Jolene’s My Green Mattress Review

MY GREEN MATTRESS REVIEW – PART I by Jolene Marty
(coming soon is Part II: Why I Tossed My Tempurpedic Mattress!)

VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv_P8Bh9SyU&feature=youtu.be

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my video review of the 9” latex mattress I purchased from My Green Mattress! I wanted to share the details with you so they are easy to read and go through, so you can see for yourself what a great company they are!

First some top points:

My Green Mattress –

  • Made in the USA
  • Family owned and operated
  • GREENGUARD Gold, eco-INSTITUT, Oeko-Tex Certified, GOLS Certified, and their encasements (cotton) are GOTS Certified.
  • Reasonably priced (and also offer financing options)
  • Offer latex pillows, latex mattresses, spring system mattresses, bedding, frames
  • Offer crib sizes through California king sizes
  • Have amazing customer service!

I wanted to give you some information on their materials…more in depth from what I discussed in the video.

WOOL:

Their wool is sourced from a supplier out of Montague, CA who ethically sources their wool from sheep that are raised humanely in northern California and southern Oregon. MGM uses their (Woolgatherer Carding Mill) Eco Wool. While this is not a certified organic wool, they do use organic farming and sheering practices. When I asked what the difference is between the wool they buy (which is not certified organic) and the certified organic wool, MGM said this This wool is certified organically processed as Eco Wool, however cannot be considered “certified organic”. For Eco Wool farmers to be granted this certification they would be required to feed their sheep a strict organic feed diet from the 3rd month of gestation. Woolgather’s farms allow their sheep to graze naturally in lush, open pastures which does not allow for a strict diet to be followed. We believe that this provides for a much happier life for the sheep and therefore stand by their practices” They went on to assure me that they are in fact 3rd party tested from the Animal Toxicology Lab out of UC Davis. They are tested for herbicides, pesticides, and naturally occurring heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Doing this additional testing ensures that the wool is in fact pure and free of contaminants that are not good for both the sheep nor the consumer. Due to these practices, I feel 100% confident in their wool product and am happy they are so strict with the process and offer their transparency. I did ask if they thought they would ever switch to certified organic wool in the future, and they answered “no”. When I asked them why, they told me if they did that, the prices of their mattress would go up significantly and they want good, clean, safe mattresses available to as many people as possible! If you would like to go check out the Woolgatherers Carding Mill and the Eco Wool they use, please click around in the website here: http://www.thewoolgatherer.com/index.php

LATEX:

The latex that is used in their mattress is a Dunlop latex. It is a very firm latex that offers a great amount of support. The latex is a 100% natural latex from ARPICO. It is made from latex foam developed on the ARPICO rubber-tree plantation. This plantation is home to 5.5 million rubber trees and is GOLS certified by the Control Union, the largest organic regulator in Europe. This is their one items that is imported from outside of the United States. The great thing about this natural latex is that because it is pure and regulated, it is free from fillers, dyes, chemicals, adhesives, and pesticides. It is just that – 100% natural latex and nothing else! If you would like to look into the ARPICO latex click around here: http://www.arpicolatexfoam.com/

COTTON:

The cotton that they use is GOTS Certified Organic cotton. You can view their certificate (along with answers to other great FAQ’s) here: https://mygreenmattress.com/pages/faqs

THREAD:

Yes, I even asked about the thread they use! They used poly-cotton blend and also a (non-coated) Kevlar thread. For me as a novice sewer, I like to hear they are using a very strong thread for the mattresses to help keep the integrity of their sewing strong.

Ok guys, so there you have all the little details about what makes up the mattress. As I stated above, and in my video, the one extra thing that I absolutely love about My Green Mattress is that they have wonderful customer service. I spoke with two sales reps and the owner himself and I have absolutely zero negative things to say. They all knew a lot about their product and they worked hard to make sure that every single one of my questions was answered. It is just another reason why I love Made in the USA and FAMILY owned and operated businesses. You get to know the people and see their true passion for their product.

The latex mattress that I got was their “Simple Sleep Latex” mattress. I purchased the 9” King size mattress from them. They had it ready for me in just a couple of days and sent me confirmation via email. Below I am enclosing few photos of the mattress!

MGM5

By the way, I have loved my mattress and my experience so much, that I decided to become an affiliate for them! I would love to have you support this stay at home mama by purchasing through this link: http://ss1.us/a/X8Nm5hRJ

Also, for our readers, they gave us a discount code. You can save 5% by putting in the code ECOSAVE5. If you are military, they offer an 8% discount (just let them know when you order). Codes cannot be combined but, they offer free shipping! Even better news is they are having an Earth Day sale that is even better than that and on everything!

MGM6

~ Jolene Marty

AGAIN, HERE’S THE VIDEO REVIEW LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv_P8Bh9SyU&feature=youtu.be

Toys by Category Recommendations

Finding fun, safe, made in USA toys was what started me on my mission almost 5 years ago now! I was shopping for my Son’s 1st B-day & picked up a Melissa & Doug toy after seeing them recommended over & over in the “crunchy” Mom groups I was in on Facebook. I saw that Made in China sticker & it just didn’t sit well with me. I was in a store FULL of Melissa & Doug stuff. I thought: there has got to be great toys made in the USA still, right? And the great news is YES THERE ARE! My Son is going to be turning 6 soon, my daughter is 3, and I can say that it has not been difficult at all to find plenty of fabulous made in USA options for every Holiday & celebration along the way. I wanted to break my Safe Toys Master List down a bit (found here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/made-in-usa-2/toy-list/) and share some of my specific favorites, including popular categories such as art, dollhouse & kitchen play.

