Free Seventh Generation Dish Tabs and a $10 Credit for Natural Cleaning Supplies (for all KOTH readers!)

150126epantry

As naturally-minded mamas, we’re all doing the best we can to use safer home and beauty products.

But as busy moms, it can be so helpful to find ways to cut down on our errands and shopping time. I know that these days, with four kids, homeschooling, working from home part time, and another baby on the way, I can seriously use all the help I can get!

This month I was asked to try out a new-to-me service called ePantry and I’m excited to tell you that not only is it genuinely helpful, but they have a super special offer for my readers only, so read on!

What ePantry is all about

Essentially, ePantry is a simple subscription service where you can customize your orders (and how often you want to receive them), so that household, cleaning, beauty and even baby products just show up at your door with no fuss and at very reasonable prices.

It’s similar to the Amazon Subscribe-and-Save program in many ways, except that rather than signing up for each product individually, you put together a profile for your household, check off your favorite products, and then set your account for how often you want to receive your orders. Not only that, but their prices are good, and ePantry says their customers save 26% on average by shopping with them vs. their regular grocery store.

A week before each order goes out, you receive an email reminding you about it, and you have the chance to edit your order (remove or add an item, or even cancel that particular shipment altogether). It’s a painless process and I found their website so easy to navigate!

KOH All purpose

What products do they carry?

They currently have three lines of cleaners (Method, Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation – of all three, I would suggest Seventh Generation as the most natural).

Then there are skincare products (Yes To), toothpaste (Tom’s of Maine), household items (like natural sponges or cloths, biodegradable garbage bags, etc.), baby care (Seventh Generation wipes, baby wash), razors and blades, feminine care (they even have the Diva cup!), paper goods, and more.

Their selection isn’t huge, but in a way, it’s sort of refreshing! You can’t get lost in the site because it’s so fast and easy to find your way around. I appreciated that.

I’d love to see them add a few smaller brands of natural cleaners and beauty products at some point, to give more variety and provide some other options. That said, from my interactions with the ePantry team, they seem extremely proactive and keen to really serve their customers well and their focus definitely seems to be more on green/natural brands than on conventional.

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How the website works

When you first sign up, they’ll ask a few questions about your household and give you suggestions for products you regularly use (which you can edit – you don’t have to buy what they suggest). It just takes a minute, and then you’re ready to place your first order.

From there, it’s a cinch to edit any future orders, choose regular items you always want in your list, determine whether you want a box monthly or perhaps every two to three months, etc.

I did run into a small snag using my coupon code, but their customer service was excellent and they helped me through it quickly. They have a live chat, which I’ve heard is fast and very helpful. (And they even promised me they’d have extra customer service to specifically help any KOTH readers having issues – is that service or what? Wow.).

Not to mention, when you refer your friends to ePantry, they get $10 off and so do you!

my pantry order

What I ordered from ePantry

  • Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, Tub & Tile Natural Cleaner, and Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Casabella Scrubby Sponges
  • Seventh Generation Ultra Concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent (in Geranium Blossoms & Vanilla – yum)
  • ePantry & Co. Soy Candle in Eucalyptus & Spearmint (smells a.maz.ing)
  • Seventh Generation Baby Wipes
  • Yes to Blueberries pre-moistened towelettes. Normally I go for something more cost-effective, like a pump bottle of cleanser, but since we’re about to be traveling, I wanted this for my carry-on.
It’s worth noting that everything was packed very securely. I’ve had messy problems with previous orders from other companies, like liquid laundry soap leaking all over the place (and 1/4 of the bottle being wasted in the process), so I was really pleased to see everything taped, sealed, and tightly secured in my delivery.
SVG Dish Tabs F&C + Lemon

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Tabs – one of their most popular products, and just for you, it’s FREE! You get to pick from Free & Clear (no scent) or Lemon (my fave).

Right now, ePantry is offering a very special offer for KOTH readers only.

One FREE pack of Seventh Generation Dish Tabs (valued at $5.99!) PLUS a $10 credit AND Free Shipping!

Y’all! Can you tell they’re trying to woo you into giving them a try? Is it working yet? It better be, this offer is too good to pass up! :)

Here’s how to get it:

  1. Click this link. (You have to go through this link or the offer won’t show up for you).
  2. Answer a few questions about your household and personal preferences (it takes just a minute or two).
  3. In addition to the free pack of dish tabs, you will get a $10 credit (off a $30 order) and FREE shipping. So fill your cart up with whatever you like (the dish tabs will appear automatically), until it hits $30, then you can go ahead and check out.
  4. You’ll see the $10 credit come off of your order and in total, you’ll pay about $20 out of pocket for an order worth $35!
  5. Wait patiently (it won’t take long, don’t worry) for your order to show up at your doorstep. (But don’t wait to place your order — this offer is only good until Monday, February 2nd at 6pm PST/9pm EST!)

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My friends at ePantry even put together a “suggested basket” of how you might use your credit:

  • Casabella Sponges- $4.55
  • Method Dish Soap- $3.89
  • Method All-Floor Cleaner- $6.11
  • Method Toilet Cleaner- $4.99
  • 7th Generation Natural Stain Remover- $4.39
  • 7th Generation Tub + Tile Cleaner – $4.39
  • 7th Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner – $4.39
  • 7th Generation Hand Wash – $3.89
  • 7th Generation Auto Dish Packs- Free with your offer! 
With your $10 Keeper of the Home credit, the total is $26.60- that’s only $3.32/product! (That also means you’re getting a $43 order for just $26.60 out of pocket. Not bad, huh?). Click here to have the suggested basket automatically added to your cart!
Of course, you can get whatever you want with your credit, so what are you waiting for? Go get your order! :)
Offer ends Monday, February 2nd at 6pm PST/9pm EST.
Disclosure: I received a free order for the purpose of review, and the links in this post are my referral credit. It doesn’t cost you anything, but I earn a small credit when you take advantage of ePantry’s awesome deal.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Learning how to tell someone “no.” @ John Acuff

When Friendship Has You @ (in)courage

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Tarragon and Mustard Cream Sauce @ The Nourished Kitchen

25 Meaningful Things You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less @ Be More With Less

7 Tips for Healthy Living on a Budget @ Chris Kresser

Coconut Custard Recipe @ Mommypotamus

The Power of the Dinner Table @ SheLoves Magazine

How do you show your joy to others?

3 Steps to a Naturally Healthy Home

3 Steps to a Naturally, Healthy Home {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer

Giving your home and health a natural living overhaul can be a huge task.

One that may seem overwhelming and difficult.

When there are so many things to change, it’s hard to know where to start.

Today I’m sharing three simple steps that I feel are a great place to begin.

