Great Customer Service from Seventh Generation

Message sent to Seventh Generation question box, via their website:

The dishwasher packs have been reformulated, and now come in a resealable bag.

Hello, this isn’t a question, but unfortunately a complaint.

I have been thrilled with so many of the Seventh Generation products, from diapers to laundry soap, so I was disappointed to find that the Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Packs were terrible. (SKU# 732913227907 and box code of AF 09050 xxxxxxx 1)

I bought these at Walgreens in the spring, hoping for something to throw in alongside the SG automatic dish detergent when I had an especially dirty load. However, the granules in the packs only seemed to get baked onto all of my dishes! I still have most of the box of packets, which I tried to take back to Walgreens, but it seems that I bought it just before they discontinued and deleted it from their system and they can’t refund it now.

So I wanted you to know that this product does not do as promised on the front of the box: “Gets Dishes Sparkling Clean”.
Thank you for your time,
Bronwyn Deiter
cleangreenstart.wordpress.com

 

Reply from Seventh Generation:

Hi Bronwyn,

I was sorry to hear of the less than stellar experience you had with our dishwasher pacs. I am sorry for the inconvenience & extra washing they caused you.

When you mentioned a box of dishwasher pacs, I said to myself “oh no, those are old.” The lot code you provided indicates the box was manufactured in 2009. The dishwasher pacs have been reformulated since 2009 & now come in a plastic see-through, resealable pouch.

I would be happy to compensate you for the dishwasher pacs. Do you prefer a voucher for a free dishwashing product or a refund? In either case, I will need your mailing address. In the case of a refund, I will also need to know how much you paid.

And now for the reason why you were using the dishwasher pacs … if you have an especially dirty load, I recommend you add a bit more detergent than usual. I suppose that is what you were actually doing when you added the dishwasher pacs but because they were old, they didn’t work well at all. The American Cleaning Institute (a website that is a treasure trove of info … http://www.cleaninginstitute.org) recommends you use dishwasher powders/pacs within 2 months of purchase, otherwise they can cause small particles (food or detergent) to be left behind. If you do a search on their website using the word “dishwasher,” you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about dishwasher problems & their causes.

Thank you for purchasing our products and giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. I will look for your reply about the voucher or refund.

Deb Lane
Customer Service
www.seventhgeneration.com

 

My Reply:

Hi Deb,

Thanks so much for your thorough reply, and offer of compensation. A voucher is best for me, as that will save me from digging out my receipt. I have been quite happy with the liquid automatic dishwashing soap, and would love to just replace it with that.

Thank you again,
Bronwyn Deiter

Organic Diet Step 1: Oils and Fats

When making a clean green start in your diet, the most important place to start (in regards to your health) is with the oils/fats you consume.

Clean Starts

  • Change from margerine and conventional butter to organic butter or imported grassfed butter (Kerrygold) (conventional butter was listed recently on a list of top ten most toxic foods, yet organic butter has been consumed liberally by some of the healthiest people groups on the planet)
  • Change from hydrogenated oils (crisco, deep frying, or in prepared baked goods) to organic coconut oil, organic palm oil, organic butter, or organic lard/tallow
  • Change from vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil) to olive, coconut, peanut, and sesame oils for low heat sauteeing, or use walnut, olive, avocado, or flaxseed oils for salad dressings (all organic cold pressed)
  • Supplement Cod Liver Oil and Flax Seed Oil for essential fatty acids, and inflammation reducing Omega 3 oils (buy from a company which tests CLO for purity, and keep oils in the refrigerator and use quickly as they become rancid easily)
  • When thinking of oils and fats, remember that most prepared and processed foods have some type of fat in them. Read labels so that you can avoid toxic fats such as hydrogenated oils and vegetables oils heated to high temperatures. Even at cool temperatures, long shelf lives of some prepared foods mean that good fats have gone rancid before you open the box.

Buying Tips

When buying oils, look for glass containers, as plastic leaches into oils/fats at a much higher rate than even into water based foods. Colored glass is best, as light will cause oils to become rancid as well as heat.

Trader Joes has an excellent price on quality/organic butter, and a good price on organic olive oil. I have found the best price on organic olive oil at the Grocery Outlet, although it can be hit and miss.