A general note: My 2 all-time favorite toy vendors are Smiling Tree Toys (STT) & Pure Play Kids (PPK). As you’ll see below we own a lot of toys from them. They’re my 1st stop, and I often accomplish most of my toy shopping through them. My kids are starting to outgrow STT, I love that PPK has a shop by age function, ends at 6+. It helps narrow it down, as they have so much to choose from. PURE PLAY KIDS HAS GENEROUSLY EXTENDED THEIR 15% OFF COUPON CODE TO THIS GROUP FOR ANOTHER YEAR: ECO2017 FOR 15% OFF YOUR ORDER TOTAL!

Personalization- My advice is to avoid it in general. One benefit to investing in great quality, made in the USA toys is that you can pass them along to other friends/family or sell when your family is done with them. I’ve not had any trouble recovering ½ of my cost on items I’ve sold after we’re done with them. But, if they have a name on them, that limits your market a lot, especially since a lot of us have pretty unique names for our kids. My kids both have a few personalized items, but generally I do avoid it.

I was going to organize my list by age, but it really varies so much by kid. What one 2 year old loves, the next 4 year old may love. I tend to buy things for my kids a bit earlier than they’re ready for it, but I’d rather have it for them sooner than later & they can grow into it (as long as it’s safe with no small parts). TAG Toys also has a shop by age function that goes up to 6, I don’t own much from them but they have a lot of fun stuff & I need to remember to check them out more! https://store.tagtoys.com/age-c5.aspx. Of course Etsy has a TON of options too. I’ve just come around to shopping on Etsy recently. A separate project I’m working on is an Etsy favorites list that’ll I’ll be asking for recommendations from y’all for. With so many vendors available, it’s nice to have personal recommendations.

I wanted to share some of the toys I’ve grown to love. These are all things we own or if it’s something I’m aware of as it’s been a FAQ I’ve added it. This includes popular categories such as pull toys, etc, that we don’t necessarily own items in. If you’re looking for something in particular, never hesitate to ask, even if I don’t own it, I’m likely able to point you in the right direction as I’ve clicked around a lot in many of these sites.

Recommendations for babies:

Keepsake Block: (these make a great gift!)

STT: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/decor-accessories/blocks

Rattles:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/rattles

Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Bannor Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/rattles

girafferattle

Giraffe Rattle from Smiling Tree Toys

Teethers-

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/search?type=product&q=teethers

Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Bannor Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/teethers

Natulo (organic fabric with pocket for ice) : http://www.natulo.com/Natulo-Natural-Teething/Natulo-Ice-Teether-Organic

natuloteethers

Cloth toys:

Organic ball: http://www.pureplaykids.com/colorful-organic-baby-ball/

Organic cotton snuggle star: http://www.pureplaykids.com/organic-cotton-stuffed-star-USA/

Stuffington Bear Factory: http://www.stuffingtonbear.com/

stuffington

Organic polar bear from Stuffington Bear Factory

__________________________________________________________________

Older Kids: I’m going to call this the 2-6 year old recommendations. These are things that we own/have owned to date.

Activity Cube- we have this one from Anatex: http://amzn.to/2iUKxPB. It is not solid wood, the walls of the cube are plywood, but that doesn’t concern me. I consider this to be a safe & great option for this category. My daughter got this for her 2nd B-day & is still playing with it at 3.5. They have many different options, this is one of the cheapest ones, they get pricy. They state this, so I’d double check what you’re purchasing is made in the USA: We manufacture almost all of our items in the USA! Here’s their website: http://anatex.com/

Art & projects- My kids are SO into fun projects & arts/crafts. Below are some of the things we enjoy:

Starter crayons:

Eco-Kids: http://shop.ecokidsusa.com/product/eco-crayons

Wee Can Too: https://weecantooart.com/product/natural-and-organic-veggie-crayons/

Paint: Earth Paints are our favorite- my kids love that they mix them up themselves: http://www.naturalearthpaint.com/

earthpaints

Play Dough, Blue Egg Farmstore is our favorite: http://www.blueeggfarmstore.com/product-page/becef3cc-5cdc-6ace-1a59-b1d09e53df00

Pure Play Kids: I’ll just link to their category for this, so much fun stuff. The Sand Art Kits are super fun! http://www.pureplaykids.com/arts-crafts/

These are a lot of fun, from Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wax-fun-sticks-5-pack/

Art easel: beka http://www.bekainc.com/buy/01102-01110/bekas-deluxe-childs-easel This is all I own from them, but they have many great items!

beka

On the Beka Easel, we did get the big roll of paper with it when we received it as a gift for Christmas 2015 (pictured above). But I’ve not replaced it since we used it up, as I am as conservative as possible with paper usage. I’ve grown to love Crayola’s dry erase crayons & colored pencils instead of markers, they don’t stink. I believe both are made in Mexico. I’ve not found a better option for the dry erase category.

