Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

Just put your kids in a bubble.

After reading a recent article at Inhabitots then looking around my house, I have decided the only way to keep my kids safe is to place them in either

a) an individual bubble

or

b) a group bubble so they can play together

It seems that every day there is a new study out or another recall warning of the dangers of pretty much every item my kids come into contact with.

The Inhabitots article I came across for example, warns of the toxins contained in some types of flooring and wallpaper. Our kids are surrounded. If not at home, at school, at the babysitters or at Grandma’s.  The study found, among other things, toxic substances in flooring that negatively impact the immune system and brain development. Ahh, there goes my baby crawling on the floor, and I was worried about the dust bunnies he eats, turns out the kitchen floor is the problem.  They go on to site a Swedish study that “found that children exposed to the vinyl flooring that emits phthalates, may be as much as twice as likely to develop autism.” Another reason to be weary of vinyl flooring and wallpaper? High levels of lead, you pregnant ladies are not in the clear either. Click here to read the full Inhabitots article.

So that is that, I don’t have the $$ to rip up my vinyl flooring, I guess I’ll just try to contain Mr. Baby Man  in less toxic areas of my house for now. Maybe am incentive for more outside time?

While we are on the subject of toxic substances, lemme say a few quick things about BPA.

Upon reading various articles in The Globe and Mail, I have learned that

  • Teenagers  carry about 30 per cent more BPA than the rest of the population
  • Men who are exposed to high levels of BPA are more likely to experience sexual-performance difficulties. Does that make you enjoy your daily can of Pepsi more? Realistically the amount of BPA in a can of pop is probably harmless, but when you add it to the masses of other places BPA is suspected to be reaching us from…
  • Higher exposure to BPA =  A significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 45% increased risk to be exact.
  • Levels of BPA are so high in some waters, that people are banned from swimming .  Too bad we can’t ban birds, fish or dolphins from swimming in certain parts of the ocean.  The same study found that BPA levels  were even higher in sand since BPA’s claim to fame is sticking to things and sand particles are the perfect candidate.

Great news for Canadians!

After a 4 year study we can all  do the non-toxic dance because Canada has FINALLY declared BPA a toxic substance! The researched showed that 91% of us have BPA in our bodies. It is about time! When will everyone else follow suit?

( Shout out! Happy Wedding Day to Kim & Tommy!!)

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Eco-Easy Date Night Ideas

In an effort to create some memories that last forever with minimal waste or carbon output try these Friday night (or anytime) date ideas! Feel free to mix and match!

Although you should definitely use reusable table wear, I thought this ad was way too funny!

Some of these day time date ideas would be considered work for all but the most committed greenie, get out and give them a try!

  •  sign up for habitat for humanity
  •  apple picking in fall
  •  visit a farmers market
  • go for a bike ride picnic
  • clean up a park
  • if you can get your hands on one, go for a canoe or kayak ride (just don’t use a motor, ok?)

  My babysitters are usually  available during the evening  so here are some night-time date ideas that I’ve given some extra thought to

  • Scope out  a pretty well-lit park and settle in for a night-time picnic, if your date wants to volunteer to make up the basket even better!
  • Head to a restaurant that serves organic or local food. This is usually better suited for someone who lives in a city so public transport or even your feet can be taken advantage of. Luckily for me (who lives in the country) there are many little bed and breakfast spots/little restaurants nearby that have  great local organic selections. Another note, if you tend to leave lotsa food on your plate consider bringing  your own take out container in place of those waste full styrofoam thingies or foil.
  • Take a walk around and browse used book stores. Consider this little equation: great deal + exercise + loads to talk about + a new book = great date. If you don’t love to read,consider looking for  pretty books for decorating.
  • Go together to the liquor store and choose some organic wine or beer, stop in for some organic snacks on the way home and enjoy together
  • This idea is probably better suited to a couple that lives in the counrty or has a fireplace, but spiked hot chocolate and a campfire is another great option.
  • If you live in the city, go spontaneous and do a random  mass transit date. Choose a stop randomly and this is where your date will take place!
  • Do it up old school. Like real old school. Soda shop and stroll, or coffee and stroll, or beer and stroll, or milkshake and stroll. You get the idea.
  • I am a board game addict. Try a 2 player board game by candle light for a pretend it’s a black out kinda night.
  • For a stay at home movie date, to save money and be eco friendly borrow movies from  the library or sign up for Netflix.

No time for a date but still want to do something eco-friendly together? Conserve water and hop in a shower for two. If you have kids, turn the monitor on and remember to lock the door, as not to scar them for life… 

If you have a great eco date idea I would love to hear it!!

