Archive | Recycling

Greener Birthday Parties for Older Kids

While the party is still fresh in my mind and I’ve embraced the fact another year has passed (all too quickly) for another one of my children, I wanted to write an article about hosting a greener party for older kids. I have to say the planning, execution, and green factor (being high!) from this party was very easy this year. Yes, it’s our 3rd year of hosting green parties for our children, including asking for donations in lieu of gifts, but there was no big meltdown (on my part) this year so I wanted to make some realistic recommendations to help parents trying to plan greener parties or celebrations.

When I think or say ‘greener birthday party’ or ‘eco-friendly birthday party’ a vision of children sitting around dying play dough with vegetables as the craft, eating raw/organics and picking up garbage as the activity often comes to mind. This is a lovely concept, but more realistic for younger children. The older kids get, they are picky and want to enforce their opinions on details and activities for their party..this is why things can often get expensive.  This past weekend we hosted Angelo’s 7th birthday party at a local rec centre (no I wasn’t up to the task of having 15 hyper boys in my house with only me to entertain them) and they had a teen room that is reserved during weeknights as a teen centre. The room is equipped with a Ping Pong & Pool Table, Foosball, Air Hockey, Basketball dual game, and a Wii system. There was also a party host that took them to the gym for an hour to play floor hockey and soccer. The key…these boy party guests stayed active, active, active!  The kids left the party having exercised and played with lots of different partners in the party room with the fun activities.

So the venue rocked and was very easy for my husband and I. A few other things I found easy:

Sent the annual Evite to save on paper invitations and hurt feelings from any children that weren’t invited to the party when paper invitations are passed around a classroom.

Used Angelo’s name banner for the 2nd year…best decoration for a child’s room and birthday party from my company Green Planet Parties. Besides for the tablecloth, this is the only decoration needed in this party room – everyone loved it.

My boys are crazy for Harry Potter so rather than host a Harry Potter themed party – we used understated wizard magic with the loot bags. They were cloth camouflage bags that contained organic candy, wooden wizard wands, and grey felt beards (so everyone can be like Dumbledore) once they are home. I have to say, the last guest to leave had the best reaction ever to the loot bags. He opened the bag and took out the wand and screamed “really? You got me my very own wand?” It was just awesome….anyone that believes boys need plastic, battery operated toys to be happy is frankly mistaken.

Brought in earth friendly tableware. I used palm leaf plates, corn cups and put all party guests names on them so they only used one throughout the party, used wooden cutlery, and recycled napkins. The facility where we hosted the party doesn’t have curb-side pickup for food waste so we packed up all the food waste and compostable tableware and brought it home with us to compost.  It was very easy.

For the third year Angelo hosted a donation party and asked his friends to bring a donation rather than a gift. He is a very green little guy and sees the value in helping a charity and knows that the amount of packaging that will be saved from toys and gift wrap is important. It really helps cut down on unrecyclable plastic when you ask children not to bring gifts to a party. We left the party with just envelopes because most of the kids made their own cards. In previous years, Angelo has helped Endangered Animals because it’s a concept younger children love – helping animals. This year, Angelo decided to give 1/2 of his party donations to Cancer Research because our family lost my father-in-law last year to a courageous battle to cancer so it’s a new cause that is close to their hearts. Donation parties really help empower children because they are making decisions (sometimes for the first time) with where their money is going – it gives them confidence and makes them proud.

For the first time in a long time, I simply just enjoyed the party. I wasn’t running around like a crazy person…I had support and help and got to enjoy the 3 hours, taking pictures and playing games with the kids.

I may be the owner of Green Planet Parties, but I’m not perfect and have a few areas to improve next year.  I love the convenience of supermarket cakes…I really don’t enjoy baking and know I’m not capable of pulling off a Harry Potter cake on my own, but knowing the icing is made from loads of artificial colors and the toys on top of the cake are made with PVC, doesn’t make me feel great. The convenience is wonderful…but I’d love to find another solution. There are lots of smaller cupcake, cookie, cake pop bakers in every community that are making these items from scratch and are probably more healthy than the supermarket. One person I’ve become friends with on Twitter is Event Envy. Not only is this mompreneur witty and friendly on social media, but her cakes and cake pops are incredible! My new favorite from her site is the Ruffle Cake!

