Top 6 Alternatives to DEET: Natural Tick and Mosquito Repellents 0
Insects are an inevitable part of spring and summer in North America. While an important part of our ecosystem, they can also pose a threat to the health of our families. With pest-transmitted diseases like Lyme Disease becoming prevalent in our communities, it's become imperative to practice bug-safety, just like we protect our skin from the sun in the summer or the cold in the winter.
However, more and more studies show that the traditional bug-repellents don't just harm mosquitoes and ticks, they also can be harmful to those who wear them. DEET, the active ingredient in many of these agents, has negative effects on the nervous and endocrine systems, especially on children who have a smaller surface to volume ratio than their parents. It has also been known to cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin.
While we want to protect our families and ourselves from potential diseases and bothersome insect bites, we don't want this risk to limit the time that we spend outdoors in nature. That's why it's important to adopt habits this season that will minimize our chance for bug bites.
We have a large family ourselves, so we spent a lot of time researching and looking for the best there is in terms of natural tick and mosquito repellents.
Citrobug Mosquito Repellent Oil for Kids (+ Outdoor Cream)
Shown to be one of the most effective products in its category in Canada, this spray is comparable to competitors that contain up to 25% DEET. However, it can be used safely as the active ingredients are a combination of essential oils including lemon, eucalyptus, pine need, geranium, and camphor. It also comes in an Outdoor Cream Version which doubles up as a moisturizer. Bonus: it's hypoallergenic
Druide Citronella Insect Repellent Spray Lotion
Druide is a favourite of Canadian outdoor fanatics, and their citronella line is loved by many. Citronella essential oil has for years been appreciated for its insect repelling qualities, and this specific blend includes other plant extracts to boost its effectiveness. However, this formulation is not recommended for children under the age of 2.
Take a Hike Outdoor Joose
With an ingredient list that you can fully read and understand, you will love the additional refreshing and moisturizing qualities of the aloe juice in this formulation. Can also be used on pets' coats!
Care Plus Icaridin 20% Deet Free Insect Repellent
The active ingredient, icaridin, also know as hydroxyethyl Isobutyl Piperidine Carboxylate, is an odourless and nearly colourless liquid that is a known bug deterrent. This makes it an attractive choice for those who are sensitive to scents or come in close proximity with those who do. Studies show that Care Plus Icaridin at a 20% concentration can be as effective as solutions containing 30% DEET for protecting again mosquito, tick and black fly bites.
Atlantick Outdoor Spray
This product was developed by a Canadian family with a personal story associated with Lyme Disease along with researchers at Acadia University. Atlantick spray contains ingredients like witch hazel, lemongrass, jojoba oil and ocean water to protect families from bug related situations.
Many natural insect repellents enlist the help of essential oils to keep bites to a minimum. If you already have a collection of oils, you might already have what you need to make your own repellent spray. We like to dilute DoTerra Terrashield with Witch Hazel at a ratio of 10 drops to 1 fl. Oz. and keep the mix in a small glass spray bottle.
Hopefully one of these products will work for your family's preference! Remember, that what's good for the earth is also good for us, and by taking care of our bodies with natural products, we also keep toxic chemicals out of the ecosystem.
Raising Environmentally Conscious Children- 5 Tips & Tricks 0
Many people find their children's future motivational when considering the impact that they are leaving on this planet. Though some environmental effects are more direct and immediate, others take time to compound and feel, creating the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. However, when you put it into the perspective of the lifespan of your children and their children, many are willing to evaluate their footprint on the planet.
But apart as using our little ones as motivation, we should also be raising them to be environmentally responsible members of society. They are our future and our hope, and for now it's up to us to communicate all our knowledge and passion to them.
Though the topic can be a large one to address and pass on to our kids, there are some easy ways to incorporate environmental values to our kids through everyday habits and chores.
Here are just some ideas that we love and thought were worth sharing:
1. Sorting Duty
Taking out the garbage should be a "chore of the past", just like rewinding VCR tapes or churning butter. The chore of the present is "sorting duty". From a young age, kids should be taught how to properly sort the trash, adhering to the practises in your area. At first, it's important to watch and correct any mistakes, but after a while, it will become second nature to them. Afterwards you can branch out to taking the organics to the composter in the yard and the recycling into a bigger bin. But for now, teach them that this is "normal" and you'll find that they will be as (or even more) bewildered as you are when in a situation where there is only one bin for everything.
2. Instilling a Love of Nature
There's a lot of ethics involved with environmentalism, and it takes a certain level of maturity to be able to comprehend it all. But if from a young age we can pass on a love and appreciation of nature, it's easier to explain why we do things the way we do. Help them learn the local species in your region, explore all the different trees and plants, enroll them in programs where they can learn to love and protect nature. So next time they ask why you use special laundry detergent, you can reply, "because it's better for the frogs and their habitat." Kids will understand this logic much better.
