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Category Archives: Chemicals

7 Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds

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This year I have seen my share of germs and viruses attack our house, the majority of which are courtesy of my 5-year-old and her adventures at school.  So with all these colds and flu viruses flying around all over the place, I have gathered quite a list of great home remedies that help pull my family through the sick patches. Here are some of the best that I have found, and I want to share them with you!

Homemade Cough Syrup

Take a red onion; cut into quarter inch slices and restack with a dollop of raw local honey  in between each layer.  (The local honey will also help prevent allergies in springtime.) Allow to sit overnight.  In the morning you will have a syrup that not only helps get rid of the tickle in your throat but also helps you rest easy about not adding chemicals and medications into your system that you don’t need.

Garlic Tea

Cloves of garlic have been used for YEARS to help alleviate cold and flu systems. Garlic is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. Simply cut 2-3 cloves of garlic, place into boiling water, and allow to steep for 10 minutes. For added taste use lemon juice, raw honey or ginger.  Ginger is also a great way to naturally help soothe tummy aches and digestive issues.

Onion Juice Earache Relief

One of the most effective remedies I have found for an earache is onions.  Take an onion and bake for about 15 minutes at 425° F (be sure to leave the skin on the onion, as it helps keep the juices inside while cooking.)  Let the onion sit until cool enough to touch then crush it in a bowl to extract the juice.  Using an eyedropper, place the warm juice in the ear.  This will usually help relieve the pain within a few minutes.

Warm Salt Water

Add a generous amount of salt to lukewarm water and mix well.  Gargle with the lukewarm salt-water mixture to help soothe your sore throat and promote healing.

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Hot Washcloths/Ice Packs

If you have sinus congestion, a great solution is to apply either hot or cold around the congested sinuses.  Take a damp washcloth and heat it for about 50 seconds in the microwave (be sure to test it first too make sure it is not to hot).  For a cold pack, you can use frozen vegetables/fruits or place a damp washcloth in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.  Chose hot or cold, whichever feels more comfortable.

Water, Water, Water

Drink it, steam it, and soak in it! Keeping the fluids in is the best way to flush out toxins when you are sick. A comfortable way to help clean out your head is to run a hot shower, since the steam will help moisten the air around you, especially good for dry coughs. Lastly, when you are feeling body aches or muscle pain from the flu, try a nice hot bath to soothe aches and pains. Try throwing in some oils like tea tree or eucalyptus, to help speed up the healing process.

SLEEP!

Sometimes the thing that best helps beat the flu is time and rest. Allow your body time to rejuvenate and bring itself back to its usual healthy, energetic state.

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Stay healthy this germy season!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just a mom, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using any of these remedies.

What does “hypoallergenic” mean?

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I was out shopping, looking for mascara, and noticed that a lot of products say “hypoallergenic” on them. It got me thinking, what does hypoallergenic really mean? Is it a material that’s used? Is there a certification for it? Less allergic than what? I was surprised at some of the answers I found.

As it turns out, our President Walt knows about this topic.

“Hypoallergenic is a word that was created by a small cosmetic company in the early 1960s, and was quickly adopted by the advertising industry to describe products that produce fewer allergic reactions.

The Greek prefix HYPO literally means “less” or “below,” so when a product is designated as hypoallergenic it means that it will conceivably trigger fewer allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies.

The term does not relate to chemical exposures. The expression has no medical definition, and there is no certification process or organization that reviews whether a product using the word “hypoallergenic” can prove any lessening of allergic reactions.” – “Sleep Safe in a Toxic World”       page 22.

Hypoallergenic Shampoo 12oz-1

With some further research, I found that the use of the word “hypoallergenic” certainly doesn’t stop at cosmetics. It’s evolved with everything from bedding, cleaning supplies, shampoo even to pets. What a wide array of t items that can potentially be labeled “hypoallergenic”!

