Review: Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer

January 23rd, 2013

Raise your sanitized hand if you can’t stand Purell. Ugh, the scent of it is enough to make this lady with hypochondriacal tendencies take her chances with germs when no water is available. Yeah, I’m talking about myself here.

For several years now I’ve been using CleanWell hand sanitizer. It became a bit more difficult to buy after Target stopped carrying it. I can still order it online though. I have no problems with CleanWell, but my husband complains rather theatrically about the scent, particularly if I spray it in the car. I should insert here that my husband is a super smeller. Well, not technically, but he might as well be.

So, I was up for trying a new natural hand sanitizer, and I received a bottle of Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer as a gift.


Good stuff:

  • The smell is mild and pleasant.
  • Doesn’t sting the skin.
  • Claims to be 100 percent natural.
  • Claims to kill 99.99 percent of germs. (What’s that tricky 0.1 no sanitizer can kill?)

Things to Consider:

  • The active ingredient is 62% ethyl alcohol. I suppose the witch hazel also helps with the product’s germ killing abilities, plus the aloe is nice, but I miss the more potent botanical blend that is CleanWell.
  • No refills. The spray bottle works fine, but you have to buy another one when it’s empty. Burt’s Bees doesn’t offer larger bottles for refills. However, this is still more eco-friendly than buying wipes.
  • No flip top. It’s rather difficult to keep up with the top of the sprayer. I know that sounds lazy, but just think about it: 300 sprays equals 300 chances to lose the top and have a really sanitized purse. CleanWell wins here for having a flip top.

I don’t hate Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer, but I’m not madly in love with it either. I haven’t seen it around much in stores, which means it would be another hand sanitizer I’d have to order online.

As for my husband, he’s yet to complain about the scent. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to be pleasant, or if it does smell better to him than CleanWell. I’m sure the answer will be revealed in due time.

Have you tried Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer?

Proof Trees May Love You

January 17th, 2013

When a tree falls and you’re not around to hear it, you may still feel it!

Researchers with the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station have found an association between tree health and human health.

Specifically, they found that in areas where more trees have died due to insect infestation, there were more deaths from cardiovascular disease and lower respiratory disease.

image via flickr jojo-bean

(image via flickr jojo-bean)

The researchers say there’s some mysterious thing at work here.

The additional deaths in the more treeless areas can’t be explained away by demographics. It’s something that affects the rich and poor alike. All races. All income levels.

Learn more about this research by reading the U.S. Forest Service press release: Tree and human health may be linked. Just so you know, the research is published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Who Else is Sick of (or getting sick from) Caramel Color?

October 17th, 2012

My husband likes to drink soda when he has a sore throat. He claims the carbonation helps. I say hot tea is the way to go, but we agree to disagree.

Anyhow, he’s on a Coke Zero kick, which wouldn’t bother me except for its nasty ingredient: caramel color. (Well, it also bothers me that it comes in plastic bottles. And has some hard to pronounce ingredients that can’t be natural.)

Soft drink companies have found ways to make products with zero calories that supposedly taste as good as the other stuff, but why are they still using caramel color? Furthermore, why did anyone start using caramel color in the first place?

If you’re like me, you’re tired of reading “caramel color” on the packages of so many foods that fill the aisles at grocery stores. (If you’re not reading ingredient lists, start now.)

I’m not against caramel color just because it’s artificial. I’m against it because it’s a likely culprit in up to 15,000 cancer cases in the U.S. each year. And carmel color is made by treating sugar with ammonia, a habit that produces 4-methylimidazole or 4-MI, which has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. (Read more at Eight Ingredients You Never Want to See on Nutrition Labels at msnbc and Cancer in Colas’ Caramel Coloring? at WebMD.)

If you could do without all that caramel color in soft drinks, ice cream and many, many other products, speak out to the companies that use it.

Earlier this year, Coke decided to switch to a less evil form of caramel color to avoid having to include a cancer warning label on their products. (Read more at Coca-Cola Modifies Caramel Color To Avoid Cancer Warning Label at NPR.) Obviously, Coke is concerned about caramel color, so let them know you want an alternative, or hey, clear Coke!

Does the use of caramel color in food and drinks bother you?

Win The Vitamin D Cure, Revised

August 17th, 2012

I don’t know how you feel about this, but I think it’s refreshing to see a doctor talking about food (not just drugs and medical tests). And this doc even gives you recipes as part of his cure!

The new revised edition of The Vitamin D Cure by James E. Dowd, M.D. and Diane Stafford provides you with steps on figuring out how much vitamin D you need, adding supplements and sun, changing your diet (with some recipes) and adding exercise to get the proper amounts of vitamin D.

These steps make up the vitamin D cure, of course.

The authors explain that the cure helps with diseases driven by changes in metabolism, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. The authors also discuss the importance of vitamin D in relation to the immune system, mood and memory, prevention and treatment of cancer, and maintaining healthy bones, joints and teeth.

You’ll also want to discuss all this with your own doctor, as usual.

If you’re curious and want to check out some of the recipes (like the one for homemade nut butter), enter to win a copy of The Vitamin D Cure, Revised. Continue reading »

Spotlight on Vegan Indian Cooking

August 3rd, 2012

I’m not a vegan, though I do sometime have meatless meals. I do, however, love Indian food. In the past, I’ve been brave enough to try a few Indian recipes at home from my Jamie Oliver cookbook, but Jamie Oliver is British, of course.

Anupy Singla – author of the new Vegan Indian Cooking– grew up eating vegetarian Indian dishes. And she dispels some common myths about Indian food, like that it’s “heavy.” Turns out only westernized Indian food has all that extra cream and oil.

