Is Your Home Shoeless? 3 Critical Reasons to Leave Shoes at the Door

As we enter the winter months and the holidays, keeping shoes out of your home can become a little more challenging. But the benefits are worth it! Removing your shoes (and encouraging your guests to do likewise) reduces the amount of toxic pollutants in your home, decreases the time and money you spend on cleaning, and promotes the development of healthier stronger feet.

Wild Mint Shop Helps Parents Avoid Toxins in Toys

This post was sponsored by Green Sisterhood. All opinions are my own.

Every holiday there are headlines about the toxic chemicals that can be found in children's toys. While some progress has been made in recent years, there are still plenty of materials to avoid. This situation presents many dilemmas for parents and gift-givers.

Let's say:

You want to purchase an open-ended well-crafted toy for a child you love, but when you browse the toy sections online or at major retailers, you can't figure out if the manufacturer uses safe materials.
Your mother-in-law is planning to buy a gift for her grandbaby, and you are worried she'll choose one you don't feel comfortable letting your baby play with and mouth.
Your child received cash as a gift that she plans to spend on a toy, and you want to guide her towards a non-toxic, sustainably-made toy without being a micromanaging negative controlling-pants.

What is the answer for all of these dilemmas?

Wild Mint

When you don't feel like spending hours researching the safety and sustainability of toys, a fabulous solution is to turn to a small trusted retailer that embraces the same values you do. For me, Wild Mint is just such a store.  Founded by a mother and daughter in 2011, Wild Mint is dedicated to providing the best non-toxic and eco-friendly products to help you build a healthier lifestyle and environment. They offer green and natural toys made of only the safest materials.

So when you want to gently nudge well-meaning friends and relatives towards non-toxic sustainable toys you would be happy to own, tell them about your new favorite online store Wild Mint. I have found that while some grandparents, uncles, and friends are happy to be given very specific gift suggestions, others really enjoy selecting a gift (and the price range of that gift) themselves. It's wonderful to be able to tell gift givers, "You know what my latest find is? The shop Wild Mint. They have so many well-made, fun toys for little ones all in one place!"

And when your child wants the joy of selecting a shiny new toy all by herself using her holiday gift money without your thinly veiled objections to most everything she sees, let her choose any of the fabulous natural toys offered by Wild Mint. You'll both be happy!

Eco-Dough by Eco-Kids

We recently had the chance to test drive one of Wild Mint's toy offerings: Eco-Dough by Eco-Kids. We've been given conventional play dough as gifts on many occasions, and I am always turned off by the weird synthetic fragrance and undisclosed ingredients. I love that Wild Mint offers an eco-friendly alternative! Eco-Dough is handmade in the US with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts. Essential oils keep the dough soft and pliable and provide a light aroma. Five colors (4 ounces each) come in their own recycled PETE plastic container with screw-top lid. My kids love the vibrant colors!  Play dough is a great toy for little and old kids alike. Our teenage babysitters love to mold objects with our 7, 5, and 3-year-old. This set would make a great gift for most any child over 2.

Wild Mint offers many other eco-friendly arts & crafts materials in addition to play dough, including natural paints, finger paints, crayons and glue. Many potentially toxic chemicals can lurk in arts & crafts products intended for children. When you shop for arts & crafts supplies at Wild Mint, you enjoy the peace of mind that the materials are toxin-free!

This holiday season, simplify toy shopping for you and your loved ones. Shop at Wild Mint! Enjoy $10 off orders over $75 with the coupon code WildMint (expires 12/3/14).

How do you avoid toxins in toys?

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5 Ways to Practice Gratitude with (or without) Kids

Gratitude: the consummate antidote to consumerism. Gratitude is also one of the keys to living a happy, meaningful life, and a trait I hope to model for and foster within my children. Ironically, difficulty and scarcity seem to inspire gratitude more than abundance, and I am often frustrated by my own children's lack of gratitude. So in my readings on happiness and mindfulness, I pay special attention to the suggestions for practicing gratitude and establishing habits of thankfulness.