Besides for the cake ‘fail’ I also brought juice boxes to the party. We did use water pitchers with the corn cups instead of plastic water bottles, but didn’t have enough containers to serve juice. The centre had recycling facilities and took care of the juice boxes but I would eliminate these for next time.

Ohhh just remembered I used beeswax candles on the birthday cake rather than petroleum based.  Maybe I just earned a point back?  <smile>

I wanted to write a post that anyone can follow regarding hosting greener birthday parties for children of any age. It’s still very possible (easy in fact) and doesn’t need to be this incredibly stressful occasion for parents. It should be enjoyable and fun….it is a party after-all!  Hmmmm next party is for my 4 year old twin daughters so everything might change trying to balance the ‘princess’ wishes they’ve been talking about.  That’s okay…I have a few ideas of my own how to keep their party green, fun, and girlie!  Wish me luck.

New, locally handmade items are arriving for Green Planet Parties. Join us on Facebook via the Fan Page so you don’t miss any of these new additions.

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Tupperware & BPA – 2 Years Later

I love stats. Something that is a record of growth is even better and I’m happy to say when viewing the traffic stats for Mommy Footprint, my blog continues to grow and flourish with new subscribers and people coming to the site. I also enjoy seeing what Google searches land upon Mommy Footprint and lately I’ve received a high number for Tupperware and BPA. I wrote about this topic back in June 2008 after wondering how Tupperware was handling customer concerns regarding their products that did contain BPA.  They were not arguing the fact that certain products sold did contain BPA – there was a section on their site that has now been removed that listed product names of Tupperware items made with BPA.  Now when you click on the link listed in my article from 2008 – you are taken to a page that describes which recycling codes are labelled on the bottom of NEW Tupperware products in the 2010 catalogue. So if you are trying to look up which recycling codes match your Tupperware pieces that are older than 2010 – this will not help you. Because Tupperware deemed their products ‘to last forever’ and therfore, never require to be recycled, they haven’t stamped the recycling codes on the bottom of their products (apparently this has now changed). By recycling code I mean the resin number (1-7) so that consumers are left to wonder if their product was made with polycarbonate plastic (number 7). I still have the list of products that was published back in 2008 from the Tupperware site if you are wanting to look up older Tupperware products that aren’t coded and you are concerned. They are listed at the bottom of this article.

My other reason for re-visting Tupperware and BPA was the surprise and disappointment in how Tupperware handled parents questioning Tupperware products when BPA entered the media years ago. The Tupperware view on the BPA situation was basically: we don’t think BPA is as dangerous because governmental regulatory agencies approve of the use of BPA , it is needed to produce certain Tupperware products, we don’t sell baby bottles, we’ve ensured that polycarbonate plastic is not in any of the children’s items we sell.  I wanted to re-visit the site and see what progress Tupperware had made over two years later. Another shocker – they haven’t changed their opinion!  I’ve taken a few hard looks at the Tupperware site over the last few days and they stand by the belief that BPA is an approved substance for use in food contact products.  For the entire blurb, click here to read. I guess my question would be then why effective March 2010, did Tupperware cease using polycarbonate for the small number of products sold in the US and Canada?  And with the millions of Tupperware products that have been purchased and used since it was introduced to consumers in 1946…why wouldn’t a refund be offered to someone concerned that their Tupperware item containing BPA? Yes, only 10% of their products were previously made with polycarbonate plastic (that contains BPA) but with the amount sold over the last 50 years – we are talking about a lot of plastic.  And if the products are made to ‘last forever’ – who knows how many Tupperware products 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago were made with BPA?

The fact my site is receiving lots of hits on an article I wrote over 2 years ago about Tupperware and BPA – shows that people are still mystified by plastic products that were never labelled properly.  People that struggle with the questions “is it wasteful to throw something away when I’ve been using for years?”  “Am I being paranoid about plastics?”  If you are finding my site because you are at a loss to know what to do with unlabelled Tupperware – phone their customer service department and get answers.

I’ve never owned Tupperware – it wasn’t anything I ever invested in although don’t get me wrong…I’ve purchased a fair amount of polycarbonate plastic in my life. My take on plastic today? Tupperware or otherwise?  Plastic is plastic. I think it’s one of the most damaging man-made materials ever developed. It was widely untested when first brought to consumers and companies like Tupperware marketing to moms stating their products would save busy moms time and convenience is a wonderful thing – especially for parents. So we bought what they said…hook, line, and now we suffer. These man-made, untested materials have brought our families the worst diseases and planet pollution. Never heat food/liquid or freeze in plastic containers.   The act of putting plastic in dishwashers will also cause the material to breakdown with our detergents and hot water.

