Sunday, July 18, 2010

Flying Solar: meet the record-breaking Zephyr plane

Eternal solar-powered flight is here - without the need to land and refuel.

The UK-built Zephyr solar-powered plane, weighing just 50kg, took five people to launch on July 9th and as reported by the BBC on Friday, has been flying non-stop for seven days and nights ever since.

The Zephyr broke the endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The military is expected to use them for reconnaisance and communications, scientific programmes for earth observation.

An intriguing step forward for both us and the planet.

Visit eco boutique Lavish & Lime for a great selection of solar-powered cars and other solar toys to help teach kids about this earth-friendly concept. If you have any thoughts or ideas about UAV's or the Zephyr, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Natural Bug Repellent Q&A from the Lavish & Lime Facebook Forum

Ever wonder which is the best insect repellent? Natural vs. DEET insect repellent? Whether you can use repellent on babies? In late June we held a Q&A forum on Healthy Summer Skincare on our Facebook page. Fans of our page asked these and other great questions about insect repellent.

Their questions were answered by Bruce Shennum, vice president, Quantum, Inc., makers of our Buzz Away natural bug repellent. Bruce has been in the natural health industry for 25 years and is published widely in both Canada and the US. There was so much good information generated through this exchange we felt it might be helpful to share it. This is essentially a transcript of the insect repellent portion of the forum.

Q. [Debbie B.] I like the the bug spray but I see it may need to be applied every hour depending on the region and body chemistry. Is this dependant on how humid the region is and that you would perspire?
A. [Bruce Schennum] In clinical studies, Buzz Away is effective for 2 hours. However, if it is hot and humid, perspiration can limit the efficacy and maximum repellency can be attained by applying every hour.

Q. [Kristina Z.]
Why is Buzz Away better than other bug repellents?! (Now you can brag about your product!)
A. [Bruce Schennum]
Buzz Away is certainly safer to use on infants than DEET is. However, it's made from essential plant oils and alcohol, so if an infant gets it on his or her hands and rubs his eyes, it may sting. We recommend Buzz Away for ages two and up -- I'd say that it's up to the parent's discretion for one year olds, and I wouldn't use it on infants less than one year old.

Q. [Kathy W.]
I have a question relating to using sunscreen along with insect repellent. I've heard that one or the other isn't as effective if combined. Is there any truth to this?
A. [Bruce Schennum]
DEET-based repellents are absorbed into the bloodstream more readily when used in combination with sunscreen. That's why you've heard that it's not always good to combine the two. In fact, the research on how DEET-based repellents and sunscreens can be a toxic combination was done in Canada, at the U. of Calgary.
By the way, I looked up my reference, and the research was done at the University of Manitoba. A study from Canada's University of Manitoba warns against using DEET based mosquito repellents with sunblock. The study, by professor of pharmacy Xiaochen Gu, found that when a 2.5-per-cent solution of insect-repelling DEET... was mixed with oxybenzone, a very common sun-blocking ingredient, the amount of DEET absorbed into the skin went from 9.6 per cent to 30.2 per cent.

Q. [Penni B.] Bruce, Does that mean that there is no problem with combining Buzz Away with sunscreen as there is no DEET?
A. [Bruce Schennum]
As far as we know there is no problem combining Buzz Away with sunblock.

Q. [Karen R.] How does buzz work?
A. [Bruce Schennum] Nobody knows for certain. Botanists suggest that the essential plant oils may have developed characteristics that repel insects in order to protect the plants from bugs that feed on them.

Q. [Kelly MF.] Is Buzz Away safe for all skin types? My son has allergic reactions a lot to this kind of stuff. I am nervous to use anything on him.
A. [Bruce Schennum] People can be allergic to anything -- even substances that are normally safe and natural. I would recommend doing a small "patch test" if your son is allergic.

