Trying To Be Greener

Safer eco-living, one day at a time

Motrin’s ad against babywearing November 17, 2008

Filed under: baby — Kirstin @ 9:06 am
Tags: , ,

The other day, Crunchy Domestic Goddess was sending out information on Twitter about a Motrin ad about babywearing.

UPDATE: Motrin has now pulled the ad but you can see it on You Tube and Crunchy Domestic Goddess has received an email from the VP of Marketing at Motrin. You can also see an article written by the New York Times today about the whole story.

Here it is in it’s entirety complements of Barb who seems to have brought it to everyone’s attention:

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.

There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.

And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.

Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.

They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.

But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?

I sure do!

These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!

I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.

Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.

And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

The other day, I wrote about my dilemma with my Baby Bjorn being difficult to use now due to my daughter’s current weight. Some baby carriers are better at different stages in your child’s life – others can go the distance. Babywearing is something by my daughter and I enjoy so I was interested in finding a new one that suited us both at this point in time.

I completely disagree with Motrin’s ad in that it downplays the benefits of babywearing and centers on the “discomfort” of the parent. As I said, finding the right carrier and wearing it properly makes all the difference – there is no need for “discomfort”. What bothers me most about the ad is that it could potentially discourage people from actually trying babywearing. But just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it’s International Babywearing Month from November 12 – 18. If you agree and find it offensive, you can let Motrin know about it here.

As an update to my babywearing post, you should know that I did buy the Ergo Baby Carrier from a great site that offers a 90 day money back guarantee – if it doesn’t work for you within 90 days, you can return it for your money back. They’ll ship it to you free (got mine in 2 days!) but if you return it, you need to pay for return shipping.

Organic Cranberry with Camel Lining

Organic Cranberry with Camel Lining

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For the holidays choose safer, natural toys November 14, 2008

Recently, I wrote about introducing my daughter to toys made of safer, natural materials. My desire has been to try to limit her exposure to lead, BPA, and phthalates, all of which are extremely harmful but even more so to small bodies.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. You can’t always rely on safe toys being sold in conventional places. Many of the products sold there contain the harmful components mentioned above. I’ve always just ended up doing research myself on individual toys and just searched for them all over the internet.

I used to feel uncomfortable about well meaning relatives and friends purchasing toys for my daughter that may not be the safest choices and with the holidays coming up, this could be a time of “plastic overload”. I found, though, that there’s an easy way around this. When asked what they can get for my daughter, I just suggest a store that has a variety of choices with a high standard for safety.

One of those stores is Natural Pod. Natural Pod is a Canadian company that was started by individuals who were just interested in finding safer toys for their own children. Their site has a variety of beautiful toys for babies, toddlers, and young children. These are toys that you’ll want to hang onto for generations to come – how often have you been able to say that about typical toys you come in contact with?

They have lovely toys for babies:

Organic Soft Block Set

Organic Soft Block Set

Stacking toys for toddlers:

Nesting Birds

Nesting Birds

Toys that inspire imagination:

Chef's Kitchen and Hutch

Chef's Kitchen and Hutch

And toys that keep your child active:

LikeaBike Forest

LikeaBike Forest

Not to mention others, like musical instruments, bath toys, arts and crafts, and dolls just to name a few.

Lucky you: Get 10% off your first order at Natural Pod when you use the code “GCM08″ through December 31st. Be sure to pass this information along to any family members who may interested in purchasing holiday toys for your little ones.

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Baby’s First Thanksgiving – Making it special November 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kirstin @ 10:25 am

Today I’m over at Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet! talking about making your baby’s first Thanksgiving meal a special one. Go on over and take a look.

Photo from Flickr by Jslander

Photo from Flickr by Jslander

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Rethinking Thanksgiving November 12, 2008

Once again, my friend Jen and fellow Eco Woman is here at Trying To Be Greener. This month, it’s all about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which means that people all across the country will soon be descending on their grocery stores with mile-long shopping lists.  Grocery stores are stocking up such items as turkeys bred for size and not flavor, boxes of instant stuffing, and cans of jellied cranberries.  Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? No, not really.

What if this year, you were to do something truly radical?  What if you were to change all or part of your Thanksgiving dinner to include more homemade foods?  AND what if you were to cook seasonally and only serve foods that are available to you this time of the year?

Hmmm… That makes things a bit more challenging, doesn’t it?

Cooking from scratch is actually less expensive than buying processed foods.  For example, a box of stuffing mix costs $3-$4, depending on what brand you buy.  Instead, you could make your own stuffing and it would taste so much better, as well as contain fewer preservatives and involve less wasteful packaging. And, instead of using instant mashed potatoes, why not cook up some russets yourself?

Homemade food — that’s the easy part.  But what about eating seasonally?

Ahh, that’s a little trickier.