3. Supply them with Their Tools
Kids love gadgets and tools, things which validate what they are doing. The more personal they are, the more exciting to the little person. By involving them with their own reusable bottles, straws, lunch bags, recycle bins and more, you make the process of being zero waste and environmentally friendly more exciting. It's even more exciting when they get to be part of the selection process!
4. Hanging Laundry
Summer is a great time to put this chore into rotation with the older kids. Now that the weather is better and the temperatures are higher, it's time to be more energy efficient and air-dry your laundry. Hanging, and then later taking down and folding, is a sustainable habit to instill into your children. Just make sure that you communicate the benefits, or else it will only just seem like a worthless hassle.
5. Cleaning with Natural Products
Whether you make your own or buy all-natural cleaning products, get your kids involved in household cleaning as early as possible. When the cleaners are non-toxic, there are no worries about negative effects on their little bodies, and they might even enjoy helping you bring your home to a sparkling clean condition!
Kids like mimicking the behaviour of adults they see. Take advantage of this phase to plant the seed of change in their minds. Later on, they will consider all the sustainable steps the status-quo, and hopefully integrate them into their own lives, building on it and in turn inspiring our generation.
5 Great Ways to Spend Earth Day with the Family in the Hamilton- Niagara Region 0
Earth Day is here again and we can't think of a better way to spend this wonderful occasion than with the family. We have always been of the opinion that environmentalism is something that you share with your community rather than keeping for yourself, and that's precisely what Earth Day is all about.
We've created a small guide for those looking for interesting Earth Day 2017 events in the Hamilton-Niagara Region. While we know that it's impossible to participate in all of them, getting involved in at least one will no doubt be the start of a wonderful day and a chance to create memories for years to come!
Earth Day at Mrs.Greenway [Downtown Dundas & Downtown Grimsby]
While the parents shop around for the things they need for "greening their life" like eco-friendly food storage, water bottles, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items, the younger family members can get to work planting flowers during the FREE Earth Day Activities available. Enter into a draw to win a Plan Toy Flower Kit, while every purchase gets you a chance to win our special Earth Day Gift Basket. Though the 25% off cleaning and laundry supplies can be claimed by everyone, there are limited kits available for the children's activities. Call in advance or visit either the Dundas or Grimsby store to reserve as many spots as you need!
April 22nd, 10 AM- 5PM, more information available here.
Tree Planting Festival [Churchill Park, Hamilton]
Nothing screams "Earth Day" more than a little tree planting, right? The goal on Saturday the 22nd is to plant all 1,000 trees available while taking advantage of the live music, themed exhibits, and food vendors! Don't miss the Mayor's welcome at 10:30 a.m. and get ready to start planting around 11:00 a.m.
April 22nd, 10:30 AM, more information can be found here.
Recycling Centre Guided Tour [Niagara Falls]
A unique opportunity to see what happens with the things we throw into the blue bin, Niagara Region is giving the public the opportunity to tour its Recycling Center. Participants do have to be at least 10 years old and dressed appropriately in long pants ad closed toe shoes, however it could be the trip of a lifetime for some of your older kids who are interested in green living. The curiosity is sure to extend to parents as well, so reserve spots for everyone who can go on Friday, April 21st! It's worth skipping school for!
More information and reservations can be found here
Earth Day Extravaganza [Welland Farmer's Market]
If you want to celebrate Earth Day surrounded by local produce, the Earth Day Extravaganza event on Saturday morning might be your event of choice. There will be children's activities, face painting, and an opportunity to beautiful the market. Come bright and early at 9:00 a.m. with a bag of used clothing for Textile Waste Diversion and receive a Free Market Tote!
More information on this April 22nd event can be found here
Malcolmson Eco-Park Earth Day Celebration [St. Catharines]
Earth Day is the perfect time to start your own little garden, and the Earth Day celebrations at Malcolmson Eco-Park is the place to acquire your native plants and trees! In addition to helping with planting on location, you will be able to choose your own Paw Paws, Trilliums, Black Eyed Susans and more, helping with restoring natural species to this area in Ontario.
More information about hours, location, and parking can be found here.
Remember that Earth Day is about reinforcing all those Green Living Resolutions we have made over the years. Try to cycle or walk if possible, and encourage conversations about the environment with all members of the family, from 3 year old Junior to Grandpa Bob.
Happy Earth Day!
12 Tips for Camping Sustainably with the Family 0
Many people enjoy spending their free time outdoors, but camping sustainably is truly the best way to appreciate the beauty and importance of our natural environment.
Breathe in the fresh air, start noticing those little ants under your boots and never mind the fact that you lost your data signal 3 kilometers ago.
When we are close to nature, we more fully understand the effect that our lifestyle has on the earth and we come up with solutions that respect its integrity.
Here are some tips that will help you have a "green-er" experience next time you go camping with the family.