The frustrating thin, is that it allows companies to make you believe that you are buying a product that will reduce the severity of allergies or even prevent the chance of having an allergic reaction, when in fact there are no certifications for it. It can be used in any way by companies to market their products, and is one of the most commonly used greenwashing terms out there. (For more information on greenwashing, check out our blog HERE.)What does “hypoallergenic” mean?

“Hypoallergenic” is used to represent synthetic products and materials in a flattering light. For example, a polyester dust-mite cover may be of use in keeping dust mites at bay for allergy sufferer, but that’s only part of the story. Such products can also expose users to chemical offgassing and other hazards. Choose certified materials and products for relief from allergy symptoms and chemical exposure. –Lifekind website (http://www.lifekind.com/index.php/site_organic_products?sub=site_organic_ask)

Next time you see the word“hypoallergenic” on a product, ask yourself, “What makes this product hypoallergenic?” You may find that no measures are actually taken to make this loosely used marketing word true.

FTC Revises Green Guides

Since we opened our doors, we have always been committed to being as organic and pure as we can be. We know that it sometimes costs more money to make sure that the raw materials we use are sourced from organic and American sources. We spend extra on our raw materials to make sure that they have the certifications to prove their purity, and we even spend money to test our finished products to make sure that we maintain the level of purity that our customers expect of us. Because we go to these lengths to show that we are doing what we say, it has always miffed us a little bit to see new companies popping up with these great claims of organic purity, being “all-natural” or environmentally friendly, without any way to back up these claims.

We were happy to read today that the revised Green Guides have been released.

“In terms of furniture and bedding, I think there are still a lot of general claims being made by the industry and the updated green guides are very loud and clear (that) there should not be unsubstantiated claims made.”

We feel especially proud since Walt, our president/CEO advised on the new green guides. The revisions are written to make sure that marketers are not making any deceptive or misleading claims about the purity of their products. To learn more, you can visit the FTC’s website where you can read about the changes and download the full guide.

No More Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles are seen everywhere from grocery stores to schools.  Many people are unaware that there is so much waste created in the production and use of the plastic water bottles. According to National Geographic, “Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation, purchasing an impressive 29 billion bottles every year. Making all the plastic for those bottles uses 17 million barrels of crude oil annually. That is equivalent to the fuel needed to keep 1 million vehicles on the road for 12 months. If you were to fill one quarter of a plastic water bottle with oil, you would be looking at roughly the amount used to produce that bottle.” For more water bottle pollution facts visit the National Geographic website HERE.

Concord, Massachusetts has tackled the issues surrounding water bottles and has become the first U.S. city to ban the sale of bottled water. Concord residents voted to ban the bottle citywide in an effort to promote sustainability.  The debate of the issue occurred in a Concord town meeting, and after nearly 2 hours of debate, attempted amendments and a recount, the vote was accepted.  The ban is for the sale of single-serving PET (polyethylene terephthalate) water bottles of less than 1 liter (34 ounces). The State Attorney General approved the bylaw, therefore the ban will be finalized on January 1st, 2013.

Using reusable bottles for water can save you money while reducing your impact on the planet.  There are many options for replacing plastic water bottles, from glass to stainless steel.  Choose the best option for you and enjoy.

Enjoy this video and follow the marching water bottles all the way to the recycling bin.

OMI Participates in 2nd Teens Turning Green Project Challenge

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 Teens Turning Green is a student-led movement that is devoted to educating and engaging youth about environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for communities, schools and individuals.   Teens Turning Green began in 2005 in the San Francisco Bay Area and now has a presence in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as universities and student organizations across the country and around the globe. The goal of Teens Turning Green is to inspire the transition from conventional to conscious living.

Project Green Challenge is a 30-day eco lifestyle challenge created by TTG in which students from across the country compete in simple daily challenges that demonstrate just how fun, accessible, and effective environmentally and socially responsible living can be. The submissions are judged and assigned points daily, and then twelve finalists are selected. The finalists are invited to join esteemed eco leaders for the Project Green Challenge 2012 Finals: Green University for an unprecedented weekend of sharing, inspiration, and social action platform development. The grand prizewinner will take home many prizes, such as a $5,000 Natracare Scholarship, $1,000 gift cards for eBay Green, The Container Store, and Whole Foods Market as well as an OrganicPedic by OMI Midori Twin Mattress, 1.5” Wooly, Wool Comforter, and Organic Cotton Pillow.

