Check Out This Month’s Green Moms Carnival: Green Back-to-School!

August 30th, 2011

For the fourth time in as many years, my friends — the Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival – have come together to share our tips on how to get ready for the back-to-school rush.

Green Moms Carnival

I hope you’ve read my post about how sometimes even Green Moms forget to Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Repurpose, and Recycle.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Head on over to Mindful Momma to read a great compilation of more than twenty posts about the green-back-to-school.

Enjoy!

– Lynn

The Fifth R….Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…and When All Else Fails…

April 3rd, 2011

With Earth Day approaching, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the 4Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

When you look at this brush, what do you see?

Baby Bottle Brush

An old baby bottle brush that should have been thrown out when baby stopped bottles?  Thrown out?!

Didn’t I mean recycled? Well, that would be nice, but unfortunately baby bottle brushes aren’t typically recycled by municipalities…they’re incinerator bound.

So how do you reuse a baby bottle brush when there are no more baby bottles?

Pass it along to someone else in the new baby stage? Sell it at a consignment shop?  Hmm…I don’t know what things are like in your neck of the woods, but here in Bethesda, the odds of a new Mom buying a used baby bottle brush are just about…nil. Although it’s easy to sanitize a baby bottle brush, used baby bottle brushes just don’t pass the ick test…

So here’s where the 5th R comes in to play….Repurposing….

The Fifth R...Repurposing

After all, when the babies are grown, there’s much more time to kick back and enjoy a glass of wine!

What have you repurposed lately?

Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

 

 

A Day In The Life: When Advocating for Green Is Easier Than Being Green

June 19th, 2010

I was amused last week when I saw these tweets from a California conference. “Green is Mainstream.”  “It’s not a differentiator.” “It’s just what everyone does.”

Really? Maybe I need another trip to California. (But of course, that wouldn’t be too green.)

For this month’s Green Moms’ Carnival, Beth of Fake Plastic Fish challenged the Green Moms to write about a “Day in the Life,” reflecting on the “green steps we take as well as the green challenges we face and the hard decisions we have to make.”

As luck would have it, I chose a day that ended up revealing a sad truth: sometimes it’s easier to advocate for green than to be green. Does that make me a hypocrite? Or does it just show how much more work we have to do before being green in Maryland is as easy as being green in California?

But back to my day….It was Wednesday, June 9th, cloudy and overcast, and threatening showers as I closed the front door. I was heading out  to the Bethesda Green Incubator, where my business is located. I was on time (mindful that running late invariably results in taking the car instead of walking), ready for an easy 15 minute walk.

But I hesitated.

The sky was dark. What if it rained? I  had my laptop, after all. I wouldn’t want that to get soaked, would I? I debated. I thought about Beth. I thought about the Carnival. I thought about water seeping through my bag, damaging my laptop. The minutes crept away. I was on the verge of being late. I took the car. It’s not a Hybrid.  It consumes oil, the very kind that’s seeping into the Gulf.

BG entrancephoto

At the Incubator, I walked out to our model-green reception area to meet Ariana Kelly, a Moms Rising advocate and candidate for the Maryland State House.

I told her the Bethesda Green story: how the community came together – business, government, and residents – to take on volunteer projects to make our community more sustainable. I pointed out the cork floors, the low VoC paints, the rain barrel displays, the permaculture exhibit, specimen seed library, and solar panels.

Then we walked across the street for lunch (so far, so good) and ate a lunch that assuredly was not sustainable. (After all, when it’s sustainably raised seafood they charge more for it and advertise it as such, don’t they?)  At least our conversation was green. We talked about all that Maryland was doing with B Corp legislation and the BPA ban, and the Bethesda Green Business Delegation that met in Annapolis recently.

The Bethesda Green Delegation was sure to snap a pic of Bethesda's own Honest Tea on the steps of the State Capitol

Then I ran out to retrieve my car, soon discovering the day’s first stroke of Bad Green Karma. A parking ticket.I should have walked. Not a drop of rain fell from the sky. And now I owed $40. My lunch had suddenly became quite expensive.

Later that afternoon, I picked Boo up from preschool, wincing as he carried some Pepperidge Farm goldfish in a plastic cup out the door. Every day, I dutifully packed reusable containers. Couldn’t they be used to pack up snacks?, I wondered. Must remember to bring that up to the teachers, I thought, as I dashed out the door to my car  (yet again). After all, we had to hurry to make it to the CSA pick-up, and then on to the end-of-year  Cub Scout picnic.