Tropical Traditions is an excellent source for organic coconut and palm oils, with the best price being a large order to split with friends. In the the Portland are, the Alberta Co-Op is a good place for this quality and price on coconut oil.

The Why

Bad oils are toxic for the body, as they:

  • contain concentrated amounts of pesticides and other toxic and hormone disrupting chemicals
  • contain improper balances/deficiencies of omega fats (good, inflammation reducing fats)
  • have already been damaged molecularly by high heat (or will be if you cook them)
  • soy, corn, and canola oils lead the pack in tons of pesticides and bleaching agents used in production

In contrast, Good Oils are health promoting, as they:

  • Allow us to absorb the important fat soluable vitamins from our food and the sun (vitamins A, D, E, K)
  • Allow us to absorb the minerals in our foods (mineral deficiency is common, with obesity/cravings an indicator of body need)
  • Give a wonderful sense of satiety and slow carbohydrate/sugar absorption which helps to avoid blood sugar spikes and leaves you fuller on less

In recent years, the vegetable oil lobbys have “framed” butter and other natural saturated fats as unhealthy. Don’t believe the propaganda…it is for their profits, not your health. You can get the real story at the Weston A Price foundation.

Finding Local Organic Food

Local farms across the US, as illustrated on localharvest.com

Having a hard time finding local

produce, dairy, and meat?

Try these sites:

www.localharvest.org

www.realmilk.com

www.eatwellguide.org

www.localdirt.com

www.rodaleinstitute.org/farm_locator

www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/farmersmarkets

Once you find a local farm on one of these sites, visit it, and get to know the owners. Ask about their growing practices to see if you ar comfortable with eating the food. Even if they regularly sell at Farmers Markets, you may be able to negotiate a better deal directly at the farm, especially if you offer to pick up your produce at a time during the week which helps out their harvest production, or if you’re willing to take the “ugly” produce.

AND . . . Keep your eyes pealed as you drive through the rural areas of your county. In my area, there are many people with large gardens/small farms who sell their excess at the roadside for several weeks or months of the year. This is truly how I’ve discovered most of my farms. Most of them don’t advertise on the internet for fear of too much traffic.

In the map above, you can see that farms follow population. If you live in Nebraska, you may have a hard time finding a local farm, and you will have to grow your favorite varieties of vegetables yourself if you want them fresh and organic (ready made greenhouses can extend the growing season for colder climates).

Local food is seasonal. You can’t expect to get raspberries from a farm in January (at least not in the Northwest!), and you might not even be able to get chicken eggs at that time of year.

So freeze the produce you can in season, and when it’s not in season and/or you run low, look for large bags of organic frozen veggies at places like Costco and Grocery Outlet. Trader Joes has small bags of frozen veggies for prices that compete with the bulk prices of the warehouses. This is a great way to find organic spinach, green beans, broccoli, corn, and more year round.

Affording Organic Food

In a comment on another post, a reader stated: “As much as I try to buy organic, it is so expensive and not widely available.”

This is so true, but we can be glad to see organic food becoming more available, and there are ways to save with organic food. My top five recommendations:

