Thursday, March 31, 2011

CBC Marketplace Lousy Labels: Canada's Top 10 Misleading Natural Products

Ultimate Blog Party 2011: Hello! Thank you for stopping by our blog. We're an eco boutique based in Vancouver, BC and we're all about helping you live a greener & healthier life. Learn about non-toxic, BPA free and eco-friendly alternatives for everyday living that are safe for you and the planet too. Visit our boutique or join us on Facebook for great giveaways, tips and deals. Hope to make some friends through this party. Greenest regards, Louise PS. Pressed the wrong link button so this isn't a dedicated Blog Party post, but it's a great example of what we're all about.

Ever wonder how 'natural' or 'organic' those body care products lining the shelves
of your local drug store really are? If so, the recent 'Lousy Labels' episode of the popular watchdog show CBC Marketplace and countdown of the top 10 misleading natural products is a must-see.

Post by Louise

Fa, Aveeno, Covergirl, Aubrey Organics, Avalon Organics -- even Seventh Generation diapers make the Lousy Label black list. The #1 misleading product? Huggies natural care baby wipes - a baby product cited as natural yet it not only contains parabens but a nasty ingredient on Health Canada's hot list.

Watch the show here:

Host Erica Johnson hits the shelves and people's homes with environmental activist Adria Vasil to investigate green labelling on many of Canada's most popular personal care products marketed to us as 'natural' or 'organic'. They find the labels rife with exaggeration, misleading verbage and many of them contain ingredients no different than those found in regular, cheaper brands.

Most shocking -- the companies behind these products hide behind excuses of 'proprietary information' and ignorance when asked directly about the percentage of 'natural' or 'organic' ingredients contained in their products.

In this episode, the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association is no help. The spokesperson repeatedly states without regulation it's up to the consumer to check and compare labels - a little difficult when you're rushing around the grocery store with one or two toddlers in hand. He does get it right though, when he says the best thing to do if you're not sure, is simply stop buying the product.

There's so much more to say about safe ingredients, labelling, product comparison -- this brief investigation is a great start and an eye-opener about how important educating yourself is if you're interested in knowing what exactly you're putting on your body.

For a great selection of truly natural body care products -- we've checked the ingredients lists ourselves and gone through them with the manufacturers -- visit us at Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts or comments about labelling or this Marketplace episode, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earth Hour: 5 Fun Things to Do When the Lights Go Out

Think ahead and you'll find there's more to do than just sit around in the dark when you turn out your lights for an hour on Saturday night to help raise awareness about climate change.

Post by Louise

The WWF started Earth Hour four years ago in an effort to get people to turn out their lights and raise general awareness about the need to take action around climate change. It's grown to become a worldwide phenomenon with Earth Hour 2010 reaching 1.3 billion people. A record 128 countries and territories took part making it the largest voluntary action ever witnessed.

So what to do when you turn out your lights at 8:30pm this Saturday, March 26th? We've come up with some fun ideas to keep you so busy, one hour just won't seem long enough!

1. Forget the i-Pod touch, the DS and Wii, sit down with the kids and play a good old-fashioned board game with actual dice, playing pieces, cards, etc.

2. Set up a 'camp' inside, turn on the fireplace and read stories by flashlight -- a great way to bring a much-loved outdoor activity in.

3. Prepare dinner in advance, including the table setting, then have a late night candlelit dinner with the kids - something so out of the ordinary, they (and you) will love it!

4. Cozy up by candlelight or flashlight and look through favourite old photos and photo albums. Remember when we were diligent about printing photos rather than letting them sit on our cameras and computers? An hour goes quickly when you're walking down a lane of baby, party, holiday and other memories.

5. Get outside and go for a late night walk under the stars. Take advantage of the fact that with lots of lights out, the night time sky will be less cluttered with light pollution and more visible to the naked eye -- fingers crossed the local cloud cover isn't too thick. Brush up on your constellations before you head out and play 'i-Spy in the sky' - a great way to teach kids about the stars.

