The Smart Mama

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When buying sleepwear, avoid pajamas containing flame retardants, synthetic materials and pesticide laden materials. Look instead for pajamas that are snug fitting and made with natural, organic fibers.

Flame Retardants

In the United States, children’s sleepwear sized 9 months to 14 years must meet certain flammability requirements. The requirement is intended to protect children from burns.

Chemicals used on pajamas or pajama fabrics include chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, inorganic flame retardants such as antimony oxides, and phosphate-based compounds. Chlorinated and brominated flame retardants are contaminating the environment and accumulating in the human body. For example, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been linked to doing damage to the nervous and reproductive systems and impairing thyroid function. North Americans have the highest body burden of PBDEs in the world.

Source: Avoiding Flame Retardants In Cozy Children’s Pajamasby Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there have been unintended consequences linked to using these chemicals. There is growing evidence that PBDEs persist in the environment and accumulate in living organisms, as well as toxicological testing that indicates these chemicals may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity.

According to Erin Royer, owner of Snug Organics, PBDEs have been linked to damage of the thyroid, immune system, reproductive system, and liver. They disturb brain development, learning abilities, hormone function and can cause cancer, hyperactivity (ADD & ADHD), obesity, diabetes and permanent behavioral changes. These are all the same conditions that are increasing in our children today, who are the most highly exposed.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that children’s sleepwear contain flame-retardants or be snug fitting. Erin suggests that parents choose “snug fitting” due to the dangers of flame-retardants, which are added to materials during the manufacturing process in order to reduce the likelihood of a garment catching fire. Flowing nightgowns and baggy tops and bottoms have a higher chance of coming into contact with an open flame than a snug fitting pair of pajamas.

If you don’t want flame retardants, then always look for the specific key phrases “must be snug fitting” and “not flame resistant.”

Synthetics

Most children’s sleepwear is made of polyester (fleece), nylon acetate, and rayon. These fabrics begin their lives as a vat of chemicals, including petroleum. They have a prolonged landfill life, create more dependence on oil and take 40% more energy to produce than cotton. They are not breathable and block out air sometimes causing the body to overheat. These synthetics can also emit toxic gasses and are allergenic, causing respiratory disease in some cases. Polyester is plastic and will melt when heated. Synthetics must also contain flame retardants.

Pesticides

Conventional cotton is one of the most pesticide-saturated crop in the world and one of the most environmentally destructive. 90% of production involves the use of synthetic chemicals. It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to make one cotton t-shirt. 70% of conventional cotton farmers use GMO seeds and treat them with fungicides and insecticides. Synthetic fertilizers and herbicides are added to the soil to kill weeds, five of which are probable carcinogens. Aerial spraying of these chemicals drift onto farm workers, neighboring wildlife and communities. They runoff into our water, cannot be eliminated by water treatment centers, and end up in our city water systems. Residues of these chemicals have been found in human amniotic fluid, breast milk and fatty tissues. The biggest problem with non-organic cotton fabric is the finishes. Softeners and brighteners like bleach, formaldehyde, heavy metals, and ammonia are used in the finishing process of conventional cotton and a scientific link has been proven between these toxic chemicals and cancer, endocrine disruption and even reproductive disorders. Permanent press finish releases formaldehyde and no amount of washing removes permanent press.

Source: Erin Royer, owner of Snug Organics

The Healthy Children Project recommends

buying clothing, bedding and furniture made of natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, which do not melt near heat and as such do not need to contain flame-retardants.

The Environmental Working Group says,

To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, we suggest you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic Authority
Organic Authority
seeks to change the way Americans think about the word organic, washing away the grungy hippy image of the past. Their goal is to disseminate information while educating the public about the benefits of buying and choosing organic produce, meats, and products, while promoting sustainable living and an organic lifestyle. They believe that implementing small fundamental changes in the choices we make everyday will have a large impact on the future of healthy families around the world and protect Mother Earth for generations to come.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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by Wendy Gabriel

Jennifer Taggart is a mom of two, an environmental and consumer Jennifer Taggart with sonproduct attorney, a blogger and author of Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure.

How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

Basically, I try to make more sustainable choices. Being green isn’t about buying green, but more about making do with what you got. That doesn’t mean that I don’t use the power of my purse to make green choices when I shop. When shopping, I prefer to buy from companies that support sustainable principles in all aspects, not just one product line. At home, we do all the basics- turn off lights and electronics, recycle, etc. My one big thing is trying to avoid disposable plastic. We use re-usable bags for shopping, including our produce bags. I buy in bulk when I can. The kids have re-usable stainless steel containers. It doesn’t always work – my husband bought a container of plastic wrap from Costco eight years ago that we are still using because I loathe it and hardly ever use it.

Your book, Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure, should be required reading for anyone who has children in their lives. What was your impetus for writing the book?

