Spring “Breakin” the rules at the Amusement Park.

As part of our Spring Break ritual, we spent yesterday at an annual indoor amusement park and yes, we were breakin’ rules!

no-food-or-drinkEvery single one of the two dozen entrance doors had a huge sign screaming “NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR BEVERAGES!”  I entered prepared for battle knowing that, below the stroller, we had four stainless steel bottles filled with water, and healthy snacks, including bananas, cereal bars, crackers and raisins.

We were immediate approached by a security guard that needed to see inside my purse and survey the goods.  While my purse “passed” I was expecting a ‘flag’ on the rest of it.  When he took a look under the stroller, he didn’t flinch at the bottles!  (Wheww!)  The other bag held the snacks and my cameras and when he asked to see inside I hoped to just pull out the cameras and be done with it, but I grabbed the whole bunch of bananas and pulled them out instead! (Oops!)  WHAT made me think a bunch of bananas was a camera, I’ll never know, but the security guard just smiled and said “that’s fine.”

It was such a relief that we weren’t sent back to our car for simply trying to make healthy choices during our visit, but this isn’t always the case.  Last summer we were nearly cast out of a children’s amuconcession-2sement park for bringing our own food. Our choices of food (to buy) included everything from chick’n nuggets and fries, to cotton candy and ice cream, but not a single, solitary, healthy choice in the whole joint.  Staff approached us as we all ate yogurt and told us to “thrown it away or get out”!  I was livid, but we tossed them (to avoid ruining our kids’ day) but I actually went to battle on that one and later emailed the management (even suggesting healthy foods that had a long shelf life).  Their reply?  “We’ve tried. No one wants that.”

Could I really be the only parent who wants to have healthier options when we visit amusements parks and other “kid activities”?  I don’t think so (and don’t get me wrong… I do allow treats!), but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be ANY choice other than those disgusting processed, fried, fatty or sugar-dripping foods.

Suddenly it doesn’t become so much a “green” matter of recycling, organic foods, eco-friendly serveware or avoiding bottled water, but how NOT to give them a smorgasbord of things I don’t feel really guilty about later.

Been there?  I’d love to know if you have a solution… or are you simply a “rule breaker” too? 🙂

Do our kids pay the highest “price” for pesticides?

The more I read and research, the more uneasy I become with the dangers that lurk in our (seemingly) healthiest food sources… especially where our kids are concerned.

pesticidesI’ve talked about produce, the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15”, and shared what I’ve learned about organic vs. non-organic milk, but what does it all really mean?  Well, it means A LOT when it comes to our children… even more than I originally realized.

We know that pesticides are used in farming to protect crops from damage.  We also know that pesticides can contribute to cancer, lung disease and reproductive problems, but our little ones (especially) are being put at risk.

Consider these three important facts:

  • Research has shown that pesticides can also change brain chemistry, leading to behavioral disorders and learning disabilities, as well as nervous system damage.
  • Children absorb pesticides more easily and their bodies have a harder time breaking them down.
  • Pesticides can actually block the absorption of nutrients (so while you’re forcing down the broccoli, the nutrients aren’t getting through).

Those three things are reason enough for concern. So what do we do?  Well, consider these actions:

  1. buy organic for the high-risk produce and anything your child consumes a lot of.produce
  2. soak, scrub and/or peel the other produce to decrease the pesticides.
  3. buy local – produce that requires lengthy transportation to reach the markets often have POST-harvest pesticides added too!
  4. purchase fruits and veggies in season – if they’re not, they often come from another hemisphere and will contain even MORE pesticides.
  5. eat a variety of fruits & veggies to avoid excessive consumption of the same pesticides.

There are days when I would like to put our kids in a plastic bubble to protect them (but then, of course, the plastic from the bubble would be bad for the environment!) so I just need to use what I know, put it into everyday actions and protect those precious little bodies.

Spend Earth Day with Disneynature’s “Earth” (+ giveaway!)

earth

(This giveaway is now closed for entries… congratulations “Marisa”!)

