Partying your way to more blog readers

Last week, I wrote a list of things you can do to increase your blog traffic. And now here’s another idea that’s sure to be a lot of fun! Ultimate Blog Party 2008If you haven’t yet heard of The Ultimate Blog Party sponsored by 5 Minutes for Mom, you may be living under a rock. 😉 Just kidding. But seriously I’m finally getting on board before time runs out, am planning to get my groove on and be a part of the party. I hope you will join in the fun too! It looks like a great way to find some new blogs and attract new readers to your own blog. Oh, and there will be prizes too. Gotta love prizes! 🙂

Here’s a bit more about it from 5 Minutes for Mom:

Last year’s Ultimate Blog Party was a blast with almost 1000 participating bloggers. So make sure you don’t miss out on this one. It is a fantastic opportunity to introduce your blog to a bunch of new people and to find new blogs that you will want to read regularly.

As well, The Ultimate Blog Party features tons of prizes.

Despite flame retardant and other chemicals found in breast milk, breast is still best

Cross-posted at BlogHer

When I made the decision to breastfeed my children, I did so confident in the knowledge that I was doing the best thing for both their health and mine. After all, studies have consistently shown there are numerous health benefits to both mother and baby. What I didn’t consider was that by simply living in the United States, my breast milk might contain toxic chemicals like flame retardant, rocket fuel, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), and pesticides. Indeed over the past several years, studies have come out to show that these chemicals have been found in the breast milk of American women. Yes, when my dear son nurses, he is getting all of the nutrients a growing boy needs, as well as flame retardant, in my milk. Gulp.

A study of the breast milk of American women published by the Environmental Working Group in 2003 found “unexpectedly high levels” of chemical fire retardants in every participant tested.

The average level of bromine-based fire retardants in the milk of 20 first-time mothers was 75 times the average found in recent European studies. Milk from two study participants contained the highest levels of fire retardants ever reported in the United States, and milk from several of the mothers in EWG’s study had among the highest levels of these chemicals yet detected worldwide.

Unfortunately, this is only one of many studies showing a variety of toxins in breast milk.

While the news of these chemicals in breast milk is shocking and disturbing to most moms, doctors and experts agree that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks and breast is still best.

breastfeedingThe Environmental Working Group notes that for mothers who are concerned about their exposure to toxic chemicals, it may be even more important to breastfeed. “In fact, careful study of babies’ toxic exposures indicates that it might be even more important for mothers who are concerned about their exposure to toxic chemicals to breastfeed their babies.”

Several long-term studies have followed groups of babies exposed to PCBs in-utero and found that the breastfed babies appear to be less impacted by the chemical exposures than their bottle-fed counterparts.

After growing concerned about the results found in another study regarding Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in U.S. mothers’ milk, Libby at The Toxic Sandbox began to wonder if it was wise to breastfeed. She called Dr. David Carpenter at the University Albany School of Public Health to get some answers.

Q: Given everything we know about PCBs and PBDEs, should we breastfeed our babies?

DR. CARPENTER: There is overwhelming evidence that breastfeeding has important benefits, improving immune function in the child, protecting against chronic diseases even when the child grows to adulthood, and promoting bonding between the mother and the child. While the presence of these contaminants in breast milk is not a good thing, under almost all circumstances breastfeeding has greater benefit than risk.

Tanya, a mother and lactivist who blogs at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog, had the opportunity to ask Dr. Kathleen Arcaro, an environmental toxicologist from the University of Massachusetts, about environmental toxics in breast milk.

Q: You also study environmental toxics in breast milk. Can you describe any trends you’re seeing in the concentrations of toxics in breast milk?

DR. KATHLEEN ARCARO: The good news is that the concentration of some lipophilic (fat-loving) environmental pollutants in breast milk is decreasing. For instance the level of many pesticides (DDT and its metabolites) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has greatly decreased over the last 30 years. However, the levels of some other compounds used in household and personal care products including flame retardants and synthetic musks are increasing. In general, if a compound does not easily degrade, and accumulates in fatty tissue it is likely it will be in breast milk. But considering that the pollutants are widely distributed and therefore are in cow’s milk and formula, breast milk clearly remains the best food for most infants.

While the use of chemical fire retardants are widespread in the United States and are included in everything from furniture and mattresses, to computers and children’s pajamas, many have been banned in Europe and even in California, though “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set no safety standards or other regulations for their manufacture, use or disposal.”

Although the government is not placing any restrictions on the use of these chemicals yet, there are steps we can take to reduce our family’s exposure to these toxins.

Divine Caroline wrote a list of the top chemicals polluting our children and how to avoid them.

Amanda at Hippie Mommy quotes a study that show the levels of pesticides in vegetarian mothers’ breast milk is far less than average and advocates a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

I think that anything that we can do to improve the quality of our breastmilk (and our personal health) is fantastic, and these statistics are another great reason to consider a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Stacy Malkan at Not Just a Pretty Face writes about Mary Brune, who, when she heard about the study that found rocket fuel in breast milk, “didn’t just get mad; she got together with other new mothers and launched a nationwide effort to get toxic chemicals out of breast milk – called Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS).”

