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Archive for Eco-Friendly Companies
March 26th, 2014
Today, 1 in 88 children under 8 years old is diagnosed with autism. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Raising a child with autism can provide much joy, but also comes with its own set of challenges. Going out to eat at a restaurant can be difficult for any family, but can be especially problematic for families dealing with autism.
A young Boston family confronted with autism created Autism Eats as a way to “bring the fun back to eating out”. I had a chance to catch up with Delphine Zohn, who co-founded the organization with her husband Leonard, to ask her about Autism Eats.
Mark your calendars- the next Autism Eats event will be held on April 10th in recognition Autism Awareness month. See below for details.
What is Autism Eats?
Delphine: Autism Eats is an organization that provides autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining, socializing and connecting with others who share similar joys and challenges
Why did you create Autism Eats?
Delphine: Going out to a family dinner when you have a child with autism can be very stressful. Behaviors can be unpredictable, other diners may be disturbed and the well intentioned restaurant staff typically does not know the best way to assist. To some families it can feel like all eyes are on them. Because of this many families decide it is not worth the effort and dont go out to eat. This is unfortunate and can lead to feelings of isolation. We created Autism Eats to give families an opportunity for a real night out at a restaurant and to be with families who are experiencing similar challenges. There is no need to explain your child’s behaviors or make excuses which can be a tremendous relief. In addition we set up the room for success….food is served buffet style and is available immediately, music and lighting are adjusted for those with sensory sensitivity, volunteers are there to expeditiously welcome and check families in and there is an activity table for those that want to color or do a craft.
What do you hope to achieve through the organization?
Delphine: Our goal is to give families an opportunity to go out and enjoy themselves. We also want to help build community and relationships with others. Siblings of children with autism are likely dealing with issues that their peers are not dealing with or wouldn’t understand. Autism Eats lets them meet others who have similar feelings, concerns and emotions. It can help them understand that they aren’t the only ones. This is also true for the dads who may not seek out or have as much access to other dads of children with autism. My husband, Leonard, had a dad come to him with tears in his eyes thanking him for starting the organization and telling him he has not been out to a restaurant with his family (other than McDonalds) in over four years and how wonderful it was.
When/where are the events?
Delphine: Our last event was at Andolini’s Restaurant in Andover, Massachusetts. We had over 100 guests! Since then we have received inquiries from all over the country from individuals and organizations that want us to hold dinners in their communities.
Our next event is going to be on April 10 at the Recreational Education Center (REC) in Peabody, Massachusetts. In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, The REC is a sponsor of the dinner and hosting it at their creative play and learning space. A buffet dinner will be served and kids can eat and play for no charge. It is going to be a very fun night!
Who can join and where would they get more information?
Delphine: Information and tickets can be found on our website www.AutismEats.org.
Chances are you know at least one family raising an autistic child. Please pass this along to anyone who is looking for a safe and supportive environment when dining out with autism.
Let me know if you’re able to join on April 10th!
photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc
August 8th, 2013
I’ve been working with the folks over at MightyNest for quite some time because they walk the walk and talk the talk. They stand behind their pledge “to keep your family safe“. I’ve written about their products and shared their valuable information on my Facebook page and in my Twitter feed. You’ll even find a MightyNest banner off to the far right on this site. They’ve been longtime sponsors of Groovy Green Livin.
This year MightNest was one of my sponsors for my trip to BlogHer in Chicago. I had a chance to meet the lovely Annie from MightyNest in real life, which always makes such a difference.
Reusable Lunch Products for Tweens and Teens
As back to school approaches I’m finding that it’s harder and harder to find reusable gear that my three boys (ages 9, 11 and 12) will actually use. Many of the products out there are fantastic, but they’re not going to cut it for teens and tweens. Dragons, princesses and rocket ships are no longer cool to carry to school.
MightyNest to the rescue!
Their online store has a whole slew of products that any tween or teen would love. Check out these reusable products that will be making their way into my boys lunch boxes this school year.
If you’ve been following along here you know that vinyl lunchboxes aren’t safe and should be avoided. Check out this double decker lunch bag that is PVC, BPA and Phthalate-free. This clever design has two compartments, the top for easy access and the bottom for bigger items. The lunch bag does come with a BPA free plastic container meant for food storage. I’m choosing not to use the plastic container – I do my best to make sure plastic doesn’t come in contact with food (even BPA free plastic). We have the orange lunch bag and it rocks! Since there’s only one bag and three boys, they’re going to have to arm wrestle for the right to use it.
This water bottle is the perfect size for any lunch box. This water bottle not only keeps things cold, but keeps them hot too. It’s stainless steel and comes in a variety of great colors.
