Our site has been moved, again, to its own dedicated url www.ecochildsplay.com. There are still a few glitches to be worked out, but we are excited to be joining Green Options, while still maintaining our independence.
08 November 2007
06 November 2007
The migration has occurred, and we are officially posting at our new home on http://www.ecochildsplay.com. Please follow this link, bookmark the site, add us to your feeds, etc. to read the daily posts until we have the old urls redirecting to our new home. We are excited about our partnership with Green Options, the new writers we will be welcoming to the blog, and the opportunity to reach a broader audience. Our content will be expanding to include green family news, education, and of course, natural toy reviews. By making this move, we are joining a "community dedicated to environmental resources, education, and discussion." We hope that you will also see the benefit of community, as they only way we can bring about change, and find ways to contribute by creating your own Green Options Journal.
If you are a true localvore, does that mean you read local tales to your children? I try to chose local goods as much as possible, and I have always had an affinity for Native American stories. In California Native American tales, Coyote is often the trickster. In Fire Race, Coyote is up to his old tricks and steals fire from the Yellow Jacket Sisters.
Fire Race is beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long, and the illustrations hold true to Karuk traditions in the garb of the animal characters. For example, Coyote wears a basket cap traditional to the Karuk Tribe. The Karuk Tribe resides in far northern California along the Klamath River. Fire Race tells the traditional tale of how Coyote appealed to the vanity of the yellow jacket sisters to steal their fire. The race begins, with many local animals passing the fire to one another as the yellow jacket sisters chase them. Eventually, the fire is swallowed into the wood, where it is stored today for us to burn and stay warm.
I just love this book! It has always been one of my favorites as a teacher and a parent. There are so many things to discuss, such as the vanity of the Yellow Jacket Sisters and the cooperative effort of the animals. I love to connect the story to our hearth for our children, as we give thanks for the warmth our woodstove provides us. It is a gift from the land.
05 November 2007
It is not only the weather that is changing around here at Eco Child's Play: change is in the air. All I can say is we have big plans, all of which should be ready in time for San Francisco Green Fest. At this point, I will give you one clue: Green Options. Stay tuned...
With all the changes to Eco Child's Play, I have started a new blog on children's literature. Good Friends, Good Books. It is in its infancy, but I am excited to have started a new adventure in blogging. The purpose of this new blog is to review children's literature, as well as provide a space that teachers, parents, and children can submit their own reviews of favorite books. Eventually, there will be free prizes for children's submissions, and of course, funds will be donated to the Literacy Site.
02 November 2007
There are so many beneficial reasons to buy in bulk, so this simple green practice is easy and rewarding to implement. Living an hour away from the nearest grocery store, buying our food and personal products in bulk is a necessity of mountain life. The survivalist in me does not feel comfortable unless my pantry is stocked with staple goods bought in bulk. Not only does buying in bulk make life more convenient by saving trips to the grocery store, it saves money and environmental resources as well. Bulk good prices are cheaper than individually packaged goods, and fewer trips to the store means less fossil fuel burned and more leisure time for you! The following five ideas will help you make the most of buying in bulk.
Don’t limit bulk purchases to food items only!
Buying shampoo, laundry soap, dish soap, toilet paper, etc. is also beneficial to the environment and your wallet. Even if an item is not available in bulk at your local co-op or health food store, buying the largest size possible will give you similar savings financially and environmentally.
Bring your own containers!
When buying from bulk bins, bring your own containers. You can weigh your jars before filling them, in order to subtract the tare weight from the total purchase weigh. In addition, you will always buy the right amount for your containers if you take them along with you to the bulk foods aisle. If you must use plastic bags, try reusing them several times before recycling them.
Start a buying club and share with friends!
You will save a lot more money if you buy your own bulk bags of staple goods, such as rice and flour, directly from a natural foods distributor. Fifteen years ago, we started a buying club with friends through Mountain People’s Warehouse, which would deliver goods once a month to a neighboring town. Several families would take turns picking up the buying club’s order, and we had great fun sharing bulk items we couldn’t use completely or afford alone. By combining our orders, we easily met the minimum required order amount of this natural foods distributor. Even if you don’t want to start a buying club, you can order your own bulk goods through your local health food store for a small price above wholesale.
