Archive | August, 2009

Back-To-School With Stainless Steel

This year, shopping for back-to-school lunchtime items includes a much larger selection of stainless steel products. It’s no wonder with reports of plastic bottles that are branded ‘BPA-free” being tested and the results finding BPA still leaching and now the company SIGG announcing (in a very confusing bulletin from their CEO) bottles produced prior to August 2008 may leach BPA from the lining of their aluminum bottles. **  For parents and consumers, stainless steel options just keep looking better and better. Not only do stainless steel water bottles and lunch containers not require epoxy lining because it’s safe to have stainless steel directly touch your food and water, but they are easy to maintain, dishwasher safe, and if your purchase products in the 201 and 304 grades, they will last a very long time.

Sourcing and testing back-to-school lunch box products is very exciting for me at Mommy Footprint. Sometimes a product comes along that I can’t live without as a parent and they are a great fit with practical items at Green Planet Parties. Both my business partner Suzanne and I have a strong focus on products that not only are helpful to improve the conditions of our environment, but are safe for children. This September, Green Planet Parties has you covered with greener birthday parties and a greener start back-to-school.  We are proud to now carry 2 and 3 tiered stainless steel tiffin lunchboxes. These have been used in Asia and India for years and are gaining in popularity in North America. There is a shortage of these lunch systems in North America with this particular stainless steel grade (304) and the design cannot be beat.  Check out this product shot and read more…

My oldest son has loved using the 2-tier tiffin for over a year and and I’m excited to send him back-to-school using a 3-tier tiffin since he’s at school all day.  The boxes easily stack on top of each other and a very large bonus for me is only worrying about 1 lid for the top. There is a side latch with buckle to attach but it’s easy for kids and it’s very reminiscent of camping equipment we used as kids. All children love the latch because it’s fun to use. Moms can also be sneaky by strategically placing whatever item they want eaten first in the top container as it’s the first thing kids see after removing the lid.  I wonder if my kids have caught on that I’m doing this as their fruit and veggies are always in the top box.  Although the boxes are round, you can easily fit a child’s sandwich inside a single container. My GPP partner and I are thrilled to offer these to parents looking for safe and litterless lunch solutions with kids going back to school this September. Teachers, schools and children appreciate alternatives that help reduce waste and promote healthier eating.  

Green Planet Parties also loves stainless steel water bottles, but knows that children often loose or misplace these bottles. If your little angel is misplacing or hard on their water bottles, you might not want to pay top dollar for expensive bottles, so we added Water Geeks to our site to compliment the 304 stainless steel BILT bottles. Our Water Geek water bottles hold 12 oz and the BILT bottles hold 16 oz which is perfect for full day school aged children.

Like all parents, myself and the other ‘Suzanne’ of Green Planet Parties are concerned with finding safe solutions. It’s very rewarding to find products that work so well with our 6 kids (or should I call them guinea pigs) and share these products with other parents looking for practical, non-toxic and effective litterless lunchtime solutions.

** If you are worried about the SIGG water bottle you are using, check this picture on the SIGG website that diplays the old lining they were using on the inside of water bottles (that may leach BPA) and the new lining that is safe. Apparently SIGG’s customer service turn around time with emails is quick and they will replace old bottles. I personally would ask for a refund and not continue to support a company that made lots of money from concerned parents when BPA leaching from plastic water bottles first became public. The whole thing is very deceptive and company integrity is important to me as a consumer and parent.

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Graze Organic – Ditch Plastic Sandwich Bags Forever!

Oh I love this review. Another practical, but cute product was recently introduced to me and I’ve been testing them out for weeks with my kids.  Graze Organic is a new company from California that has put an original spin on reusable sandwich and snack bags.  They’ve created kid-friendly designs (that parents will love too) that are generous in size, made with a strong Velcro seal that should ensure food staying fresh.   My Graze Organic bags have saved me time, money, and gives me a great feeling since I’ve completely eliminated plastic wrap, plastic sandwich bags, and wax paper with getting snacks and lunch ready. These will be a staple with September quickly approaching with back-to-school lunch planning. The obvious use for the bags are for sandwiches but you can eliminate plastic bags and wrap if you start planning alternatives for cut veggies, fruit, and snacks.  The founders of Graze Organic have thought of everything with bags labeled ‘sandwich’, ‘fruit’, vegetables’, ‘snack’ and the favorite ‘surprise!’ My boys think the surprise bag is simply the best thing ever and always have high expectations when this bag is opened at lunch. Check out how fun these prints are! 

I laugh because I’m sure the founders of Graze Organic get asked on a regular basis ‘what are they lined with’?  Well folks ~ that is the point.  There is no lining because that would mean something synthetic is touching your child’s food. These bags are made from 100% organic cotton and they go a step further with printing the illustrations by hand with silk-screen using water based inks. Graze Organic has also found a way to produce their product line with a local footprint – proudly made in the USA.

This September, when your kids are going back-to-school, think about supporting and teaching them ‘litterless’ lunch habits, but also protect them from soft plastic wrap that contains PVC, plasticizers, and chemicals.  There is no longer any excuse to not reuse lunchtime containers. The co-founder Leslie, was lovely enough to walk me through the washing instructions so I can reiterate how easy caring for these bags really is. Only if the bags get really messy (jam sandwich, etc.) the bags should be turned inside out to machine wash. If there are only a few crumbs, just knock those out and machine or hand wash right-side out.  They can be thrown in with Jeans, towels, and other light weight fabrics.  Hey – even I can handle that and I appreciate another avenue to wash lunch time products since my dishwasher is always packed with stainless steel containers and water bottles. I also measured the bags before and after I washed them for the first time – almost no shrinkage which is awesome news for the roomy sandwich bags!

