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Totally Non-Toxic Harwood Floors


Question from Marcia

Hi Debra,

My home has two levels. The upstairs and stairs have subfloor, but the downstairs has a concrete slab. I would love to install solid hardwood, but I can’t figure out what would work for the whole house. I wouldn’t mind nailing, but that won’t work over the concrete slab on the lower level. I’m too afraid to use glue. I want it to be zero VOC and totally non-toxic. My daughter spends all her time playing in the floor (and puts her hands in her mouth a lot, so tile is out).

Have you or any of your readers seen info on Timberclick? I can only find them at vendor websites, not their own website. They also seem to have some bad reviews.

Am I missing another install option that could work? I really want to replace the carpet (which was installed in 1996).

Debra’s Answer

I’ve just recently discovered that click flooring can be nontoxic. I can’t speak for all click flooring, but I’ve found two that I would install in my own home.

One is cork and I would have to find out the brand. But it is made in Europe, where they have different standards than we do in the USA. I had the sample in my office for several weeks and no problems.

But the other is a product called Home Legend Click Lock Hardood Flooring , which you can buy at Home Depot.

It’s called harwood flooring, which is misleading because it’s not hardwood through and through, but it’s nontoxic. I was surprised.

It is made of an engineered wood called High Density Fiberboard (HDF) with a hardwood veneer on top. I know this sounds toxic, but it’s not. HDF is made only from wood lignins steamed together with hot water and very high pressure. The hardwood is aptly named. It is VERY hard.

I have had a sample sitting on my desk for several weeks with no problems.

I’m considering putting this flooring in my entire tiny house that I am building. It’s only $1.98 per square foot. Which is ibky $560 for 280 square feet instead of $1500 for cork.

Again I’m not saying all click flooring is made of hardwood, or that all click flooring is not toxic, but this one seems really good.

And there’s no adhesive. You just lay it yourself over your existing subfloor (you may need to seal your subfloor first depending on what it’s made of).

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Shoes for women and men made with exceptional craftsmanship and materials. “In 2004 FEIT [fight] was born as a response—an evolution of consumerism and production that moves away from volume and excess, and towards quality and sustainability. FEIT footwear is built for longevity, from natural materials via human construction. All FEIT footwear is hand sewn and hand lasted by a master shoe maker. Few makers are skilled enough to produce footwear in this manner, hence only limited numbers can be produced…FEIT adheres to a strict policy of using biological materials and natural treatments whenever possible. Natural materials breathe, patina and become one with the wearer. Materials page. Zero Toxics Matrix A+ Rating

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These shoes for men are a cut above ordinary shoes. Their about page starts with this quote “A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” Made from vegetable tanned leather, there are many styles and colors to choose from…you can customize any pair and even design your own! About the leather. Zero Toxics Matrix A Rating

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District Leathers

Vegetable-tanned hides for creating your own leather projects. In addition to the vegetable tans link here, also see the “cow hides” and lamb hides” menus and choose “vegetable tans.” See their very informative Leather Buying Guide . Free swatches. “Vegetable tanned leathers are tanned using strictly organic materials such as tree bark. They possess warm deep colors. As veg-tan leather ages, it absorbs the light, oils, and air that it is exposed to which cause their colors to become more rich.” Zero Toxics Matrix A Rating

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Etsy Vendors of Vegetable-Tanned Leather Purses

I had to include this because there are so many small artisans now working with vegetable-tanned leather that it was a joy for me to see their creations. You’ll find unusual designs here as well as traditional classics. Note the country items are shipped from as they are not all use. But here’s where you’ll find vegetable-tanned leather purses and accessories at prices well below other sources. Note: This is a search results page on Etsy for “vegetable-tanned leather purses.” Try reaching on “vegetable0tanned leather for other items. Zero Toxics Matrix A Rating

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Eating “Plant-to-Mouth” From My Organic Garden

I started out last year with this tiny garden outside my office door. I took this photo yesterday morning after cleaning out the weeds. All these plants are from last year. Those purple flowers to the left are chive blossoms, several varieties of strawberries, Santa Barbara daisies (not edible but pretty). There’s another barrel with last year’s potatoes popping up again and a pomegranate tree, plus more over by the motorhome we are turning into a tiny house.


