Non-toxic

An Eye Cream Worth Knowing About

A few months ago, I shared my morning skin care routine. Not long after, my eye cream ran out. Because it was rated a three EWG, it still had some ingredients I’d rather avoid. Replacing it was an opportunity to search for something new and better. It took me a while to find one worth trying, but I did. And it is fabulous.

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Beautycounter’s Vibrant Eye Perfector is just that—even after two weeks of burning the candle at both ends (work hard! play hard!), I don’t have dark circles under my eyes. They are more vibrant and bright than I would have imagined possible. The cream is supposed to help decrease fine lines, as well. I have noticed my skin feels smoother, but I don’t have too many eye wrinkles yet, so I cannot speak to its efficacy on that front. But if you have dark circles (with or without sleep, like me!), this is your cream.

The cream took about five days, applied morning and night, to really make a difference. At first I thought I had been duped, but I am very glad to say it is a wonderful product. And with an EWG rating of one, this is safe and non-toxic.

Beautycounter has a lot of products that look worthwhile. I love the company’s mission and aesthetic. The thing the bothers me is they don’t allow reviews on their web site. Not only is this less helpful, but it always makes a company seem suspect in my eyes. Maybe they will change that soon. If I try anything else, I will be sure to let you know.

What eye cream do you use?

EDIT: I recently became a consultant for Beautycounter (several months after posting this)! After loving their products for many months, I decided to represent the company, as well. More details to come!

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Simple Pleasures: Community Loaves’ Fresh Bread

Although I would love to be someone who bakes her own bread, it isn’t in the cards these days. Thankfully we can still enjoy homemade bread from Community Loaves in Murray Hill. Baked with organic ingredients (many of which are locally sourced) in a shop that feels more like a friend’s kitchen than a commercial venue, the bread and other bakery treats are worth going out of the way to get. On top of that, they don’t store their breads in any plastic, which is the real reason I started buying from them. (We are slowly removing all plastic as much as possible from our lives, and it is quite challenging.) We indulged in a few treats after a morning swim today and devoured every bit.

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Community Loaves
1120 Edgewood Avenue South
Jacksonville, Florida
w-f: 7:30-2pm
sat: 10-3pm

If you cannot get to their primary location, they also sell a selection of their menu at Grassroots and Native Sun (this is where I often get it), as well as a few other places. At these locations, the bread also comes in paper bags, so not to worry about the plastic here either. At $6 a loaf, it is only $1 more than an organic pre-sliced loaf from a traditional grocer, and it is far superior in quality. Not to mention it supports lovely people in our own community.

A few tips: this is not your regular bread. It isn’t sliced, and it should not be until you are ready to eat it. Yes, this is slightly less convenient, but aren’t most things that way that are healthier and safer? And after a little while, the extra step or two becomes the norm. For storage purposes: keep your bread in its paper bag and then either store in a wood or stainless steel bread box or a loosely wrapped plastic bag (yes, it is plastic, but at least not touching the bread). Do not place it in a sealed ziploc (as I have!), as this cuts off too much moisture. If the bread gets too hard, loosen your container a bit. If it gets too soft, open it up a bit. In the future, I might buy a few loaves at once and freeze them for convenience, but I’d like to ask the owners about this first.

We are still new to eating bread this way, and both children are not completely on board, but we are working on it. If you go, don’t miss the savory stuffed baguettes. A certain one-year-old I know tore this to bits, and I was able to sneak a few bites, too.

A Softer Alternative for Those Messy Hands

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Watching your child learn to feed herself is a wonderfully messy stage. Nothing seems cuter than a child covered in food … until the clean up starts. Although I do sometimes use paper towels to clean up, I find these cloths do the job more quickly and effectively. I first started using them when I tried (and failed) to go paperless a few years ago. They are softer than paper towels, very thin (in a good way) and the clean up is over much sooner, so children are happier. I only use these for hands and faces and wash them out right away so that stains don’t set.

I bought my set of cloths in natural (just like the ones pictured above) at the local arts market a few years ago, and the same dealer now has an etsy store. You could easily sew these yourself, but that’s a project I will never get to ha. I think I am about due for another set.

Simple Summer Skin Care

Three out of four people in my family have very fair skin, so we take skin care and sun protection pretty seriously. This is our pool/beach routine and because we do it every time, it happens like clockwork.

staying safe in the sun

 

We use sunscreen year round, but in summer months, all of us slather it on before we leave the house no matter what. On days we know we are swimming we use Badger or Honest. If we are only going to the park, then we use my daily SPF moisturizer from Devita (I talk about it more here), which isn’t water resistant. Each of these get a top rating from EWG, go on easy and are unscented. And don’t forget the lip balm—I have this in every drawer and bag in my house.

