September 13, 2012

Toxic dichlorobenzene linked to early puberty in girls

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Our toxic environment is changing our bodies, literally. The age girls are experiencing their first menstruations has shifted dramatically over the last 100 years. When I experienced this first hand as a teacher (a first grader got her period!), I blamed hormones in milk products, but it's not that simple.  There are many chemicals contributing to earlier periods, and a new one has just been identified.

Mothering.com explains:

Over the last 100 years, the average age when puberty arrives fell from around 16 to 17 years of age to 12. It continues to drop. Experts say some of this can be attributed to better health. And some of it has to do with high rates of childhood obesity. But there's a growing body of scientific evidence linking it to a variety of toxins.

The newest villian is dichlorobenzene. This chemical vaporizes into the air and is commonly used in air freshener, mothballs, and solid toilet bowl deodorizers. It's harmful to the liver, kidneys, and respiratory tract. The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that girls with higher levels of dichlorobenzene in their urine had their first period seven months earlier than girls with lower levels. An earlier CDC study found residue of this chemical in nearly every person they tested. Personally, I don't know anyone who uses air fresheners, already associated with other health problems but apparently sales are booming. Even if we never use products containing this chemical in our homes, they are often found in public buildings. Awareness is important. So is an outright ban, now being discussed by the European Chemicals Agency.


It is crazy to think of what chemicals are bodies host from products we do not even use. We are only just beginning to see the consequences to our health.

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Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 18, 2012

Do we have to fund our schools with soda contracts?

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In these tough economic times, schools have resorted to contracts with soda companies to add to their budgets. In fact, 80% of public high schools have contracts with either Coke or Pepsi to sell their products on vending machines on campus.  

Mother Jones reports:

Starting in the early '90s, cash-strapped public schools began selling exclusive "pouring rights" to one or another Big Soda company, which would then supply all the beverages sold in on-site snack bars, stores, and soda machines as well as at sports events. Along with sugary drinks, of course, the companies also stuffed the schools with plenty of advertisements... The soda deals subsidize other aspects of schooling, too. Here's how the Rockford Register Star describes a contract between the Rockford, Illinois school district and Coca-Cola:

Under the existing 10-year contract, Coca-Cola paid the district $4 million upfront and an additional $350,000 a year to sell its beverages in schools. The annual payments have funded field trips, gym uniforms, SMART Boards and other frills that individual school budgets may not otherwise have afforded.

I don't know if our local public high school has such a contract, and I wonder if such contracts prohibit schools from promoting anti-junk food education? 

My children would not be tempted by such vending machines, but they are not the norm. With obesity rates on the rise, it is irresponsible to be underfunding our schools to the point that they need soda companies. What's next? Tobacco advertising?

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Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 8, 2012

25 DIY Toys and Games Projects: Make: technology on your time

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One way of living a greener life is to make things rather than rely on Chinese factories. Making toys and games with your family not only allows you to upcycle materials, it also teaches important science lessons.

Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 28 has over 25 projects. I especially like the section on "Toys From Trash".

MAKE Volume 28 hits makers' passion for play head-on with a 28-page special section devoted to Toys and Games, including a toy "pop-pop" steamboat made from a mint tin, an R/C helicopter eye-in-the-sky, and a classic video game console. You'll also build a gravity-powered catapult, a plush toy that interacts with objects around it, and a machine that blows giant soap bubbles. Play time is a hallmark of more intelligent species -- so go have some fun!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 27, 2012

Aww Lord, I Could Eat a Bowl of Cherries: Putumayo Kids Picnic Playground

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Putumayo World Music is known for their eclectic collections. Picnic Playground is a wonderful collection of children's songs about food from around the planet:

Picnic Playground provides a veritable feast of international songs about food, cooking and healthy eating in a global gumbo of musical styles and languages. American artist Jay Mankita's opening song "Eat Like a Rainbow" sets the tone for the album, and the delectable songs that follow from Australia, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Canada and Trinidad add to the exuberant musical smörgåsbord.These fun, upbeat songs will help get kids moving and dancing to the rhythms. The artists on Picnic Playground sing so joyously about delicious food that you can almost taste it. Try Jose Conde's wonderful "Bolitas de Arroz con Pollo," chomp your way through Rhythm Child's "Bowl of Cherries" and taste the tropical flavors of Asheba's Caribbean "Ice Cream." Before you go, finish off the picnic with milk and cookies, courtesy of Donikkl's song "Milch" and Maggie G's "Let's Bake Cookies".