Soon, I stood at the CSA, hurriedly weighing  the fresh-picked biodynamic and organic produce. Scallions? Check. Apples? Natch.  Radishes, swiss chard, kale, fresh-baked bread, lettuce, they all went into my re-usable bag.

csascalephoto

I heard Boo fussing, and asked him to be patient and wait for Mommy.   I was in a hurry, after all, and there were four people behind me, waiting to use the scale.

Then I heard it.

CRASH.

Tiny bits of crushed Pepperidge Farm goldfish – all over the pristine garage  floor of the CSA. Ev eryone froze, looked at Boo, and then looked at me. I sighed and said, “That’s what happens when you dare to bring Pepperidge Farm goldfish to a biodynamic CSA. God strikes you down.”

After the laughter died down, a broom appeared, everything was swept up, and we were off on our way to the picnic.

I was in such a hurry, I didn’t bother to check directions before I left the house. And my in-car navigator (Big Boy) wasn’t with me….he had left ahead of time with his friends and their Mom. So I overshot the park. Sat, idling (burning more of that fuel) in front of an apartment building 1 /4 mile from the turn-off for the park, frantically navigating my iPhone, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.

(Maybe at this point I should mention my DH was on Day Seven of an extended business trip. The one where he gets to hang out in a castle by the Mediterranean Sea. And I was spent from playing Single Mom for a week).

sardeniaIMG00006-20090603-1224sardenia

Finally, we arrived at the picnic, eager to partake in the festivities. I frowned at the hot dogs and hamburgers, thinking of the heavy burden conventional farming techniques, especially those used to rear cattle and pork, place on our ecosystem. I helped myself to some salad, trying to ignore Boo’s pleas for a hotdog or hamburger, before finally giving in. Their father, the committed vegetarian, was out of town. And we so rarely had meat. They even had a grill! I ended up eating some myself.

waterphoto

But the bottled water? That was just beyond the pale. I hurried out to my car to retrieve my stainless steel water bottle. At least I had remembered that! When I returned, my friend smirked and asked me to look closely at the bottled water. They weren’t drinking water, she said.

wine in waterbottlephoto

I burst out laughing. Cub Scout parents surreptitiously drinking wine from empty water bottles? It brought back memories of alcohol snuck into parties when I was under-age. It was too funny. I had to have some! (Just on general principle!) But how? I only had my water bottle, and Boo needed some water. My not-so-green friend eyed me, amusedly. She knew exactly the calculation I was making.

“I’m not touching those plastic bottles!” I hissed.

I asked Boo if he wanted some more water.

“No, I’m fine,” he told me.

“Drink up, “ I urged. “There won’t be any more water.”

“I’M FINE!!!”

I dumped the rest of the water out of my re-usable water bottle and smiled contentedly as her husband filled it part way with the red wine. It wasn’t that good, actually, but it was the absurdity of the situation that made it worthwhile.

wineincanisterphoto

“Mama, can I have some more water?”

That’s when I gave up and opened one of those darn plastic water bottles.

(And made a mental note to see if we couldn’t procure some large water jugs for the next Cub Scout picnic.)

And decided that I had more than enough material for a  decent “Day in the Life” post.

Easy to be green? Maybe in California. But not where I live.

What about you?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

A First Look at What the New Safe Chemicals Act May Mean for Parents: It Won’t Be an Immediate Panacea

April 15th, 2010

This morning, the Safe Chemicals Act,  long awaited legislation to reform the nation’s outdated chemicals law, The Toxic Substances Control Act, was introduced in Congress. This came in response to years of lobbying by environmental health watchdogs like the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition; Healthy Child, Healthy World , The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and The Environmental Working Group; physicians like Dr. Alan Greene; authors like Stacy Malkin of “Not Just a Pretty Face,”  Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse, Jennifer Taggert of The Smart Mama’s Green Guide, and Nena Baker of “The Body Toxic,” and yes, activists like Moms Rising and bloggers like my Green Moms Carnival friends.

It was just a year ago this month that the Green Moms Carnival bloggers were  taken to task by the chemical lobby and others for our “hysterical” reaction to finding out that our favorite baby bath products contained probable human carcinogens.  Some of us, like Sommer of Green and Clean Mom, who hosted the Toxic Tub Carnival, were even attacked by other Mom bloggers for being so rude as to question those companies that market baby products with 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde.

