Kickin’ it: the ethical guides to soccer balls & summer shirts

Shirts and balls

“You never do any columns for guys,” my editor grumbled a few weeks back. I gasped. “Are you saying the frying pan and cleaning cloth guides that we just published are a woman thing?” I prodded loudly, making sure our banter was audible to the whole news room. To be honest, in my house, my partner does at least as much cooking and cleaning as I do (which isn’t always saying much, but when that man gets on a whirlwind cleaning and purging spree, boy, watch out!).  Regardless, a few weeks after the news room remark I rolled out a few “man-friendly” columns to make sure the gents in our midst don’t feel left out. First up, my new researcher Elyssa suggested a guide to short-sleeved summer mens’ shirts. Not an easy task, considering there are so few eco brands doing menswear these days.  Turns out finding dude clothing that’s both made in Canada AND made with eco-friendly fabrics is about as rare as a sighting of Justin Bieber with his pants pulled up. For the full frontal break down of good and not so good brands plus Nature Notes on donuts and deforestation as well as the latest on GMO-banning nations, head to the full Hot Under the Collar column.

Next up, we channeled the vibes pulsing through every bar/pub/patio with a TV on earth with our Ecoholic guide to soccer balls. Men, women, children, everybody loves the World Cup…well, except for the thousands of poverty activists taking to the streets of Brazil, of course. The Ecoholic Football Fever guide dives into the ethics of stitching the very soccer balls you might be kicking around in a field or yard near you. Plus in this issue, you’ll also find news on the Saputo dairy boycott, Greenwash of the Week and more so don’t change the channel! 

Good day sunshine: the facial sunscreen guide

Facial sunscreen picDo you mind if I sing a little Cher? “If I could turn back time…” (this is me belting it out) I’d, well, I’d wear more sunscreen on my face. I’m pretty sure milky pale Cher loves the stuff and she’s got better skin at 68 then I do at nearly 38. Okay, fine, she may have done a little nipping and tucking but regardless, a woman that pale has got to swear by sunscreen. I, on the other hand, have shunned it most of my life, opting to channel by Greek ancestors (although who knows, maybe they wore olive oil; it does have some SPF, as I’ve written about before). Regardless, I’m changing my tune and am actually wearing some on my face at least these days. Better late than never, I figure. So which facial sunscreen to choose? There’s lots of beauty-industry talk about mineral sunscreens fending off UV rays more effectively and safely than reef-damaging, skin-sensitizing, endocrine-disrupting chemical sunscreens. And they’re right. Still, not all mineral lotions are created equal. Make sure your face is protected with the right stuff.*


Hyped at mainstream cosmetics counters as a cream-of-the-crop solar protector free of dodgy sunscreen chemicals (such as the octinoxate in Avène Emulsion). Too bad they’re using controversial nano versions of the minerals (under 100 nanometres wide) – enviro and health impacts of these are still under-studied. Plus this one contains junky fillers like cyclomethicone, which Environment Canada pronounced to be a danger to the environment, but then recanted after the industry complained. Also in the mix, lots of petroleum-derived ingredients and preservatives like butyl and propyl parabens being banned from children’s products in Europe. $30/50 ml  1/5


Aveeno has all sorts of sunscreens it claims are “safe as water” and chock full of “active naturals,” when they’re loaded with dubious sunscreen chems like oxybenzone and octinoxate (both reef-damaging estrogen mimickers). Aveeno Mineral Guard, however, uses more effective zinc oxide and titanium dioxide minerals. It’s just a shame that J&J (maker of Aveeno) uses teeny, tiny, nano-sized versions of the particles, which are contentiously under-studied, under-regulated and possibly harming coral reefs, too. The fillers here are far from natural. Still, this one’s generally a better option than other drugstore sunscreens. $20/80 ml 2/5 


