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Greening Your Family: Guide for Safe Food, Personal Care & Cleaning – Book Review

Researchers took samples of umbilical-cord blood of ten babies and found 285 industrial chemicals present. Scary, right?

Common food we ingest, cleaning products we use, and personal care products such as shampoo, toothpaste, and lotion we use on a daily basis ALL contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

Lucky for us, Greening Your Family is a concise reference guide that gives us safer alternatives to everyday products.  Author Lindsey Carmichael, MPH, outlines what chemicals are dangerous (and how they’re listed on labels) and specific brands that are safe.  Easy to read, this book has tables, product lists, and additional references if you need more info.  Whether you’re starting your green journey or already have most of your house green, it’s convenient and easy to sort your green product needs.  Thanks to Lindsey, I made the switch to Tom’s of Maine toothpaste & cut the Parabens from my shampoo & conditioner.

We asked Lindsey a few questions about her book: (Read the full interview & ONE lucky commenter can download the app for free after the jump!)

Green Philly Blog: How did you research the products featured in the book?

Lindsey Carmichael: I reviewed the ingredient lists in many of the products that are mentioned in the book, and conducted research into the manufacturer’s claims of being environmentally friendly and making safer products. I became familiar with the ingredients associated with adverse health effects, and did not recommend products containing these dangerous chemicals. I also relied on the work conducted by the consumer advocacy group The Environmental Working Group – They’ve done considerable research in the areas of food and personal care products. Their work is highly respected, and I definitely relied on some of their tool, such as the cosmetics database, to help asses the safety of various products.

GPB: One comment I often hear is that buying organic products can add up for individuals and families. What products would you prioritize for buying organic?

LC: I am often asked the same question about wanting to be green consumers, but needing to be budget conscious. One strategy is to slash your cleaning supplies costs by making your own cleaning products. One chapter is dedicated to listing the ingredients & recipes for making your own cleaning products. Using basic and inexpensive ingredients (e.g. Vinegar, and baking soda) you can keep your house clean for very little money. With the savings realized from making your own cleaning supplies, you can opt for healthier food options. For example, suppose a family eats more apples than any other kind of produce. Because apples have been found to have a heavy pesticide load, the family could opt to buy the organic variety of apples, rather than conventionally grown apples that are sprayed with pesticides.

Another good approach to stretching your budget is to identify which products your family uses the most. If you are big consumers of milk and cheese, then consider buying only organic varieties of each. Or, sticking with the apple example, if your family eats more apples than any other type of fruit, then opt for the organic variety of fruit and perhaps opt for the less expensive and conventionally grown produce for other fruits. Also, the environmental working group has a great document identifying the ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘clean fifteen’.

Additionally, Lindsey created a Greening Your Family app for all Apple devices, a recap of safer brands cited in the book. Lindsey mentioned how the app grew out of her own need for recalling the safer brands while grocery shopping.

Greening Your Family can be ordered from any book retailer, Amazon & Barnes and Noble online or directly from lindseycarmichael.net. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes app store for $2.99.

Posted by Julie

*Note: Green Philly Blog did receive a copy of “Greening Your Family” for review

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

2 thoughts on “Greening Your Family: Guide for Safe Food, Personal Care & Cleaning – Book Review

  1. And remember, just because the front of the package says “organic” or “natural” doesn’t always mean that. Always read the actual ingredient label. And watch out for the word “frangrance” It can be one of many chemicals and they don’t have to list them due to trade secret policies. I will definitely share this on face book and twitter. Thank you.

  2. Hey MaryAnn – those are all GREAT points made in the book! ‘Natural’ is a huge deceiver, and organic can be a tricky advertising ploy. Thanks for pointing out!!

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