Green Toys Big Hit This Holiday

December 20, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Health, News, Pop Culture, Products

The Holidays are rapidly approaching us.  Parents are scrambling to buy the latest toys for their kids.  But did you know that green toys are actually a huge hit this year?

Green Toys

Photo from {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/39794839@N03/5078507180/}Cara Faus{/link}.

In the recent past, it has been difficult to get a hold of toys that are made of environmentally friendly products and/or made in the US.  More and more toy makers are embracing the idea of “green toys” this year.  It’s not just a push by consumers, it’s actually demand has risen for them.  With so many toys being made without regulation and using dangerous products, it’s really no surprise.

Since the products are made with more sustainable products and are usually not made in China, there comes a price, literally.  The cost on these products is usually higher than the cheap plastic toys you would normally find.  Usually they are wood toys or those made from recycled or sustainable products.   They may be more expensive, but people are still buying these toys.  Why might you ask?

Well, the obvious answer is that they are better for the environment ans safer for their kids.  Another answer that I have heard from those who buy these toys is that they are much more durable.  They are made with higher quality and usually the products they are made from (i.e. wood) are much stronger.  So in the end, you could actually be saving some money since you don’t need to replace toys that break easy.

The Future

So what exactly is the future of  “green toys”.  If the trend continues like it has this year, we will see a good portion of the toys being sold made with environmentally friendly products.  It will be hard to take over the toys we find on the market today.  Many still like the fact that they are cheaper and kids will still be wanting the latest cheap toy of their favorite TV or movie character.  If the prices of “green toys” can come down some as they already have and if recalls continue to happen, we may see them take a larger share of the market.

Unhappy Californians Boot the Happy Meal

November 8, 2010 · Filed Under Alternative Energy, Food, Government, Green, Guest Posts, Health

The (in power) people of San Francisco have spoken. Out with the Happy Meal! Almost…

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that requires any restaurant that includes toys with a purchase to meet specific nutritional guidelines. This continues San Francisco’s distinct lead as the most legislatively progressive City in the United States. After banning plastic bags, requiring all government run offices utilize non-toxic cleaning products, and putting a standard into place that all new government construction must be LEED certified, the people in power in San Francisco continue their visionary practices.

Despite McDonald’s claims of persecution and targeting, the ordinance is applicable to all restaurants that include a toy with purchase that do not meet specific nutritional guidelines. The ordinance has been under consideration for awhile, and restaurant industry groups as well as individual companies like McDonalds have been fighting its passage into law.

Why an Ordinance on Meals with Toys?

Childhood Obesity

The overweight and obesity numbers in the United States are staggering. Sadly enough, 15% of the children in the US are either overweight or obese. An atrocious and unhealthy jump since the advent of fast food. With a variety of factors playing into these numbers, it is difficult to pinpoint a true culprit. Perhaps that is because this epidemic that threatens the health of tens of millions of Americans has a large span of “causes”. Cheap food (with a high true cost to our health, environment, and human rights in developing nations), chemically-simulated food experience (read Omnivore’s Dilemma to read about how through a manipulation of the senses, chemists can make any piece of food trick your senses), and American’s distinct lack of exercise relative to other developed nations. The numbers threatening the lives of children have become such a large concern that the health care industry is has significantly increased their charges, and the health and fitness industry have significantly increased their range of products and enrollments for extreme cases of weight loss.

Nutrition

Now, the Ordinance that was passed actually does not “ban” anyone from selling food, it requires that they meet specific nutritional guidelines in order to provide a meal with a toy. The Ordinance goes into effect December 1st, so restauranteurs have a small bit of time (and plenty of previous notice prior to the vote) to get their new toy-included meals in nutritional order.

