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Green Cleaning Tips

We commonly clean our home to get rid of toxins, pollutants and to keep us healthy, but what if those products we use to clean are actually doing more harm than good? 17,000 petrochemicals (chemical products derived from petroleum) are available for home use, but only 30 percent of them have been tested for exposure to human health. Synthetic chemicals account for many of the products in our lives and can eventually lead to cancer through exposure. Take precaution and protect yourself and your family with these three tips:

Use the right products—Take a look at the cleaning products you use now. Do they have peroxide in them? Do they say “100 percent organic” or “EPA-approved” on the label? If not, then it may be time to toss them. Look for green cleaning products at your local superstore with the correct labels. Carefully throw away your old cleaners at chemical recycling sites in your community.

Check your air quality—Keep your family out of harm’s way with good indoor air quality. Most times, the air inside a home or office is at a higher risk for toxins than the air outside. Improve your home air quality by keeping the windows open as much as possible, especially when cleaning or painting the inside of the house.

Clean up germs—We usually jump to antibacterial and antimicrobial cleaners for messes, but it’s more important to use the right products in the right way. Antibacterial products aren’t more effective than regular soap and warm water, and they actually increase the risk of super germs that survive chemical cleaners.

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Back to School Volunteering

The school year is starting, and your kids couldn’t be more excited. Friends, classroom holiday parties and recess are all part of hitting the books. But, the school year is full of opportunities to give back to the community and to teach your kids the value of volunteering. If you are passionate about a particular cause, share it with your family and spend time fundraising for it. Here are some easy and enjoyable fundraisers to do during the school year:

Bake sales—Easy as pie and as delicious as a pie, too! Whip up some brownies, cookies and pies for a school bake sale. People can never turn down a $1 homemade brownie. Maybe catch them during lunch or right after school when they’re looking for a snack. This will bring your family together and teach your kids about planning a fundraiser.

Family Fun Night—Involve the whole neighborhood with a family fun night at the school. Reserve the school’s recreation area for Friday or Saturday evening and set up a kids’ “carnival.” Maybe it’s a bounce house, or just playground equipment. Ask your kids to be in charge of invitations and teach them about responsibility.

Community Cleanup—Every park, river and highway needs to be cleaned up every once in awhile. This is easy to coordinate and only takes a few hours out of your weekend. Ask your local environmental department about participating and they’ll provide the vests and equipment. This will teach your kids about protecting the environment, and why it’s important.

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Spread Goodwill for Children

August 12 is International Youth Day, an awareness day designated by the United Nations. International Youth Day is to spread awareness of the cultural and legal issues of today’s youth. A new issue is emphasized each year on August 12. While the theme for 2015 is Youth Civic Engagement, the emphasized issue for youth in 2014 was mental health awareness. Below we break down the issue promoted by International Youth Day 2014:

Understand mental health—Although this once was a taboo and controversial subject, mental health has stepped into the forefront as a public issue. Depression, anxiety and many other mental health diseases are more common than believed and need an equal amount of treatment as any other disease.

Talk about mental health—Arm yourself with the correct lingo to talk about mental health issues. There are mental health diseases which are treated through medication and a therapist (not a shrink). Visit mentalhealth.gov for more information about mental health.

How to promote mental health—Diseases stem from body issues to substance-abuse to genetic psychotic disorders. Suicide is ranked as the number four most common death behind heart disease. If you see warning signs in a loved one: sadness, isolation, losing interest, make sure to seek help for them.

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Teach Your Kids About Bullying

An epidemic of school cultures is bullying. Many school-aged kids go to school, every day, facing threats, taunts, verbal and physical assaults. Bullying is unwanted and degrading attention by another classmate. It is important to talk to your kids to see if they are a bully, if they’re being bullied and how to prevent bullying. All information below is provided by StopBullying.gov:

Cyber bullying—Bullying that takes place online is cyber bullying, and it is the most prominent type of bullying today. If your children have social media profiles, ask them if they’ve received any unwanted interaction or negative comments.

Who’s at risk—There is no one single risk factor, but kids who identify themselves as LGBTQ, youth with disabilities and socially-isolated youth are more at-risk for bullying. Additionally, youth that are perceived to be underweight or overweight, have low self-esteem, or are perceived as less popular are at risk.

Bullying prevention—Teach your kids how to always stand up to bullying. Furthermore, get in touch with their teachers and school district leaders to become part of a bullying prevention coalition and action plan.