Colored Pencils: http://amzn.to/2iJuyUc

Crayons: http://amzn.to/2jodLaX, also available in neon: http://amzn.to/2jzEIuy

Chalk: My Mom, who bought the kids the Beka easel, gifted some large chalk sticks that came in a plastic holder kinda thing with the easel. They lasted a really long time  & I liked that they were big & fat as it made them easy to grip & they didn’t break right away like the small chalk can. But I’m not sure which brand they were, she likely got them at Wal-Mart, I’ve not seen them since. I’ve been meaning to buy more chalk from here: https://www.palumba.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=chalk

BATH:

Green Toys is a safe plastic option, in my opinion. It’s BPA, PVC & Phthalate-free. We have the submarine, tugboat, stacking cups, and watering can. Available through them here: http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-bath-and-water

And on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iJGYf7

North Star has this wooden boat: http://www.northstartoys.com/products/busy-boat

Ducky: http://shop.celebriducks.com/category_s/37.htm

1002-2t

Board Games: Hasboro makes many games here, some may say with foreign & domestic parts. We played a ton of Candyland & have now graduated to Chutes & Ladders/

We own these 2 from Briarpatch:

Goodnight Moon matching- http://amzn.to/2iX6DVY

I Spy Matching Game- http://amzn.to/1Gqar3F

Doc McStuffins Operation Game (yes, it is annoying….): http://amzn.to/1F50oUp

ispy&operation.jpg

BOOKS: We have a ridiculous amount of books, mainly I pick them up at garage sales. I LOVE the Lost my Name books, they are printed in the US although the company is based in the UK I believe. I’m not sure all their books are printed here though: https://www.lostmy.name/

Little Golden books are still printed in WI! And a friend’s Uncle works for them & has gifted us a ton of them. Otherwise, we have a total hodge podge & they are all well loved!

Building Blocks:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/block-sets

Bannor: https://bannortoys.com/collections/wooden-blocks

Bricks: http://amzn.to/2iJLz0L

Doll house: Here’s a photo album of what we have: https://www.facebook.com/397517646930548/photos/?tab=album&album_id=868582543157387

Furniture, TAG Toys: https://store.tagtoys.com/dollhouse-furniture-set-p58.aspx

We have this one from Elves & Angels, other options available through them as well: http://elvesandangels.com/collections/dollhouses/products/new-natural-wooden-our-maine-dollhouse-by-elves-and-angels

Dolls, we have several from here. The family, the royal family, kindness elves, birthday month dolls. I LOVE everything she makes & had to cut myself off https://www.wildflowertoys.com/

wildflowerdollslineup

DOLLS:

We have this one & the Ziggy zaggy one from Pure Play Kids. I asked them why they didn’t have a boy doll & they did make one & name it after my son: Orion. But it was only available a short time & the lady who sewed them was no longer able to. Ziggy Zaggy & Flower Girl (as my kids have named them, are still available)http://www.pureplaykids.com/handmade-organic-doll-happy-hexagons/

oriondoll

I let my Mom buy my daughter a Baby Alive doll for Christmas. Yes, I know… Her cousin has one & she really, really wanted one. All her other dolls are random grabs from garage sales, Good Will, etc. I was OK with her receiving this as a gift, and picked out some fun accessories to go along with it:

I got her this adorable doll carrier from Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/475582576/little-mama-baby-doll-carrier-doll?ref=hp_rv

And a Mama in the group made a set of 3 cloth diapers & a pack of cloth wipes for her doll (the disposable diapers used on Baby Alive’s drive me bonkers!). I do believe in moderation, and variety, and my kids are quite rough with their toys as many end up outdoors in the mud pit with them. So spending a couple hundred bucks on a Waldorf cloth doll just isn’t feasible for us.

Felt & magnetic boards:

Pure Play Kids: felt http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Magnetic: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

We also have Pure Plays magnetic fishing set, and the extra fish & numbers: http://www.pureplaykids.com/magnetic-wooden-fishing-rod-with-5-magnetic-fish/

Kitchen stuff:

If I were purchasing new I’d go with Elves & Angels: http://elvesandangels.com/collections/wooden-kitchens

I was so lucky to score this used set locally for only $200:

woodenkitchen

Wooden eggs: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-toy-play-eggs/

We have several things from Green Toys: sandwich & pizza shop, just added the cupcake set for Christmas this year, the tea, dish & chef set as well! In the summer my kids set up an outdoor kitchen & I love how durable & washable Green Toys items are! Here’s a link to them directly: http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-kitchen-play

All items available on Amazon too, and many have seen sales in their local TJ Maxx, etc. Here’s an Amazon link to get you started there: http://amzn.to/2iJzVD3

We added some felt food this X-mas, and I will definitely be getting more from here. Etsy is FULL of felt kitchen food. As I mentioned above though, it is one area I don’t mind having some safe plastic in our otherwise all wooden kitchen set-up, as it is so durable. We have the breakfast platter so far: https://www.etsy.com/people/KidsKitchenKreations

We have oven mitts from here, I got my niece a personalized chef hat for her B-day, lots of cute & fun stuff including aprons: http://growingcooks.com/

For accessories they have a hodge podge. Some Green Toys as I listed above, an unused stainless fondue pot of mine, misc stainless whisks, etc.

