Although organic gardening generally favors pest control through nonchemical means, such as attracting beneficial insects or planting resistant varieties (see References 1), National Organic Program regulations do permit pesticides that have a mineral or botanical origin (see References 2). Whenever you use pesticides on your plants, correctly identify both the pest and the plant, as some formulations can damage ...
Algae grow on lawn furniture during damp weather, creating a green slimy film (see References 3). To remove the algae without using toxic chemicals, try vinegar to clean algal deposits from lawn furniture and other surfaces (see References 4, page 182). Vinegar is safe for washing fabrics, as well as cleaning wood and other hard surfaces (see References 1).
Your toddler spends a lot of his time on the floor. Your dog has an affinity for licking the shower stall. Your husband fails to rinse all the soap off the dishes. The products you choose to clean your house affect your family's health in a number of ways. Bring peace of mind to the home by using natural, nontoxic ingredients to make windows sparkle and countertops shine. The necessary materials can be found in your ...
Growing organic is a big idea. It's much more than farmers planting organic seeds and eliminating pesticide use on their crops. Growing organic is a system of managing the farm to promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity and protect natural resources. In 1990 Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act to establish national standards for food that is marketed as organic. (See References 1.)
More Articles on Organic Gardening
Organic gardening has been promoted in recent years for being better for the environment and healthier for you. According to a study published by the University of Washington, Seattle preschoolers on conventional diets had high levels of organophosphorus pesticide exposure. Children on organic diets had exposure levels below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines (see References 1). If you want to try to start your own organic garden, you'll need organic seeds.
You've probably tried many different brands of shampoo, maybe choosing by scent or by advertised promises, hoping to achieve healthy, glossy hair. Instead, you've been dousing your locks with probable carcinogens and chemicals that can irritate your skin and scalp, and shelling out quite a few bucks for the privilege (see References 3). Try making your own shampoo instead. You'll have the advantage of knowing exactly what's going on your head, and you can choose all organic ingredients.
The terms "GMO" -- short for genetically modified organism -- and "organic" describe two types of food production methods used in modern agriculture. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, between the years 2001 and 2005 the planting of GMO crops more than tripled worldwide, with 75 percent of the plantings concentrated in industrialized nations (see References 1).
The eye area is the most delicate part of the face and is especially prone to dry skin and wrinkles, a condition exacerbated by the harsh chemicals in some store-bought eye makeup removers. Organic products made with natural ingredients that moisturize and nourish the sensitive skin around your eyes are a safe alternative. Homemade recipes not only decrease plastic waste in landfills, but also may save you hundreds of dollars annually when used in place of costly commercial brands.
Most commercially available lip balms have scary-looking lists of ingredients that include petroleum-based oils and preservatives and additives you probably can't pronounce. Making your own lip balm is easy, and it lets you control what goes into the product you're putting on your lips. For an eco-friendly product, select organic ingredients and use local products, such as beeswax harvested by local beekeepers, whenever possible. Once you make the basic recipe, you can add organic essential oils to change the scent or provide extra healing properties.
More homeowners are choosing organic gardening techniques that work in harmony with nature. This paradigm shift demonstrates that the ecological benefits of natural gardening methods trump the need for pristine lawns and overfed flowers. Home gardeners might shy from these methods for fear of their labor-intensive implications. But the truth is, many require the same or less toil than filling a sprayer with a chemical-infused pest killer.
Eating nutritiously can take many forms -- vegetarianism, low-carbohydrate diets, meal plans high in fiber. No matter how you eat, you may consider adding organic meat and produce to your diet. While organic foods, both certified organic and noncertified organic, can be cost-prohibitive, there are a number of pros for eating organically.
Root vegetables are often seen as the low-status, humble members of the vegetable family, but you shouldn't be fooled into overlooking these colorful, nutritious and flavorful elements of a healthful diet. Organic root vegetables such as beets, yams and garlic can grace the table in their own ways.
