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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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Coconut Fiber Cocoze Sandals Contest

I’ve been on a mission for a few years now. Find a pair of flip flops or something easy to slip on during the summer that isn’t cheap or plastic. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every person that suggested I just go to the Mall and buy a pair of plastic sandals. The one problem with that? They are made from PVC (cheap plastic that can’t be recycled) and this plastic doesn’t just cause huge damage to the earth but gives me a headache from the smell. But the company Cocoze has solved my dilemma and I love my coconut fiber sandals. I’m super excited to tell you why and lucky to be hosting a contest so you can try a pair!

I’ve waited 3 weeks before writing the review after receiving the shoes because I wanted to make sure the fabric piece at the toe of the sandal was secure enough to handle the punishment I put footwear through. I’ve had many a pair of sandals break at this part of the shoe (all plastic) and was worried the fabric wouldn’t be strong enough. I’ve had no issues. But I’ve kept the sandals out of the mud and water. They are not water shoes. If they get wet it’s not a problem for them to dry out, etc. but you don’t want to go wading into the ocean with them on. This hasn’t been a problem and I’ve gone on longs walks, run around my daily activities, sand, park, dirt and no issues.

I’ve also been asked frequently if they are itchy. They look like they would be scratchy from the picture but a benefit with the shoes made from coconut fiber is they exfoliate dead and dry skin from the bottom of your feet. Coconut fiber is naturally antibacterial, allows your feet to breathe, and regulates temperature. This sandal design is made to produce happy feet but if you are really sensitive, this might not be a great feature for you. I’ve had no issues and love the texture.

Back to my original issue of not purchasing plastic flip-flops. I really like purchasing non-plastic footwear when possible and because of the winning combination of materials used to produce these shoes (coconut fiber and the other is a question to be entered into the contest so you’ll have to check out the cocoze.com site) you can actually compost these sandals into your garden at the end of their life. This was probably the coolest part of getting a pair of these sandals . . . getting a great answer to the question “where will these go at the end of their life?”.

And now you all think Cocoze is amazing and want a pair to buy I have to tell you that they are only available when Cocoze is at sustainable markets or events so follow their Facebook Fan Page to find out where they’ll be selling them next!  An online component is currently in development so you won’t have long to wait.  But they are offering a pair to a lucky Mommy Footprint reader so enter the below contest and good luck! The give-away is open until August 3, 2013 to all residents in North America.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Plastic Dolls For Christmas

Navigating through our standard list of no-no’s this time of year seems to all go out the window when we are trying to find that perfect gift at Christmas. As green minded parents we know that plastic is always a bad option for toys. But when I found myself in Toys R Us after not being there for probably a year, I was completely overwhelmed and fascinated with the obvious love the big box stores have for plastic. And why not? The perfect details on the faces of toys, the cheap prices, and the packaging that will make a child scream with excitement! However, there is a big downside to these plastic options and it’s simply ‘health’. Now I’ve got you thinking the health of who? The planet or our children?

There are many toys that even very environmentally minded parents will make exceptions; especially those that include building, constructing, and creating. Lego and Playmobil have long been favorites for one of my sons and I don’t mind when he asks for a special set at Christmas. The imagination and hours of play are a great pay off and these products are hardly cheap. They are also not made from vinyl. Now here is where vinyl gets interesting – all plastic dolls are. And these dolls will be the focus of this article. They are probably one of the hottest toys at Christmas because when you don’t know what else to buy a little girl – you can always guess ‘doll’ because you know the shrieks of delight will be heard when a doll is opened. It’s immediate gratification, where they grab the doll, release their mothering instincts, and pour their love into this little being. It’s a tough thing to not buy into. I was even curiously drawn to the new Disney Brave dolls that lined the shelves at Toys R Us – the plastic replicas look so much like the fiery tempered character that is a different role model from the usual princess role (shooting arrows, being physically and mentally strong, and brave) which we all love. But my long standing struggle with how all the huge toy makers like Mattel, Disney, etc. produce dolls is always disappointing and I believe, a health issue.

