Why Chemical Safety Matters

I am just sick today about the number of cancer diagnosis just within my small group of friends and family lately. I am sick of having to police everything that comes into our house for carcinogens. You know that there is absolutely no requirement for chemical safety testing of what goes into personal care products or cleaning products in the US, right? None. Truly, any chemical can be included for you to rub on your skin or inhale via cleaning. Companies test only enough to make sure that most people don’t see an immediate reaction. They are not required to prove the safety. No long term chemical safety testing. No testing of the cumulative effects over the long term (when small dosages “seem fine”).

I am not dumb enough to believe that legislation will happen to fix this. TCSA reform has been diluted to the point that it will be nearly useless in it’s final form. The chemical companies’ lobby groups have boundless financial resources because they are making so much profit by selling cheap products with dangerous ingredients to all of us. We and our children are the ones who will suffer the effects. I am done with it.

"The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars, as we have done with food."

 

The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars like we have done with food. We are seeing huge shifts as Kraft, General Mills, Subway, and even McDonalds start to move toward removing artificial ingredients because the consumers starting buying differently, NOT because of legislation.

Guys, we have to start doing this with our personal care products and our cleaning products. Is it fair that we have to monitor the things we buy on our own? No, it isn’t. We deserve for personal care and cleaning product companies to make ALL products from safer ingredients, not cheaper ingredients. We *should* be able to go to Target and buy whatever is on the shelf and not worry. But the only way we can get the companies to change is to change our buying behavior, just like food. It is a long road, but every purchase counts!

It’s not about privilege, it’s about being responsible with the privilege we have, at whatever level we have it. Those of us who can afford to make purchasing changes need to do it on behalf of those who cannot afford it yet, because we want the trickle down effect to be that the inexpensive products eventually become safer too, so that EVERYONE is safer. Think big picture. Think long term. Because the corporations and legislators are not. (and btw, as far as cleaning products, white vinegar and Bon Ami are about the cheapest cleaners there are and also the safest, so those changes can be made very cheaply)

And again, it’s not about being sanctimonious. I hope you all know me well enough to know that I don’t judge what anyone else buys or the different levels of “crunchiness”. Some days I make good choices, myself, and other days I make not-so-great ones. But it’s a journey. It’s about slowly shifting the paradigm. Again, big picture. Not giving up. Keep trying to find replacements that support the change.

Join me?

More info on chemical safety

Sustainable, responsible & functional yoga clothing

NOTE: I worked with Fit Approach on their #pranaSpringStyle campaign on Instagram and received a free prAna top (as shown below) in compensation. I received the top after the challenge was over, and I wrote my original post about the prAna mat more than a year before this. All opinions regarding prAna are my own. Jump directly to my discount code.

As you begin to expand your yoga journey outside the physical poses (asana) of yoga and start to take your mindfulness off of the mat and into your daily life, you might find yourself more aware of what kinds of companies and business practices you are supporting with your purchases. I know that has been a part of my own journey. Not only do I try to invest my clothing dollars in products that are made sustainably, are toxin-free, and whose companies practice environmental responsibility, but the bonus has been that the quality is often higher than cheaper pieces.

I’m currently teaching four yoga classes per week, one Lagree fitness class, and I try to take at least one class from another instructor, so I spend a lot of time in my yoga clothing. I not only practice in it, but I often end up transitioning directly from a class to preschool or elementary school pickup, or to the grocery store. (If you do this a lot too, I do have a DIY tutorial for a coverup skirt you might check out!) But the point is: I am now choosing quality over quantity. I can save up longer and slowly replace my cheaper pieces with longer lasting versions.

One company that has never let me down is prAna. Not only do I recommend their non-toxic rubber yoga mat, but I have loved every single piece of clothing of theirs that I have owned. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a daily yoga challenge celebrating their Spring Style line of clothing and loved the sense of community it built. You can look back on the posts by searching Instagram for the #prAnaSpringStyle hashtag. Here are some of my favorite shots from the challenge:

Well, that final picture was actually taken after the challenge, when I had received my new grey Quinn Jacquard Top from prAna. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it from the picture on the site but it fits wonderfully. It moves with me, doesn’t rub in irritating places, and has full frontal coverage without having to add a sports bra. LOVE. And, it is certified bluesign®, which indicates the highest standard in the textile industry for environmental health and safety and chemical management – it’s a third party certification that prAna pays for, to ensure it’s not just greenwashing.

