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Hug the Earth

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

Ancient Native American Proverb

My generation and my son’s generation are at a point where we have lost the art of “waste not, want not.”  The skill set of taking and using only what we need, reusing items for practicality, and being intimately aware of our carbon footprint on the earth is something we must learn. . . chances are, these things have never been demonstrated or taught to us beyond tossing a plastic bottle into a recycling bin.

As a parent, I think the greatest impact I can make to help the future of this planet is to make smart choices about green living every day.

My son won’t learn about green living through a television special or even an educational pamphlet, but he’s going to learn about growing and culling food, cooking from scratch, re-using fabric scraps, avoiding items of waste, and other green practices by learning from his mom and dad.


I grew up in the eighties where littering on the side of the road was common practice (until the famous Don’t Mess with Texas anti-litter ad campaign put a grinding halt to that mess).

Recycling wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary until I attended a girls’ leadership, math, and science camp where I turned into an eco-activist overnight (with a letter from the city Mayor to thank 11 year-old me for my fervor and passion).

Years later, I’ve toned down my passion and put it into practice with breastfeeding and cloth diapers.  I’ve picked up a few sewing skills to create loving handmade gifts (instead of buying things with wasteful packaging), and I’ve learned some fun options for food preparation and stretching leftovers to improve my family’s health and to stretch our dollars.

Green living may be the “cool” thing to do these days, but if the trend ever swings the other way, I hope that my son appreciates the practicality of being resourceful and thoughtful of the earth.  May he teach his children to leave this place better than they found it.


National Geographic recently published the Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella.

Printed on recycled fibers, this 400 page reference book gives eco-friendly and budget-friendly tips for raising baby and minimizing your footprint and toy closet.

Chapter 1 includes tips on creating a safe and eco-friendly home to purchasing and making your own household cleaners, parents are armed with tools to have a toxin-free home.

It’s not a super comprehensive guide to cloth diapers, but there’s a basic intro with extra green tips that will help a new parent get started well in this arena in chapter 6.

I like the ideas for eco-friendly holidays, parties and celebrations in chapter 9.  Those are definitely times where pretty packaging and decor lead to unnecessary waste.

Beyond the home, this guide arms families with ways to introduce recycling and reducing toxins in schools  (chapter 8 ) plus how to take “green” vacations (chapter 10).  To urge the next generation to care about green living, chapter 5 is dedicated to that purpose.

Overall, the book is mostly positive toward breastfeeding, but on page 196, it mentions “toxics in breast milk” discussing various chemicals that mom can absorb through skin, environmental contact, or pharmaceuticals that can be passed along to baby via milk.

I thought it was a little unusual that this section of the book states, breast milk can contain toxic substances that have negative consequences to developing babies, leaving some of us to wonder if breast milk could be harming the cognitive development of babies.  All of the chemicals listed below have been found in breast milk and are known to cause cognitive deficits. . . these contaminants are no reason to choose formula, however.

Unfortunately, the editor failed to mention the studies that indicated breastfed babies tested with higher IQ’s than those who weren’t breastfed.  True, she’s referring to the chemicals and decreased IQ, but she links the chemicals directly to breast milk.  By generalizing the statement, she makes it sound as though all breastfed babies are exposed to those chemicals, when in fact, it’s babies who’s mothers are taking prescription medications, using shampoos with phthalates, and around heavy metals and toxins.  I hope that moms on the fence about breastfeeding won’t read this section of the book and think that perhaps they should use formula instead.

There’s a lot of info that’s touched upon in this book, as a result, it skims the surface of some topics that have more detailed options, discussions, and information.  There are no pictures, drawings, or diagrams in this book.  It is purely a text reference.

I hope the future revised edition includes pictures of the different types of cloth diapers, pictures of examples of green baby toys and party decor, and it changes the misleading negative paragraph on breastfeeding.

Otherwise, I think it’s a fairly comprehensive resource to help new parents embark on the journey of green parenting with a great start.

The Green Families Guide retails for $21.95 from National Geographic, and it’s also available through Amazon.com.

Happy Earth Day!

Your turn: How do you teach your child about green living practices?  What’s the easiest (and most difficult) green practice that you do in your home?

Happy Green Baby Hearts Military Mamas

Recently, Teri Kent of Better World Betty interviewed me on green baby practices for the November issue of C-Ville Abode Magazine, on news stands now.  I “heart” her post title, “Greening Up Baby.”  Why didn’t I think of that?

Heart of a Military WomanAlso, I just found out that my article submission was selected for publication in a new Heart Series book by Sheryl Roush and Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, called Heart of a Military Women.  I’m SO excited about this!

Previously, I was interviewed and submitted two selections to Michele Hunter Mirabile’s book, Your Mother Wears Combat Boots, that were published in the final edition of the book.  What’s so special to me about that particular book is that my great aunt Vivian who served as a nurse in the Army Air Corps in World War II also has a personal story published in the same book!

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on Heart of a Military Woman–especially if there’s some book signings by the authors in the local area.

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Shack Attack with Shaklee

I am glad that green living and green products are in popular demand by today’s consumers, because that means products are abundant and prices are competitive.  In other words, it is now cost effective for the average consumer to be green–compared to trying to reduce a carbon footprint 10 years ago when it was cheaper to produce more waste.

Options are nice for the consumer, but it also means the consumer has to stay on point and make sure items marketed as “green and biodegradable” are also “safe and non-toxic”.  Surprisingly, many cleaning products don’t meet both criteria.  And of the few that do, not all of them actually, well, CLEAN.

