A few months ago, Eco Dad bought this humongous truck against my advice to wait for more fuel efficient models or for Toyota's plug-in hybrids to be released. He needs a full size pick up for work, so this was the answer. My point was that now is not the time to buy a vehicle. I predict in the next 5 to 10 years, something has to change in the car industry. But then, Eco Dad proved me wrong and started running biodiesel in the big rig! We are lucky to live in an area where there are two local gas stations selling 99% pure biodiesel. The price for biodiesel has fluctuated from costing a little more than regular diesel to costing a little less. I won't pretend to be an expert on peak oil issues, but I think that using biodiesel is something that we can do right now while we wait and wait for our government to do something. Biodiesel is not the answer to all our problems, as land is converted to grow crops for fuel rather than food. Reports of deforestation to grow biofuels are surfacings, as well as Fidel Castro has come out against its use. If you own a diesel vehicle, you can switch to biodiesel without doing anything to your car/truck, as long as you buy it from a gas station. No longer is it necessary to make your own by collecting oil from restaurants. The original diesel engine was designed to run on soybean oil, then oil was discovered in North America. The rest is history.....Even Willie Nelson has gotten into the biodiesel action with BioWillie (which is only 20% biofuel based). You can even rent biodiesel cars in LA and Hawaii from Bio-Beetle. For more information about biodiesel, click here. You can also read more about biofuels and deforestation here.
31 March 2007
30 March 2007
One of the things we have lost in our modern culture is the teaching of fiber arts to our children (unless you adhere to Waldorf philosophy). Traditionally, mothers and grandmothers taught children to weave, sew, and knit. I had to go to college to learn how to weave! I was so excited when my sister bought this Leave It To Weaver Kit from Land of Nod. A similar loom is available through Amazon. This frame loom is of high quality and works well, unlike many other looms I have seen designed for children that are frustrating to use. The right tool is important for good results! The only draw back to this loom is the yarn it comes with is acrylic; however, it is very nice yarn and future projects can be made with natural fiber yarn. The loom is rated for ages 7 and up, but my 5.5 year old daughter has no problem weaving on the wooden loom. Weaving, as well as finger knitting, is a great activities for fine motor development.
29 March 2007
Magic Cabin's Doorway Puppet Theater
is affordable and attractive. I absolutely love the fabric! You can hang the all cotton theater anywhere in your home, and it comes with curtains and pockets for the puppets. It also rolls up neatly into a storage bag. We have had our Doorway Puppet Theater
for over a year, and it shows no signs of wear and tear. Symbolic, pretend play is important for facilitating the development of a child's cognitive skills (Cook, 2004). Puppets allow children to develop such dramatic play as their stories take on literal elements. My daughter's first puppet show was about the hiccuping princess who could not find a prince, because she could not stop hiccuping. Characters, the setting, the problem, and the resolution were all present in her story. Somehow, a puppet theater brings the storytelling to a new level, rather than simply playing with puppets alone. It formalizes the experience.
28 March 2007
Buying natural toys does give a parent some peace of mind; however, sometimes even natural toys are recalled. The Peek-A-Boo Ball is one such natural toy, and the ecochildsplay family has it! We purchased our Peek-A-Boo Ball through Ecobaby, not Hearthsong. This fun wooden toy was recalled, because the wood can crack, allowing the small wooden people to fall out and pose a choking hazard. 22,500 Peek-A-Boo Balls were sold between 2001-2004, so we can't be the only family affected. I plan to keep our Peek-A-Boo Ball, but I will inspect it often for cracks. My son is not very oral anymore, so I feel we can keep this great toy.
and Magic Cabin both provide recall information on their websites. Both companies offer refunds and discounts towards the next purchase for recalled toys.
Click here to view Hearthsong recalls.
Click here to view Magic Cabin recalls.
27 March 2007
Yesterday, I attended a presentation by a commercial publisher for a preK curriculum. It was the sort of "cookie cutter" package that takes the creativity out of teaching and assumes anyone can be a teacher by following the script. The presenter held up a card of a child in a park throwing away trash in a receptacle. The card had printed questions on the back for the teacher to ask the children. I asked the presenter, "Where is the recycling bin?". Her response, "That is more of an advanced skill." The teachers shook their heads in disbelief. In my opinion, recycling should be taught from the start.