Whatever you do during Earth Hour 2011, feel good knowing that you'll be joining more than a billion other people around the globe in taking a stand for the future of our planet -- having fun will be a bonus.

For more ideas about living a greener, healthier life and a great selection of the latest eco-friendly and non-toxic everyday alternatives, visit our eco boutique Lavish & Lime.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best Ways to Get Plastic Savvy for Big Results

Plastic can be dangerous. Plastic is everywhere in our homes. It off-gasses into our air, it leaches into our food and it never goes away. These are just some of the facts about plastics Tanis Frame, aka Mamamaven, made clear at our recent Lavish & Lime Get Plastic Savvy workshop.

Post by Louise

Did you know that every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists? It just keeps getting broken down but it's still here complicating the ecosystem, except for for the little bit that has been incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals.

According to Mamamaven, the first step to greening your nest and rid yourself of the potentially harmful effects of plastics in your home is to get fresh air. "Get outside and play!" she says. "Bring the fresh air in - open windows every day and bring in the plants to purify the air."

Mamamaven suggests trying Wide Open Wednesdays as a great way to remember to open your windows at least once a week.

While we all know about them, sometimes it's hard to keep the plastics numbers straight. Here's the lowdown once and for all:
  • opt for #2, #4, #5 -- these are the safest
  • don't reuse #1 -- many plastic water bottles are made with this
  • avoid #3, #6, #7, unless confirmed bioplastic
  • look for phthalate-free and BPA-free labels
Mamamaven recognizes we all have plastics in our homes and offers some basic do's and don'ts when dealing with them:
  • avoid microwaving plastics
  • avoid hot contents
  • hand wash all plastics, DO NOT put in dishwasher
  • discard worn plastics -- scratches, cloudiness -- put these to a safer non-food use
She also points out that many everyday electronic devices like key fobs, cell phones, blackberries, etc. contain plastics made with chemicals like flame retardants. These are by no means food-safe plastics and should not be in children's mouths.

Getting savvy about plastics use means looking to alternatives: stainless steel, wood, bamboo, glass, wool, fabric, lead-free ceramics are all great options. There are also safer plastics that are free of nasty toxins like bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC and phthalates. Some of these are new bioplastics made of starch-based resins from sustainable, renewable plant crops like wheat, corn, tapioca and potato. The bioplastics market is growing 20-30% per year at the moment.

It can all be overwhelming, but Mamamaven suggests taking even little steps like opening the windows can make a big difference. She recommends making these three areas top priorities when looking to green your nest and make it safe from toxic-laden plastics:
  • hot or wet food storage
  • toys that go in the mouth
  • finding and removing PVC#3 'vinyl' poison plastic items, found in everything from shower curtains and blackout blinds to flooring, backpacks and lunch bags
More ways to live a greener, healthier life and reduce the effects of harmful plastics:
  • choosing reusables over disposables
  • refusing excessive plastic packaging
  • buying in bulk, buy concentrated products, buy refill packs
  • buying powders in paper rather than liquids in big plastic jugs
Some great resources for further learning include:
Watch for our Live Facebook Forum featuring Mamamaven coming in April. Become a Lavish & Lime facebook fan now so you can receive updates about this exciting upcoming event.

For a great selection of eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives for everyday products and more ideas about living a greener, healthier life, visit our eco boutique Lavish & Lime.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eco-Friendly Floss Picks & Toothbrush for Guilt-Free Brushing

Ever feel bad about using those little plastic flossers or manual toothbrushes then throwing them away? We've found a solution: eco-friendly compostable floss picks and an eco-friendly toothbrush for easy, guilt-free dental care!

Post by Louise

Our natural eco flossers biodegrade in a compost facility within 180 days into organic soil - a little longer if you simply throw them in your home compost or garden. That's because they're made from renewable crops like corn and potatoes instead of petroleum, like name brand conventional flossers.