Killing weeds and preventing future weed growth doesn't require spraying chemical-laden pesticides or resorting to painstaking removal by hand -- you can treat emergent weeds with an organic herbicide consisting of vinegar and essential oils. Vinegar contains acetic acid, a desiccant that destroys cell membranes, causing rapid drying of plant tissues and killing the plant (see References 4); essential oils also have herbicidal properties (see References 2). Follow this treatment with application of a natural, corn gluten-based weed preventer. Corn gluten meal stops weeds from sprouting roots (see References 1) and is available in various organic weed-and-feed products.
Although well worth it in terms of your health, eating healthy and organic foods can initially be tricky and time-consuming. You have to kick the junk food habit. You may need to upgrade your store of nutritional knowledge. Stopping to read labels can be critical in identifying organic foods, lengthening your grocery shopping trips. Most importantly, you have to get your taste buds on board, taking the time to savor the natural nosh of the moment, because a love of good food is the key to healthy eating.
If you buy toothpaste at your local pharmacy or grocery store, it will likely contain one or more of the following ingredients: synthetic chemicals, preservatives, dyes or artificial sweeteners. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers most of these ingredients safe to use in small doses, chemicals such as titanium dioxide, the white pigment in toothpaste, merit concern. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies titanium dioxide as possibly carcinogenic. The easiest way to avoid potentially harmful ingredients is to make your own toothpaste with organic and natural ingredients.
Growing your own food is one way to ensure that what you eat is free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other contaminants. Jack Harlan, late professor of plant genetics at the University of Illinois at Urbana, wrote in his book "Crops and Man" that the seeds used by backyard gardeners could save humanity from mass starvation. He suggested that if a blight were to wipe out one of the main varieties of food crops, the less common heirloom varieties saved by individual gardeners could be resistant to it and provide enough food to prevent starvation.
Increasing numbers of people are buying organically grown fruits and vegetables as a way to benefit the environment and personal health. Few, however, realize the importance of organic seed. Seed production is an industry that has a significant effect on environmental and human health. Organic seed production is a crucial player in the farm-to-table organic-food production process.
A community garden greens empty lots and creates a gathering place for gardeners of all ages and experience levels. There's a satisfaction in harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables that you and your family helped nurture and grow. If there is no community garden in your area, take the reins and establish one. Once word spreads about forming a garden, be ready for an enthusiastic response from the community.
Purchasing organic fruits and vegetables is a healthy choice, because they're grown free of synthetic chemicals. Organic foods, however, can cost more, making many shoppers reluctant to go that route. Step back and consider what foods need to be purchased organic and the best places to buy them. With a few strategies in mind, you can stock up on your organic foods and not feel the pinch in your wallet.
Pepper spray was first approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to repel dog attacks. The same compound can be effective in deterring insects from eating garden produce or feasting on flowers and shrubs. Organic pepper spray is a natural pesticide with a high safety factor that should be used in conjunction with integrated pest management. Pesticide should always be the last option, even when using organic concoctions.
As awareness among consumers grows regarding the benefits of organic vegetables, the availability of this produce grows as well. What used to be a holy grail is now almost ubiquitous. If you want organic vegetables, a day trip to the truck farm is no longer necessary. Many people can now find organic vegetables as close as the corner store, although some options put you much closer to the source.
There are many benefits to vegetable gardens. Growing your own produce reduces your reliance on conventional industrial farming and its use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. You are also cutting down on fossil fuels used to transport produce from one part of the country to another. Best of all, the food you harvest from your own garden is healthy and fresh -- and it comes at a fraction of the cost of buying it from your grocer.
Spider mites are a gardener's foe. Considered a serious nuisance outdoors and on houseplants, this pest is tough to see until plant injury occurs. Spider mites congregate on the underside of leaves, sip on plant fluids and remove chlorophyll. Visible signs include webbing and white or yellow speckles on leaves; defoliation occurs in severe cases (see References 1). The twospotted spider mite feasts on over 100 species of plants (see References 4). To rid your garden of spider mites organically, learn what conditions favor this pest and consider both control measures and preventive strategies.