My children, including my two year old son, know the difference between trash, recycling, and compost, as this is been part of our daily routines. In addition, my children make weekly trips to the recycling center with me. I have yet to include them in putting the items in the bins at the recycling center. I have been hesitant, because our recycling is not always the cleanest and occasionally there are broken bottles or sharp tin can lids. However, I look forward to their help when they are older. Recycling is the least we can do to minimize the impact of our trash on the earth, and I want my children to be lifelong recyclers. In fact, my daughter once asked me why her grandmother didn't recycle. Good question......care to respond Grandma?
If you are looking for local resources on recycling, visit Earth 911. Just type in your zip code, and you will find the location of recycling centers, community activities, and games for children.
26 March 2007
Children's music can be appealing to parents and children, and Jack Johnson's Curious George Soundtrackfits this description. Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George features Jack with many other great artists of our time. My personal favorite tracks are the "The Sharing Song" and Ben Harper's "With My Own Two Hands". Also, the version of an earlier Jack tune "Three is the Magic Number" about of a mother, father, and child is transformed to the "3 R's",where Jack tells us, "You got to reduce, reuse, recyle." Jack got his start creating music for surf films, and he transitions to animation beautifully. If you like Jack, www.archive.org has 199 live Jack shows you can download or stream for free. I personally recommend any show that has his rendition of "How a Pirate Looks at Forty". I want to thank ecochildsplay reader Molly for suggesting we review the Curious George Soundtrack.
Download your favorite music from iTunes
25 March 2007
Many parents do not feel comfortable giving their older infants glass bottles, but there is a BPA-free plastic alternative. Born Free makes BPA-free plastic baby bottles, training cups, and sippy cups. I have not tried out these products, but it is nice to know there is an alternative for parents who feel plastic is the best option for their child. According to Greenfeet, "It doesn't take much. As little as one to three servings of food with unsafe BPA levels may expose pregnant women and infants to harmful levels of the toxin." Born Free baby bottles have an inner valve and air vent system that help prevent ear infections and gastro problems. In addition, Born Free products are made in Switzerland. As I've stated before, breast is best for babies and toddlers; however, some families use bottles for breastmilk and water. My daughter never used a bottle, but my son used one while he was in the hospital for heart surgery. Pumping round the clock isn't fun, but the benefits of breastmilk outweigh any mother's discomfort.
24 March 2007
We live in a small cabin, so when grandparents want to buy the children something big, outdoor toys are great. The Austrian Sand Box, available through Magic Cabin, is one such gift we have thoroughly enjoyed. Children love to play in sand, and such sensory experiences are good for their development. They can explore all kinds of physical concepts while playing in the sand. The Austrian Sand Box is made of spruce and comes with a vinyl cover. The cover can be cranked up to provide shade for children and protection from the sun or light rain. When the cover is lowered, the sand inside the box is protected from wandering animals that may want to use if for a litter box. The sand box is large enough that four children can comfortably play inside it. Putting together the sand box is a challenge, and it took me several hours to figure it out. My friend Laura had a similar experience with their Austrian Sand Box. In addition, the stitching on our vinyl cover has come undone, but I can't really blame the manufacturing of the product on this repair. Our 125 pound "puppies" use to run across the closed sand box lid for fun. It was an easy repair with a staple gun. In addition, over the course of two years, the uprights that support the cover have become wobbly. My friend had a similar experience with hers, and she took it apart and retightened the connections. Our hot, dry summers probably cause the wood to dry out and shrink, so adjustments are needed. It takes approximately five 50 pound bags of sand to fill the Austrian Sand Box. Be sure to buy safe "play" sand, as contractor grade sand contains fine carcinogenic dust. Our sand box has been a godsend for entertaining the kids while I work in the garden, mow the lawn, prune fruit trees, etc. Z Recommends suggests parents get second hand plastic play structures for the garden. Personally, I find these toys an eyesore and do not mind the spruce Austrian Sand Box in my yard, as it is aesthetically pleasing.
Just type "sand box" in the Magic Cabin search box below to find this great outdoor product.
