Jan 26, 2009

Raising Green Kids- Green Shopping Tips

Here are a couple of ways to be greener on your next trip to the market:

Buy fresh produce without the packaging. reuse the plastic produce bags, or simply put produce directly into your cart.
Avoid individually packaged items. instead of buying juice boxes, put juice in a reusable thermos for lunches.
Opt for glass or paper products instead of plastic. Glass and paper products are more easily recycled, making them greener products. Paper bags can be reused, recycled or composted.
Use reusable canvas shopping bags instead plastic. The average person uses roughly 300 plastic bags each year. Many of those plastic bags will end up in a landfill, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Worse yet, they could blow around creating a hazard to wildlife.

Raising Green Kids- Finding Green Toys

With the BPA ban in Childrens products in Canada and the growing green movement, it has become much easier to find toys that fit the environmentally friendly lifestyle. Keep these points in mind on your search for Green Toys:

Natural Materials: It has become easier to find items made from solid wood and non-toxic finishes. For babies and toddlers look for stuffed toys made from organic cotton, puzzles and pull along toys made from solid wood and non-toxic paints.

Energy Consumption: Look for toys that are well-made and durable. The fewer toys you need to replace, the fewer toys end up in a landfill. Try to find toys that don't require batteries, or are driven by an alternative energy (solar power, wind up).

Imagination: Search for things that will boost your child's imagination. Playing dress up with ecofriendly clothes or secondhand clothes, playing with legos or building blocks. You can use an old cardboard box to create hours of playtime. Have you child help you decorate it.

Go local: Find local businesses who manufacture or sell toys. Supporting local businesses reduces energy costs on transportation of goods to the business and to you.

Where to shop for Green Toys:
Moms & Bums
Growing Up Green

Company Spotlight:
RiNGLEY is the original Canadian natural teether that combines two efficient teething tools: untreated Maple wood and 100% organic cotton terrycloth. These materials provide two very different textures that enable children to satisfy their teething needs. Made free from dye and without harmful chemicals. RiNGLEY provides babies and toddlers with two safe and efficient textures that enable children to satisfy their teething needs.

RiNGLEY's design allows your child to easily grip the ring and cloth. It can be used wet or dry and easily reaches around a child's gums and teeth.

RiNGLEY was designed by a Child Life Specialist and Mom with a child's development in mind. Since infants learn through tactile stimulus, touching and putting things in their mouths, the need for a product made without harmful chemicals and dyes is important. RiNGLEY is an organic and natural toy for babies to chew and teethe on.

Jan 25, 2009

Raising Green Kids- Finding Secondhand Treasures

Reusing items is one of the best ways to keep them out of the trash. Buying good quality secondhand items is both green and economical. Follow these tips on your secondhand treasure hunts and you wont be disappointed.

Safety Issues: Make sure to be aware of product recalls. These can be found at manufacturer websites, and at www.cpsc.gov Potentially dangerous secondhand items include(but are not limited to) mattresses, cribs, car seats, strollers, playpens, baby gates, baby walkers. These items have changed greatly over the years and older versions may not meet current safety standards. Car seats can be especially dangerous if you do not know the history of the car seat. If a car seat has been involved in a vehicle collision it must be replaced, even if the child was not in the car at the time of the accident.

Great secondhand buys: clothing, newer non-electronic toys, books, movies and sturdy furniture. Clothing, especially baby clothing can be reused through several children before it wears out, as they grow so quickly that some outfits are only worn a handful of times.

Bargain Hunting Places: garage sales, swap sessions, friends, family, coworkers, newspaper classifieds, thrift and consignment stores, internet sites (such as ebay, craigslist, kijiji, freecycle)

