Archives for October 2013

Eco Travel: Costa Rica for Families

woman in construction hard had and straps smiles as she straps on a zip lineWhen it comes to the holidays, we say go big or go home: Six major parties between now and New Year’s. But each year before it all begins, I start fantasizing about tossing in the towel and taking off for an eco travel vacation in some distant land.

This summer, my husband and I were lucky enough to pursue eco travel in the Guillones Beach region of Nosara, Costa Rica for a week, and I’m dying to go back with my kids.

The country’s affordability and safety, endless array of activities, friendly community, English-speaking locals and “pura vida” spirit—the phrase means “pure life” and is used to mean everything from “thank you” to “everything is great”—makes for a perfect eco travel destination. Here’s my recipe for the perfect family eco travel vacation. We’ll visit again, one day!  [Read more…]

Recycled Angst

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t learned about recycled trash and toxins and pesticides and global warming. It would be damned easier to keep my head in the sand.

So I was cleaning the bathroom the other day, wondering to myself how three children can make one room smell like a subway station urinal in a matter of hours, when I spied the empty toilet paper roll on the counter.

Of course, not one of my children had thought to put out more toilet paper—that would be far too much effort—nor had he or she endeavored to toss the roll into the trash can.

But as I picked it up to throw away, I stopped myself—wondering, as I do a hundred times a day, if it can be recycled. [Read more…]

Sean Penn, Environmental Paranoid?

crying newborn infant in green sweaterDoes it strike anybody else as extraordinary that not one but two major documentaries are out this year raising awareness about toxic chemicals? For years, there’s been this gentle murmuring of environmentalism that was pretty much ignored by the mainstream media, and then 2012 comes along and Sean Penn throws his weight behind one and the other trots off to Europe and wins an award at the Paris Film Festival.

I haven’t seen Sean Penn’s offering, The Human Experiment, which promises premiere information coming soon. But I’m loving the tagline, “Welcome to the lab,” as I do agree with the idea that corporate America has gone with an “innocent until proven guilty” premise when it comes to toxic chemicals. [Read more…]

Mommy Greenest Approved: Gaia Herbs PlantForce Liquid Iron

liquid iron supplement box against white backgroundMany of my friends complain that they feel drained, especially when they are having their periods. They say that they lack energy, have trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating—all symptoms of anemia, which can be caused by an iron deficiency. And although I’m no doctor, I make the same recommendation to everyone: Start taking iron.

I’ve been supplementing with iron daily for 15 years now, ever since I was first pregnant. And although menstruation is not exactly an enjoyable experience, I no longer get that totally-drained-can’t-lift-my-head kind of feeling that I had before I started taking it.

But there’s one little hitch in my prescription: Up until recently, I was getting my iron through prenatal vitamins. Taking iron as an individual supplement left me—TMI perhaps?—constipated.

And although my doctor says there’s nothing really wrong with the practice—the only downside is that prenatals fail as a calcium supplement and give me a little bit more iron and folic acid than I need—those vitamins may be missing the mark.

Enter Gaia Herbs PlantForce Liquid Iron. [Read more…]

6 Ways to Nix Pesticides at Home

yellow wine poured into glass against white backgroundWhen talking about limiting kids’ contact with pesticides, I’ve been accused of sounding like a broken record. But the reason behind my rant is so important: Pesticide exposure has been linked to asthma, allergies, neurological disorders, autism and even cancer—which is now the leading cause of death by disease for American kids.

Many people don’t know that most of our children’s pesticide exposure comes from the foods that they eat—but just one day of eating differently can completely remove many pesticides from their bodies.

And many more don’t realize that household exposure to pesticides—from pest eradication products and food—is now shown to have the same negative effects on pregnancy as cigarette smoking: lower birth weight and premature birth.

Unfortunately, just as doctors 50 years ago didn’t fault pregnant moms for smoking, today they don’t spend a lot of time talking with patients about pesticide exposure. I hope that as we all become more aware of the stakes, that too will change. [Read more…]

Easy Upcycled Halloween Crafts

three kids in costumes sticking orange balloons on a blue wall in the form of a pumpkin.I am not a crafty person. I like to DIY beauty products—as long as they’re three ingredients or less—and occasionally I post some cute craft ideas on the Mommy Greenest Loves Pinterest page, but in general my art ability is limited and I can barely sew on a button.

But because I’m hosting The Pump Station’s Great Green Halloween Play Date parties later this month, I figured I should find some Halloween crafts that are easy enough for a toddler to manage (with a little help) and also show how much fun upcycling can be!

The Pump Station’s party is part of Green Halloween, a national movement empowering parents to think bigger than imported plastic costumes and food-dye filled candy towards a holiday that’s as sustainable as it is fun. [Read more…]

Boycott Hershey for Healthy Halloween Candy

hershey's candy bars on a white backgroundIn years past, I’d wait until October 30th before I hit the market for Halloween candy. But I now know that’s a sad trick, because conventional candy is full of food dyes: Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, have all been linked to allergic reactions and behavioral problems in children.

The only way to avoid these artificial food dyes is to buy USDA certified organic foods, which are guaranteed by our government not to contain synthetic ingredients. But organic Halloween candy has traditionally been hard to find—especially the night before the big day. Not anymore! [Read more…]

Mommy Greenest Approved: Bona

bona floor cleaner grouped with mopDid you get the message about pinkwashing? It should be pretty clear by now that manufacturers who use carcinogenic chemicals can’t get away with it by slapping pretty pink ribbons on their products.

But I do love discovering companies that are doing the right thing by creating products without toxic chemicals—and walking the talk by supporting breast cancer research.

Take Bona®, for example. A world leader in hardwood floor care and maintenance for nearly 100 years, the Swedish based company relies on effective formulas that have been certified—by organizations like GREEN GUARD, among others—to create truly non-toxic cleaners. And now they’re supporting the fight against breast cancer, too. [Read more…]