23 March 2007
The green world is a buzz with news that the final Harry Potter book will be printed on recycled paper! According to the Daily Grist, "Is Draco Malfoy green with envy, or is it just the paper he's printed on? With only 121 days until the last Harry Potter book hits the shelves (not that we're counting), U.S. publisher Scholastic has partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to green up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The 784-page book will have a first printing of 12 million copies in the U.S., and nearly two-thirds of the 16,700 tons of paper used will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as coming from sustainable timber. It's the largest-ever purchase of FSC-certified paper to be used in a single book printing, and the whomping willows are certainly thankful. In addition, the books will contain at least 30 percent recycled fiber, while the deluxe edition -- with a first printing of a mere 100,000 copies -- will be printed on 100 percent recycled paper in a renewable-energy-powered factory. Muggle-rific!" Previous Harry Potter books have been printed on recycled paper in Canada and Europe, now green Americans can also enjoy reading Harry Potter without guilt.
We began reading Harry Potter aloud to our five year old daughter a few months ago. She loves the books and never wants me to stop reading them. She is always begging, "two more pages". We are on the fourth book, and her interest has not waned. We also spend a lot of time talking about the story lines and characters during our long car rides to and from school. J.K. Rawling has done so much to promote reading in the modern youth!
For more information, click here or here.
22 March 2007
Thermos has joined the stainless steel sippy cup revolution with Foogo. Foogo products have vacuum insulation to insure your child's beverage stay fresh (cold drinks only). Foogo is the first stainless steel sippy to have handles for little hands, and it is recommended for children as young as 6 months old. Thermos is also releasing other Foogo products, including a straw bottle and a food jar. I emailed Thermos to find out if the plastic spout and other parts are made with bpa plastic. John Golden
Consumer Service/Quality Assurance Manager quickly responded to my inquiry with, "The Foogo Sippy Cup liner is made of SUS304 Stainless Steel, which is the stainless that Thermos LLC uses on all of their products. The plastic used for the lid is polypropylene, recycle symbol 5, which is BPA free." Foogo products are not available yet. The sippy cup is suppose to be on the market at the end of March (isn't that now?), and the full line will be out in July. It appears the sippy cup will retail for $15. We'll keep you posted. For more information, click here. You can also read about it on nursery.apartmenttherapy.com.
21 March 2007
Orion Magazine featured a wonderful article titled "Leave No Child Inside" by Richard Louv in the latest online edition. Louv has written a book called Last Child in the Woodsabout saving our children from "nature-deficit disorder". According to Louv, "Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience their neighborhoods and the natural world has changed radically. Even as children and teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. As one suburban fifth grader put it to me, in what has become the signature epigram of the children-and-nature movement: “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
His desire is not at all uncommon. In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is down 31 percent since 1995. In San Diego, according to a survey by the nonprofit Aquatic Adventures, 90 percent of inner-city kids do not know how to swim; 34 percent have never been to the beach. In suburban Fort Collins, Colorado, teachers shake their heads in dismay when they describe the many students who have never been to the mountains visible year-round on the western horizon.
Urban, suburban, and even rural parents cite a number of everyday reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, competition from television and computers, dangerous traffic, more homework, and other pressures"
A movement has been born to correct "nature-deficit disorder". I feel blessed to raise my children in the mountains, where we discover the wonders of nature around us on our daily hikes. Just this week we saw a green tree frog, a dead sparrow hawk, and a trillium making its first spring appearance.
20 March 2007
Easter is a time for renewal and prayers, as spring erupts around us. This year, my children will be receiving Tibetan Prayer Flagsin their Easter baskets. Hanging the flags around our garden has become a tradition in our family. The prayer flags are beautiful and an easy way to create merit. Every time the wind blows, our positive thoughts for the earth and its creatures are dispersed throughout the cosmos. Hanging prayer flags in honor of deceased loved ones, including pets, has also become a family tradition. My favorite place to purchase prayer flags online is through Tibetan Treasures, which is based at a nearby gompa. In addition, Tibetan Treasures is a great resource for children's books.
19 March 2007
When my first child started to crawl, a friend gave me a used pair of Robeez shoes/slippers. I quickly fell in love with these natural, leather shoes for babies. I wanted my child to be able to keep her socks on during the cold winter months, but I didn't want her in hard sole shoes. I believe that growing feet should be allowed to grow naturally, not conforming to a shoemaker's idea about how the foot should be structured. Robeez allow your child's foot to grow naturally, as if the child was barefoot (which is what I advocate in warm months). Without Robeez, my daughter's socks would not stay on. I tried other leather and wool booties, but they would also fall off her feet. Robeez solved the problem, and both of my kids wore them well into toddlerhood. Here's the story behind Robeez, "Sandra set out to handcraft a pair of brightly colored, soft-soled leather shoes for young Robert. She was pleased to discover that the shoes seemed to improve his balance, because the soft soles allowed him to “feel” the floor while he toddled about. Sandra decided to name the shoes after her son. “Robeez” shoes were born." Robeez now offers gift collections and clothing to match their cute booties!