Where to shop for used cloth diapers and accessories:
Moms & Bums

Jan 24, 2009

Raising Green Kids- Finding Green Clothing

The earlier you get your kids interested in green choices and issues, the more likely they are to carry that interest into adulthood and through the rest of their lives. From the items you surround them with, to the items you dress them in, you have plenty of opportunity to keep the materials as natural and organic as possible. I called this series of posts raising green kids, it will consist of "Finding Green Clothing", "Finding Green Toys" and "Finding Secondhand Treasures"
: Choose natural fibers (organic natural fibers are even better).
Cotton has been around as a natural fibre choice for as long as clothing has been made, but these days it is quickly being replaced by organic cotton, wool, hemp and bamboo.
Conventionally grown cotton consumes approximately 25% of the
insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides used in the world.
These toxic chemicals and the use of synthetic fertilizers pollute
the air, water and soil, have serious ecological impacts and are
hazardous to both farm workers and neighbouring residents.
Organic cotton is grown using agricultural practices that have a low impact on the environment, replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and supports biologically diverse agriculture.
Chemical bleaches and dyes are not used in the garment fabrication process, and there are strict standards used to regulate which companies can be considered “certified”.
Wool is naturally breathable, antibacterial and can absorb up to one-third of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. Wool is being used more and more often as a diaper cover, with its breathability it keeps baby's body temperature up to 4*C cooler than PUL cloth diaper covers, which in turn helps prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause diaper rash.
Hemp grows with much less need for water which means its not only better for baby but better for the environment as well! The Hemp plant also requires less pesticide use during growth which reduces its overall impact on the environment. Hemp is also much more durable than cotton. Hemp is being used more and more these days in cloth diapers for its natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It is also more absorbent than cotton fabrics of the same weight, and feels drier to the touch when wet.
Bamboo is a grass that regenerates naturally and can be grown without the use of pesticides. It never requires replanting due to its extensive root system. The bamboo plant is 100% biodegradable. Bamboo is also the fastest growing woody plant in the world; it is becoming increasingly popular as cloth diaper and clothing material. Bamboo fibre is silky and soft, very breathable, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-static. Bamboo fiber has tiny micro-gaps and micro-holes that make it excellent for moisture absorption and ventilation. This unparalleled microstructure means that bamboo fiber has natural wicking capabilities. It absorbs 3 to 4 times more than cotton and doesnt feel sticky or uncomfortable when wet.

Where to shop for cloth diapers, accessories and green clothing in Canada:

Moms & Bums
Natural Parenting Shop
Growing Up Green

Company Spotlight:
Dry Goods T-Shirts!
They are stong believers in supporting the Canadian economy and refuse to support unfair trade practices in third world countries. Instead they aim to maintain an ecological balance and avoid depletion of our natural reosurces. They use natural resources from North American Farmers, which are naturally dyed and knitted in Toronto. Conventional screen-printing is notoriously toxic: for every dozen shirts that are printed with a single colour, puts about one ounce of toxic chemicals into the environment, which is more harmful than gasoline.
Dry Goods prints their shirts with 100% biodegradable chemicals made from soybeans, which are completely environmentally friendly.

Squishy Fish Organic Cotton Onesies and Tees
Squishy fish is a Canadian owned and operated baby and toddler clothing company that blends eco-friendly fabrics with creative, stylish design.
All of their garments are made of the softest !00% certified organic cotton which is chemical free and unbleached - the natural choice for babies delicate skin and for the planet!

Jan 23, 2009

Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposable Diapers- The Great Debate!

Studies have shown an infant goes through between 8,000 and 10,000 diaper changes before entering potty training.
The savings associated with using cloth diapers is phenomenal compared to using disposables. On average, you will spend anywhere from $2,8000 (for 8,000 diaper changes) and $3,500 (for about 10,000 diaper changes) per child on disposables. You will save on average about $1,500! And the bonus is you can continue to use those same diapers on a second and third child!
When you finish using disposable diapers with your child, all you have left is a huge mountain of trash. Solid human waste in landfills may seep into local ground waters. Even worse, a disposable diaper normally made out of plastics takes around 500 years to decompose, and 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown out in the US each year. That is 100,000 tons of plastic and 800,000 tons of tree pulp. Disposable diapers also contain dioxin- a by-product of bleaching pulp which has been linked to cancer.
However if you have used cloth diapers, you are ready for the next child!
Studies have proven that babies who are disposable diapered have about a 78% incidence of diaper rash, compared to only 7% of cloth diapered babies!
Washing cloth diapers takes the equivalent amount of water as flushing a toilet 5 times a day.
Thus cloth diapers have half the ecological footprint of disposables.