Making Our Milk Safe is “working to build a massive movement of mothers and others who will step out from behind the changing table and speak out against the presence of toxins in our environment, our bodies, and breast milk.” MOMS works through promoting precaution, supporting progressive legislation, changing corporate behavior, and educating consumers. They also have a list of tips that women can do both before and during pregnancy to limit their exposure to toxins.

Like it or not, for now these chemicals are out there in our environment. We can do our best to avoid them, and to support legislation to ban them, but in the meantime we should rest assured that by breastfeeding, we are still doing what’s best for our children.

Photo credit: More4Kids

Clean green with Shaklee (review and giveaway)

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to winner Lisa W.!

Last holiday season Oprah gave Shaklee natural cleaning products her nod of approval in her “Favorite Things” show, and now, after trying the Shaklee Basic H2 cleaner myself, they are getting the Crunchy Domestic Goddess nod of approval as well.

Basic H2 cleanerThe Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate is some powerful stuff with a lot of uses – from cleaning windows, tile and bathtubs, to wood floors, stainless steel and ovens and the list goes on. The 16 oz. bottle of concentrate comes with three spray bottles labeled for “all-purpose cleaning,” “windows and mirrors,” and “degreasing.” You simply pour in the recommended amount of concentrate (a few drops to 1 1/2 teaspoons), add your own water, and you are ready to start your cleaning frenzy.

I really like the Basic H2 Cleaner. It worked well both in my bathrooms and kitchen, and even helped me get a handle on my shamefully dirty well-used oven. The cleaner is unscented, which is nice for people who don’t do well with scented cleaners, and is, of course, nontoxic and biodegradable.

The fact that this little 16 oz. bottle can make 48 gallons of all-purpose cleaner (when you add your own water) is a big selling point for me, and it only costs $11.95.

You can buy your own Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate here or check out the numerous other Shaklee products.

shaklee giveaway

WIN IT!
One lucky person is going to win their very own bottle of Basic H2 cleaner (plus three spray bottles). Please see below for what you need to do to enter to win. You must follow all 3 steps or your entry will not count.:

  1. Sign Mr. Linky below
  2. Link back to this contest on your blog (or, if you don’t have a blog, email 3 of your friends and CC: me on the email – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com)
  3. Leave me a comment stating something green and eco-friendly that you are already doing to make the world a better place.

The deadline to enter is Thursday, March 13. Winner will be selected at random (thanks to Random.org) and announced on Friday, March 14. Good luck!

Thanks to Sommer, Shaklee distributor and blogger at Green and Clean Mom, for the great giveaway.

If Mister Linky doesn’t appear below (it seems to be having some down time), please do the other steps and check back later to sign it. Thanks!

Best Shot Monday – 3/3/08 – Soup goatee

Julian LOVES his pumpkin and black bean soup. Can ya tell he fed himself? 😉

Julian’s soup goatee - 2/29/08
Taken with the point & shoot.

I’m not feeling too wordy today. Have this wicked cold/flu thing going on. I’m blaming the dramatic change in weather – 70s and sunny on Saturday, 30s and snow on Sunday. Jody bought a Neti pot this weekend and I may have to give it a go myself. I need to do something so I can breathe. ::whine::

Check back here on Tuesday. I’ve got an upcoming review and giveaway that all of you greenies or green-wannabes are going to love. 🙂

You can see more “best shots” over at:

red BSM button

Green Tip of the Week #15 : CFLs – a bright idea

If you haven’t yet changed your incandescent light bulbs in your house over to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), there’s no time like the present! CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!
CFL

“If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars.”

Legislation
At the end of 2007, Congress passed a bill banning incandescent light bulbs by the year 2014. Why it needs to take 6 years for the ban to be in effect is beyond me. In the meantime, you might as well get a head start and start switching your lights over now.

How much money can I save?
You can easily calculate your savings from switching to CFLs over at the One Million Bulbs web site. (Thanks to GrayMatters for the link.)

Where can I buy them?
You can buy CFLs at many stores like ACE Hardware, Costco, IKEA, Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot, just to name a few.

Isn’t there mercury in CFLs?
Yes, it should be noted that CFLs do contain mercury and one must take certain precautions in cleaning them up if they break and never use a vacuum (thanks, A Mama’s Blog). Also, if and when they burn out, they must be disposed of properly. “The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for compact fluorescent light bulbs. EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers can contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or go to bulb recycling or Earth 911 to identify local recycling options.” Also, some stores offer a recycling option right in the store. Please don’t just toss them into the trash.

If you are concerned about mercury, check out Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous? from Treehugger. The article does a good job of allaying any fears.

The bottom line is the benefits of CFLs outweigh the risks.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