Archive | November, 2012

Pajama Holiday Tradition

I know so many families that give PJs at Christmas and Hanukkah and I love the tradition. Kids love to receive new Pajamas which is perfect for parents wanting to give practical gifts and it seems kids always need new sleep wear. I’ve been waiting for the organic PJs to arrive at My Little Green Shop because the designs and sizes are like no other store!  Seriously – it’s impossible to find organic Pajamas in the size range from 3 months old to 12 years old. It’s hard enough to find 100% cotton PJs for my older children so the fact they are available in organic cotton is great. So the good news is the PJs have arrived and the store is well stocked. Another piece of great news is everything in the store is reduced by 20% when you use the code Wishlist20 at checkout. The discount code is good until December 1st so shop soon!

Let’s also have a chat about why organic PJs should be at the top of your sleep wear list. Most of the big box stores sell PJs that are made from polyester. This material has naturally occurring flame retardants and in trying to limit chemicals in our bedding, pillows, and sleep wear – cotton is the way to go. And if you choose the organic cotton route with sleep wear, you can be assured that developing systems are not surrounded by the pesticides and chemicals needed to grow cotton.  The reason these organic PJs are budget friendly at $35 is because they are manufactured overseas. Organic clothing is usually much more expensive so it’s the very tough balancing act of trying to minimize chemical exposure, but stay on budget, and manage your footprint. It’s a tough thing for sure!  But for children that suffer from skin irritation, eczema, asthma and allergies – I would really recommend an organic sleep solution that includes natural pillows, mattresses and sleep wear. To read more on PJs and Polyester – click here.

I read a fantastic article by our friend Bethe from The Grass Stain Guru today. The title of the article “Holiday Shopping: Don’t Lose Your Sh*t People!” might just summarize the entire message of the post – but besides for being very funny and factual, she talks about a the concept of Four Presents that’s been circulating around social media. I LOVE it and agree that it’s a balanced and very smart guide for parents. Each child gets 4 presents:

1.    Something they want

2.    Something they need

3.    Something to wear

4.    Something to read

It’s easy and really keeps you on track with gift giving and not just running through a toy or electronics store mass purchasing gifts in order to fill some void that doesn’t actually even exist with our children. This also got me thinking about My Little Green Shop and their sourcing of PJs for the 4th present. Let’s address the other 3 points of the Four Present concept. The easy point is the ‘something they want’. All children have requests at Christmas. But actually only giving them 1 gift of the many they’ve vocalized will make them appreciate that gift so much more than receiving 10. Also, when we see our children’s Christmas lists, deep in our hearts we know what gifts are truly a good idea. The ‘something they need’ gift doesn’t need to be school supplies or dull and boring. Rather, it can be anything that you think they ‘need’ that they’ll appreciate after the glitter and glow of Christmas morning dims. My kids ‘needs’ a new hockey stick. Will he gloss over getting it on Christmas morning and only talk about the gift he got that he ‘wanted’? Probably. But 2 months later when he’s still using that hockey stick, he’ll think it’s great that Santa brought it. We’ve already covered ‘something to wear’ – although it could be something very functional like Puddle Gear (perfect for rain or snow), new boots, or super functional PJs. And lastly…’something to read’. What if you gave yourself permission to give your children a book to love this Christmas? Something that takes you back in time through the pages of your own childhood. I’ll always remember listening to Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach and devouring James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small when I was young. Why not give the magic that a book can bring to your child? I have book recommendations here for recent books I’ve read preschool aged to late elementary that engage children with nature.  To use these Four Presents as a guide – even if you don’t follow it to the letter (I would include a gift that is handmade) it’s something I really needed to see and read. Thank you for posting it Bethe!

Now ready for some cute pictures? These are some of the great new organic PJ designs available at My Little Green Shop!

 

Related Articles:

Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

Plastic Ocean Pollution From Your Home

Books To Engage Children With Nature

Clothing Mis-labelling Leads To Composting Problems!

