Monday, July 28, 2008

Eco-Healthy Baby Books

Good Morning Moms,

Today I'd like to introduce all of you to a book I have recently completed called, Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home by Christopher Gavigan, CEO of the nation's leading nonprofit for children's environmental health - Healthy Child Healthy World /

I understand that for many moms out there finding time to read is a pure luxury. However, I would strongly recommend this book, not as one to cozy up with on your end-of-summer vacation, but as an excellent reference to all things green in your home and for your child. This book is packed with useful information on topics ranging from green cleaning products to heathy food (both for your child and our environment), gardens, toys, clean air and water, pets and even positive activism (even if just within your own family.) I found that this book is better than many others available on these topics because it serves as a true reference with many additional resources and websites listed. Also, unlike many other "green living" books, this one focuses beyond the basics of raising an eco-healthy baby (cloth diapers, organic baby food and FSC certified wood toys) and encourages building a healthy, environmentally friendly community for your children in which they are active participants.

My other favorite eco-baby book is called The Complete Organic Pregnancy by Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu. It's lighter, easier reading and a great resource for those who are just awakening to the "green" lifestyle during a pregnancy. It's focus is more specifically on preparing your baby's first environment (starting with the health of the mother), but is none the less a good resource filled with additional resources and websites.

My main criticism of both of these books is that they are, well, books. Having participated in writing a textbook myself, I know how long the publication process can be. Reference books are often outdated before they are even published, and of course require paper and fossil fuels to produce. So, though there are hundreds of "green living and green baby" books out there, buy just these two. Then, go to the websites they suggest, and continue to read this blog and other green blogs for updated information on all things green rather than filling your shelves with out-of-date books that require valuable resources to produce.

I hope you're enjoying the summer green mamas!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eco-Healthy Childcare

The Oregon Environmental Council has recently begun certifying childcare centers that take steps to make their environments healthier for children. Currently, certified centers are mainly in Oregon and California with plans to expand nationally over the next couple of years. Until your child's program can be officially certified, check out their checklist and recommend these 25 steps your child's childcare provider. The list focuses on simple, low cost steps such as the use of non-toxic techniques to limit pests, use of biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products, use of low-VOC paints, not allowing cars to idle, techniques to minimize lead and mercury exposure, elimination of wall to wall carpets, use of non-toxic art supplies, and recycling. In addition to these suggestions, my daughter's daycare provider is very focused on feeding the children healthy food. They feed the children mainly organic, unprocessed food and very little sugar. I have noticed that the children tend to be healthier, calmer, better behaved and more focused than your average gaggle of 2-5 year olds. And, now that this list is available from the Oregon Environmental Council, I will suggest these ideas to our childcare director to make my daughter's daily environment healthier for her now and in the future. After all, my goal is to protect planet Earth so that she has somewhere safe and healthy to live as she, and her children and all future generations grow up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Important News

Good Evenings Green Mamas!

I have two important bits of news tonight that I hope that all of you will join me in supporting. The first is that the Senate is scheduled to vote in June on some crucial global warming legislation. I hope that all of you will join me in emailing or calling your Senator to ask him or her to vote for this important bill. For more information, go to this link on the Environmental Defense website to learn more about the bill, the key swing voting Senators and how to take action. It will take only a few minutes, and one day you can tell your kids that you were responsible for saving the planet! Cool.

The second hot topic is that Moms Living Green will be joining forces with a new and very media savvy non-profit called the Ecomom Alliance to use the buying power of moms (and dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and teens, kids and friends everywhere) to sway large corporations to go green! (And, I mean really go green, not just fill our lives with fake green marketing or more "green" stuff that we don't want or need!) I will be becoming an Ecomom Leader once we've finally settled in Houston, and until then I'm calling on all of you to join the Ecomom Organization so that we can quickly build enough members to push some large companies in the right direction. When you click to join you can also make a donation to support our work, but that is optional. Check it out!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Dirty Dozen

As I write, I'm listening to a thunderstorm outside. It sounds like it might be a pretty big one, but after several months of drought here in North Carolina, I'm grateful for the rain. And thanks to the Spring rains, we're now finding a bounty of beautiful, and delicious, veggies at our local farmer's market. I would strongly encourage all of you to spend some time finding and going to a farmer's market near you. You can find farmer's markets in your area by checking out the Local Harvest website.

We have also been CSA members for the past 2 seasons. (You can find out more information about CSA's in your area on the Local Harvest website as well.) When you join a CSA, you essentially join a local farm. You pay for a season's worth of veggies (approximately April/ May through October/ November.) Then, each week, you pick up a box of delicious, organic, local produce that will feed your family, and you can freeze and save any extras for the winter. Yum! We have used Tantre Farm in Ann Arbor, MI and Timberwood Organics in Chapel Hill, NC both are great!

