Eco Back-to-School: Going PVC-free

As some of you know, before The Green Mommy was saving the planet, she was a 5th grade teacher. Every August, a few times a week, she’d go to her classroom and work hard to make it into a creative space for her new students. She was “getting greener” every year but just didn’t think of it that way — it was more like “recycling old things into new things” on the cheap! She wishes she knew more about the dangers of PVC plastic back then and how she could have helped to eliminate it from her classroom.

The Center for Health, Environment and & Justice states:

“PVC is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child’s health. What’s worse is the danger these chemicals posephthalates and other toxic additives can leach out or evaporate into the air over time posing unnecessary dangers to children. Over 90% of all phthalates are used to soften or plasticize PVC products. Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s important to purchase PVC-free school supplies.”

  • PVC products are often labeled with the word “vinyl” on the packaging
  • To identify PVC packaging, see if it has the number “3” inside it, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath it. This means the product is made out of PVC.

The Center for Health, Environments & Justice’s (CHEJ) just put out its 2010 Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies list. There you can find everything PVC-free from binders, notebooks, pencils cases, and much, much more.

But here are a few PVC-free school items The Green Mommy has always liked:

The Eco Women are not employed by any of the companies mentioned, nor were they paid to review these products.

Getting through the summer with The Green Mommy

At the moment, the temperature is 101° F outside and it’ll be the same for tomorrow. The Green Mommy really isn’t into these hot temperatures (what can I say, she’s more of an “Autumn kind of girl”) but she makes the most of it and just secretly counts down the days until some cooler weather will arrive.

Here’s a list of some handy sites to help get you through the summer months of heat, sun, and “mom, what else is there to do????” on those lazy days of summer:

Keep cool everyone!

Photo from Flickr by Tibchris

DIY “green” toys that spark the imagination

Since Girl Wonder was born two-and-a-half years ago, my “going green with baby” focus has changed with her age. First it was all about safe BPA-free baby bottles, then the same for teethers, sippy cups and unbreakable plates and cups.  The Soft Landing and Safe Mama were amazingly helpful in these areas and saved me a lot of internet searches for the safest products out there.

Right now, the focus is all about fun, fun, fun. Imaginative play is what it’s all about these days and I find myself thinking often of what I can do to make it exciting and new. The challenge is seeing if I can make it a little “green” while saving a a little “green” too.

The first thing I did was make a doll house out of a box.

Then I made a stove and oven out of an old box.

If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to make a more elaborate kitchen, try this link for some other ideas.

Afterward, I filled up her kitchen with felt food to play with. Why go for the plastic ones when you can make your own! Here’s a great list of free patterns so you can sew your own. If your sewing skills have seen better days, then have a look at Etsy where you can buy all kinds made from very crafty individuals.

Here’s a really easy one I made that anyone can do – spaghetti with sauce!

Of course, you can always recycle some containers from your own kitchen.

And let’s not forget the always popular playhouse out of an old box — who didn’t do that when they were a kid?!!! It’s pretty simple to do but if you want some instructions, try here.

My next project is a super easy, very “green” aquarium that Made By Joel posted a few weeks ago.

Check out all his ideas — they’ll keep both you and your children busy for months!

Getting arts-and-craftsy the eco-way!

The Green Mommy tries her best to be as “green” as she can be (which, believe me, does fall short sometimes – hey, no one’s perfect). But she also likes to save a penny here and there too. Her Girl Wonder is almost 2 1/2 now and she’s really into art supplies, like crayons and water colors. This made the Green Mommy think – “What else is out there to help fuel some creative, artsy juices?” She looked all over the internet and found “greener”, “safer” options over the tradtional, but many of them were costly and adding on shipping costs made them even pricier. What’s a “Frugal Green Girl” to do? Make them herself, that’s what!

Here’s some interesting links for making your own art supplies. I haven’t tried them all but they look promising. If you give any of these a try, leave a comment and let us know what you think! Some of the recipes call for food coloring. Since none of these finished products are meant to be eaten, you can use traditional ones. However, if you’d like to go a more natural route, check out this link for one and see here and here for where you can buy it.

Photo from Flickr by loves dc

Food, Inc – Do you really know what you’re eating?

Okay everyone, mark your calendars. This month, PBS is airing the documentary, Food, Inc. I’m told by friends who’ve seen it that you’ll want to start eating only food you’ve grown yourself in your backyard with heirloom seeds. Afterwards, a short documentary, Notes on Milk, will be shown.

“Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually.”

You can check your local listings for when it will be shown here. If you’re unable to catch it that day, you can watch it online from April 22 – 29, or read the book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is just as interesting and scary.

Celebrating 2 years of Eco Women: BPA-free baby products

The Eco Women are celebrating their second blog anniversary this week!  Check out our daily giveaways and leave comments to win prizes.

Just a few months before Girl Wonder was born (hard to believe that was 2 years ago!), I learned about the dangers of BPA and how it could be found in many baby bottles at the time.  I dove in, head first, and searched the internet for lists of safer baby bottle choices.

With more research, I learned that BPA can be found in other items as well, such as:

Resources are out there to help you with lists of safer baby and children’s products such as those found on The Soft LandingSafemama, and ZRecommends. In honor of our two year anniversary here at Eco Women, we’re giving away a $20.00 gift certificate to The Soft Landing to make it even a  little easier! The products offered in their store are also PVC-free and phthalate-free too.

Just leave a comment here to enter!

Tune in every day this week, as the Eco Women give away prizes to celebrate their two year blogiversary.  All giveaways are open until  8 p.m. EST on Friday, March 12.  Winners will be randomly chosen and contacted over the weekend.

The Eco Women are not employed by the companies mentioned, nor were they compensated in any way.

Going Green in the Big City

Living in Gotham City isn’t exactly what many think of as “living green”. Most of us have to travel a bit to just sit under a shady tree, 8 million of us live together in a small geographical area, and  there’s the traffic noise and car alarms to deal with. There’s plenty of ways we can try to do our part, though, and it’s not just by living live in small quarters where we make the most out of the space we’ve got.

Photo from Flickr by Barbara L. Hanson

The first thing that comes to mind is buying local, seasonal food at the green markets — they’re everywhere! Dairy, eggs, fruits and veggies, honey, bread, wine, meats, and flowers! It’s all there. You can even bring your food scraps for composting to many sites around the city. If your window sill isn’t large enough to satisfy your green thumb, you can join a community garden. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? You can always have a meal where local ingredients are on the menu. City Harvest is right there at the end of the day at many restaurants collecting food for the hungry that would normally go to waste. No need to buy bottled water here either — just look for Tap It stickers on cafes and restaurants where you can refill your own water bottle for free.

Interested in beekeeping or raising chickens? You can do that too!

Yes, there’s many vehicles on the streets but most of us do all our shopping by foot and if it’s too far to walk, there’s our amazing mass transit system that will take you all over the five boroughs by bus (some of which are hybrid) or subway. You can even get around like our messengers do by cycling through the city on our many bike lanes or routes.

We can choose “green power” and recycling is made easy in our buildings with bins. There’s even trash cans for recycling around the city for while you’re out on foot!

Photo by The Green Mommy

Let’s not forget the Public Libraries here too. With so many around the city, the book you’re looking for is bound to be at one of them so there’s no need to buy it, which really helps to save a bit of space that you really don’t have anyway!