. Opportunities abound from small family businesses to bigger companies. Some options include:
  11. Homemade Bath Salts. Bath salts are simple to make using sea salt, Epsom salts, and baking soda. For the recipe and our how-to video, as well as additional homemade bath gift ideas, see our Bath Bonanza Gift Set Recipes.

Stay tuned for a simple, practical, economical toxic-free gift idea!

Holiday Awareness Tips

Toxic Talk Tuesday – Naturally Clean Bathrooms

To continue in our series of Toxic Talk Tuesdays, we join Chris and Andrea Fabry once again for Chris Fabry Live!  We have already explored the laundry, the kitchen, and personal care products.

The first thing the Fabrys did on their program was a chemical awareness quiz.  While they only had time for a few questions on air, I have pulled all 15 questions from Andrea’s website, Moms AWARE. For more detailed information on each answer, visit her site and take the quiz!

  1. According to a 2008 American Association of poison control Center COSMETICS/PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS were the top cause of poisoning of children under age 5. More information at this website.
  2. The manufactorer of NON-STICK COOKWARE warns against using it near birds because it “can damage a bird’s lungs with alarming speed.”  More information at this website.
  3. When purchased new, A VINYL SHOWER CURTAIN emits well over 14 compounds, 7 of which are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Hazardous Air Pollutants.  These hazardous compounds include methylene chloride, methyl alcohol, toluene, and phenol. It will diminish indoor air quality for one month after purchasing.  More information at this website as well as this source.  Alternatives can be found here.
  4. The chemical phenylenediamine, or coal tar, is permitted in only one type of consumer product and must carry a warning that it presents “an acute, severe hazard to health with the possibility of permanent injury; i.e., impaired sight, including blindness.”  That product is HAIR DYE.  More information at this website.
  5. Triclosan, one of the primary ingredients in antibacterial soaps, is classified by the U.S. government as a PESTICIDE.  More information at this website. (You can make your own antibacterial soaps without triclosan, though! Using castile soap and an antibacterial essential oil such as tea tree oil.  A recipe can be found here.)
  6. Petroleum distillates are petrochemicals that have been distilled in a refinery and then refined further. Consumer products containing petroleum distillates include motor oil, furniture polish, lighter fluid, and BABY OIL.  More information at this website. (For a safer alternative, simply use coconut oil or kefir)
  7. More than 90 percent of pharmaceuticals are manufactured with CHLORINE.  More information at this website.
  8. Polyisobutylene, or butyl rubber, is used in sealants, lubricants, caulking agents, and adhesives. It is also commonly used in CHEWING GUM.  More information at this website.
  9. Dr. Harvey Wiley, the “Father of the Pure Food and Drugs Act,” advised against using aluminum in food products, saying it is “universally acknowledged as a poison in all countries.” Aluminum is commonly found in all of these products: ANTACIDS, FOOD ADDITIVES, COSMETICS, AND BUFFERED ASPIRIN. More information at this website as well as here. (Aluminium is also found in baking soda. Look for aluminum free!)
  10. Bisphenol A (BPA), commonly found in canned goods, plastics, personal care products, and dental sealants, was first introduced as a SYNTHETIC ESTROGEN. More information at this website.
  11. Which consumer product has this ingredient list on its label: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, Yellow 10 and Orange 4? JOHNSON’S BABY SHAMPOO. More information at this website.  (I rarely use soap on my baby it is unneccessary and dries their skin, but when the need occurs, I use Dr. Bronner’s pure liquid castile Baby Mild.)
  12. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classifies this as an indoor air pollutant, saying it “may be detrimental to the health of workers with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, and chronic headaches/migraines.” FRAGRANCE. More information at this website.
  13. Dioxins, by-products of industrial processing and known teratogens (substances capable of interfering with the development of a fetus) and carcinogens (substances capable of causing cancer), are commonly found in BLEACHED COFFEE FILTERS. More information at this website. Find unbleached filters in your local grocery store.
  14. World War I brought the advent of chemical warfare. Along with mustard gas, CHLORINE was used as a choking agent, attacking the nose, throat, and lungs to cause “dry land drowning.” More information at this website.
  15. According to the National Capital Poison Center, MOUTHWASH can poison a small child. More information at this website.
EPA Children’s Home Tour States:
“Did you know that a pesticide is added to your washing machine to help keep your white clothes white? This pesticide is also found in many household cleaning products that contain a disinfectant to kill germs, and it is found in household products used to clean mold and mildew from your shower or tub. Can you guess what this product is? Chlorine bleach.”
All of this information can be overwhelming and cause us to live in fear.  But that is not the goal of this broadcast or this post! “The idea is not to be afraid, the idea is to be aware, and there is a very big difference.” Awareness enables us to come up with solutions. Knowledge can empower us to make wiser choices.
When we study the delightful creation that God has given us, we become aware of so many natural, workable solutions to all of these issues.  It can cause us to worship our amazing God even more!
For an example, we look at the road runner.  These little birds can go 17 MPH as they skirt across the road between cars.  He does not run in fear, though the cars are much bigger and going much faster than he is, he runs with awareness.  That is how we want to be as we live our lives.  We do not want to live in fear of our knowledge. We want our increased knowledge and awareness to empower us to make better choices.
Bathroom: Pathogens and Plumbing
Ventilation is extremely important in bathrooms and any indoor environment.

