Life

Do You Really Need that New Raincoat?

It sounds good and the price is right, but the chemicals might not be

Little sucks more than being caught in the rain. So, why are we suggesting you hold off on getting a new raincoat? The answer may surprise you. It has to do with what makes the coat itself waterproof. Often for coats to be impervious to water the outer layer is covered in a chemical that belongs to a family of chemicals we at Because Health affectionately call pretty freaking awful stuff - the technical term is PFAS.


PFAS chemicals are special because they have a chemical bond between a carbon atom and a fluorine atom. That is one of the strongest bonds in chemistry and means that it makes it very hard for anything to get past it. Think of it like when you would play red rover in elementary school. The carbon-fluorine bond would be like the two fifth graders playing with a bunch of first graders that nobody could ever get past. Because of this super strong bond, anything that uses these chemicals can do what seems like some pretty magical things. One of those things is that the item becomes waterproof. While that sounds like a desirable quality, because these bonds are so strong, they also never break down. That may seem like a positive for something like your jacket, but it's a negative when those chemicals break down or get into the environment and your body because they don't break down there either. That's why they have been given the name forever chemicals. These forever chemicals can cause some pretty serious health problems including increased cholesterol levels, lowering a woman's chances of getting pregnant, harming the growth and development of children, messing with your immune system, and increasing risk for cancer. None of those sound like good things.

So, when it comes to making a decision about a new coat, think about how much time you will actually be spending in the rain at any given time and assess how much waterproof protection your coat really has to provide. If you work in an office and are only using it while you commute, you probably don't need a super waterproof coat. But, if you are a professional mountain guide trekking through a rainforest for hours on end, we get it, the waterproof coat might be worth it. We're just asking that you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision and help keep some of these forever chemicals out of circulation when you can.

The more we buy these products, the more we are hinting to companies that we are happy with the products and don't mind that these chemicals are all around us. By finding alternatives, purchasing decisions are telling companies that we don't want these chemicals around. And it's more than just not wanting these chemicals in our products, but it is recognizing that producing them at all has a way of polluting our ecosystems.

So, what can you do about it? Well, first is assess if you need another raincoat. If you already have one, do you need another? If you do need a new one, there are some outdoor companies like Columbia, Marmot, and Nau that are also making the move to create raincoats that do not contain PFAS - way to go! (Columbia's and Nau's sites says the jackets are PFC free, that's good too, it's just a different acronym for fluorinated chemicals.) You could also look for a coat that doesn't absorb water but also isn't waterproof - like one made of wool which is naturally water resistant. That doesn't mean a wool coat will keep you dry in the same way that a waterproof one from an outdoor store that can withstand 24 continuous hours rain would, but it's a good start - and who stands in the rain for a whole day anyway. At first, the water will bead up on wool, then as it does start to sink in, the wool will hold onto the water without passing it on to you - at least for a little bit. For something like running errands or meeting a friend for dinner, this is probably enough to keep you warm and dry.

Another option is to get a waxed cotton coat. This is a coat made of cotton that has been made water resistant with a proper layer of wax. The wax gets in between the fibers and makes it tough for water to enter, while still being breathable. Many companies sell waxed cotton or canvas coats, and there is even a brand of wax - called Nikwax - that you can use to re-wax an old coat if it started to lose its water repellant abilities.

If you are wondering about umbrellas, many that are sold today are also either coated in a waterproof coating (the same thing that would be on a raincoat) or are made of plastic. While the plastic umbrellas are inherently waterproof without needing a coating, that plastic is usually vinyl or PVC, which has its own host of health concerns including liver damage, cancer, and nervous system problems.

Of course, you could also just do the wacky run through the rain to spend as little time as possible out in the rain.

Tired of changing and throwing away tampons or pads every month? Want a zero-waste alternative for your period? Heard of menstrual cups and period underwear, but not sure which one to pick? Well, look no further! We rounded up the 10 best-reviewed non-toxic menstrual cups and organic period underwear options for you to try out. All of the menstrual cups are made of a flexible medical-grade silicone that collect fluid instead of absorbing it. The period underwear options we found are made with organic cotton, and can be washed.

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Family

Environmental Factors May Have a Bigger Impact on Fertility than You Think

Breaking Down the Science and Ways to Limit Harmful Exposures

Trying to get pregnant should be an exciting time of planning for the next stage of your life, not one full of doctors visits, constant testing, and worrying about body temperatures. But, if you and your partner are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. According to the CDC about 12% of women have impaired fecundity, which is another way of saying that they are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant (1) [there are no statistics on infertility in men, but there is science showing that overall sperm count is decreasing(14)]. And, the science is clear, environmental factors definitely impact reproductive health - for both men and women. Some of the biggest impacts come from air pollution, pesticides, and endocrine disrupting chemicals (2), which are in all sorts of products and affect the way hormones interact with your body.