Lacing toys-

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/wooden-lacing-tracing-toy-set

Holgate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Lacing-Products_c_12.html

TAG: https://store.tagtoys.com/lace-and-learn-p90.aspx

lacingpuzzle

Make-up:

Blue Egg Farmstore: http://www.blueeggfarmstore.com/play

Marble run:

Tedco, I love the creativity this inspires, we play with this a lot! http://amzn.to/2ims4Pa

Memory matching tiles:

http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/memory-matching-tile-game

https://bannortoys.com/search?q=memory

Misc:

Smiling Tree Toys Misc toys (we have several items, the moon balancer, camera, penguin bowling, wands, tops, lacing puzzle): http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/toys

Bannor Toys Misc Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/wooden-toys

Green Toys, we own many items from them:

greentoys

Dressup- we have superhero capes & crowns from here: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Building logs- Roys toys, they come in different sets, here’s one: http://amzn.to/2ihb1O2

Music:

Drums: Remo Djembe and Doumbek are manufactured in the US: http://www.remo.com/portal/products/5/505/remokids.html

Xylophone, Smiling Tree (we have this): http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/toys/products/wooden-xylophone

Xylophone, Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/metal-wood-xylophone-for-kids/

Ukulele, Pure Play Kids (we have this): http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-ukulele-for-kids/

Palumba has a variety of items, I don’t own any but they have a LOT of cool stuff in general! https://www.palumba.com/books-music/music-instruments/instruments.html

Piggy Banks- I got my kids both one from here, the same lady that makes the plug-in wax warmers I sell via the buying club. I don’t see any listed currently but you could write her to ask for one: http://www.dcstoneware.com/

piggy bank.jpg

Someone in the group let me know they got their kids one from here, a vendor on my Safe Toys List that I’ve not shopped from yet: http://www.wildapples.com/piggybanks.htm

Pounding table:

Holgate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Classic-Bingo-Bed_p_41.html

Pull/push toys:

Hogate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Ducking-Duck_p_171.html

Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/spinning-blocks-wooden-pull-toy/

Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-mower-vacuum-push-toy-rainbow/

Smiling Tree: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/animal-puzzle-pull-toy

Puzzles- huge category of course! Puzzles are favorites in our house!

Smiling Tree now has name puzzles: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/wooden-name-puzzle

The Puzzle People: http://www.puzzlepeople.com/  (we have several, I LOVE them!)

turtlepuzzlepeople

Portrait Puzzles: https://www.portraitpuzzles.com/home.php (they make great gifts!)

TAG: https://store.tagtoys.com/i-can-spell-alphabet-puzzle-p87.aspx

Shape Sorter:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/shape-sorter

Train tracks: Bought for Son’s 3rd B-day, almost 6 now & both play with it often. I love that you can add on to. I’ve given add-on’s for recent B-days.

Maple Landmark: https://www.maplelandmark.com/detail.lasso?sku=11240

It’s currently available cheaper via Pure Play Kids actually, and sometimes it’s on Amazon for cheaper: http://www.pureplaykids.com/complete-train-track-and-town/

Name train: https://www.maplelandmark.com/nametrains/brightcolornames.lasso

traintracks

___________________________________________________________________

Summer fun:

Pure Play Kids has several great things for this category, we have their shell collecting bags, beach stamps, butterfly nets & bug house: http://www.pureplaykids.com/all-outdoor-fun/

Green Toys sand castle set (very durable plastic!): http://amzn.to/2icvBzd

Green Toys Watering can: http://amzn.to/2hRty0q

Water Table: We have a Little Tikes one. It’s made in the USA of foreign & domestic parts. I know the accessories are definitely made in China, I did send one in to MisLead in a package of random things I sent her & it came back free of lead & other heavy metals which was good news. We improvised our own accessories, peg people & random things. My kids have enjoyed this a couple of summers now. Yes, it’s plastic but short of making something yourself, there aren’t many other viable options for this category. Step2 also has similar options. http://amzn.to/2iJRdjk

________________________________________________________________

Easter: This is an older note of mine with some good suggestions: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2013/03/05/made-in-usa-easter-basket-ideas/

easter16

Easter 2016 consisted of:  Hand kites made by former page co-admin Jolene, wooden egg paint kit from Earth Paints (where we got our egg dye kit also), Easter matching tiles, and 2 other word/picture matching games from Bannor Toys, and they each got a personalized bunny wand from Bannor also, Repositionable Stickers from Pure Play Kids (made by Mrs. Grossman’s), foaming bath paints & scented play dough from Blue Egg Farmstore, Bunny teethers from Smiling Tree Toys (they each received their 1st Easter, now I make them part of their annual basket as I will the bunny wands). They got NO candy from me, we went to a fabulous egg hunt yesterday hosted by my friend who had 300 eggs for 15 kids to find, filled with almost exclusively organic candy. Fun, fun, and more fun!

__________________________________________________________________

Conclusion: Do we own some things made outside of the USA? Yes, we do. I mentioned the Baby Alive doll above. I’m not 100% hardcore on not allowing anything not made here into my house. For example, my Son really, really wanted some transformers for Christmas & I did buy him some, he loves them, and I’m fine with it. For the 1st few years, I absolutely recommend sticking with safe, minimal, wooden toys, and it’s easily doable. Now, at 6 I’m more lenient with what he plays with as it’s not going in his mouth. At 6 he’s really into mazes, connect dots, art projects, making stews & potions in his kitchen & transformers. I can say, when I look around my house, there are very few items not made in the USA, and that makes me very happy! I hope you’ve found this list helpful & I will continue to add to it as my kids grow!

