Thursday, April 26, 2012

Product line spotlight: hosie naturals

So often it takes a pregnancy for us to wake up to what's in our conventionally manufactured skin and health products. I know that was true for me. And the thought of making over the contents of my medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers was completely overwhelming--especially in light of everything else that a new pregnant mother finds herself impelled to learn. But I also knew I wanted the products in my home to be safe for my baby--that's part of the reason I chose cloth diapers, after all.

If you've ever made an appointment with an eLeMeNO-Pee representative, you know that we carry a highly effective cloth diaper-safe diaper rash remedy called Butt Balm by hosie naturals, and we also carry hosie naturals' concentrated Wipe Solution (think the "wet" part of a wet wipe) to be used with cloth wipes.

But did you know that hosie naturals is so much more than that?

hosie naturals is: Scar care, headache remedy, tingly lip balm, menopause support, and so much more!

Kari Feucht, the mom-trepreneur behind hosie naturals, has a degree in skincare and is also certified to work with herbs. Her creations run the gamut from basic skincare to herbal medicine.

Belly butter ingredients: whipped perfection.
Belly butter to prevent stretch marks and improve the look, feel, and moisture level of your skin during pregnancy? She's got that. (Hint: let your man know it's fabulous on the feet during one of those third-trimester, pregnant-wife-pampering massages. It also smells like a cookie.)

Scar care to aid in healing after a c-section or other surgery? Check.

Peri care for the postpartum mother, teething balm (to be used on the outside of the cheeks) for the fussy baby, baby butter for baby massage, makeup remover/ facial cleanser? Luxurious coconut scrub exfoliant? Tingly lip balm that comes in either a convenient stick or the more traditional dip-your-finger-in-the-pot form? She's got all that, too.

And it's all organic plant-based. No chemicals. Nothing you'll find getting a bad rap on the Skin Deep database.

Perhaps the most unique of all of Kari's creations, the Love Your Labor birthing oil is my Number One choice of baby gift when I have a friend who's expecting. Now, I'm admittedly part of those earth mama, no pain med-taking, prenatal yoga-doing, moo-like-a-cow-and-sway-to-you-and-your-baby's-harmonious-biorhythm natural childbirth circles. It's not unusual, for example, to hear a pregnant mama in my friend group say she's considering a lotus birth. But I've seen this stuff in action in your average induction-in-a-hospital setting, and the results are the same for so many women: many of us who've used it during labor never knew that we were in active labor.
How is that possible, you ask? Beats me, but Kari from hosie naturals sure seems to know. The ingredients (pictured above) are a (to me) magical combination of uterus-toning and mind-and-body-relaxing herbs and oils, so while it's aiding in your labor's steady progression, it's also keeping your mind clear and focused and helping your body to relax and breathe through contractions. I know three doulas and one birth center who keep this "birth potion" on-hand for their clients. Personally, I think it's eLeMeNO-Pee's best-kept secret. I'm wondering why hospitals don't stock it!

If you've never delved into the world of organic skincare, hosie naturals is the perfect place to start. A work-at-home mother who's built a business that started on her Jeanerette, La. kitchen table into a successful storefront with retailers all over the southern United States, Kari from hosie naturals is committed to creating mother-and-baby skincare and herbal support products that are both affordable and a pleasure to use.

New products are introduced only once their "recipes" are perfected, however, so know that anything you try has been tested repeatedly for safety and efficacy (just not on animals!). And, while you can't find any of it at your local drugstore, hosie naturals organic skincare products are always available through our Web site or through your local eLeMeNO-Pee representative.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Six ways to celebrate this Earth Day!

When Earth Day was first celebrated in 1969, the organizers may as well have called it "Hippie-Dippy Day." In the early days of this celebration, metropolis-dwellers, ecologists, activists, and university students gathered for annual "environmental teach-ins." Your average American housewife? Was probably celebrating her daily cook-and-clean-in.

But today, after decades of our nation collectively spiraling further and further into consumerist habits that made our landfills look like Everest, even the most corn-fed, countrified, heartland family is taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint (or would that be "feetprint"?).

Here's our list of six simple steps you can take to green your family's lifestyle AND be a positive influence on your community :

1. Celebrate Real Diaper Week. It's your opportunity to share your reasons for cloth diapering with everyone from your pediatrician to your mailman! Show your cutest cloth diapers off in public, refer someone to your local cloth diaper retailer, get your friends together and ask your favorite baby boutique to carry cloth diapers. Let everyone know that cloth diapers are a real option for real families! The official "rules" are here.  
2. Recycle. If you're here in Lake Charles, where our home office is, you know that we don't have curbside recycling... yet. But we do have a drop-off location that's open every day of the week! It's located off Nelson Rd. near the soccer fields--signs lead the way.