For more information about Teens Turning Green or Project Green Challenge, visit the website HERE. Check out last year’s grand-prize winner on the OrganicPedic Blog, Teens Turning Green Hosts First GREEN UNIVERSITY.

Friday the 13th, 13 Scary Facts About Conventional Mattresses

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In honor of Friday the 13th here is a guest blog, from our sister company Lifekind, with 13 scary facts about conventional mattresses.

It makes sense that an organic mattress would use organic cotton, but beyond that, most people may not be aware of many reasons that organic mattresses really are so much better than conventional mattresses. Lucky for you, we are experts in this area, and can break it down for you.

Warning: If you’re unsettled by things that are creepy, crawly, or contaminated, do not read before going to bed!

1. Bed bugs, dust mites, mold, and germs love your mattress
Bed-bugs and dust mites love to live in the dank, dark inside of a mattress. The environment also provides the perfect environment for molds & fungi to thrive in, along with bacteria, viruses, and contagious diseases. Because conventional mattresses are typically made with man-made materials like polyurethane foam, they don’t have the inherent dust-mite resistance that is a feature of the 100%-natural rubber latex used in the organic mattresses we make at Lifekind.

2.Your new mattress may not be new
Conventional mattresses can be sold, used, returned, and then resold as “factory seconds” or “refurbished.”  Even when they are “sterilized” with chemicals, many nasty things can be left behind.  A Dateline investigative report found bed bugs in all stages of life and death, blood, numerous forms of fungi and mold, and occasional traces of urine and fecal matter in refurbished mattresses that were in the same factory and sales-floors as new mattresses.  Only 26 states have laws on selling refurbished mattresses, and the government isn’t setting a standard on proper sterilization, which means it’s up to the mattress builder to determine whether or not a mattress is sterilized.  In the Dateline report, all of the mattresses tested were contaminated.

3. It’s pumped full of hazardous chemicals
Even if your mattress is brand new and uncontaminated, you’re not in the clear yet.  Did you realize that formaldehyde and boric acid are just two of the chemicals commonly used in the manufacture of conventional mattresses?  When Walt Bader, our CEO, was writing his book Toxic Bedrooms, he had a memory foam mattress tested by an independent lab and it emitted 61 VOC chemicals?  The chemicals used in your new mattress can aggravate allergies, cause respiratory irritation or bronchitis, affect your hormone levels, and even limit the amount of oxygen your body is able to absorb. Some chemicals are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins, with warning labels advising “Caution – do not inhale,” “Use in a well-ventilated area,” “Can cause irritation,” or “Avoid contact with skin.”

4.   It can adversely affect the quality of your sleep and health
Cellular repair, rejuvenation, growth and healing all take place while you sleep. The chemicals that are used in the manufacture of conventional mattresses can cause all kinds of discomfort, and even illness. The range of symptoms can be as varied as the people affected, but one thing is for sure: If you’re sleeping on a toxic mattress, you’re not experiencing optimal health. For more details about the effects of sleeping on a toxic mattress, check out chem-tox.com

5. The bed you sleep in can harm future generations through inherited toxicity
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones that are totally unaffected and have children who sleep well without allergies or complaints, you can be certain that your grandchildren will show detectable amounts of harmful chemicals – even before birth!  Scientists have confirmed that chemical fire retardants, such as those used in conventional mattresses, have been measured in pregnant mothers and passed through the placenta to their unborn babies.  The danger of these chemicals is that they build up and remain in fatty tissue for years, waiting to be shared with your growing baby. Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, there’s no way to know how three generations of built-up toxic chemicals will affect your grandchildren.