What is a Big Green Purse? I’ll give you one! (review and giveaway)

Win a copy of BIG GREEN PURSE by DIANE MACEACHERN, just leave a comment. ( Open October 14-28 2010)

So the basis for me starting this blog was to write about my One in a Million Challenge (recently I’ve fallen a little behind on this, updates are coming…)

The One in a Million Challenge is an idea that Diane MacEachern came up where she encourages women to shift $1000 of their existing budget to environmentally friendly products.  Since women control 0.85 cents of every dollar spent, this adds up to a lot, like  ONE BILLION DOLLARS we’re talking.  That is enough money to make any manufacturer take a second look at their product and ask “how can I make this a better environmental choice?”.

Skeptical about the importance of buying eco-friendly products?

In her book, Big Green Purse, Diane explains why it’s important to choose the greener options. Diane touches on many subjects in the book, in fact pretty much anything related to living, from beauty products to cars to food.

In her chapter “CLEAN AND GREEN: CLEANSERS SCRUBS, POLISHES AND FRESHENERS”  she points out the health hazards we are facing today . For example 6.1 million kids in the U.S. have asthma, making asthma the #3 reason kids are hospitalized. She points out pretty clear links between what you use in your house on a daily basis with these risks. She then goes on to explain how to make simple easy shifts to healthier options. She makes it pretty easy too, with a thumbs down list of things to avoid, go green cleaning tips and even a where to shop guide.

Diane also has some pretty smart thoughts like “When buying a new appliance, light or computer to remember:  it has 2 price tags- what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy it uses” This book is so handy because she then goes on to list the top 10 ways to save energy and money.

It’s pretty clear that I’m a fan of the book, and that it is totally required reading for every woman, no matter where she is at on the going green scale.

One thing I did miss from the book is more info on eco-travel, a follow-up book is in order perhaps?

 

GIVEAWAY!

Want your own copy of the book? Great, cause I’m giving one away! Leave a comment and your e-mail address. Also if you feel the need to tweet or facebook or like Big green purse on facebook about this contest let me know and you’ll get 2 extra entries!!  (Open to US and Canada residents, over 18 please)

Use your big green purse

Hey, if you don’t win you should still totally pick one up. I mentioned where in my Greenie Deals post.  I love having mine around for reference!  You should also check out her big green purse website which is packed with all kinds of great info! As is the big green purse facebook page.

Worth it? Why Tide is not cool

What’s so bad about laundry detergents anyway? Why bother buying a green detergent?

A few things that are  not cool about conventional detergents:

  • Companies are not legally required to disclose all ingredients, and most choose not to.
  • Synthetic Surfactants. These suds-makers biodegrade  slowly, and will stay in our water ways for a very long time. Did I mention they are made from petroleum? They  also have a very high biological toxicity, according to an English study they have been shown to increase growth of breast cancer cells and also make boy fish more like girl fish. So weird and wrong.
  • Artificial fragrances, these are bad always, again made from petroleum, toxic effects on animals are not clear yet…
  • Optical brightners,  maybe let’s work on getting our clothes brighter without being toxic to fish.

Good news:

  • Most detergents come in concentrated versions now, because really why would we want to pay money for a bottle that is 3/4 water anyway, try to buy the detergent with the least amount of packaging.
  • Plant based surfactants ( biodegradable and safe)  are being used by greener laundry options like Method.
  • Can’t beat local and cheap! Try Down East Liquid Laundry

To skip detergent every now and then try these tips

  • Soak whites in hot water with lemons for a few hours instead of bleach (discard lemons before putting them in the washing machine)
  • Use baking soda. While I use detergent with my cloth diapers, I always through in some baking soda for a little extra kick, my sister uses only baking soda.
  • Try a recipe to make home-made laundry detergent

Funny story, In the 1960s, when surfactants began to gain in popularity detergent manufacturers  battled over who had the longest lasting suds. This led to suds  appearing in streams, rivers, lakes, and 8 feet of  strangely  colored bubbles at the foot of Niagara Falls. Was this a hint that what we use in our homes goes directly back into the environment?

Check out the other Worth it? Apples to Apples and I can’t get these diapers out of my head

Oh and by the way Green Laundry detergents are WORTH IT! I like Method free and clear detergent, my favorite part is no measuring, you just squirt it in!!

Easy, fast, yummy hot chocolate

Last night I had a little chocolate breakdown.

I had  made a  decision to buy only fair trade chocolate after my Bye Bye Kit Kat post so it really sucked when I broke down last night and in addition to my fair trade Dairy milk bar,  I had a (gasp!) Reece’s Peanut Butter cup….

In my defense my husband bought it.

So to get back on the fair trade wagon I thought I would post my organic/fair trade hot chocolate recipe!

 

Fair trade Hot Chocolate!

 

This recipe makes 4  mugs of hot chocolate (put some in the fridge and heat it up later, mmmm)

You will need:

  • Equal parts boiling water and cocoa (I use Cuisine Camino organic fair trade)About 1/3 cup each.
  • About 4 cups of milk ( I use organic whole milk because I figure more fat=better hot chocolate, but that’s me…)
  • 3/4 cups of white sugar (I haven’t switched to organic yet…)
  • A bit of fair trade chocolate for shaving or grating

Mix the boiling water, cocoa,  sugar and a tiny dash of salt well in a microwave safe container. Add 4 cups of milk and slap that into the microwave for a few minutes, stirring whenever you feel like it.