Of course, what needs to be changed will be different for everyone, but I think you’ll find these steps doable and beneficial.

1. Replace chemical cleaners with natural ones

This is a simple, yet important step to take since chemical-laden cleaners can be harmful to our bodies and the environment.

In fact (as Stephanie mentioned in a older post):

“They can have harmful effects on our bodies, anything from a mild rash, hives, breathing difficulties, headaches, to more moderate effects, such as severe burns, to long term effects, such as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or causing hormone disruption.”

Using natural cleaners is one of the very first areas I changed. It is reasonably easy and saves money too!

You could purchase natural cleaners at the store, but honestly, they are so easy and inexpensive to make there’s really no need.

3 Steps to a Naturally, Healthy Home {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

In fact, a few simple ingredients will allow you to tackle numerous cleaning tasks.

This post lists a number of recipes I use: Non-Toxic Cleaners You Can Make at Home.

You might like to bookmark some of these natural cleaning posts for future reference as well:

And, if you are not a subscriber to Keeper of the Home, I’d encourage you to do that now, since subscribers receive a free copy of Clean & Simple, an eBook that shows you how to take 7 affordable ingredients and turn them into 12 green cleaning products for a more natural home!

Action Steps

  • Make a simple all-purpose cleaning spray and keep it handy for regular use.
  • Decide which other cleaners you would like to try and make a shopping list for anything you need.
  • Next time you need to mop the floor, try a homemade floor cleaner, or hot soapy water.

2. Learn a Few Simple, Home Remedies

Home remedies may seem daunting, but don’t feel that you should learn (or change) everything at once. In fact, there’s no way to ever learn everything! (And there is really no need, either.)

Making a few small changes will greatly enhance the health of your family (and you won’t lose your mind in the process). 

While you may not be ready to give up commercial pain relievers or cold medicines, perhaps you could switch out the Vaseline you regularly use on dry patches of skin for a natural, non-toxic version. It’s super simple to make your own non-petroleum jelly.

3 Steps to a Naturally, Healthy Home {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Next time cold and congestion strikes, you might like to try a simple herbal steam and this easy homemade vapo rub (or an even easier DIY chest rub).

Essential oils make natural remedies quick and easy to prepare. Although, it is important to learn how to use them as they are strong substances. I have listed some helpful tips and information here: How to Get Started with Essential Oils.

Bookmark this post for when you are ready to dive in to natural remedies: The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up.

Action Steps

  • Decide which home remedies you are willing to try and create a plan to for buying or making them.
  • It’s important to do this before you need them (if possible) so as to reduce stress and increase the likelihood of actually using them!
  • Choose only one to three remedies to begin.

3. Increase Real Food Consumption

Food has the power to change your health. It truly does. (I’ve experienced this personally.)

3 Steps to a Naturally, Healthy Home {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

With this step, I intentionally stated to increase consumption of real food, rather than tell you to eliminate junk or “bad” food. Why? Because deprivation often causes us to binge at some point.

And it can make the changes even more difficult to stick with. (Although some of you do better with an all or nothing approach. If that’s you, then ignore this advice.)

In the beginning, it’s easier to add real food to your diet than take well-loved, but not-so-good-for-you food out.

Emphasize the addition of nutritious vegetables and natural meats.

Replace conventional meat with pasture-raised, grass-fed meats when possible (even if you can’t afford to buy all organic and pasture-raised meats, some is better than none!). Do what you can.

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. Eat lots of them.

Add an extra serving of vegetables at dinner, whip up a green smoothie a few times a week, or make the habit of eating a big salad with your lunch every day.

Bookmark this post for ideas: 7 Ways to Add More Veggies to Food You’re Already Cooking.

The idea is to crowd out the bad stuff with the good stuff and to develop a taste for real, healthy food.

Action Steps

  • If you are not planning your menu for the week, start to do so. This usually enables you to eat much better than if you are preparing meals or eating on the fly. (Get menu planning help here.)
  • When planning your menu, include an extra vegetable each day. Gradually increase vegetable consumption until you are eating at least 6-8 servings of veggies a day!
  • If you’ve never tried a green smoothie, do it! You’ll be surprised at how good they taste.

Having a naturally, healthy home need not be difficult or overwhelming. Making small changes over time will add up to great benefits down the road.

If you’d like more support and guidance, you may enjoy my free 10-day Healthy Living Makeover eCourse.

Which of these steps do you plan on implementing to make your home healthier?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer 

Not only does cutting back on using disposable products minimize your exposure to toxins found in plastics and bleached paper, but it is also an eco-friendly way to save you money!

The most important thing in learning to live a healthier life is to take one baby step at a time. These 12 ways to go disposable free can get you started.

Perhaps some families will choose to embrace all 12, but others may want to start with one or two. Our family, for example, will probably never convert to number 7. (Now doesn’t that make you curious enough to scroll down and see what it is?!)

If you do choose to tackle all 12, you may even want to challenge yourself to make one simple switch each month. By the end of the year, you will be disposable free!

Without further ado, check out these 12 ways to go disposable free!

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

 1. Napkins and Paper Towels

As a newlywed, I used some wedding money to purchase a set of cloth napkins. Back then, I considered that we would only bring these out on special occasions–on holidays or when company dined with us.

When we went through a period of living on a low income, I realized that these special napkins could save us money!

In addition, I began using dish towels instead of paper towels for everyday spills and messes.

My family did not give up paper towels all together, though. We keep them on hand, but we always reach for the cloth versions first.

I have one friend who keeps her paper towels under her kitchen counter, so she’s not as tempted to use them every day!

I haven’t tried them yet, but I love these reusable paper towel rolls from The Parsi Company!

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

2. Cleaning Products

Disposable cleaning products might be convenient, but their cost adds up over time, and most come with toxins that you don’t want in your home!

I enjoy using my Norwex cloths for cleaning. They are woven with antibacterial and antimicrobial silver

There are other microfiber options, and you can also make your own reusable disinfecting wipes.

If you’re not even sure where to start when it comes to cleaning your home naturally, this post should help–as well as this one on naturally deep cleaning for a germ-free home!

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

3. Glass Storage Containers

I had been wanting to get rid of my plastic storage containers for a long time, and I finally took the plunge this year!

Over time, and especially when heated, plastic storage containers can leach toxins into food. This is definitely something I want to avoid at all costs!

Even though we rarely use the microwave at home, my husband still warms his lunches in one while at work. I feel so much better knowing that he is warming it in glass instead of in plastic!