If you're starting an organic garden, you've got to start from the ground up. Using organic soil can help ensure that your sprouts are green and nontoxic. Organic soil can be hard to find, however. You can buy commercial soil mixes, but be sure to read the ingredient label first. For some organic gardeners, the best bet is to buy organic materials and mix soil in your own garden.
Imported cabbage worm, diamondback caterpillar and cabbage looper are common worms that attack cabbage and other cole crops. Holes in cabbage leaves indicate that one or more of these pests probably reside in your garden. Fortunately, there are organic solutions for pesky cabbage worms.
Insecticides safe for organic gardening are sometimes referred to as "organic insecticides," though they are not necessarily made from certified-organic ingredients. Growing in popularity, these alternatives to toxic, chemical-based insect controls are effective, varied in purpose, and can often be made at home. Even natural insecticides should only be used when absolutely necessary. Encouraging garden health and soil fertility through composting, crop rotation, mulching and companion planting minimizes the need for insecticides (see References 1).
Organic gardeners who grow vegetables not only help reduce the number of artificial pesticides and herbicides they contribute to the environment but also provide their families with chemical-free food. Although gardeners may pick or choose among the organic methods they use to grow food, the basic requirements are natural fertilizers and pesticides, arrangement of the vegetables to "confuse" harmful insects and conservation of water with organic mulch.
Kudos to you for kicking the chemicals to the curb and opting for clean, organic solutions to clean your house. You're reducing your home's impact on the environment and creating a healthier home for your family. Homemade stain cleaners are simple to make because many of the things you keep in the pantry have excellent stain-removing properties. To ensure that your cleaners are not only natural but also organic, buy certified organic ingredients.
It's possible to remove tough, greasy stains with gentle products that do not contain harmful chemical detergents. When shopping for organic grease-removing products, look for water- or citrus-based products. Alternatively, to ensure the quality and safety of the ingredients in your cleaning products, make them yourself from common kitchen ingredients and minerals. (See References 1 and 2)
Organic skin care is increasing in popularity due to concern about potentially harmful ingredients in commercial beauty products. Although cosmetics companies may label products as "hypoallergenic," "gentle," "all natural" or "herbal," these terms actually have no real meaning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the cosmetics industry or test ingredients and finished products for safety before they appear in stores (see References 4, page 1). This means that even if you buy "organic" body care items, you may still end up with a cocktail of chemicals, additives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and heavy metals. The only way to be sure of what goes on your body is to make your own skin care products at home using safe, natural ingredients.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic regulations restrict pesticide use to those of a natural origin, eliminating many of the synthetic remedies that gardeners have come to rely on. Controlling insects and diseases in the organic garden, however, goes beyond using pesticides. Organic methods seek to improve whole-system health, thus improving a plant's ability to withstand pests and diseases without pesticides. (See References 1) A system known as integrated pest management guides pest- and disease-control decisions in the organic garden.
Growing food organically is a big part of green living. You are cutting back on the distance that your food needs to travel to get to you, the quantity of pesticides that get into the water and air, and even the amount of grass that needs mowing. A few easy gardening practices will help you on your path to enjoying homegrown food and reducing your carbon footprint.
In the 1990 Farm Bill, the Organic Foods Production Act invested the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the power to set up a National Organic Program that determines the standards that organic food producers must meet and enforces compliance with those regulations. Organic agriculture standards apply to plant- as well as animal-based farming. (See References 1)
Organic dried fruits are grown and dried without the use of chemical pesticides or petroleum-based fertilizers. They are readily available in health food stores, marked with the official USDA organic seal. Delicious and easy to grab on the run, organic dried fruits make a wholesome and healthy snack you can feel good about enjoying.
When you buy beef at the supermarket, you face the choice of purchasing organic versus conventional beef. To bear the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic label, beef must meet the regulations set forth by the National Organic Program. Organic and conventional beef differ in more than just price; they also have distinct environmental and animal welfare impacts.
