Archive | January, 2009

Phthalates & BPA Chemicals ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Have you heard about the CBC documentary called The Disappearing Male? A completely fascinating study with experts contributing to the idea that the thousands of man-made chemicals produced in the last 100 years are contributing to boys suffering from a decrease in sperm production, sperm abnormalities, cancer, and genital deformities.  As a mother of two boys, I was totally glued to this 45 minute documentary.  I took notes throughout the film and would like to share the many things I learned.  This topic is so interesting because the 2 chemicals the documentary focused on are BPA and Phthalates – two chemicals I too believe need more attention than only being banned from baby bottles.  There are some scary statistics and harsh realities with watching this video, that I really believe all parents should watch.  Your awareness of how much plastic affects your health will be heightened.  To watch the two minute trailer click here.  Canadians, to watch the 45 min film click here.  Canadians and Americans, to watch the film in 5 chopped up clips, here is the link on YouTube.  I learned so much information, I’m spreading this topic over two Mommy Footprint articles ~ I feel so strongly about this topic and don’t want to overload with too much information within one article.

Part 1: What Is Happening To Boy’s Reproduction and The Human Experiment At Aamjiwnaang

According to the documentary The Disappearing Male, there is a growing body of evidence that something is wrong with the sexual health of human males worldwide.  In the last 50 years, sperm counts have been cut in half ~ scientists believe that boys today, produce 1/2 the sperm their fathers did.  Accompanied with increased rates of male infertility and testicular cancer more than doubled in recent years and why?  Scientists believe that man-made synthetic chemicals are to blame.  In the last 60 years, thousands of man-made compounds have been produced and most have not been tested for how they affect humans.  Examples of these chemicals are BPA, produced to make plastic hard and phthalates to make plastic soft.  It’s not only human scientists noticing these scary trends, but environmental scientists studying animals are finding the same thing…vastly reduced amounts of all male species when living in polluted habitats.  Continue Reading →

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Resources to Get Parents and Children Outside Enjoying Nature

After a few days of enjoying bird watching, making home-made bird feeders, forest walks, and basically falling in love with trees and nature again, I want to share a few sites that continue to re-inspire me.  It is so important for children and parents to get outside and enjoy at least an hour of outdoor time each day.  I feel like a new person when I get out and explore tree stumps or explain to my children how wonderful it is to see and touch an enormous tree because it means they’ve been on earth for many years.  The process of getting all my kids dressed for cold weather and listen to the complaining about gloves or boots not fitting properly is almost enough to just abandon the whole idea, but once we are finally outside, the kids have the best time and I feel like a new mother ~ ready to teach, inspire, and I regain lots of patience.  Nature really is magical and has a healing effect on myself and the kids.

Don’t know where to start with encouraging family enjoyment and the outdoors?  Purchase a Nature Bag.  This gift will far out-last its value because the ideas it inspires in a forest, backyard, or adventure walk are precious.  I always try to remember my child won’t tell me how much they appreciated a treasure hunt, eye-spy or scavenger hunt….until they have children of their own and remember it fondly as a grown-up.  Adults always come back to concepts and activities they enjoyed as children once they become a parent, so help create memories that imprint your child’s memory over a life time.  It is parents finding the time, energy and enthusiasm to setup such a special activity.  The two moms that created the Nature Bag make it easy including leaf viewers, a magnifying glass, a blindfold, and their eco-activities included in a booklet that are truly amazing.  Really, re-introduce your child to nature this Valentines Day and enjoy the rewards this gift will bring your entire family. Click here to find locations that sell this product.

I have deep respect for the two website that inspire me constantly with new ideas about how to get my children to enjoy nature and fun activities.  The BEST activity all four of my kids enjoyed this winter season I learned from the mom writing for Nature For Kids.  You really get the sense that she knows what works for children and nature, she reminded me of the craft of making peanut butter bird feeders.  Pine cones you collect, cover with peanut butter, and then roll in birdseed.  Hang up high and away from your house, so only birds are encouraged to feed ~ this had been such a blast for even my two year olds to participate with.  The amount of birds we’ve watched come to our backyard with these feeders is simply amazing!  This leads me onto a connected eco-activity…

Green Hour – I’ve mentioned them before and I’m a huge fan.  This site simply exists to help re-connect your children with nature for one hour each day. The amount of nature-based activities they’ve listed are simply amazing, but their ‘bird journal’ stuck in my brain because this activity combined with the bird feeder, has simply been the best kid’s activity ever in this household. I purchased my boys a bird sight-seeing book, and then gave them a journal and pen.  They write down the page number from the book and species of bird and record a mark for each of these birds that come to investigate the bird feeder.  I had no idea that our backyard was filled with Black Eyed Junco birds….I would have just assumed they were Chickadees.  A great help for kids that can’t read is to print off pictures of the bird species for their journals so it’s easy to cross match with their book!  It’s hilarious and wonderful that my kids act like a rock star entered my backyard when a ‘Winter Wren’ or ‘Bewick’s Wren’ makes an appearance.