I’ve been using these ice packs for years and absolutely love them. They are BPA, lead and phthalate free. Each pack comes with a cover made from 100% RECYCLED BPA-Free Plastic Bottles. These ice packs don’t sweat so your lunch won’t get wet and soggy.
Snack Taxi reusable bags have been part of our reusable arsenal for a long time. Their bags are made from quality cotton and lined with nylon. All bags are BPA, PVC, Lead and Phthalate Free. The best feature-you can throw them right in the washing machine. The reusable bag I received from MightyNest actually has soccer balls on it. A perfect fit for my two of my boys. No question, there will be a fight over this reusable bag too!
Another great product from Kids Konserve. I really like this stainless steel container (it does have a plastic lid) for snacks and other lunch foods. Remember-don’t place the plastic lid in the dishwasher. Wash all plastic by hand. Best feature: it doesn’t leak!
Lunchbots have been a staple reusable lunch container in our house for a few years. The bright colored lids and the variety of stainless steel sizes make them a great choice for our lunch box. My only complaint-the lids don’t seal so there’s a risk of leakage. I use these container for dry snacks and other food items that won’t leak. Since these containers have a divider our favorite snack to pack is cheese on one side and crackers on the other.
Now for the MightyNest GIVEAWAY!
The kind folks over at MightyNest have graciously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a set of reusable lunch gear (one of each item listed above valued at $93.00!). The Giveaway will close at 10 am on CST on August 13, 2013. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. Thanks to MightyNest and good luck to all of you!
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My friend Kathy from SafeMama.com is also having a MightyNest Giveaway! Head on over to her site to increase your chance of winning some fantastic lunchbox reusables!
Disclosure: Thank you to MightyNest for sending my kids samples of the lunch gear reviewed in this post. I didn’t receive any compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this post are my very own.
July 10th, 2013
Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack Guide
Our summer just began a few short weeks ago so I’m really not willing to admit that it’s almost back-to-school time. But I know that it’s a reality for many who kick off the school year in August. So time to address the inevitable.
The emails are already pouring in with back-to-school product pitches and questions from readers.
One question that keeps coming up is ‘how to find a non-toxic backpack for kids?’
I’ve decided to break this question into a few different parts since the age of your child will determine what type of backpack they’ll use. I’m focusing on your toddler and preschool age kids in this post and I’ll be back again with choices for elementary school kids. Stay tuned!
What to avoid in a preschool backpack
No Vinyl, No PVC, No Phthalates, No Lead
If you’ve been following along here for a while you know that a study by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s(CHEJ) found children’s vinyl “back‐to‐school” supplies (including backpacks) contained elevated levels of phthalates, hazardous chemicals that have been banned in toys, yet remain widespread in vinyl back‐to‐school supplies.
Phthalates are hazardous at low levels of exposure, disrupt hormones in our bodies, and have been linked to birth defects, infertility, early puberty, asthma, ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Not something you want in your child’s backpack!
Vinyl backpacks could also contain high levels of lead, which can wipe off onto children’s hands and ultimately end up in the child’s mouth.
Bottom Line: Don’t buy vinyl backpacks!
Here are a few non-toxic preschool backpack suggestions
Green Sprouts Safari Friends Backpack These adorable backpacks are PVC and BPA free. There are four designs to choose from, a yellow lion, blue hippo, red monkey and green alligator. So cute and perfect for a toddler or someone just entering preschool.
Crocodile Creek Pocket Backpack I really love these backpacks. There are so many great designs to choose from and they’re the perfect size for younger children. Their backpacks are made of high-quality polyester and are BPA-free, PVC-free and phthalate-free.
Beatrix New York Little Kid Backpack Another awesome line of pint-sized backpacks! Each preschool backpack is embroidered with a forest creature. The packs are designed for ages 2 to 5 and are PVC free, lead free, phthalate free & BPA free.
Dabbawalla Backpacks These sweet little backpacks are sized and designed for preschoolers, with adjustable straps and a sturdy handle. They’re made from Eco-sponge neoprene, a durable fabric that is limestone -based. It has been tested in an independent lab and exceeds CPSIA standards for safety and is free of lead, PVC, BPA and Phthalates.
EcoZoo Kid’s Backpack Your preschooler won’t want to put this bag down. Made out of natural cotton this backpack comes in the shape of a puppy, panda, pig and more. It’s made from natural cotton and the company uses toxic free dyes to color the material. They’re BPA and Phthalate-free.
Do you have a favorite non-toxic backpack for a toddler or preschooler?
Photo credit: © BestPhotoStudio #2588431
Disclosure: I received no monetary compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for which I will earn compensation if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting Groovy Green Livin! I’m disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
April 29th, 2013
Reusable bags are taking over our kitchen and that’s a good thing. I’m talking about reusable snack and sandwich bags for packing our school lunch and they’re everywhere, filling drawers and cabinets waiting to be used.
