Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
July 22nd, 2014

Top Green Beauty Products 2014 Update: My Favorite Natural Beauty Products


My favorite natural beauty products is becoming an annual round-up, as I find better, cleaner, more amazing favorites!

My original post was in 2011 and was followed up in 2013.

After spending another year trying out some of the best organic luxury beauty products on the market, I have a few new favorites to share and a few that have stood the test of time. Others have been removed from the list because of purity of ingredients, annoying repackaging, or simply finding something that worked better.



Piperwai Natural Deodorant

I met these two girls at a Philly flea market and couldn’t believe how amazing this natural deodorant is. The scent is totally pleasant, fresh, and unisex, and activated charcoal is the special ingredient to make it last through your toughest summer workouts. I like to credit myself for turning this into a cult fave!


Stinky Girl Beauty Company Hair Powder + Dry Shampoo

Also made locally in Philadelphia, this product has made it possible for me to only wash my hair 2-3 times per week while doing CrossFit 4 times per week. And it comes in a salt shaker!


Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub

I like my facial scrubs gritty, and Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scrub leaves your skin feeling super clean and polished. Organic Sea Kelp, Organic Lemon, and Organic Cocoa Powder gently exfoliate your skin while French Green Clay and removes impurities from your pores.

Vered Organic Botanicals Clarifying Detox Mask

Also gritty and detoxifying. Feels like it is really doing it’s job but won’t leave you red-faced.

Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen

This is the absolute best natural sunscreen I have found. It comes in an easy to apply spray – but not a traditional aerosol spray. It’s closer to a liquid that goes on sheer unlike most natural sunscreens that leave a thick white film. And it has worked great on my super pale child.

3Girls Holistic Orange Pop Lip Gloss

I helped this brand launch their line of little girls products – but fell in love with the Orange Pop Lip Gloss as my own personal lip balm. It’s super moisturizing, delicious, and organic. And at $3 a tube it’s an absolute steal.

Nourish Organic Body Wash

Knowing it is a product that we use all over our body on a daily basis, I searched high and low for a body wash that got high marks from both EWG and the Think Dirty App. Nourish is one of the few USDA certified organic bodywashes on the market and the price won’t break your budget. Super moisturizing with shea butter and pretty packaging to boot!


Tried and True:
These rock star products have remained on my list and have yet to be replaceable.

Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick in Coquette - Ever since I found this perfect color it is pretty much all I wear. Sometimes I wear it with no other makeup just to wake up my face and I always get compliments. I have also found that it looks amazing on every complexion.

Kure Bazaar Nail Lacquer in Stiletto - I usually only wear polish on my toes but this brand is the best non-toxic polish I’ve ever tried. The unique formula is made from up to 85% of natural origin based on wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn – and still maintains top notch glamour.

This year I made the jump to occasional self-manicures because this polish is long-lasting enough to make it not seem futile. And I was shocked to find that I love the look of grey polish, especially Kure Bazaar Cashmere.

La Bella Figura Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum - Sleepless nights with two children is no match for this antiwrinkle serum with vital healing botanicals and omega 3 to repair the look of tired eyes, dark circles and smooth facial lines. Découverte is made from pure barbary fig seed oil, which makes this under eye treatment a real rock star of a serum! Derived from the seed of the cactus plant, Barbary fig seed oil is a richer source of vitamin E than our beloved argan oil.

Kajer Weis Mascara - The ingredients in Kjaer Weis Mascara contain nourishing properties, with 99.8% sourced from organic farming. It glides on easily, with a sleek wand that adds the perfect amount of product, delivers great definition, and adds layers to eyelashes.

W3LL PEOPLE Elitist Mineral Shadow - Pure pigments in a beautiful finish. Perfect for easy shading, highlighting, contouring and lining.

Chocolate Sun Sunless Tanning Cream – the answer to streak-free, toxin-free, sun-ray-free beautifully tanned skin! And it smells delicious.

Yarok Shampoo and Conditioner – I have tried it all for my big mess of hair, and this is my favorite.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer - brings you back when you look like death warmed over.

Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation – so light and luminous – like silk.


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July 16th, 2014

Mark Your Calendars – And Call for Vendors! CRAFT PHILA: Liberty Bell Fall Craft Show Celebrates American Handmade Wares


Philly tourists can bypass the made-in-China liberty bell magnets and other worthless tchotchkes marketed as “souvenirs!” Here’s a new craft show that highlights true sustainability – handcrafted items made in the U.S.A. and sold at the steps of Philadelphia freedom!

