January 10, 2013

Antibacterial Clean Bags: Avoid illness from unclean reusable shopping bags

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Last year, it was all over the news that reusable shopping bags were responsible for an outbreak of viruses. MSNBC reported on one such case:

Eventually, interviews revealed that most of those who became ill ate packaged cookies at a Sunday lunch. Where did the cookies come from? Turns out, the culprit was a reusable grocery bag of snacks left in the empty hotel room occupied by the first girl who got sick.
Quickly, the puzzle fell into place. The girl had been very ill in the hotel bathroom, spreading an aerosol of norovirus that landed everywhere, including on the reusable grocery bag hanging in the room.

I launder my reusable shopping bags often, but not before each shopping trip. One solution is antimicrobial and antibacterial bags, like the ones from Go Clean Bags.

At first, I assumed these bags used nanoparticles or some other such questionable method to be "naturally" resistant. Clean Bags uses Chitosan:

We do not use hazardous Triclosan used in products like antibacterial soap, clothing, toothpaste nor do we use Nano-Silver. We coat all our bags and inserts with a Chitosan based solution!

Haven't heard of Chitosan? Well Chitosan naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and fungi. It is produced from chitin (ki'tin), a natural resource that is abundantly renewable. Chitin is a primary substance found in the discarded shells of crustaceans, such as crabs. It contains unique antimicrobial properties and is naturally non-allergenic, especially for consumers sensitive to shellfish. The antibacterial mechanism of the solution chitosan is a non-leaching type, which means that chitosan cannot be released from the textile onto food products in the bag.

Bacteria, mold and fungus deteriorate fabric. Chitosan prevents the formation of these microorganisms, maintaining the fabric's integrity. Since Chitosan is produced from a natural resource, it is 100% safe and studies from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded, "no adverse ecological effects have thus far been attributed to its presence." We still advise to wash our bags and they will stay antibacterial and antimicrobial for a period of six months and over 20 washes.

Some people actually take Chitosan as a supplement, which does imply something of its safety around your food.

It still seems like regular washing of reusable shopping bags is a viable solution, but if you are especially concerned about germs and viruses, Clean Bags is for you!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Product review | Shopping

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 9, 2013

National Geographic Books: Thrive Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

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Are you happy? What makes you happy? Do you even know what makes you happy?

Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way by Dan Buettner has gotten a lot of media attention. NPR reports:

Buettner devotes a section of Thrive to Denmark, where the "gross national happiness" is incredibly high. When asked why this is, he notes that the country's leveling tax structure enables its citizens to have more freedom. "Normally when we think of happiness, we think of money and status, but Denmark teaches us the opposite lesson," he says. "There, you have a place where you are taxed to the mean. A cultural norm reminds everybody that they are no better than everybody else, so you're not going to choose your career path based on status. You're in a place where a garbage man makes as much as a lawyer. So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture."

Buettner also notes that in Denmark, most people only work "37 hours a week on average, and they take their full six weeks of vacation," noting that a liberal work schedule leads to greater happiness overall.

From Singapore to San Luis Obispo, Buettner examines happy places on our planet. Things like family matters, as in Singapore where it is the "center of social structure" and extends beyond genetics to friends providing an "extended support system". Or as in San Luis Obispo where grapes come into play (my secret to happiness :)). One glass of wine increases dopamine in the brain making one feel happy. Or as in Mexico where the sunny warm climate provides vitamin D, also known as the "happiness vitamin".

Beyond simple ideas like being in the sunshine and drinking wine, Buettner dives deeper into contentment and offers lessons at the end of the book.

In THRIVE, New York Times bestselling author and explorer, Dan Buettner, reports on the surprising findings from his five-year global study on the keys to personal happiness. In addition to sharing his extraordinary accounts of the happiest people on the planet, Buettner examines how their unique lifestyles correlate to their extraordinary well-being. Finally -- and most important -- Buettner details how to incorporate these powerful characteristics into our daily routine so that we, too, can THRIVE.