When it reaches the perfect temperature take it our and mix it even more!

I grate some chocolate on top (that would be the pencil shaving looking stuff) or you could add a cinnamon stick or a tiny splash of vanilla extract.

Enjoy!

*While you’re enjoying your hot chocolate, check out this article:World of Green urges consumers to buy fair trade in celebration of  National Fair Trade Month.

What your kids need to know

 

From Calvin and Hobbes "Weirdos from another planet"

 

We all know that teaching our kids to be polite and respect other people is pretty important.

What about teaching our kids to respect the earth, how many parents make this a priority?

We are packing so much into our days that we barely have enough time for homework, let alone a new subject. I think doing 1 thing a month to show our kids that the Earth is important is a goal that we can all achieve. We really don’t want our kids to look back at us and say WTF were they thinking? It is their future that we’re messing with! Do you think they  want to be dealing with our trash or severe weather (due to climate change), that is only getting worse, in 50 years?

Here are a just a  few ideas to introduce or continue teaching your kids about climate change:

If you have a baby or a toddler:

  • Get them outside! Start to teach babies right away that there is more to the world than a TV screen. ( I write this as my baby watches baby Einstein beside me…We’ll be going outside later..)
  • Make a point to recycle in front of them, let them see that this is just a part of life. Talk to them about why it’s important to recycle.
  • Let them watch or help plant a tree or garden and  they will develop a taste for it early on

If you have pre-school or young school aged kiddies:

  • Read them books about the environment. My kids love “It’s Earth Day” by Mercer Mayer and “I can save the Earth” by Alison Inches. Be super eco-friendly look for books like these at a local used bookstore
  • Make something that will spark a conversation like this great Pizza Box Solar Oven
  • Use Tupperware (pvc, bpa free) or a cool reusable sandwich bag in their lunch and let them know that they are helping to save the planet by not using plastic bags
  • Take them to a farmers market, then have them help you prepare a meal with the things you bought. Start a clear understanding of where food comes from early.
  • Have them check out this Climate Kids website that is put on by NASA  or  the climate change kids site by the EPA.

If you have a tween:

  • Take them to a beach or park to clean up litter, have them invite some friends and buy them some yummy food afterward.
  • Have them check out EEK! Another great website.
  • To persuade them with pop culture check out Global Warming celebrities

If you have a teen:

  • Chances are they are more knowledgeable about the environment than you anyway….
  • Grab them a documentary like the 11th hour, an Inconvenient truth or Food inc.

My 6 year old has been into Calvin and Hobbes comics lately. The other night I came across a great story. Calvin  decided  he and Hobbes were going to Mars, because the Earth is too polluted. Wow, even Calvin and Hobbes (in 1990) are hip to the fact that the earth is in trouble.

 

From Calvin and Hobbes "Weirdos from another planet"

 

 

Check out Climate Mama, she is hosting the Green Mom’s carnival to get people moving on 10-10-10 and celebrate climate solutions!

Dollarstore Eco?

I was at the Dollarstore the other day and as always my eyes were scanning and searching for green items.  I have never hip checked a kid before, but  that tween stood between me and my eco-friendly future! She was blocking the  Envirosticks! I want it!Luckily she moved on before there was a confrontation….

Envirosticks, they must be green!! Ohhh, something I will use, is super cheap and it looks eco friendly!  This a perfectly guilt free purchase! Sigh, what every shopaholic/ecoholic dreams about. Why get so worked up about pencils? That’s just who I am.

Anyway upon closer inspection on their website I decided to grade them and see if they are really a good eco buy or not.

PRO

  • made from sustainably grown forests
  • uses non toxic ink to put print on pencils
  • when it gets down to the nubby bit, you can recycle the little metal piece and compost the eraser
  • They are also great to write with, and with my son in grade 1 now we use pencils ALOT
  • CON
  • While they use sustainable forests, why cut down any trees at all when you can make pencils out of recycled materials, like O’BON.
  • They are also pretty boring to look at, next time I’m looking to but some eco pencils, I think I’ll spice it up a little with these super cute designs, also from O’BON.
  • The package is mainly plastic,  why would you bother to make a recyclable pencil with a package that ends up in the trash?

So Envirosticks turned out to be a decent eco buy for the dollarstore, but if I was paying full price I would choose a recycled alternative.

While I was at the dollarstore, I also found some bamboo elastics. While I really did know better, that bamboo production for textile like things is not that eco friendly, I was on a roll and bought them anyway. I always need elastics for my little girls’ hair and at least the package was made from recycled material! I have not come across any other eco friendly hair elastics, so if you know of someone who sells them let me know!

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