Archive | March, 2009

Eagle Cam Eco-Activity

With Earth Day approaching, I’ve started hoarding eco-activities and lessons for the month of April that I can participate with my kids.  I was told about the Hancock Wildlife Foundation web site by an amazing preschool teacher and what an exciting activity it is for children to catch a ‘bird’s eye view (couldn’t resist) of eagles interacting courtesy of live eagle cams.  The Hancock Wildlife Foundation that has setup these cams was founded by biologist David Hancock.  The mission statement or goal of this foundation has such an important message with promoting the conservation of wildlife and its habitats through science, education, and stewardship.  The fact that Bald Eagles are endangered is also a great conversation to have with your children about the importance of protecting our environment and the animals that live within it.

The Hancock Foundation has installed various live wildlife cams and it’s amazing to study these proud, beautiful eagles; it’s fascinating to watch them so close in their nest tending to their eggs, nest and each other.  Check out these live streaming videos!  The forum on this site is also packed with information, pictures, and live cams of other animals from Africa to Vancouver Island.  A great computer activity if you are looking for a break from the Nick Jr. or Lego web sites and with April just beginning, it’s the perfect month to celebrate more earth friendly web sites for kids.

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DIY Golden Books Upcycled Into Journals

When financial times get tough, mothers get creative.  We still need to keep our rambunctious and energetic children happy and engaged right?  The word ‘upcycle’ has become popular with the important recycling / reusing message we are teaching our children today. Here are two eco-friendly kid’s projects that from start-to-finish teach kids about reducing plastic & reusing everyday items.  They are also two of the most popular items in my house and are the cause of many arguments with my children ranging in age from 3-6:  sketchbooks and play dough.  When one of my four kids starts playing or drawing with either of these items, the other kids want to participate.

Click here to read about the greatest play dough recipe ever!  It is so much better than store-bought play dough that I haven’t bought any in almost a year and it’s my favorite activity with all my kids.  It stays fresh for weeks and they love making it, dying it, and playing for hours.  I recently kicked this activity up a notch by dying my latest batch of play dough with vegetable dye.  I had beets left over from the organic produce co-op I belong to so I simply sliced the beets into small sections and dabbed the play dough with the vegetable.  Boom….like magic my play dough turned red and it was very cool when my kids noticed that this dye washed off their hands easily, where as the artificial dye we normally use, lingered for days.

The second awesome DIY activity was sent to me from a talented Etsy mom.  Do you remember reading Golden Books for hours with your children?  Once your kids move past the ‘Golden book phase’ of reading, you can put these dog eared favorites to good use.  Upcycle these books into sketchpads that can be filled with your child’s imagination.  In our house, the favorite thing right now is for my boys to narrate a story, I write it and they dictate and illustrate. This combined in a Golden Book journal would be a magical keepsake!  If you would like to look at or purchase these wonderful treasures, check out these fun Etsy stores:

Canadian location: Garden of Bella I love this Snow White journal…

US location: This Handmade Life with my favorite 101 Dalmations

Related articles:

The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!

 

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Blankets For Baby

There is no denying the special relationship a baby has with their favorite blanket.  I’ve had my eye on three designs for some time and would like to share.  As you will read, they are all different, all special, just like the little babes they are intended for.  And with me being proudly Canadian, they are all from Canadian online stores, meaning a great savings for local and US customers!

L’il Monkeys

This company started with a great story of a mom that wanted something special and unique after the birth of her twin daughters.  Talented enough to make her own blankets, mompreneur Andi started L’il Monkeys when people started asking where they could buy one.  Made from very soft anti-pill waffle fleece, these blankets are a great price, size, and best of all come personalized with your ‘little monkey’s’ name.  I love the textured ribbons around the outside, perfect and safe for babies or children to mouth or attach a favorite toy.  Mini teething blankets are $25 and full-size personalized blankets are $60.  Check out the sweet picture of Jack’s blankie, picture courtesy of the L’il Monkey site:

 

Saplings

Saplings carry an extensive line of organic bedding and have a very hip, but snuggly option from the Olli & Lime line.  This blanket named George is soft and 100% organic ~ who can resist the chocolate brown and fresh lime color combo?

Nayla Natural Care

These blankets are so lovely with their wonderful blend of bamboo and ecofabulous designs. They are reversible bamboo blankets and come in 3 wonderful prints. Made from 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton, they measure 20×30 inches and are a great value at $35. Check out the beautiful ‘Melia’ picture courtesy of Nayla’s site:

 

Related articles: Organic, Non-Toxic Gift Ideas For Baby

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Food Storage Without Plastic & BPA Free Ice-Cube Trays

There are a few things I’ll never go back to from the plastic world; food storage for freezing or heating food and water bottles.  I’m in love with the stainless steel alternatives over plastic and glass for food and liquid storage.  The Tickle Trunk has an amazing selection of stainless steel containers that can be even be used to freeze food!  Their selections of containers comes with a sealable lid and are easy like traditional Pyrex containers, but using stainless steel as the material in the base of the container and lid.  The sizes are small to huge so you can freeze a little leftover puree or large sized casserole.  Check out this line of food storage containers from The Tickle Trunk. All prices are in Canadian dollars and they range in 9 different sizes.  All of these 3 clip containers are made from 304 grade stainless steel and the lid has a silicone seal, making food storage air tight. You can also write on the containers with a non-permanent marker.  This range of sizes is perfect for baby food – to the largest container (26.3 cups or 6.0 L) great for sugar or flour storage.  The sizes range in 9 sizes from 1 cup (240ml) to 26.3 cups (6.0 L).