Aquasana: finally a water filter living up its claims!

From Jess/Eco-friendly Mama/page owner here: as most of you know, Berkey is THE name if water filters amongst the “green” community. Many well-known natural Mama bloggers endorse them. My page took part in a few Berkey group buys, trying to help save money on these expensive systems. When I started looking for 3rd party test results to show that they lived up to their claims, I had a very hard time finding much at all! So I reached out to the group to ask: has anyone tested their Berkey water? Interestingly enough, no one had at the time. I decided to help raise some funds to sponsor a couple of tests, and was definitely not impressed. I’m blessed to have safe water from my private well, and we do test annually to make sure nothing changes.

You can read the 1st results of a few tests here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2015/09/29/berkey-fluoride-filter-test-results/

Then Catherine, a Mama in the group did a very thorough test on her own, and shared her very detailed write-up here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2016/06/17/very-thorough-disappointing-berkey-test-results/

She is the same Mama who is sharing the below report on putting her new Aquasana system to the test. FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS!

Important note from Catherine:

No group sponsored this testing. It was all coordinated and paid for by myself. Also, there was nothing received in exchange for this review and I paid normal price for my system. I am solely sharing this to help others, as I’ve been surprised and disappointed in other water filtration systems in the past and I know not everyone has time and money to research, buy, and test multiple kinds of systems.

 

 

I’m so excited to share POSITIVE news about my search for great drinking water!

 

In September, a member of this Eco-friendly USA group (Jelena) shared that Aquasana was having a 60% off sale and the a BOGO code worked in addition to that, so I decided to purchase the OPTIMH2O™ REVERSE OSMOSIS + CLARYUM drinking water filtration system (Jess’ Amazon affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2h5IbAZ)

 

Many of you know my Berkey experience (linked here) and know I’ve been looking for something with better fluoride reduction that is more reliable and a better fit regardless of your pH… and that because of that, I was very skeptical of any system and determined to test it.

 

I had it installed in mid-October and did testing that first week. This was my first update posted 11/7 in the group “It was a 87% reduction in fluoride.  They claim 95% reduction, but honestly it is so small (.07 mg/L), I’m not too worried. It’s only half remaining of what it was with the Berkey and it’s slightly greater reduction than the in-line filter that was posted about last month. They are sending a new stage 2, RO filter though just in case. – Though they are sending a new one, if it wasn’t filtering optimally – I wonder if the first plumber we used might have damaged it somehow (vs. it coming defective to start)? He is a certified plumber but from the neighborhood. He just did the first half and then my husband drilled the hole in our countertop and we had a plumber from a different company come finish it. Who knows…

 

The pH of the treated water increased and I would not want it too high long-term but I wish I would have tested the Berkey water pH (I only did before), because I know that increases it too. Typically RO water is lower pH (~6, which is acidic, 6.5-8.5 is typical for regular drinking water), unless a remineralizer is used. They told me that it can take some time to balance out though, so he suggested I re-test in 1 month and the pH might be lower. (We had only purged the system for 24 hours prior to testing. I did try those at home test strips before taking the sample to my county health department but they are so subjective.)

 

There was significantly less magnesium, calcium, and chloride. That’s to be expected, though I thought it might be a bit higher with the remineralizer. So I bought [trace minerals] to ensure we are getting enough minerals. I know this is a concern people have about RO filters, and I understand there are pros and cons with every system. Obviously the best option is if our cities stopped adding fluoride to our water.

 

The company has been absolutely GREAT to work with (plus it’s a 90-day return policy) – I am very pleased so far! Once it’s been longer for us to switch the RO filter and use the water, I will re-test fluoride and pH. Also, since I still have the Berkey, I may even test the post filtration pH of that just to compare… though I won’t be using it myself. I’ll share another update once I have more results to share and I’ll include all the #s with that update!”

 

Here is my latest update:

 

The pH is right in normal range and fluoride isn’t found at all 0.0!!!!!!!!!!!! The only thing is I didn’t test my tap this time because I have tested it 3 times this year and I realized it isn’t fully apples to apples comparing tap to the RO water because it’s been sitting in the RO tank for a little bit (a couple days)? I wish I had, but the testing adds up. I feel confident with it. (I had also mentioned that I might test Berkey pH compared to tap as another comparison since their FAQs say it raises pH too but then I heard if you don’t store your filters properly they can dry out so I thought that may not be accurate at this point, plus more money on a product I am not personally interested in, so I didn’t.) Whenever I change filters in ~5 months, maybe I will retest tap vs. filtered just to have another data point and share. I am SO happy to have found a water filtration system that works for me. Plus, it was BOGO so my mom will have the other one. (I have been waiting to take it to her/ get it installed until my testing.) It was $222 for two systems, so only $111/ system plus installation, which is at least comparable to Berkey if not less up front. It even included 2 glass water bottles.

 

Also, some people say that they wouldn’t want an RO system because they don’t want to waste water, which I understand but I wanted to share that so far, I have seen less water consumption than a year ago. I know there are many factors in that, but I think we don’t (couldn’t possibly) drink enough for it to make a big difference. I think that is more valid for a whole home system like when you filter shower/ bath, toilets, and sink water. Those are the main places you use a lot of water.