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

4. Snack and Sandwich Bags

For times when we’re on the go and I don’t want to pack our food in glass, our reusable cloth snack and sandwich bags have been such a lifesaver. 

do still use plastic bags on occasion–like when sending snacks with my youngest two children to preschool because they are not quite responsible enough yet to keep up with something they need to bring home.

My six-year-old kindergartener has no problem keeping up with them, and I almost always pack her a waste-free lunch

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

5. Feminine Products

I began using reusable feminine products–mainly menstrual pads or “mama cloth”— about four years ago.

I love them!

Cloth menstrual pads come in a huge variety of colors and patterns, and I’ve actually found that they make that time of the month a little more bearable—both in mood and in milder menstrual cramping.

In fact, this past summer I stopped using them for a while and began having very heavy cramping again for the first time since before I had children.

Several years back, Stephanie gave a review of four sources of mama cloth, but if your finances are super tight right now, you can even try you hand at making your own using Stephanie’s homemade mama cloth tutorial.

If pads aren’t your thing, you can try using a menstrual cup or sea sponge tampons.

Some women claim that reusable feminine products also contribute to shorter periods and lighter flow.

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

6. Cloth Diapers and Wipes

If you have babies and toddlers at home, making the switch to cloth diapers and wipes is a great way to cut down on disposables.

Using cloth diapers and wipes have saved us thousands of dollars over the years, but I give myself grace and will now use disposables during stressful life seasons or during travel.

When I first discovered cloth diapers, I became quite the addict—so much so that I began working for an online cloth diaper store and then wrote an entire cloth diaper handbook with my compilation of research, troubleshooting and in-the-trenches experience.

Until March 1, 2015, you can get 25% off of my eBook, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers, by using code keeper25.

You can get started on your cloth diaper journey with the following posts from my site:

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

And from the Keeper of the Home archives:

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

7. Family Cloth

So this is one area of disposable-free living that my family will never try.

Still, there are some families who tout the benefits of using family cloth, a.k.a. reusable toilet paper.

Megan at Sorta Crunchy makes an excellent case for why a family might want to consider cloth toilet paper, and Beth at Red and Honey gives a great guide to getting started with family cloth.

If washing soiled toilet paper gives you the heebie-jeebies, you can always try using a bidet. These are extremely popular in Europe and parts of Latin America, the Middle East and Japan.

Both of my siblings married Argentines who were accustomed to in-home bidets. In fact, to make my brother-in-law more comfortable, my parents had a bidet installed in one of their bathrooms!

Dr. Mercola uses a bidet and has a good theory as to why most North Americans don’t use them

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from Strawsome.com

8. Utensils & Straws

Most people use silverware in their homes, but many of us probably send disposables with our children to school and use throw-aways for picnics and other family outings.

Instead of plastic, our family has begun using sets of reusable bamboo utensils. These are cheaper than our good flatwear, so I feel good sending it to school with my kindergartener.

In addition, we use a mix of stainless steel and glass drinking straws.

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

9. Toiletries

With disposable razors and shaving creams, lotions and soaps that come in plastic containers, we end up accumulating so much waste!

Instead, why not try an electric shaver or at least try the semi-disposable razors that allow you to change out blades? 

In addition, you can use a natural soap for shaving instead of creams and gels that come in cans.

My husband likes using this shave soap from MadeOn Hard Lotion, and I use plain soap to shave my legs. Using lotion bars instead of liquid lotion that comes in a container also eliminates the need for disposables, as you can reuse the lotion tins.

We also enjoy using our homemade foaming hand soap that we store in a mason jar soap dispenser

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

10. Dishes and Cups

While most of us do not use disposable dishes and cups in our home, we can have the tendency to use paper and plastic while out.

Instead of buying and throwing away plastic bottles of water, why not use stainless steel or glass alternatives?

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}
image from pixabay.com

11. Handkerchiefs

My family still uses tissues for wiping noses, but Stacy of Stacy Makes Cents makes a great case for using handkerchiefs

Our grandparents’ generation used handkerchiefs on a regular basis. Imagine how much money we would save by going back to handkerchiefs during cold and flu season!

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

12. Wool Dryer Balls

I discovered wool dryer balls about four or five years ago, and I’ve never gone back to using dryer sheets! 

Not only do wool dryer balls reduce static, but they also speed up drying time.

Conventional dryer sheets contain all kinds of toxins, but if dryer are sheets are something you absolutely cannot part with, you can try your hand at this DIY reusable dryer sheet tutorial!

This is just one way to detox your laundry routine and eliminate disposables in the process!

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Bonus: Grocery Bags

If these 12 ways to go disposable free aren’t enough, perhaps the simplest change can start with using reusable grocery bags.

Because I have to supply my own bags at my favorite supermarket—Aldi—I have gotten into the habit of carrying reusables in the back of my car.

Some grocery stores even shave a tiny bit off of each purchase when customers supply their own bags. And every little bit counts!

Go disposable-free one step at a time.

I have a tendency to be an all-or-nothing person, but over my 7+-year journey to a healthier lifestyle, I’ve learned that doing that is setting myself up for failure.

Nine times out of ten, our family will reach for a reusable above a disposable, but in recent years I have given myself permission to still use disposables during stressful life seasons. And I think that is OK.

 

12 Ways to Go Disposable Free {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

What are your ideas for going disposable free? How many of these 12 ways to go disposable free do you practice in your home?

Get this best cloth diaper handbook on the market today!

If you’re interested in learning about cloth diapering, you won’t want to miss my 200+-page handbook, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers

For a limited time, get this highly-rated, invaluable resource for 25% off using code keeper25!

This eBook has helped thousands of families learn how to cloth diaper without spending hours online researching the best practices and troubleshooting challenges.

It also comes with a 100% guarantee. If this eBook does not help you, simply email the author for a refund. (Note: This sale applies to the PDF version of the eBook. You can also find the Kindle version on Amazon.com.)

For immediate access, download the eBook here

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products (Plus FREE Dish Tabs and $10 Credit Special Offer!)

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

dish

This is one of the best deals we’ve shared in a while, so make sure you don’t miss it!

FREE Seventh Generation Dish Tabs and a $10 Credit for Natural Cleaning Supplies (for all KOTH readers!)

This is a special deal for our readers only, from a wonderful company I’ve just recently connected with called ePantry. The offer is available from now until Monday, Feb.2, so make sure you get yours fast.

Essentially the deal works out to $35 of natural cleaning, skincare or home products for just $20 out of pocket, so it’s a great discount with plenty of products to choose from, not to mention the free Seventh Generation Dish Tabs (worth $5.99). Click HERE or the link above to find out how to redeem the offer for yourself.

legwarmers

On Sale $5.99  Bambino Land Newborn Organic Leg Warmers at Zulily.  Just type in “organic” in their search bar and you’ll find many deals right now.

toms

As Low As $8.64-$9.66  ($2.88-$3.22/4.2 oz tube) Tom’s of Maine Fluoride Free Children’s Toothpaste, Silly Strawberry, 4.2 oz, 3 Piece is on sale for $10.17.   Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

vita2

Big Savings on Entire Purchase, plus FREE Shipping at Vitacost.  Offer expires January 28, 2015.  While supplies last. Third-party cash back and reward points may not be valid with this offer. *Standard shipping within contiguous U.S. Brand exclusions apply.

stevia

In case you missed it last week, Stevia is still on sale – as low as $7.34-$8.39 / 4.2 oz!  Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Stevia Spoonable Jar, 4.2 Ounce is on sale for $10.49.  Save 15% on your first delivery of this subscription.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

scottAs Low As $13-$14.65 ($0.36-$0.40/roll)  Scott Extra Soft Double Roll Tissue, 9 Count (Pack of 4) is on sale for $16.47.  Save $1 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

chia20% Off Chia Seeds at Bob’s Red Mill.  Just $10.47/16 oz bag.

diaper2celeryTHAIOStormCloudHL
25% Off  Thirsties Duo All In One Diaper at Nikki’s Diapers.  Regular Price $15.75 On Sale $11.81.  Check out their assorted colors and styles.  You’ll find them under their Winter Deals.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

heart

Heartfelt Recipes – A cookbooklet inspired by the Cadence of Grace series [Kindle Edition]
canning

Canning and Preserving: A Simple Food In A Jar Home Preserving Guide for All Seasons : Bonus: Food Storage Tips for Meat, Dairy and Eggs [Kindle Edition]

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

baby

Baby Care: Natural Baby Care Recipes: Make Your Own DIY Baby Lotion, Diaper Rash Cream, Baby Powder, Oil and Even Baby Wipes (Organic DIY Beauty Products Book 3) [Kindle Edition]
budget

19 Budget Hacks for College Students: How to Live on $15/Day Without Dying [Kindle Edition]

This week’s best coupons:

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Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

For They Shall See God @ Redemption Pictures

On letting go of mommy guilt @ Life Your Way

1 Dough, 14 Kinds of Cookies {Allergy-Friendly} @ GNOWFGLINS

The Possibility in Blank Spaces @ Becoming Minimalist

If Food is the Medicine, The Meal is the Cure: 6 Elements of Nutrient Dense Foods @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Chicken Parmesan (Grain-Free) @ The Domestic Man

The Little Rock Nurse @ A Deeper Story

The Picture I Look At When I’m Not Sure I Can Keep Going @ Smartter Each Day

I’ve been talking to friends about their “one word” for the new year. Mine is grace. What word have you embraced this year?

The Fake Food You Don’t Know You’re Eating (Part 2)

By Kresha Faber, Contributing Writer

Have you ever wondered what you would see if you could examine the inside of your body under a microscope? Would you find traces of benzene? Mutated DNA? Or perhaps thinned or irritated cell walls along your colon or a small tumor you didn’t know about?

Modern food manufacturers have at their fingertips thousands of substances to make our food taste better, look better, and last longer, but most of these food additives are synthetic. Or, they’re highly-processed versions of once-natural substances that have the possibility to wreak havoc on our bodies and our environment.

Even the term “natural food,” which used to be reserved to describe fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is now slapped on items that include packaged and processed foods. How are we to sort through all the information to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe?

In Part 1 of this article, which you can read here, we took a rather scathing look at five commonly-found food additives, and today, in Part 2, we’ll take a closer look at eight more. You may also recognize a few of these from our popular article, 7 Foods to Avoid.

But first, there’s something important you should know.

The most important ingredient in your real food journey is your JOY.

Seriously. (And I don’t say that just because I founded the site Nourishing Joy.)

Yes, it’s definitely important to know what’s in our food, to be educated and thoughtful consumers, and to be responsible parents who feed our children good, nourishing food.

But even though I opened this article by pointing out the worst possible outcomes of eating synthetic food substances, let me reiterate what I mentioned in Part 1: At the end of the day, if you’re stressing about the artificial frosting on the cookie your daughter brought home from a party or losing sleep over the fact that you bought frozen pizza in order to have quick backup meals on hand, then it’s just not worth it.

Do as much as you can while maintaining deep joy AND giving yourself much grace along the journey – it’s a fine balance, but after all, it’s the healthiest way to live.

Common Fake Food Ingredients and How to Avoid Them

So first, let’s clarify a few terms. Basically, the best way to avoid fake foods is to eat real food! For the sake of this article, “real food” is merely food made from fresh ingredients that have been grown, caught, or foraged rather than manufactured.

Or better said, REAL food doesn’t have ingredients, it IS the ingredients.

 

Food Dyes

Read more: Center for Science in the Public Interest / Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks (pdf) / Food Safety News / Environmental Health Perspectives Journal / Dr. Joseph Mercola / Food and Drug Administration statement on food additives / FDA list of approved food additives / Food Intolerance Network and FAILSAFE Eating / Food Intolerance Network: Annatto Factsheet / Naturally Savvy / Food Matters

What they are:

Food dyes are ingredients that are used specifically to add color to a particular food or medication.

For example, in food they’re used for everything from coloring sports drinks to candy coatings to making sure hot dogs look pink to coloring orange rinds perfectly orange. In medication, they’re most often used in children’s cough and cold syrups to accompany the flavor, such as Red #40 being used with strawberry or blues and reds in a grape flavor.

According to the FDA, “Without color additives, colas wouldn’t be brown, margarine wouldn’t be yellow, and mint ice cream wouldn’t be green. Color additives are now recognized as an important part of practically all processed foods we eat.”

Most of the artificial food dyes used in the United States are petroleum-based. There are nine synthetically produced dyes approved for use by the FDA, three of which (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) are most commonly used.

As a side note, “caramel coloring” is currently categorized as a natural colorant, but I personally consider it an synthetic colorant, as it’s produced by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high temperatures and pressures, which produces the by-products 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, known carcinogens.

How they affect us:

According to various studies (linked above), the most worrisome findings about synthetic dyes are that they’re likely carcinogenic; they’re known to cause allergies, hyperactivity, and headbanging in a certain percentage of the population; and some are inadequately tested to be considered safe for human consumption.

Not everyone reacts to food dyes, but for those who are sensitive, effects can be immediate. Also, the long-term effects are unknown.

Where you’ll find them:

In pretty much any processed food, including some labeled “natural” or “organic.”

What’s especially interesting is that Great Britain has banned artificial food dyes entirely and the European Union requires complete transparency on food labels, yet items such as Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese is sold in the US as well as both of those places. In the United States, the recipe uses synthetic food dyes, but in Great Britain and the EU, the same product uses natural food dyes rather than the synthetic versions. There is a petition to remove the artificial dyes from the US product, if you’re interested.

Also important to note is that some children, especially those with an autistic spectrum disorder, can react to some natural food dyes as well. Annatto and carmine are the most common contentious natural colorants.

How to avoid it:

  • At home, you can make your own food coloring easily.
  • When purchasing food, reading food labels while making your purchasing decisions is the most effective way to avoid undesired food dyes. Choosing whole foods rather than packaged foods will make it easy to avoid food dyes as well.
  • When eating out, ask your server if there are any pre-made or bottled ingredients in your order, and if so, to check the ingredient lists. Food dyes can show up in everything from farmed salmon (Red #40 is sometimes used to make the flesh appear pink) to condiments. Be sure to tip them well for the time it takes them to find the answer for you, especially if they already knowledgeable or are especially respectful of your questions.

 

Carrageenan

Read more: Chris Kresser / Dr. Andrew Weil / Cornucopia Institute (1) / Cornucopia Institute (2) / Shopping Guide to Avoid Carrageenan

What it is:

Carrageenan is a thickening and emulsifying agent made from a red algae commonly called “Irish Moss.” It is used to improve and stabilize the texture of many common foods, usually dairy and dairy-substitutes.

How it affects us:

Modern carrageenan is an intestinal irritant, although researchers disagree to what extent damage is done when it’s ingested and if it warrants caution.

Part of the confusion lies in that there are two different types of carrageenan – one of which is food-safe and one of which absolutely is not, although the latter of which also has no thickening or stabilizing properties when added to foods. It’s known that the NON-food-grade variety irritates the colon more than the food-safe variety, but several of the studies don’t list which type of carrageenan was used in the study, so thus the confusion.

However, the nation’s foremost independent expert on carrageenan, Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., is convinced that both forms are harmful to human health. In fact, she went so far as to claim that in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs since it was so consistently a trustworthy irritant.

And while inflammation doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, consider this: The unique chemical structure of carrageenan triggers an immune response in the body, rather than recognizing carrageenan as digestible. This immune response leads to inflammation as the body attempts to protect itself. For individuals who consume carrageenan on a regular or daily basis, the inflammation will be prolonged and constant, which is a serious health concern because chronic inflammation is a precursor to more serious disease, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and arteriosclerosis, and is linked to some cancers and can be a precursor to diabetes.

All that said, alternative health advocate Chris Kessler lays out an excellent argument for why carrageenan perhaps gets a worse rap than it deserves.

“Occasional exposure is likely nothing to worry about,” he writes, “but for most people… avoiding carrageenan is probably as simple as making your own nut milk or coconut milk, so I would encourage you to give that a shot.”

Where you’ll find it:

Carrageenan is commonly used in dairy products (such as ice cream, eggnog, buttermilk, yogurt, and ultra-high pasteurized whipping cream), dairy substitutes (such as almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk), deli meats, juices, dips, dressings, puddings, and frozen foods.

How to avoid it:

  • Carrageenan is one of the most common food additives on the market and it can be frustratingly difficult to avoid this one.
  • Checking your labels is the sure-fire way to see it, but that doesn’t help if all the brands available to you contain it.
  • In those cases, you can either do your research ahead of time using this handy shopping guide to see which brands use it OR you can make your own dairy products, dairy alternatives, and pantry staples at home.

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are just a few DIY options to easily avoid carrageenan:

DIY Homemade Rice Milk and Almond Milk (with links at the bottom to several other homemade nut milks)
How to Make Yogurt
Homemade Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt Cups
Homemade Custard Ice Cream without a Machine
or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
How to Make Cream Cheese (shortcut version)
How to Make Cultured Buttermilk and Sour Cream
Taking the Mystery Out of Creme Fraiche
How to Make Mozzarella Cheese
Homemade String Cheese
Easy 5-Minute Homemade Chocolate Pudding Cups

Also, my book, The DIY Pantry, has at least 40 recipes that replace typically-carrageenan-laced foods in addition to this list.

 

Preservatives

Read more: The Journal of Clinical Investigation / Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America / Environmental Health Perspectives (pdf) / British Journal of Cancer / Linus Pauling Institute / World Health Organization (pdf)/ Food Matters / Dr. Joseph Mercola / WHFoods / Live Science / The History of Potassium Bromate in Baking / Food Science: The Kitchn / About Food Cooking Chemistry / Summary of Food Additive Safety / Sulfites: Separating Fact from Fiction / Health Canada: Sulfites / Green Living: Sulfites in Wine / Sulfite-containing foods / Fresh Look at Food Preservatives / Shape Magazine / Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (pdf) / The Lancet / Fooducate / ADPEN Laboratories, Inc. / Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal /

What they are:

Preservatives prevent the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria and keep foods from becoming rancid, browning, or developing black spots. They also suppress the reactions that occur when foods combine with oxygen in the presence of light, heat, and some metals.

Namely, preservatives extend the shelf life of food products, enhance color and flavor, and maintain consistency and texture of foods across varying climates.

There are currently more than 3,000 preservatives approved for use in foods in the United States, which makes avoiding them difficult, even if you buy healthy items, such as fresh produce, cured meats, or artisan breads.

Here, we’ll focus on just six commonly used preservatives: BHT/BHA, sodium and potassium nitrate, potassium bromate, sulfites, sodium benzoate, and disodium EDTA.

Please note: when I say “preservatives,” I’m referring to chemical or other artificial preservatives, as even sea salt acts as preservative – in fact, it’s one of the longest used food preservatives in the world! For the sake of this article, however, we’re examining common artificial additives that appear on labels to discern their safety and effects on our health.

How they affect us:

BHT/BHA:

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are added to many foods to keep oils from going rancid and thus prolong a product’s shelf life. The issue is the fact that they tend to oxidize (which is why they’re great preservatives), but in our bodies they basically oxidize our cells. Just like lovely leafy green, brightly colored fruits and vegetables are antioxidants that help heal our systems from trauma – BHA and BHT create that trauma and multiple studies suggest they are very likely carcinogenic.

What’s worse is that BHA/BHT is not needed – other less traumatic methods can be used to prevent spoilage, such as synthetic vitamin E (which is still an synthetic additive, just better than BHA/BHT), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of oxygenated air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oil-laden foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).

Verdict: Avoid if possible

 

Nitrates/Nitrites:

Nitrates and nitrites are preservatives that are responsible for maintaining a fresh pink color in red meats and for inhibiting the growth of botulism in cured meats, especially deli meats, hot dogs, and corned beef. Chemically produced potassium nitrite is also known as “saltpeter” or “pink salt” (not to be confused with Himalayan Pink Salt, of course! But don’t worry – saltpeter is dyed bright pink to eliminate any chance of confusion). Its effectiveness as a preservative has been known since the Middle Ages, but there is much contention surrounding its use.

First, nitrites are documented to be a possible trigger for migraines. There is also widespread concern that when foods which contain nitrites are exposed to heat, such as bacon and hot dogs when they are cooked, OR when they are placed in an acidic environment for extended periods of time, such as in the stomach following a large meal, carcinogenic N-nitrosamines are formed during those processes.

However, proponents of using nitrites often point to the fact that nitrites are naturally occurring, with MORE nitrites occurring in beets and celery than are used in conventional cured meats. And to add to the confusion, there is at least one study that has discovered that saliva that is high in nitrites actually helps form a protective gastric-mucosa layer in the colon during digestion, which is missing when no nitrites are present. Also, nitrates are vasodilators, which increase blood flow through the body.

And therein lies the heart of the debate, and where I, as an author, choose to make the distinction: the vast majority of ill-health claims linked to nitrites, such as migraines and the formation of N-nitrosamines, follow the eating of foods using chemically-produced nitrites, whereas naturally-occurring nitrites, such as those from vegetables and those naturally created in the body, don’t tend to trigger the ill effects, yet still create a positive gastric effect.

The same is true with the formation of N-nitrosamines – foods using chemically-produced sodium or potassium nitrite produce a much higher amount of nitrosamines during cooking than do naturally-cured or naturally nitrite-rich foods. The latter still produce some, but not in the same quantities. I wasn’t able to find any studies that showed clearly why this might be, but it makes sense to me nonetheless.

Verdict: Avoid conventionally cured meats if possible, especially if you struggle with migraines or deal with any sort of disease dealing with the blood, the heart, or circulation, and avoid all sources of nitrites, both natural and chemically-produced, if you feel ill following consumption. Otherwise, choose meats cured with celery juice or another naturally-occurring source and eat them in moderation.

(One last note: Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs wrote an excellent article that explains this further, with a slightly different verdict at the end: Nitrates: The Good, The Bad, The Truth)

 

Potassium Bromate:

Potassium bromate is a powerful oxidizing agent that enhances doughs and creates a homogeneous crumb structure, resulting in soft, fluffy breads.

It is considered a category 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and has been banned in Japan, Canada, Brazil, and the European Union, among others. It is legal in the United States, but must be declared on the label in the state of California.

Verdict: Avoid if possible

 

Sulfites:

Sulfites, or sulfur-based preserving agents such as sulfur dioxide and sodium bisulfite, are used to prevent discoloration and bacterial growth. They’re often found on dried fruits (for example, a dried apricot that has not been treated appears nearly black), processed potatoes, and in red wine. (In fact, in red wine, small amounts can occur naturally as part of fermentation.)

For most people, sulfites are largely no cause for concern. In fact, the first documented use as a preservative was in 1664! Like table salt, when consumed in moderate amounts in healthy persons, these inorganic salts can be metabolized without issue. However, for people who are asthmatic, anaphylactic, or have other food or environmental allergies, sulfites can trigger difficulty breathing, headaches, rapid heart rate, anxiety, hives, severe cramping, nausea, or other similar symptoms.

Thus, the FDA now requires labels to include the words “may contain sulfites” if sulfites are present in any form (naturally occurring or otherwise).

Verdict: Avoid if you know you’re sensitive to sulfites. Otherwise, don’t sweat it.

 

Sodium Benzoate:

Sodium benzoate is a synthetic chemical produced when benzoic acid, which is found naturally in some fruits and spices, is combined with sodium hydroxide.

Sodium benzoate is one of the most common preservatives, especially in foods with a high moisture content, such as soda drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings, pickles, and children’s liquid medications. It’s also an effective agent against corrosion, so it’s one of the most common ingredients in automotive antifreeze.

At its most innocuous, sodium benzoate has been confirmed to increase hyperactivity in some children, as with artificial food dyes. However, its real danger comes if it’s exposed to light and/or heat, especially if it’s paired with citric acid or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), as it converts fairly readily to benzene, a highly toxic and carcinogenic acid associated with leukemia and other blood cancers that has no lower limit of toxicological harm. (Meaning, any amount can be harmful.)

And even worse, at least one study found that sodium benzoate significantly increased damage to DNA itself when it was added to cells in various concentrations. This is serious business, as damaged DNA is what triggers cancers, cell mutation, and can be especially harmful to babies in vitro, since their cells are just being formed.

Ironically, the next preservative on our list, disodium EDTA, is sometimes used to prevent benzene from forming by interrupting the chemical reaction between sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid.

Verdict: Go out of your way to completely avoid sodium benzoate and other benzoates, especially if you’re pregnant.

 

Disodium EDTA:

Modern food manufacturing often involves a lot of machinery, including rollers, tampers, blenders, and metal containers (e.g. the cans stacked in your pantry). These items can leave trace amounts of metals in your food as well discolor your food, so disodium EDTA is added to the food to preserve color and to act as a chelator – that is, a chemical that draws metal to itself and bonds with it.

Overall this is good, as those metals are ushered out of our systems. However, EDTA can also bind with needed minerals and nutrients and usher them out too, especially Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and other essential nutrients, disturbing your gut bacteria and leaving you with a compromised immune system.

The Center for Science for the Public Interest lists EDTA as “safe” and states it can be consumed without worry, but there are those for whom it can cause an allergic reaction, such as asthma and skin rashes.

Verdict: Avoid if possible. Otherwise, don’t sweat it.

 

Where you’ll find them:

BHT/BHA: Breads, cereal, oils, shortening, chewing gum, potato chips, and anything else cooked in or with oil

Sodium Nitrate: Cured meats (such as salami and lunch meats), corned beef

Potassium Bromate: Breads, pastries, and baked goods

Sulfites: Dried fruit, beer, wine, processed potatoes, fresh cherries, bottled lemon juice, shrimp, and lobster. No ADDED sulfites may be added to wine in order to be USDA Certified Organic, but natural sulfites may occur. Sulfites are not allowed to be used on meat, as they can falsely make the meat appear fresher than it is.

Sodium Benzoate: Soft drinks, fruit drinks, salad dressings, condiments, pickles, and other high-moisture foods

Disodium EDTA: In canned goods, salad dressings, spreads, mayonnaise, and soft drinks, among other processed foods

How to avoid preservatives:

First and foremost, read labels! Here are a number of great tips for how to read food labels.