Buy big amounts, save packaging!
The larger the quantity you buy, the less packaging is involved. Be wary, though, of large warehouse stores that simply sell you cases of prepackaged individual goods; this is not bulk buying! For example, Aveda reports that when you buy liter size bottles of shampoo, you can help prevent waste.
Aveda litres use 40% less plastic and cost 30% less than the equivalent product in regular size bottles. Larger sizes mean we have to produce, and ship, fewer bottles. This means we send out fewer trucks that emit CO2 — the primary cause of global warming — into the atmosphere.
Imagine how much would be saved by buying gallon jugs of shampoo!
Store your bulk items in gallon-sized glass jars!
The safety of plastics used in food storage is questionable, and glass mason jars offer a safe alternative. Many health food distributors also carry gallon glass jars that are perfect for storing bulk food. Many people also use food grade five-gallon buckets for home bulk food storage, but I prefer glass jars.
When you buy in bulk, you tend to eat healthier, as there are less packaged, processed foods on hand in the kitchen. Diving into your staples on a winter day is a great way to eat well and do a little bit to save the environment, too. Save money, time, and resources by following this simple tip.
This post originally appeared on Green Options.
01 November 2007
Holiday season fanfare has already begun, and I am reminded of my holiday motto: No more junk toys! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or the Winter Solstice, if you have children, you know what junk toys are. Junk toys are toys that will have little educational value, are usually made of plastic, are overly commercial, and end up in our landfills. Green parents often try to make these toys disappear, but it is better to prevent their buying and giving in the first place.
Like junk food, junk toys can be fun but are devoid of nutrition. Buying them requires little forethought. They are excessively commercial, and are often linked to cross-marketing schemes. They excite children at first, but that initial flicker doesn’t endure. Also like junk food, junk toys have hidden environmental and social costs for which the consumers pay.
The environmental and social costs of junk toys are huge! Plastic toys are often made in sweatshops, sometimes by children themselves, and many of them send the wrong kind of messages to children. For example, Bratz Dolls sexualize young girls, as well as have unfair labor practices, and Barbie’s proportions are unrealistic. According to Empoweredparents.com,
If she were alive, Barbie would be a woman standing 7 feet tall with a waistline of 18 inches and a bustling of 38-40. In fact, she would need to walk on all fours just to support her peculiar proportions. Yet media advertising, television and Hollywood would reinforce her message, influencing what would become the American ideal of beauty.
Besides the materials and energy used in the production of junk toys, these plastic toys end up in landfills and oceans. Life Magazine reported that there is a swath of plastic garbage twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. Life reports, "Except for the small amount that has been incinerated — and it’s a very small amount — every bit of plastic made still exists."
The safety of toys made in China has been in question lately with the recent rave of recalls. Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a ban on toys containing phthalates. The Governator said, "These chemicals threaten the health and safety of our children at critical stages of their development." Phthalates have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems. This follows a ban last year in San Francisco on toys containing BPA and certain levels of phthalates. Despite such legal actions, junk toys still dominate the toy shelves.
How can you tell a junk toy from a good toy? Field naturalist Alicia Daniel offers the following list of questions to ask when selecting toys:
- Will this toy eventually turn into dirt-i.e., could I compost it? Stones, snowmen, driftwood, and daisies-they will be gone, and we will be gone, and life goes on.
- Do I know who made this toy? This question leads us to search for the hidden folk artist in each of us.
- Is this toy beautiful? Have human hands bestowed an awkward grace, a uniqueness lacking in toys cranked out effortlessly by machine?
- Will this toy capture a child’s imagination?
Every year, I send my family a reminder that we do not want any plastic toys or clothes made from synthetic fibers. I wish I could say that they always followed our wishes, but somehow, the message flies out the window when they see some "adorable" plastic thing they think my children can’t live without. My husband has changed the motto to "No More Toys" this year, but the grandparents have already scoffed at the idea. Perhaps I should try sending my family Alicia Daniel’s list to help them make appropriate gift selections. If we are going to tell our children to reduce, reuse, recycle, shouldn’t our holiday gift giving and receiving reflect this practice?
This post originally appeared on Green Options.