 

Lastly, I know some people say that they don’t want minerals stripped of their water, but at what point is it worth it? That’s a personal choice for everyone to make and our reasons for choosing any type of water can vary and that’s okay. Since I stopped using fluoride toothpaste, I decided I don’t want fluoride in my water either. As I’ve said before (specific to fluoride), the best thing is if your city would stop adding it to your water! The main thing is that you should know the honest and full pros and cons of each system and be able to decide for yourself up front what you prefer and then if there’s anything you don’t want in your water – be sure to test your tap and filtered water so you can ensure you are drinking what you think you are drinking. Good water is out there; I hope everyone can find some that they love!

 

My results

aquasana

salonsolids Review

salonsolids1

I want to start out by stating: I love doing what I do. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t join my group or discover my website for the 1st time. And I never, ever know what that next person has to contribute to my eco-friendly, made in the USA mission. One day, not too long ago, out of the blue, a gal named Sarah commented on a shampoo question in my closed group page: ” I notice that preservatives are something you recognize are worth avoiding if possible. Check out Salonsolids- Hair cleansing/conditioning solids delivered in PCR paper tubes you add water to create product. Because of the waterless delivery products can be preservative free! Just 6 carefully selected ingredients!” Her motto: “Six simple ingredients, no harsh chemicals, and salon quality results in environmentally friendly packaging. Most conventional products sold in the salons contain a long list of unnecessary ingredients many of which are chemicals that are toxic to you and the environment. Simply the effective ingredients that serve a purpose carefully chosen combined with healthful essential oils without the preservatives and synthetic fragrance.”

About Sarah & her mission: “As a stylist and salon owner with over 20 years in the business I’ve used the best products available and was not willing to compromise effectiveness. What I’ve learned is that while salon products may give you temporary satisfaction they are not consciously made to be good for you or your hair long term. You may not realize it but hair loss and scalp and skin issues can show up later and you may not know it is a result of the chemicals in the products you’ve been using. When you know better you can choose better. We hope you choose to join with us in taking back your health and creating change.”

This was the 1st time I’d ever heard from her, but she had me pegged: I hate harsh preservatives & avoid them at all costs.  I also hate plastic & do my best to seek out alternatives. I was in love with the concept of her product, but of course, things can sound great on paper, but do they really work in real life is the question. She sent me a sample of the shampoo & conditioner.

She set my expectations pretty low in terms of how much lather the shampoo would create.“The shampoo I sent you does not contain any lathering agents but does a nice job cleaning. If you would like more lather I do add sodium cocoyl isethionate to some of my clients custom blends who prefer a lather. My favorite method of use is applying conditioner on ends and then apply shampoo to roots.” The ingredients are simple, yet effective: Made from organic quillaja extract(cleansing agent from chilean soapbark tree), sodium cocoyl glycinate(from glycine), organic cocoa butter, guar gum(from guar plant), + essential oil.

I’ve been using natural shampoos for years, so am pretty used to the lather they create. My expectations were blown away. After mixing one capful of the dry powder (which smells soooo good) with hot water to fill the rest of the glass bottle & then shaking, I had myself a shampoo that was the same consistency of my other natural shampoos, and lathered just as good as them. I honestly could not believe it. My hair is just past my shoulders but super thick, check out the little amount I needed to thoroughly wash my hair in the photo below. I was able to get 5 thorough washings out of that tiny jar, and there are 4-5 refills/ cardboard container so that’s 20-25 washings which will last me several months. Again, no plastic. It says to use within 2 weeks. One thing I do just to make sure I’m not pushing anything is just mix up enough for 1-2 washings instead of 5, since I only wash my hair a couple of times/week.

salonsolids2

On the conditioner: I did like the 1st batch she sent, I thought it worked pretty well. It’s best to mix it up & let it sit an hour or so, it thickens up nicely & looks like a normal conditioner we’re all used to. But she let me know she was still tweaking it & would send me a new batch to try shortly. About a week later I received that. She advised using boiling water as the conditioner sample was a pretty solid, waxy chunk. I thought: oh, I’ll just let my tap water get really hot & see how that works (it does get really hot), but I should’ve listened to her. It didn’t dissolve well. A week later I had batch #3 in my hands & it is perfect. The granules dissolve nicely in hot water, and it treated my hair well. It felt conditioned but not greasy. Like the shampoo, it smells WONDERFUL!! Another plus of being a dry powder is it can ship for quite a bit cheaper than its liquid counterparts. The conditioner ingredients: amla extract, brassica isoleucinate essylate & brassica alcohol (conditioning agent from brassica plant),amino acids, + essential oils. She also makes a styler that at least 1 Mama I know has tried, she LOVES it for her curly hair, ingredients: Made from dehydroxanthan gum(from non-gmo xanthan gum), glycine betaine(beet sugar extract), organic cocoa butter, bamboo extract.

My dry head of hair: it feels healthy, light, not greasy or waxy at all. I really, really like it! But do note, my hair has long since went through the detox phase from conventional products. There can definitely be a transitional period, results will vary for all of us depending on what we’re coming from, our hair & water type, etc.

