Kalon Studios is a new company offering "design for a sustainable culture." Yes, their prices may send you into sticker shock. Their explanation: "In today’s world, sustainability is more than just being green. Rather, it has evolved into a belief system, an approach to living, being." Kalon Studios uses renewable, raw materials and food-grade oil finishes on their products. Although the prices are high, the company's children's products are designed to be versatile and multifunctional. For example, the Ioline Crib converts to a toddler bed, and the Ioline Changing Trunk can be used as a toy chest or reading bench. Kalon Studios believes that loss of aesthetics, chaos, and clutter do not have to rule family life, but sustainability and beauty can go hand in hand with parenthood. Their products are locally made in southern California.
To read more about the cost of sustainability, please visit our post on Green Options: Green Family Values: Why is Sustainability So Expensive?
Don't forget, only one more day left to leave a comment and enter to win an Eco Child's Play hemp bag!
31 May 2007
30 May 2007
Fair Trade is a term often used in the sustainable, green community, and I remember first encountering it on chocolate and coffee labels. According to Alicia Erikson of Green Options, "The Fair Trade criteria (from the Fair Trade Federation) are:
Paying fair wages in local context;
Supporting participatory workplaces;
Ensuring environmental sustainability;
Supplying financial and technical support;
Respecting cultural identity;
Offering public accountability; and,
Fair trade certification has moved beyond chocolate and coffee, to sports balls! Fair Trade Sports offers numerous products you can purchase for your child with a clear conscious. We have tested the size 3 soccer ball, which my children adore. These high quality sports balls help at-risk youth around the globe. 100% after-tax profits from Fair Trade Sports goes to children's charities! In addition, all of the balls are stitched by adult workers paid fair wages in healthy working conditions. Buy purchasing Fair Trade Sports products, "Together we can break this cycle of poverty and oppression."
Don't forget, only two more days left to leave a comment and enter to win an Eco Child's Play hemp bag!
29 May 2007
According to the Sierra Club, "Global warming is responsible for an increase in the number of children's hospital emergency room visits, according to a new University of Sydney report which shows that hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter. Children are especially at risk because they are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults. The study is the first to make a solid link between increasing temperatures and childhood illness."
It is not only children in third world countries that are being affected, it is all of our children. It's already 89 degrees today in Northern California and a forest fire watch has been issued!
Don't forget, only three more days left to leave a comment and enter to win an Eco Child's Play hemp bag!
28 May 2007
At an art teacher conference I attended, Play Silks were recommended as the only costume needed for classroom performing arts instruction. Children can make any costume using their imagination with Play Silks. Like blocks, Play Silks are truly open-ended and limitless for play. Magic Cabin offers a wide variety of choices for Play Silks. Here is the description from Magic Cabin, "More versatile than most toys, Play Silks can be used in a multitude of ways: as blankets, capes, curtains, doll carriers, costumes, flags, walls for forts...
Their versatility is matched only by their durability, which is truly remarkable for such a soft, fine fabric. Play Silks embody the notion of "the simpler, the better" in supporting children's natural, imaginative play, and they're also the ideal craft fabric for making angels, string puppets, capes, etc. Made in the USA for all ages."
Play Silks are expensive, but you and your child get a lot for the money. At about $11 piece (you do get a discount for buying a set), the cost of Play Silks kept me from buying them for many years. I wanted to make my own set, but time slipped away, and I realized I never would get around to actually doing it (I still haven't finished knitting the sweater I started for my daughter five years ago!). Since purchasing a set of Play Silks, I am very pleased with how they have contributed to my daughter's dramatic play. Just think, if you buy a set of Play Silks, you will not need to buy any dress up clothes from major corporations! Our Play Silks are a year old, and they show no signs of wear and tear.
Don't forget, only four more days left to leave a comment and enter to win an Eco Child's Play hemp bag!
