Thursday, January 14, 2010

For Haiti

I know this isn't what this blog is actually about. This blog is about living a crunchier lifestyle, about being more green and bettering our own lives and our world through our environmental impact.

However, I think it's more important to be able to help others when we're able, and right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people right now in Haiti who are crying out for help from anyone and everyone.

I think everyone knows pretty well by now about the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti. Its capitol, Port-au-Prince, has been destroyed - the President's residence has been leveled, houses and businesses have crumbled, hospitals have collapsed on their patients and residents. Estimates of loss of life are varying; some reports cite a mere 30,000 deaths, while others estimate upwards of half a million people died in the early morning earthquake - and thanks to a lack of supplies, clean facilities, and hospitals, thousands more will undoubtedly pass away in the time between the quake and end of the week. Tonight, mothers and babies in Haiti are sleeping on the streets, surrounded by squalor, human fluids (blood, vomit, feces, and urine), and potential pickpockets. There is no electricity, no plumbing, and there is no safe place for families or individuals to stay. They are sleeping out in the streets, without supplies or enough food to go around for every person to have a full belly at the end of the day. People just like you and me, who work hard for what they have and who have spent their lives struggling to earn the meager $2 a day that most Haitians live off of, have lost absolutely everything, and will not easily be able to recover. Families have lost their homes, belongings, and life savings all at once. They do not have jobs anymore, nor houses, or beds. Babies at night cry for their favorite toy, parents mourn their lost family members and friends.

In short, Haiti is in ruins right now. We have ignored them long enough, we have stood by for so long and watched their struggles as an impoverished nation from afar and simply shrugged our shoulders and said, "Well, it's not me." We've given here or there, or maybe not at all, and have allowed ourselves to feel better about our decisions because for some reason their needs and wants haven't been as important as our own. Now is the time to reach out, to help, to offer more than what makes us comfortable. It's time to remember our fellow human beings the way we would want them to remember us, with open hearts and ears and the willingness to do whatever we need to in order to help and perhaps ease just a bit of their pain.

Obviously, we can't bring back those they have lost, nor can we immediately impact those that may well lose their fight before relief workers can get to them. But there are hundreds of thousands that we CAN help, that we MUST help because they too are important, because they need us and because we CAN help them.

So, how can you help?

There are a couple of options by text. You can text "Haiti" to 90999 to have $10 charged to your cell phone bill. That $10 will go to the American Red Cross for use in relief efforts. You can also text "Yele" to 501501 to have $5 charged to your cell phone bill that will go to Wyclef Jean's fundraising relief efforts. I have done both, because it's a quick, easy way to begin helping those in Haiti.

Beyond that, the most obvious way to help is to make monetary donations. has offered a comprehensive list of organizations and their contact/website information. All of these organizations are accepting donations or offers of assistance to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti. I highly suggest you check out each and every site, and see what you as an individual or a family can do to help.

Lastly, blood donation. The American Red Cross states that because no request for blood to Haiti has been made that they are not specifically collecting blood for the Haitian survivors right now. However, it doesn't take a lot of common sense to figure out that the request WILL be made - be it in Haiti, or in Florida or the surrounding communities where survivors are transferred. Let's face it: blood will be needed. Plasma will be needed. There will be hundreds of people needing transfusions or donations, and in the next few days, as the relief efforts kick into full gear, the need for blood will be extreme. As such, I highly suggest that everyone who is able should make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible. Granted, the majority of blood tends to stay within the community to which it is donated, but when the call comes in, the Red Cross may well need to pull from all of its reserves, and that will leave some communities depleted.

It breaks my heart to think of those who have been so strongly impacted by this event. There are people in nations all over the world who are mourning the losses of friends and relatives. There are mothers who are grieving the losses of their babies, sisters and brothers who are missing their siblings, children who are without a parent or caretaker. There are parents who have no idea how they will continue to provide for their families, children who have no school to attend, and thousands who are in dire need of medical attention who will die before they can be reached because of a lack of medical supplies.