Last year was the first time we really participated in Earth Day.  We planted a small tree in our yard (that shortly thereafter became a deer’s lunch… but at least we tried!), read some books about the Earth and had an eco-friendly dinner complete with some dirt for dessert (don’t call the authorities – it was just the dessert that LOOKS like dirt!)earth-elephants

This year I was so excited to learn that Disneynature is premiering its first film, Earth, on Earth Day, April 22, 2009.  The trailer looks just incredible.  Narrated by James Earl Jones, this film tells the remarkable story of three animal families and their amazing journey across the planet we all call home.  Earth combines rare action, unimaginable scale and impossible locations by capturing the most intimate moments of our planet’s wildest and most elusive creatures.  In fact, it’s directed by the same creative team behind the Planet Earth series (that we love!).

To make this an even more impactful event, Disneynature will also plant a tree in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (the most endangered rain forest in the world), in honor of every moviegoer who sees the film in its opening week.  If a weekday viewing isn’t possible, you can plan for the weekend too, and still make a difference!

canvas-toteTo top off this great effort, Disneynature has also offered a giveaway to a Mom Goes Green reader.  This Earth-branded package (valued at $60) includes a canvas tote, a biodegradable tumbler, a fleece blanket and a tree seedling (that hopes NOT to become a lunch!).  To enter this contest, just leave a comment and tell me how you will spend Earth Day this year. You can also send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog or write about this giveaway and link back.earth-whales

A random winner will be selected one week from today’s post (US residents only, please… sorry!)

So plan your Earth Day activities, schedule a viewing of Earth and enter to win… all in celebration of this great planet we share!

Are you keeping up with “The Greens”?

I’ve never been someone who loses sleep over “keeping up with the Joneses”… or “The Greens”, for that matter!  I’ve made that perfectly clear when I admitted that I have gnarly trees in my yard (that I refuse to cut down) and how 42-19599600my lawn is not nearly as pristine as the one next door since we’ve stopped chemically fertilizing and weed killing and refuse to clear our backyard of trees so the lawn can be greener!

But what if you WERE compared to your neighbors?  What if your utility company said you “weren’t being as green as your neighbors”?  What if you got a letter, with a frowning face, that said you were being wasteful?  GASP!  Who me?

As crazy as that sounds, it’s actually happening.  Utility companies in some cities, including Sacramento, CA, and Austin, MN, are sending homeowners assessments of their energy consusmiley-not-facemption that compare them to neighbors with like-sized homes and energy supplies.  If you rank lower than average, you get a “smiley face”… if not, a big “frowny face!”  And amazingly, it’s working.  They are actually seeing a reduction in energy use by those who receive a dreaded negative rating!

smiley-faceI really think I would go nuts if I found out my “tree chopping” neighbor consumed less energy than me.  Sure there are a lot of factors to consider, but still!… it lends itself to the whole psychology of being compared to someone else, and that just might light a bigger “green” fire under me! I would consider it a huge challenge to keep up with the “smiley face” neighbors!

So where do you think you would rate? Would you want to know?

How to take back 67 pounds of trash.

Back at the beginning of the school year, I talked about my mission to eliminate the trash that our daughter could potentially generate from her lunches during the course of the school year… 67 pounds of it, in fact!

kids-konserve-2167 pounds is truly the estimated annual weight of lunchtime trash generated by the typical child.  When you think about all of those disposable “things” (the drink containers, single-serving foods, wraps, napkins) it’s really not surprising.

While I did plenty of shopping to find all of the perfect items (mostly in blazing pink, because our girl is a girly-girl!) I have discovered a solution that could have saved me all of the hassle (and CO2 emissions from on-going shopping!) It’s a product from a great company called Kids Konserve.  Their Waste-Free Lunch Kit has everything you need:  a recycled cotton lunch bag, a stainless steel bottle, two stainless steel food containers, a food cozy (for wrapping foods) and a cloth napkin!  The stainless steel components give you peace of mind too, so you don’t have to worry about all of those horrible chemicals leaching into the foods!  And it’s super cute to boot!  I wish I had discovered this a lot sooner!

And although the school year is in the homestretch, they don’t need to be just for school lunches… they’re perfect for picnics, playdates, travel or anything on-the-go, AND Earth Day is just around the corner, so this is the ideal time to make this change.

In celebration of Earth Day, Kids Konserve is also offering all of my buddies a 10% discount on any purchase, now until April 30, 2009.  (Just enter: mgoesgreen at checkout.)  And when you think about all of the wraps, napkins and single-use food containers you WON’T have to buy now, you’re going to save a lot of money in the long run!… (you can thank me later!)

So, while you can’t actually “take back” 67 pounds of trash, now you know a simple way to prevent it!