Harry Potter Magic

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Fa La La La . . . Lead?

I’m trying not to spread a dark cloud around Christmas but since this website is about a journey – there is something I wish I knew when it came to holiday decorating many years ago.  I wish I knew that plastic wreaths, fake trees and light strings may contain lead. Actually, not to sugar coat this topic, I would say most contain lead.  When HealthyStuff.org tested Christmas lights in 2010, most resulted in a ranking of lead; actually 4 out of 5 light strands. 28% contained lead at such high levels they wouldn’t be able to be sold in Europe. The chemical is not found in the lights themselves, but in the bendy plastic the lights are attached to and with many families letting kids help with indoor lights or pose for pictures with holiday lights, a compound like lead isn’t to be taken lightly. Lead effects our brains and we worry about children’s rapidly developing nervous systems which are particularly sensitive to the effects of lead. Also, pregnant women need to take extra caution too – let somebody else handle the tree and lights this year!

My friend and toxic ingredient beauty editor Danika was talking about professional photographers using Christmas lights as props in pictures by wrapping them around children. The pictures are very cute but obviously people don’t know the level of toxins that could be transmitted through the skin by doing this! I’ve also seen pictures similar with parents using lights with children for Christmas cards – not a good idea. Do you know they recommend that people wear gloves and then wash hands after handling Christmas lights? The same is true after handling fake Christmas trees, wreaths, or garlands. It’s really why the debate of fake vs. real at Christmas is clear – it’s a little sad to chop down a live tree at Christmas, but trees that have been farmed without sprays are a much better option then bringing a piece of toxic plastic into your home. Not only is it not safe to touch, but you are then stuck knowing that there is no way to dispose of these items after breakage occurs or they are no longer fashionable (remember those fake white Christmas trees from the 80s?) So save yourself long-term grief and possible stress by finding alternatives to plastic this Christmas.

Of course we all love Christmas lights so look for RoHS compliant lights if needing new lights for the holidays. This means the product is restricted from being manufactured with the six hazardous materials that can be used to make various types of electronic and electrical equipment. According to Wikipedia, RoHS is often referred to as the lead-free directive, but it also restricts the use of the following six substances:

Lead (Pb)
Mercury (Hg)
Cadmium (Cd)
Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+)
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

The only place you might find these lights is IKEA and remember to check that the tag of the cord reads RoHS compliant.  This of course doesn’t mean that the cord is PVC free..only lead free so I would still caution that Christmas lights stay out of reach of children and parents wash hands after handling.

My friend Alicia from The Soft Landing has written about this topic over the years and put together the perfect graphic for you to share with friends to warn of holiday toxins to avoid with children. She gave me permission to include it in this article and it’s a great summary of how to childproof for the holidays. Thank you Alicia!

 

I would also add synthetic air fragrance to a list of unknown household pollution this time of year. For more information on why you’d want to avoid spray or diffusers that off-gas chemicals into your home click here. I hope this article assists you before purchasing Christmas lights or plastic greenery for the holidays. If you have purchased trees or light strands and are concerned – take them back to the store and let a Manager know you are looking for lead-free options.

Related Articles:

A Greener Christmas Plan

Celebrating Teachers At Christmas

Air Freshener Options

 

 

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The Dark Side of Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday shopping starts today and with The National Research Federation predicting sales for 2012 will increase over this US holiday – it seems that the movement to boycott this shopping day is not working. I’ve written about Black Friday in the past (click here) but this year I asked my friend Barb from Gibsons Recycling Depot to give me a glimpse into the after effects of consumerism through the eyes of a person who is an expert on personal waste. Hopefully the message of over-consuming is not missed by those planning on shopping Black Friday deals. You see, Barb sees the ugly side of the holidays and she also sees the side of Black Friday few people know. The majority of people see this method of shopping as a way to save a few dollars and perhaps even help support the US economy. What a recycling depot sees are the tons of un-opened gifts that start arriving in the trash after the holidays. Gift wrap and discarded gifts (that were never opened from their packaging!!)  are the dark side of a recycling depot in January. Face it or not, when you are purchasing a gift based off price – you are not shopping with any sort of Eco-conscience. When you are shopping based only from cost alone – several things are happening:

- the product is probably manufactured overseas. So how does purchasing it help the US or local economy?