Organic gardeners maintain plant health and practice cultural controls to minimize pest problems. However, even the most carefully maintained garden occasionally experiences a pest outbreak that threatens your yield. Organic pesticides break down quickly for the most part, making them safer as a whole than many of their longer-lasting synthetic counterparts. When applying any product to your plants -- especially edibles -- read the label carefully and follow all instructions. (See References 1, page 445-446)
Pepper spray is a natural pesticide and an effective deterrent to many garden pests and wildlife. Hot peppers of the genus Capsicum contain capsaicin, which gives peppers the "heat" that spices up food. Capsaicin is an irritant to most mammals and thus an effective repellant. You can make your own pepper spray, ensuring that all ingredients are organic.
If you spot irregular areas of dead or yellowed grass on your lawn, it could be more than a flaw in your irrigation system. You might have a chinch bug infestation. These pests thrive throughout the United States, sometimes causing serious damage to turfgrasses, especially during hot, dry weather (see References 5). One way to kill chinch bugs is with chemical pesticides, but this method also eradicates the bug's natural predators (see References 6). In contrast, organic methods prevent re-infestation without harming your lawn's delicate ecosystem. Follow up with adequate prevention methods to ensure that your lawn stays pest-free all year round.
Organic food can be frustratingly expensive, but many people don't have a sunny backyard where they can garden. Don't lose hope: You can successfully grow organic food on your fire escape, roof or any other sunny spot. Container gardening simply means planting your veggies in pots or buckets instead of in the ground. It's a tried-and-true practice that can lower your food bill without skimping on quality produce.
Well-suited to the home garden, tomato plants tuck into small spaces, growing vertically on trellises. Given full sun and nurturing, tomato plants provide a savory crop. Tomato plants are also a treat to pests such as aphids, fruitworms and flea beetles. Set in place organic pest controls at the beginning of the season and be vigilant about pests while plants are growing. Healthy plants will soon provide a sweet crop of tomatoes.
Organic hair care products contain natural, plant-based ingredients to cleanse and condition hair without toxic or harmful chemicals. Organic shampoos are safe enough to use daily because they have gentle cleansing agents such as Castile soap, an odorless soap traditionally made from olive oil (see References 5, page 98). This soap comes in solid and liquid form, which you can easily add to homemade recipes, along with herbal infusions. Adding herbs customizes your shampoo specifically for your hair type; for example, chamomile softens and lightens blond hair, sage conditions dark hair, and parsley enhances dull hair (see References 3, page 258). A well-rounded hair care routine should include shampoo, a daily conditioner and an intensive weekly treatment.
One of the most indulgent things you can do for yourself is relax in a hot bath, yet commercial bath salts may be irritating to your skin. Organic sodium salts, on the other hand, soften the water and boost soap's natural cleansing power (see References 2, page 5). Making your own bath salts ensures that your skin is safe and protected, especially if you add seaweed or French green clay. Both clay and seaweed promote healing. Seaweed, such as bladderwrack, also soothes and conditions your skin while providing anti-aging properties (see References 3 and References 4, page 62 and 64). All of the natural ingredients in homemade bath salts work together to provide a therapeutic and rejuvenating experience.
If you enjoy soaking in salt baths but shudder at the lurid colors and chemical smells of drugstore products, consider making your own blends. An all-natural, homemade bath salt soak can be as simple as tossing a handful of Epsom salts into the tub. Alternatively, add minerals, natural scents and organically grown botanicals and oils into your bath to increase the benefits and fragrance. If you garden organically, consider reserving herbs and flowers -- such as basil, thyme, roses, chamomile and lavender -- to dry and crumble into your custom bath blend. Make a batch large enough to see you through several months. (See References 2)
You don't think processed, chemical-laden food counts as a treat, and your dog shouldn't either. Show your pup how much you love him by serving up homemade organic treats. They're easy to make, and much more affordable than most commercial dog biscuits. Better yet, you can adjust the recipe to suit your dog's tastes and health needs.
Hornworms on the tomatoes or Japanese beetles on the roses are enough to send many gardeners running for the bug spray. Insecticides kill pest insects and are commonly used in the garden or in agricultural production to control insect populations that threaten yield or aesthetics. Conventional and organic gardening methods allow different types of insecticides to control those pesky bugs.
