Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who are you wearing? You look fabulous!

I must admit that when I get on the internet to do any "real work," I spend a good chunk of time absorbing celebrity gossip. Its a little embarrassing to admit that I have People and TMZ both bookmarked on my computer. SO, you can imagine my excitement when I learned about this website: It is titled The Latest In Green Gossip! Could it get any better than this??? This is the place to go if you want to know about recycled materials couture, who is driving the Prius, and what kind of building materials Brad is using in New Orleans. If you need one more thing to do on the internet to put off doing your on-line bill paying, check it out! They also seem to do a lot of give-aways...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is it getting hot out there, or is it just pregnancy hormones?

If you're anything like me, you put off turning on the A/C as long as possible. I claim its an Earth-saving practice, but in truth I just don't like to see my electric bill climb after I've just gotten the gas bill under control from months of running the heater! So we run a few fans at our house, open all the windows, make a lot of ice cubes and maybe slap on an extra layer of deodorant. Right now, I'm loving Jason for sensitive skin with Aloe. The Van Boening's made the switch to natural deodorant about a year ago after hearing of the potential drawbacks to its more commercial counterpart.

The troublemakers in deodorant are zinc and aluminum. They are the ingredients that reduce sweat and odor producing bacteria but they have also been tied to cancers and are not so great for the environment. Others to look out for when shopping for a deodorant are any of the ingredients from the "Dirty Dozen" list that I pulled from the Green Guide back in August of last year. Some that are most common in deodorant are antibacterials, DEA, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, fragrance, and parabens.

The ingredients in cosmetic products are not subject to FDA approval, and the vast majority of the 10,000+ ingredients in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by any governing body. While there are no definitive studies that link aluminum to breast cancer, there have been studies that have shown that aluminum salts mimic estrogen in lab conditions. Elevated estrogen levels have been shown to be prevalent in breast cancer patients. At this point, the American Cancer Society deems commercial deodorants to be safe but I personally believe that if there is a comparable and more natural option available, why take that risk? And if you don't switch to lessen your chances of cancer, do it for less skin irritation, eczema, or use of petroleum!

If you've decided to give a more natural deodorant a try, here are some helpful shopping hints.
-Stay away from aerosols. They are made with petroleum based ingredients and can be irritating to the respiratory system.
-Don't assume that if the label reads "natural" or "hypoallergenic" that you are purchasing a safe product. These terms are NOT regulated by the FDA and provide no safety guarantees.
-If you are in search of a product that has not been tested on animals, look for the Leaping Bunny certification. It certifies that neither product NOR ingredients were tested on non-human subjects. The same goes for any self-care product you may be shopping for.
-Always check for recycled or recyclable packaging.

Some brands that I have seen in the area and that seem to be comparable in price to the aluminum-filled varieties include Jason, Alba, Kiss My Face, Burt's Bees, and Tom's of Maine. Several of these brands can even be purchased at Target and HyVee. For a bit more variety, try Open Harvest or Whole Foods. Once you've made your selection, showered, and applied, you are ready to brave this Nebraska heat and humidity sans air conditioner:)

Summer time, and the livin' is greeny.

Purely Maid is back on the blogging scene, and none too late to do a series of posts on having an enjoyable and green summer! Would anyone believe that this picture was taken off my back porch here in Lincoln, Nebraska? If so, you've never been to Nebraska:) And more importantly, you've never been to my house!

Keep your browser pointed here for tidbits on natural deoderants, sunscreens, griling/BBQs, and greener vacationing. And as always, a few tips on green cleaning. The girls at Purely Maid have a very full schedule for the summer, but do remember that you can contact them at for all of your cleaning needs!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Want your piece of the pie?