If you happen to be looking for some high quality, high performance, sustainably & ethically produced activewear you can get 15% off any prAna purchase right now using my code: PSSS16LC

And be sure to keep following myself and prAna on Instagram for challenges, inspiration, and the day-to-day active journey!

Green For The Mainstream: I’m speaking at ShiftCon 2015!

Remember ShiftCon social media conference last year?! It was like a huge party of all the people who feel the same way I do about health, wellness, food purity, and low-toxin living. And I have mentioned before that I’ll be going again this year. In fact, I still have ticket discount codes, so if you are considering going, please contact me.

Another reason to attend: I’ll be speaking this year!

I am so excited to be co-hosting a panel with my friend Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama and #CleanCouponing and Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis and Good Morning Google+ fame! Our panel is called Green For The Mainstream and is based on our collective experience working with everyday people who are just starting out on this journey toward cleaner living — in food, beauty products, health, wellness, or cleaning products.

Below is the official summary from the ShiftCon web site, but first I have a question for you: what would YOU, as a consumer, want sustainable brands and companies to know about your journey? How could they help you and what do they do to alienate you that should be changed? Please feel free to tweet me your answer, leave a comment below, or message me on my Facebook page!

~~~

Green For The Mainstream ShiftCon 2015 - I'm Speaking! | Living Consciously Blog

Mainstream America is at a crossroads, with chronic disease on the rise and an urgency to protect the planet like never before. Yet, the mainstream consumer is not necessarily ready to change old habits, even if health and home depend on it.

How do we make green truly work for the mainstream and get beyond trendy ideas to what works in the typical American household?

  • Where could you start on your own journey to live a greener lifestyle?
  • How do you, as a thought leader, respond when your audience is intimidated by change?
  • What resources could help you share?
  • How do you talk to your friends and neighbors about this sometimes touchy topic?
  • How could you bring the conversation to your social media spaces?

The Green for the Mainstream workshop will explore how social media outreach can gently transform old habits into new ones while respecting cultural traditions and limited household budgets. We will speak to the influential role of food in our everyday lives. This session will also cover strategies for reaching local communities with relevant messaging about better products and healthier lifestyles while avoiding elitism.

We will tackle the sometimes controversial topic of big brands entering the green/sustainable/organic market space and how that affects the mainstream consumer. Since many organic brands have been consumed by multinational brands, should you be concerned? We’ll cover some key details to look for when discerning quality products.

Whether you consider yourself light green and want to learn more about the ShiftCon movement without feeling overwhelmed, or whether you consider yourself a strong influencer who is looking for creative ways to reach the mainstream, this workshop is for you.

{excerpt from the ShiftCon web site, read entire description here}

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic - deciphering marketing speak to find a safe yoga mat | Living Consciously Blog

Over the past month, I have been on the search for a new yoga mat to take with me on retreat to complete my 225 yoga teacher training. For the past year, I’ve been using the prAna Indigena natural rubber mat (affiliate link), which I love! Barely any slipping. But, because it is all rubber, it is 7 lbs. Not ideal for squeezing into a carryon in a plane. And we’ll be sitting on the mat during our classroom times, instead of a chair. The prAna is 3-4mm thick, which is fine for my regular practice (I don’t need cushioning), but I wanted to move up to a 5mm thickness for the retreat.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the process of buying a toxin-free yoga mat fraught with difficulties, primarily in the form of deceptive marketing language. Sure, if you search Amazon or Google for “eco-friendly yoga mat”, you’ll come up with plenty of options. Or what companies present as viable options. But how do you really know if your yoga mat is toxic or not?

The phrase “eco-friendly” in the description of a yoga mat does NOT mean it is free of toxins

Here is a list of things that I have found companies to claim as eco-friendly in yoga mats:

  • uses PVC, but was manufactured within EPA standards for emissions at the plant
  • part or all of the mat will biodegrade (eventually)
  • eco-friendly manufacturing processes
  • doesn’t use 6 of the highest-toxin phthalates banned by the EU (which are NOT banned in the US)
  • marketing copy attaches the word “natural” to materials such as “polyurethane”
  • uses the phrase “eco-friendly” but does not disclose the materials of which the mat is composed AT ALL

