Ask Kroger to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Family's Food



Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and their partners have been working on a campaign called Mind the Store for nearly a year. I love the Mind the Store campaign, because while we certainly need and should continue to seek governmental action on toxic chemicals, the regulatory and legislative process can at times be painfully slow and disappointingly political. #MindtheStore is a fabulous way for consumers to directly demand quick action from businesses, who will in turn have a stake in pressuring the government to adopt meaningful reform. In response to the efforts of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and pressure from everyday consumers like you, big retailers like Walmart and Target have developed their own comprehensive policies to screen out over 1,000 chemicals in products on their store shelves.

Yet Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States and one of the largest worldwide, with over 3,500 stores and sales of over $98 billion, still doesn’t have a policy to screen out and eliminate toxic chemicals in their products. Yet we especially need grocery stores to keep toxic chemicals out of the products they sell. Recent studies show that food packaging is a primary route of exposure to dangerous toxins such as phthalates. Another study published earlier this year found 175 different toxic chemicals in materials that come into contact with food.

15 Favorite Children's Christmas Books



Growing up my mom always put out a big basket of children's books about Christmas and the holidays during December. Now with my own children we count down to Christmas by unwrapping and reading a beloved children's book about Christmas each night, some from the library and some from our own collection. (As a former elementary school teacher, I've always had a soft spot for children's books, and always keep my eyes open for Christmas ones at thrift stores and library sales.)

Here are 15 of our favorites. Many of these are out of print but easily obtained from your local library or used online. I have noted as "secular" the books that do not assume a belief in Jesus Christ for those who celebrate a nonreligious Christmas.

The Perfect Eco-Gift for Everyone on Your List



Still searching for the perfect gift for that special someone? Wild Mint Shop has everything you need whether you are shopping for your spouse, toddler, mother-in-law, or a favorite teacher.

Click here to read about nine fabulous products (selected by me!) from Wild Mint Shop -- there's something for everyone on your list!

Disclosure: I was compensated to be a blog ambassador for Wild Mint during December. Eco-novice loves working with and supporting small eco-friendly businesses!

5 Ways to Avoid Toxic Styrofoam


Polystyrene Causes Cancer and Messes with Your Hormones!

Styrofoam and other polystyrene plastics have been enjoying a bit of notoriety this year. Earlier this year styrene (the building block of polystyrene) was finally listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Research Council, a designation long fought by the styrene industry. More recently polystyrene, the primary building block of expanded polystyrene foam (a.k.a. styrofoam*) and other plastics, was found to seep estrogen when exposed to heat and UV light. That styrofoam takeout container isn't just carcinogenic. It's messing with your hormones too!

Bad for You, Bad for the Earth

In addition to causing detrimental human health effects, polystyrene products have numerous detrimental effects on the environment. The polystyrene manufacturing process creates large amounts of liquid, solid, and gaseous hazardous waste. Styrene plastic products are almost never recycleable and will persist for hundreds of years in landfills.

Foam litter is notoriously difficult to control. Polystyrene foam breaks apart easily and its lightness allows it to be readily dispersed by the wind, which is especially problematic and expensive for cities that need to limit trash in waterways. In California, styrofoam accounts for 15% of storm drain litter and is the second-most-common type of beach debris. It is also frequently mistaken for food by animals and seabirds. Due to these issues, dozens of cities have banned expanded polystyrene foam all together.

Eventually, I'd love to see this toxic plastic banned everywhere, but until then, here are some ways you can keep polystyrene's toxic chemicals out of your body and the environment.

November's Green Good News



Sometimes being green is a downer. You can't buy this, you don't want your kids to eat that, you go ahead and use this but you can't help but think about the toxic whatsit it contains, and don't even get me started on climate change! While I'm a full believer in knowledge, transparency, and facing the cold hard facts, our brains pay more attention to the negative, and in the high stakes world of carcinogenic toxic chemicals and slow-motion planetary suicide the doom and gloom can become downright paralyzing! So here is some green good news for y'all. If you enjoy this post, please leave a comment. I'm thinking of making it a monthly series.


Uncommon tactics (DentonRC.com)

How Texas activists beat the well-financed oil and gas industry to pass a fracking ban. By far my favorite story, and proof that ingenuity and wit can trump money in politics! Let's all take a page from their play book, shall we?
"A behind-the-scenes look at the anti-fracking campaign reveals how a relatively tiny group of combatants relied on creative tactics and political gimmickry to outmaneuver pro-fracking forces that outspent them 10-to-1. Their arsenal included puppet shows, flash mob-style improvisational dances and coffin races...The strategy worked. Voters approved the ban 59 percent to 41."

Click here to continue reading at The Green Phone Booth


photo credit: marcusjroberts via photopin cc

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.
-OR-
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.
-OR-
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


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

© Depositphotos.com/alenkasm

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.

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