Archive | July, 2011

Heathly Crafting with Children

This article has been tough to write because the crafting world is gigantic…it’s impossible to try and cover the thousands of products that crafty people have in their cupboard. I walk into a Michaels store and I’m overwhelmed by two things: the varied depth of their craft materials and how much of it is imported & very cheaply produced. So much of that stores reminds me of the dollar store and it makes me nervous. I’m an average person on the scale of crafty – my children have always loved painting and making little projects, but with the inevitable smell that comes from opening specific paints, glues, and inks, I’m admittedly a little skeptical of how healthy these supplies actually are.

The inspiration for this article comes from a woman in the US, named Julia Andrus, who created a line of crafting materials after surviving a self described ‘mean’ cancer. Julia realized her exposure to even low levels of toxic materials in craft supplies could have contributed to her chemical exposure. On a mission to change her lifestyle and environment, Julia created EcoGreen Crafts and I guess it’s because an avid crafter created this line of products, the quality is as effective and amazing as traditional supplies. I’ve found in the past that sometimes using plant-based crafting products you loose some of the texture in paint and glue. This isn’t the case with the acrylic paint and Green Glue and is the reason I’ve stocked Green Planet Parties with these products. Just like my claim with the O’Bon pencil crayons (best I’ve every used) I can say the same about the EcoGreen Crafts Acrylic Paint.  They are amazing!  I asked some seriously crafty people to test the acrylic paint and everyone reports back loving it! It’s creamy, comes in a great sized tube, and there is no scent because the non-metallic shades of these paints are no-VOC. The metallic paints in this line are anchored to a No-VOC base, but end up being low-VOC after the metal pigment has been added. The popular 6 colors I’ve chosen to carry are popular with children and contain no volatile organic compounds. These paints are not manufactured in North America and that is reflected in the price point. These non-toxic paints are priced equally to traditional acrylic paints which is wonderful…parents love switching to same priced greener products, but while the price would increase, I hope they are one day manufactured in the US. If you’ve been searching for plant based white glue? This all-purpose green glue is great for back-to-school shopping.

For parents that enjoy painting with powdered paint, setup your environment with plant based so that powder cannot be inhaled that may contain lead. There are several paints on the market that use plant based pigments..the only brand I’ve tried is GLOB and these paints are manufactured in the US. As far as paint brushes go – I’m actively researching a ‘greener’ paintbrush. It’s actually a very difficult product because you are dealing with two issues: the handle and brush materials. If you go for a non-synthetic brush you might have anxiety about the methods used to obtain real animal hair for the brush…and these brushes are super expensive. ‘Greening’ up the handle of paint brushes is relatively easy because there are bamboo brushes on the market, but I’ve yet to find a brush I’m happy with at an affordable price.

Hands down – this point is the most important for providing healthier sculpture based craft material for your child! Don’t ever waste your money again on store bought play dough. From the amount of traffic and comments on this article “The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!” I know how many parents have discovered how easy, affordable and fun making your own play dough can be. Kids love to sculpt and it unleashes free-play at it’s best for young children and since you’ve made the dough yourself, you don’t need to worry if a small piece ends up in a child’s mouth. I’ve also experienced headaches from the synthetic scent from store bought play dough. Another sculpting product that shouldn’t be sold or wind up in your home is polymer clay that is used for sculpting small figurines…it’s made from PVC! Invest in clay that is packaged and marked ‘non-toxic’ and PVC-free. The dollar stores are not where you should be purchasing materials like this…there are no sort of guidelines it seems for this material. The amount of incorrect information on the internet about polymer clay is disturbing. Many crafting sites list polymer clay as a safe material even though it contains PVC and phthalates…it’s disturbing. I don’t have a source/brand for an alternative to PVC based polymer clay but I will post in the comments when I find one.