  1. Bulk up your diet with veggies; organic or conventional veggies which are low on the pesticide list (see my Consumer Wallet Guides). Veggies, whether cooked or raw/salads, are naturally cheap fillers, and good for you! Buy in season when available (super cheap from local farmers/big gardeners), and frozen when not in season.
  2. Stop buying expensive, unhealthy snacks, deserts, and sodas, and instead choose smaller portion snacks of organic or natural yogurt, nuts, fruit, homemade muffins. When your grocery cart is a quarter full of crackers, chips, cookies, ice cream, and sweet drinks, you can bet about 1/3-1/2 of your grocery budget is going to these items, which aren’t even part of your meals! Choose filtered water with lemon or lime over sweet drinks, and then “treat” yourself occasionally to an Italian Soda made from Mineral Water and a 100% juice from a trusted brand (like Knudsons). Keep deserts for special times, like birthdays, and then make or get something REALLY good from the best ingredients.
  3. With the grocery money freed up by eating more veggies and buying less snacks, deserts, and drinks, invest in better meat and dairy products. Grassfed meats are best, and it is possible to buy a half or quarter beef, lamb, or hog for your freezer directly from a farmer for a great price per pound. If you can’t buy grassfed, look for free range chickens, and organic or natural beef at Trader Joes which has good prices. Always buy seafood wild caught; watch for sales.As far as dairy: always buy rBST free, and try to find grassfed or organic. Many artisan cheeses, some from Europe, are superior even to organic US dairy in that they are grassfed. Again, the Trader Joes prices are amazing for both cheeses and milk/cream/butter/sour cream, etc. One good option, if you have the ability, is to buy good milk/cream and culture your own yogurt/kefir/sour cream. Since we are a big smoothie family, we save about $15 each week because I culture 2 gallons of milk into kefir and yogurt, rather than buying those products ready made.
  4. The best diet for most people is heavy in veggies, meats, fruits, with some dairy and nuts (if you have no allergies to those foods). Grains and legumes can be good additions/fillers if they are properly prepared, however, most Westerners have far too much of these bulking complex carbs in our diets, and our waistlines are proof. However, they can be good fillers if you find you are too hungry without them. If you buy them in bulk (dry) and prepare them from scratch at home they should be super cheap even when organic.
  5. Shop Smart:
  • Buy directly from a farm or grow your own. This is often cheaper, and you’ll know where (and who) your food comes from.
  • Shop at Trader Joes: they often have the best prices around.
  • Compare prices on the internet (research sources), and with Co-Op buying.
  • Check out Grocery Outlet for clearance prices on natural dairy, organic olive oil and some other shelf items, as well as personal care products (always read lables!!). Conventional stores (Safeway and Fred Meyer in my area) often have organic items on clearance in the bins near the back of the store/warehouse door, and clearance stickers on refrigerated items in the cold cases (near to expiration date items should be used immediately or frozen). Pair with a coupon for a great deal (see below).
  • Become acquainted with Couponing Strategy, as shared/taught/blogged in many blogs. My favorite is frugallivingnw.com. The basic idea is to use a coupon on a product which is on sale to get a great deal. Although most of the deals are for conventional products, there are coupons and deals to be had for organic products. Many organic coupons are for items in the snacks/crakers/prepared foods category, so these coupons aren’t the best way to save (just stop buying those expensive foods, as discussed in point 2). But even still, there are valuable coupons to be had, and steal-of-a-deals to be scored. Hint: go to organicvalley.coop to register for dairy coupons, and to seventhgeneration.com to register for household product coupons. Then hang on to your coupons until a great sale comes up, and stock up for a few months. (No, I am not advocating extreme couponing, and neither do the blog sites.)

12 Easy [Painful and Expensive] Steps to an Organic Diet!

OK, so the title of this post is a joke. Of course going completely organic (from a conventional diet) isn’t going to be easy. Yeah, painful and expensive might be more like it.

And overwhelming. I remembered wondering Where do I start? So to make it easi-er for you, I have put together a list of what to change first in your pantry and diet, as well as some tips on what to look for when you shop and where to get good prices.

What to Change First In Your Pantry

  1. Oils and Fats
  2. Dairy
  3. Eggs
  4. Meats and Fish
  5. Water and Beverages
  6. Flours and Grains
  7. Fruit
  8. Vegetables
  9. Sweeteners
  10. Nuts and Legumes
  11. Salt and Spices
  12. Vinegars and Condiments

I realize that some people may reorder these priorities, particularly the first 4, as they are all so important. But I’m fairly comfortable listing them in this order; I’ll explain as we dive into the details.

1

In each of these categories, the first principle is to eat only what is food. This may seem obvious, until we realize that non-foods are added to many items in the forms of:

  • MSG
  • fake sweeteners
  • synthetic food colorings
  • hydrogenated fats
  • hydrolyzed proteins
  • propylene glycol (antifreeze)
  • and probably anything you can’t pronounce

An easy way to begin changing from products with these additives is to begin your weekly marketing at a “health food” type store, such as Whole Foods or Trader Joes (my favorite), since they generally carry products made with only food. Wow, what a concept.

2

The second principle is to focus on what you consume the most of, and what is most toxic. That’s where these 12 steps really come into play.

