Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Washington State's New Child Safety Law - Let's get the other states onboard!

Finally, a state has passed a Children's Safe Products Act that will enable parents to make safer choices for their families.

The Washington State Department of Ecology (ECOLOGY), in consultation with the Washington State Department of Health, is developing a list of chemicals that manufacturers must report on. This list is called the Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children and currently contains 66 chemicals, though this will change as needed. Chemicals on the list have been found to be toxic (meaning they cause developmental or reproductive harm, disrupt the endocrine system, cause damage to the nervous or immune system, or cause other systemic toxicity, or cause cancer or genetic damage)and have either been found in children’s products or have been documented to be present in human tissue (blood, breast milk, etc.). This act will require manufacturers of children’s products to report if their products contain chemicals of high concern. The rule applies to companies that make children’s products like toys, cosmetics, jewelry and baby products. The largest manufacturers of products likely to be placed in a child’s mouth or on their skin, or products for children age 3 and under, must report first. Beginning in August 2012, manufacturers of children's products must report to Ecology if their products contain these chemicals.

Chemicals on this list include:
-Bisphenol A (BPA)
-Ethylene glycol
-Mercury & mercury compounds
-Antimony & Antimony compounds
-Arsenic & Arsenic compounds
-Cadmium & cadmium compounds
-Cobalt & cobalt compounds
-Vinyl Chloride (found in PVC)

Making manufacturers report the use of toxic chemicals is the first step toward finding safer choices for our children. We're hoping that other states take note and follow Washington State's lead!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Safer Choices: "Must-haves" for the Beach

We just got back from a week at the Jersey shore. We had a wonderful time thanks to some of the awesome products we took with us! When you go to the beach, take some of these must-have products with you!

I reviewed the One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Family Beach Cabana Tent before but I have a few more things to add to my "why I love it" list. I saw some other "similar" tents on the beach and in comparing them, I found some great features I never thought of before. First, the One Step Ahead version has a vented top. This is great for ventilation and also helps prevent the tent from "lifting off" on windy days. Second, it comes with plastic stakes which help secure it in the sand. Another tent I saw had metal anchors which don't seem like such a great idea: metal + water = rust! The One Step Ahead version also has two sides that fully zip closed. We were so thankful for this when we had a passing rain shower. We all huddled in our tent, closed the window flaps and zipped both sides and we stayed nice and dry (even ate a snack) during the ten minute rain storm that passed by. We've had our tent for 3 years now and it's still as good as new!

Our "house" was about 8 blocks from the beach. Doesn't sound too bad, but add in 2 small children who don't like to walk, a boogie board, beach chairs, sand toys, a lunch cooler, beach towels, our beach tent,... it is a long haul! I remember liking our Wonder Wheeler Deluxe All Terrain Cart last year but this year it was a life- saver! I don't know how we would have gotten all of our "gear" plus the children to the beach without it! One tip we've found to be helpful is to pull it rather than push it in dry sand. I was able to pull the full cart plus carry a child - a necessity for us!

We got so many compliments and "where did you get those?" on the children's Sun Smarties Zip Suits. Another "must-have" since they have SPF 50+ protection built in - no need to use sunblock except for face and hands/feet. Perfect for squirmy kids who don't want to be slathered in lotion. And it is Oko-Tex Standard 100 certified so you know there aren't any nasty chemicals in it. And right now they are on sale for $14.95 (reg. $39.95) - great deal!

We thoroughly tested our sunblock options this trip since we had mostly sunny days to enjoy. We loved the Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen (my daughter thinks it smells like jelly beans) and the California Baby Fragrance Free Sunscreen. The Goddess Garden Baby Natural Sunscreen was great for first applications but with subsequent applications, it didn't seem to rub in and left a lot of white streaking which took some rubbing to get off in the shower. We preferred the Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen Spray which didn't seem to have the same problem. All provided great protection but be sure to read the directions for when to reapply as different manufacturers have different reapplication instructions.

We stayed at the beach the entire day, so packing lunch for the kids was necessary. I used our Fuel Lunch Totes for the kids and packed them with organic snacks that were easy to eat, even with sandy hands...Revolution Foods Organic Squeezable Fruit and Ella's Kitchen Organic Fruit Smoothies, Revolution Foods Grammy Sammy Organic Sandwich Bar and Apple & Eve Organic Juice Boxes.