Pictures courtesy of The Tickle Trunk site:

While you are shopping at The Tickle Trunk, order your ‘hot of the press’ stainless steel ice-cube trays.  It is tough to find BPA-free ice-cube trays that you trust for freezing baby food or ice for drinks.  Most traditional plastic ice-cube trays are not coded or have the resin code 7. This highly anticipated product is on-route and will be arriving mid April 2009.

We look forward to highlighting products as they come available from The Tickle Trunk because you cannot beat their prices or different selections in varying stainless steel grades.  And these discoveries are what parent’s like – options that are safe and affordable!

Related articles:

Home-Made Baby Food & BPA Free Ice Cube Trays

Back-To-School Personalized Klean Kanteen Bottles

A ‘Green’ Way to Raise Money For Schools

Food Storage Without Plastic or BPA Concerns

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What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts over the last few months at Mommy Footprint. The last time I experienced this, I was listening to a dietitian named Jen talk ~ things started clicking together and I made changes. My sudden insight of late comes after many hours reading what the experts at EWG have to say, watching the Disappearing Male documentary, and getting many opinions from moms I trust that are focused on non-toxic households. It’s a feeling that actually saddens me because anyone that knows me is aware I love toys. Not at a normal level ~ I enjoy buying them more than my kids enjoy receiving them. I really thought this made me a good mom.

When my Mommy Footprint journey began, many things changed in our household. I began to experience a new awakening of the environment and also an understanding that I need to check products for myself before trusting that big name companies were watching out for my children. Because of financial reasons and having a house that is filled with too much ‘stuff’ I’ve been scaling back for the better part of 11 months and feel quite ashamed of my access in the last 6 years of being a parent. I’ve also realized that many things in my house are indeed toxic; cleaning supplies, personal care products, and toys. My focus with this article is toys and the important lesson for consumers that purchase toys for small children.

There is so much confusion with the terms PVC, phthalates, plasticizers, types of plastic, etc., it still has me scratching my head at times. There are a few things I’ve learned and it would have altered the course of my parenting had I known that most soft plastic toys are toxic. If you knew that a child simply mouthing a PVC plastic toy could be compared to a child sucking chemicals from a sponge wouldn’t you call poison control and find out what the effects were? Well the European Union really had a grasp of this problem back in the 1990’s and banned a lot of products that continue to be sold in Canada and the US ~ why? In 1997 Austria, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden all banned phthalates (one of the most common chemicals used to make plastic soft) from being used in toys.  Why is North America so much slower to react?

PVC is one of the most widely used forms of plastic, but it’s known as a human carcinogen. What would possess a toy manufacturer to use it in toys? We know that during the processing of PVC, dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals known are created and released. Over the course of it’s lifetime, PVC plastic leaks harmful additives and because it’s not recyclable, PVC ends up being burned or sits in a landfill. Burning this plastic is very harmful because dioxins are further released (air pollution), so it most likely ends up sitting in the landfill where it further pollutes our soil.

So I’ve written about soft plastic toys previously because my children have all mouthed and bathed with soft plastic toys their entire lives. What do I know about these toys to date? The chemicals used to make these toys soft pose potential health problems with mainly reproduction and cancer. That’s not a good feeling. I’ve spoken with toy manufacturers and taking the first step would be researching toys that are ‘phthalate free’. But ~ I would go one step further and purchase PVC free toys. If you are purchasing a tubby toy or teething toy, there should not be PVC plastic anywhere near it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sites for non-toxic bath toys (because all my children love playing in the tub) and in all my research, I’ve managed to find only 2 brands/products I would feel 100% comfortable with: Green Toys and Boon.

Another product line I’ve talked about in the past that has been a savior with my kids is Green Toys. I can’t tell you the peace of mind I have when I watch my twins (every night) have a tea party with their Green Toys tea set. Made from recycled Becel containers, I’ve been able to rest assured that chemicals aren’t leeching from the cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pot they play with every night. My best purchase to date for my girls and they’ve just turned three!

I’ve struggled of late with plastic. You think you’ve got your mind wrapped around BPA, phthalates, PVC. etc., then something new comes along and it’s overwhelming. I wish I could zap myself back in time and change many things with my children. Understanding more about toxic products would have really helped me. I’m trying not to be really angry when I read articles published by Greenpeace about the danger of PVC and toys back in 1999. I join their fight against toxic, environmentally destructive, and dangerous toys 10 years later, where I feel like nothing has really changed. I’ve even learned that PVC hard plastic exists with many toys and wonder if Barbie is still made from PVC, like the Greenpeace website confirms. She turned 50 this year ~ I wonder if the manufactures know that there are now alternatives to traditional plastic, like corn or natural rubber.

** Side note to this article ** I did call the Vancouver Aquarium because I wanted to know how their soft PVC plastic toys were produced because of my concerns about phthalates and toxic tubby toys. The manager told me that as of Sept/08, they confirmed that their soft plastic toys were made phthalate free. This made me feel better until my friend posed the question ~ what chemical plasticizers did they use to get the PVC plastic soft? It’s just so true, they have to put some sort of checimal into hard plastic to make it soft, so my advice would be to by-pass all PVC products and stick to non-toxic alternatives.

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