The Ultimate Green Shopper | Top Ten Tips For Shopping Like An Eco-Pro

Green Shopper

There is no question that the world has become a more eco-conscious place. Green is hip, chic and mainstream—and going green is not just about the planet. As it turns out, what is bad for the planet is bad for us, too. So much of the food we eat and the vast majority of the products we use every day are ridden with toxic chemicals that can cause both short- and long-term problems—everything from skin irritations to cancer. It’s our health and the health of our children that’s on the line. With the biggest shopping season coming up, now is the perfect time to get into the green groove and think about the impact you can make in changing the way you shop.

For guidance, we consulted with green lifestyles expert Laura Meyer, who is our founder and CEO. In addition to being a respected expert and published author, Laura has a very personal story about going green. Laura’s twin sons had respiratory problems and multiple hospitalizations as babies/toddlers and only got better after she eliminated the toxic chemicals in her home from things like cleaning products and solvents used by carpet cleaners. Laura has devoted herself to the world of green retail in the hopes that the world will become a healthier place one green purchase at a time. Here are her top 10 eco-shopping tips:

1. Eat Organic Foods
Go organic; it’s healthier. With conventional produce, meats and poultry, the washing process does not generally remove the toxic pesticides used to grow fruit and vegetables, and animals are fed grain laced with pesticides and often given steroids and antibiotics. These are things none of us should be eating!

2. Clean Green
Most conventional cleaning products are petroleum-based and contain toxic, unhealthful ingredients such as chlorine bleach, ammonia and synthetic fragrances, which are carcinogenic and/or potential hormone disruptors. Here’s a fact: If every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of petroleum-based cleaner with plant-based products, we could save thousands of barrels of oil—enough to heat and cool hundreds of U.S. homes per year.

3. Abandon Aerosol Sprays and Traditional Air Fresheners
Aerosol sprays contain propellants—not something you want to be breathing. Traditional air fresheners are also petroleum-based and release harmful chemicals into the air no matter how good you may think they smell. If you like to use store-bought air fresheners, turn to alternatives that are plant-based.

4. Beware of Ingredients in Skincare/Personal Care Products
When buying skincare products, be familiar with some important buzzwords. Avoid using products that are made with mineral oils, parabens, phthalates and other synthetic petrochemical derivatives, which can be carcinogenic and/or cause hormone disruption. It’s best to go organic.

5. Don’t Be Fooled by the Word Natural

The word natural is not a regulated term. Products claiming to be natural or touting natural ingredients or scents often contain only a few natural ingredients that are buried in a long list of synthetic chemicals. Instead, there is no doubt that to be a green shopper, one has to be educated and learn to read the labels.

6. Buy Organic Cotton or Alternative Textiles
Conventional cotton accounts for 25 percent of all pesticides used in the world. For every T-shirt made of conventional cotton, one-quarter pound of harmful chemicals is used. Now think of an entire bedding set! Other sustainable materials that are wonderful alternatives to cotton and synthetic man-made fabrics are bamboo and hemp. Contrary to popular misconceptions, these fabrics can feel every bit as luxurious and soft as cotton.

7. Don’t Dry-Clean, or Turn to Green Alternatives
The traditional dry-cleaning process involves the use of very toxic chemicals. There are alternative dry-cleaning companies emerging all over the country. The Environmental Protection Agency has a state-by-state list of green dry cleaners. The dry-cleaning business also uses a ton of those plastic bags in which you get back your garments. You can shop for reusable dry-cleaning bags, give them to your cleaner and tell them you want your clothes back in them. No plastic, please!

8. Buy Recycled Materials
Manufacturers of all kinds of things, from clothing to carpeting and furniture, are using recycled and salvaged materials in innovative ways. For example, you can buy green carpeting that is made out of used soda bottles.

9. Save the Trees with Rapidly Renewable Alternatives
One of the biggest threats to our environment is from the clear-cutting of forests for wood products. There are now wonderful alternatives such as furniture and wood flooring made from sustainable bamboo, paper made from agricultural waste and pencils made from recycled newspapers.

10. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming. None of us can do everything, and realistically, it’s almost impossible to live green in every facet of our lives. Even in my house, my husband brings home the processed junk food for the kids from time to time and sometimes I just have to let it go! Make the changes that make sense for your life and know that you will be making a difference!