Picnic Playground includes liner notes in three languages, English, French and Spanish, a child-friendly overview of the foods mentioned in the songs, as well as two recipes showing how to "Eat Like A Rainbow" by child nutritionist Barbara Storper, founder of FoodPlay. A portion of Putumayo's proceeds from the sale of Picnic Playground will be donated to Vitamin Angels, providing essential nutrients to children in the U.S. and around the world.


My favorite track is the first one "Eat Like a Rainbow". I also love the songs that are sung in French.

I am a pretty harsh critic of children's music, and I was only annoyed by a couple songs in this collection, like "Let's Make Cookies".

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 26, 2012

Great Green Children's Literature The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet

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I have always been impressed with any title published by Barefoot Books. The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet does not disappoint!

Listen to the soothing patter of a summer rainfall, watch the first flames of the rising sun, and sing with the stars as you travel through this enchanting anthology of nature poems. Poems from many different cultures are brought together here to celebrate the beauty and fragility of our lovely Earth.
One of my favorite poems is called "The Song of the Stars" from a Pasamaquoddy Indian song:
We are the stars which sing.
We sing with our light.
We are the birds of fire
We fly across the heaven.

These lovely poems very in length and are sure to inspire your own little poets. It would also be a great project for Earth Day to use this book as a spring board for a classroom set of "poems for the planet".

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 24, 2012

Kid-Friendly, Natural Snacks: FruitaBu Apple Rolls

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When my children were toddlers, they loved Stretch Island Fruit Leather. This obsession has worn off as they age.

Stretch Island also makes Stretch Island Fruitabu Rolls. We were sent the apple flavor to try:

Kids enjoy the wonder of real fruit in tasty FruitaBü® Smoooshed® Fruit Rolls. Portable and convenient, our Smoooshed Fruit Rolls contain:
  • 1 serving* of all-natural fruit
  • No artificial additives
  • Real-fruit purée
  • No added sugar - all sugar comes naturally from fruit
My kids do not enjoy the rolls as much as the leathers, as they are messier and harder to eat. I also wish they were organic.
 

I do like how Stretch Island supports Fruit Tree 101:

Established in 2007 by Stretch Island Fruit Co. and The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Fruit Tree 101 plants orchards at schools to address proper nutrition and sustainability with students across the country. When an orchard is donated to a school, students and teachers work together to plant trees while learning how fruit is important to a healthy diet and planet.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 11, 2012

Children's Literature With a Message: I Have to Be Me

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First off, I apologize to our readers when they encounter a review on this blog that has no seeming connection to natural living. I always feel obligated when sent a product or book for review to, well, review it, even if it has no green qualities. Exposing such characteristics is just as important as featuring truly eco-friendly goods. It's not exactly greenwashing, except it being marketed to a green blog. This is such a review.

Kate Kate The Fashion Plate by Deborah Kanafani is the story of a little girl who aspires to be a fashion designer.

Kate Kate The Fashion Plate, "I Have To Be Me" is the first in a series about an aspiring tween aged fashion designer in New York City. Kate has been busy designing dresses for Marie and Antoinette, her two little dogs. But now she has a chance to shine as a famous fashion designer, or so she thinks. When Kate's' mom, a fashion icon and head of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art arranges for Kate to help dress the mannequins at Bergs, New York's fanciest department store, Kate is jumping for joy. Kate has to promise her mother that she will dress in the latest style, "plain and simple" when she goes to Bergs, and not in one of her own designs. But it seems Kate has a problem. Although she tries, she just can't seem to look like everyone else. Even worse, the dresses she is given to put on the mannequins are so "booooring" they make Kate feel sad. Bursting with ideas on how to give the dresses more sparkle and pizzazz, Kate gets carried away.... until Mrs. Blinker, the owner of Bergs walks in and sees what Kate is doing. Now that Kate is in big trouble, what will happen to her dreams of being a fashion designer? Does Kate learn that she has to look like everyone else to be liked? Kate's adventures are fun. They introduce girls to historical characters through fashion, inspire girls to be entrepreneurial and encourage girls to celebrate their individuality.