18 March 2007
Have you ever wondered what families in third world countries or far back in history did for diapers? I have until I received the National Resource Defence Council's "This Green Life" in my inbox. In North America, we assume diapers are a normal part of infancy and toddlerhood, but it doesn't have to be that way. Having a diaperless babe works like this, "The method goes by a variety of names: elimination communication, natural infant hygiene and infant potty training, though the last is spurned by many who say there is no training involved. Whatever it's called, it boils down to this: the parent looks for the signals (hand-clenching, grunting, squirming, a look of inner concentration, etc.) that the baby regularly shows in advance of having to go, then takes the infant to the pot, sink or potty, and makes a special "cuing" noise -- for instance, "sss" -- to signal back that it's ok to proceed. Soon the baby makes the association. The family now has a communication system that can be used to avoid messes most of the time", according to "This Green Life" writer Sheryl Eisenberg. Furthermore, she equates it to potty training a puppy. I find this idea very interesting, but it is too late for our toddler. If you are a diapering family, cloth diapers are a good solution. We also use Seventh Generation disposables (or landfill diapers as my midwife calls them) for overnight (I got tired of pee on my sheets) and trips.
For more information read:
A Culture Without Diapers
Diaperless Babies Seen as Earth-Friendly Solution
17 March 2007
There is reason to be concerned about toys made in China, which is most of the toys in the world market. According to news reports in India (US news agencies have failed to pick up on the story), 20% of toys made in China are unfit for children. Quality tests revealed industrial waste and gauze discarded by hospitals in toys made in China! This is an improvement from 25% of toys made in China that were found unfit last year.
Many of my friends boycott products made in China due to human rights violations in Tibet. I am not sure that buying products made in the US gives the consumer a clear conscious. There is no guarantee that just because a product was made in the US that the workers were paid living wages and received health care benefits. In addition, the US's record on human rights violations is not clean. Watch the Ghosts of Abu Ghraib for a deplorable example of US torture and violations of the Geneva Convention. Buying from green companies, no matter their location, usually guarantees that ethical considerations are part of the manufacturing process.
For more information on unfit Chinese toys, click the links below:
16 March 2007
This is a follow up post to "One Love", as we have made our B is for Bob inspired t-shirts. Using Adobe Photoshop, I created the images to be printed on the shirts; however, any word processing program could be used. In the previous post, I mentioned the print needed to be flipped for it to appear correctly on the shirt. This step is not necessary for the HP iron-on paper, but it is neccessary for some brands of iron transfer paper. The HP paper allows you to iron the image on without flipping it. After the image is pasted/inserted into a document and sized, the text is added. Next, using your ink jet printer, print the image. Follow the directions in the package of iron paper to peel away the backing, use a thin piece of tissue paper transfer paper on top, and then iron the image onto the shirt. Voila, you have your own custom made t-shirt! The children and parents of my preschool were so excited for their personal name shirts. These shirts are great for teaching name recognition, phonemic awareness, and letter recognition. Research supports the use of a child's name to introduce them to alphabetic principles. A child is motivated to learn the letters and the sounds of their name, as well as the names of their friends and families. Using a child's name to teach these skills is an authentic task, rather than the arbitrary letter of the week task of my own early childhood education.
15 March 2007
Given all the latest information about lead in children's lunchboxes, I became worried about my daughter's backpack. Her backpack, obviously bought by Grandma and adored by my daughter, is made by a very commercial company (Disney) that targets children through character promotion (princesses). Since it has some vinyl on it, I wondered if it also contained lead like certain vinyl lunchboxes. I bought this home lead test kit at our local hardware store (I laugh when I use the word local to describe a hardware store two hours away) to do our own experiment. The test kit is very easy to use. A few drops of water is applied to a pad, then the surface of the backpack is gently rubbed for a couple of minutes. The results: her backpack is lead-free. We are relieved by the results, but I do wonder if lead is present in other vinyl products designed for children.