Pack package-less foods
Hiking a pristine and wild trail, full of amazing flora and fauna while snacking on a pack of Doritos seems wrong. Not only is the food itself full of chemicals and artificial flavours, it leaves you with a non-biodegradable bag that you will have to carry the rest of the way. Instead of ruining your nature experience with your choice of junk food, embrace natural and healthy snack and meal options that either come in reusable, biodegradable, recyclable packaging or none at all! Look for reusable snack pockets or other containers to store your food so that you won't end up carrying an extra bag of garbage at the end of your trip.
Refill your water bottles
Staying hydrated is especially important when you are spending time outside. Store your water in sustainable water bottles that will keep it cool and are easy to carry and drink from. Want to go the extra step? Look into investing in a water filter pump that can purify any water you find, weather from a stream, river, or a lake.
Throw dry sage leaves on the fire as natural bug repellent
Love the idea of keeping warm by the fire on those cool evenings? Make the experience even more delightful by throwing in a bundle of sage leaves. As it burns, it acts as a natural bug repellent, meaning that you get a wonderful nuisance-free bubble, centered right around your main attraction.
Use natural sunscreen and bug spray
Is an environmentally sensitive and protect area really where you want to be lathering yourself with chemical and toxic sunscreens and insect repellents? Especially since you will probably have a lesser chance to shower all of these harmful products off of your skin at the end of the day? Sub these camping essentials out with natural alternatives that will protect you from the sun and insect bites without polluting your environment and your own body. Don't think it's a big deal? Check out those rings of "oil" floating around you when you get into a peaceful lake. Yes, that is your sunscreen washing off of you and polluting the water.
Opt for washable and reusable feminine sanitary products
Having your period is always annoying, but especially so when you are out camping or hiking. The lack of facilities can create a big problem in terms of comfort and hygiene. The most sustainable solution is to use washable and reusable feminine sanitary pads or biodegradable tampons. Bummis Flo pads come with a little baggie to store your used pads until you have a chance to wash and dry them, and tampons can be buried as biodegradable waste.
Pack all-in-one biodegradable soaps and shampoos
Shampoos and soaps can be full of not just artificial fragrances, but detergents and other chemicals that can be harmful to sensitive natural environments. Pack biodegradable soaps, washes, and shampoos, as they naturally decompose and don't pollute the water. Just be sure to read all the instructions on the labels to see if you can rinse directly in bodies of water or if you have to rinse the product out into a pit to allow the process of it moving through the soil to properly purify the water.
Bring dry shampoo
If you aren't going to be bringing a natural biodegradable shampoo along with you, but you aren't a fan of looking like a cave man/woman, consider packing natural dry shampoo. Just a few shakes of this powder and your natural hair oils are soaked up and you smell (and look) amazingly fresh and clean.
Use washable diapers
Even if you find washable and reusable diapers as too much of a hassle for day-to-day use, a camping or hiking trip is a great time to have a few on hand. You won't want to be storing and carrying a week's worth of soiled single-use diapers. The smells and the weight will become an issue, believe us. Reusable diapers, like Bummis, can be washed, dried, and used again.
Bring a baby carrier/wrap
You've seen the signs asking you to keep to the trail. Though sometimes it's to protect the hiker or camper from harm, like dangerous wildlife or plants like poison ivy, it is mostly to protect the integrity of the ecosystem that exists there. Respect nature and ditch your huge stroller in favour of a more sustainable and comfortable carrier. It will be easier for you to stick to even small paths and you know you won't be encroaching on nature more than necessary.
Use solar energy to charge electronics
Instead of using electricity that you know comes from non-sustainable sources, invest in some portable renewable energy source that you can use while you're in the wild. You can find all kinds of flashlights, battery packs and even backpacks that harness the sun's energy to store or provide electrical power.
Bury biodegradable waste
You'll find that during your camping trip, you will have some biodegradable waste to dispose of, like apple cores, dishwater, or even toilet paper. Instead of just scattering it as you go, dig a pit as deep as you can, throw in your biodegradable waste, and cover it up. This will speed up the rate at which the materials will start to decompose and will keep small animals from digging it up easily.
Start your fire naturally
When you go camping, sometime you can smell the unfortunate odour of people trying to jumpstart their fires with liquid firestarter or just any liquid flammable. Not only is this unsafe, it is unhealthy, both for the environment and for the people inhaling the fumes and cooking over it. Look for natural alternatives to this desperate measure, such as stuffing a cardboard toilet paper roll with dryer lint, burning stale chips, and waterproofing your matches with beeswax for the times when the situation is a little…damp.
Camping sustainably can be a challenge and take more preparation and considerations than a regular camping experience. However, it shows so much respect for our beautiful natural environments and is a great tool for teaching kids to honour and conserve our Earth, not just with our words but with our actions. Use it as a springboard to jump into sustainable habits in your everyday life and you'll see that the next time you're out in the wild, it won't feel like an effort, it'll just be life as usual. Except maybe for the firestarters….