What We Learn From Our Planet Loving Kids

*** Stay tuned as I’ll be announcing the winner of the Plaine Products Hand Sanitizer Set!

When it comes to caring about certain things in our universe, look to the children first. You can ask them what their favorite animal is, or their favorite color, or even their favorite food and they’ll immediately go into a lengthy diatribe of why they love that particular thing. But ask them if they love their planet, you’ll most likely get a quick head nod. Add in the fact that the planet is full of nature such as flowers, butterflies, and dolphins, and you’ll immediately get an enthusiastic smile.

Earth Day was on April 22 and many schools across the world celebrated and honored Mother Earth. Students from kindergarten to middle school were able to learn something about the planet and what we need to do to preserve it. I was talking to a couple of kindergarteners and one in particular came up to me and said with a toothy grin, “Happy Earth Day! You must reduce, reuse, recycle!.” How precious is that? All I could think of was wow, a child as young as 5 or 6 years old was so enthusiastic about saving the planet. Did she understand what those words meant? You bet I asked her and we got into a brief one-sided conversation – with her mostly telling me what she thought the words meant. I knew her classroom was learning about Earth Day, but for someone as young as her to really understand the meaning and to practically preach about protecting the environment was quite a delight!

Kids are pretty amazing and unique. Through all my years of working with children, there is rarely a day where I don’t meet an amazing student. And through all the difficulties of raising children or even teaching them, if you open your eyes and ears to what they say and do, you’d find that kids are truly the heart of our future.

But why are children more interested in helping the environment than adults? As an adult, I recall my childhood where I learned about the environment and the planet from mostly my parents and a few teachers. Children are like sponges and they’ll soak up whatever is around them, be it good or bad. When I talk to my Green Team students about the environment, most of them have a general knowledge of what they should do. And most of the time, they are interested to learn more and to do more. That is what amazes me the most – the fact that they actually want to do something progressive in helping the planet.

We can certainly learn a lot from kids. As an adult, we usually tend to just brush off their comments. But if we truly want to learn from what children can offer then we must listen to their words. Below I’ve listed some suggestions on how to talk kids about the environment and get the conversation going.

  • Teach by example. Children can learn by emulating what we do so it’s important to show them that we also care about the environment.

  • Ask open-ended questions. Start the conversation going on how they feel about their planet.

  • Make suggestions. Suggest to kids how to care about the planet. Examples would be to plant more trees or start their own garden at home, or pick up trash around their neighborhood, or make signs around their schools to raise awareness of climate changes.

  • Allow kids to use their own creativity on how they want to help the planet.  Kids can offer great ideas of their own that we can apply to.

  • Give them the right tools. Have age appropriate books about helping the planet as well as any authentic online resources. Companies such as The Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org and Keep America Beautiful: https://kab.org/  are great sites to start with.

  • Volunteer with local or statewide environmental groups. Depending on the ages of your children, there are many great non-profit organizations they can volunteer for.

In the end, our children are our future and the future of what our world will be. Kindness to others and the planet is the overall achievement we should all try to reach for.

*photos courtesy of kidsgardening.org

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

An Eco-Friendly Back-to-School

 

The first week of September was when my son started 100% online learning and I returned to work at my elementary school. I have to admit that, back in March when school campuses were closed and we went to distance learning, those months were a lot easier. There were hardly any homework and grading changed to credit or no credit. Now, with 2020-2021 school year starting off with online learning and grading is back to normal, it is becoming a huge learning curve for the both of us. But, just like life, we all have to learn to adjust. And I honestly believe that kids having to adjust to something this new and unusual will be a great learning lesson for them.

However, as the pandemic is still going around the US and other countries, convenience has also become the new norm. That is, the convenience of plastic bags, store bought chips and cookies in bulk, and dumping masks and gloves all over the streets, beaches, and parks. We still have to be responsible for the environment because we still need to be responsible adults (and children).