But in the end, all of our probing, phone calling, and blogging contributed to the consumer outrage that led retailers to pull BPA-tainted products and state legislators to restrict the use of harmful chemicals in common everyday items. Now,  with today’s introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act, we are a huge step closer to an even safer marketplace.

But don’t celebrate just yet – this bill’s not a panacea. I still foresee the most diligent among us dutifully consulting databases to figure out which products are safe to buy. Incredible, isn’t it?  That’s because the bill regulates the EPA, not the FDA – which regulates 1,4 dioxane, as J&J explains on their website.   And because the bill doesn’t mandate that the EPA look at multiple exposures, as the esteemed National Academy of Sciences has recommended. It just “allows” it to do so.

But for those of us who are still waiting for our simple questions about chemical reform to be answered? Well, today we got some answers. Here’s what I asked and here is the response from Dr. Alan Greene, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford School of Medicine, author, Raising Baby Green (and every green Mom’s favorite twitter buddy):

OrganicMania: “My readers are particularly interested in probable carcinogenic  compounds like 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde which are commonly used in infant and childrens  baths. Given that there are  80,000 chemicals in the market today – and some of them – like asbestos – are very directly linked to deaths, how likely do you think it is that specific action will be taken against the use of 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde in terms of being classified as most dangerous?”

Dr. Greene “1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde  would meet a a number of the criteria for prioritization. A safety determination will be made early in the process relative to 1,4 dioxane.  Formaldehyde might also get expedited action.”

At that point, Dr. Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, noted that the FDA has jurisdication over formaldehyde, not the EPA. (But I knew this, thanks to  The Smart Mama.)     As Dr. Denison put it,  “EPA must have authority and the  mandate to look at all uses of chemicals under another agency’s jurisdiction.”

I then went on to ask about multiple, cumulative exposures. Because how are those little babies being exposed to neurotoxins? Its likely through the chemical-laden creams, lotions and potions that the average American woman slathers over her body every day. And as The Smart Mama has blogged, the industry would like us to believe that “just a little bit of carcinogen is okay.

How to tackle that issue? It’s far trickier.  As Maureen Swanson of the  Learning Disabilities Association of America, said, “We would like to see strengthened language that would direct the EPA to go by the National Academy of Science’s   recommendation on looking more closely at cumulative exposures. It is mentioned in the bill, but they are not directed to adopt those recommendations.  How do we enact real reform to make a real difference in our products and in our health risks?..I totally agree..there are a lot of different chemicals which can interfere with the thyroid, and the thyroid gland impacts brain development. It is essential to work on the science, to get stronger language directing EPA to use those recommendations, and to make clear that both versions of the bill define the safety standard and to require they at least take into account aggregate and cumulative exposures. “

Dr. Greene then jumped in to explain, “It’s left to the EPA to flesh out, and there’s no immediate change on that because there’s not science to deal with it {multiple cumulative exposures}. But by requiring the EPA to take those factors into account, we have a structure that moves us forward far beyond where we are now.”

So what can you do?

First, support this bill. It’s the best we’ve got, and it’s the best we’ll get.  Pay attention to the debate raging in the mainstream media and at action sites like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the Environmental Working Group’s Kid-Safe Blog, and Healthy Child, Healthy World.

And remember, as you start talking up the Safe Chemicals Act, don’t let anyone accuse you of being a hysterical mom. Or you’ll have to answer to:

Tiffany of Nature Moms Jennifer of The Green Parent, Beth of Fake Plastic Fish Katy from Non-Toxic Kids, Micaela from Mindfull Momma, Alicia from The Soft LandingAnna from Green Talk , Christine Gardner of moregreenmomsAlline of Passion for Green Business , Diane from Big Green Purse and one of Glamour Magazine’s 70 Eco Heros,  Jess from The Green Phone Booth,   MaryAnne   at EcoChild’s Play and Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Karen from Best of Mother Earth, Katherine from the Safe Mama, Sommer of Green and Clean Mom, Jennifer aka The Smart Mama, and of course, me, Lynn from OrganicMania.

Oh, J&J? No need to answer those questions now. I got my answers today.

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Walmart Knows What’s Best for Us Green Moms. Right?

