Tag Archives: Green Home

Cat Proof Blinds That Are Eco-Friendly and Stylish

Ever have your cat chew through the cords on your window blinds?  Ever have them chew through the strings that hold the blind slats in place?  What about through the cord for the expensive Hunter Douglas blinds at the place where you’re renting?

Comfortex Roller BlindsIf your cat has been up to mischief gnawing its way through your home’s window coverings, you don’t have to resign yourself to drab cat-hair covered drapes.  Blinds are still an option and not only that, they can also be eco-friendly blinds too.

When we moved into a new home a couple of years ago, we loved the big windows in all of the rooms.  What we hadn’t factored in was that every window needed curtains or blinds.  We realized we had a dilemma if we wanted blinds because Furball is a serial cord chewer.

I wanted to move past the perpetually raised blinds with the cords wrapped up and placed far out of feline reach.  And, while curtains would work in a few rooms, I didn’t want to cover up my entire home with drapes.  I wanted the simplicity of blinds without the risk of my cat eating the cords and strings.

Fortunately, I found a stylish solution that also happened to be eco-friendly.  Comfortex makes a high-quality environmentally friendly blind that also looks  modern and stylish with clean lines and none of that pain relief fussy rustic-blind look with strings and cords dangling everywhere.  And, after two years of having the blinds in our home, I would give them two paws up for being cat-proof too.

Comfortex uses an EcoGreen™ Fabric collection for their Envision™ Roller Shades. It’s PVC-Free, 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recyclable and LEED certification friendly. Their EcoGreen fabrics are diverted from landfills and reclaimed and contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Their roller shade comes in different levels of opacity and a variety of colours.  I personally love the sheer look for blocking out bright sunlight, and you still get natural light and privacy.  As well, instead of using string, the blinds are drawn using a very light silver chain.  Both the blind and the chain tuck away nicely in a window frame.

I was a little skeptical originally about getting roller blinds.  I couldn’t help but remember the nasty white vinyl ones we had in my childhood home.  The Envision shades roll up nicely by pulling the chain.  No need to pull and yank and hope the blind rolls up when you let go.

Besides being functional, practical, cat-proof and eco-friendly, the bottom line is that these blinds look damned good!  Hope this helps you beautify your home in eco-friendly and cat-friendly style.

P.S.  That’s not my home in the photo.  Wish I was that colour-coordinated!

Winner of the Safe Picnic Green Pest Control Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our giveaway.  And thanks to EcoSMART for providing the prize, a Safe Picnic Value Bundle which consists of the following products:

  • Home Pest Control (24 oz spray bottle)
  • Flying Insect Killer (14 oz can)
  • Insect Repellent (Two 6 oz bottles)

The winner of our giveaway is a Cat Daddy living in North Carolina.

Stay tuned for another giveaway this month where we’ll be giving away sample packs of Prowl dehydrated natural raw cat food, courtesy The Honest Kitchen.

A Chemist’s Perspective on Chemicals

In a recent post, I was checking out whether Wee Cleaner was really non-toxic and discovered that although I was under the impression that it was all natural, it did indeed contain a number of chemical ingredients.  Then I segued into looking up ingredients with the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.

One of my readers wrote in to share some more insights about the chemical ingredients.  She works as a chemist in a lab, so it was great to gain her perspective.  There’s a radio station I listen to where the morning DJ’s always proclaim that they have the smartest listeners in the world.  I’m thinking I have some of the smartest blog readers!  Anyway, here’s what she had to say:

“It’s true that all chemical suppliers, and labs for that matter, are required to have MSDS’s on file for chemicals but while the idea is well meaning: to have anyone interested in safety be able to find information on a chemical, most MSDS’s now days are packed with legalese and meaningless warnings. In effort not to be sued, manufacturers have put every possible thing down for even the most harmless substances so that you really couldn’t tell apart something harmless from something that you need to watch out for even if you tried. If you would like an example read the MSDS on table salt (sodium chloride), or sea sand. You should apparently run screaming from the kitchen and the beach for fear of being exposed to such harmful substances. No one takes MSDS’s seriously, and they are pretty near useless, except for the lawyers.

About the issue of hydrogen peroxide, it’s actually a great and very safe cleaner! The reason why you have this contradictory information about it is because hydrogen peroxide is not very stable. When you buy Hydrogen peroxide from the supermarket it has a very short shelf life. It will spontaneously degrade into oxygen and water on standing, air and light just speed up the process. So while, yes, you should probably not drink hydrogen peroxide from the bottle, if you apply a little bit to your carpet, by the time it’s dry there won’t be any hydrogen peroxide there to get into contact with. Most of it probably reacts with (oxidizes) whatever stinky stuff your cat left behind to make less stinky stuff and the rest just turns into water and oxygen. Sounds great to me!