CRAFT PHILA: Liberty Bell is holding its first Fall show on Saturday, September 13, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday, September 14, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Presented at the epicenter of American History, surrounded by iconic monuments and greenery, the outdoor juried art fair is staged adjacent to the Liberty Bell Pavilion and Independence Mall. The historic destination welcomes up to 15,000 tourists a weekend according to the National Park Service.

76 independent artists will offer signed goods in a broad range of prices. Expect to see handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and wearables along with decorative and functional wares in a spectrum of contemporary styles. Craft specialties include ceramics, wood, glass, metal, fiber & leather, mixed-mixed, upcycled & recycled, soaps and candles. Featured in the visual art category are photography, prints, and graphic art.

This is the second installation of CRAFT PHILA, which premiered in June 2014. The event was conceived as public arts tradition and an opportunity for local, regional and national artists to reach a global audience in a famous historic setting.
A few spots are still available so contact the organizers to submit your work!

CRAFT PHILA’s original show and sale was located on 6th Street between Market and Chestnut and now expands onto Chestnut Street between 6th and 7th. Events are free to attend and will be held rain or shine. For more information, visit www.craftphila.org.

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July 7th, 2014

Sustainable Summer Swaps on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta

Sustainable Swap Outs

If you didn’t catch my segment on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta – or you did and want to know where to find the products – here is the scoop on eco-friendly summer solutions for the busy mom.

CBS46 News

We all want to be kinder to the planet and make safer, greener choices for our families. Summer can be a particularly harried time for moms so we have some simple swap-outs for more sustainable solutions!

1.Sunscreen Most conventional sunscreens include chemicals classified as endocrine disrupters, meaning that with repeated exposure they can mess with your hormones. The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen. EWG recommends that consumers avoid this chemical because it can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones.

Goddess Garden is my favorite natural sunscreen brand because it’s one of the few that doesn’t leave a thick white coating and the only one I’ve found that comes in a spray bottle! Much easier to get on squirmy kids as well.

2.Waste-Free Snacking Whether at the beach or simply on-the-go, all those disposable packages may seem convenient but they create so much unnecessary waste (Should show samples of disposable snacks). You can also save money by buying snacks in bulk and packing in reusable containers like these bento-style stainless steel containers from EcoLunchbox.

3.Filtered Water Bottle Avoid all those plastic water bottles and fill up at the tap with this filtered aluminum water bottle by EcoFlo. The filters remove 99.99% of contaminants found in fresh water. And of course, drinking filtered water instead of bottled can save you hundreds of dollars every year!

4.Solar Phone Charger A day Instagramming at the beach or pool can drain cell phone battery life. Take advantage of the sun by using a solar-powered battery charger like the Grid 2 Go mobile charger.

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 9.54.05 AM

5.Eco-Friendly Beach Toys Cheap dollar store buckets and shovels don’t hold up and often end up left at the beach. Invest in some really great and durable beach toys from Green Toys, made in the USA from recycled plastic milk jugs!

What are your simple sustainable summer swaps?

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June 30th, 2014

Giveaway: Boiron Arnicare Gel and Calendula Cream

Yes, I am that “green mom” who still relies on plenty of conventional medicine. I don’t think herbs alone will cure an ear infection or keep my anxiety in check.

That said, when there is an alternative or homeopathic method that works for my family, I am all about it! I’m a big believer in integrative medicine, and have found acupuncture and arnica to be just as beneficial to my well being as aspirin.

One natural brand I have found to be safe and effective is Boiron, a world leader in homeopathic medicines. Boiron  is committed to providing products that work naturally with your body without causing drowsiness or drug interactions.

Arnicare Gel works naturally with your body to relieve pain – and I have become very reliant on it for my various CrossFit bumps and bruises! Made from Arnica montana, a natural homeopathic ingredient, it is safe to use at the first sign of muscle pain, swelling from injuries or bruising. Arnicare Gel is unscented, non-greasy and quickly absorbed by the skin, so it’s convenient and easy to use anywhere on your body.

Calendula is the miracle cure for cradle cap and baby acne – it was a must have for those first couple of months with a newborn when all that funky stuff starts to happen! Calendula helps to naturally heal all kinds of skin irritations – including pesky summer bug bites. Calendula Cream is ideal for use on sensitive skin. Use it on dry skin, scrapes or chafing.


Giveaway: Enter to win a Boiron Summer Essentials Kit including one full-size Arnicare Gel and one full size Calendula Cream:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received samples of these Boiron products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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June 19th, 2014

Lessons in Sustainability: When Your “Green” Changes are Less Than Eco-Friendly


Sustainability, green living, healthy choices, safer products – it’s all a learning curve – and a curve with “curve balls” at that. Just when you think you are doing something right you find out it’s actually kinda wrong. Just this week Consumer Reports proposed putting a ban on the word “natural” on food labels – because it is completely meaningless!

