Friday, January 27, 2012

A Wonderful Lotion for Dry Skin

I've been using a great lotion that has worked wonders for my dry skin this winter:  Shikai Borage Therapy lotion.

This product is free of all the things I want to avoid in lotions: parabens, petroleum products and fragrances. What is does contain is borage seed oil, which I have learned is great for skin. Borage seed oil is the best plant source of GLA, an essential fatty acid that contributes to skin hydration. It has anti-inflammatory properties and works to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier. It has been shown to be an effective topical therapy for, among other skin conditions, childhood eczema.

I found Shikai Borage Therapy lotion at the Whole Foods in East Liberty. You can get it for less at the website Vitacost. That site has free shipping on orders over $49 and discounts many of its items.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Greener Disinfecting Wipes

I confess to the occasional use of disinfecting wipes. I try to limit my use because, as they are disposable, they are not at all environmentally friendly. However, sometimes I do reach for a wipe to give bathroom surfaces a quick going-over between regular cleanings. Or I might use one to wipe down the kitchen counter after preparing chicken.  

The wipes I use are Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes. These wipes contain a botanical disinfectant made from thymol, a component of thyme oil. Significantly, they do not contain certain ingredients found in other, popular brands of disinfecting wipes.

I researched wipes offered by two major brands and found that they contain ingredients to which I would not want to expose myself or my family. Both of the brands use alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC), a pesticide. ADBAC has been shown to be toxic to birds and aquatic life; it is also suspected of causing asthma. The public interest group Beyond Pesticides rates ADBAC as toxic, meaning this ingredient is toxic to human health and the environment and is not recommended for use in most cases.

One of the conventional wipes uses ethanol and the other uses isopropanol as solvents. These solvents are skin and eye irritants. Inhaling them can irritate the nose, throat and lungs. The conventional wipes also contain "fragrance." Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients covered by the the term "fragrance" in their ingredients list. Many of the chemicals covered by the term are known or potential toxins.

If you also succumb to the convenience of these wipes, protect yourself and the quality of the air in your home by choosing a product that is free of potentially harmful ingredients.  The Seventh Generation wipes are a good choice.  Are there any other wipes that you would recommend?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That's all your house is--it's a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.  
      George Carlin

And many of us find ourselves with a stash of old stuff that we're not sure how to dispose of properly.  Electronic waste is a special concern. Televisions, computers, monitors and printers contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals. If these electronics end up in landfills, these toxic substances can leach into groundwater. Large quantities of electronic waste have been transported overseas where improper handling has resulted in the poisoning of people as well as the environment.

Last year, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law that,  effective January of 2013, prohibits electronic waste from being put out with the regular trash. In my community, Mt. Lebanon, a ban on electronic waste being placed in trash collected by the municipality has been in effect since September of last year.

So, how do we responsibly and lawfully dispose of these items?  eLoop, an electronics recycling company, maintains several "eCycling Centers" in Allegheny County; these centers accept a variety of ewaste for free recycling.  One of these centers is the South Hills location of Batteries Plus, located in Castle Shannon. Also, Goodwill stores and attended donation centers in our area accept personal computers and related equipment for refurbishing and recycling.