This book is printed in the USA.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Product review | Really Natural Books

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January 8, 2013

Natural Flu Care: NaturaNectar Throat Guardian Spray Uses Honey and Berries

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I am finally over the flu! Six days later, and a sore throat that would not quit, I am slowly regaining my energy. 

 I never resort to over-the-counter medicines. I find there is no need, unless a high fever is involved. Instead, I rely on trusted herbal remedies, such as Source Naturals Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid.

We were just sent NaturaNectar Throat Guardian - Bee Berry - Spray to try. Unfortunately, I did not have this product during the peak of my sore throat to truly test its effectiveness.

Throat Guardian's main ingredient, Propolis Water Extract (PWE™), is a gentle yet effective water-based, all-natural spray extracted from Brazilian bee propolis that does not contain alcohol, harmful chemicals, or other substances that may harm the body's mucous membrane. PWE is clinically-studied to produce a healthy inflammation response. It is free of artificial preservatives, color, scents and flavors and sourced from the purest, most wholesome ingredients.

With two to three sprays of Throat Guardian, one gets the best immune support--a perfect, all-natural, and convenient solution for daily oral hygiene for the whole family. And so before succumbing to everyday health challenges, use NaturaNectar Throat Guardian daily to support overall oral and respiratory health and wellness.


Unfortunately, this product is preserved with sodium benzoate, a food additive I try to avoid. Wise Geek explains the concerns:
Sodium benzoate is a sodium salt that occurring naturally in some foods, but is also widely used as a chemical preservative...The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Health Protection Branch in Canada (HPB) report that in low doses it is safe for consumption, although when combined with ascorbic acid it forms the chemical benzene, a suspected carcinogen....

When combined with ascorbic acid -- also known as vitamin C or citric acid -- the preservative converts to benzene, a carcinogen reported to cause leukemia, DNA damage, damage to mitochondria in cells, cell death and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Additional studies show that sodium benzoate mixed with certain artificial food coloring causes hyperactivity in children.


Considering most people consume vitamin C when sick, this is very concerning!

I find it misleading to use the word "natural" on the label of such a product.

UPDATE 1/17/13:

...we noticed your concerns about the ingredient sodium benzoate which is in Throat Guardian. The Founder and CEO, JL Paes-Leme, is very aware of this and he wanted to directly address this concern you have brought up.

 

"NaturaNectar has already acted on such concerns and addressed the problem with its manufacturer. It has conducted stability tests with a new version of the product without sodium benzoate and it was approved.  The next batch of products will not have this preservative. In relation to the claim "natural" the product isnatural by the definition of the NIRC. Please look the link below. Therefore it is not misleading in any way. Misleading customers is something that NaturaNectar does not practice as an ethical company."

 

http://www.naturalingredient.org/pledge.htm

 

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Health | Herbal Medicine | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 7, 2013

Samsara: Amazing Film of our Diverse World (follow-up to Baraka)


Samsara is defined as "the ever turning wheel of life". Beyond just a sanskrit definition, it is an important aspect of Asian religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism. It embodies the continuous flow of life, our present life, our past life, karma, etc. It is an appropriate title for this amazing film!

Samsara is the much awaited follow up to Baraka, a movie that amazed me.

Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

Expanding on the themes they developed in BARAKA (1992) and CHRONOS (1985), SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man's spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.


This film is so unique, beautiful, and inspiring. It does not hold back on any part. From militia to monks, from desert to forest, it is all there. Now, it is available on blu-ray for the best quality, color, and experience.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Product review | community | environment

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 4, 2013

Switch: To a Smarter Energy Future [Documentary]


We all know that something has to be done to meet our energy needs. There are many alternatives and many campaigns selling us on which one is cleanest and best. There is much confusion and delusion.

Switch: To a Smarter Energy Future is a documentary, as well as an energy project website, that makes energy information accessible to anyone. You don't need a scientist to understand and explore our options.

Every energy resource -- fossil, nuclear and renewable -- is undergoing profound changes. And overall, we're gradually shifting from coal and oil to the energies of tomorrow.