It’s frustrating for sure – but the important thing is to not give up!

Remember that perfect is unattainable but better is always possible!

With that said, here are a few things I have learned on my journey to a greener, healthier family.

1. Biodegradable Dog Waste Bags are kinda bullshit. Biodegradable plastics certainly have their merits – they are free of petroleum, often made from renewable resources, and don’t litter the ocean or clog landfills. However, when biodegradable plastics get to the landfill, microbes break them down and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  Some landfills have systems that capture the methane and use it for energy, but most landfills don’t.

Overall, if you need to buy plastic, biodegradable is probably better, especially if you have access to a composting facility. But, unless you have a very specialized facility, you can not compost dog waste. So buying biodegradable dog bags is simply wasteful when you can simply reuse all the plastic bags you inevitably connect through unavoidable packaging – bread bags, cereal bags, packing bags, newspaper bags, used ziplocs – whatever. As green as you may be, you have plastic bags that will not successfully transition into the curbside recycling stream. You CAN collect them and recycle them at many grocery stores. But you probably won’t. So at least repurpose them to clean the crap off the street.

Some ubiquitous plastic packaging

Some ubiquitous plastic packaging

2. BPA-free is also kinda bullshit Oh, don’t get me wrong – BPA is some nasty, hormone-disrupting stuff and we don’t want it in our cans, baby bottles, or containers. But with all these supposedly “safer plastics” on the market, we simply don’t know what the BPA is being replaced with – or if it is actually worse. My babies both used Avent and Born Free BPA-free plastic bottles so it’s always fun to learn they were actually leaking their own special brand of synthetic estrogen. And all those BPA-free cans? The notoriously bad plastic PVC is an FDA-approved alternative for BPA in can linings, despite the fact that vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen. So basically, plastic is guilty until proven innocent and it’s best to avoid it when you can. And I say this while my one-year-old refuses to accept any fancy aluminum or glass sippy cup and will only use the plastic ones available at CVS. But we are trying. Pyrex is queen for all food preservation (as are old pickle jars). Bento boxes are great for snacks. I’ve found great sauce-making organic tomatoes in glass jars. It’s just the damn cans of Elmo soup. Why does my kid love this Elmo soup so much?

p.s. Another lesson: Don’t throw receipts into recycling. That’s how we get BPA in recycled toilet paper. That said, I still choose recycled toilet paper over virgin.

At least it’s organic.

3. Vegan Leather and Fake Fur are Not Eco-Friendly Wearing fur and leather often supports animal cruelty. I’m no vegan, but I have no interest in supporting shady animal practices. In a perfect world, any animal fabrics would come from a humanely raised and killed animal that has had every part of its body put to use, from the meat to the bones. We all know that is not how you got those boots. But sometimes the substitutes can be just as bad.  Most fake leathers are made of some kind of plastic product—which was almost certainly derived from petroleum. Some faux leathers are even made of PVC, a product that contains, among other chemicals, phthalates.Haven’t you ever noticed that pleather smell?

I’m not sure why you are wearing fur of any kind, unless you are Lil’ Kim, but fake fur is made of synthetic fibers constructed from blends of acrylic and modacrylic polymers derived from coal, air, water, petroleum and limestone. Like most plastics, fake fur also doesn’t biodegrade easily. My solution? Try to buy from truly sustainable – and made in the USA if possible – brands. And if you need that leather jacket, shop secondhand.

Here is a leather jacket I bought in 1997, available for purchase on Poshmark.

Here is a leather jacket I bought in 1997, available for purchase on Poshmark.

Did you find that any of your own green changes were counterintuitive? What are your lessons learned?

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June 16th, 2014

Enjoy a Green Beauty Boutique Discount at Fig & Flower Online

Southern beauties can now find the best in green beauty at brand new Atlanta-based eco-beauty boutique Fig & Flower. And the best part is you can shop from anywhere in the country through the complementary online boutique.

The retail shop includes two eco-make-up stations, a “soap bar” and the largest selection of natural make-up, hair care, skincare, and beauty products for men, women and children in the Atlanta area. The boutique also offers gift concierge services, make-up applications, private eco-beauty parties, and beauty bag cleanouts, which include a complimentary makeover with a $35 make-up purchase.