What my little family did this year was pick a location in our house (our computer/music room) and put stackable, clear plastic bins with lids, labeled "Aluminum," "Plastics," and "Paper," in a corner. When a bin is full, I empty it into the required garbage bag, load the kids into the minivan, and head to the drop-off point. That's it! No trying to find out where the Team Green truck is. 

If you're lucky enough to live in a locale with curbside pick-up, your challenge is to write to your city council and thank them for their efforts to keep your city clean and green! Let them know that you recycle, and that the city's recycling program represents tax dollars well spent.

3. Upcycle! Upcycling is reusing with style... and it's a Pinterest-addict's dream come true! There's an old World War II-era saying that our friends at the Sulphur, La.-based business America Make Do have adopted as their inspirational tag line: Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. 

But wearing it out doesn't have to mean letting your household goods go ugly or threadbare. Slightly holey blue jeans become custom baby bibs and junior handbags. Dad's worn-at-the-hem dress shirts become tiny dresses. With the help of a pair of scissors, a serger, and some pretty thread, old curtains become heavy-duty napkins, frayed towels become a new set of dishrags, and old t-shirts become baby wipes. Why create waste by throwing any perfectly useable piece of cloth (or glass, or aluminum, or, well, anything) out?  

Compost bucket with filtered lid.
4. Compost. You'll decrease your food waste immediately! Collect your fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, and coffee grinds in a bucket or bowl to start your compost. Composting is a great way to create rich soil for your flower beds or vegetable garden, and it makes for significantly less trash in your house. In fact, if you're recycling, upcycling, cloth diapering, and composting, you may find that you have almost NO household trash! 
Our compost, ready to be turned.

5. Cut down on excess packaging. Make the choice in the grocery store to buy the brand that's both affordable and uses minimal packaging. Buying in bulk usually costs less per unit and involves less excess plastic and cardboard. Buy as much as you can from local growers, and bring your own reusable containers (think Tupperware) to the farmer's market to store rice, oats, and flour in. Finally, e-mail your favorite brands, or find their Facebook pages, and request that they eliminate excess packaging!

6. Speaking of groceries... BYOB! Bring your own bags, that is! This is a simple and convenient way to keep plastic out of landfills. Reusable cloth bags can (and should!) be washed and dried with your clothes or towels to keep them clean and free of bacterial contaminants. Woven string bags can expand to hold up to 40 lbs. of goods, and simple canvas totes can come in all your favorite colors and fun prints! In fact...

If you're one of the first 25 participants to make your way to the Great Cloth Diaper Change - Lake Charles, you'll receive a FREE one, full of swag, compliments of eLeMeNO-Pee!

Chances are you're already doing at least one of these things. As part of Real Diaper Week and leading up to Earth Day, won't you share this on your Facebook wall, and tell your friends how many of the listed items you can check off! You just may inspire someone to green up their household.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

gDiapers: So THAT'S what the 'g' is for!

Confession: eLeMeNO-Pee has carried them for more than a year now, but I've never tried gDiapers. I've never even tried them on one of my babies. In all honesty, until today, I'd never even seen them on a real, live (non-photographed) baby!
gDiapers always has such beautiful photography, though!

Three years ago, when I was exploring the idea of cloth diapering, I asked my friends about gDiapers on Facebook. I didn't get any good feedback, so I didn't explore them further.

Last fall, I even tried to convince Allison and Todd (who know me by now, and know that I'm prone to giving unsolicited advice, and who graciously appear to listen when I launch into a spiel) in the home office that there was no reason to keep them in our product line, because they, truthfully, weren't much of a hit with our clients.

Enter Jessica.

Jessica is one of our brand new reps, and she's located here in Lake Charles--she works out of the home office!

Jessica is bright and funny and just a fun person to work with and be around. She's also an expert on gDiapers. I got to see her in action one day, and we'll just say that, at check-out, I was just as excited as the client about her new stash of g's.

