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Archive for Green Children
August 21st, 2014
This piece was originally published over at Moms Clean Air Force.
When my oldest son was born he was showered with all sorts of wonderful gifts from friends and family. One of our favorite presents was a bright red fleece blanket with his name monogrammed in big white letters on one of the corners.
This adorable and durable blanket stayed with my son for many years. He slept with it, rolled around on it and chewed it while teething. After many washes and years gone by, it’s now tucked away in a “save” box somewhere deep within my attic.
Today, as I continue the tradition of giving fleece blankets to many of the new babies in my life, I wonder if these blankets are truly safe.
Could there possibly be bisphenol-A (BPA) lurking in those cuddly, soft gifts?
Is There BPA in Fleece?
Fleece is made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles and other discarded plastic. That’s right-fleece is made from recycled plastic!
Here’s how the question of BPA (bisphenol A) in fleece comes into play. BPA is a chemical used in the production of plastics and many other products. BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems such as reproductive disorders, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Since fleece is made from plastic components, the question of BPA in our fleece garments becomes a valid concern.
There’s good news and caution for consumers.
You don’t have to worry about baby’s fleece — or your own — when it comes to BPA. As Dr. Sarah Vogel, author of Is It Safe? BPA and the Struggle to Define the Safety of Chemicals, explains:
“BPA is not used in plastics used to make soda bottles. The kind of plastic it’s used in, polycarbonate, is too hard for that purpose and too expensive. Polycarbonates are not recycled in most municipalities as they fall into category 7 which is ‘mixed’. So they end up in landfill and BPA has been detected in landfill leachate.
The epoxy resins BPA is in are used to coat metals, like food cans. BPA has been found in recycled cardboard –most likely because of its use in carbonless paper (like cash register receipts) that is in the recycled paper mix. It would be quite challenging to remove it from the recycling process, I suspect.
I worry more about the food cans. There is evidence that you can significantly reduce exposure to BPA by removing food cans from the diet, which demonstrates the importance of that route of exposure.”
I decided to look towards the top sellers of fleece products for some answers: Patagonia and L.L. Bean. Both companies confirmed that they use post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles to make their fleece.
Patagonia has many green initiatives in place — including recycling used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn our garments (including their own) into polyester fibers to produce many of their clothes. One of my favorite Patagonia programs is something called Common Threads where they take back old outdoor garments (including their own!) for recycling into new fibers.
Good news: Patagonia confirmed that there is no BPA in their fleece.
L.L. Bean responded similarly when asked about BPA lurking in their fleece products.
“The majority of our Trail Model Fleece program contains up to 85% recycled materials, mostly old soda bottles. Our recycled materials do not contain any BPA at all.”
L.L. Bean confirmed there’s no BPA in their fleece. But as I suspected…
“All of our kids’ sleepwear is flame retardant as required by the US Federal government — all of the fabric in our kids’ sleepwear meets federal safety requirements for children’s sleepwear.”
Although there are many more makers of fleece products out there, a confirmation from both of these fleece clothing retailers is a good indication that the majority of fleece doesn’t contain BPA.
The Environmental Impact of Fleece
Along with the good news that BPA isn’t hiding out in our fleece gear comes another concern about fleece and its impact on the environment.
A study found that microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain. Some of our synthetic clothes are made of PET or polyethylene terephthalate. PET is a member of the polyester family of polymers, which are spun to make fabric which can release up to 1,900 tiny fibers each time they’re washed! PET does not biodegrade, and these microplastics are being ingested by marine life.
Fortunately BPA in fleece products doesn’t pose a problem, however there are plenty of unregulated toxic chemicals remaining in products found on the shelves of our stores.
Take action! It’s time to put the pressure on. It’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with retailers and industry. We need legislation in place that will strengthen the way our government regulates toxic chemicals by requiring more thorough health testing of products BEFORE these chemicals end up in the bodies of our children.
If you agree parents shouldn’t need to be detectives or have a PhD in toxicology to know that their children are safe from toxic chemicals, please head over to Moms Clean Air Force to sign HERE.
photo credit: dan.danowski via photopin cc
December 6th, 2013
January 22nd, 2013
Cooking with my kids
I love to cook. My husband also loves to cook. If we had all the time in the world I’m positive we would make some pretty interesting creations. For now we stick to healthy, standard fare that our three boys will usually eat without much complaining.
Allowing my kids to be active participants in the cooking process has always been important to me. They stir, they pour and they help in every way possible. My earliest recollection of them cooking dates back to their years in preschool when they had a weekly baking or cooking activity.
All three boys (12, 11 and 9) continue to express an interest in cooking. I’ve spent much time fostering their love of cooking through deep breathing and overlooking sauce, flour, sugar and other ingredients that cover my walls and floors as well as their little bodies and faces. Kids just aren’t neat when they cook.