So how do we continue to care for the planet? I could give you tons of data and research on how oceans and landfills are overflowed with trash. But I think we all know that there are already tons of trash in our oceans and landfills. But if you do want to know the shocking and sad data, here are some very interesting info:

More than 8 MILLION TONS of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year! This number continues to grow because of how many single use plastic items are used in the US every year. Here are some of the top contributors:

500 Million
40 Billion
100 Billion
 100 Billion

Those are catastrophic numbers! And it’s no wonder that diseases and illnesses run rampant in certain areas of the world where trash is more prominent. But we can do something about it! And this year’s back to school is the perfect time to start if you haven’t already started to reduce your single-use plastic dependency. With most schools going online, you can still perform the following steps to live a life less plastic. There is really not much to lose when you reduce the intake of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are plastic products that you use only once and throw away. Most of the times, these plastic entities end up in the landfill instead of properly recycled or sorted. We might even have high hopes that our careful recycling efforts are being met appropriately. But when our landfills are already filled up, we can see that our recycling efforts aren’t really being met. 

If you consider that in the US alone, every American sends 1,646.15 pounds of solid waste to landfills annually, that’s astronimically higher than the data from 20 years ago. Or even 5 years ago. It seems the trend to creating more waste only gets higher with big oil companies and the plastic industry making false claims to consumers. According to Scrap Metal, a materials collecting platform, the US generates nearly 7.3 billion pounds of PET containers and packaging every year, out of which only around 1.9 billion pounds are recovered for reclamation. And considering we live in a wasteful society, we must really do better for now and for the future.

I always say let’s start in our own homes and let’s teach our children, who are the future generations, to care more about what we buy, what we use, and what we support as a community. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what we don’t see or hear about. It’s easy to just say,”well, that’s someone else’s problem.” And it’s easy to ignore the scientific data that is carefully researched and compiled every year. Consider that what we buy affects everything in our lives. Consider that what we eat affects our own health. And consider that what we do now will greatly affect our future generations. 

This year, let’s take some extra steps for back to school learning. The tips below can be beneficial for remote learning (online learning), on campus learning, and a hybrid learning sytem.

Tips for back-to-school eco-friendly style:

  • Make a list of school supplies that you need. Check off what you already have saved over from the previous year. There are many supplies you can reuse.

  • Buy quality supplies. Even if you’re trying to save money on supplies, buying generic, cheaper quality products will result in them breaking sooner and end up in the trash. Check out these wonderful companies that makes high quality products and gives back to the planet: www.plaineproducts.com, www.mermaidstraw.com, www.lunchskins.com

  • Buy a few high quality back to school clothes. Better materials and construction results in longer lasting wear.

  • Choose companies that give back to the planet. Look for labels such as: 1% for the PlanetBeauty without bunnies, Leaping Bunny, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Certified B Corporation

  • Choose organically grown and made products. Certified organic ensures that the raw ingredients and materials are not treated with toxic chemicals or pesticides.

  • Buy locally whenever possible. This reduces your carbon footprint and helps with the circular economy.

  • Look to support environmentally and socially responsible companies. 

  • Don’t buy bulk when you don’t need to. We all want to save money and reduce waste, but unless you plan on using these bulk products right away or are donating them, they will likely end up forgotten or wasted.

  • Buy a few daily use resuable products. These include a glass or stainless steel resuable bottle, glass or stainless steel lunch container, reusable straws in glass, stainless steel, or bamboo, and reusable lunch bags.

  • Reduce your intake of conveniently made food. While at home, we can actually be more conscious of what we eat. Make fresh food and snacks to munch on throughout the day rather than depend on convenient snacks packaged in single-use plastics. Try fresh fruit, fresh sanwiches, and fresh veggies with healthier dips.

For more in-depth resources on the environment, data collecting, and everyday eco-living tips, be sure to check out Earth911.com’s website: https://earth911.com/

Hope you all have a very successful school year!

