What is Triclosan?

And Why You Should Avoid It

What is Triclosan?

We're in the midst of cold and flu season and one of the most imporant things you can do to protect yourself from getting sick is washing your hands. But do you pay attention to what you are washing your hands with?

Knowing what ingredients to avoid in your personal care products is an overwhelming task and sometimes it may seem as if the list of unsafe ingredients is way longer than the list of safe ingredients. Triclosan falls under the unsafe list and as you'll soon learn, it is found in much more than your hand wash. Here are the facts:

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan (which can also be listed on labels as "Microban") is an antibacterial ingredient which can be found in cosmetic products, personal care products, and even prescription drugs here in Canada. Triclosan is actually classified as a pesticide—not something you want to be putting on or around your body, right?

Triclosan can be found in products such as hand and face washes, toothpastes, mouthwashes, deodorants, shaving cream and shaving gels. It doesn't stop with body care though, triclosan can also be found in your dish drainer, your shower curtain, rubber gloves, flip flops, and even your cutting boards. Sadly, these lists go on and on.

Why Is Triclosan Harmful?

For starters, it is a skin irritant. It has also been shown to interfere with hormones and is linked to an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses and other diseases. It may also have an effect on learning abilities and it is a suspected carcinogen. Triclosan builds up in our bodies over time.

Triclosan is not only harmful to humans, but it is also harmful to the environment. When a product containing triclosan gets washed down the drain, it converts to dioxins and contaminates waterways which in turn makes its way to wildlife drinking water and where fish, amphibians and algae reside. Dioxins are toxic to marine life.

How Can You Avoid Triclosan?

The best thing you can do is to do your homework to learn what ingredients are in the products you want to purchase. If you aren't sure, ask! Reasearch the product over the internet, contact manufacturer's, or speak with shop owner's. You can also follow these guidelines:

  Only buy personal care and cosmetic products that do not list triclosan or microban in the ingredient list.

  Purchase onlyorganic or natural hand washes, toothpastes, shaving products and alcohol free hand sanitizers. Any product carrying a certified organic seal will not contain triclosan.

  Remember that triclosan can also be found in household items (usually carrying the name "microban"), so always read the packaging before buying to be sure.


Apps That Teach Kids About Nature and the Environment

Three Apps That Will Encourage Their Love For Our Earth

Apps That Teach Kids About Nature and the Environment

I teach my kids about nature and the environment by reading themed books with them, spending time outdoors, and by simply being a good example. Since I like to take every opportunity I can to enlighten them about our earth, why not use their fascination with hand-held devices as an opportunity to educate? Because really, what child doesn’t have a fascination with an iPhone or a tablet?!

Here are three great eco-themed apps that will teach your kids about nature and the environment:

  You Are Stardust

Did you know that we drink the same water that has been around since the dinosaurs roamed the earth? And did you know we shed the most hair in early autumn, just as leaves fall from trees? These are just a few of the facts taught in this visually appealing and very interactive app. Based on the acclaimed book, You Are Stardust, this app helps kids to understand just how much they are connected to nature. Adults will enjoy taking in the interesting facts as much as the kids do!

Available for: iPad
Where to buy: iTunes
Cost: $4.99

  Let's Go Chipper

Chipper the squirrel is the star of this interactive app and he will guide your child through eco-themed movies, stories, games, and more. All of the activities included in this fun app will teach about the outdoors, animals, and the environment.

Available for: iPhone & iPad
Where to buy: iTunes
Cost: $2.99


LitterBug! is for the younger set and teaches about the importance of recycling through interactive games. The games teach about the different types of waste and how each should be treated (blue bin or trash can).

Available for: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
Where to buy: iTunes
Cost: The lite version is free, the extended version costs $0.99

Do you have a favourite kid-friendly, eco-themed app?


Why You Should Avoid Teflon-Coated Cookware

It's Time To Ditch The Non-Stick

Why You Should Avoid Teflon-Coated Cookware

Chances are, you have some sort of non-stick cook or bakeware in your kitchen because, let’s face it, non-stick products are convenient to use, easy to clean, and great if you are trying to cook with less fat. Maybe you have a frying pan, a cake pan, a cookie sheet—but do you know what makes these kitchen items non-stick and why you should consider steering clear of these non-stick products?

Teflon® is the magical component that makes non-stick cookware, non-stick. BUT, not all non-stick products are created equal. There are those that are on the safe side and healthy side because they are coated with eco-friendly ceramic and then there are those on the not-so-safe and unhealthy side because they are coated with Teflon®. So why is Teflon® not a healthy choice?

Teflon® coated cookware contains Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), but you’ve probably never heard of these chemicals before, so here is what you need to know:

What is Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)?

PTFE has many applications, but one of its main uses is in the manufacturing of Teflon®, a coating used to make cookware non-stick. PTFE begins to break down when it reaches a temperature of 300°C (572°F) and this is when the problems begin. Once PTFE begins to break down/off gas, this poses a problem to both humans and animals, birds especially. In birds, it can be lethal and in humans, it can cause flu-like symptoms (known as "Teflon Flu" or “Polymer Fume Fever”). If your Teflon® coated cookware is damaged or scratched, when heated, the PTFE fumes are released more rapidly.

What is Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)?

PFOA (also known as C8) can be found in carpets, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, and even foods. Because it is found in so many places, it is said that all of us have some trace of it in our bodies. PFOAs are used to make fluoropolymers which are then used to make Teflon. It has been found to be a carcinogen to animals and when it gets into the human body, studies have found that PFOAs are linked to heart disease, birth defects, infertility, and a whole lot more. DuPont, one of the largest users of this chemical has agreed to eliminate almost all use of it by 2015.

What are the alternatives to using Teflon® coated cookware?

  1. Use cast iron (I love my cast iron pan!), stainless steel, or ceramic cook/bakeware.
  2. Use Teflon®-free, non-stick ceramic coated cook/bakeware such as Earth Chef (I have been using this brand for years and they are great) or Green Pan.

Do you currently use Teflon® coated cookware? If so, will you continue to use it?