Plumbing brings with it the potential for mold.  Know that mold is very serious.  If you see it on the wall, it is extremely serious. If it is a shower surface issue, it can be dealt with.

Mold is like a dandelion.  If you pick a dandelion, the chances of the seeds scattering and spreading are very high. So you may eliminate one dandelion, but chances are, seeds have already scattered to the wind and spread further.
Mold is the same way. It is made up of microscopic spores. 20,000,000 micron mold spores fit on a postage stamp. Do not be casual about finding mold or water damage in a bathroom. In order to grow, mold needs moisture and darkness.
Most people treat mold with bleach.  However, bleach does not kill mold.  It kills mold spores, but it does not kill the micotoxins.  Bleach can actually simply spread the mold further and make it more absorb-able into our systems.
Hydrogen Peroxide and tea tree oil are much more effective.
Natural Bathroom Cleaning Options:
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
Add pine, tea tree oil, lemon or lime to vinegar to help ease the odor.
Remember, always buy 100% pure essential oils.  These are pricey, but they last a very, very long time. You can put three drops into your washing machine and that is all you need.
Antimicrobial essential oils: grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil
Avoid using bleach.  Think about bleach like you would a pesticide.  Pesticides kill insects and are harmful to humans.  Avoid the use of it and use these alternatives instead!


Any non-toxic cleaners you use in other parts of the home can also be used in the bathroom. White vinegar (diluted or full strength) is the best all-around cleaner and can be used to clean tubs, toilets, floors, and even mirrors.

For added protection against mold and mildew, add several drops of tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract (GSE) to the white vinegar.

For those who find the smell of tea tree oil or white vinegar offensive, consider adding cinnamon essential oil or pine essential oil to the diluted vinegar. Lime also helps soften the odor.

An odorless option is 25 drops of GSE blended with 1 c. water. Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and use as you would white vinegar. No rinsing required.

Options for cleaning the toilet:
  • Pour 1 c. borax into the toilet. Let sit overnight. Clean with toilet brush in the morning.
  • Pour 1/2 c. white vinegar into bowl. Add 1/2 c. baking soda. As the vinegar neutralizes the soda, a fizz is created, which aids in the cleaning process.
  • Add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil and allow to sit until next use.
  • Spray vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and scrub out
  • Use tea tree oil to clean the floor around the base of the toilet

Recipes from Moms AWARE:

Antibacterial Hand Soap

Conventional antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, a synthetic antimicrobial agent used in a wide variety of household and personal care products.

A simple alternative begins with a hand soap pump bottle. This can be reused or purchased new. Fill with a mixture of 1 c. filtered water and 3 tbsp. liquid Castile soap. If refilling a foaming soap dispenser, use less Castile soap. To extend the shelf life, add 3 drops grapefruit seed extract. You can also add several drops of lemon or lavender essential oil.

Vinegar of the Four Thieves
Place a handful each of dried lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, and mint in a 1/2 gallon glass jar. Pack them in tightly. Pour raw organic apple cider vinegar over the herbs, covering them to within 4 inches of the top. Cover jar tightly and set in a cool, dark place for 3-6 weeks. Shake jar daily or several times a week.

After the allotted time, strain. Pour strained vinegar into spray bottles. Dilute if desired.

This can also be spritzed into the air of a sickroom. Be sure to avoid eyes and mouth.

Drain Cleaners

Plungers or plumber’s snakes are often needed for clogged drains. For minor backups, pour 1 c. washing soda into water around drain. Water should go down. If not, try adding 1 c. white vinegar. Use washing soda weekly to keep drains flowing freely.

The transition from chemicals to naturally occurring cleaning solutions can be overwhelming and we can obsess over it easily.  Andrea encourages that at first, as you are learning all these things, you will obsess at first, but the more you learn, the more you strive to have a healthy mindset and balance as you incorporate these things into your life, the more natural it will become to think in this way and it will be less overwhelming. Take a step at a time and do what you can! Every little bit helps.