10 Easy Ways to Help Your Kids be More Plastic Free – Plastic Free July Month

If you’re reading this, then maybe you’re wondering what the title of this article really means. It sounds almost contradictive – how can kids be waste free? Aren’t they notorious for leaving LEGO on the floor or begging for a snack one minute then turn their noses up the next? How can the capricious moods of children make a difference when it comes to reducing waste?

The term “zero waste” is really a philosophy that started decades ago in an effort to make the world more aware of product consumption. Purchasing something just because you think you have to have it has contributed to overabundance of things in our lives that we don’t really need. But we can teach our children (and perhaps ourselves) that consumerism leads to lots of waste in our lives. These waste, such as single use plastics, end up in our pollution waste stream.

We can teach our kids to reduce waste and maybe eventually, when they become more experienced, to eliminate the need for single-use plastics overall. Below I’ve listed 10 steps you can take to help reduce plastic waste and learn to Live a Life Less Plastic!

1- Buy consciously. Think about how many times you’re going to use that product. If it’s a plastic sandwich bag, skip it and buy reusable bags such as ones made from silicone, paper, or a stronger plastic that will last for many years. Paper sandwich bags are great in that they will break down when wet and can be disposed into your recycling bin. Try Lunchskins – they’re durable and reusable(https://www.lunchskins.com) *right now if you sign up for their SMS program you’ll get 30% off!

2 – Use natural materials. Natural materials and materials that are sustainable include bamboo, organic cotton, wood, and glass. Natural materials are a lot safer for children as they are usually manufactured without toxic by-products.

3 – Bring your own lunch containers. There are tons of cool looking lunch containers for your kids. Best materials are stainless steel and glass.

4 – Reusable straws. Reusable straws are great for reducing plastic waste. Reusable straws can be stainless steel, glass, or made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, wheat, and non-gmo corn.

5 – Reusable beverage bottles. You can find reusable bottles almost anywhere. Pick some up made from stainless steel, glass, or BPA and lead free plastic.

6 – Bring your own utensils. When packing lunch for your child, be sure to pack reusable utensils. They can easily put their used utensils back into their lunch bags/containers to bring home.

7 – Look at brands and websites that offer sustainable products. Check out websites such as this for ideas: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/8-simple-ways-reduce-your-plastic-use-ncna984396

8- Upcycle. Upcycling is a fun and clever way of turning something old into something new and delightful. What happens if you’re tired of your old shoes? Turn them into planters! And those plastic laundry containers? They’re truly such a waste especially when you’re constantly doing laundry. But you can turn them into planters as well, or upcycle them into holders for your magazines, coloring pencils, toys…there are endless ways! 

9 – Look to support brands that care for the environment and provide products and services that benefit our planet instead of adding more destruction. Try brands such as: EC30 (https://ec30clean.com/) which promises that no plastics are used in the production of their products as well as lower emissions, and Plaine Products (https://www.plaineproducts.com/ref/Suzan%20C./) which uses natural ingredients, aluminum packaging, and a subscription service where you can return your bottles for refills. Use discount code: HappyMom to get 20% off total purchase!

10 – Switch to non-plastic products slowly. You might feel at a loss in how to reduce your plastic use. You don’t have to throw away all of your single-use plastics or plastic containers just to buy sustainable ones. Use them up as much as possible, or donate them, and then slowly integrate sustainable materials such as glass, aluminum, and wood. Better yet, the next time you buy something at the grocery store, look only for sustainably made containers which you can use infinitely.

Depending on the age of your children, these are all fairly easy for them to try. You can even ask your children for ideas on how to be less wasteful and to reduce plastic use. Most importantly, make it fun and make it worthwhile.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

*photo of Goby Fish in India

A Parent’s Guide to Being Green

Do you ever wonder what the phrase, “going green” really means? This movement, if you want to call it – began over a decade ago when people started to really open up their eyes and notice that our environment is alarmingly in danger. While our planet slowly deteriorating is certainly not new news, the harmful effects of long-term damage has increased drastically over the years.

