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GREEN TIP: Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t just help our planet, it can also make a positive impact on your Baby Greek Goddess on her bikehealth.

We all know that choosing non-toxic household products, reducing energy consumption, buying whole foods and changing transportation methods are good for the environment. All of these sustainable lifestyle choices can also be good for your health.

Avoiding Toxins in Your Household Products

We’ve talked before about the benefits of cleaning your house with non-toxic or homemade cleaners. You avoid the chemicals in commercial cleaners which can cause breathing issues, headaches and other health problems. You should also avoid toxic fertilizers and insecticides, which can impact your health, the health of your children and the health of your pets.

Reducing Energy Usage

Doing things like going to bed early has proven health benefits and reduces energy consumption (lights, computers, TV, etc. are off for the night). Studies have shown a correlation between not enough sleep and being overweight andPesticide Free Zone reducing your overall energy consumption can help reduce pollution, which in turn can help you breathe easier — cutting down on allergies, asthma and other breathing problems. “Increasing natural sunlight in your home and workplace saves energy and a whole lot more. Using natural light rather than relying entirely on artificial light can be beneficial to your health too. Sunlight helps calcium absorption, improves your mood and increases concentration.” Source:

Buy Local, Buy Organic

When you choose organically grown local foods, you avoid the pesticides that can cause health issues. Organic produce is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. By choosing wild-caught and free-range fish and grass-fed beef and lamb, you can avoid foods that are injected with hormones and other chemicals. Eating whole food and avoiding processed foods can reduce your intake of fat, sodium and sugar — which can cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic health conditions.

To help you make more sustainable seafood choices, visit and download their free Seafood Watch Pocket Guide.

Changing the Way You Get Around

Walk or bike to work. Combining exercise and a commute builds healthful activity into your day and reduces fuel use and vehicle emissions. Being outdoors allows you to enjoy nature, which benefits your emotional and mental health. If you live too far from your office to bike or walk, take public transportation.


My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Institute for Responsible Technology

The Institute for Responsible Technology is a leader in educating policy makers and the public about geneticallySay NO to GMOs modified (GM) foods and crops. They investigate and report the risks and impact on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, as well as the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.

Founded in 2003 by international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, IRT has worked in more than 30 countries on 6 continents, and is credited with improving government policies and influencing consumer-buying habits.



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GREEN TIP: Avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from less flammable naturalLamb from Ravencroft Farm materials or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Chemical flame retardants have become very common in consumer products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the most toxic are brominated fire retardants (BFRs), which include chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Our nation’s chemical laws don’t adequately protect us from the harmful effects of flame retardants and these chemicals are commonly found in our homes and offices.

Scientists have found that exposure to even small amounts of toxic fire retardants such as PBDEs at critical points in development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. And, according to Rodale News, research on PBDEs suggest the chemicals interfere with thyroid hormones and they can affect neurological development.

Read EWG’s report on PBDEs in mothers and their toddlers to learn more about children’s exposures.

Until all PBDEs are banned from consumer products (including imports) and fire safety regulations are revised to promote safer solutions, American families – especially our children – will continue to be needlessly exposed to harmful chemicals.

PBDEs are most commonly found in polyurethane foam products (like couches and upholstered chairs, mattresses and pads, futons, pillows, children’s car seats and carpet padding, among many others), but are also in hundreds of other everyday products, including electronics equipment (like TVs, remotes, and cell phones), lighting, wiring, building materials, textiles, furniture and industrial paints.

One way you can reduce you family’s exposure  is to avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from materials that are naturally fire resistant or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Some parents are concerned that their children will be exposed to chemicals while wearing fire-retardant pajamas. Pajamas are not treated with PBDEs, though synthetic fabrics are often made with a chemical additive to make them fire resistant. Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled “fire resistant” will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes. To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, EWG suggests you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting. And, of course, keep kids away from matches, candles and cigarettes.