In her cookbook, which features 140 vegan recipes, Singla educates readers on the spices and other ingredients used in Indian cooking.

She also presents ideas for simple, yet healthy meals. (Disclosure: I received a cookbook at no charge for review.)

Loaded with plenty of photos, Singla’s cookbook takes you through recipes for breakfast, soups, small plates, salads, sides, slow-cooked foods like beans and lentils, vegetables, rice dishes and one-pot meals, chutneys, drinks and more.

Mother of two and former television reporter in Chicago, Singla decided to dedicate herself to learning how to create all of the Indian dishes she grew up eating. She blogs at Indian As Apple Pie. Check it out.

As for me, I’m looking forward to trying some new Indian food recipes!

Volunteer to Create More Time in Your Mind

July 16th, 2012

Do you want to volunteer, but feel you never have the time?

Well, volunteering, or giving away your time, can actually make you feel like you have more time!

Researchers publishing in the APS journal Psychological Science found that people who volunteered felt like they had more time. The term for this is “time affluence.”

So, you can be rich in time by giving away time?

The key is you can feel like you have more time.

Researchers say that this feeling comes from volunteering creating a sense of personal competence and efficiency.

Tip: If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, try searching at idealist.

Do you think you actually have time to volunteer? Can you tell if volunteering boosts your sense of having more time?

(image via flickr user Sean MacEntee)

Can Reducing Screen Time Save Kids and the Planet?

June 21st, 2012

Parents may use the excuse that their kids are glued to the newest fun gadget, so they can’t reduce their screen time, but researchers from Oregon State University have a different idea.

The research involving 200 families was published online today in Early Childhood Development and Care as part of their series on parental influences of childhood obesity.

According to the new findings, parents with a “neglectful” style of parenting are contributing to excessive screen time. Parents who reported not spending as much time at home with their kids had children who spent an additional 30 minutes each week day looking at a screen. (This is on top of the four to five hours of waking time all kids spent sitting each day.)

While 30 minutes may not sound too bad, researchers point out that it can have a big impact over a week, month and year. “One child may be getting up to four hours more active play every week, and this sets the stage for the rest of their life,” says lead author David Schary.

Disturbingly, researchers found that on average, all kids in the study ages 2 to 4 spent more than several hours sitting each day. Researchers say that parents who actively played with their children had the biggest impact on reducing sedentary behavior, but that any level of encouragement is helpful, even just watching kids play or driving them to activities.

Naturally, getting kids to be more active will have a positive impact on their health, but turning off the TV or other electronic devices also has a side benefit of reducing your energy consumption, making the earth a bit healthier as well.

For more on reducing screen time, and saving money and energy doing it, skip over to Growing a Green Family, where Jennifer is trying to reduce her family’s screen time.

How do you encourage your children to be more active?

image via flickr/stars alive

Count Up to Earth Day: Tip 19 Cool Down Your Water

April 22nd, 2012

This post is part of a series counting up to Earth Day on April 22.

You may think filling your own bottle with water is too much trouble, but have you thought about how much cooler your water can be?

When it’s hot out and you’re sitting by the pool, wouldn’t it be oh, so nice to have a bottle of water than stays cool?

Forget the disposable plastic water bottles that can leach BPA. Go with something cool like an insulated BPA-free water bottle.

My favorite water bottle for keeping things cool is the thinksport.

I’ve been using my thinksport water bottle since 2009 and it has never failed me when I wanted a cool drink, even when it’s 100 degrees out!

(ok, even though it’s been a long time ago, i feel you should know that I got this water bottle for free to review. however, i’d really not still be talking about it years later if I didn’t clearly love it!)

The Hunger Shame – Pink Slime

March 31st, 2012

Before you eat that nicely grilled Saturday afternoon burger, watch this wildly amusing Jon Stewart video, “The Hunger Shame.” Are you going the way of Jon?

And, if you missed my last post on this, please do catch up with the Decline of Pink Slime.

The Decline of Pink Slime

March 27th, 2012

Never doubt consumer power. You have only you to thank for taking a lot of nasty beef filler out of the mouths of people!

Soon, you may have to worry a little less about the ground beef you buy. Pink slime is in an amazing 70 percent of grocery store beef, but it looks like that percentage will be decreasing. If you haven’t been following the news lately on the beef filler dubbed “pink slime,” then here are the highlights:

  • Beef Products, Inc. has announced that they’re suspending operations at three of their four plants that produce the filler.
  • The USDA has given schools the power to stop buying beef containing pink slime.
  • McDonald’s, the largest restaurant chain in the country, stopped using beef containing pink slime.

Here’s why there’s so must grossness: Lean, finely textured beef  (the technical name for pink slime) is so bacteria-ridden that it must be treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella. Yuck. Yuck. And. Yuck. (In case you’re wondering, those lean trimmings come from bits of meat taken from muscle and connective tissue.)

By the way, you won’t find lean, finely textured beef on the ingredients list of any packaged beef. Companies aren’t required to tell you about it.

Even if you don’t believe in the necessity of buying organic foods, you can surely see how this cheap beef filler is nasty. Most people probably don’t think much about their ground beef containing a filler, and that’s exactly why I believe there’s been so much outcry over pink slime.

We feel duped. And we won’t take it anymore. Keep complaining to your local grocer, and let’s stop all production of pink slime, forever. I want you to be able to buy any brand of beef anywhere and not worry about whether it contains a disgusting filler.

Do you think about pink slime when buying grocery store beef?