October 14th, 2009

As a child, my mother used to drag me out to endless open houses. It was fun to look at the gorgeous new homes for sale and to dream. But invariably, we would laugh. She’d point to a kitchen door that was too far from a countertop, or a window that was ill placed, or a closet that was too small, and say with a loud HUMPPH, “Must have been a man that designed this house. They have no idea how we women live.”

My mother’s  words came back to me when I learned from my friend, the green blogger  Mary Hunt of In Women We Trust that  Walmart is developing its new sustainability index without ANY consumer input.    What’s more, they’re charging companies $250,000 to participate in the process of setting the standards. They’re even charging to attend webinars to learn how the index works!

sams-choice-fair-trade-organic-coffee

Pictured: Sam’s Club Fair Trade Coffee for sale at Walmart.  Cheapest price I’ve ever seen for Fair Trade coffee!

Some of you might be thinking, “Who cares?” Most of my friends don’t shop at Walmart. In fact, most actively avoid the place. I recall a “Green Moms” dinner once where only two of us had even tread foot inside a Walmart.  But as I’ve blogged herehere, and here, I actually do shop in Walmart from time to time, and I’ve eagerly cheered them on as they’ve stocked more fair trade, USDA organic, and eco-friendly items.   After all, as Walmart goes, in large part, so goes Middle America. And this is why Walmart’s Sustainability Index is so critical to all of us.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

By virtue of its sheer size, Walmart’s standards will become the de-facto standards for all products. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying at Walmart or your local corner store. If your favorite products are carried at Walmart – and this includes green favorites like Clorox GreenWorks, Horizon USDA Organic milk, most major organic jarred baby food brands,  and many other household brands – your product will be designed to meet Walmart’s standards. Their standard will of necessity become our standard, because the manufacturers will (rightly so) insist that they can’t meet multiple standards. They’ll choose one standard to meet, and if Walmart insists on a Sustainability Index before the US Government mandates one, well….you can guess whose standard will become the de-facto standard of the land.

Others who pooh pooh the need for consumer input might reason, “Well,  the companies know what consumers want, don’t they?”  Hmm…if all companies knew what mattered most to consumers, all companies would be fabulously successful with amazing, defect-free, safe, functional products.

So Walmart, if you decide you do want consumer input, we’re happy to give it. Just don’t charge us for the privilege, please.

And to hear what other members of the Green Moms Carnival are saying about Walmart’s Sustainability Index and its impact on consumers, please check out Mary Hunt’s blog, In Women We Trust, where she hosts this month’s Green Moms Carnival on Sustainable Standards: What’s the Consumer’s Opinion?

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Update – 10/28/11  Since I wrote this post, Walmart has updated its site with links to both the Sustainability Index webinar (which you can watch for free) and a PDF of the Supplier Sustainability Index. — Lynn

Green Giveaway: Waste-Free Lunch Box by Citizen Pip and 15% off Kids Konserve

August 24th, 2009

Kindra, you are the winner of the Citizen Pip lunch kit! I used random.org to generate a winning number, which was #2 (comment #2). I’ve emailed you separately, please get back in touch with your mailing address and let us know which kit you’d like. You can contact me at organicmania at gmail dot com. Thanks to everyone for participating, and thanks to Citizen Pip for the donation of their “muck free” lunch kit! —Lynn

After a trip to Target today, I realized I’m not the only one still shopping for eco-friendly back to school supplies!  This year I got off a lot easier than last year – “just $50!,” but I wasn’t stocking up on backpacks or lunch boxes because we’re reusing last year’s, as I blogged here.

soup2nuts3_415

I don’t normally do giveaways – they take time and I’d rather do other things with my time, frankly! But after blogging about “How to Pack a Cheap and Easy Waste Free Lunch”, the “Challenges of Going Green in the Schools” and my son’s Camp Eco-Challenge, I realized that purchasing a “waste-free lunch system” is just one more expense that many would rather avoid.  So when Citizen Pip and Kids Konserve reached out to me, I figured what the heck, let’s give a giveaway and a discount code a go!

So if you are in need of a lead-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, and BPA-free waste-free lunch box that’s pretty darn cute,  you may be in luck!  Just leave a comment here telling me you’d like to win  Citizen Pip’s waste-free lunch system, and share your  best tip for a healthy lunch treat to pack for the kids. A winner will be randomly selected by midnight Saturday, August 29th and I’ll post the winner’s name here at OrganicMania.

kk-43_moss_thermos-copy

And if that’s not right up your alley,  you can get 15% off the cost of any Kids Konserve waste-free reusable lunch kits  and food-grade stainless steel containers  by using coupon code OrganicMania. (Valid until 9/30/09). Check it out here.