If you're anything like me, this whole gazillion dollar stimulus plan has got you simply befuddled. Good idea, bad idea, Republicans, Democrats, CitiBank, Chrysler...Huh?
But, I have some good news that is comprehensible by green fans everywhere! There is money hidden away in this stimulus plan that is designated specifically for making greenish updates to your home! This is helpful in defraying the extra cost that sometimes comes along with trying to be energy-efficient. I don't have all the details, and you would certainly want to do your research before making any major purchases/renovations but this is something to think about if you have any big remodeling plans in the next few years.
Some of the qualifiers for a 30% tax credit are residential solar power systems, small wind turbines for the home, central A/C units, biomass or pellet stoves, water heaters, windows, doors, and skylights (as long as their U-factor is 0.3 or less), electric heat pumps, roofing and insulation, furnaces and hot water boilers. If solar power or wind turbines are what you crave, (my dream home in my mind has a wind turbine in the yard for sure) there is no cap on the 30% rebate. The other items on the list add up and cap at $1,500. What an awesome way for the government to encourage responsible citizens to conserve Earth's resources!
A few other tax rebates that are proving to be helpful in this area:
-Allowances for $230/month pre-tax money to take public transit to work. This amount is up from $120/month in previous years.Hop on the train (or in Lincoln, the bus) and conserve some gasoline!
-There is a $7,500 rebate for purchasing a hybrid electric car this year. For hybrids that are not electric, rebates vary and you can check with for updated lists of rebates.
-The tax rebate given to college students for tuition can also be applied to supplies, including the Kindle wireless reading device (which can cut down on a student's paper waste!)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love that fresh paint smell?

Here at Purely Maid, a lot of conversation topics have been baby-centered lately. Why, you ask? Well, Tosha has had a few and Allison is adding one to the Purely Maid forces in a few short months.
One of the biggest decisions, as a mother, and something that Allison has been comtemplating with Tosha, is "What color to paint the nursery?" If you've ever remodeled a room, you know that the color choices are endless. Even if you decide on white, there are hundreds of shades of white! Something that should be more important than the color choice, however, is the choice to use a paint that contains NO (or LOW) VOCs. Upon a recent trip to Menards, Tosha and Allison saw several brands of paint that boasted no or low VOCs on the label but were not quite sure what a VOC was, or how it would affect them.
VOC stands forVolatile Organic Compouds and it is the stuff that gives paint its signature smell. The stronger the odor of the room you have painted, the more VOCs the paint contains. Some examples of compounds that would be considered VOCs and are found in interior paints are benzene, formaldehyde, kerosene, ammonia, toluene and xylene. These six compounds are classified as either carcinogens or neurotoxins and can lead to various health issues. VOCs can worsen asthma, cause skin and eye irritation, headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble with coodination, respiratory problems, nerve damage, and in severe cases - liver or kidney damage.
VOCs are also emitted by paint strippers, some cleaning products, pesticides, office equipment such as copiers and printers, glues/adhesives, permanant markers, and air fresheners.
In addition to the health risks created by VOCs, they also contribute to air pollutants. What do you get when you add sunlight, VOCs, and atmospheric nitrous oxide? SMOG, that's what!
So if you are remodeling a room, or turning that spare "junk" room into a nursery, look for paints that have no or low VOCs. The major paint brands all seem to have a line of low-to-no VOC paints.
If you're using paint for a project and are unsure of its VOC content, it is best to ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Also, buy as close to the needed amount as possible and properly dispose of any leftovers. Make sure to wear a mask if stripping or sanding paint. If the paint that you are removing is older, it may be wise to have it tested for lead before handling.
And if you have any suggestions for Allison's little one's nursery (or the babies name, for that matter) please share!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To Buy Organic, Or Not? That Is The Question.

It seems these days that every time I go to the grocery store, I see more and more items with the claim of "organic" on the label. These items are almost always more expensive (sometimes MUCH more expensive) but I often feel compelled to shell out the extra dough to make myself healthier.

The fact of the matter is, there are some foods that are much safer for both you and the environment, if they are purchased organically. Then there are some with fewer health risks that can still be purchased in the traditional manor.

If you find yourself in the grocery store isle, debating over the organic version of your favorite food and its cheaper, non-organic counterpart, there are a few questions you could ask yourself to help make the decision.
-If a fruit or vegetable, how thick is its skin or covering? Would it be easy to puncture?
-What part of the world did this food travel from and what might be their standards for using chemicals/pesticides?
-Is this fruit or vegetable in season in this part of the world?