Further Reading and Resources:

Toxic Talk Tuesday: Personal Care

We use products on our bodies and hair every day without giving it a second thought.  We figure if it’s on a shelf at the store, it must be okay to use. Why would it be harmful?  Chris and Andrea Fabry welcome us into their studio again for the third installment of Toxic Talk Tuesdays.  This time the topic is Personal Care.  Andrea, with her wealth of knowledge and experience, challenges many of the assumptions we have about personal care products and their safety, explains certain components that are particularly harmful, and gives us natural, safe (and frugal!) alternatives. Again, this post will be a conglomeration of direct quotes, paraphrases, and my own input.  For the complete broadcast, find the link below.

Andrea states that our personal care products are an unseen danger.  “The packaging is very attractive, the scents are great, it just looks and smells so smooth, and yet it’s not what it seems. It’s not what we want to believe that it is.  And the reason is, there is so much we don’t know. It’s not that we know something and then are ignoring it, we really don’t know and the more you study what is in these products the more you understand it’s probably not a good risk for us because most chemicals are made up of petroleum. Would you put gasoline on your hair knowingly? Or on your skin? Why does this matter? 60% of any chemical will go through 5 layers of skin into the bloodstream.

90% of the chemicals we have on the labels of shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, etc. have never been tested for health. This is because cosmetics are not claiming to cure any disease or make a health impact, so they do not fall under the same legislation as drugs do.

Toxicant of the Day: Phthalates. A derivative of petroleum. Endocrine disruptors, even in small amounts.  Wikipedia states “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities, severeattention deficit disordercognitive and brain development problems.”

Phthalates are a chemical prevalent in plastics. But it is also used in shampoos, lotions, and skin care products to preserve the fragrance. This is not listed on labels, it is simply under “fragrance.” The ingredient “fragrance” can include all sorts of neurotoxins, but it is not subject to the same health and safety testing as are drugs to prove its safety.  95% of fragrances are derived from petroleum, a known neurotoxin.  If nothing else, look for products that say “fragrance free.”

Our bodies can become conditioned to the chemicals on the market so that we do not immediately feel their negative effects.  However, this does not mean they are not having a negative effect.  These chemicals whittle down the receptors in our nose, which is directly connected to the brain.  As we breathe these substances in, we are burning down and disrupting our ability to smell, and this is also affecting brain development.  This is why our ability to smell decreases with age.  If you remove the chemicals, our receptors can restore themselves.

Closing thought: All of this information can be overwhelming, but simply do the best you can with what you know. Anything is better than nothing!

Recipe of the Day:

Queen of Hungary Water

  • 6 small handfuls lemon balm
  • 5 small handfuls calendula flowers
  • 4 small handfuls rose petals
  • 3 small handfuls comfrey
  • 1 small handful rosemary, lemon peel, and sage

(Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these herbs; feel free to use what you have.)

Place herbs in a gallon glass jar. (You can halve this recipe for a 1/2 gallon jar.) Cover the herbs completely in raw organic apple cider vinegar. Screw on lid tightly. Let sit for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar several times a week.

Strain the mixture. Combine remaining liquid with equal parts witch hazel extract. Rose water may also be used.

Dab on face and massage into skin. Queen of Hungary water also makes an excellent rinse for hair. Can be stored indefinitely.

This makes an excellent gift!  Many of these ingredients can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs

Practical Tips:

  • As a shampoo or to relieve dandruff, massage baking soda/washing soda/rhassoul clay into your scalp. Rinse with raw apple cider vinegar/coffee grounds/lemon juice. Rhassoul clay is a mineral and has been used for centuries and has wonderful antioxidant qualities. When adding a mineral to your hair, it needs to be balanced back out with an acid. For more information on its many uses, read here.
  • Baking soda or bentonite clay in combination with an essential oil can be used to brush your teeth. Recipes here and here.
  • Natural dandruff control: Dandruff is an external result of an internal condition, so make sure you’re getting proper nurients.  To treat the irritation, tea tree oil is antifungal. Combine with what you’re using and massage into skin.  You can also use grape fruit seed extract. Dead sea salt baths are great for excema.
  • Soap is overrated.  Suds are overrated. Babies don’t actually even need soap, and many days we don’t need it either, but if you want to use something, use pure castile soap or rhassoul clay.
  • Baking Soda neutralizes acid.  Use baking soda as a deodorant. Mix baking soda, water, and a drop of tea tree oil in a spray bottle and spray under arms.  Another recipe using zinc oxide and witch hazel can be found here.
  • Use raw apple cider vinegar as a skin toner! Then moisurize with kefir. (Health Benefits of Kefir or How to Make Kefir.
  • After chlorine swimming, get a pure vitamin C spray and spray your skin and it will neutralize the chlorine. Or bathe in a vitamin C powder. This can be found at your local health food store or here.

For further information 

Toxic Talk Tuesdays: Laundry Care

Toxic Talk Tuesdays: Naturally Clean Kitchens



Minimalist Beauty

Chris Fabry Live! September 20 broadcast