Can you see what is wrong with each of these?? It’s possible that none of these mats are actually toxin-free!  It’s all marketing speak that means nothing. I will outline the problems with each of these bullet points.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes. A phrase that could mean anything. It could mean that they recycle the trash in their break room. It could mean that they use low-flow toilets at the manufacturing plant. Or that they have an LEED-certified building. It could ideally mean that the plant producing the mats disposes of waste properly. That would be nice. However, “proper” disposal of chemicals does not equal ethical or environmentally friendly — remember that it is often perfectly legal to dump your toxic sludge into ponds and lakes as long as you have the proper permits. There is a huge amount of leeway in the claim of eco-friendly manufacturing, so much that it literally means nothing to me when making the decision to purchase the mat or not.

Biodegradable mat. There’s also a lot of wiggle room here because the most common phrase is “biodegradable components”. Meaning that only a percentage of the components used in the mat might be biodegradable. It might be 10%, 20% or even 50%. And perhaps it’s 100% — great! But I still want to know what chemicals the surface contains, regardless of whether they biodegrade.

Of course I want to buy a mat that is environmentally responsible in both manufacturing process and when it comes to the end-of-life of the mat (i.e., I want it to be fully biodegradable without leeching toxins in the breakdown process). But equally or more important is avoiding toxic chemicals coming off the mat when I’m using it.

PVC free. Definitely something I look for, but unless the company discloses what the mat IS made of, it’s not enough. The most common alternatives to PVC in a yoga mat are polyurethane (a highly off-gassing plastic, see the paragraph about phthalates, below), or Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs). TPE is a blanket term for any number of materials.  Here is a breakdown of all the materials that fall under the name TPE, including some forms of PVC! So just because the mat claims to be PVC-free doesn’t actually mean that it is. Even if the TPE’s used are PVC-free, they are wide open to contain plastics with phthalates.

Free of the Big 6 phthalates. Phthalates are a big deal to me because they are hormone disrupting chemicals. They are most often inhaled through the off-gassing of plastics, because most plastic contains chemical phthalates for softness and flexibility. Throughout the lifetime of a plastic, the surface constantly releases these chemicals as the material slowly breaks down. Plastics are not stable chemical products — you may have noticed that plastic becomes more brittle as it ages, due to the phthalates leaching out as the chemicals return to their original states. The phthalates released from plastics are not only inhaled, but also absorbed by the skin. The feet have the most pores in the body, and our feet are in constant contact with a yoga mat. So avoiding phthalates in your yoga mat is VERY IMPORTANT!

There are hundreds of chemicals in the phthalate family. The EU has identified 6 phthalates that pose such a severe risk that they have been banned in EU countries. They have not been banned in the US. While it’s definitely a positive step for a company to make a mat without the top 6 most toxic phthalates, it doesn’t mean they didn’t use the hundreds of other phthalates available. So the marketing tactic of avoiding the Big 6 is really not enough to protect our health on the mat.

In the end, I have come back to the conclusion that I came to when I bought my current mat several years ago: the only truly non-toxic mat is one that is made of pure natural rubber. The prAna Indigena mat is one option, but the other mats prAna makes, including the E.C.O. mat, are not rubber. The not-so-E.C.O. is made of TPE’s and the prAna site contains no information regarding what components the company chose to use, whether PVC or phthalates or synthetic rubber.

I have finally settled on a Manduka eKo Lite mat, which I have experienced at the studio where I practice. It is all rubber but a tad lighter (~ 1-2 lbs lighter) than my current mat. It is, unfortunately, about the same thickness. I will definitely be bringing my grippy yoga towel (affiliate link) to sit on, and looking for another one at local stores.

What yoga mat to do you use and why? Do you know what your mat is made of?
 

Don’t Deny Americans the Right to Know – defeat the DARK Act

Stop the DARK Act - HR 4432 will prevent GMO labeling at the Federal level effectively killing all GMO Labeling efforts in the states. Take action today! | Living Consciously Blog

If I told you that there is actually bill in the U.S. Senate right now designed to prevent us from knowing what is in the food we eat, would you believe me? Or would you say this is some kind of crazy scare tactic, and that it could never happen in the USA?

Unfortunately, this is happening. It’s an example of just how much money Big Agriculture have invested that they were able to lobby our Senators to even propose such a bill and bring it to a vote. Here are the portions of H.R. 4432 that I find most concerning:

Preempts any state or local requirement respecting a bioengineered organism intended for a food use or application, or food produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered organism.

Sets forth standards for any food label that contains claims that bioengineering was or was not used in the production of the food. Preempts any state and local labeling requirements with respect to bioengineered food.

Requires the Secretary to issue regulations setting standards for a natural claim on food labels. Preempts any state or local regulations that are not identical to the requirements of this Act.

Per the bold text (my emphasis) above, not only will this legislation prevent genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from being labeled in the U.S, but it will also automatically invalidate any mandatory labeling laws that have already been passed in individual states. H.R. 4432 has been nicknamed “The DARK Act” – Denying Americans the Right to Know what is in our food. As of the publication of this post, more than 70 initiatives to label GMOs have been introduced in over 30 states (source). Clearly, Americans want to know what is in our food. I know I do!

And it’s not an unrealistic request — foods that are manufactured by major food brands here in the U.S. are already exported to Europe with slightly different labeling to meet the GMO labeling requirements in other countries. See picture proof of different labels for the same products manufactured in the same American factories in this post. So the objection that GMO labeling will be “cost prohibitive” is false because major brands are already labeling their products for sale in Europe. They actually spend more money producing dual labeling now than they would if they labeled the products the same way in all countries.

We need to come together to speak out against this legislation.

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I rarely ask you to take advocacy action. There are so many important ways to be involved that it’s often difficult to take a stand on just one. So I save my social media and blogging influence for when it really matters. I believe that this really matters and that now is the time to act.

2 ways you can help

1. Sign the petition hosted by JustLabelIt.org. There is a handy option on the site where you can provide your address and automatically generate an email to your Senator(s). I did this from my iPhone in less than 5 minutes. [NOTE: In Texas, you will be asked to specify the topic of your email in a form – choose “Agriculture”]

2. Call your Senator personally. Our advocacy experts tell us that calling a Senator’s office personally holds so much more weight than a petition or even an email. Staffers take detailed notes of each call, so be polite and brief, but be honest and firm. Tell them why you care. They need to know we are serious! Use WhoIsMyRepresentative.com to find their phone number. I will update this post with a link to talking points when I have it. Until then, be authentic. Speak from the heart.

BONUS: Share on social media.
Facebook: follow and Share posts by JustLabelIt.org and Mamavation
Twitter: follow and retweet posts by JustLabelIt.org, Mamavation, and myself. @ your Senator, if you can!

Use the following hashtags: #StoptheDARKAct #WeekofAction

If you join me, please let me know! Join my Facebook group to discuss it or tweet at me! Thanks for sharing!

Dallas City Bag Ban: How to remember reusable bags at the store

How to Remember Reusable Bags at the grocery store | Living Consciously Blog

Since I’ve been crunchy for longer than it was officially cool to be crunchy, I was super excited about the Dallas city bag ban, because it means less waste and less danger to the wildlife. We lived next to White Rock Lake in Dallas for many years, and it always made me sad to see the hundreds of thin white bags lining the shore and being eaten by wildlife who later died. Bag litter is so ubiquitous that They Might Be Giants even wrote a whimsical song about a plastic bag floating along a walkway and attaching itself to the legs of passerby.

Anyway, things haven’t been so celebratory for a lot of folks in the area. The first time I visited Target after the bag ban took effect, the cashier was so defensive about it that she was actually rude when she gave me my free reusable bag (TIP: Target was giving out free reusable bags, at least the first few days!). It was like she fully expected me to throw a fit. I think she might have gotten that response a few times already, which totally explains her surliness.

I know that I spent a few years at first trying to remember to bring my own bags, and there’s nothing more annoying than PAYING for something that you know you already own, but forgot to bring. I made the following video to show you my best tips on how to remember reusable bags at the grocery store. (If you can’t see the embedded video, click here)

To recap what’s in the video:

The door of your car.

Behind the seat of your car.

Tiny, tiny bags. – here’s an affiliate link to the bags I mentioned that fold up into themselves.

Bags that fit in other bags. – another affiliate link to the 5-pack of bags I mentioned.

You don’t use as many. – you can pack a reusable bag completely full and it won’t break.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: produce bags. – affiliate link to mesh produce bags. Or reuse the produce bags that you already have.