Q. [Vic M.] Are Mosquitos evolving to become immune to repellant? This soccer season has been fraught with rain and followed by mass swarms of the bugs . I saw all the players getting doused with OFF, yet they all came home covered in bites!
A. [Bruce Schennum] Mosquitoes in laboratories can become resistant to DEET. The study, conducted at Rothamsted Research in Great Britain, bred strains of mosquitoes which DEET, the top-selling insect repellent world wide, did not repel.
By selective breeding, James Logan and colleagues at Rothamsted Research in the UK, created mosquitoes in which half of the females do not respond to DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) -- a powerful insect repellent. This rapidly evolved insensitivity may be due to a single dominant gene -- one that confers resistance even if the trait is inherited from only one parent.
The researchers have not identified the gene that is responsible for DEET resistance. They did, however, find a type of odour-sensing cell that responds to DEET in most mosquitoes but is less sensitive to the repellent in the resistant ones. Their findings are reported today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Q. [Lee-Ann PC.] At what age can you start using repellant on children and should I be concerned if my daughter (older) has some on and goes near her brothers (7 months)?
Q. [Dawn-Marie D.]
I had the same thoughts in regards to my toddler...
A. [Bruce Schennum] Buzz Away is safe for children two and older. DEET is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. In the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics discouraged the use of DEET in children under 6, until they changed their recommendation due to the West Nile Virus scare. Obviously, the risks must be weighed against the benefits. However, Buzz Away is as effective as low-DEET formulas, and much safer.

Q. [Pamela R.] Why should I avoid Deet? Is OFF insect repellent okay for adults to use?
A. [Bruce Schennum] DEET-based insect repellents may be toxic to humans and other mammals, according to a study published in last August's issue of BMC Biology, a peer-reviewed journal (Corbel et al. (2009). "Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet"
Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia has spent 30 years researching the effects of pesticides. He has found that prolonged exposure to DEET can impair functioning in parts of the brain. "Damage to these areas could result in problems with muscle coordination, muscle weakness, walking or even memory and cognition."
Abou-Donia says rats given even small doses of DEET for 60 days had a harder time accomplishing even the easiest tasks. Abou-Donia says short-term exposure to DEET does not appear to be harmful, but warns against using any product with more than a 30 percent concentration. Use as little of the product as you can, and don't use a product containing DEET if you're taking any medication. "We found that the combined exposure to DEET and other chemicals is more dangerous than just DEET alone."
On the other hand, millions of North Americans have used DEET for decades, and have suffered not observable side effects. If you use DEET, use common sense -- wash it off as soon as you go inside, for example.

Q. [Rhonda TP.] What is a good insect repellant for a two year old? Thank you!
A. [Bruce Schennum] Buzz Away works well, and is safe for two year olds. Be careful not to get it in his or her eyes, or it might sting.

Our thanks to Bruce for participating in this forum. Buzz Away natural insect repellent - in both a spray and easy-to-apply wipes - is available at online eco boutique Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts or ideas - even questions - regarding the Q&A above, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Organic Sunscreen Q&A from the Lavish & Lime Facebook Forum

Ever wonder what the best sunscreen SPF is? Which is the safe sunscreen? What's the link between sunscreen and cancer? In late June we held a Healthy Summer Skincare Q&A Forum on on our Facebook page. Fans of our page asked these and other common sunscreen questions.

Their questions were answered directly by Dr. Tony Kovacs, D.O., N.D., B.Ac., executive vice president and science & technical officer of Skin Elements USA, makers of Soleo Organics natural sunscreen. There was so much good information - in easy-to-understand language - generated through this exchange, we felt it might be helpful to share it. This is essentially a transcript of the sunscreen portion of the forum.

Q. (Kristina Z.)
How long does it take for sunscreen to properly absorb into the skin?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Kristina, sunscreen should absorb into your skin within 5-10 minutes max. The chemical sunscreens take a little longer to work, they need about 20 -30 minutes to absorb and begin their action, physical sunscreens work a little faster.

Q. (Athena TDR.)
What is the best SPF to give you proper protection?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
The best SPF is SPF 30+, any number above that range is misleading. SPF 30+ gives 96-98% protection from UV.

Q. (Andrea T.) I've been using one of the top SPF 30/complete spectrum mineral sunscreens (on EWG's list) on my toddler, but he is getting a bit of a tan. I think I'm applying enough based on the whitish cast the sunscreen leaves on his skin, so am not sure what I'm doing wrong. Help!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No sunscreen protects 100 % so no matter what you use, there will always be some UV that gets through. SPF 30+ gives 96-98% protection from UV (highest).
You are not doing anything wrong, the most important thing to do apart from applying sunscreen in the first place is to make sure you reapply frequently enough, with children, that should be every hour.

