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Archive for Green Children
July 13th, 2016
The toys were starting to take over. We have a closet in our basement that was bursting at the seams. It was filled with trucks, cars, trains and every imaginable game from the time my three boys were toddlers.
All three of my kids are at sleepaway camp for a few weeks. I’m missing them like crazy, but I know they’re having a fantastic time. The time for sorting and cleaning out that overflowing closet was here.
Over multiple days I pulled everything out and started sorting them into piles. Most were in decent shape so I really wanted to find a good home for them.
Many of the charities out there such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army take donations and resell them in their retail shops. The proceeds from any sale are then placed back into programs they support. As much as I love seeing the toys used for something good, they’re not directly donated to those in need. While this is an OK option, I knew that I wanted to pass along the toys directly to a family who would use them.
Here are 5 ways to donate used toys directly to a child in need
I started with Freecycle, which is an amazing nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills. There is a Freecycle group in the town next to mine. I posted all the cars, trucks and trains on the site. A sweet woman was at my house within an hour. She takes care of her great-nephew so the toys were perfect. There’s no tax deduction if you use Freecycle.
ROOM TO GROW, Boston and New York
Room to Grow helps babies born into poverty throughout their first three years of life. The organization provides families with developmental information, customized support, and all of the needed baby items. If you live in Boston or New York this organization is a great option. They are looking for donations that are new or nearly new, clean and in truly excellent condition.
SECOND CHANCE TOYS
If there isn’t a collection in your area Second Chance Toys could be the answer. If you can gather 50+ gently used plastic toys from your community, Second Chance Toys will arrange for a drop-off at a local organization. Just go to collect toys to register. They’ll give you access to flyers, merchandise and other promotional items to promote your collection.
Check HERE to see if there’s a local homeless shelter in your area. Please call them to see if there’s a need before dropping off a donation. Local homeless shelters may want small toys to give to children they are housing.
STUFFED ANIMALS FOR EMERGENCIES (SAFE)
If you have stuffed animals to donate try Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. The organization was founded to help ease anxiety and fear when children are in a crisis situation. SAFE chapter members collect new and gently used stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets to be redistributed to emergency organizations, children’s services, hospitals, homeless shelters and many other places that help children during times of crisis.
Do you have any other donation suggestions to add to the list?
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April 16th, 2015
Today’s the day. My 5th grader is watching the 5th grade puberty movie at school.
Having two older brothers who also viewed this rite of passage, I know the video is no big deal. I’m pretty much an open book when it comes to this information, so hopefully there won’t be much new information passed along to him.
But there’s always one big takeaway for the kids. And it’s not what you would think.
The video stresses over and over that the boys should start wearing deodorant. There is also mention of antiperspirant.
Both of my older children came home after watching the movie and let me know that needed to start wearing deodorant IMMEDIATLY.
Deodorant and Antiperspirant
I’m not so sure I agree with that takeaway. Not every 5th grader needs deodorant. And no 5th grader should be wearing antiperspirant. As we all know, kids develop at different rates. There might be some kids out there who have begun puberty and are offensively smelly. Deodorant is a good option in this case. But it really comes down to personal choice, not a video mandating that they wear it.
We need to provide education about deodorant and antiperspirant
Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain controversial aluminum and their ingredient list is long and filled with other suspicious chemicals that I don’t want on my body and I certainly don’t want on my teen’s developing body.
We are a culture obsessed with smelling pretty. Take a stroll down the deodorant isle at any supermarket and the options are endless. A recent poll of over 500 parents revealed that approximately 50% of children ages 4 to 11 are using deodorant by age 11.
Don’t Buy Into Those Super Smelly Deodorants
You know what brands I’m talking about. They seem to be the go-to brands for many teen boys. Many of the highly scented deodorants contain synthetic fragrances that are made up of literally hundreds of chemicals, including hormone-disrupting phthalates, and other ingredients that have been associated with cancer. And they stink!
Say no to antiperspirants
Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants and they block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin’s surface. Some scientists have claimed that using the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer and/or Alzheimer’s. If you are determined to use a product use a safe deodorant,not antiperspirant.
Safe Deodorant Options
Yes, you can make your own deodorant, but if you aren’t a DIY type of person here are a few product suggestions for safe deodorants:
- Tom’s of Maine – I’ve been using this brand for years and there are no artificial colors, or fragrances or preservatives, although it does contain propylene glycol, which is a petroleum derivative.This brand is simple to find at many retailers and comes in a variety of mild fragrances.
- Nourish Organic Deodorant – This organic deodorant comes in lavender mint or vanilla almond– good enough to eat! It’s also free of parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, preservatives, silicones, propylene glycol, mineral oils, sulfates, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA and aluminum.
- Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant Stick – I really like this brand. The deodorant goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave a white film. It comes in a variety of scents, including unscented. There’s no bad stuff in this deodorant: NO Aluminum, NO Parabens, NO Toxic Chemicals, NO Fragrances, NO Corn, NO Gluten, NO GMOs.
- Miessence Roll-on Deodorant – Another certified organic deodorant with a fantastic ingredient list. This deodorant also scored well on the Skin Deep site.
Don’t forget to read your labels and find a deodorant that works for you. Not only will each of these deodorants work well for your teens, but they’ll work for everyone!
What’s your go-to brand for deodorant?
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Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
photo credit: 20130716-4 DCPR Practice 2013 via photopin (license)
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
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, foodiesathome.com via photopin cc, ginnerobot via photopin cc, 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.