Stop in the Atlanta shop for an amazing eco-beauty bar

Fig & Flower’s mission is to provide customers with convenience, quality, and peace of mind in selecting beauty and personal care products.  Current brands include my favorites like Acure, Bubble & Bee, Deep Steep, Flo & Theo, RMS Beauty, SW Basics, Vapour Organic Beauty, and Yarok, and local Georgia-bred faves like One Love Organics and HollyBeth Organics. Specialty brands include Badger and Moksa for men and Earth Mama Baby Angel Organics, Goddess Garden Organics, Baby Bear Shop, and Zum Wee for new moms and babies.

The founders of Fig & Flower, Blair Wagoner and Sara Lamond walk the talk when it comes to clean living.  Wagoner, a certified make-up artist never considered the safety of cosmetic ingredients until she started studying food labels during her Master’s program in nutrition.  Although her diet was clean, she realized she was still ingesting toxic ingredients from her personal care products. She did a clean sweep of her vanity and started fresh, researching and discovering brands and products that met strict safety standards and performed as well as their synthetic counterparts. After finding her absolute favorites she wanted to make them easily accessible to customers.  Lamond was on her own journey of self-discovery when she started to become aware of the ingredients she put in and on her body. Using a combination of law degree smarts and concern for social responsibility, she created a keen eye for products that follow strict quality guidelines.

Fig & Flower boutique is located at 636 N. Highland Avenue in Atlanta.  Store hours are Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. -7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

 Use code pwnewsletter for 10% off your purchase at www.shopfigandflower.com.

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June 10th, 2014

Summer Camp Sessions Still Open at InMovement – Plus Parkour for Little Ninjas

A couple years ago I held my son’s 3rd birthday party at Philly InMovement and the kids had a blast. I let the owner know that everything was pretty much perfect. But, me being me, I had to put a bug in her ear about the use of conventional (i.e. toxic) cleaning products. Watching her wipe down the mats with Clorox just made my inner green mom speak up!

Two years later she tells me she remembers me and the comment I made about the cleaners. But rather than make me feel like a loon, she tells me she actually took my advice to heart and found it easy and affordable to switch to safer cleaning products. My heart soared and I knew this was the kind of place I’d want my very active children to frequent.

Fortunately Philly InMovement Camps offer weekly summer sessions with space available to keep even the wiggliest campers busy, excited, and away from the TV. Movement Enrichment Camps include exposure to an array of physical activities including rock climbing, slack lining, dance, gymnastics, parkour (yep, more on that later), yoga, group games, and outdoor activities. An emphasis is placed on being playful and curious while discovering all the different ways in which our body can move.

The more in-depth Gymnastics Camp focuses on the elements of gymnastics through safe and proper technique. Campers explore the fundamentals of tumbling, beam, bars, and vault, and develop strength and flexibility through stretching and dancing activities.Hard work and group support is emphasized through team challenges and goal setting.

The first weekly session, beginning July 7, is designed for advanced gymnastics levels. After that the sessions will alternate weekly between general movement enrichment camp (ages 5-11 years) and gymnastics camp (ages 5-12 years). Before and after care is also available through their awesome neighbors at Queen Village Art Center.

If your kids already have summer camp plans – or are lucky enough to have preschool through the summer – there are still plenty of extracurricular activities available during the summer months. My personal favorite is Kids Parkour – possibly the coolest kids class in the city. Parkour – a cool new trend with origins in France – is a way of getting around objects in the quickest way possible, often by climbing, jumping or vaulting over them. This class, designed for ages 6-12, consists of warm-ups, strengthening, and learning and practicing Parkour techniques. Parkour is offered as part of all summer camp programs and more in-depth sessions are available with two four-week summer sessions.

Philly InMovement has been providing gymnastics and other physical movement based education for Philadelphians of all ages and ability levels since 2008. InMovement’s philosophy emphasizes increasing one’s movement possibilities as an essential part of personal growth and community involvement. Through exciting and creative activities, InMovement reaches to find a balance between joyful play and proper technique. A body InMovement is strong physically, mentally and socially. InMovement is located at 500 Kenilworth Street in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia. Learn more by calling 267-239-0844 or visiting www.phillyinmovement.com.

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June 5th, 2014

Rodales.com is a Treasure Trove of Organic Deals and Steals

I’m always on the hunt for online resources to find affordable, sustainable fashion, and I can’t believe it took me this long to discover Rodales! Sure, I knew that Rodales was known for its eco-minded books and magazines, but I didn’t know there was an online emporium for sustainable products at amazing prices.

This site is an absolute treasure trove of deals on my absolute favorites brands. Among my finds were  a Stewart + Brown hi-lo drape back dress for $49  and a Bella Luxx keyhole tank dress for $39 – and these prices are before the easily accessible coupon codes! I also scored a Stewart + Brown blocked wrap dress for $19.99 and an Indigenous Ballet Shrug for $9.99! Insane!