These two lovely locavores offer excellent unscented mineral protection without turning you goofy white like a 50s surfer (though it can take a minute for the initially white minerals to be absorbed by some skin types). Like MyChelle and True facial sunscreen, they’re not organic, but they are natural/naturally derived without greasing you up. Consonant’s Matte Finish aloe-based sunscreen dries the quickest and has either SPF 15 or tinted SPF 30 ($35/50 ml). Graydon, an SPF 30, is initially a little stickier but also cheaper($20/50 ml). 4/5


If you’re looking for the most ecologically enlightened solar protection, opt for certified organic brands Green Beaver or Goddess Garden (although Green Beaver wins in Canadian books for being an Ontario native that folds in Canadian-grown, naturally UV-fending raspberry seed oil). Green Beaver’s nano-free facial sunscreen (SPF 15) is non-whitening and less oily than its original formula but still sits a little heavier than some others, making it better for dry skin. Goddess Garden has a bit more of a white cast initially but is water-resistant and higher SPF (SPF 30). Both contain some lavender. $21.99/40 ml  4/5


I try to like other brands as much as I dig Devita, but this U.S.-based skin care line still makes the most feather-light natural facial sunscreen in town. It’s totally non-whitening on almost all skin tones (although my two year old bottle is starting to leave white streaks), unscented, made with nano-free zinc oxide (SFP 30), in a base of certified organic aloe. Like Andalou, it’s got a good tinted Beauty Balm with SPF, too. It’s cheaper to buy Devita Body Block and apply it on your face, but Body Block is slightly richer, with a little lavender. Devita’s not water-resistant, so reapply after serious sweating. Hard to find in Canada but available at the Big Carrot, and (which raises funds for women with breast cancer). $34/75 ml 5/5

*A version of this article first appeared in my weekly column in NOW Magazine

Rain, rain, come and play: the updated rain barrel guide

algreen barrel postcardThere’s something about growing up in Canada that makes us want to just open up the taps and let the water flow free like the wind. I distinctly remember being 11/12 years old and taking 45 MINUTE long showers without a second thought (I probably cycled through a whole small lake in that time!). Maybe because we have over 2 million fresh lakes and water costs us next to nothing to use, we just don’t think about it as a problem the way, say, Californians do. Except for in the dead of summer, when the rain stops falling and your municipality starts calling on us to refrain from pulling out our sprinklers so often. When that precious rain does come, don’t let all that free water hitting your roof flood storm sewers and basements. Rain barrels can capture thousands of gallons over the summer to help keep your garden green without chlorine. So which barrel’s worth buying? By the way, I’ve updated my reviews since these first appeared in NOW so be sure to dig in.


This one may be super-convenient to pack up come wintertime, but it’ll totally disappoint you if your ground’s not level. Plus, some stores sell a version that’s made of vinyl (softened with hormone-disrupting phthalates), which is a bad idea. If you do get an H&E barrel, make sure to opt for one made of polyester or nylon. $99. 2/5


I tested out this rain barrel last summer, and it drove me nuts. Yes, the spigot provides clearance for watering cans. But without a second spout at ground level, it’s impossible to empty this sucker out without turning it on its head, so a lot of funky water can fester on the bottom. I thought I’d drained it completely, but I hadn’t, and it froze and split over the winter. Did I mention that the diverter is a pain in the ass to install, since a hole saw isn’t included? Made in the U.S. No recycled content. $160. 2/5


There are a lot of fake wood rain barrels on the market. This flat-backed one, made in Canada, will work just fine if you have room to rest it directly under your downspout. Otherwise, it’s not the barrel for you, since it doesn’t offer a diverter. You also have to clean the screen periodically to keep it from clogging. There’s only one spigot and it’s low to the ground, so this barrel has to be put on a stand to access the 189 litres it holds. $120. 3/5