Kellie of Greenhab: The Browns Go Green wrote a great review of both the Kids Konserve and the Citizen Pip systems – so you can figure out which you’d prefer.

Since I haven’t seen either system, here’s the deal:  if you win, promise that you’ll send me an email or leave a comment with your thoughts – your own mini-review!

And if you just want to re-use last year’s box but need more containers, because of course those darn lids always get lost? Guess what? I found the Gerber ones I use on sale today at the Rockville, Maryland Target – four for $4.71! photo6

What are you doing for a healthy and waste-free lunch this year? Let’s make every day waste-free lunch day, not just once a week!  I was shocked by a statistic Kids Konserve shared with me – “the amount of trash produced by one child’s lunch alone creates 67 pounds of landfill waste in a school year!”

Kindra, you are the winner of the Citizen Pip lunch kit! I used random.org to generate a winning number, which was #2 (comment #2). I’ve emailed you separately, please get back in touch with your mailing address and let us know which kit you’d like. You can contact me at organicmania at gmail dot com. Thanks to everyone for participating, and thanks to Citizen Pip for the donation of their “muck free” lunch kit! —Lynn

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Green Schools: Five Lessons Learned the Hard Way

August 9th, 2009

Editor’s Note: This post is for the Green Moms Carnival on Green Schools, which will appear here at OrganicMania on Tuesday,   August 11th. There will be great contributions from green women bloggers from all around the country, weighing in on green schools – from nursery school to college!

It seems like just yesterday that I squeezed into a seat at the kid-size cafeteria tables at my son’s new elementary school. I was there to participate in my very first PTA meeting, and while I was interested in many of the things going on at the school, what I really wanted to learn about were the school’s environmental initiatives. I wanted to get involved in the Green Committee.

Imagine my surprise when the PTA leadership didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. They invited me to become involved with the committee that watered the trees over the summer. Oh, and they  really wanted some help with a children’s garden.

waste-free-photo

But I’m not much of a gardener. I may feel green, but my plants are brown. I wanted to focus on environmental issues like substituting  conventional school cleaning products with more environmentally friendly options;  introducing  waste-free lunches; eliminating the throw-away styrofoam trays used in our lunchroom;   replacing Sally Foster fundraisers with more eco-friendly options; and stopping the Cheap Plastic Crap giveaways used at school fundraisers.  And that was just for starters! Then I could see moving on to including walkable schools in our County and State Carbon Reduction Programs, retrofitting the school with solar or wind power, and more…

I think the other committee members went into overload just listening to my wish list.   Our principal suggested that the new parents hold back and watch and learn what went on at the school instead of jumping in with a million new directions.  So I did what comes unnaturally to this Jersey girl: I shut my mouth.

After the meeting, several other of the incoming parents approached me and said they understood and supported what I was proposing, and would be glad to help. The problem was that no one wanted to lead the effort. No one could seem to find the time.  I agreed to co-chair a committee, but soon found that coordinating with a co-chair and getting the committee off the ground fell by the wayside as I focused more of my energy on work, home, family, other volunteer work,  OrganicMania, and the Green Moms Carnival.

I blogged a bit about my Green Mom Culture Shock during this time and how I was Dealing with the Schools: Coping as  a Green Mom…but then I went all quiet on you. Didn’t say too much about what was going on…

So did we make progress this last school year? Yes, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I did learn a few lessons, though, which I’m happy to share with other eager parents as they seek to navigate the new world of PTAs and public schools.  What about you? What’s worked for you? Please leave a message and share, because the new school year is about to start up and  we can all learn from each others’ experiences.  What’s worked for you as you’ve sought to green your school?

Lesson #1: Meet People Where They Are

Only months after that first meeting did I learn that the existing gardening committee had plenty of “greenies” involved who would have been happy to take on many of the other issues I proposed.  And had I volunteered first with that committee, proved myself, and learned how things worked at the school, our Green Committee probably would have had more impact.