It took five years of development and consultation with dental professionals to come up with this truly environmentally sustainable product made of the new safe plastic option: bioplastic. Bioplastics are made from renewable, sustainable plant-based crops. Our eco-friendly flossers are made of starch-based resins from corn, wheat, tapioca and potato starches -- ecologically sound substitues for petroleum-based plastic products -- that come from primarily the Midwest (versus oil from the Middle East).

Not only are these natural eco flossers free of potentially harmful chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, but they're fully certified biodegradable and compostable in the US and Europe. (Canada does not yet have certifications for biodegradability and compostability.) Unlike materials designated as biodegradable, those certified as compostable are designed to compost quickly, within 60-180 days, without releasing any toxic residues.

In terms of functionality and quality, our natural eco-friendly floss picks work just as well, if not better, than their conventional counterparts -- and the little 'Mr. Molar' character on the top of the kids' design is a favourite with little ones. The adult eco flossers feature a pointed end, ideal for cleaning specifics in between teeth.

Complete your dental care with our eco-friendly toothbrushes for kids and adults -- also made from safe, sustainable and biodegradable bioplastic. Similar to conventional toothbrushes, our compostable eco-friendly toothbrush lasts about three months and the children's eco-friendly toothbrush is good for kids up to about 12 years.

It's spring and a great time to rethink our old ways with fresh, new ideas. Why not feel good about cleaner teeth and a cleaner planet with effective dental products made from plants?

The eco-friendly flossers and compostable toothbrushes mentioned above are available at our eco boutique Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts or ideas about dental products or care, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Go Green with St. Patrick's Day Recipes

On St. Patrick's Day, going green takes on a whole new meaning. It's no longer about our usual healthier, planet-friendly goals.

Post by Louise

Going green on March 17th literally means looking the colour green: wearing it --
or risk getting pinched -- and even eating or drinking green-coloured foods. While in Ireland the colour green was long thought to be unlucky, here we've always thought the opposite, especially on St. Patrick's Day.

Regardless of luck or not, it's always fun to get into the spirit and one of the best ways is to go green for kids and adults alike. Check out these green recipes we've found and bring a little luck of the Irish to every meal you cook today and through the weekend! Remember to pick up organic ingredients when you can...

Apple and Avocado Smoothie
Green Eggs and Ham
Green Risotto
Beer Battered Broccoli
Green Chocolate Slimedoo

Enjoy your day and if you want to go green in an eco-friendly way, be sure to check out the special St. Patrick's Day savings in our Sale Shop - save 40% on every item there! Use code STPATRICK March 17-18th.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Safer Option: Stainless Steel Dishes & Cups

Looking for a kids cups and dishes that don't leach nasty chemicals but can handle being chucked across the room, from a high chair, over your head? We've found it with our stainless steel cup and dish set.

Post by Louise

It seems everyone has those plastic kids' dishes from Ikea. You know, the ones that are either in the shape of a flower or a rectangle and come in a rainbow of colours. Problem is, if you put them in the dishwasher or if they're scratched, chances are they could be leaking potentially harmful chemicals into your children's food and drink. The alternative?

Finally, we've found one in stainless steel. It's uber durable, dishwasher-safe and non-leaching. Our Kids Stainless Steel Dish Set from Lunchbots, makers of quality food containers, features a mug, bowl and plate. It's sleek-looking and sturdy and will last, well, forever.

If you're looking just for cups, check out our single Stainless Steel Cup. It's exactly the same size as the Ikea cups and stands up to kids just as well - only it's safer because it doesn't have the potential to leak chemicals into its contents.

Have qualms about putting metal in or near the mouth? Trust us, kids don't. They love these shiny products.

Stainless steel cups and dish sets are available at our eco boutique Lavish & Lime.

Monday, March 14, 2011

9 Ways to Refresh your Waste-Free Lunch Box

It's six months into the school year and while we're generally pretty good at keeping track of our kids' footwear and clothing, what about the state of their lunch gear? It's March Break -- a great opportunity to take stock and freshen up that waste-free lunch.

