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Archive for Green Baby

December 8th, 2011

5 Best Green Toys

tin drums

Drums made from repurposed aluminum cans

These toys don’t have to travel far to get to you. As a matter of fact most of them are already in your home. No wasteful packaging is needed-they’ve already been opened. These green toys reduce excess holiday waste and are made from things reused and repurposed.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the Jonathan Liu post for Wired entitled “5 Best Toys of All Time” you should. He nailed it. He reminds us that the best toys are all around us: sticks, boxes, cardboard tubes, mud, and string.

I thought, in light of Jonathan’s article, I would add a few more  favorite green toys that no child should be without (many of which are likely already in your home).

Wooden Spoons

wooden spoons

They cost no more than a few dollars and they can turn into almost anything. I’ve spied them being used for a one-man-band, a wooden spoon puppet and a toy robot.

Blankets and Sheets

Blanket bedding

Just a few of these thrown together over a couch, bunk bed, table or chairs and voila you have a blanket fort. A blanket fort is fun to play in and easy to build. Pillows are great for filling spots where the light is still coming in. Also needed: a flashlight and scary stories.

Pots and Pans

stainless steel Pots and pans

 

Kids and adults can create a marching band with pots and pans found in your kitchen. Pot lids make great cymbals (ear plugs required). Grab a few wooden spoons and start drumming and marching.

Coffee Table

Coffee table

 

The coffee table is generally thought of as a convenient place to display coffee table books, magazines or other personal items. With young children around coffee tables serve an entirely different purpose. They become a permanent home to crayon marks, scratches and finger prints. Our coffee table is often transformed into a perfect stage. Dance performances and talent shoes have all been performed on top of our square and very trashed  coffee table (three boys=standing on the furniture).

Toilet Paper

toilet paper

The toilet paper rolls are ready for action. They can be unraveled by the sneakiest of children in a matter of seconds. Toilets are frightened by the sheer volume of paper potential each time a little one walks into a bathroom. Toilet paper is just fun to play with. Zombies, mummies and the like have all been created from a few rolls of this fluffy white stuff. The inner cardboard rolls have been used to make a bee, bird and bat. We have also used them for marble runs, telescopes and telephones.

There are so many other things in and around your home that could easily turn into the best toy ever. What other ideas do you have?

This month the green moms have gathered once again for the Green Moms Carnival to share our thoughts on our Favorite Green Gifts. The carnival is hosted this month by Linda over at Citizen Green.  The carnival goes live Monday, December 10, 2011.  Be sure to stop by for lots of great tips and  suggestions for green holiday gifts.

[Photos used under Creative Commons from Pualv, Alan Levine, O5com, Phil Manker/Flickr]

 

 

December 5th, 2011

Giveaway and Holi-Daily Deal: Earth Mama Angel Baby from Lullaby Organics

EMAB gift set
Earth Mama Angel Baby products have been a staple in our home since my kids were infants. Those infants are now in elementary school, but many of the products continue to make their way into our home.  As an avid label reader and someone who pays close attention to what goes in and on our bodies, I continue to stand behind these green and clean products for a few reasons:

  • All Natural & Organic Ingredients: Their products are 100% toxin-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and free from all artificial preservatives, fragrances and dyes. Every product is rated a “0” (no toxicity) in EWG’s Skin Deep Database.
  • Green Packaging: They use eco-friendly recyclable or reused/reusable packaging and packing materials.

Lullaby Organics generously sent me a few Earth Mama Angel Baby products to test out. I was already familiar with the lotion and shampoo, but it had been a while for the baby oil and baby bottom balm (yes, we did test them out!).

EMAB ShampooAngel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash

This is one of my favorite Earth Mama Angel Baby products. The shampoo comes in an easy-to-use pump bottle.  It smells fresh and clean with a slight hint of vanilla and orange. We have been using this for many years and have no plans to stop (I use it too).

Angel Baby Lotion

The lotion is NSF Certified (meaning it went through an extensive health safety assessment), contains organic ingredients, no toxins and no artificial preservatives, fragrances or dyes. It has an underlying scent of oranges and vanilla. It rubs in without feeling oily and greasy-something I am always searching for in a lotion.