I’ll try to have a video next week reviewing the different types of reusable bags. Let me know if you have questions in the comments!

All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

GMO Labeling is NOT impossible: picture proof

If you live in a state that has proposed labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food, if you stand up for #LabelGMOs on social media and have been attacked by anti-labeling trolls, or if you have had any conversation at all with someone who is anti-GMO-labeling, you will have heard this claim: GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive and time consuming for companies. The argument goes like this: companies will have to do allll this extra work to identify GMOs in their products, then oh nooooooo, all the ink it will require to print the labeling! So prohibitive! All that ink! All that knowing-where-the-ingredients-come-from! It will make even the largest companies fold under the sheer prohibitive cost! It’s anti-capitalism!

Well, I’m here to tell you that all the “expensive”, “difficult”, and “prohibitively expensive” work has already been done by many of these major companies who are leading the charge against labeling in the United States. GMO labeling is NOT impossible, pictures are below. Leah of Mamavation (and founder of Shiftcon) is currently on a European trip and was kind enough to send back pictures of the GMO labeling and altered ingredients found in the UK versions of popular products here in the U.S. She has posted them on her Facebook page over the past week or so, and I thought I would compile them for those of you who do not follow her.

Popular US products with GMOs removed or labeled in the UK versions. Note that many are actually manufactured in the US! | Living Consciously Blog

Notice in these pictures that the several of the products with GMO labeling are manufactured in the U.S. It’s not that these products are manufactured in the UK for the UK, as special products only to be sold in Europe. They are made and labeled here, right alongside the product sold to Americans unlabeled. U.S. families are the only ones left in the dark as to what is actually in our food products. Not labeling these products here in the U.S. is conscious choice, one that is requiring companies to actually produce multiple lines of packaging (often in the same facility) to keep GMOs hidden from Americans.

Another interesting fact noted on the graphic is how the FD&C artificial colors have been removed from the UK versions of food. You might be wondering why there rarely artificial dyes in the UK versions of food. Artificial food dyes that have been found to cause hyperactivity and to exacerbate nervous conditions such as ADHD in children (PDF of study summary here) are forced to contain a warning label in the UK stating “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. In order to avoid having to include this warning on their foods, companies who sell products in EU countries have self-regulated and removed artificial food dyes, substituting natural dyes (Mercola report source here).

I get particularly annoyed that the same products are manufactured without artificial food dyes overseas, because I have talked to several of these large brands at the Expo halls of major blogging conferences and have been told over and over that they “can’t” remove the food dyes because “it would change the quality of the product”. Apparently those were all lies, because these products already exist without the food dyes in the UK!

I guess it’s not surprising that marketers lie to us. But, I think it is time to hold them accountable. The next time you hear the argument that GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive or too laborious, help me spread the truth!

#ShiftHappens: Going to ShiftCon 2014 this week!

ShiftCon Media Conference 2014 #ShiftHappens

I am beyond excited to be traveling to LA at the end of this week to finally meet so many of my green/holistic/real food blogger friends in real life at the first annual ShiftCon Media conference!! Here’s a quick summary of what the conference is about:

ShiftCon was born out of the idea that together we can create a profound impact on the world around us. We can literally shift how we eat, raise our families and our impact on the environment. That shift has begun, and now it’s time to come together and leverage our collective influence to accelerate that shift. ShiftCon was created to give wellness and eco-friendly bloggers a place to network, share ideas, learn from experts, empower one another and organize their efforts into activism. This is a one-of-a-kind conference bringing together some amazing people with amazing talents and passions. Shift happens, be part of it.

It’s like Leah read my mind when she organized this conference! The agenda pretty much encompasses everything involved in my blogging journey to live consciously. THIS is why I blog, because we have to shift the paradigm. And better yet, at the conference the food will all be organic, GMO-free, and as conscientious as possible. I’ve been speaking to several other attendees and we are pretty sure we can continue to eat grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free even while at the conference! You know that I have loved my annual giant blogging conference, but there is NO WAY I could have maintained that kind of food purity at that event since I am currently on my liver detox.