- the product might be unsafe with lead or phthalate levels because the cheapest materials have been used in manufacturing.

- consumers overspend. We all probably head to the Walmarts of the world with a list but we look around and start seeing items in bins for $1. Thinking we can’t possible give up a bargain like this we buy it.

- stores that offer the greatest sale discounts are big box and do not think about packaging or the huge footprint it took to transport the product into their store. Is the cost of that $1 trinket still only $1 if it will exist on earth for 100s of years after it’s been trashed? Is that item still $1 if it’s wrapped in plastic or Styrofoam that cannot be recycled? The facts are – when the toll on the earth is so great from that $1 item – it’s true cost is no longer $1.

Barb actually gave me a quote today that was amazing and I’d like to share it. She works at one of the most progressive recycling depots in Western Canada. I’ve been there, seen how much they can recycle, so it’s important to listen to someone who knows waste.

We are culturally conditioned to want to create displays of abundance. In most cultures and history there is feasts and gifts, so we must create behavioral changes where we create and satisfy those needs but without all the consumption and waste. We need to get into “creative abundance” where maybe we put photos under the tree and everyone shares memories and stories about each other, Maybe those old plastic farm animals toys become symbols of donations we have given to aid organizations in someone else’s name. I see the ghosts of Christmas past throughout the year, bags of awful plastic toys, useless products…

To put a visual along with this quote from Barb, I found a video published by our friends at The Story Of Stuff. It’s called Tis The Season To Get Trampled… and it is driving the movement to ‘Buy Nothing Do Something’ over Thanksgiving this year. I sat and watched this video with my children and their mouths just hung open. Then of course they giggled because they couldn’t believe adults act like this over stuff! Have a watch with your children and then try to justify going shopping later that evening. You might just decide to stay in and choose family over frenzy.

Barb has also given me some stats regarding Canadian waste over the holiday season. I’m posting these facts so that you can think about personal waste while starting your Christmas shopping. Will you be contributing to another person’s personal waste by your gift giving choices?  Thanks for these Barb!

Every person will throw away an average of 110lbs of waste this holiday season

3,000 tons of foil will be used

Canadians will consume 4.3 million turkeys.

2,6 billion greeting cards will be sent

27.8 million real Christmas trees will be decorated

7.3 million fake trees will be purchased

6 millions rolls of tape will be used

250,000 tons of plastic packaging will be discarded

So with the high level of greenwashing that happens from ‘green gift lists’ this year – cut through the crap and ask yourself 3 questions: where is this made? what is it made from? how do I get rid of it? If you can get a positive answer on any of these questions while your shopping – you are no longer shopping based purely off price. You are now shopping based off price and thinking like an Eco Ninja – which is way cooler. Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in the US!

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Plastic Free Produce Shopping

Most of us avoiding plastic at the grocery store have a sure fire way to transport groceries by now – right? Even if you forget your reusable bags and the store doesn’t provide paper, I’ve previously talked about two great alternatives: ask the produce grocer for a cardboard veggie box to keep loose items or just stack food directly into your shopping cart. But this can be tricky for certain foods: produce you purchase in bulk (potatoes, oranges/apples, etc.) and heads of lettuce. Lettuce being the trickiest of course because without that plastic produce bag, your normally wet lettuce has to touch the turn-belt (ewww) and needs to be stored in something somewhat air-tight in your fridge. Well – not anymore. I’m super excited to welcome Gogobags as the latest sponsor to Mommy Footprint and after testing her new Fresh bag – I’m very happy to share a solution for shopping and storing tricky food!