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Roundups

9 Stainless Steel & Glass Tumblers

For iced coffee, iced tea, and smoothies on the go

Getting iced coffee in a plastic cup with a plastic straw is a lot harder to do after watching that video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle's nose. Plus there is also that pesky condensation that creates a pool of water at the bottle of your cupholder or on your desk. So we found the 9 best reviewed stainless steel and glass tumblers, so that you can have your iced beverages in style this summer. Many of the brands have different sizes ranging from 20oz to 30oz and variety of colors. We prefer stainless steel or glass because many of the acrylic or plastic tumblers may have chemicals similar to BPA. We also link to some stainless steel straws because not all of these tumblers come with straws. And if you're like us, drinking iced coffee through a straw is just synonymous with summer.

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Life

Easy Ways To Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh Without the Synthetic Scents

Cause Traditional Car Air Fresheners Are No Good For Your Health

Those little tree-shaped air fresheners dangling from a rear-view mirror or air vent clip-ons may feel festive, but most car air fresheners can be bad for your health. They seem so innocent, so how is that possible you might ask?

One of the biggest issues with these products is the mystery behind what goes into them. Believe it or not, It's actually hard to be 100% certain about what chemicals are in air fresheners. There's a ton of secrecy into what actually goes into a fragrance product because companies can claim their ingredients are trade secrets. We definitely can't say a product is safe if we don't even know what is used to make it.

However, we do know that most air fresheners are made up of a ton of synthetic fragrances. There are literally thousands of chemicals manufacturers can choose from when making a product with synthetic fragrance. And a lot of these chemicals are known to have negative impacts on our health. (1)

On top of that, fragrance in air fresheners usually contain both phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (2). Although these chemicals can make scents powerful, they can also be allergens that cause coughing, headaches, and runny noses (2). Phthalates are also hormone disruptors and VOCs can be carcinogens. We definitely don't want to be constantly breathing in those chemicals, no matter how good they might smell!

The amount of space inside your car is also a reason we don't like traditional car air fresheners. A smaller space = more concentrated exposure, and since you probably have your windows closed 90% of the time, a car is one of the worst places to keep a strongly-scented product.

Luckily, there are easy, nontoxic ways to make your car smell fresh! You can keep a container filled with baking soda or a baking soda freezer pack hidden somewhere. Baking soda is a completely natural way to eliminate odors and a box is only a couple of dollars! Using scents from natural sources are also a great way to add a little freshness to your car. You can put a few drops of an essential oil onto a clothespin or another wooden item and leave it somewhere in your car (3). When the smell goes away, just replenish with a few more drops of oil! If you prefer something a little more contained, we also love putting satchels of lavender or rose petals around our car.

But perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a bad smell is to simply roll your windows down! Maybe rolling down the windows will help make your commute a little more relaxing too.

References:

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070919
  2. https://kellybroganmd.com/is-your-uber-air-freshener-making-you-sick/
  3. https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/how-to-make-3-naturally-scented-air-fresheners-for-cars/
Roundups

12 Best Non-Toxic Diaper Creams

Our top recommendations for your baby's bottom that parents love

Updated for 2019!

We get it- you're busy but you also want the best for your baby. But who has the time to sit down and do hours of research on the best diaper creams for your baby's bottom? That's why we're here! We have nothing butt (get it?) amazing products for our non-toxic diaper cream roundup. These 12 products are free from irritants like fragrances and use soothing ingredients to keep diaper rash at bay. Some options have non-nano zinc oxide to protect the skin, and some work more as an ointment to prevent redness. Looking for an organic diaper balm? We've got those too. As always, we thoroughly researched consumer reviews to ensure you're getting a stellar product that actually works and that parents love.

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Home

10 Places to Buy PVC-free Wall Decals

Why it's worth considering before your next redecorating project

Wall decals are the perfect decorating solution for nurseries, kids rooms, renters, dorm dwellers, or basically anyone who is a commitment-phobe. There are endless designs that can add just the pop you need, and they are easy to remove for when you want to change it up. But most wall decals are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), otherwise known as vinyl. These vinyl stickers have added phthalates which make the plastic stickers super thin and flexible, yet durable enough so they don't rip easily. Phthalates have endocrine disrupting properties that can wreak havoc on your hormones and have been linked to a variety of health issues like cancers, infertility, preterm birth, impaired brain development, and asthma and allergies. Basically, not good stuff. Plus, the manufacturing process of PVC is really bad for the environment and communities where it's manufactured (1) and there's no way to recycle it. Eek. Not good all around.

So next time you're shopping for a wall decal, check the 'details' section on the product page. A decal that says vinyl or doesn't specify anything is probably one you want to avoid. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites that make PVC-free options that still get high marks from designers. We pulled together our top 10 favorites sites down below.

  1. Chocovenyl
  2. Eco Wall Decals
  3. Koko Kids
  4. Love Mae
  5. Oopsy Daisy
  6. Petit Collage
  7. Pop and Lolli
  8. Sunny Decals
  9. Tiny Me
  10. Wall Dressed Up


References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/vinyl-chloride.pdf
Family

5 Tips for Healthy Kid-Friendly Meals (cause the struggle is real!)

Dreading dinner time every night? We're here to help.

Let's face it, getting a child to eat, no less a picky eater, might actually be the most daunting task in the world. Whether you've been on the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches only train for the past week or past month and just want your child to add something green or leafy to their palate, we've got you covered. We've put together some overall suggestions to incorporate into meal-prep that are not only more kid-friendly, but will also help you avoid processed foods that might be less healthy or have added toxic chemicals.

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