Angel Baby Bottom Balm

When the Baby Bottom Balm arrived I was excited to learn that it not only soothes a baby’s bottom, it doubles as first-aid-in-a-jar for the whole family. It can be used for minor boo-boos, burns, itchy rashes and more! This one’s a keeper.

Angel Baby Oil

The oil is fragrance free and nut-free and can be used for infant massage, dry skin and cradle cap. It doesn’t contain any scary stuff-no artificial preservatives, dyes or fragrance. My youngest let me try it on him and he loved it.

Lullaby Organics Holi-Daily DealsEach day, for twelve days (11/25-12/6), Lullaby Organics has offered “Holi-Daily”

  • Each day for 12 days, starting Friday, 11/25, and running thru Tuesday, 12/6, a different eco-fabulous blogger (or sometimes two!) will post a review and giveaway from Lullaby Organics.
  • In each day’s post, the blogger of the day will “REVEAL THE DEAL” for that day.
  • Each deal might be on a single item or a collection of items, but when the deal of the day is sold out, that daily deal is over and there will be a different deal the next day!

REVEAL THE DEAL: Today’s Lullaby Organics Holi-Daily Deal

As part of the Lullaby Organics Holi-Daily Deals they are offering an amazing discount for TODAY ONLY:

  • 50% off the Angel Baby Essentials Bundle by Earth Mama Angel Baby (value $49.80)
  • PLUS: 20-40% off all other skin care products (Earth Mama Angel Baby, My Mama’s Love, BienElla and Purple Prairie).
  • Also don’t forget to use the GROOVYLIVIN code offered to my readers for 10% off (coupon codes can’t be combined).
  • All toys are all still on sale for 20%+ off thru December 18th.

GIVEAWAY: Earth Mama Angel Baby a Little Something for BabyThanks to the kind people at Lullaby Organics one lucky Groovy Green Livin reader will win an Earth Mama Angel Baby a Little Something for Babyby Earth Mama Angel Baby (value $49.80). By entering your name and any comments below you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.

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November 1st, 2011

Mattresses: How to Get a Non-Toxic Night’s Sleep

organic mattress

It was time. I had already gone ten years beyond the suggested time frame for buying a new mattress.  I wasn’t tossing and turning, but my mattress was sagging and worn with a downhill slant.  Good indicators that it was time for a new bed.  However, the prospect of searching for a new mattress was daunting.

Over the years I never gave a lot of thought to mattresses. They were solely a place where each of us rested our heads at night-with comfort being the prevailing concern.  Recently I began giving a bit more thought to mattresses, especially since I was in the market for a new one. It bothered me that I was spending time researching the safety of personal care products, cleaning products and food and I had never given a second thought to our mattress. Let’s face it, most of us spend a lot of time in our bed. When it comes to infants and toddlers, they spend close to half of their early life in contact with a mattress and they are far more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults.  I have changed my tune-mattresses are worthy of a lot of thought.

Mattress dangers

Conventional mattresses can contain a whole host of toxic chemicals- from petrochemicals, blowing agents and adhesives used in foams, to dyes and additives used to process raw cotton fiber into textiles, to chemical flame retardants.

Polyurethane foam is used as filling in many baby mattresses. It deteriorates over time and can cause many health issues. It’s also extremely flammable. To battle this issue mattress companies cover their products in toxic flame retardants, which have been linked to reduced IQ, learning disorders, reduced fertility, thyroid disruption and cancer.

PVC is used as a covering on most baby mattresses to make them waterproof. PVC can cause a host of health issues.

Phthalates, associated with asthma, reproductive effects, and cancer, are generally added to the PVC to make it softer.

What to look for in an organic mattress

Let’s get this out of the way-organic mattresses aren’t inexpensive.  Fortunately, there are a wide variety to choose from and a wide range of prices, but they’re not cheap.  Be careful of mattresses labeled “all natural” or “green” . These terms aren’t regulated and can be thrown around loosely without a consistent meaning.

When buying a new mattress ask a lot of questions about how the mattress was made. The bottom line is to find a mattress that wasn’t doused in chemicals. Ask questions, talk to company representative and get answers.  It’s your right as a consumer.

Where to buy an organic mattress

Look for brands certified by GreenGuard.