Here is my list that was once posted on the Tupperware site that is no longer there. I shudder to think that a product called a ‘Heat ‘N Serve/Rock ‘N Serve container has BPA. I would think the name suggests you are heating food in some capacity. And I think people that own a Tupperware product that does contain polycarbonate plastic should demand their money back and remind Tupperware that it’s not just about baby bottles. Yes, BPA has been banned from baby bottles – but nobody wants this chemicals leaching into their food. Older children and adults are not big fans of infertility, cancers of the breast & prostate – to name a few, and more.  BPA is still a big deal and people want to stay away from it. Sorry that you didn’t think to code your products properly, but that is not the consumers problem. It is our right to know if chemicals are in the products we use and your responsibility to answer those question. And I think – give us our money back if I, the consumer is not satisfied.

Products listed on the Tupperware site back in June 2008 confirming they contained BPA:

Heat ‘N Serve/Rock ‘N Serve: Container

Ice Prisms: Bowls, Pitcher & Tumbler Set

Kitchen Duos

Microsteamer: Base

Microwave Cooker – Oval: Cover

Microwave Luncheon Plate

Quick Chef Base

Sheerly Elegant Line

Tumbler Bouquet & Pitcher Set: Pitcher

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Related Articles:

Tupperware Items Made From #7 Plastic

Response From Tupperware Regarding BPA & Refunds

Alternatives To Freezing Food In Plastic


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A Plastic Rant

Pardon this rant – no deep research in this article, just my thoughts after 2 years of spending lots of time thinking and writing about plastic.  You may even wonder what the big deal about plastic is?  Is it simply a ‘fad’ that mothers are feeling so neurotic about plastic and if toys are safe, reducing plastic in the kitchen, and many other household items? Plastic has been making parents crazy for the last few years because of all the research learned about the chemicals that can leach from this cheap, durable, and easily accessible material.

After writing 250 articles over the last 2 years, one thing remains a constant worry, a constant nagging concern for my family, have I done enough to protect them from chemicals that I believe cause so many horrible illnesses? It’s a challenge that can become very discouraging when you look at the massive amounts of packaging and our pre-programmed thought process when it comes to our relationship with plastic.  One reason I’m drowning in clutter and a lack of closet space in my house is what to do with plastic items I’ve accumulated over my 10 years of marriage and parenthood. I try to explain to my husband and friends if I thought it was even remotely able to be recycled, it would have been gone by now. Why is it so hard for toy manufacturers to code their toys with what type of plastic they are made from? If a toy is made from a safe plastic, wouldn’t the company want to market that fact?  Of course they would, meaning that those millions of toys out there are unrecyclable and a complete burden on the environment and our health. It’s a sick relationship because I still feel torn at birthday celebrations and (upcoming Easter) from wanting to splurge and buy everyone fun products that would emit the scream of delight from my kids and family. But – since I’m pretty sure that most are made from unrecylable plastic, some with PVC and others with vinyl – softened with toxic plastisicers – I can’t bring myself to reach for my purse. It’s just crazy that I’m even torn about this issue!  Right?

Then the problem of food and packing rolls along. I’ve discovered that toys are really not my biggest problem in life when it comes to plastic. If you tune-in to the number of products in your fridge that you children consume that are wrapped in bendy, soft plastic. What makes this plastic soft?  Even if the cling wrap is made from PVC -free material – some sort of chemical needs to soften the plastic.  Think about yogurt tubes, think about cheese strings, think about the block of cheese that comes wrapped in plastic, then when you cut into it, needs to be sealed with plastic wrap to ensure it stays fresh.  We’ve replaced our yogurt tubes with YOP (hard plastic) and I try to put wax paper in between the cheese and the plastic wrap after I’ve opened a new block of cheese. I make a big effort to not let plastic wrap touch my food directly – wax paper is usually a great barrier.  I’ve been meaning to try these Obeego Flats from Abeego Designs sold here at Every Little Bit.  They have a natural waxy coating that allows the hemp/cotton blend to mold to your dish or food item – it would be perfect for a bowl or food item you usually wrap in traditional wrap.