Let’s face it, most rain barrels are not the prettiest things. Algreen’s are probably the most style-conscious out there and great for high-visibility spots (see image at top of post). Plus they have planter-friendly lids for cascading greenery. These barrels (from 190 to 380 litres) are built to withstand Canadian winters, meaning they shouldn’t crack like others do. They’re made an hour outside Toronto, and the charcoal and brown models have 15 per cent recycled content. Bonus: the company offers a cool pump kit to help get H20 from the barrel out through a hose. Update: since these have a spout at the very bottom for drainage and a spout at a good height to allow for watering cans, you don’t need to put these on stands. Good slim-line options on hand for compact spaces. I may get one of these if I can squeeze one at the front of the house, but making room for recycling/garbage/compost bins and two barrels may be pushing my luck in a tight urban space. It’s like a giant game of Tetris out there! Best prices are at $150+ 4/5


If you’re in the market for a new rain barrel RAINBARREL.CA BARRELSand aren’t so fussed about its appearance, look for one that gives twice – once to the earth (by recycling rain) and once to charity. sells über-eco upcycled food barrels (most are 220 litres and $60 for the basic barrel) largely through non-profits as a fundraising tool. To find a barrel near you or a DIY barrel kit, head to this website. UPDATE: I bought one of these. Love that it kind of smells like olive oil. Yes, it’s a bit of a honker, especially since you have to raise it a foot high to access the water (their recycled plank stands are super green but aren’t visually discrete). Having tested this puppy out on a compact, urban semi-detached property, it only confirms my initial sense that these barrels may not be for tight, high visibility spots, especially if aesthetics are an issue. Although, hey, these are paintable so my good friend & upcycling queen Tiffany Pratt will be coming by in a couple weeks to help me sass it up. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out! Good news is sells both in Canada and the US. RiverSafe barrels, on the other hand, are pretty local to Toronto. They raise funds for the non-profit water protectors at RiverSides. These are super-sturdy and pretty huge, holding 460 litres, and the black ones are 100 per cent recycled. (You can score one at Evergreen Brick Works or, $225.) 5/5

**If you’ve got a little Mike Holmes in you somewhere, you can also try making your own DIY rain barrel out of an old garbage can or wine barrel. There are loads of DIY instructions on the net.

SIDE NOTE FOR WORRIERS: I’ve heard from a few of you that were worriedthat barrels would start overflowing after one downpour. Don’t worry! This is why barrels tend to come with an overflow valve. And if you buy a diverter, that water just keeps on chuggin’ along down your downspout if your barrel is full. Pretty clever.

SIDE NOTE FOR GLOBAL WATER WORRIERS: I interviewed a bunch of leading thinkers on water issues at the tail end of This Drowning World photo exhibit in Toronto. Author Alanna Michell, clean tech guru Tom Rand and others were on a panel post photo exhibit tour so I interviewed them for their take on why we’re drowning and how humanity can rescue itself. For the full article head to NOW and scroll past the barrels.

A shorter version of this article first appeared in NOW Magazine. 

Connecting the dots…breast cancer and everyday chems

breast cancer chemsAre chemicals in our environment connected to the rise in non-genetic causes of breast cancer? For lots of us following environmental toxin news, it seems like a no-brainer, but scientists are still trying to firm up the connections. A recent study by the Silent Spring Institute and Harvard School of Public Health published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives notes that exposure to chemicals that cause mammary gland tumours in rats is common, but “few studies have evaluated potential breast cancer risks in humans.” In the studies that have been done, researchers found that chems that cause tumours in rats are often associated with breast cancer in women.

The scientists eventually narrowed the list from 216 chems known to cause breast tumours in rodents to 17 common groups of chemicals that should be “top targets for breast cancer prevention.” On the list are substances found in gasoline/diesel fuel, flame retardants, stain-resistant fabrics, paint strippers and (gulp) disinfection by-products of chlorinated drinking water. The list goes on.

The study makes it clear that more research is definitely needed. Silent Spring’s goal was to identify high-priority toxins for further research and biomarkers for these toxins in women. While scientists continue to learn more about these chemicals, the authors of this latest study say there’s enough information to begin reducing our exposures.

On that note, here’s the Silent Spring Institute’s list of the most effective strategies:

• Avoid fuel and exhaust: Turn the engine off instead of idling. Give up gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers. Walk or take transit when you can. Don’t store gasoline in your home.

• Quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke.