Lesson #2 Get Support from Area Non-Profits

Through the Green  Schools committee of my town’s sustainable communities initiative, Bethesda Green, I learned that the Audobon Society’s Green Schools Initiative was  trying to reduce waste at my son’s school.   Several of the other committee members were from my son’s school, and we were encouraged us to go back and try again with the Green Committee, or just to do things on our own as we could fit them in.  The woman who led the charge? Probably the busiest one among us – she has triplets!

Lesson #3 Seek out Liked Minded Allies in the School Early On

Through the Green Schools committee, I met a teacher from my son’s school.  She was able to shed some light on mysteries like WHY the class buying lists contained so many plastic items, and how to get that changed for the next school year.

She was also able to explain that there were a bunch of different Green initiatives going on at school that would have more reach and impact if they were coordinated. Coincidentally, I heard the same thing from the PTA president at that time.  Soon we were able to get things a bit better organized, and on much sounder footing for this coming school year.

Having friends “on the inside” of the school really helps!

Lesson #4 Connect with other Local Schools and Learn  What’s Worked There

Some of the other schools here in Bethesda, Maryland  have had far greater participation in their “Waste-Free Wednesday” lunch campaigns than we did with ours. It may just take time for new ideas to take root, but  it would  have been ideal if we could have touched base with the green leaders at our town’s other schools to see how they achieved so much success.  Thanks to our community-wide Green Schools initiative, we’ll be connecting with those other green school leaders soon.

Lesson #5 Propose Well Thought-Out Alternatives

It’s not enough to say, “Get rid of the traditional school fundraising programs and  all of the “stuff” that they push on people!”   When well established fund raising programs are bringing in $20K or so for the PTA, you’ve got to have a plan to replace that money.  There are many new green school fundraising programs emerging, but how much money are schools actually making from these programs?  That’s one question I haven’t yet been able to answer to our PTA’s satisfaction.   (Perhaps a kind reader  will leave a comment here with that information!)

What about you? What’s worked and what hasn’t worked as you’ve sought to “green” your neighborhood schools?  Please leave  comment and share!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

World Environment Day

June 4th, 2009

It seems like Earth Day was just yesterday, but here we are at World Environment Day, which falls on every June 5th.  The focus of this year’s United Nations – sponsored event is climate change.

What can you do?

How about planting a tree?

The UN is kicking off a campaign which aims to plant 7 billion trees, one for every person on the planet, by 2010.

Too tired to plant? Too wet outside? (It’s been raining for days here in DC!)

You’re not off the hook that easily!

You can plant your trees virtually.     The campaign’s Twitter account is trying to reach 10,000 followers by Friday midnight. The UNEP will plant one tree for every follower at http://twitter.com/UNEPandYou. (As of this writing, they were short by several thousand, so try to give them a hand!)

And then there’s Mokugift, which has a beautiful interface you can access either from its IPhone app or from its website.  Through Mokugift and a simple $1 donation, you can plant trees in 12 African, Asian or Central American countries. And they’ve just  launched a new partnership with artists and athletes, which you can check out here.

So take a few minutes and plant a tree for World Environment Day – all from your iPhone or computer!

This post is part of a special “mini” Green Moms Carnival hosted by The Smart Mama. Head on over and take a look at a round-up of  great posts about World Environment Day and World Oceans Day!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Thank You, Anonymous Leaker. Now What?

June 2nd, 2009

Thank you to whomever had the gumption to send the now infamous Bisphenol A (BPA)  meeting notes over to The Washington Post.  Notes that exposed discussion about  developing  a  PR plan to restore BPA’s luster and to block  proposed bans on the controversial chemical.  BPA is used in the linings of canned foods and beverages in the US, yet has been linked in numerous independent studies to  myriad health concerns such as endocrine disruption, cancer, diabetes and heart disease (as I’ve previously blogged  here.)  (You can read the meeting  notes from the Cosmos Club discussions with  Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Del Monte, Crown, the American Chemistry Council, the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations here at the Environmental Working Group’s website.)

There’s nothing unusual about industry insiders sitting down to craft an image campaign to bolster a failing product’s allure.  These steps outlined in the memo are standard marketing tactics:   Fund a consumer perception study. Craft some new messages. Find a marketable spokesperson (in this case a pregnant woman).

But was is unusual is this: for a chemical that is supposed to be so safe,  why do the notes show no discussion about the overlooked benefits of BPA? If the problem truly is “perception,” why didn’t the participants spend their time talking about the key points supporting their position that BPA is safe? And why did someone feel compelled to leak the notes if everything truly was on the up-and-up?