Green Wedding Registry | Top Gifts & How They Make a Difference

wedding gift flowers

Now more than ever, couples are focusing on healthy and sustainable living in creating their nest.  The good news is that no longer means having to compromise on style. The Ultimate Green Store offers a green wedding registry from which you can choose from a huge array of stylish, beautiful, quality home products that are people and planet-friendly! Here are some top selling wedding gifts and how they make a difference:

1. Organic Bedding- We spend one-third of our lives in bed. That’s a lot of time. Conventional mattresses are made with a number of toxic chemicals, including flame retardants, which are carcinogenic. And it takes a pound of pesticides just to make a conventional T-Shirt, so imagine how much pesticide is used to manufacture a sheet set.!  Detox your bed with a 100% organic mattress, luxurious organic cotton/wool toppers and comforters (wool is also resistant to dust mites for you allergy sufferers), organic pillows and choose from a huge selection of stunning organic designer sheets in an array of colors, prints and weaves.  Ultimate Green brand sheets are also made with USDA certified cotton. Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-38-bedding.aspx

2. Cookware – Food Glorious Food! Who doesn’t care about nutrition? The problem with cooking is that so many of the wonderful nutrients and vitamins found in the food we buy are lost in the cooking process. The Ultimate Green Store carries an extensive line of high-quality stainless cookware designed with special vapor technology meant to help preserve all the good stuff in your food! And it’s responsibly made in the USA! Great for cooking healthy family meals and for the entertaining you’ll do as a couple. Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-533-cookware.aspx

3. Bamboo Serving Pieces – Save the trees! Bamboo is a sustainable grass with a very short growth cycle (some shoots can grow 47 inches in 24 hours!). It’s also a crucial element in the balance of oxygen and carbon and a very strong material that’s a great substitute for wood. The Ultimate Green Store carries kitchen cutting boards and utensils made from 100% organic bamboo using only water-based formaldehyde-free adhesives. All products are hand-sanded and finished using a food-safe oil produced from vegetable oils and waxes. They are tested and approved for food safety, and all packaging materials are made from certified sources, 100% recycled fiber or are recyclable. Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-442-kitchen.aspx

4. Recycled Wine Bottle Glassware – As you toast to your pending nuptials, ever think about where all those wine bottles go? Unfortunately, most end up in landfills. Now you can rescue them by registering for beautiful glassware made from wine bottles discarded by restaurants. Each glass is handmade,  with the added benefit of being much more durable and less prone to breakage than the typical drinking glass. Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-443-recycled-glassware.aspx

5. The Organic Home Spa- Be a socially responsible consumer and deck out your bathroom with organic towels, bath mats and his and her bathrobes that are manufactured under Fair Trade standards.  This means that the people who made your products were paid fair wages and work in safe working conditions. Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-10-bath-body.aspx

6. Don’t forget the Honeymoon! Are you and your honey out for an adventure? Do you love to travel, hike or ski? Register for his and her solar backpacks that allow you to charge your portable devices on the go and off the grid! How is that for eco cool? Shop: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/s-13-solar.aspx

You can register with the Ultimate Green Store by going to: http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/t-gift-registry.aspx

 

 

Eco-Friendly Back-To-School Supplies: Green Products That Are Good For Your Kids & The Planet

Remember when back-to-school shopping was simply a matter of letting kids choose a lunch box with his or her favorite character? So much information has come out over the past few years about lunch boxes and other school supplies containing lead, phthalates, Bisphenol A and other chemicals that are believed to be carcinogens and/or hormone disrupters that shopping is no longer a process of checking things off the list—it’s about checking things on the label. It’s also about being waste-conscious.

Obentec Laptop Lunch System

As a mother of three school-age children, I focus on how lunch boxes are made and in packing lunches in a manner that produces less waste. The Laptop Lunch Bento Boxes, a school lunch kit inspired by the Japanese bento box, is one of my favorites. It features a hinged outer container, four inner food containers, a dip container and a set of stainless steel utensils. The boxes come in an assortment of fun colors and designs for your children to choose from, and kids love the compartments because they fit together like a puzzle. The containers are reusable, recyclable and dishwasher safe, free of any materials that are suspected carcinogens or hormone disrupters, and make it easy for families to use less disposable packaging. An added bonus: The lunch boxes even come with a guide for making healthy lunches that kids love, including creative tips for dealing with picky eaters (and I definitely have one of those!).