I started really thinking about dolls a month ago when I watched two girls during my son’s hockey game looking with pure love at their American Girls dolls. I had never seen these dolls up close before but heard lots from my nieces when they went through the phase a couple of years ago. They seem to be the perfect solution to keep older girls (Grade 2 and up) playing in the wonderful world of imagination and dolls. Apparently visiting an American Girl store in the US is quite the experience – you can even get the doll and your daughter’s ears pierced at the same time!  I asked the group of girls playing with these dolls to tell me about the dolls and they were so excited – the popularity for American Girls hasn’t gone away and I live in Canada! I like to prepare myself for when my own daughters see a toy like this – so I started researching immediately. I know the dolls are over $100 so I assumed the materials used to make the dolls are something other than vinyl. I was wrong – the plastic arms, legs and face of these dolls are vinyl plastic. Plus, do you want to guess where the American Girls are made?  China.  Why the hell are they made in China – they are American Girls!  And the Canadian version of these dolls Maplelea Dolls are also vinyl made in China and the ethnic option Karito Girls are also vinyl and made in China – which for Karito Girls might make sense since they represent the world collection. So I immediately asked my friends if anyone had an American Girl doll that I could see. I was trying to find out if the vinyl that they are made from is actually PVC. I checked the doll to see if there was a material listed on the plastic and no luck. I also took a deep smell of the plastic and it didn’t smell like 100% PVC normally does but since the company states they are made from vinyl – I would guess a mixed variety of plastics have been used. After all we are taught that vinyl almost always means PVC. I asked my friend Alicia from The Soft Landing for some input on this subject – it’s something she’s written about and her article ‘When Is Vinyl Not PVC‘ is awesome! She also let me use this quote regarding vinyl and dolls:

“Vinyl is PVC 99% of the time, and so far we haven’t found a single plastic baby doll made from PVC-free materials.”

After I read this quote from Alicia I found it so much easier to wrap my head around the fact that all, yes all dolls until proven otherwise, made from plastic are PVC. When we are buying to hear the shriek it’s selfish. I know if I picked up that Brave plastic doll for my daughters it would be played with and happily received but I’d rather give them one of the older doll designs from my friend Kellie at The Rice Babies. She’s combined a funky design with high fashion boots, funky hair accessories, and I even saw tattoos when I visited her beautiful display at a craft fair a few weeks ago.  There are options out there. I would have to say Christina from Bamboletta is my doll hero and after seeing Bamboletta dolls for so many years you simply can’t compare the quality and care that go into her creations. Read the story of Bamboletta here. Of course the fact that she hasn’t strayed from her first mission of keeping these dolls made with the safest of materials, by a group of sewing mamas, local to her community keeps her totally unique. And her magical dolls are truly unique in the world of Waldorf doll making. You might initially scream they are expensive but I say they are the safest toy on earth. No worries of off gassing, no worries that it will fall apart, no worries of asking questions to the manufacturer that can’t be answered. I say don’t buy the 10 plastic dolls you probably will before your daughter turns 2 years old and invest in a doll that’s been handmade with cloth, wool, and cotton. Don’t give them all the plastic, commercialized options  – only 1 or 2 dolls to love and appreciate with a story that is unique.

The first dolls my girls received were from me. I was so excited to purchase Corelle dolls but with my current awareness of plastic, I would lump these high-end dolls into the same vinyl category as the rest. Made from vinyl and what makes Corelle dolls even worse in my opinion is the fact they release scent when squeezed. Yes, we probably even pay extra for it. But will the company respond to questions asked about if the perfume being released is synthetic or not?  Of course not. And to me – unless you prove and market to me that your doll is something other than made from the cheapest form of plastic that starts polluting with carcinogenic dioxin from the moment it’s first made – then I won’t even entertain the thought that you’re different.

But do you want to see something different?  Check out Bamboletta’s magic. And just in case you think Christina forgot to add the hair to the dollies in the front – this upload of dolls was on it’s way to Ronald MacDonald House in Vancouver – the dolls in the front have lost their hair after going through chemo so you can guess who the recipients are for these bald dolls. All of the dolls in the photo below have been donated from this generous company that just keeps on giving back to the community. All the time. When you follow their updates on Facebook you feel like the world truly contains people with good hearts, doing good things with their talent. The team at Bamboletta is special and there is a good reason why it takes so long to actually purchase these dolls. If you are wanting to purchase a Bamboletta doll just remember that all magical things in life are worth waiting for but might take a little hard work – these are no exception.