I was spoiled years ago when trying Clementine Art crayons – they were like applying butter to paper. I think all children would miss the variety of colors that you can achieve with a box of Crayola crayons, but traditional crayons are manufactured with paraffin wax which is petroleum. There are many brands of soy or beeswax based crayons if you are looking to ‘green’ your art supplies. I think the soy brands offer more color options, but I have only had the pleasure of using beeswax based.

Pencil crayons and pencils can easily be ‘greened’ with O’Bon. I’ve written about this brand before and love that these pencils are not produced by trees, but made from recycled newspapers. Not only is the story behind O’Bon cool, but I’ve never been happier with the pencil crayons. The quality is amazing and children love the fruit or wild-animal designs.

You can tell from the length of this article the crafting world is a vast area to try and write about in one article. For those searching for North American made craft sets which are convenient and make a great gift – check out the new brand Artterro I found at My Little Green Shop. Just one look at the packaging and you know this brand is different. I can’t wait to try these kits with my kids – not only are the supplies made of higher quality (glass beads vs. plastic, felt wool, handmade paper) but many of the components are made in the US. The craft world has seemed slow to manufacture locally – the concern of course that crafting will no longer be an affordable pass-time. It’s nice to see companies like Artterro putting an emphasis on this and side stepping the norm of producing craft kits that are filled with questionable ingredients – both for human health and the environment. Differences that impress me are the wool felt dresses in the Art Dolls Kit, copper wire & wooden handles (!!) in the amazing Bubble Wand Kits (eeep I love these!!), and for the older crowd the Paint with Wool Kits are very unique. Imagine encouraging a child to felt? It’s incredible that the boxes that Artterro supplies are packaged in can be transformed into frames to later showcase art work. Pictured below are the finished kits from Artterro with bubble wands and felt painting.

I hope this gives you a starting point to help green your craft supplies. It’s a huge undertaking, but like greening your bathroom or kitchen, I recommend starting with baby steps and incorporating these changes when you’re looking to replenish art supplies. Look for crafts with No-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) which are the chemicals that produce off-gassing vapors. Packaging is a great way to improve your craft supplies and look for supplies marked ‘non-toxic’, made with soy or beeswax, PVC-free and phthalate-free. I’ll have more recommendations coming in August because once again I’ll be putting together my own school supply boxes for my children with an effort to create kits that are more sustainable and chemical free. Stay tuned and please share your experiences with sourcing better quality craft supplies.

Related Posts:

Wildlife Pencils Produced from Recycled Newspapers

Clementine Art – Naturally Artistic

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Moisturize & Sun Protection With Marie Veronique

Any West Coaster can tell you this summer has taken a while to get going with the weather. I think today counts as officially the 6th sunny day so my testing of sunscreens was put on hold in June. I won’t be talking about sunscreen for much longer, having happily found my favorite brands for my kids & me. But a product was presented for me to test a few months ago and I must be growing up, because I found the Marie Veronique combination of SPF30 with their moisturizing face screen intriguing. I’ve used organic moisturizers before (and loved them) but made the mistake of walking out into the sun and literally could feel my face sizzling, then burnt. The Marie Veronique Moisturizing Face Screen is all us grown up ladies need before leaving the house for daily activities during the summer months. After I wash my face, I put on the moisturizer (you can purchase tinted or plain) apply to my face and neck and I’m out the door. No need to worry about breaking out from pimples from using sunscreen on my face, or the whitening effect you get from most organic sunscreens, and you are very well protected from the sun. Rated with a safety hazard score of 1 from EWG, the Marie Veronique Moisturizing Face Screen and Kid Safe Sunscreen line can become trusted brands this summer.