Here is a picture I took while in the grocery store of my red and green leaf lettuce in the medium sized Gogo Fresh Bag:

Sorry you don’t see more of the lettuce in this bag but the produce Manager at my local organics store was looking at me funny while taking this picture. =)  But the most important picture is the one below – I took it 4 days later of the lettuce I pulled out of my fridge:

The lettuce still looked fresh and tasted great! The Fresh bags are made from 100% cotton and I love that I can shop with the bags, they are light so they don’t add additional weight to my purchase, and then I can put them directly into the fridge to store produce. I received the medium fresh bag from GoGo Bags and it really is perfect for lettuce. It has a draw string clasp so it’s not air tight, but I think we live in a society where air tight plastic is overrated. How did our grandparents keep food fresh 60 years ago before plastic was invented? We need to get back to these ways of food storage and the cotton bags you’ll find on this site will help.

I got the opportunity to also see the GoGo Fresh Bag long and it was tempting to not buy this bag to hold carrots and celery. If you struggle with using plastic for purchasing these items and fridge storage -this is the bag for you! But for my use I only need the medium Fresh bag as lettuce is the only item I don’t feel comfortable laying on the turn belt at checkout and it gets really slimy when it’s left out in the fridge. I’m a happy girl!

My mom and I both purchased GoGo mesh produce bags and I’m really enjoying these too!  It’s a treat to go shopping and purchase 15 oranges or potatoes in bulk and have a mesh cotton bag to keep them together at the checkout line and at home. With my kids loving the organic Christmas oranges arriving in stores – here is a picture of my latest shop with GoGo produce bags!

I really like the larger mesh bags for bulk buying.  I mentioned my mom purchased these bags also – she is giving a set of 4 as a gift to a co-worker. It got me thinking that either the produce or fresh bags would make amazing teacher or co-worker gifts! Something that everyone needs, but might not know where to find. Well, you can find them online at GoGobags.ca and the owner Anahita makes the bags by hand making this small business special. Feel good about supporting a small business that is making a big impact in the world with eliminating single use plastic.

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ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks

I needed to purchase an older sibling gift for a special 3 year old recently and it had to be awesome because an older sibling gift should be better than the baby gift!  The baby certainly won’t notice and it helps keep the older sibling feeling important and recognized. When I spotted the ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks on the Organically Hatched site – I knew I found the gift! My sons had these blocks when they younger (ages 5 and 7) and we got such great use from them!  The best part of toys made from a highly recyclable material is when it’s time to dispose of the item I know I haven’t stuck my friend with a lump of plastic that will be destined for the landfill. My boys played hard with these blocks – stacking, building forts, jumping, pretending to avoid boiling lava on the floor, and building stair cases; just hours and hours of fun so they were in no shape to donate when it was time to say goodbye to the blocks. The blocks went out to curbside recycling and it was great to not feel guilty about sending another broken toy to the landfill.  Gotta love a happy ending! Here is a picture of the older sibling gift of blocks in action that shows their great size and how sturdy they are:

Further lending to the green level of this product, the ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks are manufactured in the USA, made from recycled materials, printed with non-toxic inks, and their design makes them sturdy for all types of play. The recommended age on the box is 18 months + and I would give that range a rather long leash. I’m hoping to purchase a few of these sets for Christmas presents and the children’s ages range between 2-5. The blocks come in a very large box so this is something to keep in mind if shipping long distances. I know as a green gift presenter it’s nice once in a while to have a big box to give a little kid (it just gets them so excited) if you sometimes feel self conscience that your green gifts are always one of the smaller boxes.

My thanks to Organically Hatched for having these blocks in stock and ready for quick pickup! I love that the message of supporting local is reaching mainstream this Christmas. There truly is a movement sweeping North America and it feels good to shop with small businesses that have options made on this continent!

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