6. Suspected to contribute to SIDS
A toxic crib mattress is definitely not what you want your brand new baby to start life on. Many of the chemicals used to manufacture crib mattresses, including chemical flame-retardants, are suspected to contribute to SIDS – a logical assumption. Taking into consideration that babies have less mass overall, breathe faster, sleep more, and can’t communicate sources of irritation except by crying, they are by default more sensitive to toxic chemicals. Although research supporting this fact is shunned in general by the mattress and medical communities, common sense and anecdotal evidence from astute parents should not be ignored.  Besides, how many mothers wouldn’t rather be safe than sorry?

7.  Not actually built to last…
It only makes sense that in order to stay in business, a company must sell more product.  Unfortunately, many mattress manufacturers prey on their best customers by employing a trick called “built in obsolescence”.  They basically build a product that is meant to wear out at a certain time interval (often using cheaper materials that will break down more quickly), which forces the customer to pay good money to purchase another mattress from them. (So how do we stay in business?  We focus our marketing on consumers that don’t yet know the benefits of organic mattresses, and we use the best salespeople on the planet: customers who love their organic mattress are always sending their friends and family our way!)

8.  …Except that they last FOR-EV-ER
And not in the “super plush and comfy for a hundred years” kind of forever (see Scary Fact #7), but they will last forever in our landfills.  Even with mattress recycling being fairly effective, there are only 11 mattress recycling facilities in the entire country.  This means that most mattresses end up in the landfills (to the tune of 10 million mattresses a year!)  The polyurethane foams and synthetic materials and fibers that are used in the construction of conventional mattresses are not biodegradable, which means that they will be polluting our Earth for generations to come.

9. Damaging to our natural resources
Commercially grown cotton is a huge offender in polluting the natural world, as are the toxic components used in polyurethane foam and the petrochemical, plastic-based fillers commonly found in, and on, conventional mattresses.  Many people are unaware that cotton is treated with substances such as formaldehyde even before flame retardants come into play, not to mention the harm that GMO crops and pesticides cause the environment.  The production and processing of conventional products is known to cause harm to the environment, and is thought to contribute to global warming.

10. The chemicals can cause irreparable harm to wildlife
The chemicals used in conventional mattress construction that can harm human health are also harmful to wildlife and pets.  Many people recall how the harmful pesticide DDT was an effective bug killer, but that it was also responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds and fish that ate the poisoned bugs, prior to being banned in the 70s.  Clearly our precious wildlife doesn’t have the option to choose organic, nor do they have the option to relocate beyond nature.

11.  Built with sweatshop labor and shipped halfway across the world
Laborers in third world countries build thousands of mattresses daily, working for wages that are a fraction of what a U.S.-based company, paying fair wages, pays their workers.  The finished mattresses are then shipped halfway across the world, subject to fumigation, and sold in American stores.  Basic economics has taught us that price is a huge reason why we choose to purchase an item in the first place, so companies will go to great lengths to make the cheapest product possible.  More often than not, products imported from overseas are sold for a fraction of what a U.S.-based company paying fair wages is able to sell its products for, which is great for the guy profiting off of these mattresses. Even when mattresses are made in the U.S., it’s important to be sure the raw materials are U.S.-grown also – otherwise you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve your own economy.

12.  Every “vote” for conventional mattresses perpetuates the problem
Beyond economics and financial support, it’s important to realize that every dollar spent makes a difference. You wouldn’t cast a ballot in favor of increasing pollution, or to support foreign labor or poor health. However, that’s what happens when you vote with your dollars and purchase mattresses made with conventional methods.  Every dollar that goes towards the conventional mattress industry encourages their practices, strengthens their lobbying power and keeps the public uninformed and in a potentially dangerous position.  Every time a consumer selects a more healthful choice, we can chip away at the old-boys club that is the mattress industry.