I'm going to let the gExpert's words take over from here.
I just really love everything about gDiapers. I first fell in love with the design--how the gPants have such a trim fit. I love that the gPants can be reused throughout the day, because it makes it easier to coordinate outfits with the fluffy bum. I love the flexibility of using cloth or disposable (and being able to compost, flush, or toss the gRefills). I love the 'gBreathe technology' that makes them more breathable than many other diapers on the market.
For many of us 'gMums,' 'g' is more than a product; it's a lifestyle. The company goes by the philosophy of Fair Dinkum: an Australian term that means 'genuine with everyone.' So, 'g' stands for 'genuine,' but it also stands for green, groovy, grateful, or whatever else it might mean to you!
The gDiapers headquarters is based out of Portland, Ore., but when the gTeam travels around the country for business, they reach out to their fans and try to meet with as many as they can by hosting gTeas. Actually, when several gMums from around the country decided they were going to take a trip to Portland for one of the company's local gTeas, gHeadquarters created a big event for them that included a tour of the city, taking them out to dinner, and even a gSleepover! I've never heard of any other company giving that kind of personal attention to their customers.
One misconception I had about gDiapers is that using them wasn't really for families who were using cloth to save money--I thought they were just about having a green disposable option that was also cuter and more breathable than a conventional disposable all-in-one. But Jessica set me straight:

I know several gMums--myself included!--who primarily use gCloth. Flushies (officially called gRefills) are a nice option to have for traveling, if you want to use a strong, commercial diaper rash cream and don't want to risk messing up your cloth, if you get behind on diaper laundry, or for any other reason you might feel like you need to take a break from cloth. I keep a pack on-hand, but it's rare that I reach for them.
Way back when I first put the call out to my Facebook friends for gFeedback, I'd been told that because the gPouch, which provides the water-proofing for the system, was biodegradable, it could only be used a handful of times before it had to be composted, and thus would need to be replaced often. I saw that as $$$ flying away, and I needed cloth diapers to save us money. However, Jessica says she uses the same gPouches she's always had. Here's her gLaundry regimen:

I wash the 100% cotton gPants with regular laundry, on cold, and hang to dry to prevent shrinkage. The snap-in, waterproof gPouches go in zip-up, mesh garment bags to protect them from too much wear and tear, and I wash them with regular laundry on cold or warm. They're also hung to dry. And gCloth gets washed just like the cloth diaper laundry you're used to: cold pre-wash, hot wash with detergent, extra rinse. I dry them in the dryer along with my FuzziBunz inserts.
Speaking of FuzziBunz, it seems to me that there are "cloth diapering moms," and there are "gMums," and nary the twain shall meet. But Jessica assures me that gDiapers can be worked into the kind of varied stash that I like to keep.

The great thing about g's is the flexibility! If you have a favorite prefold or bamboo insert, for example, just stuff it into the gPouch! I think people focus on the idea of 'hybrid,' but add a few g's into your diaper rotation, and I'm sure you'll love them.
I took her up on her challenge, actually, and took my ever-lovin', diaper-collectin' self to the eLeMeNO-Pee store to see what colors were in stock. I came home with this pretty little thing called "Glacier Blue," and I'm using a FuzziBunz hemp insert in it for now:

Mediocre cell phone photography by yours truly, with help from the Snapseed, Picstitch, and Instagram apps.
So far, so cute!

And if I don't like it, after all? Jessica says,

Spring gStyle: Diaper + matching dress!
The resale market for g's is crazy right now! gDiapers releases new colors, prints, and gStyles (matching top and bottom sets) two times a year, and once items are not available through retailers, they're considered "Hard to Find" in gCulture... and there's a bit of chaos at that point. People fight to find them, even used. While I don't necessarily agree with this kind of pricing, I have seen some of these Hard to Find prints sell for over $200--used. Even well loved gPants in colors that are still available can sell for $8-$10, though.

So here's to seeing how this one integrates into my stash! The separating for laundry part will take me a bit to get used to, but I have to do regular old bright-colored clothes laundry anyway, right? (Cue whining about the Mt. Washmore that appeared in my laundry room the day my first baby came home from the hospital--six months before a cloth diaper ever touched his bum!)

gDiapers Headquarters says that the 'g' can stand for anything you want it to. So, today, 'g' is for, "Guess I'll give it a go!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Six safer alternatives to conventional personal hygiene products: A women's health PSA (pt. II)

Last week, I blogged about the health risks involved in using conventional menstrual products, catalyzed by my long-time friend and former eLeMeNO-Pee client's accidental discovery of a brand new tampon growing mold underneath the plastic applicator.
Photo courtesy

So what, you may be wondering, are the alternatives? Some of you may know that eLeMeNO-Pee carries cloth pads (shown above), but what if you're 1) not a pad person or 2) unable to launder cloth pads at this point in your life?

Like I said last week, this isn't about capitalizing on a friend's unfortunate experience for sales. This is about letting our readers know all of their options so that they can find one that supports both their health goals and their lifestyle.

Disposable alternatives

Now, eLeMeNO-Pee's mission, obviously, is to promote reusable hygiene products, but I know we have readers who don't have access to their own, private laundry facilities in their homes. Do these women have options beyond bleached cotton or rayon tampons and phthalate-laden bleached cotton pads?