When I first heard about Shaklee’s Get CLEAN products, they sounded too good to be true.  Also, I was a little wary about purchasing a product through an MLM company based on previous experiences I’d had with other companies.  But, working with independent distributor Barrie J. Barratt was wonderful.  She’s been extremely kind and helpful without being pushy or bombarding me with phone calls and e-mails.  In fact, why can’t all MLM independent distributors be so pleasant to work with?

Barrie generously let me try the Get Clean Starter Kit for two months.  Overall I liked several of the products so much, that I signed up for the 15% discount and purchased more of the cleaning products that I really enjoyed.

Straight from the manufacturer’s website:


Also, when you purchase the Get Clean Starter Kit you also make a positive impact on the planet:

  • Eliminate 108 pounds of packaging waste from landfills.
  • Eliminate 248 pounds of greenhouse gas.

Now, that’s a range of cleaning products I can LIVE with.

Is it SAFE?

Well, it’s their number one claim on their marketing and packaging.  Safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable.  You can read their product ingredients directly on their site library in PDF.  But, most products’ ingredients were not disclosed.  In fact, it was easier to find what they don’t include than to find out what they do include (that’s the beauty of selling a product through an MLM company).  Shaklee’s products do not contain the following:

  • No napthalene
  • No kerosene
  • No formaldehyde
  • No phenol
  • No cresol
  • No lye
  • No hydrochloric acid
  • No sulfuric acid
  • No petroleum distillates
  • No benzene
  • No ammonia
  • No paradichlorobenzene
  • No sodium hydroxide
  • No butyl cellosolve
  • No phosphoric acid
I believe Shaklee’s products were safer and equally (if not more) effective than typical commercial cleaners like Pine-Sol, 409, chlorine bleach, and Lysol.  Also, most of the Shaklee products were unscented, unlike the commercial counterparts which are heavy fume-laden, headache-inducing agents.
However, I wouldn’t recommend the non-organic Get Clean Handwash Concentrate due to ingredients like ammonium laureth sulfate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Terterastearate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, fragrance and phenoxyethanol.
How well does it clean?
It makes the most stubborn grunginess flee with minimal rubbing, scrubbing, scraping, and wringing.  Mildew, dirt, grease, spit up, baby poop–I tried the Basic H2 cleaning concentrate, super brite laundry booster, and scour off on everything–and they rocked!  Perhaps you may recall the unfortunate diaper-off incident–Shaklee’s Basic H2 took care of it.  If it can clean that mess (and THAT was a doozie!) it can clean ANY-THING.
The basmati rice that cooked too long in the stainless steel pot and became a charcoal mess–scour off! cleaned it right up so that it is once again stainless and steel instead of charry and black.
Scour Off™ Heavy Duty Paste

Here’s an exclusive scouring cleanser that sets a new standard. It even cleans burnt-on food in your oven. And doesn’t burn off your nose hairs in the process.

What I love about this paste is that it takes minimal elbow grease and it works very quickly–and it’s not harmful to come into contact with my skin.  Stove tops, grills, ovens, and caked on pans: beware!  With the Scour Off Paste in town, you’re gonna clean up your act!  This little beauty retails for $8.50.  I just wish it wasn’t on backorder for the past 5 weeks.  Yikes!

Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate (16 oz.bottle)

Instead of buying multiple cleaning products for all of your house cleaning needs, you can buy just one–reduce storage for bottles, have lest biochemical hazard in your home, and save a ton of money.  Sounds good to me!

Based on its dilution, the organic super cleaning H2 concentrate can clean numerous surfaces.

Basic H2 can clean all those things and more: cast iron, cooking tops, toilets, bathtubs, clay & ceramic tile floors, chrome, copper, vinyl, upholstery, wood, walls, toys, fine fabrics, gold, jewelry, and sinks.  Next to all-purpose cleaner in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of the H2–it’s THAT good.  I will use this product to clean my home and my clinic.  Two thumbs up.  4 stars.  This is worth all the hype–seriously!

For all of those benefits, it’s the best $12.15 you’ll ever spend on cleaning products.

Fresh Laundry Concentrate (Powder) – 5.5 lbs – Cleans 88 loads
The naturalenzyme formula leaves clothes extra clean while being gentle on the planet.  This stuff actually got my son’s ammonia-stinky cloth diapers stripped and cleaned.  I had to use twice the recommended amount of detergent, but it did do the trick.  I originally tried the liquid concentrate, but I don’t prefer using that in an HE front-loading washer…plus, it gets sticky and messy if it does happen to leak.  The powder is also great dissolved in water to clean carpet stains.

Laundry powder that does the dirty work, even with cloth diapers.  You get ~88 loads for $21.30.

100% Shaklee Guarantee.
Shaklee stands behind each and every product. The ingredients, purity, safety, and performance of all our Shaklee products are 100% guaranteed. And of course, Shaklee does not test its products on animals.
Get Your CLEAN On
That’s a whole lotta clean for retail value of $170.40 or, if you think you’ll be a repeat customer, you can opt to pay $20 for membership, and get 15% off each and every order for 12 months–with the member price, the Get Clean Start Kit is $149.60.  That may sound like a lot to shell out all at once, but because these products are super concentrated, you’re not paying for water or other fillers like you would in other products in most retail stores. You can order your very own Get Clean Starter Kit, or individual items, directly from Distributor Barrie J. Barrett.

GLAD: The organic cleaning products reduce waste, provide mean clean, and the Basic H2 Concentrate covers most of your home cleaning needs…all in one bottle.
SAD: The manufacturer doesn’t disclose ingredients on the majority of the products where the consumer can cross-check for safety.  The wait on a backordered product is 5 weeks and counting…
An original Traveling with Baby post by Dr. Dolly