Please, help the families in Haiti. And after you have helped them, REMEMBER them, and the millions of people all over the world who live without enough, who go day to day without knowing where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep, and consider helping them out, too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The things in our foods

Little Debby red velvet snack cakes - propylene glycol monostearate (used as an emulsifier and in industrial solvents, paint and coating solvents, polyester and alkyd resins, antifreeze coolants, heat transfer fluids, deicing fluids, plasticizers, detergents and surfactants, and bactericide" [1])
Hidden Valley original ranch dressing - contains glutamic acid via addition of MSG (monosodium glutamate, which "is in a class of chemicals known as excitotoxins, high levels of which have been shown in animal studies to cause damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier and that a variety of chronic diseases can arise out of this neurotoxicity" [2])

Diet sodas, gums, Equal, NutraSweet - aspartame ("Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into natural residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, and further breakdown products including formaldehyde, formic acid, and a diketopiperazine ", "Studies have also been conducted regarding aspartame's effect on the production of Leptin which controls food intake and energy expenditure by acting on receptors in the mediobasal hypothalamus. These studies have shown that leptin was "significantly reduced by 34%" after "chronic ingestion of aspartame (ASP)" [3])

A variety of premade and prepackaged foods - cancer-causing agents and chemicals ("Cancer-causing chemicals such as acrylamides may be formed in the food during high-heat processing, yet there's no requirement to list them on the label. Residues of solvents, pesticides and other chemicals may also be present, but also do not have to be listed." [4])

So let's make that our side note of the day. I made my husband throw away the Little Debbie cakes (ugh, I actually ate one of those things!) and I told him we have purchased our last bottle of ranch dressing. Besides, it's no big loss - he has a spice combination recipe that he uses often to make ranch dip with sour cream. Adding in a little milk can turn it from a dip into a dressing without a problem - and with no MSG!

Let's try to be more careful about the things that we ingest. Let's make a resolution to read the labels on all of our prepackaged goods, and if you see something you don't know or recognize in your food, LOOK IT UP! Don't stand by silently and allow yourself (and your families) to keep eating this crap. It's disgusting and the worst part is that the FDA and other government-run agencies ALLOW these things to be used in our food, claiming that they're food-grade and acceptable for us to put into our bodies. I'm willing to bet that these things don't metabolize well and certainly don't digest well.

Coming tomorrow: a review of Kid Bean, a company that offers vegan, organic baby, maternity, and nursing products!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, I hope everybody had a GREAT time last night, no matter what you did. One of my close friends came over and we watched "Up" and drank spumante. Ooooh yes! Good times had by all, I think. What did you all do for the evening? (Note: Those who answer "went to bed at my normal time" get five points.)

At the moment I'm kind of in between things. At the moment, there are actually a couple of things I could be doing - working on my BabyLegs or putting more buttons on Alex's new hat - but I'm in the middle of a weight loss moment that hopefully will continue on through at least the next month. Ha, ha ha. I crack myself up.

So in lieu of working on something constructive, I offer the following site:

Saffron Rouge Organic Beauty!

This company offers organic makeup and bodycare products for men, women, children, and babies alike. Their products are free of dyes, chemicals, and fragrances, which is a perfect match for people like me who have extremely sensitive skin (I have psoriasis and am allergic to nickle and some other trace metals). I'm not a big makeup person, but I know it's time for me to move to finding some kind of organic, chemical-free makeup that I can safely use when I do choose to put some on. For general skincare products, I'm a big fan of Burt's Bees, but they don't sell actual makeup beyond some lip products. (Which, by the way, did you know that they make a lip balm with peppermint in it?! I LOVE PEPPERMINT. Seriously.) So what's a girl who wants organic makeup to do?

Well, it seems that Saffron Rouge is the answer. Their color options aren't huge, for sure; if you want a multitude of weird colors, I'd highly suggest you wander off to Wal-Mart instead. But they do offer a nice, rounded variety of typical colors for everything - lipsticks, mascara, eyeliner, foundation, powders, blushes, and bronzers, and organic makeup removers to take it all off once you're done for the day. They even sell tools - brush sets and sponges - made of cruelty-free fibers and organic sponge.

Plus, it gets better - they sell bath and shower products, haircare products, shaving accessories, diaper creams and baby shampoos, gift sets, aromatherapy sets - yikes! They carry the whole shebang, and then some!

No, I'm not getting anything free from them. Nor do I know anyone who works there. But I like what they sell, and I think they're a worthwhile company, so I thought I'd share them with you all.

Happy 2010!