Babies and Kids
Conversely, people who begin learning additional languages as children tend to make a lot less mistakes common to later-learners and in addition, pick up the same languages much faster. Knowledge becomes more deeply rooted if it’s learned early, and bearing these facts in mind, one can also see why many professionals are able to trace their own passions as adults back to what they were brought up with.
With this in mind, it makes sense that the best way to instill green values in society would be to focus on the youth. That said, young kids won’t be too excited to read a dense non-fiction title on all the mistakes made by ourselves and our predecessors. They also wouldn’t be too keen on keeping up with environmental trends and gadgets. But few kids would shy away from being bought a new toy.
Our skin covers our entire body. Every day we have the option to apply lotion, sunscreen, make-up, or hundreds of other products to our skin. What we don’t know is that some of the ingredients lurking in our cabinet can be harmful or even deadly to us. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when revamping our personal care routine, so I’ve listed seven of the worst ingredients you’ll find in your cabinets.
Parabens- These are commonly seen preceded by Ethyl-, Methyl-, Propyl-, or Butyl-. Parabens are used in lotions as a preservative, but they have been connected to so many negative things that I’m amazed anyone is still comfortable using them. Parabens are known endocrine disrupters that affect the hormone balance in your body, and can interfere with fetal development. Also, they have been liked to breast cancer, and are an immuno-toxin that can cause a myriad of allergic reactions.
Polyethylene Glycol- Often shortened to PEG, Polyethylene Glycol is used in cosmetics and face washes as a cleanser or emulsifier. When given orally in large doses to rats, it can cause them to develop tumors. Some claim that this isn’t relevant because the tumors develop when it is taken orally, not when applied topically. However, the reason PEG is used in synthetic cleansers is to allow your skin to draw more moisture (or anything else it comes in contact with), into the skin. This means that whatever you come in contact with can get drawn into your skin, and eventually into your bloodstream.
Genetically Modified Organisms- Commonly seen on labels as GMO, Genetically Modified Organisms are dangerous because they have unknown risks that are just beginning to be understood by scientists. Genetically modified crops have been changed at the genetic level using E. coli or other bacteria to produce a powerful insecticide. This is supposed to kill the insects posing harm to the crop, but has been known to pose harm to any insect including Monarch butterflies and Lacewings. Due to the way crops pollinate, it is virtually impossible to contain genetically modified crops and stop them from spreading and infecting non-GMO’s. For more information on GMO’s watch the documentary The Future of Food.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate- You usually find Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in shampoos and other cleansers. This is what gives shampoo the familiar foaming action most people associate with clean. People are often shocked by the lack of foam in organic or non-SLS shampoos, even though they contain the same level of cleaning power. SLS is small enough to easily penetrate the skin, and changes skin’s structure in such a way that allows chemicals to enter deep into the skin.
Instilling green values in our children is more important now than ever before. We take the time to teach our children study habits, math, and reading, to prepare them for college. We also teach them to manage their money, and spend their allowances wisely. We do these things because we care about their future. But are we also caring for their environmental future? It is important that we not only go about our own environmental efforts, but that we teach our kids to care for the environment as well. We adults often do a good job of living up to the green ideals and values that we believe in, but all too often we fail to instill green values in our children.
Start by introducing fun activities at home that demonstrate green values or principles. There are a ton of good books out there for ideas if you need it. Below are links to four of my favorites.
- 365 Ways to Live Green For Kids: Saving the environment at Home, School, or at Play — Everyday!
- The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth
- Green Mama: The Guilt Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet
- Everything Kids’ Environment Book: Learn how you can help the environment-by getting involved at school, at home, or at play (Everything Kids Series)
There are also many websites for kids to learn more about the environment. My favorite resource for kid-friendly sites is from the National Resources Defense Council (Find it here!). They have the largest list I’ve found of fun sites for kids of all ages. I have to admit as an adult, that even I like to play around on a few of them in my spare time. There’s also a few sites listed where kids can get involved in enacting policy change by writing letters to local legislature or identify areas for change in their schools or at home.
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Adults shouldn’t have the only eco-friendly fun. Green toys and eco-friendly stuffed animals are quite common for babies and little kids, but what about the older kids? Race in a Case portable slot cars of course!
Slot cars have always been one of my favorites, and while I doubt they use that much energy to begin with, these don’t use any at all! Similar to those crank flashlights, the more you crank, the faster they go around the track. With enough racing (and cranking), maybe your kids will grow up to be professional arm wrestlers!
Seattle moms Melissa Maffei and Melissa Van Flandern both have a passion for the simplicity and beauty of modern design which is wholly apparent when you step into their children’s furnishing store Tottini. Brimming with bright colors and interesting shapes, your children will instantly fall in love with everything in the store, and you will appreciate the clean modern design.
Surrounded by fresh children’s products with sustainable green design, recycled content and modern eco-chic simplicity and materials, Tottini is the place for green kids (and their parents). Art and design take center stage at this children’s furnishings boutique, products and furnishings are well designed with clean modern lines. Most toys and furnishings are made from organic cotton, sustainable wood, bamboo and recycled plastics- but lack nothing in the fun department.
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Another great find at the Seattle Green Festival were these gorgeous handcrafted wooden toys. They are the kinds of toys your grandparents and great grandparents used to play with, each handcrafted and built to last. What was truly amazing is the craftsmanship of these toys. They are built sustainably by a small village of artisans named Channapatna in southern India that has made toys for generations, and it shows.
Fresh from Green Festival Seattle 2009 where I saw so much great stuff, i have decided to begin with some of the baby items I came across.
Drawn to the bright colors and simplicity of the designs, I could not help but love what I saw. The colors and patterns remind me of a roll of lifesavers candy, but with a European look and feel. Crafted to stretch and move with the energetic activities of young children, yet still be cute and stylish, and it’s no wonder; the companies founder Roxanne Quimby has a background in art and is well traveled.
While trying to find gifts for my ‘adopted’ nephews, I came across some adorable organic plush animals by miYim. With lead being found in several toys and all those toxins in plastics, I wanted to get back to some of those more natural toys I grew up with, and I ended up finding some that are probably a bit better. I chose baby ben, a cute raw organic cotton, naturally dyed sage green frog with overalls.
From it’s beginnings as a seed, the organic cotton used for the plush fabric and stuffing is grown without pesticides or herbicides. Because the toys are all natural, toxicity and allergy levels are greatly reduced, lessening instances of sickness or irritation. Also, there is no need to coat the fabric with chemicals; in it’s raw state, the fabric is naturally softer than regular cotton.
They use a process called PureWaterWash™ to achieve their charming colors, dying the unbleached, unprocessed, untreated cotton with nature’s own plants and minerals, including chestnut bur, clove, and gardenia seed. These contribute to its unique coloring, making each one a little bit different. I found mine at the local toy store in Downtown Seattle, Magic Mouse for $24.00, A great price to pay for such a well made and eco chic baby toy.
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