So their cooking creations continue. My kids now have 5 specialties that they claim to have perfected over the years.
According to my three boys, the trick to making the perfect scrambled eggs is using a stainless steel or cast iron pan and not cooking them too long. Yellow with no brown is perfection. We use organic eggs when we can, rice milk or almond milk and olive oil instead of butter.
French toast with a little vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and berries make it a special treat. Hands down the best french toast is made with challah. HERE’s a great recipe for Challah French Toast (we use rice or almond milk instead of dairy).
My 12 year old saw a recipe for tabbouleh and decided he wanted to make it this weekend. After a trip to the supermarket and 2 hours of chopping and dicing he did it. The adults all thought it was fabulous, but he didn’t like it as much as we did. Needless to say, I was an impressed mommy. The recipe he used was very simple with few ingredients. The prep took a lot of time and patience.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is where it gets ugly in the kitchen. Imagine flour flying everywhere and more chips on the floor and in their mouths than in the batter. It’s all well worth it for the prize at the end.
Our favorite way to prepare tofu is to cube it and add it to a wok with a little soy sauce. That’s it.
What do your kids love to cook?
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: foodiesathome.com via photopin cc
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photo credit: ohdearbarb via photopin cc
January 14th, 2013
Art education classes have always been an important part of the school week for my three boys. Our school system does a fantastic job putting together an annual art show which showcases one piece of art from every child in our community. Art class is many times the only place where children have an opportunity to explore and create something outside the box. There’s no denying that art education is an important outlet for creativity during the overly structured school day.
Unfortunately due to funding issues many art education programs struggle to continue and are generally some of the first programs to be cut from a underfunded school budget.
I’m honored to be working with The Motherhood and Blick Art Supplies to help spread the word about a fabulous resource called Art Room Aid.
Art Room Aid
Art Room Aid was created in 2009 as an online resource to connect art educators (who share project ideas and funding needs) with arts advocates (who can make contributions to projects in need that resonate with them).
Want to learn more about this fantastic resource?
There’s a Twitter Party happening this week! Join @Blick_Art and @ArtRoomAid to learn how you can support art education, make sure art continues to play a role in your children’s lives, and spread the word about Art Room Aid in your community. We’ll be discussing projects you can do with your own kids, and sharing sources of inspiration.
- What: Do you believe art is an essential part of your child’s education? Then you already know how important art education is — and how schools are struggling to keep their art programs alive. That’s where Art Room Aid can help! A program of Blick Art Materials, Art Room Aid is helping teachers across the country enlist the aid of parents, families, friends, and other art advocates to fund their art projects and keep creative learning going.
- When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. ET
- Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #BlickARA hashtag to track the conversation. See this Twtvite for more info and to RSVP: http://twtvite.com/BlickARA
- Hashtag: #BlickARA
- Prizes: We will give away five total prizes – two $25 Blick gift coupons, two $50 Blick gift coupons, and one $75 Blick gift coupon.
- Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann
- Check out Art Room Aid here: Art Room Aid
Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
November 15th, 2012
Toys finally made their way into our home after 5 long years of trying to have a child. Creating our family didn’t come easily for us. We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you.
So the day that toys finally made their way into our home was a happy day. A day that I’ll never take for granted. Now there’s hardly a space that isn’t cluttered with toys. We trip on them, we fight over them and we break them.
When my oldest son was born a slew of toys and other baby gifts showed up, each one special and thoughtful in its own right. Twelve years and two brothers later many if not most of those toys have since broken and landed in a landfill in a far off place.
There’s one toy that has proven over and over its ability to withstand the test of time-a wooden truck hand crafted by my uncle. This toy has been through a lot. It’s made its way down several flights of stairs (multiple times), it’s gone off high jumps and it’s been the victim of a shoot out with several NERF guns at close range. The truck has proven that it’s top notch (it actually dumps things) and I know that it was made with a whole lotta love and it’s received a whole truckload of love in return.
In general I’m not a saver. When we’re done with a toy or clothing it’s on to the next family. However, there are a few toys that I can’t bear to part with and this truck is one of them. Most of us with children in our lives know that quality toys are hard to come by.
I have no doubt that this toy truck will be passed on to future generations who will hopefully enjoy it as much as my kids have.
If you’re looking for timeless gifts that can be passed on from generation to generation head on over to Abe’s Market and check out their newest products.
Does your family have a quality toy that will be around forever?
Abe’s Market will give Groovy Green Livin readers a 20% discount through midnight November 20, 2012. Use code GROOVYGREEN20 at checkout.
Disclosure: This post was written as part of a holiday partnership with Abe’s Market. Head on over to Abe’s Market to see which products I love. I did receive compensation for my participation. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.
October 29th, 2012
Right about now those of us on the East Coast are frantically looking for activities to keep our kids occupied while Hurricane Sandy makes her way into our neck of the woods. Schools have been cancelled throughout Massachusetts and much of the East Coast while we wait for the winds to pick up and the predicted widespread power outages to hit.