Most Mommy Footprint reviews come with a story and Marie Veronique is no exception. Marie Veronique is a former chemistry teacher, along with her daughter (a Professor of Physics) and a partner in Marketing & melanoma survivor – the goal is creating products that are safe. The combination of biodegradable contents in these bottles, packaged in recyclable materials, and made in the US, this company knows that creating cosmetics without toxins, nano-particles, petroleum and instead using intelligent ingredients is the key to quality skin care. As I sit here reading the ingredient lists for both the moisturizer and kid’s sunscreen, I realize that not only can I easily pronounce each of the ingredients, but I can easily identify most of them to be natural. Without needing a degree in environmental engineering or chemistry..very refreshing. Marie Veronique also simplifies their packaging to include some big clues that their products are safe – here is the important branding to watch for when shopping for sunscreens: item contents are biodegradable, packaging is fully recyclable, paraben free, no nanoparticles, broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and the active ingredient is zinc oxide.

With a few ladies in my life announcing pregnancies – I’ve started thinking of products I can recommend for them to be using. Marie Veronique is definitely a brand that an expecting mama can use without worrying about chemicals. Research shows that nanoparticles can cross a mom’s body and enter a baby’s developing system. With little to no accurate research out there on nanoparticles – it’s just best to stay away when possible. Cosmetics, sunscreens, lotions are absorbed into our bodies through very porous skin – we need to be vigilant in reducing and eliminating toxins and chemicals with these products.

I’m a busy mom with lots of sweet children to protect once we hit the hot sunny days.  I’m enjoying the moisturizing face screen and appreciate the fact it adds very little time to my already rushed routine of getting ready in the morning. After I wash my face, I apply the face screen then I’m out the door and don’t worry about the sun’s rays while I’m out running errands. With so many more organic sunscreen options this summer to protect my children, it’s wonderful that a company is worried about protecting and nourishing my face and skin.

Related Articles:

2011 Organic Sunscreens

Choosing A Safe Sunscreen

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Canadian Made Yoga Apparel – Salts Clothing

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a company starts manufacturing their products locally, then without telling their customers, moves their manufacturing overseas.  We know why they do it…money. It costs way less to have stuff produced overseas and this is normally the case in the clothing industry. But it’s still something that bugs me and I’ve been keeping a secret for months about a West Coast yoga apparel company that is the same prices as traditional yoga apparel companies (we know who they are) BUT is designing and manufacturing their clothing on Canada’s West Coast. For the same price or maybe even less!  Oh – and also using organic cotton, hemp, soy, and bamboo fabrics too. Sorry to keep this company under wraps, but until only last week I haven’t been able to actually try out their clothing, but I found a lovely little boutique called Mint Your Health close to my home and purchased the yoga shorts I’ve been coveting from the Salts Clothing site. And they are awesome!  The materials that Salts uses are super high end, the clothes is well made, and designed to hold everything in place.  Am I a yoga gal and just never mentioned it?  No, but I’m a super busy mom that loves getting some help with keeping things tucked into the right places with clothing.  And isn’t that why we all love yoga gear? The comfort and style combined for a laid back and relaxed life style…while helping our ‘problem areas’ look a whole lot better than they actually are.

Salts Clothing is made on Vancouver Island. How has Salts managed to keep this formula for success since 2005? Only they can tell you, but for now, check out this eye candy of locally made goodness. My favs are the tank, screen printed hoodie and my awesome grey shorts are included in this photo round-up. All photos belong to Salts Clothing:

I’m slowly learning to always ask questions with my precious consumer dollars. It’s why I truly prefer to shop online rather than the Mall because I just can’t get my questions answered. When I ask my normal round-up of questions in this scenario with Salts Clothing, I’m a truly satisfied consumer “Where are your clothes made?” “What are they made from” “What is your company purpose”  And this last question I haven’t yet answered, but I’m going to quote this answer directly from the Salts site:  “The name Salts comes from a love of the ocean. Salts has long been used as preservatives, I hope our clothing will help preserve our Earth home as well. I am inspired to make clothing that is eco friendly in honor of my children and their future children.”  An awesome quote by Salts owner Jennifer – totally inspiring and clothing that makes you feel good to support.

Follow Salts Clothing’s latest designs via their Fanpage on Facebook – they are always turning out awesome new clothing designs: Salts Organic Clothing and Studio Boutique.

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