There are a lot of online retailers selling organic mattresses, but very few retail shops. When I began my search for an organic mattress I had a hard time finding a store where I could test drive the mattress. I  found a small shop just outside of Boston that had a great selection of organic mattresses. Not only was I able to touch and feel the mattress, but I also was able to ask questions about the product. This was going to be a big investment and I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision.

Affordable alternatives

If an organic mattress won’t fit into your budget there are quite a few things you can do to make the beds in your home safer.

  • Consider using a futon made from organic cotton.
  • Invest in a quality mattress cover made with a safe material that will block off-gassing.
  • Buy an organic mattress, but don’t buy a box spring. If you are handy, build your own platform bed to house the mattress.
  • Healthy Child Healthy World had a great suggestion: for a baby shower gift have all of your friends chip in and buy your baby an organic mattress!
  • Let your mattress air out before bringing it into your home.

Do you have any non-toxic mattress tips?

January 5th, 2011

10 Must-Have Green Books for Kids

Groovy Green Livin Green Books

My kids are getting a bit older, but there are a few good picture books that remain on our bookshelves.  Each of these  books has gorgeous illustrations, an excellent storyline and will send a great message to your children.  They teach us about basic principles of kindness, caring for the earth and caring for each other.  So grab a few of these great titles and cuddle up on the couch with the child ( might be your own inner child) in your life.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This touching story makes me cry every time I read it.  Originally published in 1964, it is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree in a forest. The tree always provides the boy with what he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit, apples to eat, branches with which to build a home.  The book shares the message with all ages about unconditional love.

George Saves the World by Lunch Time by Jo Readman and Ley Honor
George is determined to save the world by lunchtime, but he’s not quite sure how. Grandpa suggests they start by recycling his yogurt container, putting his banana peel in the compost pile, and hanging the wash to dry in the sun. The message to kids being that you can help save the world through simple everyday actions such as repairing items that are broken and recycling.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Filled with gorgeous pictures, this book is one boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.

Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff
This book is a great way to share yoga with young children. Babar takes you around his hometown of Celesteville and to exotic locales throughout Europe and North America sharing his love and the joy of yoga everywhere he goes. The book comes with a great poster that my kids have studied over and over.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
This classic Dr. Seuss takes young readers on a journey with a powerful lesson about the dangers of abusing our natural resources.  If you haven’t shared this one-this is a must!

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White
This book will be released on February 22, 2011.  With stunning portraits of animals,  the reader is introduced to  endangered species: tigers, partula snails, and many other animals in danger of becoming extinct.

Ants in Your Pants, Worms in Your Plants! by Diane deGroat
Gilbert the opossum goes green in a picture book that celebrates Earth Day.

 

Eco Babies Wear Green by Michelle Sinclair Colman, illustrated by Nathalie Dion
Urban babies and trendy tots have gone green! Readers will learn that eco babies not only wear green, earth-friendly fibres; eco babies also carpool, ride on the back of mom and dad’s bike and eat solely locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper
From the adorable Just Grace series, Grace’s class at school goes green and the book is filled with all sorts of  ideas and suggestions about what kids can do to make a difference by reusing, reducing and recycling.

The Giant Hug by by Sandra Horning, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
Owen’s hug travels across the country, via the post office, through heartfelt embraces between animals of different shapes and sizes. A fantastic book about how you can share a little bit of love with friends and family wherever they are.

Think about these titles for classroom gifts or donations to your local library.

Any more favorites to add to the list?

If this post helped you, please share. And don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

* Disclosure: If you buy any of the items in this post through the Amazon links  it will put a few pennies in my pocket-thanks!

Resources for  book suggestions for children:
This post is part of the Green Moms Carnival. We have gathered this time to to share green authors and books we love. The carnival is hosted by Karen over at the lovely blog: Best of Mother Earth.  
December 12th, 2010

Formaldehyde Found in Wrinkle-Free Clothing

By now you’ve heard about Bisphenol A (BPA), the hormone mimicking chemical linked to cancer.  It has been found on dollar bills, canned foods , and cash register receipts. According to The New York Times , there’s more bad news-another carcinogen, formaldehyde, could be lurking in and on our wrinkle-free products including: clothing, curtains, sheets and pillow cases, crib sheets, and baseball caps.

