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Understanding Bisphenol A (BPA): Plastic Chemical Now Linked to Obesity

As most informed parents are aware, BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical to stay far away from. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines BPA as a chemical used “in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers” and can be found in some metal cans due to the epoxy resins as well.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration conducted a study on BPA and discovered that the chemical can leach out of plastic when heated (this is why you should always microwave food items in glass or microwave-safe ceramic containers!). Further tests have even linked BPA to a potential cause of cancer, diabetes, and infertility, though unfortunately, the effects are still too vague to truly deem the chemical as harmful enough to be eliminated from use in manufacturing.

Recently, BPA has been banned from baby bottles, but one frightening statistic makes me think it isn’t enough. According to Healthy Child Healthy World, “A survey conducted through the Centers of Disease Control found BPA in the urine of 93% of Americans. And our children have the highest levels.” Therefore, health conscious moms and dads should choose to opt for BPA free products in its entirety since the effects are still mostly unknown.

More recent studies have even linked BPA to an increased risk of obesity. Obviously poor diet and lack of exercise are the main contributing factors, but the association in itself is concerning. Particularly when it comes to our children, a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children exposed to high levels of BPA “are five times more likely to be obese than children with low levels.”

Again, the effects of BPA at this point are still not totally understood. But, to be safe, I would highly recommend looking for products (for you and baby) that claim to be BPA-free – that most definitely includes any sort of plastic toys that your little one might enjoy!

For more information on how to approach your infant’s exposure to BPA, visit HHS.gov.

Defining Organic Food

Within the past decade or so, the emphasis on our health and the environment in which we live has increased tremendously. This shift in our world view is absolutely necessary and a welcome change to many – including myself-, yet it can be confusing. We are constantly exposed to terms like all-natural and organic, but do we really know what they mean?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has worked diligently to increase awareness of what “organic” is and how organic food can be upheld. The National Organic Program (NOP) specifically deals with this matter under the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The NOP defines organic as “a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster recycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”

Simple enough, right?

Okay, maybe not… In short, the term ‘organic’ loosely represents the avoidance of man-made alterations. It is simply natural and conducive to preserving the environment, just the way it has always been, and arguably the way it always should be. No radiation. No pesticides. No harmful chemicals. However, when we wind up in the grocery aisle with tons of marketing phrases leaping out at us, it can cause a lot of confusion. From organic to all-natural to 100% organic, it’s extremely overwhelming to figure out what means what.

Thankfully, in 2000, the USDA established their rulings on the use of the term “organic” on food labels. A company claiming their product classifies in one of the below categories is subject to approval by a certified third party accredited by the USDA.

“100% Organic” – Products deemed 100% organic must contain exactly that, only organic ingredients. This product is allowed to display the USDA Organic Seal.

“Organic” - Products labeled as organic must contain at least 95% organic materials. This title may also display the USDA Organic Seal.

“Made with Organic Ingredients” - This title is given to products that contain between 70-95% organic ingredients.

Anything less than 70% may not be called organic. If falsified, a producer could face a lawsuit as well as a large fine.

For more information on how to decipher what “organic” means, visit the USDA.

For even more on organic foods – from what foods to invest in and what organic foods you can skip – read Buying Organic 101.

 

Lunch with a Dash of Eco-Friendly

Lunchbox is to child as statement jewelry is to women. It makes all the difference. What makes more of a difference though, especially to the environment, is what’s inside that lunchbox. From sandwiches to goldfish to grapes, it’s convenient to place everything in plastic baggies and call it a day. It’s even more convenient to dispose of them rather than deal with the clean-up. However, the environmental impact is great, and with just a teensy bit of extra care, you can truly make a difference.

Whether your bring your lunch to work, pack a lunchbox for your child, or use plastic baggies for snacks on the run, have you ever stopped to consider just how many of those plastic baggies you’ve used and disposed of over the years?

Plastic baggies may seem inexpensive, but they eventually add up-both in your bank account and in landfills.  Save your money and help save our planet. Choose reusable containers instead. For your little one, consider the Boon Snack Ball for a fun and eco-friendly spin on a snack container or the Bento Lunchbox 2.0, which comes with a lunchbox and multiple containers that fit snugly inside!

Happy America Recycles Day!

November 15th is America Recycles Day! Do you recycle enough? Do your kids know about recycling? Take a moment to reflect and think about your recycling habits and how they can improve. Teach your children at a young age that it is important to recycle, so that they will know the value of it as they get older.

Sometimes it can be a hassle, but the effort it takes is well worth it in keeping reusable items out of landfills. According to America Recycles Day “Tip of the Day”, “you don’t need to rinse out your glass bottles and jars before recycling!” How cool is that?!  Though sign-up is more than likely too late this year, see what events are going on in your area today to spread awareness on the importance of recycling!  If nothing else, go through your soon-to-be-trashed items today and teach your children what items can and cannot be recycled.  You’ll help the environment and get to spend some quality time with your kids!

BabyEarth prides itself in carrying a number of eco-friendly products and items made from recycled elements.  Not to mention, we offer our own recycling program, BabyEarthRENEW, for those hard-to-recycle baby items.  To learn more, read Eco-Friendly Ways to Recycle Baby Gear. Go green and play a role in saving the environment by making the effort to recycle. Let’s do our part to make this world the best it can be!

Happy America Recycles Day!