I’ve found more than 70% off on brands like Toggery, Amour Vert, and Eileen Fischer. The site also offers deals on everything from from raw nut butters to organic cotton sheets. I snatched up a couple of Potting Shed Creations kids organic gardening kits, which make fantastic birthday presents for the 4-8 year old set. They include seeds, plant markers, and simple instructions for planting flowers and even vegetables.

Free Standard Shipping with any order. Code SHIP2ME 

Disclosure: Rodales.com sent me one sample for review – everything else was bought on my dime (or penny). Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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June 2nd, 2014

Upgrading to an Organic Crib Mattress: Naturalmat Coco Mat Review

When I was expecting my first child in 2009 I wanted to make the nursery as green and safe as possible. I splurged on a crib made in the USA from sustainably harvested wood and stocked up on organic cotton sheets. But when I went to the local fancy baby store to complete my purchases and asked about an organic crib mattress, the store clerk didn’t really know what I was talking about. I actually felt like maybe I was overreacting and “shopping scared,” so I just took the crib that came with the mattress and bought an organic mattress cover to help mitigate some of the off-gassing.

My secret shame.

My secret shame.

Five years later my son is sleeping on a twin sized organic mattress with an inhaler by his side. I would never go so far as to entirely blame a mattress for his asthma – it was probably brought on by a wide variety of cumulative causes, not least of which genetics. Just about every city preschooler we know has some degree of breathing issues, which makes off-gassing even more pressing for new parents who want to give their babies the best start.

But then I decided that four years of off-gassing was enough for me to feel OK about passing that mattress down to my now one-year-old. Our income was even more tapped by baby #2 and I just couldn’t justify spending big bucks on a brand new natural crib mattress. I figured it had done the majority of its damage, having years for toxic chemicals to dissipate, and I would protect my baby with extra layers of organic fabric. But I won’t lie and say it doesn’t bug me from time to time, wondering if I did the right thing.

So when I was offered a NaturalMat Coco Mat for review I was ecstatic – an opportunity to make the remainder of my baby’s crib years safer! Who knows – maybe extra comfort would even help her sleep through the night?

This baby is truly natural, filled with coir – made from coconut husks – from the only certified organic coir plantation in the world. The supportive and breathable coir is then wrapped in organic lambswool which is bathed in a mixture made from extracts of lavender, lemon and eucalyptus making it completely anti-dust mite as well as maintaining the excellent thermal insulating properties of natural wool. The whole thing is handcrafted in England. Sounds dreamy!


So I would expect something like this to cost well over $1000. But amazingly the Coco Mat is only $399 (I know – I sound like an infomercial, but seriously!)

And I was not disappointed. This thing is a what a proper mattress should feel like – soft, warm, and just firm enough.

Thanks for the upgrade!

Thanks for the upgrade!

Honestly, when I uncovered what we had been using I was stunned by the comparison. It’s sad that the conventional standard for babies’ mattresses are cheap, toxic hunks of plastic. Even at $399, an organic crib mattress is not an expense that most families can easily afford. But considering that babies spend at least 50% of their time sleeping and mattresses can be passed down to other children, it is one investment I wish I had made sooner.

Disclosure: Naturalmat sent me a sample for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here.

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May 27th, 2014

Upcycled Chipmunk Party Favors

I’ve written before about one of my biggest pet peeves – super wasteful, toxic, and pointless kids party favors. So I’ve tried to offer some affordable and creative ideas –  though my craft ideas are often better than my execution. I’m not the best at cutting straight lines or coloring between the lines. However, I was pleased enough with my Despicable Me Wine Cork Minions and recycled crayons for Sam’s 4th birthday.

For Evelyn’s first birthday we went with a Chipmunk theme, inspired by her impossibly chubby cheeks and big brown eyes.

My first bit of craft inspiration came from a slew of plastic deli containers my mother left at my house.I thought with some brown paint they could be lovely little chipmunk heads. Too lazy to go to the store, I mixed up some super safe baby furniture paint and ended up with mauve. But the bigger problem was that once it dried it all peeled off – not sure if it was the paint or the plastic, but they did not mesh well.

chipmunk lids

Fortunately I was able to salvage the pieces and start over with plan B – those incredibly pointless Fresh Direct ripening bags (or brown lunch bags with the ever-important instructions on how to place-fruit-in-bag.) With the adornment of some felted acorn necklaces from Etsy, we have a winner!


Are you planning a kids birthday party? Share your theme idea and let’s come up with some more upcycled crafts!

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