I majored in American history in college and one thing that has always fascinated me is the so-called First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation, which was a simple harvest festival that was held in 1621.  (The reality is that harvest festivals and meals of thanksgiving have been held for centuries and no one knows when the first such meal occurred in what is now known as the United States.)  For their festival, the Pilgrims ate what they had available at that time of the year.  In that part of Massachusetts in 1621 those foods were:

  • fish (cod, bass, herring, eel) and seafood (clams, lobsters, mussels)
  • birds (wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge)
  • venison
  • grains (wheat flour, Indian corn and corn meal, barley)
  • vegetables (squashes, beans, and possibly peas)
  • nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, hickory nuts)
  • dried fruits (raspberries, strawberries, grapes, cherries, blueberries, gooseberries)

Hmmm, no cranberries on that list.  Or green bean casserole.  And definitely no sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

The foods that Americans now traditionally eat for Thanksgiving are actually the result of a national day of thanksgiving that Americans celebrated in 1863, and which has been celebrated annually ever since.  Again, foods that were either readily available or had been stored for the winter were eaten:  turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkins, and more.

Since that time, Thanksgiving dinner has evolved and become much more a matter of personal taste and family tradition than a meal that celebrates another successful harvest and features seasonal foods.  There are debates on the different kinds of stuffing (cornbread, chestnut, etc.) and the different ways to prepare the turkey (roasted, deep fried, and even grilled) and one’s preferences are highly personal and usually based on family traditions.

So, what about eating seasonally?

Well, that’s going to vary, depending on where you live.  For example, I live in Virginia, where cranberries would not normally be found, so I would eliminate cranberries from my meal.  (And who really eats those anyway?)  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are readily available here.  Apples are plentiful in the Old Dominion, so it would make sense to have homemade applesauce, cooked apples, and/or apple pie.   I could make a butternut squash soup, roasted acorn squash, and/or cauliflower gratin.  Late fall greens, such as collards, spinach, and even some hardy lettuces would also be possible.  Pumpkin pie would definitely be on my menu.

In short, for me, it would be incredibly easy for me to eat seasonal local foods for Thanksgiving.  I’m sure that in some regions it might be a little trickier.  But, it is possible for everyone to make at least part of the meal seasonal.

If you are interested in learning more about eating seasonally and locally, I encourage you to read Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful book Animal, Vegetable Miracle (click here for a review), which talks about her family’s year-long experiment with eating locally.  She writes honestly about the challenges and pleasures of their endeavor.  She talks about Thanksgiving, of course, and devotes a very humorous chapter to turkeys, which is we all know is the most important part of the meal.

A hot topic in recent years is heritage vs. conventional turkeys.  The typical Thanksgiving turkey is  a Broadbreasted White that has been raised on a farm, force-fed grains that are not part of their natural diet, and pumped full of antibiotics.  Broadbreasted Whites are grown for size, not flavor.  In fact, they grow so large that they cannot move themselves easily by the end of their short lives and cannot even reproduce without outside help.

Heritage turkeys are the exact opposite.

Heritage turkeys are breeds that have been around a long time — generations.  Heritage turkeys are not kept crammed into cages, nor are they stuffed full of feed and antibiotics.  They get much more exercise and have a varied diet.  Heritage turkeys take longer to reach maturity, but the resulting bird has more fat.  Fat = flavor.  If you are interested in finding out more about heritage turkeys, go to Heritage Foods USA.

Unfortunately, heritage turkeys do cost more per pound.  A lot more.   Usually, 4-5X more, which is just not feasible for a lot of people.  More budget-conscious alternatives would be to check out your farmers’ market or your organic grocery store for an organic locally-raised turkey.

So that’s the low-down on how to re-think your Thanksgiving meal.  My challenge to you is to try to make your meal more seasonal. How you do this is entirely up to you, but I hope you will make at least one change, great or small.  And, don’t forget to give thanks for the farmers who grew your potatoes, corn, and more.

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Recall of Baby Mylicon Gas Relief medication November 11, 2008

Filed under: baby — Kirstin @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

Eco Child’s Play is reporting that Johnson and Johnson is recalling 12,000 units of Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief medication due to the possibility of metal in some of the bottles. Head on over there for more information.


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Recycled Yarn for Eco Crafters

Are any of you knitters, crocheters, or generally crafty people? I’ve been knitting for about 8 years now and there’s just nothing more relaxing to me than knitting away on a cold day with a hot cup of tea next to me. That is, unless the pattern is driving me crazy with directions that make absolutely no sense.

Anyway, I was looking around at the Lion Yarn site for some patterns that my mother-in-law could use for my daughter. I always find this to be a convenient site to go to for her because Lion Yarns are easily found in many craft stores around the country.

To my great surprise, I realized that they now make a recycled yarn that’s “made from cotton fabric pieces that would otherwise be discarded when fabric is cut to produce tee-shirts”. I just love when eco-friendly products are easily available to the masses!

