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Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
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Wool Blanket Marked “Mothproof”

Question from Eugenia

bot in thrift store.
label states:

65% new wool
35% reprocessed wool

looks in good condition  – cant judge age of blanket – has one small tear on an edge.

I want to cut it  up for mini blankets to put in Catio (indoor/outdoor)  cat beds for extra warmth this winter .

Should I wash it first (& with what?) or might it be safe for cats as is?

My research does show blankets can be washed with Woolite and rinsed with white vinegar.

But nowhere does it say it might be a problem for warm cat  or dog beds.  Also my daughter buys wool sweaters etc at thrift stores for catsbeds for the Hobo cats shelters and her indoor cats too.  (She lives in cold mountain area.)   We always washed first.


Lisa’s Answer

Pesticides can be applied to wool for mothproofing.  There are several commercial mothproofing chemicals available but most have low toxicity.  Read more here.  They are designed so that they do not wash out but if they are many years old it is likely that they have diminished.

Safe Bakeware

Question from Reenie

My niece wants to buy her mom new cake baking pans.  She wants to buy some sort of coated copper bakewear. Is there some writeup in Q & A that you could point me to that reviews best green bake ware.  Thank you!


Lisa’s Answer

There are several types of bakeware listed in Debra’s List.  I personally bake with Graniteware and Pyrex glassware.

Elevated VOCs

Question from Kristen

We have lived in our home for 10 years. My daughter is now 18 and her health has steadily and drastically gone downhill over the same time period. She has been seen by every specialist you can think of but they’ve all been stumped. It recently occurred to me that maybe our house was the problem so I bought an air quality test on Amazon. The report came back that we have very elevated levels of VOCs, particularly those from flooring, coating and cabinets. We never open windows due to allergies, which now seems like a bad idea.  I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start to eliminate these VOCs as quickly as possible. I did buy a couple Vornado air purifiers to get started. Specific advice or steps to take would be most welcome. My poor daughter has missed all of high school (had to actually drop out) and most of the past 10 years.  I’m pretty desperate to help her. Thank you.


Lisa’s Answer

I’m sorry it has been such a struggle.  It sounds like you need a great deal of help.  I recommend you contact Debra for a paid consultation or reach out to an indoor air quality specialist who can better pinpoint where the sources of emissions are in your home.

Safe Toys

Question from Shelley

I would like to get some Peppa Pig play sets for my granddaughter. I wrote to the company about materials, and this is the response I got:
“Thank you for contacting Jazwares LLC and for your interest in our products.  All of our toys comply with CPSA standards as required by law.  We also have the COC (Certificate of Compliance) Tests results posted on our website  You do have to have an item number to check the COC on that item.  Having said that, I hope this helps and answers your questions.”
I’m not sure what this means, and I’d love your perspective on their toys.  Thank you in advance.


Lisa’s Answer

The company is in compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for children’s products, which limits phthalates and lead, and provides other safety guidelines.  This does not necessarily mean that the toys are totally free of lead and phthalates but rather that they fall below the limits set by CPSIA.  Jazwares provides documentation of compliance but does not disclose the materials in the toys.  They look to be made of plastic.
There are clearly more natural toys on the market but I can’t really tell you more about this item without more information.  I contacted them and they repeatedly sent me back to the website which only shows the documented compliance with government regulations.


Question from Sheryl

My daughter got some earings that come with a warning that says this product may expose you to chemicals such as nickle and cyanide which are know in the state of California to cause cancer, etc. Would you be concerned or is this just one of those Prop 65 warnings that has to be labeled?


Lisa’s Answer

Nickel is an allergen, with approximately 10-20% of the population effected.  If she does not get a rash from it, it’s probably fine.  The cyanide is probably from electroplating.  Is it silver-plated?  Cyanide is used in the electroplating process.  It is likely only in trace amounts and probably okay.  All of that said, earrings made of surgical stainless steel, platinum, titanium or 14k gold are best.
Also, you did not mention the age of your daughter.  If she is young, you might want to check with your pediatrician.

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Photo by Nynne Schrøder on Unsplash

I’ve put together a list of holiday gift ideas for friends, family, and for yourself.  Most of these items are ones I own or plan to buy.  Please leave a comment if you have additional ideas to share!


Hostess Gifts/Stocking Stuffers


KeepCup Glass Travel Mugs 

A great alternative to plastic or stainless steel travel mugs.  They are made from tempered glass and have an option for a natural cork band for gripping.  The lid is plastic (food-grade polypropylene and polyethylene) but the beverage only passes quickly through that part.


Dryer Balls 

Use these in place of fabric softeners and dryer sheets.  Made from 100% New Zealand wool and free of chemicals.  Trader Joe’s also sells a version of these.


Beeswax Wrap

These wraps come in a variety of sizes.  They are made with GOTS organic cotton and dipped in beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin.  They are a great alternative to plastic wrap and bags.  Trader Joe’s also sell a version of these and they also have beeswax bags.


Urthware Cutting Board

This company makes premium cutting boards and cooking utensils from solid, untreated maple.  They don’t use any glues or chemicals.  Even the feet on the cutting boards are made from natural rubber.  These are built to last!