November and the Thanksgiving holiday are the perfect season to focus on gratitude. Here are 5 ways to practice gratitude this month with (or without) kids.

The Gratitude Tree

We did this last year and plan to do it again this year. You can find lots of elaborate ideas on Pinterest. I chose to keep it pretty simple: I drew a tree trunk and branches on a poster, cut out leaves in fall colors, and then wrote words on the leaves. On family night, we gave each of our kids several leaves and let them glue them on the tree after writing (with our assistance if needed) something they were grateful for on each leaf. After that, I kept a little box of leaves and a marker around so they could add leaves to the tree throughout the month as they thought of new things to add.

What Do You Do When Something Breaks?

In our disposable society, the ability to repair items seems to have fallen by the wayside. But it used to be a regular part of life, back when products were higher quality, more durable, and more expensive. If you couldn't fix it yourself, you took it to someone who could. Instead of tossing a pair of shoes when there was a hole in the sole, you took it to have the sole replaced at the local shoe repair place. I remember when I was a teenager, a favorite pair of black flats got a hole in the bottom. I knew I'd never find a pair of black flats that were as comfortable as my simple worn pair. So my mom took me to the shoe repair place about a mile away from our house to get a new sole. It was the only pair of shoes I ever had repaired.

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Family's Exposure to Toxic Flame Retardants


Flame retardant chemicals are Persistent Organic Pollutants, meaning that they are toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative, and capable of long-range transport from their original source (flame retardants have been found in high concentrations in polar bears and the Inuit people). They have been linked to "cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility" (source). Fetuses and young children are particularly susceptible to their effects. They are also nearly impossible to avoid.

5 Reasons to Choose Antibiotic-free Meat

Antibiotics are routinely given to livestock as a part of their feed to promote faster growth and to prevent diseases that may result from unhealthy living conditions. In fact, an astonishing 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to animals, not people. You can limit your family's exposure to superbugs and help preserve the efficacy of antibiotics for everyone by saying no to products from animals raised with antibiotics. 

Here are 5 reasons to choose antibiotic-free animal products.

Even Meat Labeled "No Nitrates or Nitrites Added" Contains Harmful Nitrites

For those trying to avoid the cancer-linked preservatives nitrates and nitrites, I have some bad news.

All processed meats -- that's bacon, deli meat, sausages, hot dogs, pepperoni, salami -- contain nitrates and nitrites, even those natural or organic products labeled as "uncured" with "no nitrates or nitrites added." Take a look at the additional (sometimes very fine) print on your favorite "uncured" meat and you will most likely find some wording similar to the following: "no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt etc." (emphasis mine).

The Perks of Being a Regular at the Farmers Market

No matter what time of day I shop, this farmer gives me the end-of-the-day special.

Find your local farmers markets here.

I've been shopping at the same small neighborhood farmers market for about four years. Shopping at the farmers market has numerous benefits, from fresher and better tasting produce, to the welcome absence of produce stickers and high fructose corn syrup. Here are some of the perks that I get for being a regular that go above and beyond the regular benefits.

My Surrogate Garden: the Farmers Market

So here's the deal. I don't have a garden. I drool a bit over all the garden photos on The Green Phone Booth and elsewhere. I even have a Pinterest Garden board. I do aspire to having a garden, but I just don't have the mental space, time, or energy to embark on this new endeavor just yet. (If you'd like to come plant stuff in my yard for me and tell me exactly what to do afterwards, just let me know!)

But you know what I've got? I've got the farmers marketAnd oh, how I love the farmers market. I shop at one, sometimes two farmers markets every Saturday and purchase at least 90% of my family's produce there (bananas being the major exception). I kind of like to think of the farmers market as my garden. My surrogate garden, if you will. So for the last few weeks, I've been annoying my children by whipping out my smart phone to take photos at the farmers market.

Are you ready? Here are some photos of my pride and joy: my local farmers markets.

Click here to continue reading at The Green Phone Booth.


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