Tag Archives | environmental issues

Plastic Ocean Pollution

It’s easy to become enraged when you see pictures of marine life that have been maimed, killed, or caught in plastic or ocean debris. It  really puts a face to this huge problem but because the problem is so big – how can we help? This article is inspired from combing the ocean’s tidal pools with my own kids today and we noticed a lot more garbage at the shoreline. Finding multiple golf balls really reminded me that education is needed with our unprotected waters. We need to think about our oceans and remember to only put things from the ocean back into them – this doesn’t include sand toys, cigarette butts, water bottles, golf balls, etc. Not only is an item like golf balls made from rubber and a plastic exterior, there can be confusion for marine life once they start breaking down.  Here is what I saw today:

What can we do? Talk to you children about this epic problem. Show them pictures if you don’t live close to water. There are all ranges of images – select age appropriate pictures and educate children that single use items and plastic is a huge problem. Understanding consumerism and the importance of making better choices for things that enter our homes. I also find general awareness of this problem forces you to rethink lifestyles. I recently learned that cigarettes contain plastic. I had no idea!  Think of how many cigarette butts find their way into the ocean? The plastic soup of our single use lifestyle is really the turning point for so many environmental issues – the ocean is no different.

What can you start doing today that will help? Most important is limiting single use plastic disposable items from your life – once you start it doesn’t seem like such a huge undertaking. The best part is with this reduction you will be taking steps to improve not only the environment but your own health!  Here are some tips.

~ Say no to drinking water in plastic and using plastic shopping bags. Grab a reusable stainless steel bottle and refill and use cloth or paper bags for shopping.

~ Use reusable tableware – say no to plastic. Refuse plastic straws, Styrofoam cups, plates, and cutlery. Are you an big coffee drinker?  Recognize that about yourself and have a reusable cup in your car. Like to use straws? Keep a stainless steel straw in your glove box or purse.

~ Food packaging is the biggest problem of all!  It’s easier to avoid putting fresh produce in plastic, but think of all the snack type foods that contains plastic packaging; cereal, crackers, yogurt, cheese, etc. Purchase these items in bulk, sourcing products like milk in glass bottles, and avoiding heavily packaged foods when shopping helps curb single item waste.

Many of us believe that our plastic waste is recycled but sadly it’s just not true. Recycling rates for plastic are poor – less than 1% of all plastic bags are actually recycled. The plastic you put into blue bins or recycle bins is not automatically disposed in a full circle where plastic is turned into another product or given new life. Most plastic ends up in the land fill, and the overrun sometimes ends up in our water and that has turned into a huge problem. Plastic is created to exist forever. Did I just say forever? Yes, so the problem of using something only once and having that packaging created to withstand the elements forever is scary. And once that plastic item becomes weathered and torn, the small pieces it breaks down to probably cause the most damage because it’s now making it’s way into our food system, animals, and soil.

When you can’t avoid using plastic – treat that item with care and try to use it for as long as possible. In my house we’ve accumulated toys, sand toys, water toys and rather than feeling guilty about having these items, I’ve taken a new approach; take really good care of them. When these toys are gone they won’t be replaced so if we can keep plastic sand toys that will last my children’s entire childhood….then mission accomplished. There isn’t an effective material to replace plastic with water play – especially floatation devices, pools, etc. so treat them with care. Ensure your plastic is removed from visiting the beach and treat it well. Use it and preserve it so it doesn’t become a single use item – stretch it’s use into years.

At every turn with talking about the environment and human health, the biggest factor is curbing consumerism and reducing items that have a short life span. When you understand that plastic was created to last forever – it becomes hard to purchase something that will only be used once, but will stay on the planet longer than your grandchildren.

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A ‘Green’ Way to Raise Money For Schools

Fundraising campaigns for schools, athletic teams, and clubs is changing.  The desire to do the right thing for the environment has crept into all aspects of parenting and education with our kids…why not fundraising?!  Tracy Green of Green Hands Fundraising has found a great way to generate money for schools, while supplying parents and children an avenue to eliminate waste from school box lunches.  Her vision is to create litterless lunches by supplying stainless steel bottles and laptop lunches.  