Being prepared with food, water and other necessities are a must, but finding activities to entertain bored children is crucial. Just a year ago we were dealing with another storm that brought power outages for days and it was challenging to find activities to keep everyone happy.
This year we are determined to be better prepared. Here are a few activities to keep your kids busy if the power goes out.
Make collages from old magazines
Grab a big stack of magazines and let your kids flip through each one. Ask them to find pictures and words to cut out. Once they have a good sized stack of pieces they can lay them out and glue them onto a piece of paper.
Play Phase 10
The Phase 10 Card Game has really caught on in our house and can provide hours of entertainment. Phase 10 is a rummy-type card game and the object of the game is to be the first player to complete 10 phase sequences. Trust me-it’s fun for all.
You don’t need much equipment to finger knit -just your fingers and some yarn. All three of my boys love to finger knit. HERE‘s a great tutorial to get you started with your finger knitting adventure.
Build a fort
When the power goes out there’s no better time to make a fort. Grab some towels, sheets, pillows and a few flashlights and books and you are ready for fort building. Fort building has been a staple in our house since the kids were very young. You might even want to try sleeping in the fort.
Play board games
We have a closet filled with board games and sometimes weeks will go by without playing them. When the power goes out head to that closet in your own home and pull out your favorite game. Our board game of choice right now is Brain Quest.
Make shadow animals on the wall with your fingers and a flashlight
When the lights go out grab a flashlight and start making animal shadows on the wall. You can make a rabbit, dog, bird or swan. What other animals can you make?
Light a fire in the fireplace
There’s nothing like snuggling up in front of the fireplace when the power goes out. If you don’t have a fireplace grab some blankets and camp out together. Last year during the storm we slept for a night or two in front of the warm fire. Ghost stories are a must!
Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Our crazy lives don’t always allow for uninterrupted talking. When the lights go out and TV’s and computers go off spend some time just talking with your kids. Tell stories, share and really listen to each other. What a unique opportunity!
Decorate the house
Make holiday decorations to hang around the house. Hurricane Sandy is coming right before Halloween. Take advantage of the opportunity to make some homemade decorations to celebrate.
Make a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great, fun, and easy way to keep kids entertained. Start making clues and remember this rule of thumb: kids’ patience will last through about twice as many clues as they are years old.
To all of my friends and family on the East Coast stay safe!
How are you weathering the storm? Any other activity ideas to stay sane?
photo credit: massdistraction via photopin cc
September 11th, 2012
There’s a cabinet above the fruit bowl in our kitchen that’s overflowing with vitamin supplements. When I was pregnant I was very diligent and took my prenatal vitamin like clockwork. But ever since my pregnancies I’ve completely fallen off the wagon and all those supplements are sitting in the cabinet untouched. I focus on eating well and hope that everything I need comes from my diet. Not always the case.
Adding vitamin supplements back into my diet has been on my mind for quite sometime. I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf now that the school year has begun. I’m going to take a probiotic for starters and the rest of my family is going to join in on the fun.
What is a probiotic?
When someone mentions “probiotics” I automatically think of yogurt. The word “probiotic” is a compound of two Greek words: “pro,” to signify promotion of and “biotic,” which means life.
Probiotics are bacteria that help keep everything balanced in your intestines. The human digestive system is designed to have “good” and “bad” bacteria. Trying to maintain a balance between the two keeps us healthy. Many times we are able to do this through a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, but there are times when your body needs a little extra help. Taking medications, a change in diet, diseases, and the environment can upset our bodies natural balance. Adding a probiotic to your diet can help.
Health benefits of taking a probiotic
The list of potential health benefits of probiotics continues to grow. While research is on going, the Mayo Clinic suggests that taking a probiotic could help:
- Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema (and potentially allergies) in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
- Strengthen the immune system
- Help with obesity
Which probiotic supplement should I take?
All probiotics aren’t created equal. ‘Probiotic’ has been a buzz word in the supplement industry for a few years and many vitamin manufacturers are eagerly entering the retail space. There’s an over abundance of probiotic choices. Here are a few tips to help find a probiotic that’s right for you:
- Use a reputable brand. Be picky.
- Look for a high dose-over 8 billion live cultures per capsule.
- Ask questions. I always accost the people at our local Whole Foods with questions.
Here’s what I am using:
For the kids: Jarrow Yum-Yum Dophilus 120 Chewable Tablets
For the adults: Renew Life Ultimate Flora Adult Formula
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to probiotics so use your best judgment and chose a brand that you trust.
Top probiotic foods
There are plenty of foods out there that contain probiotics. Try adding any of these to your diet.
Before taking any supplements please check with your doctor to make sure they are right for you.
Do you take a probiotic supplement? What do you recommend?
Yogurt | Stock Photo © Simone Voigt #5030990