Kids are just naturally drawn to nature.  That must be why a tip for colicky babies is to take them for a walk or when children are just miserable, you put them in boots and give them freedom to ‘go nuts’ in a puddle…suddenly, these ailments are gone.  It is parents finding the energy to make the outdoors exciting and fun.  I hope some of the resources I’ve mentioned help your family discover how refreshing and fun nature can be ~ just go outside.

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Gaia Natural Baby Lends A Hand With Childhood Eczema

My daughter Isabella has seasonal childhood eczema.  I don’t know what causes it, but in the winter it flares up and causes rough patches all over her body, face, back, hips, and chest.  To watch her scratch last year and say “Mommy itchy, mommy owwie” was hard because she was only 1 year old and she was my first child to suffer with sensitive skin.  She doesn’t have food allergies and with last year being SO much worse, I’ll attribute her continual flare-up to the personal care products we used on her skin and chemicals we’ve since removed from our household.  Products like shampoo, soap, clothes detergent and dryer sheets, previously laced with fragrance and toxic chemicals, now replaced with fragrance free, eco-friendly, or all natural products.  And don’t get me started about toxic dryer sheets – I discovered they never belonged or served a purpose in my home.

I’d like to focus on a new line-up of products that were introduced to me by Gwen, the owner of Nayla Natural Care.  The product line is from Gaia Natural Baby and she thought of me instantly because I’m always on the look-out for safe, natural products to use on Isabella.  I first became a fan of hers when I noticed she carried very inexpensive BPA free, ice-cube trays for storing baby food.  Ever since writing about this product, Gwen and I have a wonderful rapport because her product knowledge on natural products is outstanding!  She is happy to consult, share, and even point you to a different company or product she doesn’t carry if it can help you.  I trust her product selection and am proud that she’s a fellow Canadian mompreneur making a difference with offering babies, children and moms a line-up of products you can trust.

Gaia Natural Baby is a certified organic brand, made in Australia, started by a family that couldn’t use any traditional products on their child suffering from eczema at 8 weeks old.  They were started in 2002 which makes them a grandpappy company in the world of organic personal care companies.   She too was told cortisone was the only way to treat her son’s sensitive skin (I was told the same thing), an answer she refused to listen to and Gaia Natural Baby was born.  Ingredients are listed on the bottle and rather than the words nobody can pronounce and alcohol being listed, you’ll see:

Certified Organic Calendula Extract ~ Certified Organic Chamomile Extract ~ Certified Organic Evening Primrose Oil ~ Certified Organic Avocado Oil ~ Certified Organic Shea Butter ~ Certified Organic What Germ Oil ~ Certified Organic Lavender Pure Essential Oil ~ Certified Organic Sweet Orange Pure Oil

All things you know are natural – I even got a little hungry while typing that out! <grin>  When Gwen mentioned the lavender scent with the Gaia brand I was hesitant because lavender smell gives me an instant headache…but I agreed because Isabella’s skin has been breaking out in recent weeks.  I’ve been very happy to discover that the scent is lovely and very light; from the shampoo, to the body wash/bubble bath, to the skin moisturizer, just a wonderful, natural and soft experience.  Oh my gosh and the delight that my girls experienced with having bubbles in their tub again after many months in bubble-free water was so fun to watch!  The just loved it and the bath water stayed very moisturizing and the shampoo is fantastic!  Isabella is able to have her hair washed and her skin moisturized in a comfortable, natural way.

So Gaia Natural Baby isn’t joining the fight against childhood eczema, it probably was one of the leaders.  I’m thankful to Gaia Natural Baby’s founder, a mother that decided to trust her instincts and create a company to help her child and many more as a result.  Thanks to Gwen for sourcing these items and telling me about Gaia. 

Nayla is starting to grow and branch out into the natural Eco-Me cleaning kits I keep hearing such good things about.  A truly wonderful store to check out for Valentines Day for that expectant mom or little person deserving these and many other natural gems!  Check out their new arrivals – perfect to kick start Valentines or baby shower planning.

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Stainless Steel Alternative For Your Plastic Water Cooler

What a find!  Here is a stainless steel, plastic-free alternative for anyone missing their traditional plastic water cooler or dispenser. We’ve all used the plastic water coolers either located in a workplace office kitchen or as the drinking water system in our home.  These water coolers are top to bottom built with plastic and I’ve always wondered about the ‘filter’ within the system, not to mention the bottle containing the water might be made from polycarbonate plastic.  This is the type of number 7 plastic that leeches chemicals when used for liquids, gets broken down with use, or is heated.