Tracy Green started this green fundraising company when she recognized the lack of environmentally conscious and socially responsible products available to schools and organizations wanting to fundraise. In the midst of the BPA controversy, she decided to run a fundraiser with Klean Kanteen bottles to try and eliminate all of the plastic water bottles children were drinking from. In the hope of raising a few hundred dollars, the success of this fundraiser went off the charts!  Selling a product that parents need, while helping our environment seemed to be the perfect fit.  Also, have you attempted to source stainless steel bottles lately?  The prices are very expensive and they are hard to find.  With Green Hands, the sourcing of bottles has already been done, the prices are fair or even below retail cost, and money goes back into your school for finding a product you need!  How awesome is that?

Not only does Tracy run the fundraiser hand-in-hand with the PAC or teachers, she will educate regarding BPA and healthy alternatives. She is branching out to Eco Bags and has lots of cutting edge, cool ideas for fundraising products.  She is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve spoken to locally about environmental issues, and has been successful since starting up just before the school year wrapped up last year. So if you are looking for fundraising alternatives to selling Entertainment books or wrapping paper, you can contact Tracy in the Fall when school starts back. This awesome company, based from the common sense approach of giving parents products they actually need, is very successful with generating dollars to help schools and athletic teams.  Klean Kanteen, Bilt Bottles, Laptop Lunch Kits, Eco bags, and Eco cleaning supplies are all on her list of fundraising possibilities.  Visit the site Green Hands Fundraising for more information or to contact Tracy with questions.

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The Little Lorax Of Pedagogy Toys & Bamboo Clothing

I’ve been tipped off about a business who’s mission, while helping the environment, is to educate our children – a place called Pedagogy Toys.  You might be still trying to sound out the word ped-a-gogy, (rhymes with ‘pet a doggy’) and it means the science and art of teaching.  You can tell this is their first priority with the store’s eco brands, eco products, and passionate knowledge from the owners.  Co-owner Karen is who I’m referrencing with the description of the little Lorax of Pedagogy Toys.  After visiting the store and spending hours talking about environmental issues, products, and being a mom, I’ve found a kindred spirit and would later gush about the experience.   To quote Dr. Suess “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.”  Check out the website or store and you will see these words in action.

As I walked around Pedagogy, the sensitivity to our environment, the store’s global footprint, and locally sourced products kept flooding my senses. Continue Reading →

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The Greenest Book You’ll Buy….and It’s Dr. Suess!

I’m inspired.  So inspired!!  Usually, I only need to look into the eyes of my children to stay focused with greening my world.  Well today, I re-discovered a book that should be on every child’s book shelf from the time they’re an infant until they fully understand environmental issues.  Let’s see if you can guess the book – it all came back to me as I read a few pages…

“Way back in the days when the grass was still green
and the pond was still wet
and the clouds were still clean,
and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space….
one morning, I came to this glorious place.  And I first saw the trees!”

Still can’t guess? Try this!

“Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”

It’s The Lorax by Dr. Seuss!!  It is hard to believe this book was written over 40 years ago and honestly, I’ve never reviewed something that explains why we are in the predicament today because of the mistakes we’ve made with our planet.  In the fun way Dr. Seuss reads, the book covers air/fish pollution, clear cutting a forest, driving animals from their natural habitat, and short-term financial gain for long-term environmental ruin.  Really, if you have a child, The Lorax might be one of the most thought provoking, discussion starting, books you’ve read.

This article was going to highlight several green books I’ve researched for young children, but I’m stopping at this book.  As I slowly read each page I remembered being read this book, the vibrant pictures and the wonderful hero of the time…The Lorax.  It all came back to me and I’m inspired once again to keep finding ways to ‘green’ my family.  Now that Francesco and Angelo have been told the story, if they ask me why I’m spending so much researching green options….I’ll respond “because I want to be like the Lorax!” Trust Dr. Seuss to perfectly sum up the problems of our planet and the solution required to fix it. Read this book to a child and discover the power of his message of sustainability.

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