We are also a hat and rash guard family—parents, too (nerd alert!). Thankfully the kids are used to it, so they haven’t put up too much of a fight yet. And rash guards make pool time so much easier—less sunscreen to reapply. We like Hanna Anderson, Coolibar and Lands’ End for these. Hats just make sense—I wish I had been doing it my entire life. The adults wear sunglasses, but the kids prefer goggles when swimming.

Honest makes my favorite new swim diapers. They are so much easier to get on and off and so much less waste because they are reusable. We use the swim diaper like a bikini bottom for my daughter and just throw on the rash guard as the top. For women, you really need to wear a bathing suit under the rash guard top—it feels a bit too loose/revealing without it.

These things are kind of like bike helmets. If it is just a family rule, then there isn’t much arguing and it becomes the norm. Thankfully it doesn’t seem like we stand out too much … many families at the pool are doing the same thing.

As a side note, a friend asked me if I was worried about chlorine in the pool (because she knows I am super cognizant of toxins). No, absolutely not. Untreated pool water poses so many more hazards. Just use well-ventilated pools (rather than indoor pools) and be sure to shower off afterward—we always do. The chlorine does dry out my skin, so I apply organic baby oil all over at night.

p.s. More from EWG on sunscreen safety and toxicity, and also why spray-on sunscreens should be avoided.

The Trick For an Awesome Bubble Bath

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Maybe you already know this easy trick for a really bubbly bubble bath—but I just learned it. Instead of waiting until the bath is full and then adding the bubble bath (which always seems to require quite a lot to make it bubbly enough), add the liquid at the very beginning when there is barely any water (just make sure the drain is already plugged). It requires much less liquid and creates tons more bubbles. Children also love watching the bubbles build as the water fills.

If you’d like to know more about how we do baths, go here.

Could You Use Cloth Napkins Every Day?

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fantastic cloth napkins from Fog Linen

A few years ago, I attempted (and failed miserably) to go paperless in our kitchen. I loved the idea, but I just couldn’t work out a system to ditch my paper towels successfully. But one thing did stick: using cloth napkins at every meal.

We have a dozen white cotton napkins that we keep folded in a big stack. Being white, they are easy to keep clean, and I definitely don’t iron them.

I totally get that this sounds like a lot of extra effort, but the additional laundry is minimal, and it really makes a meal feel so much more special and purposeful (especially those very humble dinners following a sleepless night!). Now those pretty napkins from our wedding aren’t sitting in a closet gathering dust. We use them and enjoy them every day.

Just an idea.

Napkins above from Fog Linen.

Making Laundry Safer for Your Family

If you are looking to reduce toxins in your home, your laundry detergent is a great, effective and really easy place to start. Most popular detergents are potentially very harmful. EWG (the Environmental Working Group) analyzes the ingredients and provides scores for many cleaners on the marketplace (I check everything on here before purchasing). Gain laundry detergent, All laundry detergent, Tide laundry detergent, and Dreft (!!) all receive a failing grade and rank very highly for developmental and reproductive toxicity. 

Yikes, right?

Here’s the good news: this is super easy to fix. Just buy new detergent! The downside is the safe brands can be pricier and aren’t available at all stores. We use Ecover ZERO Laundry Liquid Concentrate, and I usually buy it online (vitacost.com often has the best price). We have an HE front-loading washer, and it seems to work great for our family. I balance the more expensive laundry detergent by making many of my own non-toxic household cleaners for mere pennies.

If you are in the market for a new detergent, here are many options that all receive grade A from EWG (Whole Foods carries a lot of these, and I think Publix has Martha Stewart and Seventh Generation).

Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

1. Ecover ZERO Liquid Laundry Concentrate  2. Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear  3. Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent, HE Elite Care, Free & Clear  4. Martha Stewart Clean Laundry Detergent  5. Planet 2x Ultra Laundry Detergent, For HE  6. Planet Ultra Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic  7. Plant Ulta Powered Laundry Detergent  8. The Honest Company 4-in-1 Laundry Pods, Free & Clear  9. Seventh Generation Natural Powder Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear  10. Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Packs, Free & Clear  11. Seventh Generation Natural Powder Laundry Detergent, Real Citrus & Wild Lavender

Even the green brands (Seventh Generation, Honest, etc), have certain products that do not rank well on EWG. My advice is to check each individual product on EWG (which is totally free to use) and go from there. Sounds tedious, but once you find your go-to products, you won’t have to look again! To me the extra effort is worth it for our health. (Or just stayed tuned here because I’ll be posting about all of the non-toxic products we use! :))

Lastly, I’ve looked into homemade laundry detergent, as many tout this as a very safe and cost-effective method. I’d love to do this, but every recipe I have found that works in an HE front-loading washer includes Borax, which EWG also grades as an F (contrary to popular thought). I have also read about soap nuts, but I need to look into it more (I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews). If you have another method or idea, I’d love to hear!