Did you know that children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste.
My three boys are pretty much on auto pilot in the morning. Once their alarm clock goes off (aka mom) it doesn’t take much nudging to get everyone out of bed.
We all head downstairs and within a matter of minutes our kitchen turns into a tornado. Breakfast preparation and lunch packing begins. Food and reusable bags are everywhere-the floor, counters and other random spots. I just take a deep breath and let it go because it’s well worth it. All three boys make their own lunch and breakfast with minor supervision from mom and dad. It’s pretty amazing to watch them begin to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like-starting with reusable bags instead of plastic baggies.
Moving away from the use and toss mentality and investing in a few reusable bags for lunch is such a simple way to make a BIG environmental impact.
Our friends over at MightyNest have an extensive collection of reusable sandwich and snack bags to choose from (and lots of other eco-friendly products!).
MightyNest has graciously offered to giveaway a snack/sandwich reusable bag set to FOUR lucky Groovy Green Livin readers. Here’s what will be given away (one set per winner):
I had never heard of this brand before. Eco-Ditty reusable snack bags and reusable sandwich bags are made from 100% organic cotton with a Velcro closure. The outer colorful fabric is printed with low-impact inks and the inside is made from un-dyed organic cotton liners. They are all BPA Free, Lead Free, PVC Free and can be hand or machine washed in cool water.
I’ve reviewed LunchSkins before and have a few of my own! Lunchskins come in all sorts of great designs and are made from cotton fabric coated with a “food-safe” polyurethane liner. These bags are durable and withstand the high heat of the dishwasher. Fabric and inks have been independently tested for safety and are lead-free, phthalate-free and BPA-free.
Semilla Snack Bags
Another reusable bag brand that’s new to me-Semilla. These bags are hand sewn in one of my favorite cities-San Diego. We’ve been using our bag for sandwich wraps and they actually fit! I love that these bags can go right into the washing machine. The fabric is a Hemp and Organic Cotton blend and the liner is 100% nylon. The lining is non-toxic nylon: lead free, phthalate free and BPA free.
SnackTaxi has been a staple in my reusable bag drawer for a long time. The bags are sturdy and durable. They have a new addition to their reusable bag offerings- gluten free snack bags and reusable sandwich bags! These bags will keep your gluten free snacks distinct from other foods. The label on outside of bag reads “Gluten-Free” as opposed to “SnackTaxi” found on the other SnackTaxi bags.
The kind folks over at MightyNest have graciously offered to give FOUR Groovy Green Livin readers one of these snack and sandwich reusable bag sets. The Giveaway will close at 1 pm EST on 5/3/13. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. Good luck!
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Disclosure: I was given four reusable bags to test out from MightyNest. All opinions are my very own.
November 8th, 2012
Today in New England
I’m a big fan of Patagonia. I have talked about how wonderful Patagonia is HERE and HERE. They really are a fantastic brand with so many green initiatives in place. From November 5 – 19th Patagonia is generously donating $10 to NOFA for each and every pair of Patagonia footwear sold on PlanetShoes.com.
What is NOFA/Mass?
NOFA/Mass is a community of farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the public about the benefits of organic farming. They are concerned about the dangers posed by pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. NOFA offers The Organic Food Guide , which is an online resource to locate certified organic and sustainably grown food and products throughout Massachusetts. It also includes restaurants, grocery stores and specialty shops that sell organic food, beverages and products.
Patagonia boots review and a gift certificate for you
I was very excited when PlanetShoes.com asked me to review a pair of Patagonia winter boots. The timing was perfect since we just had our first Nor’easter (a whopping 2 inches of snow) and winter boots are suddenly a necessity.
I’ve been wearing these Patagonia Lugano Lace High Waterproof boots for the past few days since it’s starting to feel like winter and my feet are always cold. The boots are very easy to slip on for a quick trip to the mailbox or bus stop. I love that my feet are very warm and dry -both are much needed during the cold and wet winters in the Northeast.
I decided to try a new color since most of my boots are black. The boots are Forge Gray, which I must say is pretty stylin’. The gray is really more of a blue/gray than a true gray. They also come in Espresso, which is a chocolate brown.
I was hoping that the boots would go up a bit higher on my leg. These really hit mid-calf and I was looking for over the calf, but they work. They are perfect with a pair of leggings, skinny jeans or even a skirt.
PlanetShoes.com has graciously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a $150 gift certificate to be redeemed for a pair of Patagonia shoes at Patagonia.com. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
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Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Patagonia Lugano Lace High Waterproof boots for review from PlanetShoes.com. The opinions expressed in this review are my very own.
October 9th, 2012
I introduced you to Late July Organic Snacks a few weeks ago when my kids were desperately trying to find a few new snacks to add to their lunch box routine.