Source: Environmental Working Group

 Benefits of Wool:

  • Wool is a breathable natural material.
  • Wool can be produced sustainably.
  • Wool is hypoallergenic.
  • Wool will not harbor dust mites. Dust mites don’t like wool!
  • Wool resists bacteria.
  • Wool is fire resistant.
  • Wool is cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
  • Unlike down bedding which uses plucked down feathers, a sheep grows a coat of wool annually and is not harmed during the shearing process. More information about down bedding production.
  • Wool surpasses synthetic fill in terms of quality, durability, breathability, sustainability, and the embodied energy and chemicals needed to produce synthetic fill.
  • Unlike down bedding which shifts over time (ie. bare spots in a comforter), wool stays in place.
  • With proper care your woolen bedding can last for decades.
  • Wool can be composted and recycled at the end of it’s lifecycle.
There is hope
In May 2013, Vermont passed the nation’’s strongest bill to protect children and fire fighters from unnecessary and harmful flame retardant chemicals (S.81, vote:141-0) by banning their use in children’s products and home furniture.

According to the Vermont Public Interest Research and Education Fund (VPIRG), “Flame retardant chemicals targeted in this bill, particularly chlorinated Tris (Tris), are widely used in children’s products -– high chairs, car seats, nursing pillows, changing pads, and more –- and recent studies found Tris in the majority of couches on the market today. These chemicals migrate out of these products into air and dust, and from there enter our bodies.

Human exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, lowered IQ, decreased fertility, and more. Especially concerning are the high levels of the toxins found in toddlers and infants, whose developing bodies are particularly susceptible to these negative health impacts. Further, studies show that these chemicals don’t work to slow the spread of fires, and actually make fires more dangerous for fire fighters by releasing toxic gases when ignited.”

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic Authority

Organic Authority seeks to change the way Americans think about the word organic, washing away the grungy hippy image of the past. Their goal is to disseminate information while educating the public about the benefits of buying and choosing organic produce, meats, and products, while promoting sustainable living and an organic lifestyle. They believe that implementing small fundamental changes in the choices we make everyday will have a large impact on the future of healthy families around the world and protect Mother Earth for generations to come. This is an awesome site full of great information.

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GREEN TIP: Use natural ways to stay healthier this winter. As always eat whole foods, avoid processed foods and sugar and get enough sleep.

Now that we’re deep in the heart of cold and flu season, I wanted to look at some ways to keep our families healthier this winter. I had some help from a local and highly recommended Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Todd Ferguson, to compile this list. As always, talk to your doctor if you are at risk from complications from flu.

  • Wash your hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, which can introduce germs into your receptive passageways. If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or cough into the crook of your arm. This is probably both the easiest and the most important thing to do to keep your body healthy. Make it a habit in your young children and it will help them keep healthier immune systems throughout their lives.
  • Eat immune boosting foods and avoid sugar. Here are great examples:

Citrus: Loaded with Vitamin C, citrus fruits are a yummy, easy way to support your immune system. Grab a glass of OJ, or make some lemonade. Even better, mix lots of lemons into filtered water with raw honey and cayenne pepper. Not only is it a zingy tasty treat filled with Vitamin C, it also alkalinizes your body, which helps it fight infection.

Red chili peppers (cayenne): Cayenne pepper has long been appreciated for its medicinal properties and can help your body during states of emergency.

Garlic: Filled with immune-boosters, garlic has been used to treat everything from the common cold to the Plague.

Carrots: Bursting with beta-carotene, carrots give your body a leg up when you’re fighting infection. Drink a few carrot juices to get enough in your body. Sweet potatoes and spinach also contain lots of beta carotene, so eat up.

Shiitake mushrooms: They contains all eight essential amino acids in better proportions than soy beans, meat, milk, or eggs as well as a good blend of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, B12, C, D and Niacin. ( These yummy mushrooms can be put into soups and provide immune boosting benefits.

