Tag Archives | Earth Day

Going Forward From Earth Day – 5 Tips

We know I’m not one for keeping it short, but I figure I’ve expanded on posts dear to my heart already within the article so I’ll include the link if you’d like more information. I honestly believe that at this point we are all making conscience decisions in our everyday lives and maybe that’s why Earth Day felt a little less hyped this year. If that is the case – that is awesome. If you are new to the process of ‘greening’ your life, here are 5 tips that will help you. Also remember, anything that is harmful to the environment is also toxic to human health. So if you’re not quite ready to change your lifestyle or consumerism for the planet, think about making these changes to help your family live a longer and healthier life.  Here we go!

1) Vow to never again use the self cleaning option on your oven. This convenience based option is known to kill household pets. Non-stick surfaces combined with very high heat produces a terrible toxic off-gassing that is not healthy for your household. Read more here.

2) Take an hour and review your personal care products on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is the best resource for identifying cosmetics, sunscreen, personal care products that might contain toxic ingredients. This is a valuable resource to check before you go shopping for that next bottle of shampoo or item for baby. With the number of options out there today, check out how your cosmetics score and switch over to non-toxic, organic products.

3) Think about your family’s fragrance. What does this mean? When you go out in public – is there any part of you that could cause a reaction to someone sensitive to synthetic scents? I get a reaction from people that use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Think about the synthetic scents you omit in public including perfumes, deodorants, household cleaners/air fresheners, and laundry routine. For more information click here.

4) Let the outdoors in! Did you know that the inside of your home is probably filled with more toxins that the outdoors? Ban all room deodorizers and simply open a window. Let the fresh air truly ‘freshen’ your home and eliminate odors. For more information click here.

5) Consumerism…this one’s important. It’s the biggest problem with the environment and the clutter taking over our homes. You need to think about every purchase you make. Where will it end up? Where was it manufactured? What is it made from? These are the questions we should ask every time we purchase that next Easter gift, birthday gift, clothing shop, etc. If nothing else, you asking these questions will promote change. I have personally witnessed this shift in consumerism mentality. I know parents love to ask “where is this product manufactured?” I know from asking hundreds of parents that they will pay more for having something made locally and supporting a local artist or toy maker. Let’s keep this shift in how we shop going and reach every industry and let them know it’s important. We want locally manufactured goods that are safe for our families. Period. It’s no longer acceptable to produce toxic toys overseas and have our children play and wear toxic chemicals. My hope is that by this day next year, Earth Day is only symbolic of what we incorporate into our lives everyday and that we ask ourselves these questions everyday.

I read an article by Lisa Frack from EWG that made me really think about Earth Day changes and wanted to share. For more information on changes you can make that will help your health and planet, read her article called If You’ve Done One Thing, You’ve Done Something. I for one will be looking into a water filter. I also have a few idea I’ll be implementing at my kid’s school that I’ll share. What about you?

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Earth Day 2010 ~ How Will You Celebrate

Earth Day is coming and I’ve been comparing this year’s Earth Day buzz to Christmas. It might even be busier in our household than any December I can remember – the emphasis on April 22nd is apparent in every corner of the community this year.

Also helping keep me on my toes, I was approached to guest write for an amazing online newsletter called Savvymom with a series of 2 articles on greener options for families. The article titles are Eco Fun: Storm Drain Marking and Tips to Improve Your Home’s Health. Both of these articles have some great ideas for both parents and children wanting to make a difference in their community and home. One thing I’ve learned with writing at Mommy Footprint is any steps you make to help the environment will reward you with improving your family’s health. If you are wanting to talk to your children about Earth Day and why it’s important, but don’t have time for any big projects, simply make a change in your home and explain that you are helping the Earth and helping improve the quality of your family’s environment. Big or small changes – they all matter and are important.

I have a small role in helping plan a Earth Day Fair this year and am feeling very inspired about community and family involvement. To find an Earth Day event in your neighbourhood, click on the link at Earth Day 2010 (US zip codes only). For people in Canada click on the Earth Day Canada site for events.

My advice for parents wanting to participate or encourage their children this April 22nd is pick something you all find inspiring. If you have wrapped your mind around trying to reduce the amount of toxic materials in your life, discussing with family this month is a great start. I found this puzzle today from the artists at Just Hatched in the US that really celebrate Earth Day everyday with their commitment to using more sustainable materials to create toys. I wanted to share an example of something so simple. and earthy. and inspiring. Surrounding our lives with better choices for the environment the other 374 days of the year is also a great pledge to make. Keeping your family footprint lighter with supporting local, sustainable choices, made with natural materials just feels so good!