Klean Kanteens

When shopping for food and beverage containers, it’s extremely important to watch out for products made with clear, shatter-resistant #7 plastic. Previous-generation, Nalgene-type water bottles and baby bottles were the first to get a bad rap for containing Bisphenol A, but now it’s being found in everything from food packaging to the inner lining of metal food and drink cans. BPA can mimic estrogen and acts as a hormone disrupter. Its effects are often most pronounced when humans are in stages of rapid development, such as in the womb or during childhood—which is all the more reason to check the product for its plastic number. More parents are turning to stainless steel water bottles for their kids, such as the ones made by Klean Kanteen, which are made from 100 percent recyclable high-quality food-grade stainless steel. They are lightweight, durable, non-leaching and come in lots of kid-friendly colors. They even have polypropylene tops with sippy adapters for your little ones.

More green products are hitting the market all the time, and finding eco-friendly back-to-school supplies is now easier than ever. When looking for pencils, pens, paper and binders, think outside the box—or rather the tree. “Tree-free” mango, banana, coffee and lemon paper (made from recycled agricultural waste) is used to make notebooks, stationery and even reams of paper. You can also find pencils made from recycled newspaper; biodegradable crayons made from soybeans; paper and binders made from recycled post-consumer content; and pencil cases, backpacks and binders made from recycled drink pouches (kids flip over recycled Capri Sun and Kool-Aid Jammers lunch boxes, backpacks and pencil case holders).

Eco Paper Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils Terracycle

Eco-conscious parents create environmentally conscious kids by teaching their children about how the products they purchase are made. (Did you know that for each 2-and-a-half-foot stack of newspapers that gets recycled, a 20-foot pine tree can be saved?) Little facts go a long way to empower your children and make them feel like they are doing something to make a difference—and it all starts with a simple shopping list!

Recipe for Natural Sugar Body Scrub | Better for You & The Planet

sugar scrub recipe

 

You probably would never think about plastic when it comes to body scrub  (other than the container)  but, the fact is that,  many body scrubs use plastic microbeads to get that scrubby power. From your skin that plastic washes down the drain, polluting our oceans and rivers. Not good for the planet. This is not to mention other ingredients contained in many body scrubs which are derived from petroleum and other harmful chemicals. Not good for you.

You don’t need store bought body scrub to have smooth skin. Here’s a simple recipe for natural sugar body scrub:

1. Combine 1/3 cups of coarse sugar in 2/3 cup oil of your choice. Stir well.  Try olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil as the base for your basic scrub.

2. Mix in your choice of essential oils for your desired scent and an aromatherapeutic treatment . (Note: essential oils are very expensive but very concentrated so they will last you a long time. Mix a drop at a time).  Calming oils are lavender and jasmine. Energizing oils are rosemary and lemon. Tea tree oil is great for acne.

Enjoy!

Click here for information about Natural & Organic Sunscreen >> 

The Benefits Of Organic Sunscreen

With warm weather upon us, it’s time to load up on the sunscreen – or rather organic and biodegradable sunscreen. Most conventional sunscreens contain harmful synthetic chemicals that are often petroleum-based and may be carcinogenic and/or hormone disruptors—bad for mommy, kids and the whole family. What you choose to put on your skin also directly affects our oceans, beaches and communities. In fact, it’s estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen end up in the ocean every year, and up to 10 percent of our coral reefs are threatened by those chemicals in a process called “bleaching”—all the more reason to stop and read some labels before slathering on your summer protection. Here are five essential tips to keep the whole family safe while you enjoy some fun in the sun:

1. Read the label: Look for sunscreens that say they are chemical-free and, specifically, free of synthetic preservatives, parabens, PABA, petrochemicals, benzoates, and artificial colors and fragrances. If you are pregnant, keep in mind that what goes on your skin ends up in your bloodstream and can affect your baby.

Organic Sunscreen Beach Collection Thinksport LiveStrong 50+ SPF Safe Sunscreen
“Protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB radiation, without using chemicals that are harmful to yourself, or the planet.”
(Orig. $19.95, On Sale $15.99)

2. Cover up: The importance of sunglasses and sun hats cannot be understated—babies are especially sensitive, and you want to keep your skin as young-looking as your babe’s!

 

Under the Nile Sun Hat Under the Nile Sun Hat
“Cover up baby’s delicate skin all year long with this charming, organic cotton          sun hat.”($15.95)

4. Don’t forget your lips: Sandwiches at the beach or drinks by the pool can quickly wear away any lip balm you walked out the door with. The delicate skin on your lips needs just as much coverage as the rest of you.

 

Elemental Herbs Lip Balm Elemental Herbs Organic Lip Balms
“Protect your lips with Elemental Herbs organic SPF 15 lip balms in Cool Spearmint, Tangerine, and Original flavor!”
(Orig. $14.99, On Sale $12.99)

5. Reapply often: Be wary of claims that a particular sunscreen is waterproof or lasts all day. While there may be some lasting effect after spending time in the water, it’s better to reapply after drying off and at least every three hours.