Back in August when I was in New York for a BlogHer/Stonyfield party I had the pleasure of meeting Gabrielle from Late July Organic Snacks. She shared with me a lot of interesting facts about this fantastic company.
- Late July Organic Snacks is a family owned and operated company that cares deeply about family and the integrity of their products.
- All their products certified USDA organic and proudly wear the organic seal.
- Their research and development team includes their two sons- ten-year-old Stephen and six-year-old Benjamin.
- The company is a local company for me-based in Massachusetts on Cape Cod.
- Nicole (the co-founder of the company) and her family have always believed in the consumer’s right to know what’s in the food they eat. The company recently made a $25,000 donation to the California Right to Know Initiative!
The Multigrain chips
My son is a picky eater so when he wants to try a new food we generally encourage him (provided it’s not junk). A few months ago he grabbed the Late July Organic Snacks Sea Salt by the Seashore Multigrain Tortilla Chips when were at the supermarket. Now we’re all hooked. Every Late July chip flavor is delicious and works extremely well in our lunch boxes. These chips have a lot of good qualities:
- They’re gluten-free
- They’re organic
- You won’t find any GMOs, artificial colors or preservatives or trans fats
- The company donates 10% of their profits to summer camp scholarships
The only downside-the chips can be pretty pricey.
Late July Organic Snacks has graciously offered to give ONE Groovy Green Livin reader a Multi Grain Snack Chips Assortment from Late July. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
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Disclosure: I was sent an assortment of Multigrain Late July chips for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my very own.
September 30th, 2012
Ask a group of friends to come over for a sustainable garden party and they will come. I know from firsthand experience. Not exactly knowing what they were in for, they showed up out of sheer curiosity and a knowing that food would be involved!
What is a sustainable garden party?
About a week ago I was asked by DailyBuzz Healthy Living (I’m a contributor to the site) to throw a sustainable garden party in honor of Lightlife‘s new Frozen Veggie Burger. I’m a big fan of veggie burgers and try to always keep them in my freezer so I’m prepped and ready for a Meatless Monday meal. I searched high and low for these new burgers, but to no avail. Since they are a hot new product they are just beginning their distribution and haven’t made it into my neck of the woods yet.
Since the burgers weren’t an option I was given the go-ahead to test out any Lightlife product. I’ve always seen Lightlife products next to the tofu and tabbouleh at Whole Foods, but have never tried them. I picked out a few Lightlife products and brought them home-ready to get creative.
Now onto the sustainable portion of the party. In addition to testing out some new products I knew that I was going to keep this party as ec0-friendly as possible.
We started off setting the table with reusable napkins. Reusables were used for the entire party-no plastic cups, paper towels, plastic utensils or single-use plates.
Energy efficient lighting
Throughout our house we’ve gradually switched most of the bulbs to either compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). CFLs use 75% less energy and produce 75% less heat than incandescent light bulbs. Our refrigerator, shown in this video clip uses LEDs. LEDs last for years and use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of incandescent or CFL bulbs).
There were empty glass bottles decorating my counters from beer, wine and a few fancy drinks that we tested out in our Blendtec blender. Recycling was a breeze and everyone pitched in. We all made the effort to throw anything that can be recycled into our recycle bin.
Now the best part: the food! Everyone brought something to share. We kept this meal vegetarian and I don’t think anyone went home hungry.
I had quite a few boxes of the Lightlife Chick’n Style Seasoned Veggie Strips so we decided to whip up a batch of stir fry. They are made from soy and are vegan, GMO-free, fat free and packed with protein (14 grams per serving).
Lightlife Chick’n Seasoned Veggie Strip Stir Fry
This recipe is extremely simple. Use the veggies you have in the fridge and cut them into bite size pieces. I happened to have broccoli, peppers, carrots, squash, and sugar snap peas. I always love having the opportunity to use my veggie crinkle cutter.
Take your wok and heat up with 1-2 tbsp of oil and add the Lightlife Chick’n Style Seasoned Veggie Strips. Then begin to add the vegetables. Don’t over cook the vegetables. Make sure you add vegetables first that need a little longer to cook.
Stir fry sauce
- 4 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (add another clove if you want more)
- 1/4 c. water
Add soy sauce mixture to the the vegetable Veggie Strip mixture and cook until everything is lightly coated.
Serve over couscous. The dish was so simple and a big hit! Enjoy.
Have you ever hosted or been to a sustainable garden party?
This series is brought to you in partnership with Lightlife, Live long. Travel light. To learn more, click here http://www.lightlife.com.
Disclosure: As a part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, Lightlife provided me with a stipend and product for sampling.
photo credit: LexnGer via photopin cc, photo credit: greenplasticamy via photopin cc