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eco friday

Eco Friday: 10 plants your kids should avoid!

It’s Spring gardening season again.

Lush plants and vegetation make for wonderful curb appeal for the home, but whether at home, hiking, playing in the park and about, there are some plants that are not safe for adults, and definitely not kids. Here is a list of 10 plants your kids should avoid. Clip and save.

  1. Poison Ivy: This green plant found in the woods, at the park or almost anywhere should be avoided.  Not everyone has a bad reaction to poison ivy, but some people do.  Sometimes reaction to poison ivy is a cumulative thing too.  The first few times you touch it nothing happens, but the fourth time you could react.  It’s best just to steer clear of them.
  2. Poinsettia: This beautiful plant, seen mostly at Christmastime, is highly poisonous if ingested.  Your best bet is to keep them up off the floor to keep them away from toddlers and pets.
  3. Cactus: There are some varieties of cacti that have needles that are anywhere from 1-6 inches long and these can be very dangerous for a child to run into while playing.  Especially a small child that might be at the right height to get poked in the eye.
  4. Mushrooms and Toadstools: If you serve mushrooms to your children to eat then this caution is especially important.  Kids will not know the difference between the kind of mushrooms that they’ve seen in a salad or on pizza and the ones that they see growing in their yard.  Most mushrooms found in the wild are poisonous.  Children should avoid putting anything into their mouth, but as we know sometimes that is not an easy lesson to teach a toddler who is exploring their world by putting everything into their mouth.
  5. Rhubarb leaves: Now this is a weird one and one that will be hard to explain to your kids.  The stalk of the rhubarb is a fruit and it’s edible, but the leaf of the rhubarb stalk is poisonous.  I grew up eating rhubarb right out of the garden and I never once tried to eat the big green leafy part, but just make sure to let your child know that they have to cut the leaf off before they eat the stalk.
  6. Dumb cane (aka Dieffenbachia): A common houseplant, this Dieffenbachia (pronounced dee-fuhn-bak-ee-uh) is very welcoming with its broad green and gold leaves.  It is one of the most poisonous houseplants and one you should probably steer clear of if you have little ones around or pets.
  7. Holly bushes: Children are attracted to red berries or berries of any color really so it’s important to make sure that children know that they should never eat berries off of bushes.  The leaves of the holly bush are also incredibly sharp and pokey so it’s probably a good one to omit from your landscape.
  8. Black-eyed Susan: This fun pretty flower appears in home flower gardens as well as in the wild.  Eating the petals of this flower will probably not kill you or your child, but they will certainly have a stomach ache.  The seeds are very poisonous though and should be avoided.  The root is said to have some of the same medicinal properties as Echinacea and the flower petals can be used in teas, but great care needs to be taken when doing this and it’s not something for the home gardener to dabble in.
  9. Yucca: If you are not familiar with the yucca plant it has large spikey arms and thrives in warm climates and deserts.  This plant stores water in its fleshy arms so it’s a great plant for areas that are prone to droughts.  These plants can grow to amazing heights, but most are around 3-5 feet high and if you’re not careful their spikey arms will poke you or your child in the eye.  This plant is a definite no-no in a yard for children.
  10. Pampas grass: This ornamental grass appears in many landscapes.  They are very invasive so they are usually seen in public areas.  Your child might come into contact with one at a restaurant or country club.  Warn your child not to touch the leaves or the blades of grass because they are literally like little blades.  The edges are very sharp and can cut you or your child.  The pampas grass blooms with this big fluffy white poof on the top and they look so soft that children are drawn to them.  A good example of a time when they should look, but don’t touch.

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Eco Friday: Ways to Help Your Kids Prepare for Earth Day and Care about the Planet

April is now considered Earth Month, an extension of Earth Day which is on April 22.

It is time for us humans to appreciate mother Earth, learn about what we personally and collectively are doing to pollute her and what we can do to preserve her for the long haul. It’s also a  great opportunity to teach children about the 3 Rs of Earth day: Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle. 

Families create so much waste weekly, but there are simple things that can be done to reduce our collective carbon footprint if we learn about them. One easy way is to recycle. 
And just in time for Earth Month, to help you get you children to understand the concept comes this month’s “WordGirl News” report from the popular Emmy® Award-winning cartoon show WordGirl, produced by Scholastic Media.

It’s all about the word “RECYCLE”!
Tune in this April 22 to the special Earth Day episode of the show which follows the everyday life and superhero adventures of WordGirl. She is mild-mannered 5th-grader Becky Botsford by day, but who also fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage with her monkey sidekick, Captain Huggy Face, with her extraordinary strength and added benefit of a colossal vocabulary. Each episode introduces four new vocabulary words and reinforces their meanings in a variety of contexts. 

And Here are 5 Things you can do this Earth Day to help your entire family leave a smaller carbon footprint. 

1. Calculate your Carbon Footprint using this online FREE tool, then do something to lower it, whatever that calculation amounts to.