Direct-Marketing to Children

Direct marketing to children has been banned in many locations, and there are a few legislative actions that have been put in place to reduce this type of marketing. The first major and successful attack on direct-marketing to children came from the TRUTH campaign and others targeting cigarette companies like Philip Morris with the idea that if the companies target them, the ‘children’ or young adults have the right to target the companies right back. Although meals with toys may be marketed to a younger group, less vocal and action-oriented to fight their plastic toy that comes with their meal, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it upon themselves to protect the children. Some individuals believe that these types of regulation also help give power back to parents and guardians as the decision-makers during a time when the market is flooded with “wants” and “new things” to tantalize even the most well-behaved child.

The Details (honestly)

As stated earlier, this was not a direct attack on McDonalds but instead on an unsustainable and unhealthy practice within ALL food establishments. By creating standards that are clear and accepted by nutritionists and doctors as acceptable for healthy meals, not just happy meals, the government has taken children’s health upon themselves.

The nutritional requiremenst are…

  • Calories: Less than 600
  • Sodium: Less than 640 milligram.
  • Fat: Less than 35 percent of calories from fat; Less than 10 percent from saturated fat (with exception for nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese).
  • Fruits & Vegetables: At least half a cup of fruit or three-quarters of a cup of vegetables

“This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children’s health first and join the wide range of local restaurants that have already made this commitment,” Mar said.

And it challenge it may be for some restaurants to truly adhere to these standards.

Will My Happy Meal be Banned?

This legislation was passed within the City of San Francisco. There has been little talk about other Cities, States, or the Federal government following San Francisco’s lead. That said, if McDonalds and other food establishments with toys as part of meals want to stay in that market, they will have to adapt. If the larger companies adapt, and smaller businesses can share their lessons and transitions to healthier meals, then there is little reason not to adopt the healthier standards. If the framework and advice from similar businesses is available, why not take advantage of it?

Did they go to far?

Companies like McDonalds are claiming discrimination and that the San Francisco government has gone too far. Is the regulation of the industry fair? Well, that can be a pretty subjective discussion. What is important is that it is legal, and the intent behind the regulation was not to discriminate, but to address a growing epidemic of childhood obesity that threatens the lives of our future changemakers. In fact, the issue of childhood obesity has grown into such a health threat in the United States, that First Lady Michelle Obama, and world famous Chef Jamie Oliver are making very public efforts to bring nutrition, proportion control, and education back to food for children in the US.

What do you think? Do you think the San Francisco government went too far, or that we as a nation haven’t gone far enough to address this critical health issue?

Photo Credits:
Last Happy Meal

Wp
Epoch Times

Got Milk? Got Hormones?

October 21, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Food, Guest Posts, Health, News

Who wants the unruly hormones of a teenager? How about a big dose of them in your glass of milk? For quite a few years now rbGH, or genetically modified bovine growth hormones have been slipped in your milk without even a notice. When dairy farmers found out, they tried to label their milk as “rbGH-free”. A term that Monsanto, a genetic engineering and agriculture company, almost got banned. They tried to make it unlawful for companies to put that label on their milk. Why? Because it could cost them their bloated market share of profits from rbGH milk.

What are Bovine Growth Hormones?

When companies focus on profits, not their product, their is room for error and maltreatment of not only animals but the end product. RbGH and its genetic counterparts were created to trigger the hormones in a cow that occur after they have given birth. Why? So they produce an excessive amount of milk. Simple business economics then step in. More milk from one cow means more profits, more profits mean cheaper prices, which mean a larger market share, meaning higher profits. If only the reality of that circle was accurate.

What is the risk associated with rbGH ingestion?

While still under-researched due to great efforts by Monsanto, the risks are starting to become exposed. The highest? Cancer. If you are at risk for any sort of hereditary cancer, immediately switch to milk labeled as either ” Certified Organic” or “rbGH Free”. Associations including the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have publicly demoted the hormone-induced milk as a cancer risk. There are several other potential health risks associated with this milk. This is not to mention the risks of drinking milk from cows living in unhealthy conditions. Many cows who are fed hormones repeatedly are unable to stand on their own because their udders have become so swollen from the excessive milk production. Companies have designed ways to force them to stand, ways to re-strap their udders, and other less than pleasant solutions to something whose real solution is to get rid of hormones all together.

