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Archive for Green Schools

February 4th, 2013

Blick Art Room Aid Supports Our School

Groovy Green Livin art room aid

Art was always one of my favorite subjects in elementary school. Talented artist I’m not, but my stick figures managed to progress into something recognizable. I think it was just fun to have a class that was something other than academic. A space to be creative and let loose a bit.

My three boys feel the same. Art is an essential part of their education. The art teachers they’ve had over the years continue to inspire them inside and outside of school.

Groovy Green Livin  Art Room AidBlick Art Room Aid

When a fabulous resource appears that connects art educators (who share project ideas and funding needs) with arts advocates (who can make contributions to projects in need that resonate with them) I’m thrilled to share and support. Art Room Aid does just that.

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.

Art Room Aid is such a simple way to support art in the classroom. Creating the list was incredibly easy. Once an account was created we added our wish list of art supplies. As new projects come up supplies can be added. Once the list is created you can publish it, making it simple to share via social media, email, the PTA or local businesses.

Our elementary school’s wish list

This year our local elementary school is experimenting with a new concept: Maker Day. Students will be able to participate in meaningful, hands on projects that mix technology, art, en engineering, and a whole heap of creativity. Parents from our community brainstormed and came up with several ideas for projects. Here are a few examples:

  • Making a banana play music on a computer
  • Sewing a bracelet with LED lights
  • Making a vacuum which safely sucks up unwanted insects
  • Creating incredible Origami
  • Making beautiful jewelry
  • Learning about zentangle (google it….)
  • Making a Gi-Normous Lego Structure
  • Making wooden gnomes
  • Catapults
  • Creating a huge jelly bean mosaic
  • Using out of circulation library books to make crafts and a sculpture

I worked together with the principal of the school to create a wish list for Maker Day using the Art Room Aid site. Take a look at our supply wish list to make Maker Day a success.

Blick Art Room Aid is a fantastic way for art educators to get the word out about upcoming projects and needed supplies and it’s a wonderful way for us, as a community to support our teachers and children.

For more information on this program please visit Art Room Aid. To support our local elementary school and Maker Day please visit Maker Day Art Room Aid.

How are the art programs in your area? Do you know a teacher who would benefit from Art Room Aid?

Disclosure: I worked in conjunction with Blick Materials and TheMotherhood.com on this post. Compensation was received. My local school received a donation of $100 in support of art room education. All opinions are my very own. 

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc

 

 

January 10th, 2012

Tips for a Green & Healthy Bag Lunch

Reusable green lunch

It’s been a long haul, but after 8 plus years our kids are finally on semi auto-pilot in the morning. There are still a few pieces of our morning routine where guidance is needed, but our three boys make a good effort to independently get their “jobs” done.

One of those morning jobs is packing their own lunch for school. This is by far the most time consuming task in the morning. I’ve tried coaxing them into packing it at night, but it just doesn’t work. So morning it is.

It’s not pretty in our kitchen when the lunch packing begins. It truly looks like a tornado came through and tossed food all over the counters and floor. But it’s worth it. Through making their own lunch they are beginning to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like.

Reusable lunch bagWhat is a green lunch?

Waste free

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.

Every since my kids have been in school we have focused on making their lunches as waste free as possible.We have a few reusable lunch bags -each child has their own assigned color. When buying their lunch bags I wanted to be sure that their food wouldn’t come in contact with any unsafe materials or chemicals. Their reusable lunch bagsare:

If you pull apart a typical lunch box you will find a sandwich in a plastic baggie, all sorts of individually wrapped snacks, possibly some fruit and a drink container.  Once lunch is over the wrappers from each of these items makes its way into the garbage can.

Making a lunch box zero-waste through the use of reusable products will minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch.

Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly reusable lunch box products. I also make sure to pack a reusable napkin, which occasionally gets tossed and doesn’t make it home.

What’s in our green and healthy lunch bag?

healthy green lunchI wish I could say our lunches are creative and exciting, but they’re really not. My kids tend to be creatures of habit and really don’t like to mix it up much. There are a few staples that end up in their lunches on a daily basis.

  • Fresh, organic fruit. My oldest likes watermelon and my youngest likes oranges, bananas and clementines.
  • Cut up, unpeeled carrots.
  • Healthy snacks.
  • A roasted turkey sandwich on an organic, whole wheat wrap.
  • The occasional treat (sometimes not so green and healthy).
  • Water in a stainless steel, reusable water bottle. Klean Kanteen
    is my reusable bottle of choice.

Green lunch bag tips

  • Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and treats.
  • Don’t buy individually packaged snacks i.e. fruit cups, single serving cookies, chips and crackers. There is a lot of wasted packaging and the cost per item is much more expensive than buying in bulk.
  • We try to buy organic when we can. Remember Organic doesn’t always mean healthy. There are organic foods out there that that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy.  Reading food labels is a must.  Also, be wary of long lists of ingredients that you don’t recognize.
  • Be prepared to lose a few items. I try to label everything with a sharpie. Until your children are used to their new green lunch box, there will be a few reusables that don’t make it home.

What goes in your green and healthy lunch bag?