Photo courtesy
Yes! There are disposable tampons and pads that are chlorine-free, meaning they haven't been bleached and won't expose you to dioxin, a highly toxic compound gas released by chlorine bleach that is a known carcinogen as well as a hormone disruptor. Metabolism, the immune system, and liver function are all potentially affected by dioxin, and it permeates our industrialized society, so decreasing exposure as much as possible is an important health goal. Common name brands of chlorine-free and sometimes organic (pesticide-free) disposable menstrual products include Seventh Generation and Natracare. A smaller company called Maxim (not to be confused with the raunchy men's magazine) also makes an organic cotton pantiliner, tampon without applicator, and tampon with cardboard applicator as well as a conventionally grown natural cotton maxi pad with wings.

Additionally, there are disposable menstrual cups, like the Instead Softcup. A menstrual cup sits just underneath the cervix and collects, rather than absorbs, menstrual flow. This is a great alternative to tampons because it can be worn in all the same situations, including swimming and while sleeping. Because of its function, it is not as drying or disruptive of the pH of the sensitive vaginal wall membrane; "less drying" also means less irritating, which makes for a more comfortable period with lighter flow and less intense cramps. There's also no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

And the reusables

Photo courtesy
One of the greatest, and possibly most unsung, merits of reusable hygiene products is that the woman who owns them can sterilize them herself and know that they are clean. This is especially true of the reusable menstrual cups like Diva Cup, Lunette Cup, the Keeper, and Moon Cup. Like the Instead Softcup, these cups sit underneath the cervix and form a seal to prevent leaks, collecting menstrual flow for up to 12 hours, meaning it probably won't need to be changed in a public restroom unless flow is super-heavy. Because of its position and the way that it keeps menstrual flow off of the wearer's skin, it's both sanitary and non-toxic, and no laundry is necessary in its cleaning. Simply wash with soap and hot water, boiling it occasionally as preventative sanitation if the manufacturer's instructions allow for it. The most important thing to remember is that one cup's size and shape may not work well for you, but another brand might be a better fit. Some brands also come in multiple sizes. Just like getting started with cloth diapers, there can be some trial and error before you find your reusable menstrual cup bliss, and manufacturers usually make their products' dimensions pretty clear on their Web sites.

Sea sponges are long-used, traditional reusable tampons in many cultures. These are actual sea sponges, harvested from the ocean floor, and they can be washed and reused for 3 to 6 months. These are a less popular alternative for vegetarians and vegans, because sponges are part of the animal kingdom despite their similarity to plants. Harvesting them means removing them from the ocean and killing them.

Photo from moocowmomma on
A less popular reusable option that is gaining some notoriety is the cloth tampon. While there are no "major brand" versions of this product, several FDA-authorized work-at-home mom manufacturers have them listed on e-storefront and shopping cart sites like Etsy and HyenaCart. They can be laundered in your washing machine with hot water and detergent--be sure to use an unscented detergent that rinses clean and won't irritate you! Because you won't want the string to fray, I'd suggest washing these in a mesh bag for delicates.

And, finally, there's my favorite option--but I was already a "pad person," and unashamedly so. Sometimes called mama cloth (but since they're not just for mamas, that's not my preferred moniker for them!), cloth pads are soft, comfortable, non-toxic, and cute.

They can be made from (my favorite) completely organic cotton in a variety of weaves, including soft flannel or knit. They can have a stay-dry wicking layer of soft fleece, which pushes liquid to the absorbent core and feels dry to the touch unless compressed very deeply, to ameliorate that "sitting in something that just came out of me" feeling.

Photo courtesy
They can come in adorable prints (owls!) and about a million different sizes and thicknesses. They usually have wings that snap under your panties to hold them in place, and no granny panties are required: there's no slick waterproof plastic causing annoying slippage, so leaks are not as common.

Cloth pads should be washed in hot water with a non-irritating, clean-rinsing detergent--I wash mine with a load of towels. They can be dried in the dryer and folded up and snapped neatly to take up minimal space.

Any of these reusable options can work when you're out and about--just use a waterproof tote called a wet bag. There are small sizes made especially for cloth pads that fit discreetly into a purse or diaper bag.

Like any absorbent household item, all menstrual products should be stored in a cool, dry place if possible. If your bathroom sink is in a separate room from your shower and you know your sink pipes aren't at risk for leaking or bursting, under the sink is fine. If your bathroom is small enough that steam from your shower could be absorbed by your menstrual products, then an alternative location, like a linen closet, is the safest place to store both reusable and disposable menstrual products.