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People! Listen to me! Embalming is an environmental problem! Nobody wants to think about what happens to our bodies after death. I really get that. But if you really want to get creeped out, think about those harmful chemicals leaching into your water. That's right, dear friends...if you want to gag, read the article "Drinking Grandma and yes, the facts in the article are exactly as disgusting as you might imagine.

I'm on this rant because I went with a friend today to make arrangements for her grandmother today and that poor funeral director probably is praying right now that I won't be at the funeral for fear that I'll get up on my soap box against embalming. He tried to impress me (read: shut me up) by telling me that embalming fluids of today are a big improvement over the old arsenic based embalming fluids that were used until the early 1900s when they were eliminated not only because of harmful health effects (Knoefes & McGee, 2002) but because of their interference in investigations of cases where arsenic poisoning was suspected (Iserson, 1994). We probably overcame all the benefits of that decision by turning to the use of treated wood but that's another issue.

Just to prove that ALL embalming is an environmental problem, studies performed in
New York and Iowa found elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater "downstream" of late-19th-century cemeteries. These same studies indicated that there were elevated levels of copper, zinc, and lead elements associated with the materials used to make caskets back in the day (Knoefes & McGee, 2002).

Despite these well-documented findings, embalming just to have delayed and open-casket funerals continues to be commonplace in America. The rather poor excuse that the funeral director (that I was browbeating according to my friend) cited for this practice is that in this day of longevity people don't come in contact with death in the same way as in the pre-embalming days when the women of the house were responsible for "laying out" the deceased and people would rather that our dead loved ones be more attractive so that our last memories of them would not be tainted with the harsh realities of death. To that, I say HOGWASH!

If you want to talk harsh realities, talk about embalming fluids in your drinking water and then get back to me on wanting people to look good after they pass on to the great beyond.

Embalming is an environmental problem because the primary ingredient in most modern embalming fluids is formaldehyde and findings suggest that formaldehyde is harmful to public health and probably not a good thing to be pouring into our environment. Here's some math on how much of this toxic stuff we are dosing the earth with.

The average adult embalming requires roughly 3.5 gallons (Cook, 1999) and estimates from the National Funeral Director's Association are that two million Americans are embalmed each year. Ok, boys and girls that adds up to roughly seven million gallons of formaldehyde being deliberately placed in the soil each year.

Oh, and that's not the end of it; there are at least 42 other federally regulated "dangerous chemicals that are commonly used in embalming and body preparation (Iserson, 1994 all of which end up in the ground or being burned in a crematorium. AND, nobody knows how long it takes for formaldehyde to degrade or what damage it does in the meantime (Cook, 1999).

Now, you tell me if embalming is an environment problem or not.



I'll be the first one to say that it's hard to be selfish with a houseful of kids. But..is having kids selfish when considering the "human impact" of climate change? There are those who think that each family should have no more than one child because having children is an environmental problem.

John Guillebaud of the Optimum Population Trust based in London has indicated that he believes that parents that are having lots of kids are guilty of committing "eco-crimes" and is quoted as saying something to the effect that having one less child far exceeds any benefits gained from repeatedly turning off electric lights and other such energy saving efforts. Apparently each baby that is born is the equivalent of one airline flight after the other criss-crossing the planet. This made me wonder who did this reseach and came up with this rather vague comparison but I got the point.

Even Planned Parenthood appears to be on board and is plastering signs all over the place with the message, "The fewer the merrier."

As for me, I'm in the boat with Al Gore who also has three kids over the recommended number. He's taking a little bit of heat from the press who is accusing him of not practicing what he preaches and sending the message: Do as I say, not as I breed.
In his and Tipper's defense, they had their family long before global warming became an issue. But now that whopping, huge house they had....well, if I ever see him in person I will be asking him about that before I ask him whether or not it is selfish to have children. So, what do you think? Is having kids selfish? Does having more than one child make those of us who talk about living green hypocrites?



Is green parenting obsessive parenting in disguise? I hardly think so but there must be a virus of hate going around, because I've gotten some really snarky comments on a few of my posts that I made awhile back that indicated that I was being over protective and was obsessed with my daughter's illnesses and allergies. WTH?

I've heard instances where parents were attacked and criticized about the choices they made regarding breastfeeding in public, vaccinations, green living practices and yeah...even recycling! One has to believe that education is the answer to such biased thinking and ignorance but yet here we are in 2010 and getting bashed for believing the data that proves beyond a doubt that global warming is real, reports that there are islands of garbage floating in the ocean that exceed the size of some states and that the effects of the major environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will take decades to overcome.

How anyone can find the time to bash the gay community and harass parents over trying to make a better world for their kids is mind boggling since there are so many bigger issues to get huffy about. Maybe haters are looking for easy targets and the big corporations are out of reach?

For the record:

I have had to wrestle with whether or not to vaccinate my daughters because, autism aside, they have severe egg allergies..so shoot me.

My husband and I co-sleep with our babies. Yes, it's hard to know when and how to stop co-sleeping but I wouldn't trade those nights snuggled with my infants in my arms knowing that they were safe and well for anything.

I breastfed each of my girls as long as I possibly could but there were times when I supplemented with store bought formula when I had to. It hurt at the time, but a mom does what she has to do.

I believe that organic foods are better for all of us and don't like plastic coming in contact with my food but when push came to shove I have been known to pop a frozen dinner in the microwave.

I have used both cloth and disposable diapers. I prefer organic cotton cloth diapering but there have been times when it was just easier to use disposables and I succumbed to temptation.