At other blogging conferences, I’ve spent half my time in the Expo hall talking to vendors about why they weren’t more environmentally responsible, why they used toxic chemicals, and whether their products contained GMO’s. It will be totally amazing to go to an Expo hall and not be on the defensive!

You can follow me on my journey! I will be live-tweeting from as many of the sessions as I can (follow me on Twitter) and documenting all my amazing blogger friends meetups on Instagram. During the month of October, my Instagram yoga challenge will be #LetsGetFlexy, so be sure to look for yoga poses at the conference — maybe I’ll even incorporate some yogi friends (acro, anyone?)!

There will be some “controversial” speakers like the internet-viral blogger Vani, aka Food Babe. You have to follow me to hear what she says to a group of similarly-minded bloggers!

Feel free to tweet me, leave comments on my Facebook Page, or comment on my Instagram photos with things you’d like me to find out or ask the collective green/holistic/real food bloggers that I know and those that I meet!

There is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic

Heating Plastic: there is no "microwave safe" or "dishwasher safe" plastic! Why and how to avoid heating food in plastic | Conscientious Confusion

Our trusty old dishwasher finally died lately, and I am super excited to have a shiny new one. Those 2-3 weeks handwashing dishes were no fun! But, regardless of whether we have a working dishwasher, there are always dishes in my sink. Why? Because I always hand wash plastics.

Why handwash? First of all, plastics are made out of chemicals. Yep, there is no natural substance out there which can be harvested to produce plastic in it’s final form. It’s all created in a lab. Most plastic is made flexible by PVC, a chemical that is well known to be toxic. Even plastics that are made without PVC are made of other chemicals. You can pick plastics that are “safe-r” to hold food by using this handy list, but there are no completely non-toxic plastics.

Here’s the thing: those chemicals are made active again when the plastic is heated. By default, any plastic that is heated will be releasing some of it’s chemical components. That is why plastic dishware degrades, gets spots, and warps over time. The chemical components of the plastic are slowly breaking down (read more here and here and a more technical study here. Relevance to cancer from chemicals in plastic.). When it comes to dishware, the heat allows those chemicals to mix with our food. Do we really want to be eating a side of chemicals with our meal? Remember that the FDA does not approve chemicals used in houseware (they only oversee Food and Drugs) — there is no regulation of the materials being used in your plates/bowls/sippys/storage containers.

You’ve seen the plastics labeled “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, right? What does that even mean? The definition of “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe”, as far as I can tell from online research, comes from appliance manufacturers. Both terms mean that your dishes won’t be visibly damaged, melted or broken in the appliance, not that the dishware won’t leach chemicals into your food. In other words, there is no “microwave safe” or “dishwasher safe” plastic.

Ideally, it would be fabulous to own no plastic food containers or items at all, but I have two preschool children. I do still use a microwave. With children this young, I still do not have the bandwidth in my food prep time to forego the microwave altogether for quick meals like leftovers and lunches, so stainless steel isn’t always practical. When using the microwave to reheat even something small, transfer the food to a glass container.

Tip #1: I bought small glass bowls from the dollar store specifically for reheating. I have about 4 of them so that there is always one clean. I just pop whatever I want to reheat into these open bowls and toss them in the microwave. The bonus is that I can also safely put them into the dishwasher.

Tip #2: To make storing and reheating from the refrigerator easier, I have replaced all of my formerly plastic storageware with glass food storage (affiliate link). These sets are easy to find at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and even Costco. I replaced it slowly, over time, when I could find sales and coupons. It can be pricey to do it all at one time, although Costco will frequently have good deals on glass storageware.

We have been working on teaching the kids to use glass responsibly. I still don’t allow them to have glass containers unsupervised, but they are getting much more mindful. Soon I hope to transition completely away from plastic cups and bowls for them and to ceramic and glass, which is what we use for the adults in the family.

For more information on the toxicity and environmental impact of plastic, I highly recommend my friend Beth Terry’s book “Plastic-Free: How I Kicked My Plastic Habit and How You Can Too” (affiliate link).

How do you avoid plastic in your home? Do you have any favorite products that you like?