Lion Yarn

Lion Yarn

As a side note, web sites that I really enjoy going to for free, modern patterns are:

If you’d like some great information about how to knit or eco-knitting resources for holiday season gifts, take a look at an article from Plenty Magazine. If you know of any others great web sites for patterns or crafts, be sure to include them with your comment.

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E-Wast: A dirty little secret November 10, 2008

Did anyone see “60 Minutes” last night? They did a segment called, “The Wasteland” where they investigated recycling materials being illegally imported to a small town in Hong Kong, China. The materials are known as “e-waste”, or obsolete computers and electronics.

This “e-waste” is loaded with lead, cadmium, chromium, polyvinylchlorides, and mercury which are all known to cause brain damage, kidney disease, cancers, and mutations. Alan Hershkowits from the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that, “e-waste is the fastest growing component of the municipal waste stream world wide.” He went on to explain that we throw out 130,000 computers every day in the United States alone and we throw out 100 million cell phones per year.

A total of 43 recycling companies in the United States have been investigated by the US government for illegally importing “e-waste” to China. At a specific recycling center there, thousands of farmers work for $8.00 a day and suffer with burnt hands and lungs because of the toxic substances they come in contact with. They methods they use for extracting valuable materials, such as gold, are extremely hazardous. When asked why they continue with these jobs, they answered that the pay was good so they wont give it up. How often have we heard of other situations like this?

All of us who recycle think we’re doing the right thing, and we are. But where your carefully sorted trash goes after you hand it off is perhaps unknown – it just may be to a small town in China, polluting their land instead and harming the innocent people around it.


Photo from Flickr by Southernpixel

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A PVC-free stroller rain cover finally found! November 7, 2008

Update February 19, 2010: Orbit Baby has redesigned their strollers. The Toddler Rain Shield reviewed below has changed in shape and size due to this redesign. Please see my review of the current Orbit Baby Rain Shields to see if they will fit on your stroller or car seat.

Update to this post: See my review of Orbit Baby’s Toddler Stroller with Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 material.

Back in June, I read a study conducted by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice on PVC plastic shower curtains. The study determined that vinyl shower curtains contain toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems to the liver, central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems. The shower curtains used in the study were purchased from popular stores across the country.

What really alarmed me was summarized in a Los Angeles Times analysis stating that:

“The study found that these shower curtains contained high concentrations of phthalates and varying concentrations of organotins and that they released as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air, some of which persisted for nearly a month.”

Persisted for an entire month?!!! We shouldn’t be surprised, though. Have you ever noticed the lingering “smell” in your bathroom after you hang up a new plastic shower curtain? It’s a toxic cloud that’s permeating through your entire home. Needless to say, after reading the report, I went out and purchased a PVC-free shower curtain (100% EVA vinyl shower curtains are safer). You can find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, Macy’s, Sears, and many online sites.

Now that you have some background information, I’ll get back to my intended story. It was only about a month ago that I was out with my daughter in her stroller when it started to rain. I stopped walking, took out the plastic stroller cover provided with the stroller, and proceeded to attach it. As I did so, I immediately remembered the report as I began to fasten the PVC plastic cover on. I wouldn’t keep my daughter in a room filled with toxic chemicals – why would I encase her in a smaller and denser volume of toxic air? I took the cover off and dashed home instead, thinking a little rain would be obviously less harmful that the alternative.

And so this started my search for a PVC-free stroller rain cover. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy. It was even hard to find one online. Believe me – I literally searched for four days. There’s a happy ending to this story, though.

Just when I was about to give up, I discovered that Orbit Baby makes a PVC-free, chlorine-free, and phthalate-free rain cover for both its toddler size stroller and infant car seat. I wrote to the company and asked them to confirm this, which they did. I explained my desire to find these items for myself and my blog readers. They generously offered to send me both covers so I could see if they would work with other strollers and car seats.

Below you will find a list of strollers and car seats that were on display at my local Babies R Us this week. I fitted the Orbit covers on each one to see if they “reasonably” fit. Only a few didn’t fit, as I describe in the list below. Remember, the Orbit covers are designed specifically for Orbit equipment, so none of the strollers and car seats were a perfect fit. In all cases, some adjusting was needed, and should you try to use the Orbit stroller cover with alternative equipment, you will need to attach Velcro tabs or ties yourself to the top of the cover near the handles of the stroller (velcro tabs are already on the sides of the covers).