27 May 2007
A World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) report issued in February states, "One million babies can be saved each year if they begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth." According to Mothering.com, "if all mothers began breastfeeding within the first hour it would save one million of the four million newborn deaths. This study from rural Ghana, based on 10,947 breastfed singleton infants, has shown that initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth reduced the infants' risk of death. It also demonstrated a marked increase in risk with increasing delay in initiation. Overall late initiation (after day one) was associated with a 2.4-fold increase in risk. Giving pre-lacteal feeds, i.e. something other than mother's milk before beginning to breastfeed, also increased the risk of neonatal mortality. The study conducted on babies who survived day one clearly showed that 41% of all babies who die during 2 to 28 days of life can be saved by this simple intervention: beginning breastfeeding within one hour of birth. When the deaths of day one were included, it showed 22% of all neonatal (0-28 days) deaths could be reduced. In India, for example, this means 250,000 neonates can be saved from death annually by just this one act. Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth is the primary and most vital step towards reducing infant and under-five mortality, by reducing the overwhelmingly high neonatal mortality rate."
My breastfeeding days are over, which I solemnly miss. There is nothing sweeter than holding your child to your breast while they suckle the sustenance of life. For some children, they latch on immediately, still others struggle with the process. I recommended that all new mothers read The Nursing Mother's Companion,which was required reading by my midwives. The Nursing Mother's Companionprovides all the information you will need to deal with breastfeeding issues that may arise, as well as an appendix on drug safety while breastfeeding. The Nursing Mother's Companionmakes a great gift for a new mother! Of course, the La Leche League International is another great breastfeeding resource.
26 May 2007
For my daughter's second birthday, a friend gave her a Woodkinsplay set. These wooden die cut dolls are designed for children four to seven years old; however, my daughter has enjoyed hers at a younger age and still plays with it today. Woodkinsoffers a great alternative to paper dolls, which are difficult for little hands to manipulate and are not durable. By lifting the wooden cover, children change the clothes, faces, etc. on the doll. Little swatches of cloth are placed below the cover, and when it is closed, the doll is dressed in a new outfit. You can layer the cloth swatches and easily add to the collection with scraps of cloth from home. This "sandwich" design is perfect for little hands developing fine motor skills.
There are over 73 Woodkinsproducts, so you will certainly find one to suit your child's imagination. Woodkinshas won many awards, and this collection of wooden collection of wooden “dressable” dolls provides children with endless opportunities for imaginative play. According to the product description, "With a closet full of colorful fabrics and interchangeable magnetic faces, kids can let their imaginations run wild—creating new looks, new moods and new stories for their dolls every time they play!"
25 May 2007
My Persian friend sent me a link to these images of the medical crisis in Gaza. The images are disturbing, but they are real, and I feel like we need to look at these images to realize the horrors governments around the world impose on innocent people. For any parent that has had a child in the NICU, these images bring up memories of difficult times; however, I am so ever thankful that the hospital my son was treated in had paper towels, medicine, etc.
The neonatal ICU ward in Al Naser Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza Strip Occupied Palestinian Territory, May 13, 2006. Doctors at Al Naser do not even have paper towels to dry their hands with before assisting patients much less the essential sterilised linens needed to prevent infection and death in infants and those with with compromised immune systems. Many infants in the Neonatal ICU are suffering from severe bacterial infections due to the lack of sterilised equipment and linens.
GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY - May 8, 2006: An infant with a compromised immune system suffering from severe bacterial infections which were a result of the lack of sterile equipment in the hospital is treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Al Naser Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza Strip Occupied Palestinian Territory, May 8, 2006. Doctors at Al Naser do not even have paper towels to dry their hands with before assisting patients much less the essential sterilised linens needed to prevent infection and death in infants and those with with compromised immune systems. After the cessation of aid from America and EU countries, hospitals in Gaza have literally run out of medicine and supplies. Patients die on a daily basis from easily treatable conditions due to lack of supplies such as sterile linens, needles, medicine, chemotherapy treatments etc.
GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY - May 8, 2006: An infant severely dehydrated and near death is treated at Al Naser Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza Strip Occupied Palestinian Territory, May 8, 2006. This child has suffered malnutrition and dehydration due to the financial status of its family which has been without any salary for almost four months now. Hospitals are seeing a dramatic rise in cases of malnutrition and even starvation as local families run out of money, food and water. After the cessation of aid from America and EU countries, hospitals in Gaza have literally run out of medicine and supplies. Patients die on a daily basis from easily treatable conditions due to lack of supplies such as sterile linens, needles, medicine, chemotherapy treatments etc.
