Thursday, June 14, 2007

A new find!!!

Ain't it purty!!! We found a patch of passionflower growing in the woods that we are priviledged to be allowed to play in. Our neighbors even gave us permission to dig some to transplant in our yard so that we can grow our own passion flower for teas and their fruits are YUMMY!! Fred planted almost 20 root cuttings for us and now we are just hoping that they will all take and bear heavily this fall for us. I love to use passionflower to flavor herb teas and it's great if you feel jittery or have trouble sleeping. We have been so blessed where we live now to have found so many useful things growing nearby, already this year we are picking blackberries, wild red plums, passionflower, wild rose petals and honeysuckle.

As usual there is plenty going on around here to keep me busy. The kids like always are staying busy with their bees and schooling and the garden and all of the other critters. Fred's bunny gave birth to her first litter and we are all having fun watching them grow, Caleb has over a dozen doves now that he is raising, and of course we still have the chickens the dogs and the cat....oops, and the parakeets. Our garden looks good so far, we had a little bit of trouble adjusting to not using pesticides and lost most of our cabbage and peas to aphids but now that we are more educated about how to handle those pests without hurting our bees we should be okay. Some of our corn is as tall as I am already and has already set tassels. Lots of other stuff is growing too but I don't want to go on about it today.

We've had some really interesting discoveries around here lately too. Along with the kid's business they have been working on creating new products to add to their store and they started studying chemical free or less toxic cleaning products that use natural things like homemade soaps and vinegar and essential oils. Well, they have made one that is awesome!!! I've been using it for our laundry and have gotten all sorts of stains out of clothes that I thought I would have to throw away... no kidding with Troy's work stuff getting greasy and oily and who knows what kind of gunk in them I had almost resigned myself to letting him go to work looking grungy..... almost. I took the worst of his clothes and the worst of Jared's clothes and soaked them in the washer in this solution overnight and washed them out the next day and they are fantastic looking!! Who knew my kids could come up with something that I would gladly pay for (shhhhh don't tell them that, right now I'm enjoying my free cleaning stuff). I've even diluted their cleaner and used it on my carpets..... I don't think I'll be buying any more of the chemical filled hideously scented stuff from the store anymore either. Then yesterday I decided that I wanted to see just how good this stuff was so I took a fairly diluted mixture of it and CLEANED MY OVEN!!! With no gloves, no fumes, no chemical forced breathlessness or even an unpleasant smell my oven is beautifully clean! I have never used anything that worked this well!

With all the studying that the kids did during the chemical free cleaner research we learned alot of really scary stuff about the things we use to clean our homes and even do our laundry. Check out some of the facts that the kids clued me in on:

  • The National Academy of Science estimates that 15% of all Americans are multi- chemically sensitive due to chronic exposure to household and cosmetic products.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined that more than 150 chemicals found in ordinary household products are directly responsible for producing cancer, allergies, birth defects, and numerous psychological disorders.
  • A study by the Toronto Indoor Air Commission concluded that, due to increased exposure to household carcinogens, women who work at home have a 55% greater chance of developing cancer than women who spend the majority of their time outside the home.
  • According to a five year EPA study, the air in an average American home has chemical contamination levels 70 times greater than outdoor air. The EPA maintains that half of all illnesses occurring in the US can be attributed to chemical contamination of indoor air.

When the kids first came to me with this information (and much more too scary to go into right now) I had to find out what kinds of products all these awful chemicals come in. I thought surely they meant the heavy duty type industrial strength cleaners would have all that really bad stuff in them, but that just isn't the case. Take your ordinary average dishwashing liquid..... in there you have not just a nice sinkful of bubbles that will make your dishes sparkle but you have naptha, phosphates, sodium nitrates, pertoleum based surfactants, diethanolamine and chloro-ortho-phenylphenol!! Those are so much more than just big words, naptha is a neurotoxin and is classified as hazardous waste.... by the way you can also make some nifty explosive stuff if you know anything at all about naptha. Chloro-ortho-phenylphenol is highly toxic and does some really wicked stuff to living critters exposed to it called bioconcentration which means that it actually is absorbed by, accumulates in the fatty tissues of those living critters and is retained there.... eventually it reaches a toxic level causing illness and disease states that can be extremely difficult to correctly diagnose and nearly impossible to treat because all the while the exposure and absorption and accumulation continues! When I read that I wanted to call my mother and fuss at her for all the times that she threatened my brother and I with dish soap!! It might make your dishes sparkle but at what cost?

Oh?, so you have an automatic dishwasher? Well, did you know that automatic dishwasher detergents are very alkaline in their composition and can cause burns to the mouths and/or hands of curious little ones? Dishwasher detergent is also a leading cause of fatal poisonings in small children. Don't believe me that it's bad for you? Okay, take your favorite skirt of pair of jeans and make a paste with it and smear it on there.... watch and see what happens. I've seen this stuff eat holes in tough denim and eat chunks out of leather, I know what it can do to skin too. I once responded on an emergency call to our old fire department where a 2 year old had swallowed a relatively small portion, the child lived but will have a tube in her throat the rest of her life, and scars to show for trying to help her mommy do the dishes.