I can still smell the formaldehyde from my high school biology class-preserving that creepy tarantula in a jar. Formaldehyde is used to make clothing wrinkle-free and stain resistant by either soaking the fabric in formaldehyde or exposing the fabric to formaldehyde gases, and then baking the fabric at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It prevents the fibers in the fabric from wrinkling after being washed.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Miss Karen

Wrinkle-free clothing is offered by almost every big retailer- a dream come true for the traveler and for those of us with iron phobia. Big names such as Nordstrom and L.L. Bean offer many no-iron options.

A recent study by the Government Accountability Office,  the investigative arm of congress,  investigated the levels of formaldehyde in 180 different types of products.  They found that over 5% of the products tested  were  treated with an unacceptable amount of  resin that releases formaldehyde.  Most of the items in the 5% were wrinkle-free products such as sheets, shirts and pants.

So why the $%^&*@#  is formaldehyde on our clothing and in other household products?

The scary truth is that the United States does not regulate formaldehyde levels in clothing, most of which is now made overseas. The government has no requirement for any sort of disclosure to the consumer when formaldehyde is used.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF FORMALDEHYDE?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Formaldehyde has been classified as a human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Formaldehyde produces toxic fumes which, even in small amounts, can cause skin, eye,  nose and throat irritations. Long-term exposure and high concentrations of formaldehyde can lead to cancer.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE EXPOSURE TO FORMALDEHYDE?

  • Don’t buy wrinkle-free or “ready-to-wear” anything. FYI  Men’s shirts had some of the highest occurrences of formaldehyde.
  • ALWAYS wash clothing, bedding and curtains before using.
  • Avoid buying furniture that has been glued with formaldehyde-based glue and is painted with formaldehyde laden paint.
  • There are companies out there that don’t use formaldehyde-contact manufacturers directly to see if they use it and support those that don’t.
  • There needs to be a requirement for the disclosure of the use of formaldehyde in our clothing and other household products just as much as we have the right to know the ingredients in our food.  Time to put on the ol’ legal hat and start writing to those that can make a difference. Anyone care to join?

For now, I’m thinking about busting out that iron and getting to work. My kids have only seen an iron used with Perler Beads.

If this post helped you, please share. And don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

*Top photo used under Creative Commons from Boujiandnouna

November 17th, 2010

Got Lice?

Photo used under Creative Commons from Randen Pederson

I knew it was inevitable. The dread is back. After a long summer with no mention of lice, today I received confirmation that they have made their way back onto the heads of countless children. I can now legitimately wonder if today will be the day that they enter my home for the very first time.

Having three young children in school, I know that if it is not today it will be sometime in the near future.  I don’t get bent out of shape about many things, but for some reason I dread the day when I have to personally deal with lice.  I have dealt with lice vicariously through many other brave warriors with the knowing that I am destined to someday join their ranks. But I am not ready.

I know that head lice don’t pose any health risks aside from the anxiety they cause  those battling their existence. Having lice has nothing to do with poor personal hygiene; lice actually seem to prefer a clean head of hair (yet another reason my kids argue that showering isn’t really necessary). There is just a big “ick” factor along with a potentially itchy, red scalp.  There’s an old saying that says “It’s not a shame to catch them, it’s a shame to keep them.”.

How to Avoid Getting Lice

Photo used under Creative Commons from Sunil Basu

Lice spread by direct contact – they can’t jump or fly from head to head since they don’t have hind legs and they are wingless.

  • Teach children never to share personal items such as towels, hair brushes, hats, etc.
  • Use a tea tree oil shampoo such as California Baby Tea Tree & Lavender Shampoo & Body Wash as your regular, everyday shampoo-I use it too.  Lice don’t like the smell of tea tree oil.
  • Spray your hair each morning with a tea tree oil and water solution.
  • Keep long hair pulled back.
  • Don’t share hooks for hanging winter jackets, sweatshirts and fleeces.

Non-Toxic Treatments for Lice

There are lots of products on the market that claim to make the lice go away, but many of them are full of heavy-duty pesticides and other harmful chemicals. There are also claims that the lice have grown resistant to some of these pesticides.

Fortunately, there are a few safe, effective, alternatives to get rid of head lice.  Here are some of the best:

The well known brand Fairy Tales is not on my list of recommended products

I am not recommending the brand Fairy Tales, which is the brand I hear mentioned most often when discussing lice removal and prevention with other parents.  Lynn at OrganicMania uncovered that although Fairy Tales claims to be “all natural and organic hair care”, there are no organic ingredients.  Their products don’t have the USDA Organic label or the NSF/ANSI305 label –meaning their products are NOT organic.

