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.

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!

Future Predictions on Bamboo and Bamboozling Customers

August 2, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Guest Posts, News, Products

February of this year marked a significant landmark in the natural products market, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) decided to crack down and companies, big and small, who claimed to sell bamboo products. What they found was discouraging. Almost every large retailer and many small ones as well who sold ‘bamboo’ products were actually selling rayon…similar to polyester. So why did bamboo get so big? How did these companies get away with selling something cheap and synthetic? And, Where is the bamboo, aka cash cow of the green market, going?

The Popularity of Bamboo

Bamboo is considered a miracle worker. With anti-microbial properties that are supposed to help keep things clean many people flocked to it as the next big thing since cotton. It is also remarkable soft, and most times cheap. People consider it a ‘renewable’ fabric because bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants that we harvest.

Bamboozled Rayon

So how did companies substitute the glorified bamboo for rayon? They don’t know! Or so they claim. The FTC sued and issued warnings to a large number of companies, the majority of which claim innocence. But as we examined earlier, is it really fair for companies to sell us something they know nothing about? How safe can the rest of their products and product claims really be? Turns out many of the companies, through diluted supply chains across the World lost the bamboo memo. Since rayon is an even cheaper alternative and the FTC rarely if ever acts in this way toward booming new market products, many either claim innocence or decided to play the waiting game. Since such a large number of companies were caught not selling bamboo, even companies whose name started with ‘Bamboo’ many hid behind the lawsuit as “one of many’ and none have apologized publicly for their false advertising (and selling) of the next eco-wonder product. (You can find a list and more information about the lawsuit in Patrick’s article)

Bamboo’s not so Renewable Future

Since the majority of bamboo comes from Southeast Asia, the regulatory bodies and systems are significantly different than in North America and Europe. Bamboo grown non-organically is harvested in areas that used to be forest (read: slash and burn is taking up speed in Southeast Asia) as a monoculture. Question: How sustainable can a system such as this be? Answer: It won’t last long, and not long without severe internal Country conflicts. In countries where illegal wildlife trading still runs rampant, governments tend to crumble, and many people have been left in bizarre and unnatural living conditions due to wars and conflicts how certain can we be about the stability of the market? How about the safety, ethics, and social implications of this unregulated supply chain?

My prediction is that bamboo is going to have to get a little safer, a little more organic, and a lot more ‘whole systems’ renewable before it is truly classified as a green product in the near future. When journalists start investigating, and the regulatory bodies in developed nations catch up to the extreme harvesting methods in developing nations, who will invest in (and trust) this product?

Organic cotton has been through the ringer. We have done extensive research on the most eco-friendly ways to grow, harvest, and transport cotton. Studies comparing organic cotton to conventional cotton are plentiful, and just how to go about growing cotton organically are available with the click of a google search. Bamboo on the other hand is still a mystery. There are pro-active companies out there that are addressing the organic issue, the fair sourcing and trade issue, and other mix-ups, so this isn’t a one size fits all…but as far as the big wigs in business goes, unfortunately you will find them on the FTC warning list.

So check out the list of companies written up by the FTC, see if they have been proactive in solving this supply chain issue, and then decide for yourself if the invest in bamboo is worth it. It may take some time for the information train to catch up on this one, but if you follow Southeast Asia’s development, regulatory bodies in the natural markets industries, or consumer trends…you just may have an idea of your own on how this one will play out.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Get Ionizied for Cleaning

July 27, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Guest Posts, Products

Meet the Ionator. With one spray, your average tap water becomes a charged cleaning agent ready to take on lotion, grease, and bacteria anywhere in your home or office.


Work it, baby, work it.

Simply fill the bottom with tap water, click it into place and you are ready for some heavy duty cleaning! You shoot the water out like a spray gun, then rub down the surface with a microfiber cloth (preferably) and Viola! Clean as a whistle. So how does it work? When you shoot the spray it runs through an area that electrically charges the water. Next, it is “ionized” meaning it goes through an ion exchange membrane that results in positively and negatively charged nanobubbles. Then once the water squirts out, it lifts dirt up (a la ions…kind of) just like a positive and negative magnet. Then your towel enters the picture, wipes away the water that has attracted all the dirt to keep those surfaces looking and actually being clean. Now what about those icky germs? This ionized water kills 99.9% of harmful germs when applied correctly. How about that? No chemicals that are harsh on us and our environment, just plan old ionized water to the rescue.