This sweeping transition is the subject of Switch. But rather than advocate for how it should happen, Switch travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen.
Switch is also about a changing energy conversation. Today, it's polarized and unproductive. Switch focuses on practical realities and encourages a balanced understanding.

Finally, Switch is about changing the way we use energy, to realize the many economic and environmental benefits of efficiency...

In 2009, documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch and geologist Dr. Scott Tinker set out to make a film on our energy transition. The goal was not to advocate for one technology over another, not to suggest how the transition should happen -- but to try to determine how it actually would happen, based on scientifically-sound investigation and the practical realities of the world of energy as we discovered them. The result, is Switch.


This movie and website are very educational!  It helps form and solidify opinions letting you make a choice as by trying to be unbiased in its presentation.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Conservation | Energy Savers | Product review | technology

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

January 3, 2013

Bulu Box Monthly Subscription Vitamin and Supplement Sample Box

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When you peruse the vitamin and supplement aisles, there are a lot of choices. It is hard to know what product actually work, that you like, and that are worth the price. Buying full size products just to discover they are not what you wanted is a waste of money. Bulu Box has a solution.

Bulu Box is the first vitamin, supplement and general health subscription sample box designed to help you feel your best. Every month, you'll get a box filled with 4 to 5 premium, curated samples from top brands. Look forward to a new mix of products for both women and men, including vitamins, weight loss, sports nutrition, protein, diet, energy, detox, digestion, sexual health, herbs, natural remedies, endurance and more. We'll make sure you get enough to decide if the product is right for you. No shipping or shady fees. Depending on your plan, you can cancel anytime. Get ready for a healthy discovery!
The box we were sent had the following products:
Some of the samples are really small, such as two capsules, making it hard to truly test a product out. In fact, for product reviews, I request larger samples in order to really get a feel for a product, which I can see might be an issue for Bulu subscribers. It is a great way to get exposed to many new products.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Health | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

December 28, 2012

Eat Asparagus New Year's Eve to Prevent a Hangover

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In a few days, we will be celebrating the end of 2012. New Year's Eve is night when typically too much alcohol is drunk leaving many suffering from hangovers. Although it is not in season in northern climates, asparagus may offer some relief.

The Telegraph reports:

Scientists have found chemicals in the vegetable also protect liver cells against toxins.

Experiments on human cells found the minerals and amino acids in asparagus can replacing those lost through drink, which can often lead to a headache. They also relieve stress on the liver.

But for the greatest, scientists at the Jeju National University in South Korea recommend serving the leaves as well as the tender shoots.

Researcher B Y Kim, said: "These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells."


Order asparagus for dinner New Year's Eve and eat it for breakfast New Year's Day. Hopefully, you will feel a lot better.

Image:  License

Attribution Some rights reserved by La Grande Farmers' Market

Read More in: Food | Health | Holiday

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

December 27, 2012

Parenting Help: Taming Aggression in Your Child

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This is another one of those product reviews that makes you wonder why it appears on Really Natural. We are sent products, and I faithfully review them. Even if the topic is not natural living per se, products can have eco-friendly qualities. When reviewing a book that has nothing to do with the green life, I look for recycled material, FSC-certified paper, etc.

Taming Aggression in Your Child: How to Avoid Raising Bullies, Delinquents, or Trouble-Makers by Henri Parens offers sound reasoning for parents:

Taming Aggression in Your Child: How to Avoid Raising Bullies, Delinquents, or Trouble-Makers is a guide to preventing children from developing aggressive behaviors from birth through adolescence. Hostile destructive kids become hostile destructive adults and often create serious problems for society, and Dr. Henri Parens argues that effective parenting can help prevent aggressive behaviors like bullying, delinquency, and even criminal behavior from developing.

