Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Little Radiant Green Munchkins

Kids are far too important to devote only one installment to them. So here’s another.

I just picked up Adria Vasil’s very informative book Ecoholic, which is hot off the press. Her ‘guide to the most environmentally friendly information, products’, etc. is based on her column in Toronto’s Now Magazine. The book is Canada-focused, which is refreshing since I haven’t seen a book like it produced in this country.

Some of the findings of which she writes will make your jaw drop.

The question is this, how do we protect our little ones from the toxic soup that is infiltrating everything? And with that said, how do we protect ourselves?

The toxic landscape that we’ve inherited is a formidable hurdle to overcome, but there are choices that you can make to reduce chemicals in our bodies.

The Nasty Stats or first the bad news:
Are you ready for this…?

A recent study conducted by the Centres of Disease Control in the USA found that children have higher levels of heavy metals and phthalates (used to soften plastic and a known hormone disruptor) in their bodies than adults. Why more? According to Adria, kids “have more absorbent skin surface for their size than adults and can’t eliminate chemicals from their systems as well [as adults].”

Environmental Defense in Canada found an average 23 chemicals in the children they tested. The toxins include carcinogens (which cause cancer), hormone disruptors, respiratory toxins and neurotoxins. The toxins were traced back to chemicals found in furniture, carpets, clothing, fast food wrappers, insecticides and coatings on frying pans.

PCB and DDT are also showing up in kids’ bodies, even though these toxins have been banned for years.

Even umbilical cords have been tested. The Washington-based Environmental Working Group tested ten cords, finding 287 industrial chemicals overall, the majority of which are known carcinogens and neurotoxins, and have caused birth defects in animals.

Since the 1980s, childhood cancer is up 21% and asthma up four times.

Happy Alternatives
While toxins will live in our bodies, perhaps for the rest of our lives (sorry), we can make choices now to reduce this load not only for ourselves and children but for the generations to come.

For baby lotions, avoid the ones that carry petroleum-based substances. That’s about all of the conventional stuff out there. A good rule of thumb is to anything that contains a name that doesn’t sound normal. The exception is talcum powder. Perfectly normal, just don’t use it. Why? It plays havoc on the lungs and can contain asbestos. Try cornstarch, rice starch or arrowroot powder as an alternative.

To find out what products to use and those to avoid, visit:

Skin Deep, by the Environmental Working Group

Guide to Less Toxic Products, by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia

Baby Bottles
According to Adria, the nipples of standard baby bottles may contain low levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines. I don’t know what this is. I do know that I want it far away from me…and babies.

Replace with clear silicone nipples. Also avoid bottles made of polycarbonate plastic (number #7) as they can leach bisphnol, another hormone disruptor. Adria suggests glass bottles, but please! Unless you want baby bottles transformed into weapons of mass destruction, try #1 or better yet #2 polyethylene, which can be easily recycled.

Baby and Kid Food
As budget dictates, you may not be able to go all organic. The following are priority areas given the high level of pesticides used and toxins found in bodies as a result:

Bottled baby food. Go organic or better yet, puree your own. It’s probably much better for your little tike anyway.
Apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, imported grapes, cherries and berries.
Spinach, potatoes, bell peppers and celery.
Meat, eggs and dairy.

Eco-Friendly Clothes
I have already listed great organic clothing sites through which to spoil kids (but don’t go too crazy, yeah?). Here are some more, all based in BC:

Sage Creek
T.h.e. Store
Ethic Baby

In the News

Critics blast environment plan as 'out of sync' with science
The Cons aren’t getting much love these days…

Canada's largest solar farm to be built in Ontario
But solar gets a boost.

Other News…

Green Bloggers

Ecoshock Radio

Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

BBC – The Greenroom

New York Times – Environment

1 comment:

Eddie said...

hi cheryl

i would like to add to your list Wholesum, which will soon launch its line incorporating bamboo and organic cotton blend fashion for men and women. it is not BC based but it will deliver to BC :)