  • Bugaboo Frog Toddler Stroller
  • Bugaboo Bee Stroller
  • Quinny Zapp Stroller
  • Quinny Buzz 3 Wheel Stroller
  • Maxi Cosi Foray Stroller
  • Maxi Cosi Perle Stroller
  • Maclaren Techno XT Stroller
  • Maclaren Lacoste Ryder Stroller
  • Maclaren Kate Spade Ryder Stroller
  • Maclaren Lulu Guinness Stroller
  • Maclaren Quest Sport Stroller
  • Maclaren Triumph Stroller
  • Maclaren Volo Stroller
  • Chicco Cortina Stroller
  • Graco Tour DLX Travel System (without the car seat in it)
  • Graco Ipo Stroller
  • Graco Quattro Tour Stroller – Adequate fit but a bit short where the child’s feet will be
  • Graco Metro Lite Stroller
  • Baby Planet Endangered Species Stroller
  • Peg Perego Aria Stroller
  • Peg Perego Pliko P3 Stroller
  • Peg Perego Uno Stroller
  • Peg Perego Skate – NOT A GOOD FIT
  • Chicco Trevi Stroller – Adequate fit but would need long Velcro tabs or ties to keep cover in place on top
  • Chicco Cortina Stroller – Adequate fit but would need long Velcro tabs or ties to keep cover in place on top
  • Chicco Capri Stroller- Adequate fit but cover is big on this stroller
  • Combi Cosmo Ex Stroller
  • Stokke Xplory Stroller
  • Thea & Co. Wendy Bellissimo Stroller – Adequate fit but cover is large on this stroller
  • Joovy Kooper Jogging Stroller
  • Baby Trend Expedition Jogging Stroller – Adequate fit but large section of cover flops over due to shape of stroller
  • Jeep Overland Limited X Jogging Stroller – Adequate fit but large section of cover flops over due to shape of stroller
  • Kolcraft Liberty Limited Jogging Stroller – Adequate fit but large section of cover flops over due to shape of stroller
  • Baby Jogger City Mini Single Stroller – Adequate fit but large section of cover flops over due to shape of stroller
  • Baby Jogger city Classic Single Stroller –  NOT A GOOD FIT
  • Phil & Ted’s “Sport” Stroller – NOT A GOOD FIT
  • Maxi Cosi Mico Infant Car Seat
  • Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP Infant Car Seat
  • Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat
  • Infant Safe Seat Step 1 Car Seat
  • Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat

Below are some pictures I’ve taken of the stroller cover on my own Maclaren Techno XLR stroller so you can see the fit and how I made some adjustments with the added Velcro strips near the handles of the stroller.


Side view


Front zippered window on cover


Tan Velcro tabs I added - Note how cover is doubled up in this area.


Velcro tab from Orbit

Unfortunately, these covers are not available in stores that carry Orbit equipment due to the fact that they come with the strollers and car seats already. If you’re interested in purchasing the Toddler Stroller Seat Rainshield or the Infant Weather Pack (car seat cover with mosquito net), you will need to do so directly through Orbit’s website.

In addition to Orbit being aware of the dangers of PVC and providing a safer product for consumers, the company has a number of “green” initiatives:

  • Orbit has rid their supply of brominated chemicals and oil-based packaging inks.
  • The company is selective about their travel and most of their employees get to work by carpool, bicycle, public transit, or hybrid vehicles.
  • Orbit was the first business in Newark, California to request and pay for recycling.
  • They offset 100% of their electricity needs through Renewable Energy Certificates and purchase carbon offsets to fund green initiatives for the environment.

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Payless is going “green” November 6, 2008

Filed under: clothing/shoes — Kirstin @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , ,

Something I’ve always been disappointed about when it comes to being “greener” is that it often means paying more for the choices I make. Well, now there’s some good news when it comes to shoes.

Payless has announced that in April 2009, they will be launching a “green” line of 8 – 12 women’s shoes and handbags that will cost about $30.00. Shoes for children and men will follow.

Inexpensive “greener” products that are easily accessible to many? That’s music to my ears. Do you know of any other companies with inexpensive, eco-friendly clothing and shoe lines? Let us know.

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Eco Rant November 5, 2008

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I live in an apartment building. Because of this, certain things are out of my control. One of which happened yesterday. My next door neighbor’s apartment was painted – something she really didn’t want done but the law demands it every few years.

It was obvious from the very start that low or VOC-free paint was not used due to the smell that made our heads swim. Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs) are emitted gases that may have short or long term adverse health effects. Choosing a VOC-free paint will eliminate toxins from emitting into the air over time and therefore, create a safer environment for you and your family.

To make matters worse, our neighbor has asthma and tried to spend the day away from home. She still had to come home to it and spend the night with it, though, and so did we. We were given no warning that this was all going to be done.

I know there’s an economic issue here but safety should take precedent. It really bothers me when “green issues” affect us, “go wrong”,  and seem to be out of our control.

So what bothers you? Do you have a neighbor who uses chemical fertilizer or has cut down healthy trees to add on an unnecessary edition to their home? Here’s your chance to let it all out. Go ahead, we’re all listening.


Photo from Flickr by dcJohn

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