  • Get plenty of sleep. When you’re well rested, your body fights infection more effectively. Lack of sleep may profoundly inhibit your immune system.
  • Make sure you’re taking your Vitamin D. More and more studies are showing that Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. Try Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil.
  • Give up alcohol and caffeine for a while. Staying away from these substances helps your body mount immune responses.
  • Instead of your morning coffee (or mimosa) try drinking a green juice. Juice some kale, celery, cucumber, swiss chard, lemon, spinach, ginger, garlic- whatever you’ve got around that can support your good health. Also, avoid processed foods and eat a whole foods diet.
  • Stay hydrated. Increasing your water intake will help you stay healthy and lessen the chance of you coming down with flu. When you are feeling under the weather, drinking extra fluids prevents dehydration caused by fever, loosens mucus, and keeps your throat moist. Warm liquids are preferable, and there is some evidence that inhaling steam early in the course of a cold or flu may reduce the spread of viruses in your upper respiratory tract. (Source: Try Traditional Medicinals, they make excellent teas and care about the environment while doing it.
  • Supplement with probiotic bacteria, which alters the intestinal flora and helps your body resist infection.
  • Try elderberry syrup. It’s a natural anti-viral.
  • Get your exercise. While this may not be the best time to go to a crowded gym, a long hike in nature can do wonders for your immune system, your general health, and your psyche.
  • Handle stress properly. Stress weakens your immune system. Everyone has stress in their lives, the key to manage it in healthy ways. Go outside and notice the simple things, take a walk, take a deep breath – find your own healthy stress-relieving activities.

If you get the flu:

  • Seek help if you get worse. If your symptoms become significantly worse after the first three days of illness, especially if your fever subsides and then returns, be sure to seek medical attention right away. The reason that flu is considered a potentially dangerous infection is that it leaves the body vulnerable to other infections like pneumonia.

So, wash your hands, take a nap and, if you’re looking for a new doctor, head over to see Drs. Todd and Molly Ferguson at Prairie Naturopathic Doctors.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:


This site promises “smart ideas for green living and a handmade life” and it delivers on both. You’ll find homemade cough remedies, articles about natural ways to stay healthy and many other wonderful eco tips.


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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Use simple precautions like using a headset to avoid needless exposure to cell phone radiation.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), recent studies suggest that cell phones may cause health problems. The government has been lax in evaluating the rapidly developing science and slow to reexamine the radiation limits. Current cell phone radiation standards were adopted by the FCC from 1992 recommendations issued by industry (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE). These standards allow 20 times more radiation to penetrate the head compared to the rest of the body, do not account for risks to children, and fail to consider the recent research findings on health risks. The FCC should close these gaps and ensure that cell phone radiation standards protect children and others who are most vulnerable.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Cell phones emit low-frequency electromagnetic radiation—not strong enough to change the structure of atoms but possibly strong enough to heat tissue, according to the CDC. The amount of radiation that is emitted by a phone and then absorbed by nearby human tissue—namely, your face, ear, and skull—is called the SAR (specific absorption rate). This number can be different for two people using the same phone because it depends on a user’s body weight. Children typically absorb more than adults.

According to Dr. Michael Thun, vice president emeritus of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society,

If cell phones were harmful, then it is conceivable that children might be more vulnerable.  A child’s nervous system is still developing, and beginning cellphone use early in life can increase the duration of exposure.

Here are some tips from the EWG for reducing your exposure:


Young children’s brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults. EWG joins health agencies in at least 6 countries in recommending limits for children’s phone use, such as for emergency situations only.

2. Buy a low-radiation phone

The EWG has put together a buyer’s guide of all cell phones based on the amount of radiation they emit. Visit and see if you cell phone is on the best or worst list.

3. Use a headset or speaker

Headsets emit much less radiation than phones. Some wireless headsets emit continuous, low-level radiation, so take yours off your ear when you’re not on a call. Using your phone in speaker mode also reduces radiation to the head.

4. Listen more, talk less

Your phone emits radiation when you talk or text, but not when you’re receiving messages. Listening more and talking less reduces your exposures.

5. Hold phone away from your body

Hold the phone away from your torso when you’re talking (with headset or speaker), not against your ear, in a pocket, or on your belt where soft body tissues absorb radiation.