Parens explains to caregivers and educators what causes aggression to develop in children and how it affects them as they grow, differentiates between compliance (the goal of effective parenting) and obedience (an often mis-used term, signifying an unquestioning yielding to authority), and explains how to achieve compliance in children through effective limit-setting, discipline, and punishment. He also demonstrates how to help children learn to express hostility in acceptable ways, how to handle temper tantrums in growth-promoting ways, and how to optimize the parent-child relationship in order to minimize the development of aggression in children.

Offering concrete strategies for dealing with aggression, Taming Aggression in Your Child is a must read for all parents, whether you are frustrated by your toddler's temper tantrums or worry that your older child is bullying siblings or classmates.

Although I would not classify my child has aggressive, there are some strong-willed behaviors I think I could positively affect from advice in this book. Two things that struck me about aggression written by the author:


  • It's shaped by our experiences.

  • It's all about how you can optimize your child's aggression profile.


Actually, I think adults can learn a lot from this book too about controlling their anger emotions.

I couldn't find any information about the eco-friendly qualities of the actual book.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Kids | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

December 26, 2012

The Peaceable Forest: India's Tales of Kindness to Animals

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The Peaceable Forest: India's Tale of Kindness to Animals by Kosa Ely is a beautiful picture book and story. Based on a Vedic tale, this book teaches respect for life.

"Once," says the old man to the animals, "a hunter lived in this forest. Your grandparents lived in fear of him. The twang of his bow sent them running. Then something happened to change that forever . . . "

In this ancient parable from India, a forest-dwelling hunter learns that cruelty has consequences and that compassion has rewards. When the hunter meets the wise man Narada, "Do unto others as they would do unto you" takes on a very concrete meaning as the sage leads the hunter on an imagined journey in which the hunter becomes the hunted. When the hunter realizes how his actions affect other living things, he has a change of heart and begins to live in peace with the animals he once pursued.

Kosa Ely adapts this traditional Indian tale into an inviting narrative that presents the universal golden rule in a new and appealing way. Anna Johansson's richly detailed illustrations evoke the animal kingdom and enchanted forests with fine lines and luminous colors. The Peaceable Forest is the ideal picture book for inspiring young readers to respect life in all its forms.


I truly love his book! The tale of the hunter who hunts for fun, then realizes the pain he brings reminds families to embrace compassion. It also teaches it is never too late amend one's way and embracer a better path.  This is a lovely book to share with your children!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Kids | Product review | Really Natural Books

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

December 23, 2012

Really Natural Books: Seeds Time Capsules of Life

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Seeds: Time Capsules of Life is an amazing book! The photographs are amazing and makes one think about the origins of plant life. Such diversity and beauty, as well as pertinent information are included in this book.

In this lavish collection, artist Rob Kesseler and seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy of the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, present a natural history of seeds, illustrated with close-up photographs and scanning electron micrographs. The images afford an unprecedented view into a most astonishing microcosm, where even the tiniest examples are exquisitely beautiful and sophisticated--in fact Kesseler's work has been called "mystifying," "astounding," and "awe-inspiring" by scientists and critics around the world. Seeds constitutes an essential source book not only for those fascinated by the natural world, but also for artists, designers, and anyone interested in the development of biological structures. This brand-new edition features a preface by HRH the Prince of Wales, himself an avid conservationist. With its studied narrative and beautiful photographic eye, this keepsake volume is a stunning tribute to the beauty and marvel of seeds.

Seeds are the most complex organs plants ever produce. A major keystone in the evolution of land plants, the first seeds appeared some 360 million years ago. Since then they have developed into highly sophisticated propagules that have enabled plants to dominate the Earth's surface and conquer almost every possible habitat from the Antarctic to the hottest deserts. The diversity of shapes and sizes encountered in seeds is nearly endless and ranges from the impressive Seychelles nut at twenty kilos to the dustlike seeds of the orchids. No matter how small, packed into every seed is the complete genetic information needed to give rise to a new plant, whether it is a tiny herb or a giant rainforest tree. True time capsules of life, seeds may travel thousands of miles and, if necessary, wait for hundreds of years before germinating.


There is so much to be learned and amazed by this book!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Gardening | Product review | Really Natural Books

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

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