Skip The Fabric Softeners

Using fabric softeners sounds like a no-brainer. These common laundry products promise soft, fresh-smelling clothes, free of static and wrinkles, along with less stretching, fading and pilling.

But in-wash fabric softeners and heat-activated dryer sheets pack a powerful combination of chemicals that can harm your health, damage the environment and pollute the air, both inside and outside your home.

Healthy Child Healthy World recommends skipping fabric softeners entirely. Here are the worst chemicals to watch for in your laundry basket – and what to use instead.

“Quats”

Quaternary ammonium compounds make clothes feel soft and wearable right out of the wash, but they’re known to trigger asthma and may be toxic to our reproductive systems.

Check labels and product websites for these ingredients: distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate or the vague terms “biodegradable fabric softening agents” and “cationic surfactant.” Avoid them all.

Fragrance

There are more than 3,000 fragrance ingredients in common household products – and scarcely any way to know what they are.

Your fabric softener may contain phthalates, which disperse the scent; synthetic musks such as galaxolide, which accumulate in the body; and much more. Fragrance mixes can cause allergies, skin irritations such as dermatitis, difficulty breathing and potential reproductive harm. Research indicates that scents also cause irritation when vented outdoors, especially for asthmatics and those sensitive to chemicals. Not worth it.

Preservatives and Colors

Like fragrance, the terms “preservatives” and “colors” or “colorants” on an ingredient label may refer to any number of chemicals. The most worrisome preservatives in fabric softeners include methylisothiazolinone, a potent skin allergen, and glutaral, known to trigger asthma and skin allergies. Glutaral (or glutaraldehyde) is also toxic to marine life. Among artificial colors, D&C violet 2 has been linked to cancer. Others may contain impurities that can cause cancer.

So skip fabric softeners and conditioners in any form – pellets, crystals, bars or single-dose packs. You won’t notice the difference.

Or you can try these ideas instead:

Try adding half a cup of distilled white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. Don’t worry: the smell doesn’t linger on clothes.
If you’re not line-drying, run the drying machine with just your clothes inside. (To reduce static, do not over-dry.) Not only do dryer sheets contain a variety of chemicals, but neither plant-based nor polyester types are reusable, creating extra waste.
Try 100 percent wool dryer balls. Makers of these solid balls of felted wool, or felted wool wrapped around a fiber core, say wool or its natural lanolin soften laundry and reduce static. Generally safe for sensitive skin and babies, the balls also lift and separate clothes in the dryer, shortening drying time and saving energy.You can buy ready-made balls or make your own with wool batting or wool yarn. Look for unscented versions and always be leery of essential oils, which can cause allergic reactions after just few contacts.

Is a Timber Frame Home Right For You?

When looking to build your own home there are several factors you must consider in order to complete your perfect home. After choosing a location and determining an overall budget for your project comes the hardest decision of them all. There is an infinite amount of styles one can select from in how they want their home build. One can go with a more traditional approach by choosing a stick frame style, and of course, there are brick homes and metal framed homes that give off a completely different feel. However, despite these styles, we’re going to be discussing one of the more innovative styles, that is the application of timber frame homes. Timber frame homes are built with mortise and tenon joints, which allow for an open, spacious layout and make for beautiful homes. Listed here are some of the most appealing features one can have if they choose to build a timber frame home.

Construction
Timber frame material is some of the lightest material one can use to construct a home. The materials light weight makes it much easier to hand. In addition to this, measurements for the material do not have to be perfect in order to render a perfect result due to the mortise and tenon joints. Applying sheetrock, plywood, and other materials comes at ease due to the versatility of the timber material. Compared to stick framing, infilling comes more naturally and is an overall quicker, more effective process. When adding masonry and cob and straw bales, these materials can be fit into any space. Combining these materials with timber frame materials that lock into place, the materials blend perfectly together, making a home that is well insulated and constructed on the inside.

Easy and Quick Construction
Compared to other building processes, expect a smooth transition when construction begins on your timber frame home. Due to their mortise and tenon joint assembly, the cutting and fitting of wood is much easier and can be done in house unlike most other homes that require on site cutting, By cutting materials inhouse, one does not need to worry about vandalism on site at night or when the home isn’t being built. Light weight timber helps workers move and put up materials faster compared to other types of wood and metal style homes.
Once the home’s skeleton is erected, applying sheetrock, plywood and other materials comes at ease due to the fact that the floorplan is open and easy to work with. Other methods of, such as infilling is easier because of the joint tenon method, making crevasses easier to reach and insulate.
Structure

Living in areas that are frequented by high winds and potentially destructive weather can definitely take a toll on the standing of you home, and in some cases can destroy some of all of it completely. Luckily, timber frame homes have proven themselves to be not only a lightweight and versatile material but one that is durable and resilient enough to earthquakes and heavy snow.