3

The third principle is to begin the switch to whole and properly prepared rather than refined. We hear the term “whole” a lot in relation to food, but not enough emphasis is placed upon proper preparation, which can either enhance or destroy the nutritional value of the food.

I’ll be posting this introduction post in as a page at the top of the page, and then link on each category as I write so you can refer back at your leisure.

Food Makeover

Does your pantry look like this?

(And I’m not talking about crowded or unorganized, but the foods in it.)

And maybe your doctor, or your friend, or your nutritionist, or your conscience has recently told you that you need to change over to healthier eating. But maybe you are overwhelmed?

If so, take heart.

My pantry looked similar to this a few years ago, and I have made significant changes to the pantry and our diet, even as a busy mom with a limited budget. Remember the CleanGreenStart Approach:

  • Start because every change to a healthier product is a step in the right direction
  • Read labels, including ingredients and processing info for food
  • Replace the most toxic products immediately as your budget will allow, but commit to change over the rest as you use up/repurchase them

In the coming weeks (months?) I’ll be adding tips on switching out foods in the “Standard American Diet” (the SAD diet) for healthier choices. And we’ll come back and take a look at this all-too-familiar looking pantry for inspiration.

(This is not my pantry. . . and the owner will remain anonymous. The cute baskets are a great idea, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll “cute up” my pantry a bit and show you what it looks like sans Cheese Nips, etc.)

Organic Grassfed Hot Dogs

It’s hot dog season, so I was thrilled to find the delicious Applegate Farms Uncured Organic Grassfed Hot Dogs at my local Trader Joes for the great price of $4.99. Sign up for their newsletter, and then you can print off the coupon for $1 off 2 packages of hot dogs, making it $4.49 apiece when you buy two.

The ingredients are: organic grass-fed beef, water, sea salt, celery powder, organic onion powder, organic spices, organic paprika.

Giveaway: 50% Coupon for T-Tapp Video

Teresa Tapp ~ photo credit: t-tapp.com

To celebrate the end of my first T-Tapp challenge, I am giving away a coupon good for 50% off any T-Tapp workout DVD/VHS!

I love T-Tapp; I’m losing inches and feeling more energized (see my blog about that here). So of course I wanted to sign up for the 30 day challenge, which began January 27th, and ends in just a few days on February 27th. Now, as I T-Tapp my way to the finish line, I’ve decided to give away this great coupon so one of you can begin this wonderful, effective, and time-saving exercise program with a great deal.

To enter for this giveaway:

  • leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Feb 27th (Sunday night)
  • for extra entries, subscribe to this blog (right side of the page)

On Monday, the 28th, a winner will be randomly chosen to receive the coupon; I’ll email the winner. The winner of the coupon will have 5 days to redeem the coupon from the T-Tapp store by calling their store (the coupon will expire on 3-4-11). The coupon can be used for any video in their store; I highly recommend starting with the 15 minute exercise routine Basic Workout Plus, list price of $39.99, which would make it $19.99 when using this coupon!

Also on Monday you can read about my experience this month doing the T-Tapp challenge, and more details on how to begin.

Good luck to everyone on this giveaway!

Cloth Diapering Myths Debunked


My first two children spent all their diaper years in paper diapers, and even though I felt small bursts of guilt when I thought of our contribution to landfills, I didn’t consider cloth diapers an option. I mean, cloth is so yukky and hard to do, right?

Wrong. But it took two cloth diapering friends to debunk my myths.

Myth 1. Washing Cloth Diapers is a lot of work.

It’s work, but not a lot of work. Like 2-3 small loads a week, and I don’t even fold, I pile. It’s also a little work to keep up a stash of paper diapers, and this is eliminated.

Myth 2. Cloth Diapers are uncomfortable to the baby/ aren’t as healthy as paper.

Maybe vinyl pants are uncomfortable, but not the new laminated or fleece cloth covers (which there are dozens of choices on). Paper diapers do tend to wick away better, keeping baby dry, but then mommies tend to rely on that and not change the paper diapers as often as they should (this was me!) and that paper diaper can heat up. Some people think hot paper diapers are associated in male infertility when those baby boys grow up. Whether or not this is true, I’m just glad to avoid those clear bead things (chemical absorbants) which are use in the paper diapers and the bleach in the paper which is a known carcinogen.