A few things continue to shock me about convenient food. We all know that unless you are growing your food youself that there is probably environmental contamination. It’s just not realistic to think that everyone can do this….but with the amount of convenience, it’s understandable why so many cancers and disease are on the rise. Let’s take McDonalds for example.  Probably the worst culprit on so many levels, but my two pet peeves are the toy that is distributed with every child’s meal and when I found out every wrapper on a burger contains phthalates to keep the wrap slippery. I want to point out these two points because we are already aware the food is not healthy, but this company insists on adding to an environmental problem with their packaging and waste. Really – why hand out a plastic toy with each child’s meal?  At most McDonalds the cost isn’t even decreased if you ask for the meal without the toy.  These cheap toys cannot be recycled and every parent I know has a ton of them cluttering up their house.

Piece by piece, room by room, making changes and learning about where toxic materials exist is important. It’s just such a huge undertaking, I sometimes wonder how many of the large companies are listening and what needs to be done to get them to change. Until this happens, I’ll continue to chip away at my immediate surroundings and hope that it makes a difference in my children’s health and that I don’t wind up crazy in the process.

Our Mommy Footprint contest for the stainless steel popsicle mold has now closed and the contest winner (Anna) has been contacted.  Thank you for participating via Facebook and the referral form.  Stay tuned for our next contest in April.

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Ecocessories – A Very Cool Story For Valentines

I love a funky, unique, and greener business concept so when I was introduced to the Ecocessories jewelry line and the designer Jessica – I couldn’t wait to write about this awesome company that recycles jewelry. And with Valentines Day on the near horizon and everyone wanting to show their love and devotion with a more eco-friendly message this year, the timing is perfect.

An amazing aspect that owner Jessica has included in her business model is recycling jewelry and then passing savings onto her customers. Who doesn’t have some mis-matched single earrings, broken necklaces, or dated costume jewelry cluttering up their jewelry box? You mail it to Jessica and will receive 15% off a future order. And when you take a peek at her one-of-a-kind creations, you’ll be loving the savings and feeling great that 100% of your old jewelry’s components will be recycled into a new design.  Take a peek at these Valentine pieces any only one word comes to mind… “Swoon”!

red_river_organic_necklace_4_medium red_river_organic_bracelet Red-Sizzle-Pendant-Necklace1_medium

I asked Jessica why so many moms, brides, and everyday women would want to purchase jewelry directly from a designer. I loved her answer and wanted to share. “A designer has paid the highest attention to detail in your jewelry design. A designer goes to great lengths to provide a high quality item, and will often stand behind that craftsmanship such as with Ecocessories lifetime guarantee. A designer has a low environmental impact and the products are created in favourable and fair working conditions. Designers are transparent about the creation of their items and the story behind a piece is part of its charm! We also deliver superior customer service with customization services available and adjustments to existing pieces if need be. Most of all, we care – about our products, our processes, and our customers!”

Jessica’s designs are made from sterling silver that is free from harmful metals and of the highest quality. Chemical-free alternatives in her silversmithing processes keep her designs not only lovely, but environmentally safe both in production and design. Working with a designer is the best-case scenario for those that love unique and one-of-a-kind pieces.  Jessica loves asymmetrical design and calls on her collection of recycled beads to assist in her inspiration, along with seasons and what is inspiring with fashion.

I personally am drawn to jewelry that represents interests or a story in people’s lives. What a magical concept to wear a piece of jewelry that not only tells a great story but also includes an earthy element. The Ecocessories online store and the ocean and Cypress jewelry collections really had me at first glance.  In my opinion, Jessica’s real specialty is her nature inspired designs that are artistically interpreted long before she starts to hand-forge shapes, signature clasps, and silver.

Antique-Ocean-Oval-Pendant-2_medium Antique-Ocean-Circle-Earrings-3_medium cypress_street_organic_bracelet

The above pieces are currently available on her site and are one-of-a-kind. They are named Antique Ocean Oval Pendant, Antique Ocean Circle Earrings, and Cypress Street Organic Bracelet. With names like that I wanted to hear the story behind the Cypress line. With many of you knowing that my beautiful Province of BC is hosting the Winter Olympics next month I thought the inspiration behind the Cypress piece would be fun to share explained by Jessica.”This line was inspired by many afternoons carving down the slopes of Mount Cypress in West Vancouver. I remember the first time driving up there, the road was lined with such vivid blues and greens. Then when we were almost at the peak, everything turned white as soon as we turned a corner. It was the most awe-inspiring moment, almost like the trees had been sprayed with whipped cream. I’ll never get over the amount of life and colour the forest and the mountains contain here in BC and often like to reflect that in my designs.