24 May 2007
Since Erin first alerted me to SLS in a comment on my previous baby soap recommendation, I've been exploring the beauty products my family uses. I've been surprised how many "natural" beauty products are not natural! You can read more about my discoveries at Green Options: Green Myth-Busting: "Natural" Beauty Products.
We have switched to California Baby Body Wash and Shampoo. Here is the product description:
A concentrated, gentle, non-stripping cleanser. The light & fresh calming essential oil blend adds to the bathing experience. Leaves hair noticeably shiny, soft and manageable. Our customers have reported excellent results with this shampoo & body wash in their fight against eczema and other skin sensitivities. Convenient heavy-duty pump dispenses a big glob of product in one easy push. Benefits & Features: * Cleansing agent: 100% Decyl polyglucose * No Sodium Lauryl Sulfate DEA or numbing agents. * No tears non-irritating non-stripping formula. Safe and gentle. * Two products in one--use head to toe. May be used for hair face and body. * Great for babies kids or adults with chemically sensitive skin. Will not irritate eczema or cradle cap reports of healing even stubborn cases. * Effective aromatherapy.
My son has extremely sensitive skin and suffers from eczema. Since switching to California Baby Body Wash and Shampoo, his eczema has disappeared! There are just a few minor red patches left where the skin is healing. I am amazed and suspect that SLS was causing his skin problems.
Skin Deep is a great resource for examining the potential hazards in beauty products. Products are rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest hazard. California Baby Body Wash and Shampoo received a 2 (the super sensitive version earned a 1), compared to Johnson and Johnson's Baby Bath earning a score of 9! No wonder my son broke out in a horrible rash when they used Johnson's baby bath on him in the hospital after surgery. You can read more recommendations for baby products at Green Options.
23 May 2007
Gardening season is in full swing, and my children love to be in the garden. One thing I have found vital to their gardening participation is appropriately sized garden tools. Magic Cabin offers Little Gardener Tools
. Both a small and large set are offered priced at $21.95 and $27.95 respectively. The small set of Little Gardener Tools
is on backorder until June 4, but the large set is currently available. The Little Gardener Tools
are real tools designed for real work! Here is the description from Magic Cabin:
Budding farmers can dig right in with these pint-size, perfectly proportioned garden tools that are made for real work, with hardwood handles and enameled metal implements.
The Large Garden Tools Set includes a spade, leaf rake, garden rake and hoe, (they store nicely in our Handy Tool Stand).
The new Small Garden Tools Set comes with three hand tools - a spade, shovel and rake - tucked neatly into a colorful watering can along with a pair of kid-size cotton-knit work gloves.
For tips on gardening with children, please visit our post on Green Options: Green Family Values: 10 Tips for Organic Gardening with Children.
22 May 2007
If your experiences are like mine, you have been warned about giving your child juice. These warnings suggest juice leads to obesity and tooth decay (which is true if you send your child to bed with a sippy cup of juice). I have always significantly watered juice down for my toddlers. The Organic Consumer's Association (OCA) has debunked the myth that juice causes obesity. "Contrary to popular belief, drinking pure 100 percent fruit juice does not make young children overweight or at risk for becoming overweight, new research shows. Pure fruit juice provides essential nutrients and, in moderation, may actually help children maintain a healthy weight." The culprit is all of those juices that aren't 100% juice, especially if they contain high fructose corn syrup.
There is controversy as to whether food products, such as Seven Up, should be labeled as "all natural" for containing high fructose corn syrup. Many of the sodas sold in health food stores also contain this substance. According to the Washington Post, "Made from corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup is a thick liquid that contains two basic sugar building blocks, fructose and glucose, in roughly equal amounts. Sucrose, most familiar to consumers as table sugar, is a larger sugar molecule that breaks down into glucose and fructose in the intestine during metabolism....Today, sweeteners made from corn are the leader, racking up $4.5 billion in annual sales and accounting for 55 percent of the sweetener market. That switch largely reflects the steady growth of high-fructose corn syrup, which climbed from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001."
The OCA advised to avoid "fruit juice scams":
Large beverage manufacturers are notorious for putting labels on their products that mislead consumers into believing that these junk-food drinks are pure fruit or else contain more juice than they really have. If you are shopping for 100% pure fruit juice, here's how to avoid getting scammed:
*Always read the ingredient label on the back of the product. If there's anything other than fruit juice in the product, it must be listed there.