It’s strange thinking back about paying to drink this ‘purified’ and ‘safe’ water.  My previous family doctor even told me not to drink tap water while pregnant.  Now in post-BPA world and reading about what water is actually the best to drink, tap water filter systems or just plain old tap water are proving to be the best bet.  Over the last year I know many friends after checking the recycling codes on their bottles and discovering they were coded 7, contacted the suppliers and found out the bottles did contain BPA.  For anyone with these traditional systems in your office or home, check what code is on top of the plastic bottle.  If it’s coded a number 7 (with the recycling arrows in a triangle around the number), you should call the company and check if it’s made from a polycarbonate plastic. If it is, this plastic is leeching BPA into your water.

Check out this practical and beautiful (!!) stainless steel system as a replacement.  Doesn’t it make you think cottage at the lake, Martha’s Vineyard?  Picture from Life Without Plastic site

The Life Without Plastic site lists this product as a liquid storage container for not only water but wine (hello!), honey, milk, oil, any type of liquid. What a wonderful piece to incorporate into entertaining company or a summer BBQ.  You can even fill it with tap water and let your family help themselves throughout the day.   This product called The Superfustinox is made and imported from Italy.  The European standards are the highest in the world for safety – nice to see a stainless steel product that isn’t being made in China.   A wonderful investment for summer time entertaining – I can speak from personal experience that wine tastes lovely from stainless steel.  <smile>

Available in fridge size (3 litre), medium (10 litre), and large (20 litre).  These stainless steel water storage systems sound and are functional but look romantic as images of the cottage (you may or may not own) come to mind.   Great find over at Life Without Plastic!

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Eco-Friendly (er) Kid’s Birthday Party

Well it’s been a busy week here…more so than Christmas.  Why?  It’s been a weekend of Eco-friendly party planning for a 5 year old boy ~ my Angelo.  I won’t go into the intense emotion that I feel when one of my kids gets one year older and I’m just not ready.  Here are some practical emotions I realized while hosting this Eco-friendly, sustainable, birthday party.    

During the preparations for Angelo’s special party, I had a few ‘light bulb moments’ about party give-aways.  I am very sensitive to the plight of boys and what constitutes a ‘cool’ loot bag or party give-away.  You have to be very creative with boys so they aren’t disappointed with a give-away that doesn’t light up, shoot something, or have a super hero on the front of it.  As I geared up for Angelo’s special celebration I couldn’t help but think back to last year, because we were having the same wonderful performer come to the house to keep the kids entertained.  This year it was a clown, last year he came dressed as a magician.  The give-aways last year included magician themed toys: clown nose, funny glasses with big nose, wand, deck of cards, etc.  I started second guessing myself, as this year I selected very sustainable, handcrafted give-aways.  When pulling out party supplies to re-use, I found some leftover items from the give-aways we gave last year.  My boys were so excited to see the clown nose and funny glasses. The pangs of guilt increased….but I learned about trusting your instincts and why teaching your children about sustainability is so important.  Within an hour of these new items coming out, the glasses had broken, the nose was ripped in two and the toy magician wand broke – instantly becoming a choking hazard. 

I suddenly felt silly for doubting myself and even a little bad for giving my guests such cheap items the year before.  What did I do this year?  I purchased cowboy fabric and had the master seamstress extraordinaire from Green Planet Parties create tool belt/craft aprons.  Foot long craft/tool mini aprons with pockets and a loop that held a hammer and paper punch to encourage crafting for both girls and boys attending the party.  Girls love to hammer too…so they received hammers, but their aprons were made with pink flower fabric with striped front pockets.  My sons thought these give-aways were awesome and it’s rekindled the intense pride I feel about the education process the Green Planet Party (GPP) site offers parents about giving more Eco-friendly parties for their children and choosing ‘green’ (er) give-away and gift selections.  Besides for this year’s loot bags, my children’s 2 favorite give-aways from recent parties have been a full camouflage apron for Angelo…he runs for it every time he helps in the kitchen and Francesco loves his stainless steel cup that holds his morning milk.  I can’t remember many other give-aways other than books.

I had further affirmation during the party when Francesco, my very cool 6 year old, noticed the cloth, personalized banner and matching camouflage cloth tablecloth for Angelo and quietly says to me “I want the same thing at MY party!”  This was said with a quiet voice, but a loud exclamation at the end of the statement.  And let me tell you, that boy is not easy to impress!

My guests were also wowed by the cold cups made from corn ~ perfectly sized for small hands and the beautiful palm leaf tableware that still takes my breath away with it’s imperfect, naturally stunning design, produced by mother nature herself. 

I thought Angelo would be too young at 4-5 years old when he decided to have a donation party, where the guests bring a cash donation in lieu of gifts, but after watching his big brother last year, he decided he had to help save the lions.  These cats are on the endangered list and Angelo just adores these beautiful animals.  He proudly counted the donations and set aside the amount for the lions.  He knows when he decides on a special gift, he’s welcome to use his 1/2 from the donations and purchase something sustainable and fun.  When given a choice, kids will surprise you every time.  The gift of education from these greener parties will travel through your group of friends and family….continuing to spread the word about unique and important ways to help the earth.  Now the only thing missing from the GPP site is how a mom comes to terms with her baby growing up.  <sob>

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