There are a few affiliate links in this post. If you use them a few pennies will go in my pocket. Thanks!

[Photo used under Creative Commons from avilasal/Flickr]

July 5th, 2011

Hey Chlorine Industry-I’m a Mom FOR Cooties

 

mom against toxic chemicals

Have you heard about the Moms Against “Cooties” campaign? The chlorine industry is spearheading a massive campaign targeted at moms. They are trying to promote the use of bleach in schools and daycare centers to protect children from “cooties” (really people-cooties? The last time I used the word “cooties” I was in 5th grade talking about boys not germs).

Deceptive and silly campaign

The whole campaign is ridiculous. But the piece I find most intriguing and deceptive, as also pointed out by Annie over at Phd in Parenting, is that the chlorine industry has completely hidden the fact that they are driving this campaign. The “About Us” section on the Moms Against Cooties site says “Moms Against Cooties is brought to you by Water Quality and Health Council. “ No mention of the chlorine industry. They didn’t make it easy to find out who they were. I had to Google “Water Quality and Health Council” and go to a separate site to find out the truth:

The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.  The group comprises scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisers to the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council.

Bring on the cooties: keep out the harmful chemicals

The Moms Against Cooties site says: “Caregivers should be careful to disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis with a simple chlorine bleach solution”.  What they forget to mention is that not all germs are bad.  Exposure to different viruses and bacteria can actually strengthen a child’s immune system. They also forgot to tell us that chlorine and bleach ARE bad.

The truth about chlorine:

  • Household bleach is the most common cleaner accidentally swallowed by children.
  • Children can be exposed to dangerous gases when cleaners containing bleach are mixed with other cleaning agents, such as ammonia
  • Chlorine reacts with organic matter in drinking water to produce trihalomethanes, which may cause cancer and possibly developmental effects
  • A recent study links children’s exposure to one byproduct, nitrogen trichloride, in chlorinated indoor pools to asthma.
  • There is some indication that chlorine by-products can cause kidney, bladder, pancreatic, and other cancers.
  • Chlorine bleach can cause severe skin, nose, throat, and eye irritation or chemical burns to broken skin.

Make the switch: How daycare centers and schools can disinfect naturally and safely without chlorine

I’m not suggesting that cleaning and disinfecting aren’t important. I am suggesting that cleaning can be done in a non-toxic and safe way.

  • Remember there’s no replacement for good ol’ fashioned soap and water.
  • Teach children good coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the crease of your elbow).
  • Use Healthy Child Healthy World’s checklist for suggestions and resources to help your preschool, daycare or school to make the switch.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners.
    • Make your own disinfectants. The Smart Mama has a few to test out.
    • My favorite DIY non-toxic disinfectant recipe: Mix together 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid castile soap, ½ cup of vinegar and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.

Remember: Some germ exposure is OK and can actually strengthen your child’s immune system. Bleach is not the answer.

What does your child’s school use to disinfect? Do you have a favorite bleach alternative?

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.  
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.

August 30th, 2010

Green Moms Carnival Back-To-School Edition

Extra! Extra! Read All About it…… Back-To-School Tips, Information and Thoughts

Today is the release of the Green Moms Carnival Back-To-School edition. Green Moms Carnival is a collection of great contributions from around the green blogosphere dealing with a topic many of us are facing: our kids heading back-to-school.  Send Your Kids Back to School the Eco-Friendly Way is my contribution to this great resource for anyone with kids heading back to school.

The Green Moms Carnival was created a few years back by a group of dynamic women who had the desire to use the power and reach of blogs to discuss topics of common environmental concern.  Each month a different environmentally-conscious theme is used to unite lots of green bloggers. This week Mindful Momma is hosting this back-to-school edition.

Here you will find all kinds of eco-conscious tips, thoughts and information for kids heading back to school.

Some posts you might like:

Plus many more interesting stories. Enjoy!

August 24th, 2010

Reduce the Garbage-Switch to a Sustainable Lunch Box

Through August 31, 2010 Kids Konserve is offering Groovy Green Livin readers a 15% discount on all products -just enter the code “groovy” at check out.

Wow! It is hard to imagine 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.  If you pull apart a typical lunch box you will find a sandwich in a plastic baggie, all sorts of individually wrapped snacks, possibly some fruit and a drink container.  Once lunch is over each of these wrappers and containers end up in the garbage can.

How can we minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch? Kids Konserve is a site dedicated helping cut down on the Earth’s ever growing garbage pile. They offer an alternative to disposable packaging through their reusable products. One of my favorites is the Waste Free Lunch Kit, which provides everything you will need for one waste free lunch box.  You can also purchase reusable items such as reusable napkins, stainless steel containers, snak paks and sandwich cozys, a la carte.

I am thinking of ordering a few stainless steel mini containers and a few non-toxic ice packs to add to my supply of reusable items.

Also be sure to check out their Waste-Free Challenge for schools.  What a great way to work as a community to educate people about the reasons to reuse and work together to reduce the amount of waste.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.  Kids Konserve did approach me to offer a discount to my readers. I have not tried these products, but am looking forward to adding them to my ever-growing supply of reusables.

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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