I think that’s why you should take these chemical safety scales with some skepticism. What does “safe” really mean?

Sodium laureth sulfate I’m not so sure about, I’ve seen it on my shampoo bottle so it’s probably not that bad, I’d be worried about my kitty eating some though, I would ask what percent composition it is before deciding to put it on my carpet. Maybe at this point I would just go out and buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to see if that works just as well as the cleaner.

Sorry for the rant, but there is always a lot of misleading information and witch hunts about how bad “chemicals” are. Even though everything is a chemical: water, air, or cyanide, weather or not it’s harmful just depends on how it acts around the environment and your body. Not how “natural” it is.”

Thanks for the insights Anastasia!

I didn’t know that there were MSDS sheets specific to each chemical and it was illuminating to learn that they list every possible risk to avoid litigation. I noticed the EWG Cosmetic Database also listed things such as tea tree oil in a way that made them sound hazardous.

I still do find that MSDS docs for cleaning products contain some interesting gems.  For example, Simple Green is labelled as “non-toxic”, but the MSDS lists butyl cellosolve, also known as 2-butoxyethanol, as one of the ingredients.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0070.html, symptoms of exposure include irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; hemolysis, hematuria (blood in the urine); central nervous system depression, headache; vomiting” and target organs include: “Eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, hematopoietic system, blood, kidneys, liver, lymphoid system”.

I think I’ll pass on hemolysis (premature destruction of red blood cells) or the hematuria, even if the risk is low.  We bought some “Simple Green” thinking it was green, but now that bottle is sitting in the garage.

Why Antibacterial is Anti-Cat and Anti-Human

I was recently reading the latest newsletter from the David Suzuki Foundation.  If you’re Canadian, you know who he is.  If you’re not, David Suzuki is like the Al Gore of Canada, only he’s been in the public eye supporting the environment since the 70’s and no one questions the science he presents because it’s always sound.  Anyway, the newsletter had a great article which sums up why most antibacterial soaps and cleaners are harmful.

With the H1N1 scare going around, I’ve noticed people are going overboard with the hand sanitizer.  Also, with a new baby, I keep seeing ads advising people to wipe all sorts of surfaces that your baby comes into contact with (eg., toys) with a certain brand of antibacterial wipe.

Personally, I never use the stuff because I feel that they’re worse than the bugs going around.  And, if you’ve got a cat, antibacterial cleaners really make no sense to me.  Your cats rub up against you, you pat them with your “sanitized” hands and they lick the stuff off of your hands. I could never give an adequate, scientific explanation to people why they should stop using antibacterial cleaners, other than the increased resistance of bacteria to these products and a general feeling that any sort of chemical you rub into your hands is not a good idea.

However, thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation, I now have a better explanation other than my gut tells me it’s wrong.  Here it is:

“Triclosan is one of the most common antibacterial agents in household cleaners and personal-care products. It creates a known carcinogen, dioxin, as a by-product. Dioxin causes skin disorders and liver problems, and impairs reproductive functions and the immune system (to name a few effects).”

Notice the reference to impairing the immune system.  This is important to note because I read a friend of a friend’s Facebook post saying that they used antibacterial cleaners because they had a compromised immune system and didn’t want to catch anyone’s cold.  The David Suzuki Foundation article also mentioned that studies show that hand sanitizers aren’t any more effective than washing your hands with soap and water.

Here’s where to read more and get recipes on making your own hand sanitizer:

http://beta.davidsuzuki.org/library/finding-solutions/web/get-off-the-antibacterial-crazy-train/

Wee Cleaner — Is It Really Non-Toxic?

In January, I wrote an entry about eco-friendly natural cleaners for eliminating pet odours and stains. One of the products I came across was Wee Cleaner. Their website made it sound fantastic for getting rid of the smell of cat pee: “WEE CLEANER is non-toxic, fragrance-free, dye-free, phosphate-free, and enzyme-free. It is biodegradable and produces no fumes.” As a result, I included it in my review.

Over the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about cleaning products, largely spurred by becoming a Wowgreen Independent Distributor.  The more I learned, the more surprised I was about what is actually in common household cleaners.  I knew they weren’t that great, but I didn’t realize how scary some of them are.

