Filed under: Healthy Home
Danny Seo Shows Us the Beauty of Upcycling

Danny Seo 3

It’s completely fitting that environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo’s birthday falls on Earth Day! (Happy Birthday, Danny!)

Saving the environment has been important to Danny since he started a teen activist charity at 12 years old. Today, Danny is the author of numerous books and has his own line of eco home product. He is also a regular guest on NBC’s The Today Show.

Danny visited the Honest offices and told us about his love of upcycling and how crafting is a lot less intimidating than people think.

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“A lot of people associate crafting with fine arts, but it’s not the same thing at all,” he says. “Upcycling takes less skill, then say, painting or sewing. And traditionally with crafting you have to spend a lot of money for supplies, but that’s not so with upcycling.”

“What’s great about upcycling is you’re using stuff you would have thrown away anyway, so you’re not wasting money and, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t really matter,” he adds.

The creative process of turning trash into something beautiful is what Danny thrives on.

When Danny was 12 he started Earth 2000, a grass roots organization that sprung from his desire to save the planet. It was a small group of his friends that germinated into a national organization and actually challenged legislation in congress. It lasted seven years and taught him the ethics and savvy he brings to his business today.

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His book Upcycling and Upcycling Celebrations contains tons of clever ideas for turning everyday items into usable, stylish pieces. And the projects are simple—every project in his book is three steps or less.

Danny Seo’s Tips & Tricks

  • You don’t need a lot of tools to be an upcycler. The best thing to invest in is a good pair of sharp scissors. Forget the large pack of 10 for $9 and get the good professional ones. “A good, sharp scissors is the best way to get good results with everything,” he says. A glue gun also comes in handy.
  • He avoids glitter because they’re actually microns of plastic and glass, which can be dangerous with kids if it gets into the air and they breathe it in. He makes a non-toxic glitter using salt and food dye (you can find naturally derived dye at natural grocery stores). Mix the two ingredients together and then spread it on a baking sheet. Bake it for 10 minutes at 350 to dry it out. It’s not as sparkly as glitter, but it’s non-toxic and affordable, Danny says.
  • You don’t have to be boring and beige to be eco-friendly. He tells clients to focus on the big picture and not get caught-up on the small stuff. Invest in an eco-friendly sofa, floors, paint, and appliances before you look for small eco items.
  •  To find furniture, Danny goes to flea markets and antique fairs. He doesn’t buy upholstered things that are vintage because there could be mold, mildew, or unwanted pests inside. He buys solid wood pieces.

Danny Seo’s Top 5 Eco-Friendly Tips

  • Use batteries until they’re totally dead, or switch them to another appliance.
  • Replace bulbs with LED bulbs.
  • Mulching in the garden can be expensive, but you can call your local transportation department. When trees fall, they haul them away and mulch them. You can call and get that mulch for free.
  • If you don’t have the money to swap-out your windows for eco ones, you can pin sheets of bubble wrap on the inside of drapes to insulate your house.
  • Give your old bath towels, sheets, and blankets a good wash and donate them to your local animal shelter because many rescued animals have to sleep on concrete floors and any warmth from the textiles will be put to good use.

Say hello to Danny and wish him a happy birthday on Facebook, Twitter (@dannyjseo), and Instagram (@dannyjseo). And stay up to date on his eco ideas and tips at DannySeo.com.

9 Totally Surprising Things You Can Recycle

9 Surprising Recyclables

Glass, plastic, cardboard…most of us know our ABCs when it comes to recycling. But, with new technology, the list has grown into the XYZs. You might be surprised to find out that even the everyday toothbrush is recyclable. In fact, most things are recyclable these days. Here’s a list of some of the most surprising things you can recycle and a few smart upcycles (i.e., reusing, but better) sprinkled in for good measure:

Yoga Mats: More of a pay-it-forward gesture, The Boulder Mat Company will donate unwanted mats to nonprofits across the country. Relish the fact that someone might be sweating on your old mat just as much as you did during that, “why did I think I was ready for hot yoga?” class.

  • Upcycle ideas: Placemat, cozies, clutch, pinboard, and laptop case.

Electronics: Okay, “electronics” alone is not that surprising of a category, but Best Buy has a program where it will recycle practically all electronics and appliances, even your curling iron.

Toothbrushes: Terracycle will recycle your potato chip bags, diaper packaging, drink pouches and, of course, your toothbrush. That’s just the short list, be sure to check them out and get involved in one of their brigades!