Summer Whites – The Dirt On Cleaning With Chlorine Bleach

summer bedding

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, nothing says “summer wardrobe” quite like the color white. But it can be challenging to keep everything from billowy cover-ups that invariably get sunscreen-stained to that favorite pair of white jeans (nothing seems to make my dogs want to jump on me more!) white. What most people turn to is bleach. The problem is that most products on the market (that are staples in most people’s homes) are not as “clean” as you think.

Most commercial store-bought bleach is chlorine bleach—a highly corrosive, chemical antimicrobial pesticide and fungicide that can damage skin, eyes and other membranes. Chlorine bleach, a commercial panacea for everything from sanitizing food-processing equipment to disinfecting public drinking water, is in fact a hazardous air pollutant, according to the Clean Air Act of 1990. And when it decomposes in the hot water of your laundry cycle, you end up with chlorate, a chemical that is highly toxic to fish and invertebrates—not to mention the fact that fumes you’re exposed to when you open the lid or door of your washing machine can irritate the lungs. This chemical is particularly dangerous for people suffering from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems. Babies and children are also more sensitive to the effects of chemicals in their environment.

The good news is that more and more eco-friendly alternatives to chlorine bleach products are available. Both Grabgreen and Seventh Generation offer biodegradable products that brighten whites and colors without dyes, phosphates, fragrances or chemicals. The active ingredient in many safe bleaches is good, old-fashioned hydrogen peroxide—which degrades into oxygen and water. Remember those brown bottles your mom used to use to clean your cuts and scrapes? Well, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t just disinfect. It’s also found in mouthwash, teeth whiteners, contact solution, veggie cleaners and more! You may also want to try soaking your stained clothing items in a nontoxic laundry detergent or make a spot treatment of baking soda paste (with water or lemon juice) and let it sit on the fabric before washing.

For basic laundering of clothing, consider products that get the job done with mineral- and plant-based ingredients, rather than synthetic, man-made ingredients (which are often petroleum based).

Remember, cleaning those lovely summer whites really can have a bright side!

 

Wool Bedding Benefits | From Perfect Temperature Control to Your Health

holy lamb showroom

 

If the idea of sleeping with a wool comforter makes you sweat, think again. For thousands of years, wool has been used to make life more comfortable, especially in the hottest climates! While this may surprise you, there are good reasons why wool bedding (mattress toppers, comforters, and pillows) actually provides the perfect temperature-controlled sleeping environment. Manufacturers have all tried to make a synthetic product with the qualities of wool, but to no avail.

A recent sleep study conducted by The Woolmark Company and the University of Sydney examined a variety of bedding products in a range of temperature and humidity environments, and wool was selected as the “undoubted winner.” This study proved wool breathes better than synthetics, increases periods of deep REM sleep, and also gets the body to a comfortable sleeping temperature quicker and maintains it for a longer period of time. The complete study can found at:http://www.woolmark.com/innovate_sleepstudy.php 

The following explains the benefits of wool and how it can help you sleep more comfortably during the summer.

Wool Is Animal-Friendly and Available Organically! 
No animals are killed in the process of harvesting wool. As long as the sheep or alpaca graze in pesticide-free pastures for at least three years and are shorn using humane methods, wool batting can be considered organic, sustainable, and cruelty free.

Wool Regulates Body Temperature
Perhaps wool’s most-remarkable quality is its ability to maintain comfortable body temperature, no matter what the season. Wool produces warmth in winter without overheating, and—believe it or not—keeps you cooler on summer nights because of its natural moisture-wicking properties. Wool bedding works like a personal heating-and-cooling system, which makes it perfect for people who experience “night sweats.” A wool mattress topper or wool moisture pad can actually cool you off during the night by dissipating sweat through the wool’s coil-like fibers.

Wool Is Hypoallergenic
Wool is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. People with chemical sensitivities can also sleep without suffering if the wool is untreated. Dust-mite allergens are the leading trigger for asthma attacks, but dust mites need moisture to survive, so they don’t like wool. Other types of bedding, such as down, feathers, or synthetic materials are more of a haven for dust mites.

Wool Is Soothing
Wool mattress toppers provide soft cushioning where your shoulders, hips, and knees meet your mattress. People who suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, and rheumatism find that wool buffers their sore body parts from their mattresses.