And of course, we couldn't live without our sand toys! Our favorite are Green Toys Sand Play Set and American Plastic Toy Sand and Water Wheel. Both brands are BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free.

So if you have an upcoming beach trip, or just want some great fun-in-the-sun gear, make sure you check out these "must-have" products!

*I have not received any compensation for or samples of the One Step Ahead, California Baby, FUEL, Green Toys, or American Plastic Toys products mentioned above. As always, these are my honest opinions based on products we have used.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Green" Dining - GIVEAWAY

I was excited to hear that Green Toys had come out with a new line of tableware for kids called Green Eats. We love their toys and couldn't wait to try their new products. We received some divided plates and some tumblers. I was happy to see that they lived up to the same quality I've come to expect from Green Toys. Not only are they BPA and Phthalate-free, they also contain no melamine and are made in the USA. All Green Toys products are made of 100% Recycled Plastic Milk containers or HDPE - high density polyethylene. This produces a safe product and also saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizes carbon footprint. What more can you ask for? I'll tell you: in addition to being safe and earth-friendly they are also dishwasher safe - a huge plus in our busy household!

The tumblers are a good size for children, but the colors - yellow, green, orange, and blue - are so vibrant that I can't help but want to use one, too.

The divided plates are divided into three sections. This is perfect for teaching portion size - the two small sections for the protein and the starch and the large section for fruits and veggies. It's never too early to teach about a healthy diet! Another huge perk is that these plates keep the food separated - great for children who don't like their foods to touch. But what's key in our book is that these are great for children, like my son, who love to throw the plate when finished. No more having to worry about broken plates!

The only thing that should be noted is that these are not safe for use in the microwave. Not really a concern for me but if it is in your home, you'll appreciate that the Green Toys products are marked on the bottom to let you know that they are not microwavable but they are dishwasher safe. I end up hand-washing so many items that aren't marked if they are "dishwasher safe" so I think that's a great feature.

Also available are plates, snack plates, bowls, snack bowls, spoons and forks, divided trays and tabletop sets (plate, bowl, and tumbler).

The verdict? Once again, Green Toys provides a product that is a safer choice for my children and yet earth friendly! Want to try them for yourself?

One lucky Safer Choices reader will WIN a a set of Grean Eats!
Here's How:

1. Head over to Green Toys and leave a comment here telling me another Green Eats product that you like. Make sure to leave your email address in the comment (used only to contact the winner).

Extra Entries (leave separate comments for each):

2. "Like" SaferChoices and Green Toys on Facebook. Leave your Facebook name in the comment.

3. Blog about this giveaway and link to and and leave the link to your post in the comment.

4. Follow Safer_Choices on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway (CAN BE RETWEETED ONCE A DAY FOR DAILY ENTRIES – Just leave the link to the tweet itself each day in the comments): Enter to #WIN Green Eats Tableware from @GreenToys on @Safer_Choices! #giveaway ends 8/31

5. Follow me on Google Friend Connect! Just click on the "Join this site with Google Friends Connect" button on the top, right side of this page (under the search box and the Facebook "Like" button).

This giveaway ends 8/31 at 11:59pm (EST). The winner will be chosen using and announced on this post. US entries only please.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back-To-School in PVC-Free Style

PVC is one of the biggest offenders on my toxic chemical list. Why? Because it's linked to a myriad of health problems including obesity, asthma, immune system damage, learning disabilities, and even cancer. During it's lifecyle (production, use, and disposal)it releases toxic chemicals including phthalates, lead, cadmium and others. These chemicals are released into the air, water, and food chain. PVC is used in everything from commercial food wrap to building supplies. There's no escaping it but when there is a safer choice - take it!

The Center for Health,Environment, and Justice just published their 2011 PVC-Free Back-to-School list. It lists PVC-free options for everything from sneakers and backpacks to clay and binders. You'll find some great tips, brands, and sources for your back-to-school needs.

Also, check out The Soft Landing for great PVC-free options for lunch boxes, bags, and more! We love their store since we know that their team has done their homework to find only BPA, PVC, and Phthalate-free products! They have some great specials and run free-shipping sales!

And stay tuned. We'll be reviewing some great PVC-free back-to-school options in the next few weeks!