String Lights: Mail in your lights to The Christmas Light Source and they will recycle them and donate the recycling proceeds to Toys for Tots.

Trophies: If you were on a little league team growing up, you’re bound to have stacks of trophies just waiting to be recycled. Use this mail-in program and your old trophies will be refurbished into new ones.

Shoes: Nike and Puma both have a recycling program for their athletic shoes, and there is always your local thrift store.

Bras: Bras are one of the most requested items at shelters or transitional programs. Mail in your bra and the Bra Recyclers will donate it to someone in need of a lift.

Corks: ReCORK will take your used wine stoppers and recycle them into a multitude of things from footwear to flooring. Mail in or drop off at a location close to you.

  • Upcycle ideas: Wreaths, birdhouses, corkboards, planters, chandeliers — the list is endless!

Toilets: Making sure your old porcelain toilet doesn’t end up in a landfill is a bit tricky, but the best thing you can do is check with your local community services and see if they have a special recycling program for old toilets. If not, try a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

What have you recycled that’s out of the ordinary? Let us know in the comments!

9 Surprising Uses for Oxy Boost (It’s Not Just for Laundry!)

We at The Honest Company created Honest Oxy Boost because we don’t like what conventional chlorine bleach does to our lungs, our skin, our families, fabrics, and the environment. So, our Oxy Boost has all the power of conventional bleach, minus the toxic fumes and risks. And, just like bleach is used for far more than just laundry, our Oxy Boost is super multi-functional, too! Here are 9 surprising uses to get you started unleashing the power of this product today!

 

9 Surprising Uses for Oxy Boost

 

1. Sanitize bottles, toys, cutting boards, & more! Dissolve 1-2 pods in a sink of hot water and dunk your dirty doo-dads. Let soak for 20 minutes or longer, wash with Honest Dish Soap, rinse, and dry. (Note: wooden toys and cutting boards should not be soaked.)

2. Polish porcelain sinks. Make a paste by mixing crushed pods with hot water. Apply to surface of sink, let sit for 10-20 minutes, rub, and rinse.

3. Freshen drains & disposals. Dissolve 1 pod in 2 cups hot water and pour down drains once a month to clean and deodorize them.

4. Manage mold & mildew. For non-porous surfaces, make a solution of 1 pod in 2 cups hot water and pour into a spray bottle (for tougher jobs, make the paste mentioned above). Apply to surface and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Gently scrub and rinse clean. This works great for soap scum, too! (Learn about preventing mold and mildew and important safety issues from the EPA.)

5. Kick coffee stains off your mugs, cups, and carafes. Dissolve a pod in a sinkful of hot water and soak dishes for a few minutes.  For tough stains, gently scrub.  Wash and dry as usual.

6. Deodorize your diaper pail. Simply break up a pod (or two) and add to hot water. Clean the pail with this solution, rinse, and dry before adding dirty diapers.

7. Wipe out weeds in walkways. Crumble a pod or two into a bucket of hot water and pour over weeds in the cracks and crevices of your sidewalk and driveway. Those pesky plants should be dead in a day and the Oxy Boost solution will help keep them from coming back. (Note: works best on sunny days. Also, be careful not to get the solution on surrounding plants or grass.)

8. Clean-up concrete. Stains or mildew making your concrete patios and walkways look a little lackluster? Mix a few crumbled pods into a gallon of hot water and pour onto the offending area. Let it sit for about ten minutes, scrub with a wire brush and rinse. Tougher stains may take more treatments.

9. Whiten walls. Say goodbye to sticky fingerprints! If you have white walls in need of a quick cleaning, break up one pod of Oxy Boost and mix with a liter of water and a few drops of Honest Dish Soap in a spray bottle. Spray, wipe, and presto! (Note: works best on white or other light-colored walls with glossy or eggshell finishes. Always spot test first.)

BONUS:  Try Honest products for free and also get 40% off your first purchase by entering Honest40 at checkout.  Valid for first-time US & Canada customers only.  Expires on April 30, 2014.

What’s on Your Food? You May Not Want to Know…

What is on Your Food? You May Not Want to Know

Do you think washing your food with water alone is enough to make it safe to eat? You might not after reading this…

But, don’t worry, The Honest Company can help you with kitchen prep and food safety — making “clean” eating easy.

