Archive | Phthalate alternatives

Back To School Contest With My Little Green Shop

Sponsored by: My Little Green Shop

Hosted by: MommyFootprint

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Going back to school can be a challenging place for parents to find green options. Biggest environmental offenders, in my opinion, are products made from plastic that may contain lead. This is not a toxin that parents would welcome into back-to-school supplies, but if they contain PVC plastic, you can’t be sure. So where possible, I like to spend extra dollars to ensure a well designed and safe backpack for school, plus I’m a stickler for stainless steel items for lunches and water. So I’m super excited to be sharing this great prize from My Little Green Shop with big focus on quality: 17oz S’well Bottle (your choice of colour) and an Ecogear Backpack.
About My Little Green Shop

My Little Green Shop does it’s homework and is a trusted store for products that are sustainable for the earth and our health. With a full line-up of greener options for your busy household, we appreciate the research and dedication spent by this Eco boutique. Our favourite products are made with high quality food grade stainless steel and are durable, environmentally safe, and fun.

We are excited to bring you this amazing 17oz S’well Bottle that is teamed up with an Ecogear Flash Backpack Giveaway! The S’well bottles are easily the hottest item heading into schools this Fall because of their fun colors and double walled design keeping water cool all day. The Ecogear Backpacks have a hiking vibe with classic design so that kids can use them for many years. Unlike cheaper backpacks, these are made without PVC so there aren’t any lead concerns. We’ve used Ecogear Backpacks for years and love how the zippers and pockets have stood up to kids that are hard on school gear. Great quality all around!

Would you like to win this S’well bottle and backpack duo heading back to school? We are super grateful to My Little Green Shop for giving one of our lucky readers that chance!

One lucky winner will win this

17oz S’well Bottle and Flash Ecogear Backpack ($100 value)!

Giveaway ends 9/3/14 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US and residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to US and Canada 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Should My Family Be Using Silicone?

When food and products are put on the market without real testing, it’s up to parents and consumers to complete their own. Yes, silicone was FDA approved in 1979 but we are unsure if there’s been follow-up since as it’s really evolved as a ‘go-to’ material in recent years. Silicone is widely used in bake-ware, dishware, and freezer molds and the fun colors and price point have helped increase it’s popularity in family kitchens all across North America. There are many stores that promote and market silicone as a wonderful sustainable option… so is it?

The problem with using silicone to manufacture products is that it doesn’t have an end of life (EOL). The strategy of how to properly dispose or recycle silicone wasn’t implemented with the wide roll-out of silicone products. I called the largest recycling depots in the greenest cities I could think of across North America, I could not find one that recycles silicone. So when you market a product as waste-free, but it ends up in the trash, then landfill, is it sustainable? So the environmental effects of the silicone revolution in my opinion are not the best.

What about health effects? My research of silicone started from the fear it could possibility be leaching when heated at high temps or put in the freezer. For parents of pre-teens and older, we remember the recalls, uproar, and frustration when we discovered all plastics weren’t created equal. It turns out there are different types of silicone, but unlike plastic, silicone isn’t labelled or coded with symbols because there is no point to it having recycling codes.  To keep it brief, the type of silicone you want to be using is called platinum rather than tin based which are usually cheaper (price and quality), not suitable for skin contact, and cured pieces have a shorter life as they loose their elasticity.  Here are the benefits of platinum silicone:

– platinum is added as a catalyst and there are no by-products

– little shrinkage, high chemical resistance (dimensional stability)

– high resistance to high temperatures and aging

– environmental odorless and non-toxic

Silicone itself is a rubber material composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. With the different ways to form silicone, the difference is if fillers have been added to change properties and reduce cost. Many experts say if you twist your coloured silicone and see white bending than the silicone you are using contains fillers and is the cheaper quality (tin) silicone.  But if you are using silicone in the kitchen, especially heating it at high temps (microwave, dishwasher) or freezing (making ice or popsicles) it’s important to talk to the manufacturer and ask what type of silicone they’ve used to make the product. If they have NO idea, ask how the silicone is cured in the manufacturing process. The options I found for this process are : platinum-catalyzed cure system (or called an addition system), a condensation cure system (also called tin based cure system), a peroxide cure system (medical products produced from this system), or an oxime cure system.