The Great Diaper Debacle: Disposable vs. Organic Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have come a long way from when my siblings and I were born.  I remember my mom had stacks of white cloth diapers and a bunch of diaper pins, some with duckies on them and some without.  I remember the plastic pants, and the awful smell of the diaper pail. I cannot imagine how she ever got done washing cloth diapers and still had any energy left to deal with us.  I know my daughter goes through about eight or so diapers a day now, but when she was a newborn it was more like a full dozen.  How do you keep up with that pace?

As my husband and I were recently watching the hit TV show Shark Tank, we saw a woman, Tereson Dupuy, presenting her cloth diaper line, FuzziBunz®.  Part of her shtick relied on a huge pile of garbage bags allegedly filled with the amount of disposable diapers (roughly $2,500 worth, according to some studies!) that it would take to diaper a child until potty training was successfully achieved.  The number of trash bags and the overwhelming amount of space it took up in the studio was astounding!

According to a study by the Women’s Environmental Network, disposable diapers account for the third largest single consumer item to fill up our planet’s landfills.  With the number of births every year, it seems only a matter of time until our planet is overcome by consumer waste.

Organic cloth diapers offer many benefits to consumers, their infants, and the planet in general.  Diaper rash, leakage, and consumer waste all diminish with the use of cloth diapers.  Though seemingly pricey at first, parents also find great cost savings, as disposable diapers can cost as much as $25 a week or more per family.  Organic cloth diapers also do not expose your baby’s delicate bottom to any chemicals, such as artificial fragrances, deodorizers, and wetness indicators.  Cloth diapering also allows you to stay on top of your baby’s diapering needs without having to run out to the store to buy another pack or box of diapers.  If you’re looking for organic options, check out our store for diapers and accessories.

Of course, this does mean you may have to do the laundry a little more often…but won’t it be worth it knowing you are saving the planet and your baby’s bum, all in one shot?  To keep your organic cloth diapers the cleanest they can be, check out bumGenius Diaper Sprayer or Rockin’ Green’s laundry detergent.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Ways to Recycle Baby Gear

As a new or expectant parent, it may be hard to imagine that one day you’ll have to pack away the baby gear.  Inevitably that bittersweet day will come when that teeny onesie is a thing of the past, and gasp!, perhaps a bike is in the near future for one of your tykes.  So what to do with all the stuff?  Consider these three eco-friendly ways to eliminate waste:

  BabyEarth.  An eco-friendly baby retailer, we want to help you help the world!  If you’re unfamiliar, allow us to introduce you to the BabyEarthRENEW program.  It’s a hassle-free way of recycling those tricky baby items you have no idea what to do with.  Keep items such as strollers and car seats out of the landfill so you can feel good about playing a role in saving the environment!

  Loved Twice.  This non-profit organization works to spread the love and clothe newborn babies in need.  Keep a onesie (or seven) as a keepsake and pass on the rest!

  The Freecycle Network.  Spread among 85 countries, this non-profit works to keep items out of landfills by allowing people to donate items for reuse.  Separated by region, it’s a convenient way to go green.

There are many more recycling programs available.  Do your part to help others in need as well as the earth!

 

Eco-Friendly DIY Recipes

It’s no secret, BabyEarth promotes eco-friendly options because we believe that natural products are what’s best for baby, the environment, and you.  Just as important as it is to care for baby with all-natural ingredients, it’s important to treat yourselves to eco-friendly care as well!

We saw this list compiled by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and simply had to share.  If you are looking to revamp your beauty regimen with easy, eco-friendly DIY options, check out their list of all-natural recipes.  Chocolate face mask, anyone?

Green Living

Always on the prowl for green products for my home, I stumbled across this the other day and felt obligated to share.  WebMD Health has teamed up with Healthy Child Healthy World in creating this awesome virtual tour guide of your home to shed light on how to keep you and your loved ones happy and healthy-without the toxins!  This is a must-read for anyone looking for eco-friendly options to keep your family safe and healthy.  I mean, who knew TV dust particles could be dangerous?  Check it out here!

Buying Organic 101

Ever find that an intentionally quick grocery trip has turned into an hour long affair?  If you are anything like me, shopping for produce can be overwhelming.  Cue scene:  I am staring at two apples, seemingly the same in size and weight, but differing in price-one is organic, the other is not, all the while trying to stay out of the way of fellow shoppers while maintaining eyesight of my cart…wait, where is my cart?!?  Anyways, I’m on a budget, so I should go for the latter…but then I hear that little voice inside me (actually, make that my mother’s voice) scolding me that health should be the number one concern.  Five minutes later and my eyes have glazed over in confusion, and not with the kind of glaze I like on my doughnuts (but that is an entirely different matter!).

On a serious note, buying organic and healthy ingredients, especially for your little one, is extremely important.  With so many options out there, it’s difficult to decide what’s best for us and our families, particularly with new research indicating going organic is not all that it is cracked up to be.  However, as a basic rule-of-thumb, steer clear of the “Dirty Dozen” as annually published by the Environmental Working Group.  The “Dirty Dozen” are the most pesticide-ridden foods, so if your debating on which items to buy organic and which items to buy for less, take a look at the lists below.

Here’s a list of the 12 foods you absolutely should buy organic, aka the “Dirty Dozen”:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes

EWG also added a “Dirty Dozen Plus” list including

  • Green Beans
  • Kale/collard greens

The good news?  Glad you asked!  Here is their list of the “Clean 15″ to potentially save you money on your next grocery trip!

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

Buying organic is a personal choice and one issue that is not yet totally understood.  Fortunately for us, the sacred watermelon snack of summer’s past and future can still be a worry-free option!

Happy Shopping! :)

 

Sources:  Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org and The Salt: NPR, www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt