Green Living Journal Winter 2009 #7 : Page 16

Health Handwashing by the Numbers By Lisa Poisso Handwashing isn’t a sexy topic—so we’re going to scrub this one up by the numbers. Two reasons to wash your hands frequently: 1. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2. Handwashing is an effective way to avoid transferring toxic chemicals from your hands to your mouth, especially for chil- dren. Notes the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Scien- tists have found that children ac- tually ingest more chemicals off their hands than from mouthing toxic products directly, such as arsenic from playing on older wooden swing sets or fire retardants found on some electronics.” One magic number to remember when washing your hands: Scrub hands with soap for 20 seconds—about as long as it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” in your head. Four reasons to avoid anti-bacterial soap: 1. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee found that antibacterial soaps offer no advantages or benefits over plain soap and water. 2. The American Medical Association advises against using antibacterial soap at home because it may en- courage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. 3. Triclosan, the common agent in antibacterial soap, is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity as well as impaired thyroid function. 4. Wastewater treatment is unable to completely re- move triclosan from water, exposing marine wildlife to the toxic chemical in lakes, rivers and oceans. Three soap ingredients to avoid: 1. Fragrance 2. Triclosan 3. Triclocarbon Two reasons handwashing is better than waterless sanitizing lotions and gels: 1. Hand sanitizers don’t prevent hand-to-mouth chemical transfers. 2. Sanitizers (including harmful ingredients such as fragrance, antibacterial agents, drying alcohol) remain on the skin, to become fully absorbed. This article appeared on Super Eco (http://www.supereco.com) on 10/28/09 and is reprinted here with permission. For more informa- tion about Lisa Poisso visit http://lisapoisso.wordpress.com 16 Lifestyle Cloth Diapers Are The Right Choice By Cynthia Thompson How “Green” is Cloth Diapering? Over 18 billion disposable diapers are purchased each year in the US and the vast majority of them end up in landfills, where they will be around for hundreds of years. Cloth diapers do not contribute to landfill waste and use far less raw materials to produce. Manufacturing disposable diapers uses more water than washing cloth diapers. We found no increase in our water or electric bills during 3 years of using only cloth diapers. Cloth diapers contain fewer chemicals than disposable Why choose cloth diapers? • Does not contribute to landfill waste • Reduces environmental footprint • Gentle on baby’s skin • Cost savings • No chemicals products. For example, disposable diapers contain super absorbent polymer gels (SAP) to absorb waste. Even the “green” disposable diapers contain this chemical (read the label: if it doesn’t say gel-free, it isn’t). This gel has been linked to asthma and skin problems. Disposable diapers release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOCs can have toxic health effects. White disposable diapers are almost always bleached with chlorine leaving trace amounts of dioxin, a chemical classified as a carcinogen. Cloth diapers use the natural absorbency of fibers such as cotton, hemp, wool and bamboo. Some reusable A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009

Health: Handwashing by the Numbers

Lisa Poisso

Handwashing by the Numbers
By Lisa Poisso
Handwashing isn’t a sexy topic—so we’re going to scrub
this one up by the numbers.
Two reasons to wash your hands frequently:
1. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways
to keep from getting sick and
spreading illnesses, according to
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC).
2. Handwashing is an effective
way to avoid transferring toxic
chemicals from your hands to
your mouth, especially for children.
Notes the Environmental
Working Group (EWG), “Scientists
have found that children actually
ingest more chemicals off
their hands than from mouthing
toxic products directly, such as arsenic from playing
on older wooden swing sets or fire retardants found
on some electronics.”
One magic number to remember when washing your
hands:
Scrub hands with soap for 20 seconds—about as long as
it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” in your head.
Four reasons to avoid anti-bacterial soap:
1. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory
committee found that antibacterial soaps offer no
advantages or benefits over plain soap and water.
2. The American Medical Association advises against
using antibacterial soap at home because it may encourage
bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
3. Triclosan, the common agent in antibacterial soap,
is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity as well as
impaired thyroid function.
4. Wastewater treatment is unable to completely remove
triclosan from water, exposing marine wildlife
to the toxic chemical in lakes, rivers and oceans.
Three soap ingredients to avoid:
1. Fragrance
2. Triclosan
3. Triclocarbon
Two reasons handwashing is better than waterless
sanitizing lotions and gels:
1. Hand sanitizers don’t prevent hand-to-mouth
chemical transfers.
2. Sanitizers (including harmful ingredients such
as fragrance, antibacterial agents, drying alcohol)
remain on the skin, to become fully absorbed.
This article appeared on Super Eco (http://www.supereco.com) on
10/28/09 and is reprinted here with permission. For more information
about Lisa Poisso visit http://lisapoisso.wordpress.com

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Health%3A++Handwashing+by+the+Numbers/279088/27820/article.html.