6. Choose texting over talking

Phones use less power (less radiation) to send text than voice. And unlike when you speak with the phone at your ear, texting keeps radiation away from your head.

7. Stay off the phone if your signal is poor

Fewer signal bars on your phone means that it emits more radiation to get the signal to the tower. Make and take calls when your phone has a strong signal.

8. Don’t use a “radiation shield”

Radiation shields such as antenna caps or keypad covers reduce the connection quality and force the phone to transmit at a higher power with higher radiation.

Remember to recycle your spent cell phone battery and used cell phone. Visit to find a reputable electronics recyclers in your area.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. They endeavor to reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. They seek to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid genetically engineered food. Until further testing has been done, the impacts to our food supply, human and environmental health are not clearly known.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held public hearings to determine the introduction of AquaBounty Technologies’ Transgenic salmon into our food supply. The FDA panel questioned some of the data submitted by AquaBounty, including the small sample size represented in its findings and the potential for allergic reactions (fish as a food group inherently contain a high level of allergens).

Consumer advocates are united with salmon farmers and fisherman in their shout out against the production of genetically engineered (GE) fish until independent tests prove the fish are safe for the food supply, the environment, and safe for human consumption.

Are we going to allow more sketchy food into our food supply that hasn’t been adequately tested?

One (of many) concerns is the presence of iGF-1, a growth hormone linked to an increased risk of cancer, in this fast growing test tube fish.

The FDA panel has not reached a conclusion. The next step is an environmental assessment and a 30-day period for the public to voice their comments. If approved, the first GE salmon could be in the grocery store in two years. Under FDA guidelines for food labels, the salmon you buy will not require a label stating it is GE in origin.

AquaBounty is against mandatory labeling sighting it as unfair and costly. Elliot Entis, AquaBounties founder, would support voluntary labeling by producers who want to communicate that their fish was not GE. Place the cost and burden for the label on the guy supplying nature’s fish? Fair?

Besides the cost of voluntary labeling, AquaBounties fear is the GE label would be read like a warning. Other critics of mandatory labeling imply labels are too confusing to consumers. Source: Phoenix News Times

Don’t we deserve to know where are food comes from and how it’s produced?

I also think there’s also an ethical piece to this issue. Even though we can, should we make changes to nature that aren’t natural?

Children are especially susceptible to the effects of GM foods.

Download the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make sure you avoid foods made with genetically modified organisms.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, they help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When buying sleepwear, avoid pajamas containing flame retardants, synthetic materials and pesticide laden materials. Look instead for pajamas that are snug fitting and made with natural, organic fibers.

Flame Retardants

In the United States, children’s sleepwear sized 9 months to 14 years must meet certain flammability requirements. The requirement is intended to protect children from burns.

Chemicals used on pajamas or pajama fabrics include chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, inorganic flame retardants such as antimony oxides, and phosphate-based compounds. Chlorinated and brominated flame retardants are contaminating the environment and accumulating in the human body. For example, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been linked to doing damage to the nervous and reproductive systems and impairing thyroid function. North Americans have the highest body burden of PBDEs in the world.

Source: Avoiding Flame Retardants In Cozy Children’s Pajamasby Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there have been unintended consequences linked to using these chemicals. There is growing evidence that PBDEs persist in the environment and accumulate in living organisms, as well as toxicological testing that indicates these chemicals may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity.

According to Erin Royer, owner of Snug Organics, PBDEs have been linked to damage of the thyroid, immune system, reproductive system, and liver. They disturb brain development, learning abilities, hormone function and can cause cancer, hyperactivity (ADD & ADHD), obesity, diabetes and permanent behavioral changes. These are all the same conditions that are increasing in our children today, who are the most highly exposed.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that children’s sleepwear contain flame-retardants or be snug fitting. Erin suggests that parents choose “snug fitting” due to the dangers of flame-retardants, which are added to materials during the manufacturing process in order to reduce the likelihood of a garment catching fire. Flowing nightgowns and baggy tops and bottoms have a higher chance of coming into contact with an open flame than a snug fitting pair of pajamas.