Pound for pound, kids eat a lot more than adults. So, to keep our kids healthy and to minimize their exposure to pesticides (which can cause cancer, are neurotoxins, and may have other health effects that we don't yet know about), it's best to feed them tons of ORGANIC fruits and veggies. Plus, by feeding our kids organics, we also help to protect the health of farm workers, and the soil and water environments of the farm and the local community. But, sometimes, organic fruits and veggies are more expensive. To keep your family budget in check, get your organic produce at local farmer's markets, and when you have to choose which fruits and veggies to buy organic, prioritize "The Dirty Dozen." These 12 fruits and veggies have the highest pesticide load when grown conventionally. So, if you have to pick and choose what to buy organic, chose these... Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Lettuce, Grapes, Pears, Spinach, and Potatoes.

Conversely, the fruits and veggies that are the "Cleanest" (lowest in pesticide load) are Onions, Avocadoes, Frozen Sweet Corn, Pineapples, Mangoes, Frozen Sweet Peas, Asparagus, Kiwis, Bananas, Cabbage, Broccoli, and Eggplant. So, those are OK to eat even if conventionally grown. (Source:

Mark your calendars to poke around your local farmer's market this week, and make a list of "The Dirty Dozen" to take with you on your local shopping trip. And, hey, green mamas... don't forget your re-useable grocery bag!

Have a great week green mamas!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Clean and Healthy Bathroom

Hi Green Mamas!

I get lots of questions about the best eco-friendly cleaning products out there... here is a fabulous article
from Grist that does an excellent review of several green bathroom cleaning products! Check it out! But, also do read the comments and do your own research too. (FYI, Borax is very toxic to kids and pregnant women... so, keep out of reach and don't use while pregnant or trying to become pregnant.) The Environmental Working Group is another great source for toxins in everyday products.
Scrub a dub dub.

Take care,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Green Light

Good Afternoon Ecomamas!

So sorry that I have been sporadic lately with the posting. Life has been busy here... started a new job, trying to sell a house, got the flu... twice! Normal fun things that all of us go through are slowing me down this month!

In the interest of keeping it simple, I wanted to bring up a simple idea this week for greening your home.

Last weekend began daylight savings time... meaning that we now have more evening daylight.

On Sunday morning just after the time change, my daughter was, for the first time in years, awoken by the sun. We actually heard her lying in her bed and saying, "Mom... turn off the light!" It was hilarious!

Now is a great time to begin to use more natural light in your day. Open the blinds, use candles at dinner, play with your kids outside or picnic in the evenings. (A great excuse to make sandwiches and salads for dinner... saving electricity and mom's energy!) CFL's and other high efficiency light bulbs are great... but nothing beats using the good old fashioned light of the sun!

And remember to simply turn off lights in rooms when you're not using them. Teach your kids too while they'll still listen to you.

Let some natural light in your life green mamas!
Take care,

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Voting to Protect the Planet

Since Super Tuesday is this week, I thought that I would spend a few minutes thinking about which candidates' positions would be best for the planet...

First of all, I urge all of you to check out this chart at Grist Magazine.

Grist does a great job at discussing the positions of the remaining candidates on many facets of the Climate Crisis.

The most important factors in my opinion after looking at the scientific recommendations of what will be needed to avert a major global warming crisis are these...

1. Globally, we must lower carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
2. A Cap and Trade system to do so seems the most likely to be politically possible in this country, but a carbon tax would be much more efficient according to most economists.
3. On fuel economy standards... the higher the better in my book. Why don't we just jump to 100 mpg and level the playing field with the rest of the world?
4. Renewable Energy: We need a market stimulus of a required 25% of the country's energy portfolio ASAP, and we need to fund R&D in this field in the billions!
5. Biofuels: Scientifically this is tricky as to effectiveness. Cellulosic ethanol offers the most promise, but can't yet be produced on an industrial scale. I support R&D funding in this area, but not over-subsidizing corn.
6. "Clean Coal": I would support this if it could work, but so far there are no indications that it will. And, coal-to-liquid fuels would actually worsen the carbon emissions of our fuel.
7. Nuclear: This could be a useful last-resort source of energy, But, there are a lot of problems with storage and safe disposal. It's likely that renewable energy and efficiency options would be much cheaper.

And, finally, whoever becomes president will not only need to deal with this issue at home, but will need to be able to be persuasive abroad as we must work with the developing world to truly deal with this global problem. And, this is not an issue to be seen in isolation. If a "green" economy becomes a goal for this nation, it could also be an outstanding source of economic stimulus and job creation. So, the issue of climate change is inseparable from the economy, poverty, and foreign relations.

Based on the work Grist has done in looking at the candidates' positions, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied on the Democratic side, either would be a huge step forward on this issue for the nation. (Mike Gravel's positions are also very strong, but as far as I know he is no longer in the race.) On the Republican side, John McCain shows the most leadership on this issue. But, his targets are not strong enough to avert severe climate damage, he does not support renewable energy strongly enough, and his support for coal-based energy and fuels could be dangerous.

Now... get out there and vote green mamas! The next generation is counting on us to solve this crisis, and we can't do it alone. It will take real leadership from our nation!