Experts have been concerned that the process of adding colour to silicone might disrupt inert properties of the polymers, but manufacturers I’ve talked with that have tested for any breakdown from adding colour say that is incorrect. If this concerns you, stick to plain silicone commonly used to keep stainless steel or glass containers air-tight.

I hope this helps you answer the question “should my family be using silicone?” To summarize, if you are concerned about what happens to that silicone ice cube tray after it starts to smell or breakdown, you can not recycle silicone in most recycling depots in North America. There isn’t research to support how long silicone takes to decompose in a landfill. It’s a natural element made from sand and rock, but if containing fillers and colorants – I would assume these are a problem for the earth to absorb.

It also appears that similar to plastic, there are different types of silicone. It’s unfortunate for consumers that our Governments don’t mandate these types be coded at the bottom of all products. If you love using your silicone bake-ware, etc., take the time to call the manufacturer and inquire about what type of silicone is used. You are looking for the word platinum for a higher quality. Also, ask what the manufacturer is doing to close the loop of the end-of-life for silicone with recycling efforts.

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5 Tips To Reduce Chemicals In Clothing

Since learning about fast fashion, I’m determined to limit chemicals that exist in new clothing for my kids. The concept of stylish clothing or seasonal trends in children’s clothing exists in all larger brands resulting in cheaply and quickly produced fashion. Similar to fast food, fast fashion is produced without attention to detail or concern for ingredients or materials. It’s no wonder this Greenpeace report has raised awareness when twenty-seven products were sent to independent accredited laboratories and investigated for the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). It’s freaky. We’ve been avoiding toys for our children that contain lead and other carcinogens, but we still think we’ve scored a bargin when buying that $2 t-shirt!

Here are 5 ways you can start minimizing the problem of toxic clothing in your home and it begins with shopping with a new set of rules.

1. Shift your mindset. Just like the clean, organic food we consume, there is a higher cost with buying new, quality made clothing. It’s not something to complain about because like food, you appreciate the quality and craftsmanship involved with a purchase. Once you adjust your mindset, it’s amazing how quickly you don’t mind the higher price tags. You gain a sense of peace and pride when bringing carefully selected clothing into your household to enjoy.

2. Buy less. We’ve taken off the blinders with so many aspects of healthier living. We understand that 1 box of organic cereal costs the same as 3 boxes of GMO, sugar filled cereals. We’ve accepted this with our food so why do we buy 5 t-shirts when they go on sale for $2 at a big box store? It’s scary to think that you can buy new cheaply made clothing for less than 2nd hand! We know that there is a cost to this low price. The people that have made the garments have been paid very little and the materials used to make a $2 t-shirt are cheap. So cheap that just maybe, that t-shirt contains harmful ink, pesticide treated fabric, and hormone disruptors or lead plastic decals and design. That cheap t-shirt suddenly isn’t so appealing and shouldn’t be seen as something exciting.

3. Shop local. It’s the question I get asked the most. Where can you find locally made clothes?  Well I’m happy to say it exists. More and more small and indie businesses are manufacturing locally made clothing and they are getting easier to find. If you are having trouble finding something, post a question on our Fan Page and we’ll find a designer for you. Rain gear, bathing suits and shoes are still pretty tough to find, but you can find certified Öko-Tex brands for rain protection.

4. Buy 2nd hand. I get it – I have four kids that go through stages of loving a t-shirt with Spiderman or a beloved character on the front. This doesn’t mean that you need to purchase new clothing.  Chemicals in clothing are lessoned with wear and washing, not to mention used clothing feels better for the same reasons. It would be impossible to afford all locally made or organic clothing so get in the habit of frequenting thrift stores, buy/sell sites, and clothing swap meets. Shopping used also removes the temptation to buy latest trends in fashion which has a shelf life. Rather, 2nd hand shopping promotes classic purchases that have longevity.