If you don’t want flame retardants, then always look for the specific key phrases “must be snug fitting” and “not flame resistant.”


Most children’s sleepwear is made of polyester (fleece), nylon acetate, and rayon. These fabrics begin their lives as a vat of chemicals, including petroleum. They have a prolonged landfill life, create more dependence on oil and take 40% more energy to produce than cotton. They are not breathable and block out air sometimes causing the body to overheat. These synthetics can also emit toxic gasses and are allergenic, causing respiratory disease in some cases. Polyester is plastic and will melt when heated. Synthetics must also contain flame retardants.


Conventional cotton is one of the most pesticide-saturated crop in the world and one of the most environmentally destructive. 90% of production involves the use of synthetic chemicals. It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to make one cotton t-shirt. 70% of conventional cotton farmers use GMO seeds and treat them with fungicides and insecticides. Synthetic fertilizers and herbicides are added to the soil to kill weeds, five of which are probable carcinogens. Aerial spraying of these chemicals drift onto farm workers, neighboring wildlife and communities. They runoff into our water, cannot be eliminated by water treatment centers, and end up in our city water systems. Residues of these chemicals have been found in human amniotic fluid, breast milk and fatty tissues. The biggest problem with non-organic cotton fabric is the finishes. Softeners and brighteners like bleach, formaldehyde, heavy metals, and ammonia are used in the finishing process of conventional cotton and a scientific link has been proven between these toxic chemicals and cancer, endocrine disruption and even reproductive disorders. Permanent press finish releases formaldehyde and no amount of washing removes permanent press.

Source: Erin Royer, owner of Snug Organics

The Healthy Children Project recommends

buying clothing, bedding and furniture made of natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, which do not melt near heat and as such do not need to contain flame-retardants.

The Environmental Working Group says,

To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, we suggest you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic Authority
Organic Authority
seeks to change the way Americans think about the word organic, washing away the grungy hippy image of the past. Their goal is to disseminate information while educating the public about the benefits of buying and choosing organic produce, meats, and products, while promoting sustainable living and an organic lifestyle. They believe that implementing small fundamental changes in the choices we make everyday will have a large impact on the future of healthy families around the world and protect Mother Earth for generations to come.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Empty your bathroom cabinets and take a look at the labels on your personal care products. Are you are using the safest ingredients for you and your family?

There are so many choices out there for shampoo, conditioners, make-up, deodorants, baby care products… the list is endless and, unfortunately, the majority of them are made from chemicals that are toxic to our bodies. And even more bothersome, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has no authority to require companies to assess ingredients or products for safety. FDA does not review or approve the vast majority of cosmetic products or ingredients before they go on the market. The agency conducts pre-market reviews only for certain color additives and active ingredients in cosmetics classified as over-the-counter drugs.

I discovered the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews database when we had our second child. I was looking up a trusted baby lotion that we were going to use on our little baby. I was horrified to find that it was loaded with toxic chemicals.

I know. Toxins in baby products? 

Dozens of children’s bath products analyzed at an independent laboratory in 2009 were found to contain formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane, two chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals and are classified as probable human carcinogens. Popular brands containing these chemicals include Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Sesame Street Bubble Bath and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash. The companies argue that each product contains just low levels of these toxins – but there shouldn’t be any carcinogens in baby shampoo at all. Period. The good news is, many companies have already figured out how to make excellent products without the toxic chemicals. Source: The Story of Cosmetics: Frequently Asked Questions

To learn more check out:

I recently viewed Annie Leonard’s newest, The Story of Cosmetics. She has an excellent way of getting to the heart of an issue in a really disarming manner. Take a look:

Here some more interesting information from The Story of Cosmetics: Personal Care Product Myths and Facts page:

Myth: Cosmetic ingredients are applied to the skin and rarely get into the body. When they do, levels are too low to matter.