• Limit consumption of carcinogens in charred foods and use ventilation fans when cooking.

• Go to perc-free dry cleaners or ask for “wet cleaning.”

• Avoid stain-resistant rugs, furniture and fabrics.

• Don’t buy furniture with polyurethane foam, or ask for foam not treated with flame retardants.

• Make sure you’re protected from toxins on the job. Push for good ventilation and protective equipment.

• Reduce exposure to chemicals in household dust by removing shoes at the door, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and cleaning with wet rags and mops.

• Use a solid carbon block filter for drinking water.

This article originally appeared in NOW Magazine.

Go with the flow: what kind of water filter is right for you?

Glass of waterI’ve been writing the Ecoholic column for, oh, a decade now (actually it was just Ecoholic’s 10 year anniversary!) and some questions trickle in again and again in my inbox. Probably one of the most common reader Qs I get is about water filters. I write about them every few years but the thirst for knowledge of this front never ceases. So I revisited the topic in a recent column, and boiled down the latest info on filter types. We weighed environmental factors against filter quality.  Writing about environmental health, I’m certainly straddling two worlds – a lot of enviros will tell you they don’t own water filters (from an environmental footprint perspective, tap is greenest), but holistic health peeps are highly concerned with filtering out trace contaminants. The final call is yours. But if a filter is effective but super wasteful, sorry, points have to be docked. We also scored filters by type, not by brand (so your particular pitcher filter might score higher). Without further ado…


Your least expensive level of protection. Most rely on granular activated carbon, which is quite effective at getting rid of trace pharmaceuticals in water but not good enough at reducing lead to meet certifier standards. To be honest, pitchers are fine if you’re not all that worried about your water quality and you just don’t want the taste of chlorine. A basic Brita pitcher is certified to reduce “cadmium, chlorine, copper, mercury, taste/odour, zinc.” Mavea is also certified against perc (the dry cleaning chem). Santevia isn’t certified (by a water quality organization) but says it also alkalizes. Only one pitcher in Canada is certified to reduce lead, chromium, chlorine and other heavy metals: ZeroWater. Overall, pitchers scored a 2/5.


This energy-intensive filtration system basically vaporizes water, then captures the steam. It’s top-notch at killing bacteria and viruses (useful in rural settings with no municipal water treatment), but it also strips all the beneficial minerals out of water, which explains why the World Health Organization advises against it. It doesn’t remove chlorine or chlorine disinfection by-products like chloroform, hence why distillers often also run water through a carbon block filter. 2/5


Zapping untreated water with UV light is another great way to kill off bacteria. In fact, the city of Toronto voted to treat wastewater at Ashbridges Bay with UV a few years ago to eliminate carcinogenic chlorine disinfection by-products. But to be honest, urban households getting treated tap water needn’t bother getting a system that includes UV. It’s largely a waste of electricity for urban home use, so we’re docking points. 2/5


A long-time fave in the holistic community, since RO systems get rid of a lot of stuff not tackled by carbon filters, like fluoride, arsenic, bacteria and hexavalent chromium (made famous by Erin Brockovich). It also strips mineral content and doesn’t inherently get rid of chlorine or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Not all RO filters are created equal – some do more than others. (See’s water filter guide.) Where it loses points is waste: an RO system dumps three to 20 times more water than what it sends out of the tap. Probe before you buy.3/5


These super-condensed carbon filters are the type recommended by the Silent Spring breast cancer report (see column). They won’t remove fluoride (gotta combine it with reverse osmosis or alumina for that) or hex chromium, but are great for chlorine, lead, other heavy metals and a long list of VOCs. They don’t take extra energy or water to run, making them inherently greener. Shaklee makes a carbon block pitcher, though it’s certified to reduce less. Quality varies among countertop, faucet-mounted and under-sink versions. (See’s filter guide.) 4/5

This article originally appeared in NOW Magazine. 