And here is a photo I snapped from a recent table from The Rice Babies doll selections; hip, handmade, and perfect for the older crowd.  Way to go Kellie – I’ll be proud to say “I knew her when..”

 

Related Articles:

The Bamboletta Story

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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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Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

I have never ordered a pre-assembled kit of back-to-school supplies. My oldest child used to feel left out when every other child in his class was given ‘the box’ on the first day of school but now he has no problem bringing his decorated shoe box with more carefully selected school supplies inside. At this stage of my parenting journey, I’m not even sure I would pay the money to have a green pre-assembled school supplies kit provided for my children because I think we often forget about reusing with back to school. For the last few years, at the end of the school year, I parked their books and supplies in a bag or box and forgot about them in a closet. This year I combed through previous years of supplies and to my delight I won’t need to purchase many new items! Check out the sets I made from mixed sets of crayons – I have four complete sets for each of my kids!

I wasn’t sure if teachers would mind if supplies weren’t new and I was reminded by a reader and teacher on the MF fanpage that a crayon color spectrum is really more important for your children than the teacher. Purchasing Crayola products goes against so much of what I believe in because they are a huge company that doesn’t have the manufacturing standards I usually support –  so it’s been a relief to realize it’s up to my kids if they only want 6 beeswax or soy crayons in art supplies that are made in North America and don’t contain petroleum. The Clementine brand I point to at the end of this article for crayons, markers, and glue are all manufactured in the US and that is important. I of course won’t be purchasing the soy or beeswax crayons this year because I’ve done a great job of rounding up crayons in my own home – reusing is always best! And I’ve made 4  complete sets! But when you need to purchase new, avoid the petroleum, plastic, and antibacterial crap on the market and become your child’s eco warrior with back-to-school shopping!

Where else can you easily up-cycle with back-to-school supplies?  You know the little interlined work books for elementary school?  I have found more than 10 of these from previous years that only have a few pages filled out . . the rest are blank! I’ve ripped out these pages and will be sending the rest of the blank books with my kids. I have blank printer labels and will be applying these to the front of the books to eliminate the name, grade, subject information my children wrote from previous years. There is a cost savings here and think of the amount of wasted paper each year?!

Other supplies that are still in great condition that we are reusing from previous years? Wooden ruler, O’bon coloured pencil crayons, pencils, duotangs (empty and reuse), scissors, and paint! Now here are some tips for purchasing new back-to-school supplies. This is a great time to talk about commercialism with back-to-school. If you want to keep rolling over school supplies each year, stay away from the licensed folders, pencil cases, backpacks, water bottles, etc. That cute little monkey design or Dora and SpongeBob print might be cute for Grade 1 but they are not babies anymore by Grade 2 and might feel embarrassed by bringing what they once loved at this age. Keep supplies classic and simple – there is a secret to longevity by doing this. I would also encourage not to bring small children back-to-school shopping with you. If it’s just going to be a tantrum or fight for the supplies they don’t understand are poor quality and toxic – let kids stay home. Bring older kids with you and explain why and how you are making decisions on what to buy. Have older children go through supplies from the previous year and save what they’ll reuse. Also have them participate with decorating the up-cycled shoe box to bring supplies in.

I noticed last year and again this year, companies are doing a lot of marketing for Microban and antibacterial products. Examples of this are pencils, scissor handles, water bottle lids (the worst of all in my opinion), and binders. Normally Microban in plastic contains Triclosan which is a chemical that does not belong in back-t0-school supplies. The original use for Triclosan, a strong chemical, was used in surgical rooms. Why would we turn a classroom into the equivalent of a hospital with antibacterial properties? Skip this chemical (look for antibacterial or Microban marketing) and if you are asked why by school administration you can reply “this is a pesticide linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, asthma, skin irritation, eczema, and thyroid problems”. I have found when you explain to teachers the reason behind limiting your children to chemical exposure – that you’re not trying to be difficult – they are very understanding. Probably the biggest product linked to antibacterial and might be on your school list is hand sanitizer. This is an important one to make eco-friendly and the easiest way is to not purchase anything and request that your child is given the opportunity to wash their hands more often. If you are more comfortable knowing he can disinfect quickly – send Cleanwell wipes or spray in your child’s back-to-school kit. Again, unleash your eco-warrior and don’t let the marketing of ‘germs’ pressure you into purchases that use endocrine disrupting chemicals that could lead to an allergy. Here is a personal story about hand sanitizer. The brands that have perfume or strong scent will trigger a reaction with a person (like me) with chemical sensitivities. A person in one of my children’s classes had just applied hand sanitizer (apricot scented) and the 2 minutes I was in the classroom delivering hot lunches, I felt dizzy and left with a headache. Please be aware of the effects of using strong chemicals – if not for yourself but other people.