And in addition to the long list of DIY ingredients listed above, here are a few other recipes to help you avoid preservatives:

Easy, Everyday Homemade Lunch Meat
Homemade Traditional Corned Beef
10 Real Food Salad Dressing Recipes
Make Your Own Mayo
Healthy, Kid-Tested Barbecue & Picnic Condiments
Real Food Homemade Cheez Whiz & Homemade Velveeta (gasp!)
Homemade Bouillon Cubes
Homemade Cheerios
Easy Homemade Burger Patties
Make Your Own Chicken Nuggets
17 Homemade Spice Mixes
25 Pantry Staples for Last Minute Meals
20 Easy Real Food Switches and Substitutions {with Free Printable Chart}
Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples
Homemade Flour Tortillas
How to Make Homemade Evaporated Milk and Sweetened Condensed Milk (the Easy Way)
Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup + Fluffy Cornbread

Enjoy Pinterest? Here are two boards you’ll want to follow:

Real Food DIY & Basics
The DIY Pantry: Homemade Pantry Staples

 

Does all this seem overwhelming? Just want to avoid processed foods? Grab a copy of my book, The DIY Pantry, now available at booksellers nationwide. You’ll find 150+ recipes for pantry staples that you used to buy but can now easily make at home, including crackers, cookies, condiments, cake mixes, beverages, breads, soups, and SO MUCH MORE.

 

 

What food additive or “fake food” concerns you most? What is the most surprising ingredient you’ve ever encountered?

 

 

One Simple Way to Boost Your Health – Drink More Water

One Simple Way to Boost Your Health {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

One of the most important things you can do for your health is to increase the amount of water you drink.

 In fact, it’s doable for anyone no matter how far along on your journey you are!

On average (and be honest) how much water do you drink a day?

If you are like me (before I knew better), you might get a glass down a day, and that’s only on the days you remember that water is there and you’ve run out of other things to drink.

Are you smiling and nodding your head? Well, it’s okay. I understand. I’ve been there.

Water is essential to life. Did you know that you can only live a mere few days without it? Isn’t that fascinating?

Facts that you need to know about water:

  • Water makes up 60% of the human body and 70% of the human brain.
  • Water is what enables your cells to transport nutrients and minerals throughout your body more effectively.
  • Water helps transport wastes, including toxins, out of your body.
  • Usually when you think you’re hungry, you are actually thirsty.

As you can see, water is essential to the functioning of our bodies because it makes up the majority of our bodies, and it is used as the means for transporting nutrients throughout our bodies. Plus it helps eliminate toxins, which is very important to our overall health.

You can make all the changes in the world to your health and lifestyle, but if you neglect water, you’re neglecting one of the most important health changes you could make.

 

One Simple Way to Boost Your Health {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Additional benefits of drinking water:

Drinking water helps increase your energy levels.

Dehydration, even minor dehydration, can cause various bodily systems to slow down, which makes you to feel sluggish, tired and irritable.

Remember: our brains and bodies are made up of mostly water! It makes sense that proper hydration will help increase energy levels.

An extra tip: Someone once advised me to drink one quarter of my daily water intake upon waking. Instead of starting my day with coffee, I’m purposing this year to make it a habit to drink water first. Try it and see what you think.

Drinking water improves your skin.

A lot of our skin troubles are due to the fact that we are not getting enough water. Have dry skin? Try increasing you water intake and see how your skin feels then.

Drinking water is a natural headache remedy.

A lot of headaches are due to dehydration. When you have a headache, try drinking a few glasses of water while resting and see if the symptoms don’t ease.

Drinking water helps you lose weight.

Water helps with protein synthesis. This means that the food you take in is being converted to muscle and the fat is being burned. Without water just the opposite happens.

Therefore, increasing your water intake can help you shed those pesty pounds you can’t seem to get rid of.

How much water is enough?

The best way to know how much water you need to be drinking is to do the math.

  • How much do you weigh?
  • Divide that number by 2.
  • You now have the amount of water that you need to drink in ounces.

For example, a 150 pound person must drink 75 ounces of water a day or just over nine 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

I know what you’re thinking, “How can I drink that much water? That sounds like a lot of glasses of water!” At least this was what I was asking when I started making this simple change to boost my health.

 

One Simple Way to Boost Your Health {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

4 tips to help you drink more water:

Buy a reusable water bottle.

Using a reusable water bottle has helped me tremendously in my efforts at increasing my water intake. I know that I have to drink my bottle empty three times in a day to meet my requirement for water. I hated refilling small glasses over and over and over. However, only having to refill my bottle three times a day helped.

Set small goals.

Setting goals is one of the best ways to ensure you are making progress on drinking more water.

For example, using our 150 pound person from above, he or she could resolve to drink 2 glasses before leaving for work, 3 glasses before lunch, 3 glasses before leaving work, and one glass before bedtime.

By setting little goals throughout the day, you can be sure that you’re meeting your daily requirement.

Add fruit to your water.

Some people just abhor the taste of water. Adding fresh lemons or limes or kiwi to your water can make it more palatable. Plus lemons help increase the detox value of the water.

Ask a friend to do this with you.

Challenge each other to increase the amount of water that you take in each day. Then, make a game of it. See who can meet their requirements more days in a row. Hold each other accountable. Then, go out and celebrate when you’ve met your goal.

As you can see, water is essential to life and it’s one simple way to boost your health! I don’t know about you, but I like love simple!

Any increase in the amount of water you drink is a step in the right direction. Some of you will hit the ground running and won’t look back. Others of you will hop, skip, and jump around this topic. That’s okay as long as you’re moving forward.

Resolve to increase your water intake by just two more glasses. Resolve to replace one soda a day with a glass of water instead. Start small, and build up. Don’t grow stagnant. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Your body will thank you!

How do you drink more water each day? What tips can you share that work for you?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

real deals 700px post image

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Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

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About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Identifying and Avoiding Toxins in Beauty and Personal Care Products

150119

This post was originally published at Simple Organic.

Have you ever received a topical prescription from a doctor, such as an anti-fungal or anti-bacterial cream? Or used a topical pain reliever for a mouth sore (or for your baby’s teething)? What about a birth control patch that slowly releases hormones?

Why do these products work so well when applied to our skin, rather than taken orally?

The reason is that our skin readily absorbs chemicals and other substances deeper into our body– through our skin layers, into muscles and fat, and ultimately into our bloodstream. That pretty shade of Champagne eye shadow does not just float around on the outer layer of your skin until you wipe it away before bed that evening. No, it penetrates deeper and deeper into your body throughout the day.