Myth 3. Cloth Diapers are ugly.

Oh, they are so cute, with colors, patterns . . . whatever your flair. What’s ugly is a plastic bag of cartoon printed paper diapers, and later a pile of soiled paper diapers.

Myth 4. Cloth Diapers and hard to put on.

There are several methods of diapering (inserts, all in ones, prefold plus cover, etc.) but each is pretty easy to learn. With the new Snappi fasteners, it’s easy to secure the cloth diaper without pins, and most covers velcro on like a paper diaper.

Myth 5. It’s better to throw away the mess.

A (non-stinking) diaper pail which is dumped into the wash is so much nicer than a trash can of diapers stinking up the garage every week. And, ever thought of all the poop entombed in the landfill forever? That seems like a ecological nightmare.

Myth 6. Paper Diapers are a pretty cheap luxury.

Huggies from Costco was costing us about $40/mo. That’s times 30 months or so (if they potty train early). I think I can get more fun out of $1200 than buying diapers. 🙂

Myth 7. It’s All or Nothin’.

Even doing cloth diapers, I still use paper when we travel. And now on my 2 year old who is potty training (fingers crossed) and keeps the paper one dry a lot (Seventh Generation: no bleach in the paper diapers).

How To Start Cloth Diapers

There may be better ways to start cloth diapers, but I gave myself a challenge to spend about $80 and try it for 2 months. That way, if I hated it I could resell the diapers on diaperswappers.com and still be ahead money-wise.

I started reading some diaper websites, and was amazed at all the options (it can be overwhelming). What I finally settled on is the most simple, cost effective, and easiest method I know.

Cotton prefold from greenmountaindiapers.com because they are extra wide so they fit better. (Started with 12, at the end of my trial added another 12.)

Snappi from babyworks.com for fastening. (Started with 1, got another as a spare.)

Thirsties cover from babyworks.com to cover; reuse all day long unless a blowout. Fits well, few leaks, cute, good price. (Started with 3, but quickly had to buy 3 more so I could get through at least 2 days.)

Read about using Cloth Wipes here.

5 Gallon Bucket with lid which I had on hand; for throwing the soiled/wet diapers in (breastfed baby; but for baby eating food, the poop gets flushed down the toilet first). No solution in the bucket, I just dry bucket. When the bucket is full, I do laundry.

Laundering: dump bucket into washer, rinse bucket with 1 cup white vinegar which I then pour into wash. Rinse cycle on cold with vinegar. Wash cycle on hot with tiny bit of Bioclean soap and scoop Oxyclean. Second rinse in warm, no soap. Line dry the covers, send cloths through drier on hot (or line dry in summer).

That’s it.

It’s doable, cheap, and soft on my baby’s bum. What’s not to love?

Cleaning Toilets: Two New Products I like

With 2 little boys in my home, toilet cleaning is something I’m really interested in these days! 🙂

Tip: Vinegar neutralizes urine. Try it on toilets, carpet (don’t ask) with a water rinse.

The toilet was pretty dirty, so I started with my vinegar/water spray on the toilet, and wiped it down with a paper towel.

Next I sprayed with a new product from Seventh Generation: Bathroom Cleaner and wiped with a rag.

I found a great sale on Seventh Generation products (half off at Fred Meyer’s Founders Day Sale, plus used a coupon) so I picked up their bathroom cleaner to try out. It must be made with Thyme oil, as the strong smell suggests (thymol is a strong anti-bacterial oil, rivaling any chemical, yet is non-toxic). The spray comes out like a foam, which works well for wiping all over the outside of the toilet, around the seat, the floor, etc. It seemed to clean well, and I liked there being a nice scent at the end.

Last, I dumped about 1/4 cup of Washing Soda by Arm and Hammer (found it alongside the “regular” laundry detergents at the grocery store) into the bowl, and scrubbed with a rag. It seems to scrub just as well as baking soda, and the fresh scent is really great. Great deodorizer. It is all natural, but not edible, and should not be used in place of baking soda.

And now that the toilet is really clean again, we can consider painting a bullseye inside it!