Choosing organic clothing feels right, not just for your skin, but also for your conscience. Many conclude that the advantages of organically grown textile crops, which make use of sustainable practices, reach far beyond your closet (see References 3, page 4). You might not mind suffering for fashion once in awhile, but there's no reason the entire planet should. Consumer scrutiny of the clothing industry for unethical labor exploitation and environmental pollution is increasing (see References 1 and 2).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates the use of the word "organic" for shampoos and cosmetics as it does for food products. There are stringent requirements for organic food producers that pertain to the methods by which agricultural products are grown and processed for use in a food product. If a shampoo manufacturer wants to produce a shampoo that bears a "USDA Organic" seal, it must contain a certain percentage of organic elements. The USDA also requires that organic growers be certified by accredited third-party organizations. (See References 4)
The range of organic probiotic drinks to choose from can cause confusion. Organic milk-based probiotic drinks, like kefir and yogurt, use milk free of hormones and antibiotics. Fermented drinks with live cultures are traditional foods that makes them attractive despite a lack of detailed research detailing their benefits.
American diets are woefully lacking in fiber, according to the National Health Information Center. Fiber comes from plant foods, and high-fiber grains provide a number of health benefits that include essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Start your day with a healthy serving of fiber, easily obtained from a whole-grain breakfast cereal. And stick to organic cereals to decrease exposure to harmful chemicals in your food.
Using an exponential form of population growth, two fruit flies could produce enough offspring to fill the space between the Earth and the Sun in only one year, if all of the offspring survived (see References 1). While exponential growth is one of two growth rates ecologists recognize in nature, other factors keep the world from becoming overrun with fruit flies or other organisms that show exponential growth.
When you're expecting, you want to ensure that your baby has a healthy start, which might mean switching to an organic diet as your due date approaches. What you eat during pregnancy affects your baby's development and long-term health, and the consumption of food produced with pesticides and hormones has been linked to a number of adverse health effects (see References 2).
Many consumers today are considering the effects of organic agricultural practices vs. conventional agricultural methods (which use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in crop production). Some wonder whether organic products are worth the extra cost, while others question whether environmental or health-related issues are really much better in organic production and consumption. The answers to these questions are complex and require a look at the entire "farm-to-table" process of agriculture production.
Organic vegetables are popular with health-food enthusiasts, who praise the lack of pesticides, and environmentalists, who support lower-impact organic farming practices. As you make the choice about switching partially or completely to organic vegetables, consider the benefits and the costs to find out whether the fit is good for your lifestyle.
A carpool is a system in which several people share rides to work, school or other destinations. This system helps save money by dividing fuel costs among several individuals, instead of each person bearing the cost of his own fuel. It also reduces environmental pollution by limiting fuel consumption and reducing the number of vehicles on the road and subsequent emissions. Properly organizing a carpool helps ensure proper distribution of transportation costs, and makes transportation more efficient and environmentally friendly for all participants. (See References 2)
It's a tough choice --- leafy greens from a local farm grown using conventional methods or organic greens from a farm across the country. Locally grown and organic crops both offer benefits for your family and the environment. As you weigh this choice, consider your personal criteria: the characteristics of food that are most important to you.
In a perfect world, every food item you purchased would be 100 percent organic, hormone-free, grass-fed and free-range, but that's not financially practical for many people. Trade-offs must be made, and produce is an easy place to make them. Understand labeling before you shop: Food labeled "100% Organic" must be entirely organic; food labeled "Organic" must be 95 percent organic; and food labeled "Made With Organic Ingredients" must be 70 to 90 percent organic, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Just like you, your garden and lawn need nutrients to grow. You can buy fertilizers to improve the soil and feed your hungry plants---or you can feed them naturally through composting and mulching. These techniques are inexpensive and effective, and may even reduce the amount of weeds that grow in your yard.
Consumers perceive organic produce as safer and healthier, and expect it to have greater nutritional value (see References 1). With respect to rice, agricultural researchers find some discernible advantages for farmers and the environment from growing rice organically. Comparing other qualities of organic and conventionally grown rice, however, scientists find fewer differences than purchasers might expect.