Tough love: the rough guide to exfoliating face scrubs

exfoliators snapThere’s something weirdly hopeful about a good face scrub. Like if you find the right one it might just erase all the mistakes you (and by you I mean I) made popping, picking, sunbathing and generally abusing the delicate skin on our faces. Alas, the miracle has yet to happen for me and after a decade of chemically peeling my acne-riddled skin with prescription strength vitamin A as a teen, I’m hesitant to do any more intense sloughing. Instead, I use old fashioned scrubs. But it’s a delicate dance for someone with a genetic propensity towards poreous gigantus (the technical term for big ass pores). Scrub with the wrong thing and you might just tear at those little dermal openings, making then larger over time. At the same time, you want to get rid of that dry, flakey layer between you and the world.

Searching for the right scrub made me feel a little like Goldy Locks. So which one’s too gritty, not gritty enough, just right? I answered that in my Ecoholic column on scrubs. Click here to get the full column. My household’s tried way more than we had room for in print, like Green Beaver (bamboo beads are rough but sparse, so it feels a little painful and yet not exfoliating enough), Yes to Blueberries (meh, could be more natural/effective, plus it kind of stinks), MyChelle (pretty good), Suki’s foaming cleanser (works but it’s drying as hell, if you’re used to creamy cleansers….my guy loved this one), Pure & Simple Sensitive Skin Exfoliant & Mask (should have mentioned this one in the column alongside the Pure &Simple Cleansing Powder, it’s a top performer with jojoba beads), Panagea Organics (great for those who love good grittiness)…if I remember more of them, I’ll add them here. Whatever you do, stay away with any scrubs with seriously water-polluting plastic micro-beads!

DIY ALERT: Who needs to buy a scrub when you can make one?  I especially feel  that about body scrubs, but DIY face scrubs work well too. I make my own with soothing ground oats (oat flour), optional hemp powder (leftover hemp protein powder I never eat) and green tea (just tear open a tea bag). Keep it in a lidded jar by the side of your tub, put some in your palm, mix with a little water to make a paste and voila!

Also in this column, you’ll find my greenwash of the week (“Pure Coconut,” my ass!) and some nature notes on the latest bee/pesticide research and campus divestment from fossil fuels. For all the juicy details, read on!


Rain or shine: my month long nature bootcamp

hCan you believe May is almost coming to an end? Rain/shine/gloriously torrential downpours/surprise scorchers (is it really 28 degrees in Toronto today?) – I’ve soaked every bloomin’ day of it in. That was NOT that case in April when I was drained of all life force knocked over sideways with a crazy multi-tentacled flu virus for much of it. All that time cooped up indoors sapped my spirits to the point that I morphed into at least 4 of the 7 dwarves.

I have to give props to to the David Suzuki Foundation and Suzuki’s own Queen of Green herself, Lindsay Coulter, for encouraging me to sign up again this spring for their inspiring 30×30 Challenge. No matter the weather, no matter your mood, you had to spend 30 minutes outdoors in nature for 30 days straight. Sounds easy when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you’re itching to get out there walking, running, hiking, biking, gardening, whatever, but some dreary drizzly days are, hm, shall we say, less than motivating. In the end, I loved them all.

Here’s my original piece from early May. I feel like I should have done a before and after pic. One with a bad case of cabin fever (and a literal fever) and one beaming from ear to ear, soaking in spring’s life force, moment by moment. Thank you, Nature, for being so naturally awe-inspiring.  And thank you, Suzuki Foundation friends. I needed that.

Soggy grey clouds are wringing themselves out on the streets of Toronto, and I’m at my computer ticking boxes asking how agitated or energized I’ve been feeling. “Have I felt so alive I just want to burst?” Hmm. Clearly this is a sign I need a kick in the ass. Thankfully, I’m signing up for one from David Suzuki himself.

Suzuki’s not doing the actual kicking, but every May his foundation signs Canadians up to commit to 30 minutes in nature for 30 days as part of its 30 x 30 Challenge. The national well-being-boosting campaign asks participants to take an official psychological pre- and post-nature-injection survey. The whole thing kind of made me want to lie down on a shrink’s couch at first.