2. Download one of these 10 apps to help you live a greener life.
3. Start recycling in your home. Review these easy simple rules for starting.
4. Build a compost and have the kids help you make it. Follow this guide.
5. Commit to buying eco-friendly products when you can. 
6. About a quarter of diseases are exposed by environmental exposure, the World Health Organization states. Educate yourself about pollutants, including man-made substances that can not only pollute the Earth but kill, such as asbestos. Cancer survivor Heather Von St. James beat the 2 year to death prognosis given to the 3,000 people who contract mesothelioma annually from asbestos exposure and set up a webpage to raise awareness about it HERE.
7. Purchase reusable products like plastic lunch boxes to reduce the number of sandwich bags you use weekly, reusable water bottles to replace of crates of 8 ounce bottles, and mesh grocery bags to limit the amount of plastic bags you accumulate from weekly grocery shopping.
Start here and we’ll all make the world a better place.

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EcoFriday: Common Environmental Factors for Infertliity

When struggling with infertility it becomes important to identify and address every possible cause. Physical defects can be detected through medical testing, but the lack of information about environmental causes makes them difficult to solve. Your environment and exposure to toxins, radiation, or pollution can play a vital role in your ability to get pregnant.
Exposure to harmful chemicals or toxins is the most common environmental threat to pregnancy because of our dependency to additives and pesticides. Some pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides can decrease a males sperm count or cause ovarian problems for women if handled directly. Other forms of toxins are cleaning solvents like methylene chloride, often used to strip paint, have proven to be harmful to the reproductive system for both men and women.
It is been well documented and fairly common knowledge that exposure to radiation has a severely negative impact on our ability to reproduce. There are well known exposures to radiation like chemotherapy and getting x-rays, but there are other lesser known forms of exposure that can contribute to female infertility. Non-ionizing radiation, considered by some to be too weak to be harmful, are present in most developed areas. It is advised to weed out as much exposure as possible when you are having trouble conceiving. Radiation at varying levels are present near power lines, fluorescent lights, and other household items like microwaves and electric blankets.
Pollution is largely out of your control, but your exposure to pollution is often determined by your behavior. For instance, running or walking is a very common exercise and an incredibly healthy habit unless you are performing those exercises in an area with lots of air pollution. A positive activity can become negative when introducing toxins into your lungs while exercising. One of the most common forms of air pollution, and the most controllable, is through exposure to second hand smoke.

With this information, hopefully you can monitor these external factors and do your best to minimize them.

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Eco-Friday: 17 OTHER uses for Breastmilk

Aaaah nourishing breast milk.  Great for giving a newborn nutritious nutrients and passing on critical antibodies crucial for their healthy growth.
But did you know that breastmilk is great for solving eye irritations for any person, not just the baby?
Did you also know that hospitals use donated breastmilk to soothe the scars of burn unit victims?
Yup! It’s that miraculous source from the heavens that keeps on giving. Who knew you could recycle breastmilk?
Researchers reveal that there are lots and lots of uses for breast milk that many people probably were clueless about, Check out some other uses:
1. Pink eye breast milk (eye infections). You can put a few drops of breast milk into baby’s eyes or any family members who are suffering from pink eye. The breast milk will keep the area clean and will initiate healing. You can do this as often as possible.
2. Eye puffiness or redness. Wonderful for removing puffiness and is used just as you would cows milk for the same purpose. Dab on with some cotton wool.
3. Opening a stuffy nose. Breast milk is natural and a great alternative to medications which might even make the situation worse. Just squirt a few drops into baby’s nose while he is lying down, then use a bulb to suction the excess out from his nose.
4. Sore throats and mouth sores. Swirling some of the breast milk around in the mouth and even gargling with it can help. Even a breastfed baby can be given some breast milk in a cup to rinse out the mouth.
5. Eczema and other skin rashes. Breast milk will keep the skin clean and will prevent flare ups. Just apply a layer of breast milk to the area and allow to air dry.
6. Dry skin. Using breast milk as a moisturizer.
7. Cradle cap. Just apply to baby’s scalp a few times per day.
8. Breast milk diaper rash. Using breast milk to treat and prevent normal nappy rash.
9. Breast milk ear infections. Squirt a few drops inside the ear for healing and some pain relief. (can be used for infants and grown-ups)
10. Insect bites. Rub a small amount on the bite to relieve the itching and promote the healing process.
11. Chicken pox. Apply the breast milk on the skin to relieve itching just as you would any other ointment.
12. Warts. Apply daily on the wart until it dries up and falls off.
13. Treating sore nipples. Putting some breast milk on your nipples can often heal them faster than any over the counter nipple cream. It can also prevent cracking by keeping them supple.
14. Immune boost. Older children can be given a glass of breast milk or more everyday to boost their immune systems and keep them from becoming ill.
15. Ease cold/flu symptoms. Get over your cold quicker with some liquid gold breast milk. Drink as much as you can.
16. Make-up remover. Breast milk can naturally and easily remove eye make-up.
17. Skin cleanser. Breast milk will gently cleanse your skin and can prevent acne because of its antibacterial properties.

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