The very first apple was undoubtedly organic, even though it had no sticker to prove it. These days, many fruits and vegetables are produced on farms that use pesticides, herbicides and soil additives to create large yields. Organic farmers, however, try to avoid chemicals and artificial methods entirely. Modern organic growing isn't as simple as avoiding chemicals, however. Today's organic apple is grown with an eye to your health and to our planet's future.
In the conventional garden, when faced with a pest problem, gardeners often turn first to chemical pesticides designed to kill unwanted insects and weeds. However, these products often pose risks to people, pets and other organisms found in the ecosystem. Organic methods, on the other hand, avoid synthetic pesticides entirely; in fact, organic certification completely forbids their use. Organic gardeners aren't without options, however, when other pest-control methods fail. Natural substances, often derived from plant and mineral sources, can act as pesticides and have a place in the organic garden. (See References 1 and 2, page 445)
Your ancestors knew a tomato was good because of the way it looked, felt and smelled. Modern shoppers don't have it so easy: We need to consider food's hidden qualities as well. Organic food producers follow a strict set of guidelines to grow food that's free from chemicals and leaves rich, fertile soil behind it. By educating yourself on what it means to be organic, you can find food that feeds your conscience while it feeds your body.
In 1990, the Organic Foods Production Act sought to establish uniform standards for food bearing the organic label and vested the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the authority to regulate producers who wished to use the organic label. Vegetables described as "organic" meet the standards set forth by the USDA for organic certification and differ in several key ways from conventionally produced vegetables. (See References 1)
Although deodorants and antiperspirants are part of most people's daily beauty routines, store-bought commercial brands contain synthetic chemicals that may pose a hazard to your health. Aluminum salts and aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants, and aluminum is genotoxic to humans. This means it alters or mutates DNA and can cause cancer — specifically, breast cancer (see References 5). Studies still have not conclusively proved the link between breast cancer and low-dose exposure to aluminum over long periods of time, but healthier alternatives are available. Deodorant made with organic ingredients is a safe and effective way to control perspiration and eliminate body odor.
Although the production of organic produce is governed by the Organic Foods Production Act (see References 2), the Code of Federal Regulations exempts organic farms that earn less than $5,000 annually from certification requirements (see References 1). While still expected to adhere to regulations, these farms are not subject to inspection and may not meet the same standards. So the distinctions between organic and non-organic can be confusing.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, protecting your inner tissues from dirt, drying winds, excess water and the damaging rays of the sun. The protective layer of dead skin cells is contantly being replaced by new cells emerging from the epidermis. (See Reference 1) Helping your body shed the dead skin by exfoliating with a sugar body scrub is a refreshing and invigorating addition to a healthy lifestyle. Using an organic white cane sugar in your body scrub provides natural glycolic acid, which gently helps the dead skin slough from the body as you bathe. (See Reference 2)
Flax seed has been valued as a food crop for at least 7,000 years, according to food science writer Harold McGee. It's important to vegetarians and vegans as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and as an egg replacement in vegan baking. Although milled flax seed can be stored for months when packaged, once the package is opened, the ground flax is highly perishable. Processors of cold-milled flax seed claim their low-temperature process slows spoilage, but the product still requires refrigeration.
Natural skin care products are assumed to be gentler than chemical products, but that’s no guarantee -- according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, even leading so-called “all-natural” products may contain a synthetic carcinogen called 1,4-Dioxane. For the safest option, make your own scrub using organic oatmeal for gentle exfoliation and goat milk for skin nourishment. A 1998 study by the Nutritional Science Research Institute revealed that milk proteins are just as effective as hyaluronic acid at attracting moisture and holding it in your skin, and a 2006 study at the University of Miami Cosmetic Center found that oatmeal was one of the best cleansing agents for dry, sensitive skin.
In your efforts to go organic, you may have overlooked your bathroom drawer. Traditional toothpastes contain similar artificial colors, synthetic flavors and chemicals that the organic-minded consumer strives to keep out of their food. Organic toothpastes use natural ingredients to clean your teeth and freshen your breath. If you also want to whiten your teeth, check the toothpaste's label for a few key ingredients.