Post by Louise

After daily use, water bottles, lunch bags and food storage containers can take a battering. Does the lunch bag need a good wash? Is that water bottle seriously dented from repeatedly being dropped? If you pack plastic food containers, are they scratched or have they gone cloudy? If so, they may be releasing carcinogenic toxins and now would be a good time to move them to the craft table or garage for storing items other than food. Safe options for replacements include glass food storage containers, various stainless steel containers or BPA-free plastic food containers.

To make things easy, we've singled out our top three picks for lunch bags, water bottles and food storage containers. That's nine ways to refresh your lunch box -- many of which are new for Spring 2011.

Reusable Lunch Bags
For older girls, we recommend the new Scattered Leaves Gourmet Getaway from Built NY. Made of lead safe neoprene (the wetsuit material), this stylish bag is machine washable, insulated, zippered and stretches to fit any number of containers and foods.

Our Freezable Packit Lunch Bag in black or blue is perfect for older boys. Simply put it in the freezer overnight, take it out and pack it and will keep his lunch and after school snacks cold for up to 10 hours.

For the younger set, our Coated Linen Lunch Boxes for Kids are a great option - especially the new pink Giraffe square lunch box for girls and the bright turquoise scooter lunch box for boys. PVC-free, phthalate-free and lead safe, these eco friendly lunch boxes for kids are fully zippered and insulated.

Water Bottles
New for us this spring are Lifefactory glass water bottles in the smaller, more child-appropriate 450ml size with colourful and funky silicone sleeves. You might think they're not ideal for children, but don't underestimate your wee ones or the protective nature of the silicone covers. Plus the colours are fantastic - graphite grey Lifefactory bottle, raspberry pink, royal purple and more.

Our leakproof Camelbak stainless steel bottles for kids remain popular. The bite valve with a straw means sipping is quiet -- a point we didn't realize was of vital importance in class until we heard it from kids! The two best selling designs continue to be Camelbak Kids Dinosaurs and Butterflies.

For older kids, there's a larger new Camelbak option that keeps their water fresh and cold - the Camelbak Stainless Steel Insulated Better Bottle. Choose from classic steely silver or pretty purple plum - yes, a purple stainless steel bottle!

Food Storage Containers
Our BPA-free, reusable Fruit Guard created by three Vancouver doctors remains one of our top-selling food storage containers for apples, grapes, pears, peaches and other soft fruits. Choose from six rainbow colours.

New for spring is our highly durable airtight glass and steel food container, featuring a stainless steel lid with a vacuum seal button. Just as great for storing then reheating leftovers, our smaller size airtight steel and glass container is particularly perfect for lunch on-the-go.

Also new are our leakproof stainless steel food containers with BPA-free plastic lids. Choose from pink magenta or mud brown easy-to-remove and replace lids.

Additional ways to spice up your child's lunch and help encourage eco-friendly, waste-free eating include our new Light My Fire Spork with 3-in-1 functionality, our Thermal Food Containers with funky characters and images designed to keep hot foods hot and for little ones, our BPA-free Lunch Punch Sandwich Cutters, always useful in encouraging them to eat.

For more waste-free lunch ideas, visit our eco boutique Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts about packing a litterless lunch or would like to share ideas about your favourite lunch gear items, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birds and our Bodies Bear Brunt of Plastic Overload

Post by Louise
Did you know there are more than 50 different groups of plastics and hundreds of varieties? That the stomachs of birds in some of the remotest parts of the Earth are full of plastics?

These facts combined with news reports, research and all those numbers - it's no wonder many of us feel overwhelmed when faced with decisions surrounding the copious plastic products we deal with on a daily basis.

The first human made plastic arrived in 1855 and since then, because of their low cost and versatility plastics have proliferated. They've replaced many traditional, more natural materials and are virtually everywhere, especially in products used around children in large part because they last.

Yet, the hidden costs of plastics -- to our health and to the environment -- are being uncovered every day. They release toxins into our food, air, drinks and with their incredible durability, they create enduring pollution. Every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists, except for the little bit that has been incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals. That's why we hear alarming statistics like this:
  • plastic makes up 60-80% of all garbage floating in the oceans
  • plastic debris causes the deaths of a million seabirds yearly
An informative article in today's Vancouver Sun reports that 84% of the water skimming, strong flying Fulmar birds researchers examined from two Arctic colonies had plastics in the their guts.