Eco-friendly
When it comes to ecological benefits, timber frame homes do not have a competitor that can compare. Timber frame homes provide some comfort and solace to the increase of manufacturing in tandem with the looming threat of global warming. The use of timber emboldens the growth of forests and both these materials work together to combat the spread of CO2, which helps reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. Due to the material being more natural and raw, less work is needed to produce a finished product requiring less CO2.

Aesthetics
Choosing timer instead of other building materials will leave give your home a natural beauty that other materials cannot match. Many US companies like Woodhouse are specialists in creating the most aesthetically pleasing homes that stone materials and more process driven manufacturers just cannot match. Naturally stressed and texted timber materials will give your home its own personal qualities not seen in any other home, making timber frame home a truly personalized feel.

5 Meditation Practices You Need to Know About

Meditation has come a long way since it first became popular in the West during the 1960s. Some of the most popular and effective methods are now backed by scientific evidence, showcasing the benefits meditation has on the body and our mental health. While meditation has been around for ages, only recently has it become a part of popular Western culture.

Currently in the modern world, there are five meditation practices that have stood the test of time. The reason for this is that they provide the most successful results, some of which can be felt after only one session. In this article, you’ll learn what these five methods are and how you can benefit from practicing them. Each of the techniques should be practiced for at least 20 minutes to have maximum impact.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness was developed to help us place our attention fully in the present moment. It doesn’t have a focus on spirituality; its sole purpose is to teach the student awareness of presence. What are the benefits of this? When we learn to become fully present, we can see our thoughts as separate from us, meaning we don’t have to engage with every one of them. Learning to watch negative thoughts come and go without harming us is one of the foundational principles of mindfulness.

Popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness teaches us to avoid secondary suffering. Secondary suffering is where we enhance our own pain by thinking about something negative that’s happened to us and then replaying it like a mental movie over and over again. Through developing mind awareness, we can learn to tune out secondary suffering and most negative thoughts, helping us to live in a happier, lighter and healthier state of being.

Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation was popularized by the Maharishi in the 1960s when he met The Beatles and taught it to them. The purpose of this method is to silence the mind and transcend to the source of all present-moment awareness. This is achieved through repeating a special mantra given to you by a qualified Transcendental Meditation teacher. The mantra is repeated internally in your mind, and you place your focus solely on your breath and the sounds of the mantra. When other thoughts arise, you let them be but do not engage with them.

After a while has passed, you will find your mind activity is very quiet and peaceful, and you will have transcended to the core of your being. This is the purpose of this technique. A certified Transcendental Meditation teacher is the only person qualified to teach you this method, as he or she knows what mantra is right for you and how to show you the process in its latest form with complete precision.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a fast-growing meditation method that provides a unique experience to most other techniques. Typically, it involves slow, mindful walking in nature, where the student can use her surroundings to anchor herself in the present moment. This technique can be great for beginners to meditation as the grounding apparatus is very influential because your senses are far more active. You feel the wind and air passing across your face and the contact between your feet and the ground.

This method is typically practiced on nature walks; however, you can use it wherever you wish as long as you feel comfortable in your environment. Meditation teaches us that anything can be used as an anchor into the present moment; therefore, this particular technique could even be used in a busy city center!

Mantra Meditation

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra meditation uses a word or series of words repeated over and over again to quiet the mind. Mantras can be repeated aloud or internally depending on your environment and how comfortable you are with chanting out loud. There are hundreds of different mantras all with different meanings.

Mantra meditation is typically practiced while sitting in a meditative pose, using slow relaxing breaths. The same principle applies as for most meditation methods where you allow everything to be just as it is in the moment. Thoughts and distractions will arise, but the trick is to know that that’s okay. Let everything be as it is, and simply focus on your mantra. You’ll find that if you concentrate on the process of mantra meditation, all distractions will melt away naturally over time.

Mala Bead Meditation
This meditation method involves using mala beads. Mala beads are usually made out of wood but can also come in the form of precious gemstones. An authentic mala bead necklace has 108 beads. The student is supposed to count each bead using a mantra. The entire mantra is repeated on each single bead, meaning the mantra is stated in its entirety 108 times. Mala meditation should be done slowly with deep breaths. Once you reach the end of the beads on the necklace, you’ll find that your mind activity has decreased and you’re in a state of peacefulness and contentment.

Overall, these five methods have proven themselves to be the kings of the world of meditation. You can learn more details about each of them online via YouTube videos, blogs, and other sources.

After learning more about these techniques online, you may wish to take things further and deepen your meditational practices. The best way to do so is to seek out a teacher who’s experienced in your chosen method and learn directly from him or her.