As a parent and an educator, I want to teach my son and other students the importance of preserving our precious planet. A small impact of good can slowly grow to something bigger and better: one child can make a difference and one adult can help them achieve their goals. And while you’re reading this, let’s break it down to the importance of teaching our children to being “green” and allow them to make a better world for the future.

So how do you “Go Green”? With climate changes negatively affecting the world, greenhouse gases are increasing around the world, making it almost near impossible to reverse the damages. But global markets in major consumer industries are finally starting to recognize the dangers of our depleting environment and are moving towards natural resource energy makers such as wind, solar, and water. We, as individuals may think we can’t do much to improve our environment, but all it takes is one person to care, to make a change for the better.

So how do we teach our children to protect the future of their planet? We must start by realizing that children have the potential to make positive changes in the world. “We must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” – Mary McLeod Bethune. Children have the drive, intelligence, and ability to make positive impacts in improving our planet and being great leaders of society. Children around the world are taking winning steps in reducing waste while not only helping the environment, but other people as well. Their leadership and compassion are things we want to emulate and encourage so that we can all eventually open our eyes to the climate changes around us.

What can kids do? Here are some great (and easy) examples of environmentally-friendly acts and projects for kids of any age:

– Follow the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.

Reduce your purchases, wants, and needs. The less we buy, the less carbon footprint we contribute to.

Reuse what you already have. If we can reuse even just 3 times, we will already have made a dramatic change.

Repurpose what you can still reuse. Repurposing is truly a great trend that should go on forever. For example, you can take a pair of torn jeans and make it into a unique grocery tote* or zippered pencil cases.

Recycling is typically the last resort as not everything can be recycled. Most plastics, glass, aluminum are readily recyclable but it still takes up carbon footprint when machines are used to break down these materials. Still, it’s better than throwing them in the trash where they’ll most likely end up in the landfill. To find recycling centers in your area, check it out here: https://americarecyclesday.org/find-recycling/

– Sort trash properly.

One of the biggest problems with overflowing landfills is trash that aren’t sorted properly. You can probably find at least 30% of your trash that can be recycled, reused, or repurposed. And if you can recycle any kind of beverage bottles, your kids can make money from doing that too. When recyclable products are mixed in with trash, it takes tremendous time, money, and effort for facilities to sort them. Oftentimes, the recyclable items will end up with the rest of the trash, thus leading to the growing problem of overfilled landfills in our country.

– Use reusable containers whenever possible.

Kids can bring their school lunches in resuable lunch containers, water bottles, and utensils. To make it even more fun, give them colorful and fun reusable napkins. Great ones can be found at: http://www.ukonserve.com/ and https://ecolunchboxes.com/.

– Pick up trash.

Pick up trash around your neighborhood as you’re taking walks along the roads. This helps keep waste from going into storm drains and ending up in unlikely places where they might just get disposed of improperly. Plus, it helps the neighborhood look nice and clean too. Just remember to have kids wear gloves if they’re doing a “clean up the neighborhood day”. Then, be sure to sort and dispose the trash properly.

– Eat local, co-op, and organically grown food.

Local foods are usually produced by companies within your county or city’s range. This is a rather tricky range as there is currently no guidelines to how far or close a product is produced in order to qualify as local. Read labels on products and check out the local companies you buy from to get a clearer picture. Co-op farms help the farmers and the consumers. Co-op is governed by its members so there is more control of what is produced, how it’s produced, and where it’s sold. Organically grown food must follow strict guidelines that companies must follow in order to be certified. Organic products simply means any product made without certain fertilizers and pesticides and without any synthetic ingredients used in producing the products. This applies to both food and non-food items. Take your kids to local farmers markets and grocery stores where they can see and feel the difference between organic produce and conventional produce. When you make the change yourself, your kids can greatly benefit from it.

– Reduce use of electronics and water.