Kleen Kanteen Tumbler with Straw

Unless you have a nickel sensitivity, stainless steel is a good choice for drinking water.  Kleen Kanteen has been a favorite of mine but I’ve long wished for a non-plastic cap that doesn’t need to be unscrewed so I can use it while cycling.  This fits the bill and can be used for hot as well as cold beverages.  I will remove the silicone tip since I will only be using it for cold water.


For the Home and Car


Molekule Air Mini

This is a new, smaller version of the powerful Molekule Air Purifier.  It’s made for rooms up to 250 square feet, so it’s perfect for a small bedroom or office.  The mini version is made of a medical grade polycarbonate unlike the full-size version which is made of aluminum.  If you are particularly sensitive this might not work for you.  It’s currently is on sale for $319.


Atem Car Air Purifier

A mini version of the IQAir Purifer designed for your car.  Research shows that over 275 chemicals can be present in your car at any given time.  This powerful unit removes 99% of particle pollutants and adsorbs odor and gas molecules.


The Citizenry Rugs

A beautiful selection of chemical-free rugs.  These rugs are made of wool or cotton, with no backing.  A few of the rugs have no dyes and those that are dyed use natural vegetable and animal dyes.  There are no post-production chemicals used.  Please note, they also sell a few animal skin rugs.  I don’t recommend animal skin rugs in general because of the many chemicals used in the tanning process.


Chemex Glass Coffee Maker

This is a one-piece poor-over coffee maker, made of heat-resistant glass.  Use it with Chemex unbleached filters.


Silicone Placemats

A beautiful selection of FDA food-grade silicone placemats.  I don’t recommend cooking with silicone products because there is evidence that they may leach at high temperatures.  As a placemat, the material is safe to use.  They are easy to clean and last for years.  They have a 20% off sale for the holidays.


For Her


Coyuchi Pajamas

These are the most comfortable GOTS certified, organic cotton pajamas that I have ever owned.


Henry Rose Fragrances

I gave up using fragrances years ago because of the lack of transparency around their chemical ingredients. This is the first EWG Verified fragrance.  While they do use synthetic ingredients, they are fully transparent about what they use.  The scents are sophisticated and on par with high-end products.  They sell a sample pack for $20.  This is probably not appropriate for those with chemical sensitivities but perfect for someone who wants a safer alternative to traditional fragrances.


For Him


Organic Latex Travel Pillow  

My husband is getting two of these because he is always leaving things behind on airplanes.  This is the first travel pillow I have found that is made with GOLS certified latex and an organic cotton cover.


Kyrgies Wool Slippers

These are super comfortable house shoes made from felted wool.  You can add a soft, felted insert for extra comfort and support.  The soles are synthetic with a silicone grip but, overall, they are a much more natural choice than conventional slippers.


For the Kids


Nova Naturals Toys + Crafts

This is a unique selection of classic toys such as dolls, dollhouses, trucks, and crafts made from natural materials.  They are pricey, but one-of-a kind.


Natural Earth Paint

These natural, vegan paints are made from earth and mineral pigments.  They can be mixed with oil (we use walnut oil) and are surprisingly easy to use.


I haven’t included any items for teens, which reflects the fact that my two teenagers and I are at a stalemate when it comes to holiday gifts.  They don’t want anything that I want to buy and I don’t want to buy anything they want.  I don’t expect we will reach any common ground but I’ll keep you posted if we come up with any great compromises.

Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet Sprayer Replacement

Question from Miriam

Whew, that was a long title!  We need to replace ours, as the  part that pulls down has sprung a leak.  What ought one look for in this type of purchase?  It seems important as it will be in contact with our water.

I’ve found a few on Amazon that look decent – do these seem ok?

Lisa’s Answer

Both of these faucet heads are made of ABS plastic with a finish that looks like metal.  I would opt for a stainless steel head if you can find it.  You also want to make sure that it is certified lead-free and does not have any PVC parts.  It’s not clear whether these do or not.
The faucet head itself is not the only source of toxins in your faucet.  If the hose to which it is attached is lined with PVC or PET, it could leach.  You also want to make sure there is no lead in any of the other parts.  Overall, though, short of high levels of lead, I would not get too concerned over this one part.  For leaching to occur it needs to be in contact with the water for some time, but the water moves very quickly through the faucet.  The most important step is to make sure you have a high quality water filter.

Living Near Power Lines

Question from Stacey

We are currently looking to move to a new twin and have found two possible houses. The house that is closer to school and more convenient is situated near large power/transmission lines ( approx.  .25 mile away). I’ve called the town for more information, but since I do not own the house, they will only tell me that the wood poles will be converted to metal. What is your recommendation on living near power lines such as these?  I’m not sure what else to do…

Lisa’s Answer

I recommend you hire an EMF professional to work with you on this.  This is currently outside my area off expertise though I plan to get certified in the topic this summer.

Fiesta Dinnerware

Question from TG

Is Fiestaware (claim to have glazes free from lead and cadmium) safe to use in any color?  Historically, their famous red Fiestaware had uranium from  the ’30’s to the ’50’s.  They  are manufactured here in the USA and are beautiful.

Lisa’s Answer

All of the colors are lead free.  Here is a statement from the company on lead.
Not all colors are cadmium free. Here’s the list of cadmium-free colors (both retired and current): shamrock, chocolate, peacock, turquoise, cinnabar, plum, black, white, heather, lapis, sage, slate, cobalt, claret, mulberry.


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