I spend a lot of time writing about how we can choose consumer products that are made without toxic chemicals, but “toxic-free” also includes doing and making thing yourself without toxics. Such as organic gardening.

This year we had a lot of rain, so my little garden is popping with plants I planted last year.

I’ve got chive blossoms ready to eat right now. English peas I planted earlier this year are about to give a harvest. Strawberry plants are sending out runners and the new plants are about twice the size of the original plants and already producing flowers. The two raspberry canes planted last year have produced so many new plants we have been digging them up and replanting because they are overflowing the barrel.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The Earth laughs flowers.” Today I am saying, “Here in my garden, the Earth is laughing vegetables and fruits!”

I’m fortunate to have Larry and his mom and a brother and a sister—all experienced gardeners—and enough fertile soil that we can each garden to our hearts content. This morning there was a large basket of java beans just harvested that I think we’re having for dinner.

Next weekend we’re going to some wonderful plant nurseries where we can buy heirloom seedings for edible plants. I can’t wait!

As I was walking around my garden, looking forward to pulling raspberries and tomatoes right off the plants and into my mouth I suddenly thought, “Oh, the next step after farm-to-table is plant-to-mouth!” I can hardly wait to do that in a few days when the peas pop. Fresh English peas with chive blossoms right out of my hand.

Pea pods in my garden are about to burst open with peas!


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Is Silicone Inherently Antibacterial?

Question from Jennifer

Hi Debra,

Does anyone know if silicone touted as antibacterial and antimicrobial is that way because it is naturally a deterrent or if it is treated with a chemical? And if treated with a chemical to be antibacterial, is it inert in silicone in the final product?

I can’t find any information online about it at all for non medical products. For example I’m looking at buying a silicone dish drying mat because the cloth ones just get moldy fast and they all seem to say they are antimicrobial, but I can’t determine why, if it is a natural byproduct of being silicone or if treated like so many things are now.

If my dishes that eat off of will be touching I was wondering if I should be concerned. Thanks!

Debra’s Answer

Antibacterials is a big subject and antibacterials can range in toxic effect from silver having virtually no health effects to triclosan, which is known to be an endocrine disruptor and cause skin and breast cancer, among other health effects. There is even now an antimicrobial made from peppermint oil, so whenever you see the word “antimicrobial,” you need to find out the specific antimicrobial that has been used.

Antibacterials may be widely used and not on the label, for they can be used to prevent the deterioration of plastics, for example, which would not be on the label because it’s not a selling point for consumers. Again, the antimicrobial may be perfectly harmless or have health effects.

With regards to your question as to whether silicone is inherently antibacterial or whether a chemical is added, I would say from looking at online search results that silicone is NOT inherently antibacterial because additives exist to make silicone antibacterial for specific uses.

Would the antibacterial leach from the silicone? Well, depending on what form the antibacterial comes in, it would likely bind to the silicone and not be released. But again, we don’t know the antibacterial or the form it is in, or its toxicity.

I’m using my best logic here, based on my understanding, not on tests.

I always apply the Precautionary Principle, which is, when in doubt, don’t use it.

This is another example of why there needs to be improved labeling that reveals what all the materials are.

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Ant Invasion in Home


Question from Caroline

Hi Debra,

My home is prone to ants; and this time , as well as regular foundation spraying with Termidor, and placing advion ant bait in heavily infested areas within the home 3 x over the past month, it has been over a month that the ants invade the master bath daily to the point of being unusable. Usual spraying of vinegar and water, sprinkling black pepper or cinnamon was to no avail. I had to call in a professional exterminator who is trying to work with me because of MCS.

Debra’s Answer

I’m going to say something that may sound obvious, but have you tried filling the holes where they come into the house?

This has been my tried-and-true method for controlling ants for almost 40 years and it always works. I even did it when I lived in an apartment building in San Francisco. All the other units were sprayed for ants, but I wouldn’t let them in my unit and did this instead. Even with the spraying the other units had ants. Mine was the only one that did not.

All you need is a bottle of Elmer’s White Glue and a damp sponge.

Trace the line of incoming ants back to where they are coming into your house and make note of the spot. Then wipe up the ants with the sponge. Fill in the hole with Elmer’s Glue. Then go to the next entrance and do the same.

The ants will continue to find new ways to get in until you’ve sealed all the holes. Then you will never have an ant problem again.

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