*"Made with REAL Fruit Juice" could mean it really only has a small percentage of fruit juice.
*All beverages that imply they contain juice must declare the percentage of juice on the information label near the top of the Nutrition Facts panel.
*If a product is labeled as Fruit drink, juice beverage, juice cocktail or "ade" -- the product is likely full of artificial sweeteners and contains very little juice.
*Oftentimes a "100% juice" product contains juice fillers. Read the ingredient label, and you'll frequently find your cranberry juice, for example, is mostly apple juice.
*Keep in mind that conventional fruits and juices contain pesticide residues, and that industrial scale fruit production is an environmental disaster. Protect your health and the health of the planet by consuming organic fruits and fruit juices.
21 May 2007
I still remember the day my daughter graduated from wooden peg puzzles to real puzzles with interlocking pieces. It felt like a rite of passage, as she explored the spatial relationships and put images together. My daughter's first puzzle was the Melissa and Doug Bugs Floor Puzzle. Three years later, this puzzle is still a favorite, and the large pieces are easy for little hands. When put together, the Melissa and Doug Bugs Floor Puzzlemeasures 46.5 inches wide! Made of 24 heavy grade cardboard pieces, this puzzle holds up well to repeated use. Melissa and Doug make many other wonderful large full puzzles, including wooden versions that are more expensive. The Melissa and Doug Bugs Floor Puzzle is affordable at about $10.
Please visit our biweekly post on GNM Parents: A Little Greener: Forgo the Amusement Park and Take Your Family Camping!
20 May 2007
My children love to eat sushi, but we can't always make it or run out to a sushi bar. A great alternative is to snack on organic nori sheets. This simple snack is easy to take in the car, pack in lunches, etc. Nori is the most nutritious seaweed and contains as much protein as soybeans! According to Takaokaya, "Nori contains 12 kinds of vitamins including group A and B vitamins. Nori is called "The Reservoir of Vitamins" because few other foods are as much in vitamins as nori is.
Vitamin A --You can consume enough vitamin A per day with just two sheets of nori.
Vitamin B --Two sheets of nori also contain Vitamin B1 and B2 in amounts equivalent to 50~60 grams of pork, a sufficient daily amount.
Vitamin C --Nori has twice the vitamin C as the same amount of tangerines do. In general, vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat, but in the case of nori, vitamin C is stronger and is retained even when heated.
Iron --Two sheets of nori contain an amount of iron equal to 600 cc of milk or one egg."
19 May 2007
We place our children in car seats to keep them safe, yet these very car seats may be full of toxic chemicals that could make our children sick. A new report from the Ecology Center was released on Wednesday. "Car seats save lives. It’s absolutely essential that parents put their children in them while driving," said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center's Clean Car Campaign Director. "However, some car seats are safer than others when it comes to chemical composition. Healthycar.org makes it easy for parents to choose the least toxic car seat for their child." Chemicals tested for include: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metal allergens. Such chemicals have been linked to major health problems such as liver, thyroid and developmental problems in children. Children have the highest exposure and are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure to chemical-laden dust and inhaling toxic fumes, since their systems are still developing. The Ecology Center tested 62 brand new car seats, some of which tested very low for toxic content, while others were saturated. "The study found that the best seats had no brominated flame retardants, no PVC and low levels of other chemicals tested. Over 40% of seat cushions tested contained no brominated flame retardants and 77% of the seats were free of PVC-plastic. However, over 1/3 of all seats tested had one or more components which contained higher levels of toxic chemicals. A complete ranking of all of the car seats that were tested can be found at www.healthycar.org." Parents are advised to always leave a window cracked open in the car, to not use the car seat outside of the car to minimize exposure, and to avoid leaving the car seats in the sun.
Of my children's two car seats, both received the worse overall scores! We will be buying the Britax Parkway Booster Car Seat for my son and the Evenflo Big Kid Booster Car Seatfor my daughter. The Britax seat has more neck and head support, which I like for my three year old, but I don't think my five year old daughter would be comfortable in this seat, as she is not use to such support. This is an extra expense I had not anticipated, but my children's health is at stake. I am so tired and angry over the recent reports of toxic substances in children's products, that I have been moved to start a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Please sign the petition asking the CPSC to protect our children from toxins in car seats. Thank you Jeremiah of Z Recommends for alerting us to this issue!