14222085_10154552882624297_1220600956390766685_n

There are currently 5 fabulous scent options for the shampoo & conditioner: orange peel, peppermint, lavender, frankincense, or forest (Douglas fir). She does have it so you have to select a subscription plan, you can select monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. You can cancel at any time with no penalty. Since this is a product used on a regular basis, she wants to make sure you don’t run out! But, you can also buy it from your quarterly buying club order in the future, via me! Yes, that’s right, she will be a new vendor on Feb Eco-friendly USA One-Stop Shop list. In the meantime, you can contact her for a free sample!   It means so much to her to get this product into the hands of others who value what it has to offer.  So, she’s happy to send samples out to those who want to try it, contact her & tell her I sent you, she’ll send you a sample!

This product has been 9 years in the making for Sarah. I seriously applaud her for thinking outside of the box, having that ‘ah ha’ moment & following through with it. It is not easy to spend a decade of your life thinking about anything, and this is her thing.

You can check out her website here: http://salonsolids.com

And her Fb page here: https://www.facebook.com/salonsolids/

A recent pic (01/17) , I just LOVE this stuff!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Real Pantry Review

square-ranch-600x600

Review of The Real Pantry, based in Tampa, FL.  When asking for new vendors to add to my November order of the Eco-friendly USA One-Stop Shop, someone recommended The Real Pantry to me & I was thrilled when Loriel, the owner, agreed to both send me some samples & be my newest vendor! With the Holidays right around the corner I thought this would be a perfect addition. About the products: The products are free from: preservatives, additives, artificial flavors and colors, “natural” flavors, genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), soy, and highly processed salt and sugar. Basically, if you can’t find it in your pantry, you won’t find it in our products.  All baking mixes are creating with an aluminum-FREE baking powder and our garlic powder is sourced from the United States instead of China.

Current product offerings include: a ranch & French onion mix, Italian seasoning, lemon herb, pumpkin pie spice, taco seasoning, a sampler pack, moist maple cornbread, chewy brownies, fluffy waffles. She plans to add more herbs & spices soon!

I was sent a ranch dip mix & a cornbread mix to try out. My family thoroughly enjoyed both! My kiddos are huge ranch lovers, I can get them to eat just about anything if there is ranch on the plate to dip it in, and I’m ok with that. If a little bit of ranch drizzled on top of an avocado does the trick, I’m all for it! You just mix the 1 oz packet with a 16oz container of sour cream for a nice dip for carrot sticks etc. or for a salad dressing Simply start with a small amount of sour cream, add whole milk or buttermilk to get your desired consistency, and then add Ranch season to flavor. Top it with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice you have a delicious dressing. She has this recipe for a 5 minute Ranch Dressing on her website: https://www.real-pantry.com/real-food-ranch-dressing-5-minute-prep/

Here’s what’s in it:

  • Organic parsley
  • Organic garlic powder
  • Organic minced onion
  • Organic onion powder
  • Organic dill
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • Organic black pepper

Available in a 1 oz packet for $5.25 or 2 oz for $10.

The cornbread is DELICIOUS! Here’s a description from her website: Not your typical cornbread, our Moist Maple Cornbread is fluffy and cake-like with a nice crisp golden top. Sweetened with real maple syrup and butter, it’s decadent, delicious, and makes you go back for more.

We use only 4 simple ingredients in our Moist Maple Cornbread mix: organic einkorn flour, organic corn meal, aluminum-free baking powder, and unrefined sea salt.

Simply add 2 eggs, some melted butter, milk & maple syrup & you have a very delicious corn bread. My whole family really enjoyed this with a bowl of chicken noodle soup for dinner last night. It is  currently on sale for $7.  We only ate 1/2 of the cornbread for dinner that night & I’ve been snacking on it for 2 days since, it’s still moist & delicious 2 days later! I enjoyed learning about einkorn flour, she has a whole blog post devoted to why she uses it. This is one thing I learned about it: What really caught my attention about einkorn was that it was completely unhybridized and one of the most ancient forms of wheat! Learn more here: http://www.naturallyloriel.com/why-i-use-einkorn-flour-10-einkorn-recipes-to-get-you-started/

I think these products could make excellent gifts (especially that sampler pack) for that hard to shop for person on your list, who doesn’t love the gift of wholesome food? Here’s the link to the website to purchase products: https://www.real-pantry.com/

Here is a link to her blog with many recipes: https://www.real-pantry.com/blog/

Review of Essential Oils Use & Safety Guide by Ninette Jackson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although only 89 pages long (with blank pages in back for notes), this little book packs in a ton of practical information for the average user of essential oils. I recently gave away my copy of Modern Essentials as it was just more info than I needed. I don’t need an encyclopedia covering every possible oil out there & all potential uses, I need to know the basics & not be overwhelmed with too much additional info. This book is perfect for my needs, and many of yours as well I do believe!

 

I first reviewed products from Josiah’s Oils way back in June of ’13 (will link to that below) and have offered the products via my quarterly buying club order for each of the 13 orders we’ve done now. So, we go way back! I’ve developed a deep trust & respect for Ninette’s advice, she is my go-to for any essential oil questions & I’m so happy to have her in my closed group where I can tag her for advice as needed. It is true that even amongst professionals you’ll get a variety of opinions as to what oils are safe for what age, etc, but for me, Ninette is the final word.