According to the notes, the accuracy of which were verifed by a NAMPA spokesperson in The Post article, the attendees spent their time discussing budget ($500,000 for the campaign) and tactics. Funny thing is, they’ve already had a big PR firm, Stanton Communications, representing them. According to O’Dwyers, Stanton also represents The Formaledehyde Council, coincidentally the same group that left snarky comments on  Mom blogs after we blogged about the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’  Toxic Tub report.

Now, in this recession, in this town, $500,000 is a lot of money for PR work.  NAMPA and its allies can secure the finest communications council  DC has to offer for that princely sum.  But according NAMPA’s  website,  Stanton already reported  in February that “In just the first four weeks of 2009, more than 150 articles have been published in various trade, environmental, health, and consumer media. While the specific content of the articles has varied, the underlying message is the same — BPA found in plastic products and metal cans is harmful to people and should be avoided or eliminated. .. . This underscores the need for swift and consistent response to articles as they appear, to set the record straight on BPA, specifically in relation to its critical usage in metal packaged food and beverage products.”

In NAMPA’s response to The Post story, also posted on their website, they state,  ”The use of BPA-based epoxy liners in metal food and beverage cans serves a critical function by preventing a myriad of contaminants from penetrating into the food, affording longer shelf life and significant nutrition, convenience, and economy. Unfortunately, the one-sided reporting so commonplace in the media has left consumers to conclude that rather than preventing health impacts, the epoxy liner itself causes problems because it contains infinitesimal amounts of BPA.”

So is this their entire defense?   BPA prevents contamination from penetrating into food and it’s approved by the FDA. NAMPA appears to imply that we should ignore advice such as this one issued on May 21st from  Harvard’s School of Public HealthWith increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the authors believe further research is needed on the effect of BPA on infants and on reproductive disorders and on breast cancer in adults.”

Hmmm…how do they sell Coke in Japan? The Japanese, who banned BPA, must have found a suitable alternative that does not contaminate the food supply. And while it’s true that BPA is not banned in Europe, it’s also true that countries around the world are reviewing their laws. From NAMPA’s own May e-newsletter I read “NAMPA has learned that the Danish Parliament has proposed a law to ban BPA in baby bottles and other consumer products.  The proposal acknowledges the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) approval of the use of BPA in 2008, but dismisses this finding and indicates its
unsuccessful efforts to have EFSA apply more severe rules governing BPA.”

Here’s an offer. When NAMPA gets its act together, I’d love to talk to their new high-priced  PR firm to get answers to my questions. I’m sure I could get some other Mom bloggers to join me, those who’ve just posted their own reactions to the specter of a pregnant woman hawking BPA products:   The Smart Mama,    Green and Clean Mom, Nature Moms,     Safe MamaNon Toxic Kids, The Soft Landing, Jenn Savedge of Mother Nature Network and The Green Parent,   Retro Housewife Goes Green , and Leslie aka La Mama Naturale over at Eco Childs Play.  How about a blogger conference call?

To round it out, let’s invite Consumer Reports too – as their blog says, “We have repeatedly called for BPA to be banned from food and beverage containers, and for the government to take immediate action to protect infants and children from BPA exposure. Some manufacturers and retailers have already begun removing BPA from their products. We hope that more will follow that example rather than relying on cynical public relations gimmicks.”

What do you think? Leave a comment and share.

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Gardening with the Green Moms: Talk About Stress Relief!

May 28th, 2009

boo-w-watercanphoto

Did this photo make you smile? Admittedly, I’m biased since that’s my “Baby Boo,” but how could it not make you smile?

That’s one of the greatest things about gardening (and children). They bring us so many smiles. And when our lives are full of the hectic everyday busyness that is modern life, plus the unexpected curve balls that life lobs at you every now and then, well, who couldn’t use some stress relief?

Want to know how to get started with your spring garden? Check out a round-up of great gardening posts from the Green Moms Carnival over at Green and Clean Mom. My own post about recycled seed starter pots was belatedly added to the carnival after its launch, because I was …well…stressed out dealing with child advocacy and green advocacy issues; an elderly, sick mother; stitches for Baby Boo; and the everyday craziness that all of us face as parents.

Have you started a garden yet? It’s not too late! Leave a comment and share!

And if you just can’t get around to it this year, take a walk and go enjoy someone else’s garden!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009 .