Once absorbed into our bodies and blood streams, toxic chemical ingredients can cause and/or contribute to a wide array of problems (source):

  • Cancer
  • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
  • Allergies
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Endocrine (hormonal) disruption
  • Organ system toxicity
  • Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
  • Enhanced skin absorption (some chemicals actually cause our skin to absorb even more chemicals!)
  • Biochemical or cellular level changes

336136328_f11445dcc8

Photo by ktpupp

But aren’t chemicals and ingredients in beauty products regulated?

Sadly, the short answer is no. Here’s a longer answer (source):

The unfortunate reality is that the government does not currently require health studies or pre-market testing for these products before they are sold. According to the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors,

“FDA cannot require companies to do safety testing of their cosmetic products before manufacturing,”

and

“…a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.” (FDA 1995)

The Cosmetics Ingredients Review (CIR), the industry’s self-policing safety panel, falls far short of compensating for the lack of FDA oversight. An EWG analysis found that in its 30-year history, the CIR has reviewed the safety of just 13% of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products. FDA does no systematic reviews of safety. That means that nearly 90% of ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution. And as people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients on their skin daily, these chemicals are raising concerns, for their potential impacts to human health and to the environment

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Photo by takot

Aren’t these small amounts of toxins fairly harmless?

Once again, the answer is unfortunately no.

To best answer this question, I’m going to defer to this incredible series of 3 short videos titled “10 Americans”, put out by EWG. You will be absolutely stunned by the findings of this research project and the implications that it has for us, women and moms desiring to be informed and careful consumers. Also of interest is this study Teen Girls’ Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetic Chemicals.

(If you’re wondering why I consider Environmental Working Group such a fantastic source for this type of information, it is because this non-profit organization ardently researches the dangers of toxins and exposure to them, and actively lobbies the government for greater consumer awareness and health-protective policies.)

What types of ingredients should be avoided?

I’m going to work through most of the typical beauty care products that we women use, and list some of the most dangerous and common toxins that they contain. My lists aren’t exhaustive, but they do include most of the major offenders. A highly worthwhile activity would be to gather up your most-used bathroom products, and compare their ingredients to these lists.

To understand more about why a specific chemical is considered harmful, visit the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, and type in the name of the chemical. It will tell you health concerns associated with that chemical, and where that information comes from, as well as give you a rating on a scale from 1-10.

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Photo by pumpkincat210

Makeup/Cosmetics:

Silica/Crystalline (or Quart or Rose Quartz), Propylparaben (or Butylparaben or Methylparaben or any paraben), Aluminum Power, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance, PEG-4 Diheptanoate, BHA, D&C Red 30 Lake (this is one example of an artificial color– most come up highly toxic), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Alumina, Octinoxate, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide, Benzyl Alcohol, BHT, Polyethylene Glycol, Manganese, Barium Sulfate, Oxybenzone, DMDM Hydantoin, Triclosan, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Steareth-21, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone.

Shampoo/Conditioner:

BHA, Fragrance, Butylparaben (and again, all of the parabens), Octinoxate, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Methylchloroisothiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Triethanolamine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (almost anything with Laureth or Laurate in it), Cocoamide DEA, BHA, Resorcinol, P-Phenylenediamine, P-Aminophenol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Salicylic Acid, Ceteareth-12, Benzyl Alcohol, PEG-10 Sorbitan Laurate.

*Note– Don’t be taken in by “natural” products without still reading the ingredients. I did my ingredient research by looking up products with a rating of 10 (the most-toxic) and I found J/A/S/O/N shampoos in there, a supposedly natural brand!

Deodorant:

Fragrance, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Triclosan, Coumarin, Lilial, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Limonene, Propylene Glycol, Isobutane, Benzyl Alcohol, Zinc Oxide (sunscreen grade), Eugenol, Benzyl Salicylate, Butane, Aluminum Chlorohydrate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor.

Bar Soap/Body Wash:

DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Ceteareth-20, Retinyl Palmitate (Vit A Palmitate), Octinoxate, Cocamide DEA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben (and all other parabens), Triethanolamine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Coumarin, Salicylic Acid, Lyral, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cinnamal, BHT, Eugenol, Oxybenzone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Benzalkonium Chloride, Hydroxycitronellal, Diazolidinyl Urea.

Skin Cleansing and Lotion:

Fragrance, Retinyl Palmitate (Vit A Palmitate), Salicylic Acid, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, PPG-2-Cetearathe-9, PEG-7 Glycerol Cocoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Geraniol, Limonene, Polysorbate-20, Laureth-23, Ceteareth-20, Triethanolamine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polysorbate-60, Eugenol.

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Photo by stevendepolo

Nail Polish:

Toluene, Triphenyl Phosphate, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide, Benzophenone-1, Dibutyl Phthalate, Aluminum Powder, Octinoxate, Barium Sulfate, Tartrazine, BHT, Formaldehyde, Oxybenzone, Alumina, Isobutylphenoxy Eopxy Resin.

Hair Styling Products (mousse, hair spray, gel, etc):

Fragrance, Retinol (Vitamin A), Octinoxate, DMDM Hydantoin, Butylparaben, Propylparaben (and again, all parabens), Triethanolamine, Polysorbate-20, Retinyl Palmitate (Vit A Palmitate), Phenoxyethanol, Polyethelene Glycol, Geraniol, Limonene, Isobutane, Propane (this one surprised me!), Diazolidinyl Urea, PEG-40.

Toothpaste:

Fragrance (hmm, a theme), Sodium Fluoride (of course, there is debate over whether this is toxic or not), Retinol (Vitamin A), Propylparaben, Aluminum Hydroxide, Hydrogen Peroxide, FD&C Blue 1 Aluminum Lake (another example of a coloring), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine.

Perfume/Fragranced Products:

Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate (Vit A Palmitate), Fragrance, Propylparaben, Octinoxate, Diazolidinyl Urea, BHT, Lilial, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Ceteareth-20, Tartrazine, Geraniol, Citral, Lyral, Coumarin, Amylcinnamaldehyde.

Now that you know, what should you do?

Most of us would be both overwhelmed and utterly broke if we tried to suddenly replace all of our beauty care products in one fell swoop. That’s not what I would recommend.

Instead, pick one that you are most concerned about or that feels reasonable to replace. Research some better brands on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, try visiting your local health food store for some options, or consider making your own replacement (see below).

Once you’ve found a replacement that you’re happy with, consider what you might like to replace next. One at a time, little by little, you will slowly transform your beauty care routine into a non-toxic, pampering affair.

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Photo by -MONICA

Recipes for homemade beauty care:

How do you avoid toxins in your beauty and personal care routine? What types of products do you use?

Top photo by marmar gee