I consider myself a pretty happy, upbeat person. But from the look of my survey answers, something was obviously off. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but the solution smacks me upside the head: I need to get outside.

Committing to 30 minutes in nature sounds like a breeze, I know – until you realize that May can be a pretty wet month. Grey skies are a little uninspiring, and on drizzly days I park the bike and opt for transit. (I’d never survive Vancouver.) But now I’m committed to track down a park, a ravine – anything green really – and stroll tree-lined side streets no matter the forecast.

It takes a little internal goading at first, but making time for those 30 minutes, well, it’s magic. I’d normally bypass the ravine near my house to speed-walk to the bus, but today the trickling brook, chirping birds and rustling leaves (mementos of fall) envelop me in nature’s surround-sound amphitheatre. It doesn’t matter if the sun hasn’t been seen for days. Between the budding treetops, flashes of neon-green moss and purple violets, it’s as though nature is warming up its best singers and dancers for a wild cabaret to celebrate spring. 

If you’re far from decent hiking grounds, have your morning coffee outside, skip the gym and jog outdoors, suggest a walking meeting at work. Even a little parkette should have a tree under which you can read/sketch/write. All I need is a single big ol’ tree. There’s something expansive, transformative that happens when you really stop to take in the vibes and wondrous skyward twisting limbs of those giant woody gods. It’s like a mini-meditation without the ponytailed guru. 

Take 30 minutes to escape the concrete jungle and the heady traffic jams of the information highway, and your day, no matter how it started, is enchantingly purified. Less than a week in, I feel relaxed and healthier. Have I felt so alive I just want to burst? Actually, check.

*This article originally appeared in NOW Magazine. 


Cookware unscrambled: the latest dish on fying pans

Fried eggs

This column first appeared in the Mother’s Day issue of Ecoholic in NOW Magazine. Let’s get straight to it…


First the good news: Teflon, the most famous of the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) non-stick coatings, is now being manufactured without the notoriously persistent, suspected human carcinogen PFOA, as the result of U.S. government pressure. However, critics argue that replacement chems are under-researched. France-based T-Fal’s website says it’s still manufacturing with PFOA, though like all non-stick makers, it says the final pan surfaces are PFOA-free. Regardless, Health Canada says PTFE pans can give off poisonous fumes at very high temps. FYI, some titanium pans use ptfe non-stick coatings, so be sure to probe.

SCORE: 1/5


Aluminum’s great at conducting heat (hence, all sorts of pans have aluminum cores), but plain aluminum skillets do quite a bit of leaching. Anodizing the metal in an acid bath with electric current hardens it, creating a non-stick surface that leaches a lot less aluminum. But it still seeps out over time if you’re cooking high-acid foods like tomato sauces. Health Canada says levels are low enough that you shouldn’t worry. But why invest in one of these when there are so many other options on the market?

SCORE: 2/5


Often branded as “eco” pans because their non-stick glazed ceramic surface doesn’t use PTFEs or Teflon. I’ve tried a good half-dozen ceramic brands over the years. Some scratched within six months (like Eco-Chef, which came with a one year warranty) or just failed to deliver consistent non-stick performance (Orgreenic). Earthchef and Green Pan, both of which test for lead and cadmium in the glazes, were more durable, but I’ve found ceramic will lose its non-stick skills if you’re searing or cooking at high heat often. Nice part is Earthchef comes with a five-year guarantee. My advice: reserve these for eggs, and cook with another pan the rest of the time.

SCORE: 3/5


Few pans are more durable and resilient than those made of stainless steel. They won’t rust like cast iron or wear out like ceramic, aluminum or conventional non-stick pans. You can scrub them with steel wool if need be and on they live. They can leach a little nickel and chromium into your food, though “not enough to cause concern,” according to Health Canada. Rundown aluminum and copper pans may leach to a more worrisome extent. A lot of pro chefs use carbon steel, which is mostly iron without the nickel or chromium in stainless steel. It’s more like lightweight cast iron and still needs seasoning. (De Buyer B Element from France is carbon steel with a beeswax coating.)