14 March 2007
My daughter purchased the Easy-to-do Ballerina Doll Making Kit at a museum gift shop. Over the weekend, we assembled her doll. This was a great activity for us to do together. The doll making kit comes with everything you need to assemble your doll, and the directions are easy to follow. The doll body is made of unbleached muslin fabric; however, I am sure the inside filling is polyester. The other materials are a combination of synthetic and natural fibers, so I am not sure if the Easy-to-do Ballerina Doll Making Kit fully qualifies as a natural toy. The kit is rated for children five and above; however, the fine motor skills required to assemble the doll would be difficult for a kindergartner to do alone. The two-sided tape was especially difficult to peel. My daughter did apply glue, wrap the yarn for the hair, and peel the tape. Even though she was unable to do more of the construction, it was still a great experience. The doll is highly cherished.
13 March 2007
March 12, 2007 – Letter from Steve Wasik, President, SIGG USA:
On March 9th, it was brought to my attention that a website sponsored by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) made mention that SIGG bottles contain plastic liners with bisphenol A (BPA).
I can assure you that SIGG bottles are absolutely not made with a plastic liner and are in fact lined with a proprietary non-toxic, water-based resin which has been refined over decades of study and is extremely safe & stable.
Based on the confidence we have in our product backed by numerous laboratory studies, we questioned the EWG and requested that they provide us with the testing they have conducted on SIGG – or alternatively to remove the “SIGG” mention from their website if they have not tested SIGG. Within 24 hours of this request, the EWG removed SIGG’s name from their report.
Unfortunately, in the meantime this message was picked up by a few other websites, one of those being The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and their newsletter Organic Bytes. When we questioned the OCA on their mention of SIGG, this is the emailed response we received:
“We made a mistake. Sigg bottles do not contain BPAs... it was read wrong and there was confusion. Apologies about this.” - Member Services, OCA
As you may know, the BPA issues surrounding Lexan plastic bottles (polycarbonate #7) involve the migration of chemicals from the plastic into the contents of the bottles. On the other hand, SIGG bottles have been thoroughly tested in Europe to ensure 0% leaching of any substance - no trace of BPA, BPB or any phthalates.
“According to the results of our evaluation, use of a SIGG bottle does not add to the beverage any particles and/or components which are innocuous to human health.” – Dr. Ulrich Nehring, European Institute Nehring
We understand the controversy and concern surrounding BPA leaching from plastic water bottles and can assure you that SIGG bottles are leach-free and 100% safe. We are upset about the misinformation which has circulated and are working feverishly to clear the good name of SIGG.
Thank you for your continued support and trust in SIGG.
12 March 2007
ReusableBags.com offers these unique stainless steel food containers made by Timolino. The Kapsule Vacuum Jar comes in a variety of sizes, and the canister is air tight! According to ReusableBags.com ,"Safe, stylish and very reasonably priced, the 10 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Food Jars will keep food and beverages hot for up to 3 hours or cold for up to 5 hours using state-of-the-art vacuum chamber technology. A safe alternative to reusable plastic containers, the 10 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Food Jar stainless steel construction will not leak harmful chemicals and is neutral to taste and smell. As plastic degrades through aging and wear & tear of washing, leaching of potentially harmful chemicals increases. Stainless steel is also 100% recyclable, meaning less waste in our landfills. In fact, over 50% of new stainless steel comes from old re-melted stainless steel scrap." Unfortunately, this product is made in China, but we are assured by ReusableBags.com that "The 10 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Food Jars are manufactured in a certified factory partnered with The Walt Disney Company. Adhering to high International Labor Standards, the factory is annually monitored by auditors to ensure its compliance with The Walt Disney Company’s business and ethics standards, including child labor laws and applicable environmental regulations."
My daughter took macaroni and cheese with kale for lunch in her Kapsule Vacuum Jar. She found it very easy to use and wants to take soup in it next. The Kapsule Vacuum Jar did make her lunch bag heavier, but that is a minimal trade off for food safety. Why pack your child a healthy, organic lunch, just to have the meal tainted by plastic. ReusableBags.com offers great alternatives to plastic food containers. Just type in "stainless steel vacuum jar" in the search box at ReusableBags.com to find this great product.
11 March 2007
Silk is a wonderful, natural fiber that inspires your child's imagination. Silk Fantasy Bowers can be hung over a child's bed or from the ceiling to create a nice, cozy, private space. Children love intimate places, and every child should have such a special place to retreat to when their emotions are strong. Magic Cabin offers many versions of the silk fantasy bower. The fabric is very light and not meant for rough and tumble play. My daughter has the rose bower. Because they are made of real silk, the Magic Cabin fantasy bowers are expensive. We found our silk rose bower at a local toy store 50% off, and it is made by Sarah's Silks. I have seen cheaper versions of play bowers on ebay and other sites; however, these bowers are not made of silk but polyester. If you want you child to be surrounded by natural materials, the silk bower is for you!