For more information:
healthycar.org press release
2006/2007 Guide to Child Car Seats
Chemicals used on car seats 'toxic' to children, study warns
Is Your Child's Car Seat Poisonous?
5/22 Update: I am returning our new car seats. The fumes from them are horrible, and I feel our older car seats are better, as hopefully they are done outgassing.
18 May 2007
We have received our replacement toy for the recalled puzzle Sounds On the Go. The Easy Make Snakewas the only natural, wooden toy option for a replacement. At first, I was concerned this toy would be too simple for my children, as it is rated for children 18 months and older, which means the parts do not pose a choking hazard. When our Easy Make Snakearrived yesterday, both of my children were enthralled. My 2.5 year old son, especially, spent one continuous hour playing with it before dinner time. He even insisted on taking some of the wooden parts to bed. Lacing large beads is excellent for fine motor development and eye coordination, in fact, most states list it as a benchmark for fine motor preK standards. The Easy Make Snakeprovides a strong wooden needle attached to the string, which allows children to repeatedly build the body of the snake. Once the snake is built, children can pull it around making the /s/ sound of a snake, which is a later developmental sound that many children have articulation difficulties because of their tongue placement. The Easy Make Snakeis an affordable, natural, wooden toy at about $13.00, and it is made in Thailand.
17 May 2007
Gap Unveils New 'For Kids By Kids' Clothing Line
The Onion, always entertaining with a hint of truth, put together this video about Gap's use of child labor. In 2004, the Gap admitted to child labor violations.
16 May 2007
Magic Cabin is having a sale! For three days only, select summer items are 20% off. One of my favorite dress up items are the Silk Rainbow Cape, Skirt, and Garland
. We have these beautiful dress up clothes at my preschool. For four years, the Silk Rainbow Cape, Skirt, and Garland
have been played with daily by many children, and these silk rainbow dress up clothes show no signs of wear and tear. Magic Cabin states these silk products fit children ages 3 to 9, but 2 year olds wear them in my preK program. Silk is a natural fiber that inspires children's imaginations! At 20%, Magic Cabin's Silk Rainbow Cape, Skirt, and Garland
is a great deal. Just enter the promo code MCMD6 when you checkout.
Don't forget to visit Green Options to read Green Family Values: Natural Baby Beauty Products. Thank you to Erin for alerting me to the problems with sodium laureth sulfate, so I could amend my recommendations.
15 May 2007
Target lags behind other major retailers in phasing out PVC, and the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) is hosting a PVC day of action on May 24th. You can sign up for the event or organize your own by clicking here.
PVC has been called the "Poison Plastic". According to CHEJ, "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. PVC is useless without the addition of a plethora of toxic additives, which can make the PVC product itself harmful to consumers. These chemicals can evaporate or leach out of PVC, posing risks to children and consumers.... One of the most common toxic additives is DEHP, a phthalate that is a suspected carcinogen and reproductive toxicant readily found in numerous PVC products. Children can be exposed to phthalates by chewing on vinyl toys. While it is still legal for US retailers to sell PVC children’s and baby toys containing dangerous phthalates, the European Parliament voted in July, 2005 to permanently ban the use of certain toxic phthalates in toys."
The recalled lead bibs from Wal-mart are one such example of dangerous PVC products for children.
14 May 2007
If you are making the switch to a greener life for your children, a good place to begin (besides growing and buying organic food) is with beauty products. Baby and children's skin is very sensitive and can often erupt in rashes from commercial products designed for them. My son's skin is especially sensitive, and thankfully, he was born into a family that had already discovered the best natural beauty products. Our family has tried many natural baby soaps, including bar soaps, and have found the best value and product to be Healthy Times Honeysuckle Baby Bath. At only $2.58 a bottle, this liquid soap is affordable and gentle. My son, who developed a horrible rash from Johnson's Baby Soap in the hospital after surgery, has never had even the slightest reaction to Healthy Times Honeysuckle Baby Bath. We use Healthy Times Honeysuckle Baby Bath on both of our children as shampoo and body soap. Liquid soap lasts longer in the bathtub and is easy to travel with, as well. Healthy Times also makes shampoo, conditioner, and sweet violet lotion. Healthy Times makes natural beauty products affordable for every family.