In a perfect world, we’d have less electronics to use and we could all produce our own water usage and recycle it. But in this day and age of fast growing technology, it seems that the future will only continue with this trend. While technology is important, using too much of it can also drain our natural resources as well as enable harmful aftereffects of radiation and coal. Remind your children to turn off lights when not in use, reduce their screen time by playing outside or reading a book, and turn off the water when brushing their teeth.

We can all strive to make a better impact on our environment if we remind ourselves that our children, their children, and all future generations should have the ability to live on a clean and healthy planet. It can take small and simple steps but each step can lead to bigger steps that can make a dramatic improvement for our world.

For some fun and helpful tips for parents and kids, check out PBS Kids Green project book: http://meetthegreens.pbskids.org/features/pdf/Greens_Activities.pdf

*photo source: www.denimdoover.com

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen

ewg

Ever wonder why certain foods must be purchased organically grown and others are not as strictly enforced? Well, that’s because organically grown food are not sprayed or treated with toxic pesticides and herbicides. The soil and irrigation do not contain pesticides or toxic chemicals thereby ensuring a much cleaner crop down the line. Non-organic food however, are grown with heavily used pesticides and herbicides to maintain their growth along with being genetically modified for a bigger crop.

Each year or so, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes their “Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen” Shopper Guide listing twelve of the most heavily contaminated fruits and vegetables versus the “cleaner” fifteen most popular fruits and vegetables that are not heavily sprayed with chemicals. I’ve attached the graphic for you to see, but you can also go online to their website to download a copy to print out and keep (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php)

VEGGIE GARDEN - NEW

Here is the infographic for 2016 which I’m sure in 2017 one or a few of these will change. These types of food are tested and measured for the residual amount of toxic pesticides so the most heavily treated ones are on the top.

The Dirty Dozen are ones you should always buy organic while the Clean Fifteen are ones that, while may not always be organic, the residual toxic chemicals are at lower risk.

 

ewg

We might not always have the luxury of buying organic food all of the time. But there are certain foods we should really pay attention to how they’re grown. Now more than ever, we need to be diligent about what we buy, who we support, and how to keep our bodies and mind clean. Organically grown food are easier to find now and prices are more reasonable than years ago. When you plan your shopping and know what you’re buying then organic food will naturally become the first choice when you shop.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Earth Day – April 22, 2016

earthday-promo

I’d like to think that every day should be Earth Day. After all, we live in a world where we have mast resources of practically anything we can get our hands on. Yet, as humans living on this planet, we are also destructing our own world and endangering our precious environment.

Earth Day was officially coined in April 1970 by a US Senator as the day to support environmental protection and awareness. Now celebrated across the world, Earth Day can be celebrated with even the smallest of acts. No gesture is too small for every step in helping the environment get healthy and abundant is the right step.

Following are some simple steps taken from New Hope Network (http://deliciousliving.com/green-living/4-ways-pay-it-forward-earth-day?cid=nhbc#slide) on how you can help this Earth Day:

You always recycle. You buy organic. But in honor of Earth Day (April 22), why not up the eco-friendly ante? Here are four fun ways you can show Mother Earth a little love.

  1. Live near a beach or a river? Organize a waterside cleanup day in your community. Offer prizes for the people who collect the most junk.

watersidecleanup-earthday

  1. Instead of spraying weeds with herbicides, pour boiling water over weeds (just don’t splash the plants you actually want to keep).

weedkiller-dlearthday

  1. If you’re up for a bigger project, transfer your water-sucking green lawn into a xeriscape, which uses attractive, native dry-loving plants to boost curb appeal.

xeriscapeit-earthday

  1. Bring along small cotton bags to use in the grocery bulk and produce sections, instead of flimsy plastic bags. (Pictured: Flip & Tumble Produce Bags)

producebags-earthday

So this Earth Day, pick up trash around your neighborhood, plant some trees or flowers, recycle responsibly, reuse what you can, turn off electricity when not in use, reduce your water usage, use recyclable water bottles, and pretty much anything you can put your mind to as long as you commit to helping the world become a cleaner and healthier place.

HAPPY EARTH DAY!