10 March 2007
Our good friends' daughter attends the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Wisconsin. The school is sponsoring a Good Energy Raffle. The grand prize is a hybrid car or solar power system or solar/wind power system for any home/person in the US. Each raffle ticket is $50. At first, I thought the raffle ticket's price was very expensive, then I realized the school is limiting the number of tickets sold to 2,060 tickets. These are good odds for winning your own alternative energy system or hybrid car valued at $23,000. Please click here to buy raffle tickets (if you live in Wisconsin). If you live outside of Wisconsin, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to buy raffle tickets.
09 March 2007
I am always fascinated by watching a young child discover the properties of gravity. I remember one grocery store experience, where my daughter repeatedly dropped things from her seat in the cart to the floor. She thought it was very entertaining to watch Mommy pick it up and kept repeating the activity. As we were standing in line to check out, a woman noticed my frustration. She said to me, "Isn't it wonderful she is exploring gravity!" This kind woman's perspective helped change my attitude from one of annoyance to one of amazement. Any toy that allows your child to discover gravity will be popular in your home, and the Rainbow Roller made by Alex is a wonderful natural toy. I have seen several different versions of the Rainbow Roller in various Montessori catalogues, but we have the one made by Alex (it can be purchased through Amazon or Magic Cabin). The brightly colored Rainbow Roller is aesthetically pleasing and made of environmentally friendly rubberwood. It comes with two single cars and one double car. The Rainbow Roller is rated for children three and above because of the small wooden wheels on the car; however, my son has been playing with this toy since he was one. Hearthsong offers a larger version of this toy.
08 March 2007
I saw this video on Green Parenting and found its message very powerful and moving. I forwarded it to many of my friends and family members. Even the Bush supporters were moved by the message and signed the petition. To me, raising an eco-child is more than providing natural toys, but teaching love, compassion, and tolerance for all of earth's creatures.
07 March 2007
ReusableBags.com offers yet another excellent alternative to vinyl lunch bags. The Acme Organic Cotton Canvas Lunch Bag is a simple, affordable option for lead-free lunches. The organic unbleached cotton bag is surprisingly roomy, fitting my daughter's entire lunch and snack for the day in it. The only drawback to the Acme Organic Cotton Canvas Lunch Bag is the relationship between the handle and velcro closure. My daughter found that when she carried the bag by it's single strap, it caused the velcro closure on the top of the bag to open. In addition, the handle seems undersized for heavy lunch contents. Despite these drawbacks, I really like this organic lunch bag. It reminds me of the paper sacks of my youth in its simplicity, and it is perfect if you do not need an insulating bag. And thankfully, the organic fabric is not covered in promotions for corporate character's targeted at children. Fair labor and wages are used in the manufacturing of this bag. The bag is machine washable with a drip dry. ReusableBags.com offers a deal of buy 3, get one free! At $6.95 a piece, it is easy to afford an organic lunch bag for everyone in the family.
"It is not possible to tell by appearance whether a vinyl lunch box may contain lead, so CEH is advising parents to avoid vinyl lunch boxes altogether. "Parents may need to seek out alternatives, since many mass produced lunch boxes are vinyl or vinyl-lined... a reusable cloth bag would be a good alternative." – Center for Environmental Health
Click here for more of our posts on lead-free lunch bags.
05 March 2007
Automoblox has combined design and function to create these super cool wooden cars with minimal plastic parts. Is it a car? Is it a puzzle? Automoblox cars come apart, and the parts are interchangeable. We have had our red Automoblox sport coupe (designed by Callelo) for a year, and both of my children love to play with it. The little plastic people have different shapes on their bottoms that insert into the car seats, furthering the puzzle experience. The people and tire treads do pose choking hazards, thus the Automoblox cars are rated for children over three years of age; however, we allow our two year old son to play with his. If your child has moved beyond the oral exploration stage, the toy is safe for use with supervision. Another bonus is there are not too many parts to get lost around the house when the Automoblox is disassembled. Unfortunately, the product is assembled in China for sale. Automoblox's creator had several bad experiences and was lied to about the conditions of Chinese factories during initial production. For more information about Callelo's experience bringing his idea to market, click here.