Wool Is a Natural Fire Retardant
Firefighters wear wool clothing. Why? When wool touches a flame, it won’t ignite because wool fibers do not support combustion. Wool is also used in natural and organic mattresses to meet fire-safety codes without using toxic chemical flame retardants.

Wool Is Soft!
Forget your association of wool with an itchy, scratchy sweater. Wool batting has a soft, down-like loft or puffiness. Pure-wool batting is sheared from living sheep or alpaca, washed without harsh soaps, and then carded (or combed) into soft, clean wool fill, which is placed inside cotton casings. There is no scratchiness at all.

How Wool Works
Wool fibers create a lining of still air, one of the best insulators found in nature. These little pockets of air create a dry layer of air next to your skin to hold in heat during colder months and cool your body as outdoor temperatures rise. Evaporation of moisture is our body’s natural way of keeping cool. Wool helps this process along by drawing moisture from the body during sleep, absorbing it into cells, and reducing skin temperature. When you’re  cooler, you toss and turn less often, and sleep more soundly in a deeper REM state. In summer, outdoor heat is kept away from your skin because of wool’s insulating barrier of air pockets. Sleeping with a lightweight wool comforter acts like an air conditioner.

Where does all that moisture go? The average sleeper gives off nearly a pint of water vapor in an eight-hour sleep period. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp or clammy. The cells of wool fibers are porous, so they quickly and efficiently absorb and evaporate moisture—unlike down, which actually holds moisture and can create mildew.

Wool Bedding
To shop for organic wool comforters, pillows, and mattress toppers for adults, kids and babies that are Made in the USA and have not been processed with chemicals and to learn more about these products, visit: https://www.theultimategreenstore.com/m-65-holy-lamb-organics.aspx.

Organic Pillows & How to Sleep Chemical Free

woman-sleeping-pillow

Sleep is a time for our bodies to rejuvenate and heal. We spend 1/3 of our lives in bed. When you put your face on that pillow, would you rather sleep on a pile of chemicals or be surrounded by the finest organic materials Mother Nature has to offer? Would your immune system rather be fighting foreign chemicals while you sleep or healing itself instead?

The mainstream approach to bedding products has been to leverage technology to construct foams and other materials with “improved” comfort characteristics. These new technologies may indeed be comfortable, but they come with a price – the introduction of harmful chemicals into our sleep environment. Just like organic vegetables are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, so too are bedding products that qualify for organic certification. Your sleep environment should be a safe haven from all the chemicals you’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

When shopping for pillows, look for certified organic pillows made with only natural materials – encased in 100% organic cotton with fills ranging from plant-based kapok and PLA to organic cotton & wool. Look for products that are made with and manufactured with:

NO synthetic pesticides
NO synthetic fertilizers
NO genetically modified organisms
NO carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic chemicals
NO endocrine disruptors
NO non-biodegradable detergents, degreasers, or surfactants
NO chlorine bleach
NO plastisols
NO other synthetic chemicals

Shop Organic Pillows and Learn More:  http://theultimategreenstore.com/s-195-organic-pillows-pillow-protectors.aspx

How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

 

Say goodbye to artificial easter egg dye which is not good for your family. Natural egg dye is easy to make using vegetables, spices and berries and you can create just about any color you want, from pastels to deep hues.  Dyeing naturally takes longer for the color absorb. The best colors come out when you let the eggs sit overnight.  Here’s your guide:

1. Proportions:  For every 4 cups of water, use 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 4 cups of chopped or mashed fruits and vegetables, or 4 tablespoons of spice.  and boil them together. Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Then, strain out the bits of fruits or vegetables. The remaining liquid is your dye.

2. Color Code:

easter eggs with fruits and veggies

Yellow onion skins = Yellow to dark orange
Turmeric or cumin = Bright yellow
Red beets = Pink to red
Red onion skins = Pale purple to red
Red cabbage = Blue
Spinach = Green
Purple grape juice = Lavender
Coffee  = Tan to brown
Chili powder = Orange
Raspberries or blackberries = Pink to purple

3. Matte or Shine: Naturally dyed eggs will have a matte finish. If you want them to shine, apply a few drops of olive oil and polish with a soft cloth.

Happy Easter!

Ultimate Green Recipe | Shamrock Pops

shamrock pops

 

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (but delicious and healthy for any day), here is our recipe for our favorite color bars filled with energy lifting nutrients!

Ingredients:

- 2 Bananas

- ½ pear, cored and peeled

- ½ pineapple, cored and peeled

- 1 ½ cup fresh spinach

- ¼ cup orange juice

- 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for at least four hours and they are ready to go!