13. We don’t know what we don’t know…
Even all of this information is just the tip of the iceberg, a scattered few facts that reflect the limited tests and research that have been done concerning conventional mattresses.  Most of the chemicals used have been deemed safe by default, since they are already in products, but lack the research to show what the long-term or more immediate effects are.  Mattresses are today, where cigarettes were 50 years ago.  As our knowledge increases about the chemicals used in conventional mattresses, we are sure to learn even more dangerous effects they could have on consumers.

It’s a scary thought that your mattress, which should be a safe-haven in your home, could actually be bad for you.

Makers of Flame Retardants Manipulate Research Findings

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Did you know that federal law requires mattresses to pass vigorous open-flame flammability tests?  These tests are usually passed with the use of chemical flame retardants.  It is a proven fact that chemical flame-retardants offgas volatile organic compounds (VOCs).   Knowing that, are these flame retardants really helping? An article written by Sam Roe and Patricia Callahan for the Chicago Tribune discusses how research was manipulated by chemical companies to increase the need for the flame retardants.  Included is an interview with the study’s lead author, Vytenis Babrauskas.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

 CHICAGO — Twenty-five years ago, scientists gathered in a cramped government laboratory and set fire to specially designed chairs, TVs and electrical cables packed with flame retardants For the next half-hour, they carefully measured how much the chemicals slowed the blaze.

It was one of the largest studies of its kind, and the chemical industry seized upon it, claiming the results showed that flame retardants gave people a 15-fold increase in time to escape fires.

Manufacturers of flame retardants would repeatedly point to this government study as key proof that these toxic chemicals – embedded in many common household items – prevented residential fires and saved lives.

But the study’s lead author, Vytenis Babrauskas, told the Chicago Tribune that industry officials have “grossly distorted” the findings of his research, which was not based on real-world conditions. The small amounts of flame retardants in typical home furnishings, he said, offer little to no fire protection.

“Industry has used this study in ways that are improper and untruthful,” he said.

The misuse of Babrauskas’ work is but one example of how the chemical industry has manipulated scientific findings to promote the widespread use of flame retardants and downplay the health risks, a Tribune investigation shows. The industry has twisted research results, ignored findings that run counter to their aims and passed off biased, industry-funded reports as rigorous science.

As a result, the chemical industry successfully distorted the basic knowledge about toxic chemicals that are used in consumer products and linked to serious health problems, including cancer, developmental problems, neurological deficits and impaired fertility.

Industry has disseminated misleading research findings so frequently that they essentially have been adopted as fact. They have been cited by consultants, think tanks, regulators and Wikipedia, and have shaped the worldwide debate about the safety of flame retardants.

One series of studies financed by the chemical industry concluded that flame retardants prevent deadly fires, reduce pollutants and save society millions of dollars.

The main basis for these broad claims? A scientific report so obscure that it is available only in Swedish.

When the Tribune obtained a copy and translated it, the report revealed that many of industry’s wide-ranging claims can be traced to information regarding just eight TV fires in western Stockholm more than 15 years ago.

Although industries often try to spin scientific findings on the safety and effectiveness of their products, the tactics employed by flame retardant manufacturers stand out.

Tom Muir, a Canadian government research analyst for 30 years, called the broad claims based on the eight Stockholm TV fires “the worst example I have ever seen of deliberate misinformation and distortion.”

The American Chemistry Council, the leading trade group for the industry, said flame retardants are safe products that help protect life and property. “ACC’s work is grounded in scientific evidence, as we believe regulatory decisions related to chemistry must be evaluated on a scientific basis,” the trade group said in a written statement.

But when the Tribune asked the trade group to provide research that showed flame retardants are effective, the council initially provided only one study – the one Babrauskas wrote and now says is being distorted by industry.

The full article is available HERE.

OMI has developed a system that allows us to use Naturally Safer® wool as our only flame retardant. As a result, our mattresses are able to pass federal flame tests without the use of toxic chemicals or silica barriers.  To use any form of chemical flame retardant in our products would violate our ethical standards and integrity.  We stand by our purity so you and your family can have a safer place to rest your head at night.

Keep watching this blog for more information on mattress flammability laws and how we pass them.

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