SCORE: 4/5


I love old-fashioned cast iron pans. Okay, yes, they’re a bit of a pain in the arse since they’re heavy as hell and you have to wash and dry them with care. But if you buy good seasoned pans (Lodge crafts quality, American-made ones), these are wonderful chef-friendly surfaces. Plus, iron cookware can actually boost your daily iron intake by some 20 per cent – a bonus for vegetarians! Too heavy for you? Try carbon steel.

SCORE: 4/5

Battle of the Cleaning Cloths + Is Borax Really Toxic?

Ecloth column

Back in the day (as in up until, oh, a year ago), Ecoholic used to be a straight up green advice column. Every week readers wrote in with questions and I’d answer them in Q&A format. We’ve changed things up since then (mixing in product guides, nature notes, greenwash of the week, green finds of the week), but sometimes there’s no better way to get at a topic then with an old fashioned reader Q. Like this one on borax. Actually, I was at the Green Living Show in Toronto in late April when two women ended up asking me about borax. It hit me that I’ve never addressed the whole borax controversy with you guys so I figured there’s no better time then the present. It’s an important read for anyone that does DIY cleaning or uses all natural products. So is borax actually toxic? It’s a complicated issue. I get into it all in the column but thought I’d provide you with some direct links to reports for those of you looking for background details.

A few years ago, the European Union said boric acid/borax were reproductive toxins at high levels but not endocrine/hormone disruptors (which can trigger problems at quite low levels). At that point, they issued another report assessing the actual risk to consumers and they said levels used in detergents/soaps/cleaning products were safe. Then things shifted. They ended up putting boric acid on the list of potential hormone disruptors. I think it’s important to clarify that the list basically prioritizes substances for further research for endocrine disrupting effects. The list contains some seriously troublesome chems, like known toxin PCB,  as well as BPA, on which hundreds of studies have found hormone disrupting effects. Boric acid doesn’t have the same lengthy rap sheet in terms of hormone disruption. So a lot of people are confused. Should we should keep using it with abandon? Should we shelve it for good? Well, I think we should certainly pause and wait for more research. It’s also unclear why the EU only put boric acid on the list and not borax, when they’ve lumped the two together before. In the meantime, you can double click on the image above to read the column laid out as it appears in print or click here for the online version. You’ll get the full dirt, I promise.

While I was talking borax, figured I’d do a product guide to cleaning tools that promise you can get your home spic ‘n span without any cleaning products (natural or mainstream) altogether. Plus I’ve gotten a ton of questions over the years from Norwex fans asking, ‘Why didn’t you review Norwex in Ecoholic Home?’ ‘Why did you say Norwex contains nano silver in an old column?” “Why don’t you do an updated guide to cleaning cloths?” Yes, there’s a small army of green cleaning women and men wanting an update on this situation so voila, I’ve updated my cleaning cloth guide. Again, you can peruse it above or read the whole shebang here.

So what do you guys think? Which cleaning cloths do you like/hate? Will you be packing up your borax or will you keep using it anyway? A lot to mull over on cleaning day, that’s for sure.

Hello, sunshine: the solar tech guide for every budget (& more)

woman in the fieldSome people dream in technicolour, I dream in solar panels. Well, not every night or anything, I’m not a lunatic. I’m still saving for a house clad with shiny blue panels (oh wouldn’t it be awesome to go off-grid and never pay a utility bill again?). In the meantime, I’ve got a little guide here to solar technology for all budgets (just ignore the part that talks about the Green Living Show, which has now passed…yes, I’m behind on blogging again). It covers everything from pretty solar patio lights to solar chargers all the way to solar shingles. Plus, you’ll find my super cool Green Find of the Week (moss graffiti kit!), news on H&M and Zara‘s commitment to green up their rayon, the latest push to get us all planting milkweed (the only plant monarch butterflies can breed on) & more. Now that’s a variety pack! Who else gives you solar tech, fashion news and gardening tips in one blog? Click here to read on…