Fact:People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through the skin. Studies find evidence of health risks. Biomonitoring studies have found cosmetics ingredients – like phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, the pesticide triclosan, synthetic musks, and sunscreens – inside the bodily fluids of men, women, children and even the cord blood of newborn babies. Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors that may increase cancer risk. Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin. Studies find health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients, including elevated risk for sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system, and low birth weight in girls.

Myth: Products made for children or bearing claims like “hypoallergenic” are safer choices.

Fact: Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies are rarely if ever required to back them up, even for children’s products. A company can use a claim like “hypoallergenic” or “natural” “to mean anything or nothing at all,” and while “[m]ost of the terms have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers,… dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning.” An investigation of more than 1,700 children’s body care products found that 81 percent of those marked “gentle” or “hypoallergenic” contained allergens or skin and eye irritants.

Myth: FDA would promptly recall any product that injures people.

Fact: FDA has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics. Furthermore, manufacturers are not required to report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency. FDA relies on companies to report injuries voluntarily.

Myth: Consumers can read ingredient labels and avoid products with hazardous chemicals.

Fact:Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, contaminants, and components of fragrance. Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals, none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage.

Myth: Cosmetics safety is a concern for women only.

Fact:Surveys show that on average, women use 12 products containing 168 ingredients every day, men use 6 products with 85 ingredients, and children are exposed to an average of 61 ingredients daily. The large majority of these chemicals have not been assessed for safety by the industry-funded Cosmetics Ingredients Review (CIR) safety panel.

TAKE ACTION and SUPPORT the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition effort launched in 2004 to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Before you slather on your sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2010 Sunscreen Guide. Find out why their researchers are only recommending 8 percent of the sunscreens on the market this season.

The fourth annual EWG’s Sunscreen Guide gives low marks to the current crop of sunscreen products, with a few notable exceptions. EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8 percent, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

The reason? A surge in exaggerated SPF claims above 50 and new disclosures about potentially hazardous ingredients, in particular recently developed government data linking vitamin A to accelerated growth of skin tumors and lesions.

Industry’s lackluster performance and the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) failure to issue regulations for sunscreens lead EWG to warn consumers not to depend on any sunscreen for primary protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection available.

Source: EWG’s Sunscreen Guide

EWG’s Top Sun Safety Tips

  • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
  • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
  • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
  • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

Read more at EWG’s 2010 Sunscreen Guide

We can also protect ourselves from the sun naturally by avoiding toxic chemicals in sunscreens, using natural ingredients and eating foods that protect against sun damage.

There has been an increase in awareness about the use of chemicals in personal care products and their effects. As a result, there has been more emphasis on researching natural substances. Much of the research only proves knowledge already known from generations past, but there are also very interesting new findings that prove the power of the natural world.

  • Green Tea polyphenols, a substance rich in antioxidants that forms part of the green tea leaves, has been mainstream news for awhile now. Research continues to be done today for using green tea for many conditions, including sun protection. (Yusuf et al.) Green tea high in polyphenols has shown to provide internal and external protection from UV radiation and in turn, photo aging.
  • Black tea gel, another ingredient more recently talked about, was studied for its absorption of ultraviolet rays. The study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Dec. 2007) tested exposed skin of six subjects with an artificial source of UV light. Those participants with black tea gel on their skin were unaffected by the radiation, while the subjects with nothing on their skin started seeing reddening after four hours of exposure. (Turkoglu et al)
  • Broccoli extract has been studied extensively for its anti-cancerous effects as a food. A recent study has shown that applying broccoli extract topically, which is rich in an antioxidant ingredient called sulphoraphane, gave subjects protection against inflammation and redness caused by UV light. The research showed that instead of absorbing the radiation, the sulphoraphane penetrated the body and helped cells protect themselves against the damages of UV light, even three days after its application. (Talalay et al)