Have fun planning your special mark with your family this Earth Day.

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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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PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

I had a light bulb moment today with PVC plastic – time to get my head out of the sand with this plastic known as ‘the poison plastic’ and realize it’s in more places than I care to realize in my home.  It is crazy why BPA gets all the media attention when Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or vinyl) is the worst known plastic for our health releasing chemicals that cause cancer and other known health problems.  Many household products are still made from this plastic: plastic food wrap, fake Christmas trees, lunch kits, flooring, clothing, etc. It’s not just shower curtains that need to be reviewed and replaced – we are talking about everyday household items! In many opinions, this plastic is devastating to human health (a known carcinogen) and proven to cause cancer and I want it as far away from my children as possible.  Would you continue to use a product that has a warning across the packaging “using this product may cause cancer” and keep it in close contact with your family members?  Of course not, but it’s finding out where it’s lurking in your home.

It’s overwhelming to wrap your mind around all the places that may contain PVC.  I downloaded the PVC-free guide called Pass Up The Poison Plastic produced by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and it was very helpful and something all parents should read.  After going through this document, I can guarantee you’ll discover items in your life that you didn’t know contained PVC.

Still not convinced that you need to rid your life of PVC plastic?  It’s recently been written that PVC vinyl flooring might be linked with autism in children.  That is pretty powerful  – here is the article from Eco Child’s Play.  Still not convinced?  To quote the Center For Health, Environment, Justice:

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic, commonly referred to as vinyl, is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created.  PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash.  Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.  When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

How did the realization just come about for me personally?  I discovered the cling wrap I use is made from PVC and I’ve been using it to wrap the kid’s food for lunches.  Should it be touching my kid’s food?  No. Why did I not already know this when I’m entrenched with green products and issues on a daily basis? I can’t answer that either. You just don’t see as much reported about PVC – more about the harm caused by phthalates and BPA. I learned this week that I need to become more diligent about sourcing healthy PVC-free alternatives in my home.  Action items I took away from researching the article is to find out what kind of flooring is at my kid’s schools, find out if products (like my Christmas tree) continue to leech air-borne phthalates every time they are used even when they are several years old, research more food storage ideas that are PVC free, and purchase a PVC-free (non-vinyl) water hose for this summer because my kids always drink from it.

When it comes to children’s products and toys, it’s also not clear-cut which are made from PVC because most don’t have the PVC resin code stamped clearly on the product. The recycling code for PVC plastic is number 3 (with chasing arrows around it). I use the term ‘recycling code’ loosely though because you cannot recycle PVC plastic, which has a colossal impact to the environment because of it’s wide use. Actually, one PVC plastic bottle can contaminate a recycling load of 100,000 PET bottles because of the many different toxic additives used to soften PVC (phthalates, plastizers, etc.), so if you think a product is made from this plastic, you might be doing more harm by tossing it into the recycling bin. If this is still confusing, try watching the ‘Sam Suds and the case of PVC’ video on the Campaign for Safe, Healthy Consumer Product’s site. It’s even okay for kids to watch because it’s a cartoon and an entertaining and basic introduction to learning about PVC. Another great video that is timely with Earth Day quickly approaching is The Story About Stuff. It’s only 20 minutes and Annie Leonard exposes the connections between environmental and social issues and will forever change the way you view ‘the stuff’ in your life.

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Eagle Cam Eco-Activity

With Earth Day approaching, I’ve started hoarding eco-activities and lessons for the month of April that I can participate with my kids.  I was told about the Hancock Wildlife Foundation web site by an amazing preschool teacher and what an exciting activity it is for children to catch a ‘bird’s eye view (couldn’t resist) of eagles interacting courtesy of live eagle cams.  The Hancock Wildlife Foundation that has setup these cams was founded by biologist David Hancock.  The mission statement or goal of this foundation has such an important message with promoting the conservation of wildlife and its habitats through science, education, and stewardship.  The fact that Bald Eagles are endangered is also a great conversation to have with your children about the importance of protecting our environment and the animals that live within it.

The Hancock Foundation has installed various live wildlife cams and it’s amazing to study these proud, beautiful eagles; it’s fascinating to watch them so close in their nest tending to their eggs, nest and each other.  Check out these live streaming videos!  The forum on this site is also packed with information, pictures, and live cams of other animals from Africa to Vancouver Island.  A great computer activity if you are looking for a break from the Nick Jr. or Lego web sites and with April just beginning, it’s the perfect month to celebrate more earth friendly web sites for kids.

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