Thank you for the recommendation! I’ve gotten a fabulous response. One reader even tweeted that she tested her home for radon after reading my book, and found elevated levels. She is getting it fixed. That’s what motivates me, helping people out. But the impetus for the book was two miscarriages before the birth of my son. Those unexplained miscarriages prompted me to consider whether anything in my environment was causing or contributing to the miscarriages. Then, after having my son, I attended a weekly new mom/breastfeeding support class. Given my background and my interests, I was routinely asked questions about how much fish was safe, or how to read information from a termite company. The facilitator asked me to teach a class on going green and non-toxic for new moms, and from that, the book just flowed. I really wanted to provide a resource with easy-to-understand information for parents and caregivers.

I recently heard you on Martha Stewart radio giving some great green cleaning advice. What is one of your favorite green cleaning tips?

I have a couple. To clean your garbage disposal (or snow cone machine), make vinegar ice cubes. Just put 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water, and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal (or put in the snow cone machine), run it and voila! The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.

To clean your microwave, just use lemon slices. Place some in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh without hormone disrupting phthalates.

Finally, my favorite is Dr. Bronner’s rose liquid castile soap and baking soda. I use this combination as a soft scrub for sinks and counter tops, and also to clean my toilet. Just mix them until you get a consistency you like. I prefer to place them in a old squeeze bottle and stir with a chop stick. If you are cleaning your toilet, just squirt under the rim and let sit. After 5 minutes or so, follow up with some vinegar and left foam. Then flush.

You recently blogged about a new regulation that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued exempting various materials from the lead content limits for children’s products in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). As an expert, what kind of clothing would you tell parents to look for to ensure that their child is not getting exposed to lead?

The CPSIA has banned lead in children’s products above 300 parts per million (ppm) and in paints and coatings above 90 ppm. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that you don’t still find children’s products with lead. Most fabrics do not have lead in them and that is why the CPSC issue the exemption for certain materials, including textiles. After testing thousands of fabrics, the only fabrics I have found with let are some synthetic felts, certain leathers and some screen prints. However, you can find lead in some buttons, rhinestones and crystals, zippers, eyelets, etc. Most of those aren’t going to result in an exposure to a child, however. Lead is also sometimes used to stabilize polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. PVC plastic must be stabilized and it is usually a metallic salt, often lead. PVC is also bad for the environment and can contain hormone disrupting phthalates. So, I always recommend that people skip PVC, which includes many fake leather items.

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As writers, we know that part of good stewardship is sharing information, but Save the World!even the most intelligent among us can not make change without DOING something.

So The Good Human & Twilight Earth, along with The Grass Stain Guru, Lighter Footstep, My Green Side, The Smart Mama, A Little Greener Every Day, Fake Plastic Fish, Allies Answers, and Natural Papa have teamed up to carry our message with one united strong voice. The message is that there are great organizations out there which are suffering in this economic downturn through decreased donations…and they need our help! So we have decided to give you, our readers, a voice and a choice. We have decided to take on a very simple fundraising mission, and we are asking you to donate just $1.00.

A single dollar; that’s all.

Who cannot afford a buck even in these times? We know you can spare a dollar to help out our fellow humans!

But how do we all decide which charities to give 100% of all monies raised to? Well, we are going to put it to a vote and let you guys decide. The 10 websites participating have chosen 5 charities for all donors to vote for, and we are going to let you guys choose which two of them will receive the all monies donated.

Our purpose in doing this is three-fold

  • It gives YOU a voice. As loyal readers and stewards of our environment, we want to offer you the opportunity to make a difference without breaking the bank.
  • It gives the two charities with the most votes some much appreciated funds to continue their mission
  • It allows all of us an opportunity to connect as a community of like-minded people working for the common good of ourselves, our families and our planet.

If the community of folks who care about our planet cannot come together to rise up to a challenge, who will? That is why we are asking you for a $1 donation. While $1 may seem insignificant all by itself, by pooling our resources together we really can make a difference in these tough economic times. $1 is less than the price of a candy bar and can usually be found under the seat cushions of your couch. Won’t you help 2 of these charities with your $1 donation? (Now, if you want to give more, please – feel free. We won’t stop you! And by all means, send this to everyone you know so we can raise even more!)

Clicking below will take you to the poll and a Paypal donation link asking you to choose which of the 5 charities your favorite is. We ask that you please donate a dollar to the charity pool if you are going to vote, and know that even if your absolute favorite does not finish first or second, all the money donated will be going to worthwhile causes. If everyone we know who reads our sites, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook sites, etc. donates just $1, imagine the impact we can have as a group. And please, spread the word!

The 5 charities that we’ve selected are Healthy Child Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, Sustainable Harvest, Kiva and Water for People.

Voting is now closed for this campaign. Thanks to all of you who participated!

Times are tough and our collective might can really help them out. The results will be tallied two weeks from today, and we will write another article detailing the amounts and the two charities who garnered the most votes and will be receiving the money collected. It’s only $1, so please donate!

Please take a moment to vote for your favorite and to donate just a single dollar to these charities.

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