Q. (Melissa WOB.): I would also like to know if I'm applying the sunscreen (California Baby) wrong on my children..they are starting to get a there something I'm doing wrong? Also is mineral based sunscreens any better? Thanks!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) No sunscreen blocks 100%, the most any sunscreen will do (Soleo is in this group) is 96-98%. As a result, no matter how diligently you apply, between 2-4% of UV light will still get through to your skin (or baby’s). I am not familiar with the efficacy of California Baby, but I do know they use titanium and titanium degrades rapidly in the presence of light (it is a chemical sunscreen – 70% of its action is chemical ie absorbing UV rays, and only 30% is physical ie reflecting). Companies often like to refer to Titanium as a physical block but it is not a true one, its action is predominantly chemical and offers all the associated side effects with the rest of the chemical sunscreens ie free radical production, DNA damage, oestrogen mimicking, endocrine disruption, etc. You are better off using a zinc only sunscreen (eg. Soleo) so that you don’t have to deal with the issues of using chemical sunscreens or ones that contain nano products. Make sure you reapply regularly. If your kids are out in the sun every day for extended periods of time, they will tan, even if you are using the best sunscreen out there. Nothing blocks 100% unfortunately.

Q. (Lynette K.) What's the difference between a physical sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Physical sunscreens (zinc) reflect the UV light and chemical sunscreens absorb (toxic). Physical sunscreens reflect or scatter light and of the two physical sunscreens commonly mentioned, Zinc is the only true one. Titanium only reflects 30% of UV light and absorbs the remaining 70% thereby making it more of a chemical sunscreen than a physical one. Chemical sunscreens tend to have similar side effects. They offer the same sort of issues, some more than other depending upon the chemical itself. In short they produce free radicals (very volatile ones), damage DNA, mimic oestrogen in the body and disrupt the endocrine system. Some effect the immune system and others sensitise the skin and can create reactions.

Q. (Rochelle MK.) Hi there I have heard a lot of controversy surrounding sunscreen and the chemicals in them possibly being linked to cancer. Is there any truth to this and should I be concerned about using sunscreen on my children?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Yes yes yes. Avoid the chemicals, use zinc.

Q. (Rochelle MK.) Which chemicals are ok and which are bad?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) This is really easy. Zinc is good – the rest chemicals. Zinc is the only true physical block the rest act as chemical sunscreens whereby they absorb UV light and a s a result create a number of bad resulting compounds and free radicals. Stick with Zinc.

Q. (Marla JV.) Is it true that once you are at an SPF of 30, any higher is really not any more effective (ex: 30 vs 50 vs 70)? Thanks.
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Yes, that is true, it's a myth and misleading advertsing. SPF numbers over 30+ do not give you any more protection, its a bit of a myth, SPF 50,60, 70, etc. Children should use the highest spf that is effective, ie 30+.

Q. (Kathy W.)
I have a question relating to using sunscreen along with insect repellent. I've heard that one or the other isn't as effective if combined. Is there any truth to this? Should I be applying sunscreen first, waiting a certain amount of time then the ...insect repellent or vice versa? Thanks in advance!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) I am not sure because it depends upon which insect repellant you use (ie ingredients) and of course which sunscreen you use. Lets assume you are using a good quality insect repellant (deet free etc) and similarly a good sunscreen (Soleo). I would suggest you apply the sunscreen first, wait 20 minutes letting the sunscreen fully absorb and then apply your insect repellant over the top. This should work without one affecting the other. Of course, I can be more accurate if I knew the ingredients in your insect repellant.

Q. (Ross R.)
I too would like to know about sunscreen and is it nanoparticles that are linked to cancer?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No it is the chemicals in the sunscreens, the nano stuff makes it worse.

Q. (Erin AH.) What about the issue of nano particles in physical sunscreens. Should we be concerned?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) The nano issue is a concerning one with little or no information available on how they really work once the get into the body. More and more information is becoming available on this matter but I feel it will be a number of years before we are more informed as to the dangers. There is a web site, that has really pioneered the anti nano issue and they offer a siginificant amount of information on this topic.