Next steps to rid ourselves of the potential dangers of plastics aren't always easy to see, or do. Former toxicologist and green guru, Tanis Frame -- founder of Mamamaven -- is someone who can help. Tanis cuts through all the research and reports and gives you the skinny on what you really need to know. She demystifies the numbering system and tells you how to use those little numbers in the triangles for more than just sorting what goes in your blue box.

Come hear Tanis this week at a free workshop hosted by us at our Lavish & Lime Warehouse Shop.
7:00pm-8:00pm Thursday, March 10th
Lavish & Lime Warehouse Shop

272 East 1st Street
, North Vancouver, BC
(just off Lower Lonsdale -- plenty of street parking)

You'll take away an action plan of easy steps to rid your home of plastics and the knowledge you need to make safe choices to create a healthy home for you and your family.

Plus: receive a free eco gift ~ door prizes ~ discount shopping!

For more information and to RSVP, email or call us on 778 340 5463.

If you can't make this event and have questions about plastics, please post a comment below and we'll be sure to get you answers.

For everyday eco finds and more green living ideas, visit Lavish & Lime.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Elton John & our Recycled Wool Animal Puppets

Post by Louise
Ever wonder what A-list celebs like to play with? In the case of Elton John, it's more fun if it's recycled - especially if it's a puppet!

In a recent interview on CTV's The Marilyn Denis Show, Sir Elton hammed it up with a recycled wool animal puppet - the very same we carry here at Lavish & Lime.

Check out a clip of the interview here. Go directly to the puppet show at count 13:40.

Sir Elton clearly loves the puppet. We've decided we love stars doing impromptu puppet shows!

Recycled wool animal puppets are available in Canada at eco boutique Lavish & Lime. Choose from dog puppets, frog puppets, giraffe puppets and monkey recycled wool puppets.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Concern Rising Over Chemicals in Cosmetics

Post by Louise
We've known for sometime nasty chemicals lurk within many of our skincare and beauty products but recently the issue seems to be getting a lot of airplay, making us think concern is on the rise.

In a recent article on the David Suzuki Foundation's website, Linda Coulter wrote about the secret ingredients in the skincare products we use on our bodies daily - including deodorant and shampoo. In fact, according to Coulter "No law in Canada (or the U.S.) requires manufacturers to disclose all ingredients in consumer products. Cosmetics manufacturers get away with using the catch-all terms 'fragrance' or 'parfum', code words for over 3,000 chemicals, most of which haven't been tested for toxicity. "

Last week The Huffington Post featured an interesting and informative article by Estelle Hayes which she begins with the question, "Sodium lauryl sulfate is an effective degreaser used to clean oil stains from the floor of my mechanic's repair shop; what's it doing in my toothpaste and my daughter's bubble bath?"

Hayes continues "Everything from lip balm to hand lotion is filled with stuff we wouldn't dream of putting in our stomachs. Instead, we eagerly spread it over the largest organ of the body -- ensuring effective absorption and exposure to a daily dose of illness-inducing and cancer-causing garbage."

She goes on to compare the U.S. to Canada and Europe and perhaps we are, slightly better off - at least we don't rely on a voluntary reporting system for monitoring public safety with these products. Hayes points out that, unlike in the U.S. "Incidents -- from adverse reactions to longitudinal health surveys -- are made public by law."

To date, we've heard lots about parabens and increasingly more about sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan and fragrance/parfum are next up but there are plenty of other toxins to watch out for as well. Check out the Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid for a comprehensive list. Another great source we use is the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Safety Database. Here you can plug in ingredients or product names and learn for yourself what they're all about.

The more you know the less likely you are to lather yourself in toxic chemicals on a daily basis -- because at the moment, relying on labels just isn't enough.

For information about specific toxin-free skincare and cosmetic products, visit our natural skincare section.


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