Pathogens on Your Food

Tainted food recalls make regular headlines and have included everything from contaminated cantaloupe, mangoes, and papayas to peanut butter, ground turkey, and tuna. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group reports that foodborne illnesses increased by a whopping 44% between 2011 and 2012, and continue to make 48 million people sick annually. “Foodborne illness can be much more severe than a simple upset stomach,” says Deirdre Cummings of Massachusetts’ Public Interest Research Group. “It can cause serious chronic health problems….”

Pesticides on Your Food

And, unless you’re buying all organic (which most of us can’t afford), there are almost definitely pesticides on and in your food. What’s On My Food?, a searchable database from the Pesticide Action Network, makes it easy to learn what pesticide residues have been found on everything from asparagus to butter and poultry. Even apples might not keep the doctor away — according to the USDA, pesticide residues found on those grown conventionally have included chemicals linked to cancer, brain impacts, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental disorders.

Because fresh produce can get contaminated where it’s grown, sold, and made, The Honest Company can give you peace of mind when cleaning your kitchen and preparing your food.

Here’s What You Can Do

1. Buy organic when possible. Look for foods with lower levels of pesticides when you choose conventionally grown foods.

2. Look for produce that’s not bruised or battered.

3. Start with a clean slate. Food safety at home starts with a clean prep area. Wash your hands. Spritz down your countertops. Suds up your cutting boards and utensils in hot, soapy water. This way, you reduce unwanted contaminants before handling your fruits and veggies. (Tip: When possible, try to use natural, non-toxic cleaning products!)

4. Wash your produce (even organic) right when you bring it home. It’s easiest and most efficient to wash everything at the same time. And then you don’t run the risk of cross-contamination. The U.S. FDA advises skipping soap since fruits and veggies are porous and can absorb soaps or detergents. Honest Fruit & Veggie Wash is an easy option that’s 100% non-toxic and plant-based and effectively removes unwanted:

  • Toxic pesticide and chemical residues;
  • Pathogens, waxes, dirt, handling oils, and bacteria surface contaminants (found on both conventional and organically grown produce).

And it doesn’t leave any taste or odor behind. Check out these photos comparing produce washed in water vs. those sprayed or washed with Honest Fruit & Veggie Wash.

Water-versus-Fruit-and-Veggie-Wash-Broccoli

Learn more about Honest Fruit & Veggie Wash and how easy it is to use.

BONUS:  Try Honest products for free and also get 40% off your first purchase by entering Honest40 at checkout.  Valid for first-time US & Canada customers only.  Expires on April 30, 2014.

Make the Swap to Non-Toxic Cleaning Products (+ Giveaway!)

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For the longest time, many of us used typical household cleaning products without thinking twice about what nasty chemicals we might be adding to our indoor air. (Perhaps a hint was how many of us had to hold our breath when cleaning!) Turns out, most household cleaning products are full of irritants that you don’t want to breathe or get on your skin.

Whether you love cleaning or not, it’s something we all to do keep our homes looking nice and feeling comfortable and we want to know we’re making our environment safer and cleaner. But cleaning with toxic chemicals actually adds pollutants to our home, so perhaps we’re eliminating bacteria but the trade-off is adding irritants and carcinogens to our environment. With non-toxic cleaning products you can keep your surfaces and air clean and safe!

Honest is continuously expanding its line of cleaning products. For those of us who enjoy cleaning (or at least enjoy lounging in a clean house when we’re done!), we’ve come up with some non-toxic DIY solutions, too.

But first, let’s break down some of the harmful ingredients in the most popular cleaners:

The nasty chemicals in typical cleaning products include fragrances (serious toxins!), VOCs, dyes, formaldehyde, and many more substances that are harmful to humans and the environment. Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned an independent study of 20 popular cleaning products from five companies. The analysis shows there were harmful chemicals in many of these products, and sometimes the manufacturer didn’t even list those chemicals on the product (like allergens in fragrance-free products). Check out what else is in some popular cleaning products:

Popular glass cleaners may contain:

2-Hexoxyethanol- A cleaning agent link to central nervous system depression and is an upper respiratory irritant.

Sodium C14-17 Sec-Alkyl Sulfonate- A wetting agent that is hazardous to the environment and an irritant to skin and eyes.

2-Butoxyethanol- Confirmed animal carcinogen. Irritant for human’s eyes, skin, and lungs.

Popular all-purpose sprays may contain:

Phthalates – Even at very low doses, phthalates can cause hormone disruption and reproductive harm including birth defects.

Toluene – Toluene exposure has been linked to pregnancy complications, birth defects and developmental delays in children.