 

About the author:   Ninette is a wife, mother of five (including her special son, Josiah), retired lawyer, and a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist who has been working with essential oils for over 10 years and has undergone approximately 860 hours of study & testing to obtain her certifications.  Her Aromatherapy shop, Josiah’s Oils, has been in business since 2011 serving her customers with the highest quality essential oils and therapeutic blends, as well as diffusers, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, salves and more – ALL hand-made with Ninette’s own recipes.  

 

Her book covers the following topics:

  • Which oils are safe for kids
  • Which oils are safe in pregnancy
  • Safe dilution ratios
  • Why drinking your oils isn’t safe
  • Blending Made Easy (with recipes!)
  • Which oils help with which issues
  • Research studies
  • And MUCH more!

 

It is available via their website for $14.99: http://www.josiahsoils.com/store/p544/Essential_Oil_Use_%26_Safety_Handbook.html

Amazon for $19.99 (some used ones for cheaper): https://www.amazon.com/dp/1534966382/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

And you could pick up a copy along with some of the very fine Josiah’s Oils products via your quarterly buying club order. They happen in Feb, May, Aug, Nov: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/buying-clubdeomy-poofy-organics/eco-friendly-usa-buying-club-2/

My original review of Josiah’s Oils products, I could/should/will update this as I’ve tried many more products & her line has really grown in the 3+ years since I’ve written this: https://www.facebook.com/397517646930548/photos/a.568349859847325.144572.397517646930548/678783912137252/?type=3&theater

Butter Bay Review

141020cc-0054-2-2_1024x1024

The above photo is the Pomegranate Butter Bay I was sent to review. This pic is borrowed from the Butter Bay site. My camera takes lousy pictures!

I LOVE checking my email daily, I never know what I’m going to find. When I had this email: “I saw that you have an extensive list of products made in the USA and I wanted to make a suggestion for that list. Butter Bay is a butter dish that is 100% made in USA” honestly I wasn’t super excited. Cool I thought, a made in USA butter dish to add to my list. I always do enjoy adding to my Made in USA Master List, that’s for sure, but a butter dish wasn’t all that exciting at the time. THEN I started clicking around the Butter Bay site & I realized this is no ordinary butter dish, it is a French butter crock. I LOVE learning about new things, and indeed French butter crocks have been used for centuries, but are totally new to me. Suddenly, I was very excited about butter. If you’ve never smelled or tasted rancid butter, consider yourself lucky. It’s YUCKY! Read on to discover how a Butter Bay can help prevent rancid butter!

One of the 1st questions I ask of any type of ceramics is: is it lead & cadmium-free? I’ve learned it’s not safe to make this assumption. Here’s their response: Yes! Butter Bay has been certified to be 100% safe and meets California Proposition 65 requirements for no lead or cadmium. One thing all vendors who contact me have in common: they’re super, duper proud to bring us a made in USA product. The Butter Bay is made in Ohio, and you’ll see how proud of that they are when you visit their website as well as when you receive your Butter Bay. Made in USA is stamped all over the packaging.

So, the question: why do I need a Butter Bay? This link from their website explains why it was created:  http://thebutterbay.com/pages/about-us

When I got it, I honestly was a bit confused. The stick of butter is larger than the vessel it is supposed to fit in. So I watched this very short video that clearly shows how to use it: https://thebutterbay.com/pages/how-it-works. But still, I managed to find my stick of butter floating in the water below after 1 day. That is the 1 & only time it has happened to me, thankfully. My mistake the 1st time was not letting my butter sit long enough to reach room temp, it was still too firm thus didn’t pack perfectly. Since then I have let it sit on the counter for ½ hr or so & it packs in there perfectly & I’ve had spreadable butter any & every time I’ve needed it. I change the water every 2-4 days.

We have our own flock of chickens so eat quite a few eggs with either a buttered bagel or toast. I occasionally use butter when cooking quesadillas or other dishes, otherwise we don’t eat a whole lot of butter but it sure is nice to have it there & spreadable when needed! What was I using before this? A small Pyrex dish with a lid & I’d take out a couple TBSP at a time. That works for sure, but I did find myself running out a lot. Now with the butter crock I can pull a whole stick out & that lasts us ~10 days give or take. As soon as I scrape the last butter from its sides, I wash & dry the crock & refill it (it is dishwasher safe, but I’ve only hand washed it). It truly is nice to have fresh, creamy butter any time you need it! And while I’m not a super fancy Mama, this Butter Bay certainly looks much prettier on my countertop than my Pyrex dish with green plastic lid…. I’m curious to see how the butter holds up during both the heat of summer & the heat of winter as we use wood heat & at times it does get quite warm in our house & my butter melts (will report back).

What I love about this: of course that it is made in the USA. As with any made in USA product, it takes a great deal of motivation, dedication, determination & LOVE to bring a product to market. In addition to being available online of course, there are numerous states which have retail locations carrying the Butter Bay. I hope you’ll check out this link & if you see a local retailer, support them with your purchase: https://thebutterbay.com/pages/butter-bay-is-now-sold-in-stores

And finally, here is a link to their website. They are running a shipping special now-Christmas: $1.99 shipping on any order of 2 or more, so grab one for yourself & one as a gift for that hard to shop for person in your life! https://thebutterbay.com/

 

Previous Older Entries