So get educated, and buy certified organic or hormone-free milk. These farmers care more for your health and the welfare of their animals than the large corporations such as Monsanto who have quantified in place of qualified their products.

Bottoms up on this wholesome treat, hormone free I hope.

Photo Credits:

Photo 1 and Photo 2

What is…Slow Food?

October 14, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Food, Health, News

We are starting a new series of “What is…” to help fill out our collective eco-friendly vocabulary. Today we are taking a look at Slow Food, the opposite or counter revolution to Fast Food.

The Slow Food movement is typically accredited to starting in Italy. Italians love their food, and when they heard McDonalds was coming to encroach on their traditions, a Slow Food revolution started in 1989. It is about embracing your food, where it comes from, and the rich culture that surrounds food.

They believe that:

Everyone has a fundamental right to the pleasure of good food and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible.

To date the non-profit organization has over 100,000 members worldwide and growing. If you would like to learn more check out the Slow Food International’s website.

Photo Credit.

Did you Celebrate 10/10/10?

October 12, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Events, Green, Health

Oh the holiday season is upon us, and one of the most memorable for anyone concerned with cancer, food safety, and agriculture just passed. On October 10th, 2010 Non-GMO Day was celebrated worldwide with success and continues as October has been deemed “GMO-Free Month”. So what exactly was all the celebrating and food fighting about?

GMOs

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are most often plants that have been injected with genes from other species or synthetically developed strains to create a type of lab-made hybrid. The most famous example is when a tomato plant was given the genes from a fish, making the plant more tolerant. Although fascinating from a scientific prospective, these plants are grown with little research done on their long-term environmental and health impact. The reports don’t look promising for the GMO industry, but unfortunately they have large financial resources that have produced alternative propaganda in place of scientific research. It is often considered one of the most corrupt industries given the monopolies agriculture companies have and their tactics with farmers that work on leased land.

So Why the Celebration?

Many individuals have been determined since the advent of GMO-food to keep it out of their systems. European nations quickly banned it from trade quite some time ago, leaving the US to instead donate its excess of subsidized crops to third world nations. The ethics involved in these donations have been highly questioned. As American citizens, we are not protected from a government standpoint from GMO infiltration into our food, but we are given the option to “opt out’ of it through choosing organic food.

Learn More

Since food, genetics, and agriculture each have their own large respective industries and trade associations, it can be difficult to find information about the risks associated with GMOs. Your best source of information is the Institute for Responsible Technology to learn more about GMOs, what they are, and what issues you should be aware of going forward for your own health. If you are pregnant or have small children, it is highly recommended to review this information as the build-up of toxins and other things being injected into our food are not meant to be digested by our bodies.

A belated cheers to 10.10.10!

Photo Credit.

Cloth Diapers are back! Why Celebrities are Choosing Cloth

October 11, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Health, Products

Why would a modern mom or dad chose cloth diapers over the convenience of disposables?  Well, cloth diapers are are certainly not the cloth diapers that our mother’s used (that is sooo yesterday) and now come in a variety of cute styles, materials and covers.  But besides making a fashion statement, why are more celebrities choosing cloth than ever before?

They’re easy!

With so many great cloth options available, including all-in-one (diapers with a soft inner liner plus an waterproof outer liner) and one-size-fits-all styles, modern cloth diapers are as easy to put on and take off as disposables.

They’re great on baby’s skin!

Cloth diapers are made of soft cotton and other natural fibers that are gentle to a baby’s skin and can even reduce the risk of diaper rash (yay, no more red tushies!)

They’re green!

Can you believe that just one child can go through over 6,000 disposable diapers in their first three years, producing up to 2 tons of waste?  Cloth diapers can be used over and over again as they can be washed at home and even passed on to a new sibling or friend (now that’s recycling!)  With more celebrities going green, it is no wonder many are choosing to go this route.
They’re great on your budget!