Although I am glad Kate does not succumb to the influences of conforming, I would prefer if the book was Kate, Kate the Sustainable Fashion Plate. I like how the end of the book features blank mannequin pages for children to design their own fashions.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 10, 2012

Sustainable Fashion: Revenge Is...

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I love discovering new sustainable fashions, as it appeases my eco-guilt of excessive clothing. Revenge Is... makes t-shirts from organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. 10% of company profits are donated to charities.

We were sent a kids "THINK GREEN" S/S CREW NECK TEE":

Together, we can change the world for our children and all children around the planet. We want them to grow up, work and raise their own families in a thriving planet, Instilling the need to protect our environment and the knowledge of how to do so at a young age will breed the eco-heroes of tomorrow. Our "Think Green" t-shirt demonstrates our commitment to educating younger generations about the little things they can do to affect big change when it comes to saving our planet.

Featuring an adorable, green-themed graphic designed exclusively for Revenge Is... by Benjamin Della Rosa, this super-soft kid's tee is a 50/50 blend of recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton and printed with non-toxic, water-based inks. This t-shirt is manufactured and printed in the USA.


I use to avoid polyester fabrics, yet the recycled RPET does add softness to this shirt, especially when hanging to dry on the laundry line compared to the dryer. The design is whimsical, and the fit classic. This is a great kids t-shirt!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 22, 2012

Sustainable Fashion: Organic Cotton, Clay Dyed Clothing by Eco Creations

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The first time I ever saw an Alabama Dirt Shirt was when my sister got one for my husband for a gift. I thought the red color was very cool, especially considering the shirt was made of organic cotton and naturally dyed from the earth.

Earth Creations, the sustainable clothing company behind the Alabama Dirt Shirts, also makes children's clothing.

A soft handprint with the Earth in the palm reminds us to Touch the Earth Gently. Printed using eco friendly inks on our soft 100% organic cotton clay-dyed toddler/youth tee that will fit any child like a glove.

Eco Creations makes sustainable clothing for the whole family made in the USA.  Great basics and fashion pieces makes this line "eco, pure and simple".

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 21, 2012

Uncle Dan's Report Card: Healthy Habits Build Strength and Character

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The inspiration behind Uncle Dan's Report Card: From Toddlers to Teenagers, Helping Our Children Build Strength of Character with Healthy Habits and Values Every Day by Barbara C. and Bob Unell is very sweet.

When parent educator and author Barbara Unell discovered her Uncle Dan's fifth grade report card from 1914, she found an amazing 2-sided treasure. Yes, this was not your ordinary school report card. The left side listed the subjects taught at school...reading, writing, arithmetic, and the like.

But... the right side...ah yes! The "right side" was of equal importance!! It was the home report of the subjects that were expected to be taught at home-truthfulness and honesty, morning chores, evening chores, care of clothing, care of teeth, evenings at home, sleeping with the windows open, and a dozen more! Her grandparents noted the progress of her uncle in learning these right-side habits, just as the teacher marked the left side.


I love the partnership between home and school such a report card promotes: equal responsibility toward educating the whole child. One side is not blaming the other for not doing their job, like often happens in today's world. Parents blame faulty schools; teachers blame parenting.  Kids fail.

Uncle Dan's Report Card reminds us of the importance of these values in building strength and character.

Using lessons from the past and applying to modern times, the Unells offer great advice for parenting. Of particular interest to me was the selection on assigning household chores to kids, or the avoidance of doing so, in order to create harmony in the home. I fall into this trap, as it is easier to do it myself than be a nag, but I am not teaching my children responsibility, or more importantly accountability, as a result.

I love how sleeping with the windows open is included on the 1914 report card!  Fresh air is important for health!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.


Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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