Don’t Believe Me? Ask Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

Now the ins and outs of nanobubbles, ionization, and dirt and water being mangnetically attracted to one another may be a stretch for most of us. So let Bill Nye, The Science Guy, help de-mystify how it works. He made an excellent video that goes into perfect scientific detail (for grade school students…smart grade school students that is) on just how this contraption works. Its so cool, you may find yourself watching the whole video just to learn more!

What’ll it Cost Me?

Well, take two major things into account. First, this will replace almost all of your other household cleaners for about 5 years. Second, this is new technology so just like the first iPod, it will cost you a little bit more. One Ionator runs for under $200 in the U.S. with most retailers coming in around $170. Now think off the variety of toxic products you buy to clean your house. The ones that claim to “Kill 99.9% of All Bacteria”, now take out these toxic products and replace them with this single machine that can do all of their jobs without threatening your respiratory health. If you have kids or pets at home, this green product can help keep everyone safe, especially during fragile developmental stages.

All in all this is a really unique product. I have witnessed its cleaning magic and tested it to the max: note that it does not remove 20 year old adhesives or mysterious carpet stains; also note that the water tastes delicious, and was even able to clean up thick body lotion. A Minnesota-based eco-retail store, Moss Envy, uses this throughout their entire store to clean shelves, products, clean up messes left behind by the little ones, and remove grease from stainless steel. So get activated, get ionated, and find out what this product can do for you!

Can a Swooner Create a Sustainable Brand?

July 23, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Guest Posts, Products

Who has donated nearly $300 million dollars to charities since 1982 with a foolproof eco-investment? The same gentleman who stunned us in The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money. That’s right Paul Newman, Founder of Newman’s Own. This movie star from Shaker Heights, Ohio truly believed in investing in people and making a difference. Not wowed by the consumerism across Hollywood, Newman created Newman’s Own food company along with the Newman’s Own Foundation. Since 1982, he has donated every cent of post-tax profit and royalties to charity, now that’s social entrepreneurship and investment at its best!

The company is truly one in a million when it comes to this type of success and philanthropy. Newman’s philosophy was all his own, with disregard for market and economic conventions. His original vision was to create some salad dressings in antique wine bottles with handmade labels and see what happened. Expecting a loss in financials but a rise in creativity, Newman dug in, and so did the American consumer. Shocked by their success, they stayed true to their mission of ‘good food’ leaving the additives and fillers out of their dressings and food products.

Then in 1993, Newman’s daughter, Nell, created Newman’s Own Organics with the slogan “Great Tasting Products That Happen to Be Organic.” But don’t let this casual motto underplay their dedication and great work in the field of organic food. Branching into its own company in 2000, Newman’s Own Organics is certified by Oregon Tilth and the majority of products are kosher. Their products have expanded from food, dressings, and snack foods to also include their own line of pet food.

Similar to the Slow Money Movement, Newman’s Own is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit can raise up again and again to create a more simple and just system for business economics. Monetary profits are the only thing that make a difference in the success of a business, and for Newman’s Own their donation of all post-tax profits are exactly what keep them in business.

So next time you slop on Newman’s Own dressing, know that you are helping support charities and an ethical business model simply by eating good food. Not such a bad deal, eh?

Smooth Sailing through Upcycling

July 22, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Guest Posts, Products

Red at night, Sailors Delight
Red in the morning, Sailors take Warning

What they don’t tell you is that if the sail becomes irrepairable, the UK is right there to reuse it and upcycle it! The Company Wightsails handmakes each product from bags to room dividers and windblocks on the Isle of Wight. Similar to GorillaSacks for Billboards, Wightsails is focused on reusing and closing the loop through the creation of one of a kind products. You can request specific colors and they will do the best to match your vision. You can even recycle your old sails through them! So ship’s ahoy and sail through their innovative and beautiful designs online.

This is the first I have heard of them, and they really are quite beautiful!

Unplugging Your Electronics With Power Strip

July 21, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Products, Quick Saving Tips

One of the most wasteful things in our home is to leave electronic devices plugged in while they are not in use.  Commonly referred to as Vampire Power, this type of waste increases so many people’s electric bills unnecessarily.  Unplugging each individual electronic device can be tedious and make it difficult to remember that all of your electronic devices are unplugged.

Using a simple power strip for your most popular electronic devices can make the task much less painful.  All you have to do is switch off the power on the strip and each device is as good as unplugged.  There are even power strips like the Smart Strip that even will automatically stop the current from going to electronics when they are turned off.   By making the small investment, you can probably recoup the cost within a few months of use.

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