Mercury's not safe enough for light bulbs, batteries, thermometers and various medical devices.
But your eyes? That's another story, at least according to the United Nations Minamata Convention, so named because thousands of people in Minamata, Japan suffered mercury poisoning from contaminated industrial wastewater.
The UN convention last week decided that companies can use mercury in mascara and other make-up until safer alternatives can be found. B why use mercury in the first place? Evidently it's an effective preservative and germ-killer. However, it's also a powerful neurotoxicant that can cause kidney damage and serious neurological effects. If you're pregnant and exposed to mercury, your baby's brain could be affected.
This month's EcoCentric Mom Box arrived just as I was tackling a big kitchen cleaning project. Cupboards, countertops, light switches, walls - the works. Fortunately, the job was made easier with Tru All-Natural Multi-Purpose Cleaner, made from purified water, botanicals from organic citrus, and food-grade carbonates. My box included a travel-size spritzer, but you can buy it in a concentrate that will make 128 fluid ounces.
Also in the cleaning category: Eve Organics "Dirty Hands" Hand Sanitizer. I'm personally not one to use hand sanitizers, but if you are, take a look at this one. It contains essential oils of lavender, lemon, peppermint and tea tree, and promises not to promote drug resistant "superbugs" as more conventional hand sanitizers do.
After cleaning the kitchen, I needed a great moisturizer for my hands. Turns out, Eve Organics also makes a terrific skin cream: light, non-greasy, and full of therapeutic essential oils.
Even though the summer can be humid, my skin seems to stay dry all year long. I'm always on the prowl for plant-based skin moisturizers that soothe dry skin without staying sticky or clammy. This month's EcoCentric Mom Box filled the bill, with samples of two different moisturizers from Pure + Remedy. Though designed to be light enough for your face, I've been slathering them on my hands and enjoying instant relief. Both the Gentle Hydrating Facial Moisturizer and the Vitamin C Concentrate Facial Moisturizer are rich in natural oils and anti oxidants.
I'm enjoying the other personal care products EcoCentric Mom sent as well, including:
Possum Hollow Farm Soap - Made by a small family business in Pennsylvania, this non-irritating soap contains a variety of oils, including coconut, palm kernal, oilve, rice bran, soybean, and blood orange. There's shea butter and nutmeg, too, so you get nice and clean without drying out.
Suncoat Sugar Based Natural Mascara - If I use mascara, I want to avoid the nasty chemicals found in many commercial products (vinyls, acrylics, parabens, glycols, I'm talkin' to you!). This option from Suncoat relies on kaolin clay and vitamin E to build lash volume and length. Plus, it doesn't seem to smudge.
The July EcoCentric Mom Box offers lots of interesting goodies you're either going to want to put in your body or on it.
IN Your Body
I hate to admit it, but the first thing I do when I get an EcoCentric Mom Box is to see what foods it contains. Maybe that's because it usually arrives around lunch time! In any event, I've really enjoyed this month's taste treats. They included:
Honibe Honey Lozenges and Honibe Honey Delights Candy - The lozenges are made from 100% pure dried honey - and they sure taste like it. They're also infused with menthol and eucalyptus; I can imagine using them in the fall and winter if I get a sore throat or stuffy nose. The Honibe Honey Delights are also made with 100% pure dried honey - and that's eat. They taste delicious and are just sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.
My Ecocentric Mom Box has arrived just in the nick of time. Summer is in full swing, which means so are the mosquitos. There are lots of ways to reduce mosquitos around your home, but most of us still need
to use some kind of repellent when we're in the garden, at a picnic, or taking a walk. This month's Mom Box included Herbal Insect Repellent from Turtle Moon that's worth giving a try. Made from essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus and wild geranium, it smells great to me (though not to bugs), sprays on so you can rub it in, but is not greasy.
I was a bit skeptical of another product in the box until I tried it. It's a lip scrub, believe it or not. This is a terrific solution if you have chapped lips that you just can't seem to keep moist. Essence of Antiquity Pomegranate Lip Scrub works like hand or body scrubs you might have tried. Organic sugar provides the grit that gently wipes off rough skin cells, leaving lips feeling surprisingly moist.
Another healing product in this month's box was the Brigit True Organics Magic Healing Skin Balm Stick. This balm claims to help heal skin irritation, bug bites, and dry skin. I wasn't able to verify those claims independently, but given the ingredients - extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, calendula - I can imagine that it does a pretty good job moisturizing and soothing.
Every Ecocentric Mom Box comes packed with a selection of interesting, useful and tasty treats that help me make healthier, more eco-friendly choices when I shop. Here's the lowdown on what's in this month's box:
Kallari Organic Chocolate Bar - I've written before why it's so important for chocolate to be produced organically. And when you shift your spending to organic chocolate, you encourage more conventional manufacturers to become more organic, too. Your purse power aside, Kallari chocolates make the shift worthwhile just because they taste so good. The 70% cacao bar included in this month's Ecocentric Mom Box was smooth, creamy and very flavorful. Plus, I love the fact that Kallari is produced via a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa families in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. The cooperative shares 100% of their profits among 21 rainforest communities to "maintain our way of life in one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth." Try a bar!