Have you already fallen in love with a piece and are nervous about the cost?  Go to the Ecocessories site and fall in love because they are affordable and offer a rich history with a wonderful eco-story standing behind each piece. Jessica is also offering Mommy Footprint readers a 10% discount on any Ecocessories order. Simply type MommyFootprint during step 2 of the online shopping cart after entering your address. Or just be direct and let’s call it ‘helpful’ and forward the Ecocessories link to you partner and make his Valentines shopping easy this year.

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Earth Day ~ What Will Your Legacy Be?

With 200 articles in the Mommy Footprint vault I’m hopeful I’ve shared all of my Earth Day tips over the last year.  I’ve kept a few tips up my sleeve in time for an Earth Day article and hope you enjoy. <wink>

The tag line on the Mommy Footprint site is “what will your legacy be?” and that is still the driving force behind this blog.  Changing small acts in everyday life is what will impact our world the most.  A few upcoming acts I pledge to write about include:

~ starting a database for readers of where PVC plastic lurks that effects children in their household, classroom, etc.

~ Talking about products that are next to the skin or worse (!) inside our bodies that are produced with chlorine, dioxins, and chemicals.

~ Trying to convince high-end, educational facilities to eliminate toys or products that young children can mouth or bath with that are made from PVC; my goal is to have it completely removed from the Vancouver aquarium gift shop because of the precedent it should uphold to the marine life it educates the public about. 

~ Hold companies accountable for the products they sell to consumers when they are manufactured and sold containing harmful chemicals or materials.

~ Encouraging parents to create eco-friendlier events for children like birthday parties, family BBQs and special events; a guest or child from these get-togethers will always notice something different and the ball of education starts to roll.

~ And always watching for new ideas or concepts to engage children with nature.  Like anything in life – children bore easily so it’s up to parents to keep creative ideas flowing even if we feel exhausted and struggle ourselves.  There is no greater accomplishment in my life than having all my children engaged and joyful in nature…and no matter how tired I feel, the fresh air has always been healing for my body and soul.

Enough about me.  Here are some ideas for unique ways to celebrate or kick-off family goals this Earth Day:

Show kids recycling codes on plastic. Post a chart with each resin code with a child friendly description and let kids take on the task of sorting household plastics for recycling.  It’s like an easy math problem or game that kids would love.  Incorporate the topic of plastic packaging into this new activity.  Teach your child about the massive amounts of plastic that cannot be recycled and how as a family you can reduce and purchase products more responsibly.

Mark storm drains in your neighborhood or surrounding community at your school.  I’ve talked about this activity a lot because it was the highlight of my summer last year with my sons.  I got 1-1 time with them to talk, and they loved telling people why they were doing it and putting documentation on door knobs.  Then of course hammering the decal into the pavement ~ what child wouldn’t enjoy this?  For more information read Ultimate Eco Activity For Your Family.

The Hummingbirds are out and hungry in my neighborhood.  What a treat to still have Black Capped Chickadees to watch in our back-yard and Blue Jays in our front ~ and to now have Hummingbirds join the crowd. Too fun!  If you don’t have a bird feeder, purchase a cheap one.  Guaranteed your local thrift store will have a hummingbird feeder for sale.

Plant one vegetable in a pot or garden with your child.  Teach your family the power of one small act and the many positives that result from a household garden.; no pesticides, no cost to purchase from the store, better taste, and the pride of growing something yourself.  Make a pledge to add a vegetable to the garden every earth day – imagine what it will look like in a few years.

Write a quiz for your kids on products that can or can’t be recycled.  Have samples of these materials and test their recycling knowledge and ask them to pick out items that can or cannot be recycled.

For a list of adorable Earth Day crafts, check out the Crafting Our Way To A Greener World article on the Kids Stuff World site.  I especially love the globe cookies and egg carton owls.  I wish you a wonderful day on Earth Day (April 22nd, 2009) and hope you find joy and a bit of magic, with discussions and conversations with friends, family, and children about why celebrating the earth’s health is so important.

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