The following is a list compiled from several websites, including and it contains the foods that would be best purchased in their organic forms.

  • Meat Animals that are raised for meat production are typically fed grains treated with pesticides, also are given antibiotics, and growth hormones. Some cows also are fed parts of other cows, which is a common cause of Mad Cow disease. If a meat product is certified organic, the USDA states that it will be free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.
  • Milk Organic dairies feed cows only grains that are free from pesticides, and these cows are not given antibiotics or growth hormones such as rGBH or rbST.
  • Coffee Look for Fair Trade Certified Organic labels to ensure that no pesticides were used on plants and that fair wages were paid to farm workers producing the coffee.
  • Fruits such as peaches, apples, strawberries, grapes, cherries, raspberries, and pears These fruits all have delicate skins and are most highly treated with pesticides.
  • Juices that contain above fruits
  • Vegetables such as bell peppers, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes Again, big recipients of pesticides/fungicides.

On the other hand, the following foods are considered to be safe when consumed in their non-organic form, as they don't heavily retain pesticides: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples, and sweet peas.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Jump Start to Your Holiday Shopping

Now that Halloween has come and gone, the stores can FILL the shelves with all things Christmas-y!
This holiday season, you may find yourself thinking of the economy, your pocketbook, the earth, and all the wonderful people on your usual gift-giving list. Purely Maid (and their awesome web resources!) has a few ideas to help you with giving a little greener come December!
*Do your shopping at locally owned business (rather than large chain stores). This helps out the small business owners in your community while also cutting back on shipping/transportation needs and reducing oil consumption.
*When appropriate, buy homemade! If you've never been to the Etsy website, you are in for a real treat and you would be hard-pressed NOT to find something perfect for everyone at very affordable prices!
*Food and drinks are always welcome gifts, especially when giving to the host of a holiday party. Finding locally produced/grown cheeses, wine, beer, jams, preserves, or meats can be a fun challenge! Buy organic and you can improve the health of your recipient. Also, look for products that are labelled "Fair Trade" or for the vegetarian on your list "Vegan"
*Supporting an organization that is near and dear to your heart or the heart of the recipient benefits so many. There is a very helpful list of charitable organizations supported by donations at TreeHugger.
*By consolidating on-line and mail-in orders you can cut back on extra packaging and shipping.
*Shiny or sparkly wrapping paper cannot be recycled so when you're purchasing your wrapping, look for paper that is made from recycled materials, non-sparkly, or you could re-use something from around the house like newspaper, fabric, or maps.
*The same goes for greeting cards. Opt for ones made from recycled paper. Or, send an e-card!
*If you receive multiple catalogues, think about cancelling any that you don't order from or very much enjoy browsing.
*As far as the place where you display your wrapped gifts, make sure to recycle your Christmas tree! Have it mulched and not just taken to a landfill. Or, you could purchase a potted tree that you can replant when the ground thaws.
*If gift certificates are more your style of gift giving, think local: restaurants, retail stores, museums, state park permits, local used book store or antique store. If you live in Lincoln, try places like 10,000 Villages, A Novel Idea, The Black Market, Bread and Cup, The Mill, etc...
*If you're looking to encourage a little "greenness" in the lives of those on your gift giving list, try putting together a (bamboo) gift basket of natural skin care or hair care products, cleaning supplies, or recycled paper-goods that can be used around the home. You could really get creative with this one! You could make up a cute little basket for the bathroom with all of Method's bathroom cleaners and some recycled, bleach free toilet paper, something for the laundry room with Seventh Generation, several travel size (made-from-recycled-materials-and-with-wind-power) bottles of Aveda hair products, or a winters worth of skin hydrating lotions, washes, and lip balms from Burt's Bees or Arbonne.
*And finally, think organic cotton and bamboo. Replace a special someones bedroom linens, bath towels or favorite tee's with organic cotton and/or bamboo. Both are grown without pesticides and bamboo is very quickly renewable, as it can grow up to a foot a day!