Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘green’

Green Halloween

While most people have been brainstorming costume ideas, we’ve been brainstorming ways to make this year’s Halloween a greener holiday! You’ll be happy to know these tips won’t affect your favorite tricks or treats.

Our post about Halloween from last year told us the scary truths of toxic chemicals found in our favorite costumes, decorations, and treats.  Check it out to learn more about chemical exposure during this eerie holiday season.

Here are some other tips for an more environmentally-friendly holiday:

1.  Re-use costumes
Trade with friends, look in thrift stores, or tear apart your closet for old clothes or fabric. Find accessories at yard sales.  Don’t forget to avoid plastic masks and makeup containing harmful toxic chemicals, especially face paint. When Halloween is over, make sure you save your costume for next year, or trade it to someone who might find a good use for it. 

2.  Find a unique and reusable trick-or-treat bag
Get creative with this aspect of your costume and re-use a bag.  Kids will love to create their own personal trick-or-treat bag by decorating a blank canvas bag or old pillowcase with non-toxic paint or non-toxic markers.

3. Serve healthier treats.
If your family chooses to opt-out of sugary candy, think out of the box for other treats kids enjoy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Stickers
  • Yarn bracelets
  • Seashells
  • Acorns
  • Seed packets
  • Home-made barrettes or hair clips
  • Coins
  • Pencils made from recycled material
  • Polished rocks
  • Small pumpkins

4.  Support local farmers by eating and decorating locally
Shop for foods in-season, and stick to organic and pesticide-free options. Purchase natural decorations such as pumpkins, gourds, haystacks, and corn husks. If you’re hosting a party, use big bowls of snacks to serve guests rather than individually packaged treat bags.  Plastic food containers and candy wrappers quickly add up this time of year, and taking small steps to cut down on your own packaging makes a huge difference in plastic trash accumulation.

5. Spread the word and inspire others to use Greener Halloween ideas this season!

Posted by on October 28th, 2011 No Comments

Be Green, Even on the Grill

It’s almost the end of the summer and barbeque season is in its peak. But before you just grab any old burger to grill, we’ve got some tips for making the barbeque fun and healthy, for yourself and the environment!

1. Consider what you're eating…and what it ate! Purchase grass-fed free range beef over conventional corn-fed factory beef. Research has shown the grass-fed beef is better for you, and also healthier for the environment. Meat from grass-fed animals typically contains:

* Fewer calories.
* More of vitamins A, C, D, E and beta-carotene
* More Omega 3-fatty acids (which reduces the risk of heart disease, and decreases the risk of high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s).
*Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), another healthy fat, that has been linked with inhibiting various types of cancer, including breast cancer!

Check out the Eat Well Guide or Eat Wild to find grass-fed meat near you.

2. Turn down the heat. Like your burgers burnt to a crisp? It may be time to reevaluate. Studies have shown that cooking meat at such high temperatures forms compounds in the meat that are carcinogenic. These chemical compounds mimic estrogen, and with lots of exposure, increase your risk of breast cancer.

3. Frequent the Farmer’s Markets . Shopping for local, organic produce helps the environment, local farmers, and your health! Local Harvest is a great source for searching for farmer’s markets and CSAs nearby. Perks:

* Fewer chemicals and pesticides than in produce from factory farming;
* Local shopping cuts down the use of energy for transportation, often reduces the amount of materials needed for packaging.
* You’ll support your local farmers.

4. Buy reusable cutlery. Instead of reaching for a package of paper plates and plastic cups, consider buying reusable plates made from recycled material. Preserve offers a bunch of cute cutlery that is also eco-friendly, dishwasher-safe, and built to last.

Posted by on August 11th, 2011 No Comments

Are you washing with green products or is it all just a greenwash?

sevens-sins-of-greenwashingIt is easy to fall into the trap of greenwashing since “being green” is the latest craze these days. What exactly is “greenwashing?”  It’s defined as “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service,” according to TerraChoice Environmental Marketing.

As you’ve hopefully learned by now, there are little industry standards and regulations when it comes to chemicals in this country. This means companies could define their product as “natural” or “eco-friendly” and not be held to any sort of accountability.   Most products on the market contain “trade secrets” or fragrances.  Even a company like SC Johnson, which is entering the green market with its Nature’s Source cleaning products, labels their products on the bottles and on their websites, but fails to list what is actually in their “fragrances.”

To arm yourself and fight greenwashing, check out TerraChoice’s 2009 report - 7 Sins of Greenwashing.  It will not only help companies from committing these sins, but will help consumers look for these sins so they are not stuck with a less than green product.  You can be aware of greenwashing as long as you are equipped with the right information and these helpful hints from

Posted by on March 16th, 2010 No Comments

Eco-Friendly Tattoo Removal Method

tattoo removalAfter my recent break-up with my long term boyfriend, I decided that instead of feeling bad for myself I would reflect on the things I was thankful for. Number one: I didn’t get that tattoo of a heart with his name in it.

Not all of us are this lucky.  If a wild night in Las Vegas has left you with a winking smiley face on your backside…Or if you’ve recently learned of the toxins in tattoo ink, and want to safely remove yours—I have some good news—there are now eco-friendly means to get rid of that unwanted tattoo.  

Typically, doctors use laser surgery to remove a tattoo. To avoid scarring, they must keep your skin 70 degrees or cooler.  They previously used a chemical called tetrafluoroethane to keep skin temperature down. Unfortunately, tetrafluoroethane is very toxic, greenhouse gas which has a lasting impact on the environment.

A carbon dioxide spray has been introduced as an alternative. Unlike the tetrafluoroethane, CO2 is dry ice spray that cools the skin before turning into gas, making it much better for the ozone layer.

So while we all make mistakes, at least we now have eco-friendly means of righting those wrongs.

Posted by on January 12th, 2010 5 Comments