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sustainable Shopping... Part 1

Moms through the ages have engaged in both recreational shopping and shopping out of necessity. In other words, as soon as we drop the kids off or are heading home from work, we have to shop for milk, dinner, diapers, cupcakes for 60 tomorrow... whatever. And, when we get a free Saturday afternoon (such as a "dad-urday" afternoon), we like to hit the stores for some retail shoe shopping therapy!

So, though many would argue that shopping in and of itself is not really sustainable... it can be necessary, and it is a big part of our culture.

Moms who are trying to live a more sustainable life should first consider the sustainability of their consumer habits. It is important to generally shop less if we are to build a more sustainable culture. How many pairs of shoes, TV's, new ipods, jeans, handbags, etc. do you really need? I will leave that to each of you to consider, and I would challenge you to think of all of your purchases in longer terms in 2008. If, for example, you do need a new handbag, toy for your kid, couch, car, whatever... could you buy one that will last longer, was made locally, is more efficient, uses less water, is made from sustainably sourced materials, or comes in less packaging? I'm trying this year to, as contradictory as this might sound, make my shopping more sustainable.

To start off we're going to talk about tea.

I recently moved from Ann Arbor, MI which is full of people who are trying to make their lives more sustainable. When people live more sustainably the concept of sustainability bleeds into their businesses as well. So, I thought I would introduce you to a local business in Ann Arbor, that is taking the concept of sustainability and increasingly applying it to the reality of their business. The ideas presented here could be useful in many businesses, large or small. So, as a shopper, begin to look for them when you're buying everything from pacifiers to playpens, from car seats to cleaning products, from tomatoes to chocolate, and everything in between.

The company is called Arbor Teas.

As you have probably guessed, they sell tea. Now tea, in and of itself is no different from many consumer products. People buy it and consume it because they like it. It comes in packaging, it is bought, used and discarded. But, Arbor Teas has gone out of its way to make sure that their teas leave as small of an impact as possible.

They start by buying (and then selling to you) tea that is certified organic and most of it is fair trade certified. Thus, their teas have been farmed in such a way that is more beneficial to both the environment where it is farmed, and the local workers who farm it. Now, tea is not grown in the US, so there is some impact in the transportation of the tea from the village in India, China, Africa, Japan, etc. to you, but the overall impact is minimized by the organic farming method, and the fair trade treatment and payment of the farm workers.

Next, Arbor Teas has reconsidered the packaging of their teas. They teamed up with students at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources to minimize the carbon footprint of their packaging by converting from tin-plated steel canisters to canisters made of parchment-lined paperboard, which generate less than one-fifth of the carbon emissions of tin-plated steel canisters. And, these containers can still be re-used to extend their lifespan. Additionally, if you buy a gift certificate to Arbor Teas, you can have it sent paperless by email to the recipient. Cool!

Arbor Teas aggressively recycles many of their processing materials. Even packing peanuts that are used to protect the teas as they are mailed to customers are recycled. And, if you live in Ann Arbor, your tea will be delivered to you by bike... further cutting transport emissions.

Finally for the emissions that they can not reduce in absolute terms, such as delivery flights, ground transportation, facility electricity, etc., they have opted to either purchase renewable energy credits from their local electricity company or to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits through

So, kudos to Arbor Teas, and as a green living mom and shopper, you can take these ideas and take a look at local and corporate business in your community and ask how they are reducing their emissions. If they have not begun to look at their emissions, packaging, recycling, water and energy usage, materials sourcing, organic farming, etc. make some suggestions to improve your community businesses and support those businesses like Arbor Teas that are actively greening their products and operations.

Have a great green week mamas!

And, if any of you are shopping for a house in 2008... check out this green energy showplace! Hurry! Because as energy prices continue to soar... this one will be snapped right up!


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Go Green This Year! Start with a Reusable Shopping Bag

Happy New Year Green Moms!

This year, look here for easy ways to go green daily in our busy lives. Every change makes a difference!
Start by switching to reusable bags for all of your trips to the grocery store, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, the library, the Farmer's Market, even the mall. If you don't need a bag when you buy just a few small things, just tell the cashier that you don't need a bag. If you're buying more or larger things, carry your own bag. I have been testing this new habit for several months now, and though all reusable bags work, my favorite is the green one pictured above. (It comes in several colors.) It's called the Granite Gear Air Grocery Bag. You can get it at for $17.00. It's my favorite because it holds a lot, it's very strong, and it easily stuffs back down to a tiny bag that fits in your purse, so it's always there when you need it. The downside is its price compared with other reusable bags. Most grocery stores now sell them for just $1 or so. The one pictured above is available at Walmart for just $1. It is made of recycled materials and can be recycled!

So, start the new year right. The next time someone says, "Paper or plastic?" Say, "Neither, thanks... I have my own bag." Try it for 2 weeks and you'll be hooked!

Thanks to Kathryn in Houston, TX for help with this MLG Action!

Happy New Year Green Moms!