For Automoblox coloring pages, please click here.
For an Automoblox video, please click here.
04 March 2007
With the news of lead in lunchbags and bpa risks in baby bottles and sippy cups, I have been wondering who and what the Consumer Product Saftey Commission (CPSC) is. The CPSC is an "independent" agency of the US federal government, meaning it does not exist within any department in the Executive branch; however, the president appoints commissioners. The Commission is normally made up of three commissioners, but one seat has been vacant since July 2006. My friend Tim alerted me to the issue that the commission can no longer act with just two commissioners. Bush proposes to appoint Michael E. Baroody to the CPSC. Baroody is the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a powerful trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation. What a logical choice for the agency that protects American consumers from unsafe products! The CPSC can still issue recall alerts in this "semi-neutered status",but it can not impose fines on companies that violate the laws. I can't help but wonder if the lacksadaisical attitude of the CPSC regarding lead in lunch bags and bpa in baby bottles and sippy cups is related to the commission's current status and direction from the president. Thank goodness for truly independent groups that test these products!
For more information visit:
Z Recommends for information on recalls
Our previous posts on lead in children's toys and lunchbags (including alternative products)
Safe sippy cups and BPA risks in bottles and toys.
03 March 2007
When I alerted my friend Laura of the Bar 717 Ranch Children's Camp to the lead in lunchbag issue, she found a great company ReusableBags.com, offering a critically acclaimed line of reusable shopping bags plus a growing family of smart, earth-friendly products all designed to help you reduce, reuse and save. ReusableBags.com offers many lead free lunch boxes, as well as great products such as Klean Kanteen and Sigg water bottles and sippy cups. ReusableBags.com graciously sent Eco Child's Play some sample products. On Friday, we tested the Cool Totes Insulated Lunch Bag, available in many great patterns for children and adults. The Cool Tote Insulated Lunch Bag is made from Therma Tek insulation, which is made from recycled soda bottles! There is a velcro closure if you chose the shoulder strap model or a buckel closure for the backpack model. Included with the Cool Totes Insulated Lunch Bag is a non-toxic reusable freezer pack that has its own pocket inside the Cool Tote bag. Personally, I don't like these freezer packs, as I don't know what they are made of and if they should puncture, this mysterious nontoxic liquid would get all over your lunch. However, if you really needed to keep you lunch cold, this system would work great. In our experience, the Cool Totes lunch bag is so well insulated, that the freezer pack was not neccessary. We tested the medium insulated lunch bag, and it was a tight squeeze to fit my daughter's lunch in the bag. I would suggest buying the large sized Cool Tote's Insulated Lunch Bag. Another great characteristic of Cool Totes is the bags are made in the United States, workers are paid fair wages, and fair labor practices are used. Cool Totes is an ethical company. Thank you ReusableBags.com!
For more information on lead-free lunch bags, please click here.
Please visit our other posts on lead in children's products.
Pack a meal with our colorful range of lunch bags for kids, teens & adults. From lead-safe lunch bags to handy food containers & sandwich bags, to cool insulated lunch sacks, we offer a smart style for everyone.
02 March 2007
Living in a family of all girl children, my access to typical "boy" toys was limited to other people's houses. One of my early childhood memories is playing with my best friend's brother's plastic parking garage. I loved working the elevator and letting gravity pull the cars down the ramps. When I saw a wooden version of the parking garage, I had to buy if for my son's birthday. Actually, my daughter was the one that found it and really wanted it for herself. She tried to convince her dad to build her one.
Wheel Town Parking Garage is available through Hearthsong for about $60. Made of wood, this natural toy replicates the plastic version of the toy. The Wheel Town Parking Garage has three different levels and comes with a working elevator, helicopter pad (helicopter sold separately), gas pump island, one car, and a car wash. There is place where you can attach wooden railway or roadway tracks and expand the play. Additional accessories are available, such as a Wheel Town Fire Station and Wheel Town Gas Station. This natural toy is rated for children three and above, but as long as your child doesn't place the car or gas pump nozzles in their mouth, I believe it can be used with younger children. There is not a day that goes by without my son playing with his Wheel Town Parking Garage. Unfortunately, our elevator does not work as smoothly as it did when the toy was new, but I am sure it is fixable (if I had the time to figure it out!)
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