Growing spinach indoors next to a window provides a more accessible and longer-season crop than growing it outdoors because the temperature can be controlled. This leafy green is an excellent source of iron and calcium, the absorption of which can be enhanced by eating it with foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes or oranges. Eating home-grown spinach also reduces the risk of consuming harmful bacteria, such as that in the 2006 Escherichia coli outbreak in the United States attributed to bagged spinach. (See References 1 and 2.)
Lipstick continues making the headlines, but its reputation as a go-to beauty enhancer has been overshadowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s admission that our nation’s top-selling brands possess varying yet still acceptable levels of lead (see References 1). Consequently, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has requested transparency about maximum lead limits and an explanation of the health consequences of using such cosmetics over a prolonged period of time (see References 2). Fortunately, this organic, emollient DIY version (see References 3) -- best applied with a lip brush -- offers peace of mind in a universally flattering shade.
You don’t need a dedicated acre of flat land to grow your own vegetables. A home garden can be created in spaces such as pottery on the patio, window boxes or vertical growing systems. For another option, take advantage of what may otherwise be unused space -- a backyard hillside or slope. This will not only enhance your view, but will provide you with fresh produce to harvest from your own garden.
Not everyone has the luxury of a large backyard, where a vegetable garden can coexist with a pool, a swing set and lots of room for the kids and dog. However, even small areas can be startlingly productive if they're used intelligently. As long as you have access to a space with six or more hours of sunlight each day, it's possible to grow a highly productive vegetable garden (see Reference 1, page 2).
Using common household materials for cleaning, rather than toxic commercial products, is one way every household can contribute to a cleaner environment. Ordinary household materials such as lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda can be used for a wide range of cleaning jobs. Specialized cleansers can be made with similarly common, low-impact ingredients. For example, a functional dry powder laundry detergent can be made from organic bar soap, mixed with natural cleaning agents such as borax (see References1, page 9; References 2, page 3).
Soil quality is a consideration for anyone wanting to grow things on their land. Whether you're a suburbanite seeking a perfect lawn or a fifth-generation farmer looking for increased yields, the nature and quality of your soil are among the most important factors in your success. All soils contain a mixture of organic and inorganic matter, but their proportions and characteristics vary from place to place.
New parents only want the best for their baby. Manufacturers of baby products, especially baby wash and shampoo, cater to this desire with wholesome pictures of giggly, photogenic babies frolicking in tubs of bubbles. The real picture is not so idealistic. A 2009 study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group showed cancer-causing chemicals in the majority of children's bath products. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane were among the most common contaminants (see References 1). Fortunately, it's relatively easy to make your organic baby soap bars free of harsh chemicals. Use these bars for your own children, or give them out as baby shower favors.
As environmental author Sandra Steingraber writes in Orion magazine, talking with children about environmental change proves challenging (see Reference 1). Parents and teachers typically don't want to instill a fatalistic attitude in their children, making them feel hopeless about the future, but they do want to explain in a realistic way how environmental changes affect ecosystems. Fortunately, a number of children's authors provide books that help facilitate such conversations.
Bees are a vital portion of our eco-system, and many wild plants, garden vegetables and agricultural crops could not thrive without their pollinating assistance. Unfortunately, bee populations are dwindling, so if it becomes necessary to get rid of them for reasons of personal safety, you should do as little damage to the hive as possible. Organic approaches provide some simple and non-toxic ways to keep bees at bay without decimating entire bee colonies.
Our grandmothers made their soaps and lotions using homemade lye and rendered animal fats, with the occasional medicinal herb thrown in. They used those basic creations for everything from bathing and laundry to medicinal salves. Theirs were harsh, no-nonsense household products that did the job without fanfare and with little thought to niceties like fragrance or skin-softening properties. Today, with so many quality organic oils, waxes and essential oils available, it is easy for anyone to create safe, skin and planet-friendly soaps and cosmetics to suit every need.