As a result of my newfound knowledge, I kept wondering, how can Wee Cleaner possibly clean without enzymes?  It HAS to use chemicals. I contacted Wee Cleaner and requested an MSDS, that’s a Material Safety Data Sheet. This is a document that manufacturers have to provide for their cleaning products when they’re used in a workplace setting.  The MSDS identifies the hazardous chemicals in the product’s formula as well as the risks associated with product exposure. Interestingly, manufacturers do not have to disclose this information for HOUSEHOLD cleaning products.

Wee Cleaner did not have an MSDS for their gastrointestinal product, but they did provide me with an ingredient list.  Here it is:

Distilled water, hydrogen peroxide (35{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} grade), sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidoproply betaine, cocamide MEA, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, citric acid

Nothing in the list is considered a hazardous chemical, but I started looking up the ingredients in the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.  They give ingredients a rating based on how hazardous it is.  Keep in mind that ingredients are rated in the context of using them as cosmetics as opposed to carpet cleaners.

Hydrogen peroxide got a really scary rating of 3 to 8 (depending on product usage) out of 10 on their hazard scale.  A 3 is considered a moderate hazard and anything over 7 is considered a high hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, neurotoxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes, and more…

Sodium laureth sulfate, which you might think is worse since we’ve heard so much about sodium lauryl sulfate, is actually rated less hazardous.  It was rated between 3 to 6 depending on product usage, making it a moderate hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, persistence and bioaccumulation and organ system toxicity.

Definitely makes you go, “Hmmm”.  I think I have to look up all of the ingredients in my toiletries now…

Natural Green Pest Control

Green pesticides might seem like an oxymoron at first.  I never even thought to look for an eco-friendly insect killer because I simply assumed they didn’t exist.  However, a recent invasion of ants in the kitchen prompted me to look for natural ways to get rid of ants.

I tried my time-tested green method of keeping ants outside by sprinkling a line of cinnamon along the windowsill where they were coming in.  However, these ants were persistent and burrowed their way through this natural barrier.  I next considered using diatamaceous earth, but didn’t have a clue where to buy it around here.  Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized sea creatures that are ground up into a fine powder.  The powder is sharp and cuts into the waxy coating of insects when they come into contact with it.  This kills the bugs because they dehydrate from the cuts in their shells.

Serendipitously, I was contacted by a representative for EcoSMART about their green insecticides.  They asked to do a giveaway through my blog, but I wanted to ensure their products really were green before considering it.  I asked them to send me a MSDS for their product, which would list the ingredients and indicate if there were any toxic chemicals.

I learned that their Garden Insect Killer contains the following:

Active Ingredients:
Rosemary Oil ……………………………………….. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Peppermint Oil ………………………………………0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Thyme Oil …………………………………………….. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Clove Oil ………………………………………………. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Other Ingredients*………………………………. 99.00{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Total …………………………………………………. 100.00{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
*Water, Mineral Oil (USP), Octadecenoic Acid Potassium Salt, Lecithin

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the product really is quite harmless for humans. However, I recently learned that many essential oils are actually very toxic for cats. That said, the article I read was referencing oils in flea products that are applied directly to a cat and would be ingested when they lick it off of their fur.

I guess you need to balance the toxicity of chemicals vs. essential oils and the likelihood of your cat ingesting the product, while also factoring in the environmental impact.  Being green is never black and white, is it?

The EcoSMART website said you can “spray and harvest” on the same day.  But does it work?

EcoSMART was kind enough to send me a bottle of the Garden Insect Killer as there are unknown bugs munching up the leaves of the miniature orange tree out back.  We started spraying the tree and I’ll let you know if it works.

About that giveaway…

Stay tuned.  I just have to set up the code for the contest, which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks.  Then, you’ll have a chance to win an EcoSMART Safe Picnic Value Bundle.  It’s still picnic weather where I live!

Is Your Cat Sleeping in a Chemical Cesspool?

Now that I’ve got your attention, a friend emailed me an interesting website that lists the toxic chemicals found in pet products.  Did you know there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products?

logo-stuff
HealthyStuff.org tested over 400 products for toxic chemicals and lists the results on their site.  Most of the tested products were for dogs, but there were some cat beds and toys tested as well.  You can probably assume if there are toxic chemicals in dog products, the same is likely for cat products.

Here are some facts listed on HealthyStuff.org:

  • 45{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of pet products tested had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemical, including:
  • One-quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead.
  • 7{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of all pet products have lead levels greater than 300 ppm — the current CPSC lead standard for lead in children’s products.

Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.