5. Read clothing labels. Checking a clothing label will tell you two things quickly – if the company is proud of where it’s manufactured (Made In Canada or USA is something clothing lines like to promote) and what the article of clothing is made from. Just like the habit of reading food labels, clothing labels deserve the same few minutes. Learn what it means to wear synthetic fabrics. The most cheaply made clothing I’ve seen contains polyester and this means flame retardants exists next to your child’s skin. This can easily be avoided by sticking with 2nd hand cotton clothing or new organic clothing lines.

I don’t think either of my daughters have ever worn a new pair of jeans – 2nd hand feels better. Pictured below is my 7 year old clothing label reading ninja. The first thing she wants to know when buying clothing is does it contain polyester. She has skin sensitivities so we’ve done our best to keep her in more natural fabrics since she was a baby. She also has sensory needs with clothing and prefers how 2nd hand clothing or locally made brands feel on her skin.

I hope the awareness expands for sustainable fashion in North America. The divide in price between big box and locally manufactured clothing is huge and the reason is demand. We have not yet wrapped our minds around the environmental toll fast fashion or big box fashion brands place on our planet. Maybe as parents, if we imagine that toll with our health, the shift will come. By reducing and shopping with a new set of rules for fashion, the planet and human health will benefit, while a new sector of locally made fashion will finally be able to flourish.

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Dilly Dally Kids – Wooden Wonders

I rarely get the treat of walking into a business to write a review – normally we focus on online stores. So while this article is more directed at Vancouver consumers, the rest of North America will meet an online Dilly Dally Kids later this year when they launch their online store. So bookmark them on Facebook and stay up to date on their beautiful sourcing. The wooden selection at this toy store caught my eye last Christmas where I picked up many wooden characters for stockings and rainbow stackers for gifts. This year at Dilly Dally Kids is no different and the wooden selections are hands down unique. Why? I’m convinced you could replace or never be tempted to purchase the plastic characters we buy purely for the detail and durability. Want to see an example? All kids of any age like staples and dinosaurs are one of these toys. Check out the below design of these hand painted wooden dinosaurs available at Dilly Dally – so bright and fun that a child won’t feel ‘forced’ into sustainable play. All of the wooden play figures ranging from woodland, farm, dinosaur, fairy tale, forest creatures have such great detail. The pictures below were all taken from my visit. . .I had a little too much fun setting up the toys!

Continuing on the wooden journey at Dilly Dally Kids – more wooden wonders kept jumping off the shelf. I think wooden toys are my favourite because at the end of their play life – they can be composted. Especially now with wooden toys covered in beeswax or orange oil, then painted with veggie based paints. Do we not all wish we could do away with the hoards of small plastic toys our children collect over the span of their childhood? There is nothing to do with these toys except continue to pass them down until someone finally puts them in the garbage. Knowing these toys will then outlive our grandchildren at the landfill is not a good feeling. It hurts to give plastic toy characters and receive them! So I’m just a huge fan of wood and a classic toy that all children love – BLOCKS. Normally I would give blocks an age rating of 5 and under but I was reminded by my 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son recently how awesome blocks are. Especially the spheres and different shaped blocks – kids will build and discover with a good quality set of blocks for a long time. Invest in a great set early and watch their play evolve over the years. I love the back wall of block at Dilly Dally Kids – it’s just a solid display of all the different classic block options.

There was more magic to discover and I urge you to checkout Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. They have classic games, work books, stories, stocking stuffers, Waldorf inspired, and traditional toys. I’ll be sharing more of their selections via Facebook, but the last picture I want to share is the fleet of wooden bath toys that are water safe. I also love wood in a child’s bathtub – although it’s trickier to ensure the toy dries properly; tip the boat over and you shouldn’t have any problems. You’ll find less mold on wood toys than plastic ones with holes in the bottom and you don’t need to worry about anything leaching from the plastic. With many of the wooden toys made in Europe at Dilly Dally Kids – these boats are made in Canada. Great sourcing Dilly Dally and check out their holiday gift guide to view more of their amazing toys!

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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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