Fairy Tales  is part of greenwashing-taking advantage of the consumer’s vulnerability and misrepresenting a product as having environmental benefits when it doesn’t. Most of us rely on the word “organic” and believe that a product is pure and safe for our use.  Make sure when you buy organic it has the USDA Organic label or the NSF/ANSI305 label.


Would you or have you used a nitpicker?

p.s. My head was itching the entire time I spent writing this post.

Disclosure-since we haven’t yet had lice I haven’t tried these products. I would love to hear what those of you in the know have  used and what you suggest.  Also, if you purchase any of the products through my site I will get a few pennies back from Amazon.

October 19th, 2010

How to Put a Little Green in Your Halloween

Groovy Green Livin Green Halloween

It’s that time of year again-time for creepy decorations, ghoulish Jack-O-Lanterns and freaky costumes-Halloween.  This holiday easily makes it to the top of my favorite holiday list-I’ll take any excuse to stay local, hang with wonderful neighbors and dress up in something you have been dying to sport all year long but felt it was too “out there” for  suburban or even city attire (since having kids I have yet to wear a costume-suggestions anyone?).

Although the big day is rapidly approaching, there is plenty of time left to put a little green in your Halloween.

Don’t panic-I am by no means suggesting ridding ourselves of the traditional hoarding of treats-although that would help my personal caloric intake for the evening.  I just thought I would throw a few simple ideas out there to make this creative, community event healthier for the planet.

Groovy Green Livin Green Halloween

COSTUMES

According to the group Green Halloween, if half the kids in the U.S. who celebrate Halloween swapped costumes, rather than buying new ones, the nation’s annual landfill waste would be reduced by 6,250 tons. That’s about the weight of 2,500 mid-size cars.

A National Costume Day Swap took place in early October in many communities across the country. If you missed the big swap event there is still time to green your Halloween with thredUP’s online kids costume swap.   thredUp organizes costume swaps with kids across the country for only $5 plus shipping.

Another option is to make your own costume using treasures you find already in your possession.  If you are a  DIY kinda person-Inhabitat and Inhabitots are having Green Halloween Costume Contests.

TRICK OR TREAT FOR A CAUSE

Keep the treats coming-but why not add a worthy cause to your nightly quest for the most candy on the block?  Seems like a perfect opportunity to sit down with the little people in your life and talk charity.  It’s really not about how much you collect-just a great opportunity to teach about giving to others.  That’s what Halloween’s all about.

Here are some charities that have been trick-or-treating with kids for years:

Another option is to select a charity that means something to your family and make your own collection containers.

USE A REUSABLE BAG FOR TREATS

Out with the molded, plastic jack-o-lanterns (maybe you still have one?) for collecting candy.  Try using a cloth or canvas shopping bag, or even pillowcases as an eco-friendly alternative for collecting those treats.

Check out some of the great ideas for reusable bags suggested by Get Green Be Well. You can enter a Trick or Treat bag design contest for kids through ChicoBag and Green Halloween.

NOW WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT CANDY

Photo used under Creative Commons from The Culinary Geek

Some of the candy will be traded and eaten by our very own little ghouls and gobblins-I am sure that I will help out too….but,  as in years past, there will just be too much to consume.

Here are some ideas for getting rid of the overload:

Donate it- There are lots of charities that will take your extra Halloween candy- there are ways to send to a soldier, children or the hungry. Cool Mom Picks and Fairly Odd Mother had a few great ideas  for donating Halloween candy.  While these are viable options for ridding ourselves of the candy,  I have mixed feelings about donating candy to children, the hungry and/or our soldiers. Any other ideas?

Test it–CandyExperiments.com is a great site with tons of ideas for creating a test kitchen with your Halloween candy.  Created by a mother of three who decided to teach her little ones a thing or two about the science and nutrition of candy rather than ingesting it all.  Can’t wait to test some of these out-especially the Pop Rocks experiment.

How do you put a little green in your Halloween?

photo credit: juhansonin via photopin cc

This post is part of the Green Halloween Blog Carnival. Head on over to the carnival for lots of great tips for putting a little green in your Halloween!

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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