Ethanolamine – Human skin and respiratory irritant. Limited evidence of gastrointestinal or liver toxicity.

Popular wood polish/oil may contain:

Trisodium NTA – This corrosive substance causes injury to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It’s a possible human carcinogen.

Formaldehyde – Known human carcinogen. Respiratory and skin allergen.

Swap Out Guide

Considering what you now know about all the nasty chemicals in typical cleaning products, we bet you’re eager to swap those old cleaners out with new, non-toxic ones. Give your cleaning supplies cabinet a makeover with safe products like the ones below in this cleaning makeover guide.

 

Instead of typical glass cleaner use:

cleaning makeover glass

Honest Glass + Window Cleaner contains: water, alcohol denat. (corn-derived solvent), caprylyl/myristyl, glucoside (plant-based surfactant), acetic acid (plant-based vinegar).

(You can read about the ingredients we use, as well as some we don’t, and why in our Ingredients 101 series every Wednesday.)

 

Instead of typical dish washing soap use:

cleaning makeover dish soap

Honest Dish Soap contains: purified water, cocamidopropyl betaine (coconut-based cleanser), sodium coco-sulfate (coconut-based cleanser), cocamidopropylamine oxide (coconut-based cleanser), phenoxyethanol (pH-sensitive preservative), methylisothiazolinone (preservative), litsea cubeba oil, citrus limonum (lemon) peel oil, canarium luzonicum gum oil.

 

Instead of typical all-purpose cleaner use: 

cleaning makeover multipurpose

Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner contains: Purified water, sodium coco sulfate (coconut-based cleanser), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), phenoxyethanol (pH-sensitive preservative), citrus grandis oil (N.O.P. certified organic grapefruit oil), PPG-4 laureth/Myreth-5 (coconut-based cleanser), alcohol (fermented from corn sugars), methylisothiazolinone (preservative).

 

Instead of typical toilet cleaner use: 

cleaning makeover toilet

Honest Toilet Cleaner contains: Water, citric acid (plant-based pH regulator), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), gluconic acid (plant-based pH regulator), xanthan gum (natural viscosity enhancer), potassium sorbate (plant-based preservative), lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil.

 

Instead of typical bathroom cleaner use: 

cleaning makeover bthroom

Honest Bathroom Cleaner contains: water, ethyl alcohol (fermented from corn sugar), caprylyl/myristyl glucoside (plant-based cleanser), sodium gluconate (plant-based water-softener), sodium citrate (plant-based water-softener), potassium sorbate (plant-based preservative), citric acid (plant- based pH regulator), aloe barbadensis (aloe) leaf juice, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil, mentha arvensis (wild mint) leaf oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil.

 

You can also make your own cleaners with things in your pantry:

  • To remove mildew from a shower curtain, apply a paste of baking soda and a small amount of water, scrub with a brush.

  • To remove grease stains from cloth pour boiling water over the stain. For non-washable cloth, mix cornstarch, baking soda, and a small amount of water to form a paste. Apply to a grease stain and brush off when dry.

  • To naturally deodorize air without using a generic freshening spray, which typically contain all sorts of things you don’t want to breath, like phthalates and synthetic fragrances. In The Honest Life, Jessica Alba recommends mixing vodka with a few drops of essential oil and putting the mixture in a spray bottle. Vodka contains ethyl alcohol, which absorbs odors.

  • For alcohol, coffee, and tea stains, mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 1/3 cup water, dab onto stain with a clean rag and wipe off.

  • To remove a tough fabric stain or carpet stain try mixing our liquid laundry soap with water and using a clean toothbrush to scrub the stain out. Wipe clean with a wet cloth.

  • Clean copper pots with lemons and salt, or cover in ketchup and scrub with a scouring pad.

  • To clean stains from glass cookware, soak in a mixture of hot water and baking soda for about 20 minutes then scrub clean.

What are your safe cleaning tricks and tips? Also, we’d love to know which Honest cleaning products are your favorites! Tell us in the comments!

Giveaway

To enter to win this Cleaning Products Giveaway, simply enter a comment by using the Rafflecopter entry form below telling us how you’re honestly going non-toxic with your household cleaning products. You also have the option (although not required) to earn two bonus entries by liking our Facebook page and subscribing to our blog. No purchase is necessary to enter to win. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. The giveaway will run until 11:59 pm PST Tuesday, February 18th.  One winner will be chosen at random. Read the complete giveaway rules to participate.

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