Do my choices make it sound like I'm an obsessed parent? When is green parenting obsessive parenting? When there is no flexibility and you sacrifice the peace and functionality of the family for the sake of sticking to a cause at all costs. That ain't me.



I'm really excited about finding and buying a couple of the cardboard baby high chairs I've been reading about! Nope, I'm not trying to sell the things and NOPE again, the cardboard cribs that were all the rage about a year ago didn't strike me as something to get all up in the air about. In fact, (other than they were made from recycled cardboard which is a better option than buying NEW nursery furniture for sure) they left me yawning because HO HUM we co-sleep with our babies.

But now, I can get behind reusable, portable baby high chair big time! I'll tell you a little bit about one that I'm thinking of buying in a minute. First, I want to tell you why a high chair made of cardboard is blowing my hair back much more than a cardboard crib other than the reason I listed earlier...oh, and no this is NOT a review in case the FTC wants to know. I've never used either product and would, in fact, like to hear from any of you who have opinions on the Belkiz Feedaway if you have experience or alternatives if you know of one that is better or cheap.

How many of you have taken your babies out to eat and ask for a high chair only to have a nasty, sticky wooden baby high chair delivered to your table? Not to mention that the safety harness was either missing, damaged or tied in knots? Well, this has happened to me often enough that I'm considering carrying my own high chairs (I have more than one baby) when we go out.

What do you think about this plan? Is it worth it to carry our own cardboard baby high chairs with us when we go out to eat to avoid using those less than clean ones in the restaurant? Or would you just rather stay home, use your own high chair and eat a hot dog because flat pack or not...it's just too much trouble?

I'm all for going green, baby, but there are times when doing without an item completely is preferable to dealing with the hassle if you know what I mean.



Are ghosts real or not? Spooks and hauntings are a very popular subject in the South where I live. It seems that everybody I know has a favorite ghost story that they love to tell that will literally make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Listening to these ghost stories is particularly horrifying because this isn't one of those ghost hunters on television that's paid to dig up stories; these tales are being told by people that were raised to tell the truth just like you and me not dumb, toothless rednecks that believe they saw Sasquatch the last time they had too much to drink.


When you are sitting on the porch in the gloaming of a crisp fall evening listening to somebody you've know all your life tell a story with their grandmother by their side corroborating the details, let me tell you that it’s easy to accept that ghosts are real...very real! To tell the truth, I have even had two or three experiences that were rather shocking. I can’t say that a spirit was responsible for the inexplicable events. But since the occurrences took place in a house where there had been several suicides and tragic deaths I just had to wonder why had never experienced anything like it anywhere else. These were not willo-the-wisps that I ran up on and if only I had had a camera! No, I was not drinking and I have conscientiously refrained from saying that the house was haunted for fear of being labeled as a kook!


How do I know that what I saw (and heard) were not natural like will-o'-the-wisps? Because I am very familiar with those spooky little flares of light that will make you want to run and stick your head under the covers even though you are well aware that they are a natural phenomenon. My granddaddy's farm had a swampy area just south of the barn and many nights when we were late milking the cows I had more than a few sightings of will-o-the-wisps on winter nights that were blacker than a city dweller can even imagine.

The nights in this part of the country are so black that you can stand with your eyes open and imagine that what you are feeling is what it’s like to be blind and when you see the flickering lights produced by decaying organic matter bouncing in and out between the cypress trees, you don’t forget what it looks like. Even when you know what they are, when the adult standing there with you says something to the tune of, "There goes the "corpse candles"." Who could blame a little girl for being scared out of her wits; scientific explanations be hanged!

For what it’s worth, they look nothing like bouncing orbs that are said to be lingering spirits that are filmed by ghost hunters on television.

So, I look forward to hearing your opinions...are ghosts real or not? Do you have a good ghost story to tell? I do, but you are going to have to wait until later to hear it. Right now, my girls' lunch takes priority over ghost stories.



Any list offering tips for green home cleaning solutions should involve more than recipes for green household cleaners. Not that chemical free toilet cleaners are not a step in the right direction but those of you still using paper products should be aware that paper products (paper towels, facial tissues, etc) made up 20.7 % of the municipal waste discarded in 2008. Yep, that year it was reported that there was 6,550,000 tons of paper and paperboard waste.

I got curious as to how much my own home was contributing to this problem so I decided to conduct an experiment (being as experiments are so cool and I needed something to write about in the worst way). What I did was direct hubby and the older girls to throw every facial tissue and paper towel into a special trash bin. They were so enthusiastic about being asked to participate that they actually asked if there was going to be a waste can next to the toilet! I thought about it and had to admit that collecting toilet paper would have given more accurate results but dismissed the thought as a little too gross.

Before the day was out my trash can was overflowing with wet wipes and tissues used to wipe runny noses much less paper towels that I used to clean the glass, kitchen and bathroom surfaces!

Wow, this really made me aware that I needed to bone up on my all around green home cleaning solutions and not just how to clean a toilet without toxic chemicals and this is the plan that I came up with.

  • toss the mop that has disposable mop heads and shop for one with a washable cover
  • stop using paper towels and invest in low lint microfiber cleaning cloths
  • stop using disposable scrub pads and buy scrubbing stones (that would probably be the only thing that will tackle those pesky toilet bowl rings anyway)

The results that I expect to see should come in the way of less money spent on disposables and a much emptier can on trash pickup day.

The unexpected amount of paper that I collected in such a short time was a reminder that even though I've made great strides toward making a green home for my family, there is much work to be done and that going green is an ongoing process.