That is why the best kind of protection after all is what you put in your body. Foods like the ones mentioned above, like green tea and broccoli that have been proven to be anti-cancer, are a good start to add to any diet. If those are not to your liking, or you can’t get the kids to eat broccoli, maybe some pasta with tomato sauce will do. Studies have also been done on foods high in carotenoids, such as tomatoes. The research has shown that tomatoes cooked with olive oil, are said to release these carotenoids that can supply the body with some sun protection, what could be an SPF of 2 or 3. (Stahl W. et al)

Source: Natural Sun Protection: Research Shows Efficacy Using Natural Ingredients as Sunscreen

Above all, do not be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is incredibly healthy for you and your family, just use some common sense and smart sun protection!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Body Smart Blog
Brought to you by the Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play (HSBS) — The Body Smart Blog is the place for people interested in early childhood education and development. You’ll find useful and interesting articles, interviews, activity ideas, book reviews and more — you never know what fun you’ll find at The Body Smart Blog.

One of my favorite articles: 5 Tips to “Green” Your Physical Activity

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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by Wendy Gabriel

From What Individuals Can Do: Recommendation from the President’s Cancer Panel:

Individuals can take important steps in their own lives to reduce their exposure to environmental elements that increase risk for cancer and other diseases. And collectively, individual small actions can drastically reduce the number and levels of environmental contaminants.

It is vitally important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds than adults. To the extent possible, parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children’s exposure to toxins.


From an illustrated guide book in a Toronto hotel:

All green spaces are pesticide-free. In 2004, Toronto became the largest municipality in the world to ban cosmetic use of lawn and garden pesticides. The Sierra Club of Canada reports a clear link between pesticide use and breast cancer; many other studies have shown the dangers to children from chemical exposure to pesticides.

Source: Sandra Steingraber: Canadian Bylaws; American Lawn Flags

It is not ok that we are exposing our children needlessly to toxic chemicals. We need to make changes. We don’t need to wait for someone to tell us we have to make the changes. We need to do the right thing for our children now. If we don’t, who will?

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by Wendy Gabriel

My youngest daughter recently turned three years old. This is the first birthday we are celebrating in our new home so it’s was our first party without Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, aunties and uncles. I wanted it to be amazing. As we were planning the party, and making it as green as possible, I found drinks to be the most challenging. Since I wasn’t having the party at my home, I didn’t have filtered tap water. Wine and beer wasn’t an option (for adults) due to the venue. I wasn’t going to tote all of my glass pitchers to the play place. I wasn’t going to buy bottled water and I refuse to buy soda. I care too much about the health of my family and friends to ply them with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Read more about HFCS at High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Yes, It IS That Bad! and Sugar May Be Bad But This Sweetener Is Far More Deadly by Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Off to the store. I found some yummy organic juice in pouches for the kids. Now for the adults. I grabbed a few bottled organic grape juices and organic cranberry-blueberry juices. Then called my husband to whine about to discuss the choices I had to work with…

His advice was to try to get outside myself and think about what our guests would like to drink. Good advice but, again, I’m not going to buy soda for anyone. I’m sure many of you are reading this and rolling your eyes. Here’s a little peek into my thought process: how was the product produced, how is it packaged, what kind of waste will be left, how healthy is it, will anyone drink it and so on. Finally I saw a huge bottle of Lipton Green Tea with citrus. It wasn’t organic and I wasn’t thrilled it was packaged in plastic not glass but it had an official looking seal saying it contained natural antioxidants. Hmmm. I was in a hurry and completely frustrated so I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t read the ingredients on the label. I was dazzled by the perceived health and drinkability of it.

When I got home and remembered to read the label, here’s what I purchased (ingredients from label):

Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Hesametaphosphate, Green Tea, Ascorbic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Cinnamate, Honey, Calcium Disodium, EDTA, Caramel Color, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Sugar content is 21 grams per serving!

And to really irritate me, here’s the big print on the label:

Lipton Iced Tea with naturally protective flavonoid antioxidants is a better choice when you want great tasting refreshment. And our recyclable 1 gallon bottle has a flex handle design to deliver a smooth pouring experience.

“Here my special guests… I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a few bottles of soda, so I got you something just as bad for you… Thanks for coming”.

Lesson learned.

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