And your laundry soap, the stuff that without a doubt leaves at least some residue behind in our children's clothing for them to wear around on their skin. It's full of ammonium compounds, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, sodium toluene, sodium alkylbenzene sulfonate, fluosilicate, benzethonium chloride, sodium or calcium hypochlorite, and ethylenediaminettraacetic acid or EDTA. Alkylbenzene sulfonate is easily absorbed through the skin and is well known to cause liver damage! Tetrapotassium pyrophosphate is very toxic and fluosilcate is actually a pesticide..... pesticides are responsible for more cases of cancer in this country that I want to think about not to mention birth defects and sterility. Sodium hypochlorite is just the fancy name for bleach, but it and calcium hypochlorite are both highly corrosive and can cause burns to eyes, skin and lungs..... that is why any vehicle carrying more than a certain amount of that stuff by law has to be labeled according the the NHTSA and Department of Transportation's placard standards, to warn any emergency responder who may be in the area that it is DANGEROUS! But our children's clothing looks so clean..... is it worth it? And now we have "ultra concentrated" versions where you get all the chemical power these products can offer in just a few tablespoons full! That scares me to bits y'all.

How about the carpet cleaner that I don't use anymore and never will again. It has Trichloroethylene, naphthalene (even better than naptha for making explosives), ammonium hydroxide and perchlorethylene. Ammonium hydroxide is corrosive and will damage skin, eyes, and lung tissue... if you absolutely have to be exposed to this stuff wear a gas mask! Trichloroethylene can cause cardiac arrhythmias and/or respiratory arrest. Perchlorethylene is a known carcinogen and impairs the liver, kidneys and nervous system. Both trichloroethylene and perchlorethylene enter the body through inhalation and are stored in fatty tissue (remember bioconcentration?).

It's enough to give us nightmares isn't it. We try to be good wives and mommies and keep our homes clean, we never bargained for this, we never thought that it could lead to poisoning our homes and families and to generations of fertility problems and disease problems that end up being passed on down our family trees!! What I've talked about so briefly here doesn't even account for the oven cleaner that I will never allow in my home again, toilet cleaner, furniture polish, air freshener, disinfectants and all of the other stuff we get talked into buying for the sake of appearances, the feeling of cleanliness and the hope that by using these products our homes will reflect the love that we have for our families.

Sister Angela who commented after my last post was right.... this has to count for school for my kids, especially since their well meaning but seriously misguided mommy hadn't a clue just what I was introducing into their bodies all these years. I personally suffer from a chronic illness that could possibly be connected to some of the chemical over-exposure I've been subjected to. I'm thrilled and impressed that my kids were able to study this out and bring it to my attention, I'm also tickled pink that they have created an alternative to seems to be the answer for our family and one that will definitely save us money in the process of making us healthier. But I did feel more than a little guilty for having used so many chemicals to clean all these years. I remember clearly the asthma attacks that my oldest son fought from the age of 3 months on to his 16th birthday, I remember watching all of my kids hold their noses trying not to breathe while asking if they could go outside to play while I cleaned the bathroom or the kitchen and I can't tell you how many times I tried in vain to find the cause of sudden rashes or outbreaks of eczema over the years. But the more I dig into this the more I realized that I don't have to feel guilty for this .... I was duped plain and simple. The only way I have to feel guilty about it now is if I refuse to change it.

We ladies bought into the cleaning product craze because we wanted the best for our families right? Well we were never told that the labeling standards that these companies must meet to put their products on the market are so ridiculously loose as to allow this kind of abuse of the consumer market, and we were never told that they don't have to list things like "inert" ingredients or that they are simply not required to list specific ingredients on the labels of their products at all! Did you know that "inert" ingredients can comprise up to 99% of any given product? Did you know that a company can legally put the word "nontoxic" on their label even if the product is unsafe? That's because there just isn't a federal regulatory definition of "nontoxic"..... it's just another advertising gimmick in reality. And how about the word "biodegradable" .....just another gimmick, you see nearly everything is biodegradable including things like plutonium, some things just take longer to degrade than others. We even read that the New York Poison Control Center conducted a study that showed that 85% of product labels failed to properly warn folks that the product carried immediate and/or long term health risks!!

We have to face the facts, our world is saturated with chemical compounds, most of which are hazardous and there are just too many for us to keep track of. There are government agencies who try to protect us but we have to keep in mind that the loopholes that allow the chemical companies to do this are wide open and when they aren't those companies can well afford to pay good lobbyists to push for approval. The approval is usually granted on a sort of innocent until proven guilty basis until the chemical compound in question is proven harmful by some poor slob's slow moving lawsuit and during that time the company has made more than enough money to either settle out of court to keep it quiet or pay off whoever it takes to keep the chemical on the market. Keep in mind as well that those same loopholes are plenty big for misinformation, mishandled information and "trade secrets". Our well intentioned government agencies have minimal budgets compared with the huge chemical industry budgets and when the regular day to day people stand up and shout about the chemical exposure in our homes those industry giants just pay some good public relations company to launch a great new campaign to sway public opinion their way.

So now I will step down off of my soapbox for today and ask you all to carefully consider what you bring into your homes. Please don't believe me, please do research the matter carefully for yourself. The kids new product isn't ready for sale yet but I couldn't hold all of that information in and keep it to myself anymore, it had to come out. Hopefully the kids will have at least one or two of the solutions they are working on available soon but in the meantime try to cut back on the products that you are using now..... they may be more harmful to you and your family than the small amount of dirt you are using them to get rid of! You would be amazed what you can clean without chemical soaked wipes or some kind of spray. Get creative, go to your library and check out some books on the subject and keep on looking until you find something that works without poisoning your home.

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