I’ve also noticed some ‘non-stick’ marketing with back-to-school supplies. Does anyone need teflon on their scissors? I’m not sure what the inner coating of lunch bags that are marketed non-stick but I stay clear! Remember my article on teflon lined diaper bags? Since researching this article I’ve been wary of non-stick lined products that are marketed to clean or wipe up quickly from spills. I stick to 100% organic cotton lunch bags in place of this and love that they are machine washable. Sticking with cotton is just a great way to go with backpacks, gym bags, and sandwich bags because at the end of their life, you cut off the zipper and plastic velcro and compost. That is a great full cycle story for a product…reuse, reuse, reuse and then compost.  It’s my favourite kind of story.

The last tip is the most important for back-to-school supplies shopping. Avoid plastic. All plastic. I don’t care if it’s marked free of everything; BPA, phthalates, PVC, etc.  At the end of the day, at the end of it’s shelf life – it’s still plastic. We are experiencing the greatest problem in our history with ocean pollution and the leading cause is plastic. Our health has never been so clouded with problems: cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, skin sensitivities, endocrine disruption, and more. I don’t trust plastic. Studies have found that many products labeled BPA-free still released chemicals that mimic estrogen.  PVC plastic is a known poison to human health and the environment so if you are purchasing backpacks or supplies made from plastic, please ensure it’s marked PVC-free. Summon your eco-warrior and use your nose if buying plastic…don’t put anything in your cart with that strong plastic smell.  Did you know that coloured paper clips contain PVC coating? With all supplies, including litterless lunch systems, stick with plain stainless steel. Most supplies like rulers, folders, duo-tangs, and binders have non-plastic alternatives in stores. Pens and markers still appear to be the toughest plastics to avoid with back-to-school. Search out recycled plastic options to lesson your environmental impact. If you see a specific plastic request on your child’s school supplies list from the school, try substituting it with a material you are comfortable with. On my children’s list I see a plastic containers to put supplies. Every year I use a shoe box, my kids decorate it with a best memory from the summer and I’ve never received a complaint. Sometimes the supplies lists we are receiving haven’t been tweaked in many years so it’s more of a guideline. The below picture is of my oldest son’s supplies box from last year. It’s in such good shape we are using it again this year!

 

I reviewed soy crayons a few years back and loved them!  You can find Clementine Soy Crayons via Organically Hatched. These crayons are literally like using butter – they just glide. If your child is happy with streamlining their color selection to 6 – then you should be happy too! And minus the petroleum and colorants used by traditional companies! Actually, you could pickup non-toxic glue, crayons, markers, and paint all at the same time shopping here. There isn’t anything eco-friendly about the plastic surrounding the Clementine markers but they are additive free, without scent. Having discussions about what has influenced your purchases with back-to-school products is a wonderful time to educate children. I’m hoping by going through supplies from previous years and re-using what you can, the ability to afford the slightly higher prices for greener back-to-school supplies is manageable. Your children will become your voice and echo the education. My child was the one in Grade 2 last year telling his teacher that the cleaning supplies they were given to clean their desks were toxic and gave him a headache. We donated bottles of diluted Dr. Bronners for our children’s classrooms until the school switched over the Green Seal certified cleaners. A child’s voice is important and matters – give your children the wisdom and help create Eco-warrior children that inspire change!

Related Articles:

Back To School Eco Backpacks

End of School Sustainability

Teflon Lined Diaper Bags


Soccer Saturday – Getting Ready For Rain!

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