If you like surprises, an EcoCentric Mom Boxis just the thing for you. Every month, this box full of eco-goodies shows up at my door and I have no idea what's going to be inside. I hate to admit it, but I always hope there will be some new food try, and generally there is. But I'm also likely to find new cosmetics, some new kind of soap, coupons that offer significant discounts for e-stores I didn't know existed and lately, perfume. This month's box contained all that and more. The biggest surprise was a $50 gift card to itrain.com, an online source for downloadable workout programs, music, and HD videos.
I decided to use the gift card when I would need it most: after I snarfed down the food.
Nature's Bakery Fig Bars - These are not your normal gummy Fig Newtons! The actual cookie (see photo) is made from stone ground whole wheat flour; yes, it tastes "healthy" - but it's delicious, too. The filling is thick,
hearty and flavorful. Fig filling is what you expect for a fig bar, of course. But the raspberry-filled bar was just as tasty. Other benefits: these bars are dairy free, contain zero transfats, are kosher, and are made in the USA. Definitely something I'd put in my or my kids' lunch or take to the gym with me instead of a power bar.
Go Raw Spirulina Energy Bar - I was expecting this crunchy snack to taste, well, icky. But it's light, flavorful, and the faint banana taste might make it very popular with kids. PLUS: it's free - as in gluten, wheat, nut and GMO free. Organic, too.
EBoost - Here's an alternative to the powdered sugary energy drinks you might be mixing up. EBoost is sugar-free, contains no artificial flavors, and has only 5 calories per serving. Add it to still or sparkling water for a refreshing drink.
The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85
cents of every dollar in the marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese
doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.
More food. More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also
buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many
cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and
But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this
power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity
worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi
Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the
Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.
Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.
Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.
Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.
The December EcoCentric Mom box arrived right in the middle of the holiday season, so I decided to open it in the new year instead. What better way to start off 2013 than by sampling some new organic taste treats and healthy products for my skin and hair?
Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews - There was lots of food in this month's box, but my favorite by far were these candy-like "energy chews." Made with USDA certified organic ingredients that are gluten- and dairy-free, they're wonderfully flavorful but not too sweet. I had intended to eat "just one," but gobbled them all right up once I tasted them.
Tisano Organic Chocolate Tea - I drink at least six cups of tea a day, and chocolate is one of my favorite foods, so you can imagine how much I liked trying out this new combo. One added benefit: though the tea is made from pure cacao beans, it's calorie-free.
Organic Nectars Chocolate Bars - Yes, more chocolate! These bars are certified organic, vegan and completely free of dairy, peanuts, soy, gluten, GMOs and refined sugar. I especially liked the one flavored witht raspberry.
I learned a long time ago not to make New Year's resolutions per se. They could be so general and vague, they could also be frustratingly easy to abandon. Without accountability to anyone but myself, it didn't really seem to matter if what I resolved to do oozed away after a month or two (if I even made it that long!). And the "pay back" or reward for keeping my resolutions seemed hard to measure. Sure, I might have resolved to save more energy or use less water, but without actually measuring what I used or what I saved, there wasn't much incentive to use less or save more.
This year is going to be different. I'm not making resolutions, I'm setting goals - specific goals that will have real environmental benefits and that I can measure with real "before" and "after" statistics.
Though I hope I'll reduce my environmental footprint in all sorts of ways this year, I'm only setting three specific goals in the hopes that a narrower focus will lead to broader achievements.
GOAL #1 - MAKE MY OWN YOGURT
I eat two cups of yogurt every single day - plain, non-fat, usually Greek-style yogurt that serves as the delicious base for whatever fresh fruit happens to be in season. It's a healthy and mostly eco-friendly breakfast - marred only by the fact that I buy the yogurt in big plastic throwaway tubs. When I was in college, I had an electric yogurt maker and made my own yogurt every week. I also made yogurt by mixing milk and yogurt starter in a bowl, then keeping it in a warm oven for several hours until the whole mixture became yogurt-like. Over the years as I was busy raising kids, running a business and writing books, I've gotten away from making my own yogurt. But I'm appalled at how many plastic yogurt tubs I throw away every week. If I made my own yogurt using milk I can buy in glass bottles from my local food coop, I would go from three or four plastic tubs a week to zero. So one goal for 2013 is to start making my own yogurt.
Do you make your own yogurt? If you have a recipe you love, please share it!
GOAL #2 - USE NO MORE THAN THREE PRODUCTS BOTTLED IN PLASTIC IN MY BATHROOM