Q. (Vic M.)
What are your thoughts on the organic sunscreen products that most eco tourism parks require you to use? Is it a tourist scam or are they good for both the human and the aquatic creatures?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No, organic sunscreens are the preferred choice so they do not harm the environment. Biodegradable sunscreens do not affect the ecosystems like the chemical stuff does.

Q. (Lynne B.) I have a question about the benefits of sunshine's vitamin D versus the risk of skin cancer. (This isn't necessarily just about kids). I was reading some Cancer Society news last year where they were slightly changing their advice to say a little bit of sunscreen-less exposure each day (I can't remember - under 20 min...utes perhaps?) was good for the cancer-fighting, bone-building vitamins we get from the sun. Any thoughts on that?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
The important thing is not to burn, everyone needs a little sun exposure.

Q. (Penni B.) If a child does get sunburned, is there any benefit to after sun cream, or is it just that it is soothing?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Aloe vera is your best thing and then Marine Mist (Soleo product, lol) must repair after damage and exposure to excessive dryness.

Q. (Brian W.) I find that in the early a.m. when I put sunscreen on (I work outdoors all day) , that it gets rubbed off quite rapidly on branches and my clothing. Is there enough soaked in with one coating that I shouldn't be putting on layer after layer all day? Also I empty waste receptacles in the parks I care for and I am constantly washing my hands with sanitizer. Then when I rub my arms etc. does that wash off the sunscreen to a point where I have to replace the sunscreen?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) Hard one to answer because I don’t know which sunscreen you are using. If it is a chemical sunscreen then chances are that most of it is rubbing off and you have very little left on the skin to act effectively. if your hands are wet and you are rubbing your face, again, chances are that you are removing the sunscreen from your skin. If the sunscreen is not water resistant, then the likelihood of this happening is much greater.
Using a chemical sunscreen, the performance and protection is compromised, add to that the rubbing off and the exposure to water, you would have a reduced action available to you.

Our thanks to Dr. Kovacs for participating in this forum. Soleo Organics sunscreen - in three sizes - plus a selection of other top rated natural sunscreen brands are available at online eco boutique Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts or ideas - even questions - regarding the Q&A above, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Envirosax Pouch Giveaway Entry Deadline Extended

We've received loads of your suggestions in our Eco-Tip Giveaway, but we want to give more of you the chance to win our fantastic prize from Envirosax so we're extending our entry deadline until July 31st.

Send us your tip for greener living by midnight PST, Saturday July 31st and you'll be entered to win a 5-pack pouch of designer Envirosax reusable shopping bags.

We're looking for the best, most useful eco tip ever. The finalists will be posted on our Lavish & Lime Facebook page for a vote - so you (and your friends, naturally) will determine who wins!

The best-loved tip will win an Envirosax pouch (actual prize may vary from styles shown) and runners up will receive a reusable sandwich wrap.

TO ENTER: Simply post your tip on our Facebook page, email it to us at or post it below as a comment.

Here are just a few of the eco-tip entries we've received so far.

"One of the eco tips that I feel best about right now is mulching my grass. I cringe on garbage day when I see bags and bags of grass clippings on the side of the road. With a mulching mower you don't have to bag your grass (yay), it doesn't go into landfills (double yay) and it helps build a healther lawn without pesticides or herbicides (triple yay!)" - Shawna Y.

I try to live my life a little greener with the following tip. Do I need it or do I just want it…by trying to live a little simpler make decision making about ‘stuff’ a little easier." - Shelley A.

"My eco tip is using one marked glass a day for all my drinks, and rinsing it if I change drinks, instead of wasting 5-10 cups/glasses a day, and having to wash each one!" - Monika W.

Go on, send us your tip - big or small - we're all ears!

Giveaway Details

All tips must be received by email or posted on Lavish & Lime's Facebook page or blog by July 31, 2010 to be considered as entries. Winners will be notified no later than August 16, 2010.
Actual Envirosax pouch prize may vary from styles shown.
By sending a tip to Lavish & Lime you are agreeing to allow Lavish & Lime to publish the tip and/or use the tip in their promotional materials.


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