Also, thank you to Heather and Leslie for offering a set of 3 snack/sandwich bags for a back-to-school contest at Mommy Footprint.  They will ship the winner a set of 3 sandwich, veggie & snack or surprise bags. These reusable bags are a wonderful prize for any parent sourcing back-to-school lunch items.  Click on this link and complete the Referral Form to be entered to win. Contest closes August 28/09.

http://mommyfootprint.com/mommyfootprint-referral-form/

   

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Klean Kanteen Sports Cap 2.0 Ninja Style

One of my favorite stainless steel water bottles just got better!  Most families have one person that drinks nothing but water and large quantities of it.  My oldest son is that person and has very high standards with water bottles. He’s been testing the new Klean Kanteen sports top version 2.0 all summer and here is his expert summary, and only the way a 7 year boy could describe it.  “Mom! This water bottle is like a Ninja…in a good way!”  The ‘sneak attack’ of how much quicker the water comes from this new version of the sports cap got him so excited and I just loved his reaction. 

For those that truly appreciate the quality and safety that comes with drinking water from a Klean Kanteen bottle, you’ll love the new experience of this sports cap.  The first version would allow water to trickle out and adults or children had to work at getting the water out.  With version 2.0 the water flows easily – hence my son’s reference to ‘ninja’. He can finish his entire 18 oz Klean Kanteen bottle in one sitting and I love how much water he’s getting simply from changing the sports cap on his bottle. This is an easy and inexpensive way to jazz up an old favorite. For those looking for these new sports caps or a full spectrum of Klean Kanteen bottles, check-out the online store H20x2, dedicated to providing wonderful alternatives to disposable water bottles.  They have a large variety of accessories, Klean Kanteen bottle colors, sizes and I love their option to personalize for back-to-school! 

The trend of stainless steel for transporting water continues to be a ‘must have’ product for 2009 back-to-school children.  In my mind, stainless steel is easiest to maintain, keeps water extra cool, kids love using stainless steel bottles, and most importantly, parents have peace of mind.  Recently, articles have surfaced that Heath Canada scientists found BPA leaching from plastic baby bottles that were packaged and marketed as “BPA-free”. I would think the same could be argued that plastic sport or drinking bottles marked BPA-free could be doing the same thing.  Based on everything I have learned in 2 years about plastic touching my food and water – I keep sourcing plastic alternatives and love my stainless steel products more and more.

One tip about the Klean Kanteen sports caps; if you are sending kids to school and the bottle will be rolling about loose in a back-pack, stick with sports cap version 1.0.  If your child’s back-pack has a side pocket and the bottle remains upright in transport, then on your child’s desk at school, try out version 2.0.  It is something new for your child and they’ll enjoy the ‘silent sneak attack’ of their fun ninja bottle.

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Back-To-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies

The back-to-school online marketing, TV commercials, and newspaper flyers have started and the more I see and read I can’t help but think…”let the greenwashing begin!”  Just because products are advertised as ‘green’ doesn’t necessarily mean they are and parents need to educate themselves on what school supplies are made from.  This year, I’m making an effort to not just stumble blindly through Office Depot trying to find everything on my back-to-school list and will be attempting to purchase non-PVC items and avoid polycarbonate plastics too (BPA plastic coded #7).  Beware of back-to-school greenwashing from companies marketing ‘greener’ school supplies and lunch containers. Ask questions before you buy. I’m so tired of seeing water bottles that appear to be stainless steel, but after picking them up and asking or emailing customer service departments, only to be told they are aluminum (hello Old Navy!!!).  Which is actually terrible because there are health problems associated from having your water in direct contact with aluminum. This is why manufacturers line tin cans with BPA so there is a barrier between the can and food (not that this is an ideal solution either).  When a water bottle looks like stainless steel and is only $4.99 in a store – ask why.  You’ll be surprised by the answer.

My goal is to eliminate PVC (the poison plastic) coded #3 from anything my boys will be putting into their back-packs heading into the classroom this September.  I’m hopeful this is possible because there are so many more options with school supplies this year. Still, it’s a major undertaking to research school supplies so I’m linking to the experts at the Center for Health , Environment, & Justice.  They’ve put together a fantastic guide call Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies. Have a read because this guide was put together August 2009 and is very current with great information. There is even a wallet printable guide to take with you while shopping called Back-To-School Wallet Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.

If this is important to you I would recommend shopping early because items like 3-ring binders will be tough to find that aren’t made of vinyl. PVC is a known carcinogen and is toxic for human health. Let’s work together to remove it completely from schools.  Mommy Footprint is here to help with back-to-school litter-less (and non-toxic) lunch recommendations. I’ve been trying out some incredible products and will be writing about them over the coming weeks. A wonderful aspect of writing for Mommy Footprint is not only talking about chemicals I’m trying to eliminate from my children’s environment, but pointing parents in the direction to safe and more environmentally friendly products. I would never write a positive product review unless I love the product. I can’t wait to share products that are truly greener and safe to pack into your child’s back pack this school year.  And without the greenwashing. <grin>

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