Lifestyle: Cloth Diapers are the Right Choice

Cynthia Thompson

Cloth Diapers Are The Right Choice
By Cynthia Thompson
How “Green” is Cloth Diapering?
Over 18 billion disposable diapers are purchased each
year in the US and the vast majority of them end up in
landfills, where they will be around for hundreds of years.
Cloth diapers do
not contribute to
landfill waste and
use far less raw
materials to produce.
Manufacturing
disposable diapers
uses more water
than washing cloth
diapers. We found
no increase in our
water or electric
bills during 3 years
of using only cloth
diapers.
Cloth diapers contain fewer chemicals than disposable
products. For example, disposable diapers contain super
absorbent polymer gels (SAP) to absorb waste. Even the
“green” disposable diapers contain this chemical (read the
label: if it doesn’t say gel-free, it isn’t). This gel has been
linked to asthma and skin problems. Disposable diapers
release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including
toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOCs
can have toxic health effects. White disposable diapers
are almost always bleached with chlorine leaving trace
amounts of dioxin, a chemical classified as a carcinogen.
Cloth diapers use the natural absorbency of fibers
such as cotton, hemp, wool and bamboo. Some reusable
diapers use synthetic materials like microfiber to absorb
moisture but they still do not rely on a chemical reaction
to work. Babies in cloth diapers generally experience fewer
skin irritations and rashes than babies in chemical-laden
disposable products. I can count on one hand the number
of rashes my daughter ever experienced, and I attribute
them to introducing new foods, not cloth diapers. The best
way to reduce diaper rashes for any baby is to change the
diaper promptly, every time the baby eliminates.
It makes environmental sense to reuse as many
products as possible and to avoid chemicals in products
used against the skin. Reusable cloth diapers are lighter on
the planet than any single use product when resources for
manufacturing, use and disposal are considered.
How much money can you save?
The average baby needs about 6000 diapers during the
first two years not including disposable wipes (estimated by
one mama at $18 per month). Then there is the rash creams
(diaper rash is a common side effect of using products
containing chemicals) and garbage disposal (one ton of
waste per baby). The cost to purchase disposable diapers is
approximately $2000 for 2 years. Cloth diapers for the same
time will cost from $150-$700. Buying used diapers will save
even more money. Cloth diapers will last through several
children in most cases. When I started cloth diapering my
daughter at birth I purchased only used products.
Making your own diapers is also a money saver. After
I saw how the diapers and covers were constructed, I
decided to sew my own. I drew my own pattern and started
by recycling t-shirts and other clothing we already had
around the house. As I learned more about customizing the
fit and function of the diapers, I purchased small amounts
of specialty fabric. Usually I would sell my daughter’s
outgrown diapers to fund these purchases. By the time my
daughter was six months old, I was making 100% of her
diapering products myself. Our total cost for using cloth
diapers for three years was less than $250.
Cloth diapers can also be resold for a good percentage
of the original cost or repurposed as cleaning cloths. Babies
in cloth diapers generally toilet train sooner than babies in
disposable diapers, reducing costs even further.
Cloth diapers are easy
Using cloth diapers is no more difficult than using
disposable products. Fear of feces is often expressed by
new parents as a reason to use disposable products. Despite
claims to the contrary (i.e. “Keeps your baby clean
and dry”), a caregiver is still needed to cleanse the child’s
skin. And the dreaded “blowouts” actually occur with less
frequency when using properly fitted cloth diapers. I never
had to deal with soiled clothing while using cloth diapers.
All the waste stayed inside the diaper, where it belonged,
until I dumped it into the toilet, the appropriate disposal for
human waste.
Traveling with cloth diapers is also not a big deal. Marie
DiCocco, Real Diaper Association Secretary and board
member, had this story to tell about traveling with cloth
diapers:
“When my daughter was 15 months old, we took a 2
week trip to Toronto, Canada. I packed up our flat diapers
and the thin prefolds that you can buy at Wal-Mart (2-3-
2) and fleece covers. I would fold up the flat diaper into a
soaker pad that I laid inside the prefold and then pinned
them on using a fleece pull-on cover. Since they were so
thin, they were easy to rinse out in a sink at night and hang
up to dry. We had access to a laundromat near the B&B we
were staying at so I didn’t actually wash them by hand. But
by rinsing them out and hanging to dry, they didn’t smell in
the bag where I collected them. Halfway through our trip,
we took a trip to the laundromat and washed them all.”
“Any other time that we traveled, if we were going
somewhere where we had access to a washer, I just took our
regular fitted diapers and washed them as necessary. Fortunately,
all of our relatives & friends were understanding and
had no problems with us washing diapers in their washers.
But if I had to travel someplace where I didn’t know what
sort of washing facilities were available, I’d use my flats and
thin prefolds.”
I chose to use cloth diapers 100% of the time including
at night, when my daughter was at daycare and even when
traveling. It was not a hardship or a hassle. It was my choice,
freely made in the best interests of my child. There is really
no good reason not to use cloth diapers, but there are many
reasons to avoid single use disposable products.
For more facts about cloth diapers visit the Real Diaper
Association at www.realdiaperassociation.org, a non-profit
organization dedicated to outreach and advocacy.
Cynthia Thompson has been advocating for cloth diapers since
her daughter was born in 2003. She currently serves on the
board of directors and is vice president of the Real Diaper Association.
She is the owner of Zoom Baby Gear, a retail store
specializing in reusable cloth products for the whole family.
Editor’s comment: In 50+ years of working and playing in the
beautiful forests of the northwest I have come across many,
many disposable diapers thoughtlessly tossed out, some even
in remote areas. But I have never, ever seen a discarded cloth
diaper.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Lifestyle%3A+Cloth+Diapers+are+the+Right+Choice/279089/27820/article.html.

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