Did you know that the average cost of disposable diapers is around $2400 per child?  In contrast, a complete supply of cloth diapers can cost as little as $500.00.  While cost of diapers is of little concern to the average celebrity, cloth diapers can sure help us regular folk save a few dollars (think of what you can do with all that extra money in your household budget!)

So, who is using cloth?  Word has it that big names like Brooke Shields, Gweneth Paltrow, Tori Spelling and Maggie Gyllenhaal have all used cloth, just to name a few!
Actress Brooke Shields with her two daughters.

Brooke Shields

Photo from {link:http://www.people.com}People.com{/link}.

Photo courtesy of people.com

About Us
This guest post was written by Sarah Reidy, of Everything Birth, Inc.  Owned by Crystal White, Everything Birth has been offering customers an online selection of birth supplies, cloth diapers and organic baby products for over nine years.   The company’s new concept, Diaper Parties SM is now taking the country by storm.   A Diaper Party SM is an opportunity for a group of moms (and moms-to-be) to come together to try out cloth diapers and other baby products.

To find out more about cloth diapers,Diaper Parties SM as well as a wide variety of practical and adorable cloth diapering options, please visit our websites at:

www.everythingbirth.com

www.diaperparties.com

Bottoms Up!

The Bed Bug Epidemic

October 6, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Health, News

Bed bugs have been a hot topic recently.  They are no longer only in our beds or hotels, but now being found in the workplace, movie theaters and even in schools. With their resurgence, people are taking desperate measures by beginning to use dangerous chemicals to get rid of them as they did many years ago. There are other safer and more natural solutions that can help us fight against these pesky little bugs.

Bed Bugs

Photo by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/bahkubean/1223665489/}Mandy Jouan{/link}.

Prevention

Though bed bugs do not carry disease and only cause skin irritation, they are still a pest that you don’t want in your home.  Once bed bugs infiltrate your home, fighting against them can be extremely difficult.  By taking a few measures, you can avoid getting them in the first place.

Cleanliness

By making sure that you bedding materials are cleaned on a regular basis can help prevent these creatures from making your bed their home.  If you leave sheets on your bed for weeks without cleaning, it can be a breeding ground for these creatures.

Second Hand Items

I have mentioned several times about buying items from consignment shops to save a little money and get more use out of a perfectly good item.  When buying items, especially furniture, do a quick inspection on the items to make sure they are free of bed bugs.  If there are signs of an infestation, you may want to avoid the item or make sure it is free of bed bugs before bringing it into your home.

Keep Items Off of Bed

Whenever you go anywhere, avoid just throwing your clothes on the bed.  If you clothes have bed bugs on them, it will make it easy for them to make their way onto your bed.  Hang clothes that you plan to wear again and just avoid getting them in contact with your bed.

Traveling

Make sure to be extremely careful when traveling that you don’t bring them back into your home.  Keep all of your items off of the floor and properly inspecting your bed before sleeping.  If you do think that you may been in contact, throw all of your clothes right into the washer and inspect all items you bring back into your home.  Also, try doing a quick Google search before picking a hotel to see if the hotel has a recurring problem of bed bugs.

Foam Bedding

One way that some have thrown out there is to get natural latex bedding.  They say that latex and other foam beddings are too dense for bed bugs to live, making it resistant to these bugs.  Though bed bugs can still survive, it’s not as habitable as traditional mattresses.

Natural Pest Control

No matter how much we try, beg bugs still make their way into our homes.  The normal reaction is to call the local pest control guy and have them exterminated with chemicals.  The problem with fighting them in this manner is that bed bugs have built an immunity to many of the chemicals we are using to get rid of them.  And on top of that, do you really want to expose your family to dangerous chemicals?

The most popular method mentioned that can help eliminate bed bugs is to use extreme temperatures.  Bed bugs cannot survive in extreme cold or hot conditions.  A common way mentioned is to use a high pressure steam cleaner to clean the infected areas.  The best way is to contact local pest control experts and find out if they provide chemical-free solutions similar to companies like ThermaPureHeat.

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