A More Sustainable Lunches Continues… the HORROR of ziplock bagsOct. 15th

ziplocksI have a confession to make: I use ziplock bags, a lot of them. Before my son started kindergarten, it would take at least 6 months to go through the box of ziplock bags, but suddenly, with packing school lunches for a picky eater, I have been going through 1 box every month. I hate to think that I’m contributing to the giant trash gyre of the pacific, or to my family’s exposure to endocrine disruptors released by plastics. Plastic, a ubiquitous part of modern life, is very hard to eliminate from the household. I remember one playdate I went to where the house was pretty much plastic free. I was so envious of the amount of jars and pretty ceramic containers that they had. So, I’ve tried to start, with one container at a time, one less processed food at a time. After all, my cupboard used to be full of Teflon non-stick pans  and one by one I replaced them with safer (and more expensive) options. One step at a time, I CAN do this!! I’m not much of a seamstress, so luckily there’s Etsy with lots of options for hand-made reusable bags.handmade bags When choosing fabrics, you want to look for BPA and phthalate free material as the liner, as some are made with cheaper PVC plastic that is not safe for packaging food. When I googled “do it yourself sandwich bags”, the first link was to a better homes and garden article which says to use the PVC fabric because it is easier to sew than ripstop nylon. If you are handier at sewing than I am, you can look at do it yourself materials on the internet like this. Your kids will enjoy picking their own fabrics and you can teach them how to sew with this really easy first project. You can even sell them for your PTA fundraiser instead of candy or other junk food popularly used as fundraiser fare. So, who’s with me in dumping plastic ziplock bags?

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Wolthers, parent educator and aspiring green mom

A More Sustainable Lunch Continues….Oct. 8th

Today’s entry focuses on how to reduce waste and packaging when it comes to the lunchbox. In our featured video, Lily shows us not only what the contents of her lunch look like but how it is packed.

  • reduce, reuse, recycle may be words that seem over played but they really cut to the basics and are in the right order of operations. If you are striving for a more whole foods diet for health reasons for example, you will have the bonus of reducing plastic and cardboard packaging that are ubiquitous in the processed food aisles of the grocery store. You may also be using more bulk foods, which will prompt you to have glass or tin containers to hold your bulk foods, and nearly completely eliminate plastic containers and throw away boxes. Instead of grabbing a box of “insert comfort food here” you may learn how to make more things from scratch, one recipe at a time replacing such things as granola bars and cookies and turning them into secret power foods with nut butters and coconut sugars instead of processed sugars and empty calories.
    • DO THIS MORE: Bulk foods are now widely available

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AND LESS OF THIS: health food stores have attractive and tempting packaging!

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Sometimes it is easier to get kids on board than to “sustain” sustainability, so we want to hear about your “reduce” and “reuse” hacks, including containers, bento boxes, lunch bags, etc… especially home made and low cost options. Here’s a great read on high quality sustainable and safe lunch boxes, Here’s some wild ideas from a sustainable restaurateur to cut your food waste, including how to tell if your eggs have gone bad, and some pretty wild ideas on how to eliminate packaging in your kitchen or pantry.

Coming soon, a guest blog on healthy lunch ideas, organic and humane products, local and home grown produce, and recipes galore!!

Question of the MonthOct. 2nd

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How do you pack a more healthy, sustainable lunch for your kids?

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With everyone caught in the Back to School frenzy, our October topic is all about our desire to explore how to pack our kid’s lunches in a way that aligns with our values regarding keeping our planet and our bodies clean and sustainable. With many modern parenting issues, there are often more questions than answers that come up, and we are all about taking ideas and putting them into action. For some, sustainable may be about organic, for others, about going vegan, or even dabbling in urban permaculture. In the end, we all have to make it work within our family’s budget and time constraints. It isn’t a contest to see who is the greenest parent, but comes from a desire to put good things in our children’s bodies so that they can feel healthy, happy, and energetic. We want to show our kids how to be stewards of the earth and make good choices for themselves and their future families. The resources that come out of making these inquiries will hopefully help you come to terms with the lunchbox struggle in a way that fits your values.

This month we will be sharing ideas, recipes, and yes, PLAYING around on Youtube! Stay tuned!

Zero WasteMar. 25th

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Z = Zero Waste

Why do we assume that there will be some amount of waste associated with everything we use?

We work to reduce waste, but that philosophy still suggests that some waste is inevitable. As an alternative to that common way of thinking, some people have begun to advocate the idea of Zero Waste. Zero waste is about throwing away less, but also about looking at everything as a possible resource. In nature, there’s no such thing as an “end product,” everything is part of an ongoing cycle. Working to live a zero waste lifestyle means striving towards a more efficient, cyclical consumption of resources. A zero waste lifestyle can improve the environment and your own quality of life by helping to save you time and money.

In just one year, HP changed their business practices to commit to waste reduction and saved $870,564 by reducing its waste by 95%.

Simple Steps

  • Replace disposable with reusable. Use rags instead of paper towels, real dishes and silverware, and reusable storage containers for leftovers and lunches.
  • Form a buyer’s group with your neighbors. Everyone doesn’t really need their own ladder, do they? It’s not like each person uses it every hour of the day. Why not pitch in and buy a green product that many families can share? Start with one shared item, and see what evolves!
  • Replace paper with e-documents. Much of what we throw away or recycle is paper that can easily be eliminated. Recycling is essential, but it is still keeping the focus on what to do with waste. Save those resources altogether by nipping the paper problem at the bud. Consider reading newspapers and magazines online, unsubscribe from catalogues, and switch to electronic billing and statements.
  • Consider cloth diapers. If you have a baby at home, disposable diapers and wipes can create a staggering amount of waste in a short time. Cloth diapers and a local diaper service eliminate that waste.
  • Frequent the local library—and find libraries that lend or rent other things, too. Kids and adults can rely on the library for books, music and movies—and use the concept of a library to think about other ways to borrow things before buying. Sharing means less is produced so the cycle of waste never gets started. You don’t mind borrowing a book, so maybe borrowing other things (tools, the dress you need for a special event, even a car once in a while instead of full-time ownership), will start to make sense, too!

Learn More:

Learn more about how businesses and industries can benefit from Zero Waste at ZeroWaste.org. The Zero Waste Home blog offers ideas for families looking to reduce or eliminate waste.

Fix It FirstMar. 17th

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F = Fix It First

How can you save money, improve your child’s self esteem, and help the environment?

Learn to “fix it first.” Many of the things we buy are meant to replace something that has been broken or outgrown. While you can’t prevent children from getting taller, you can extend the use of many items by learning to make minor repairs and yourself. Teaching your kids to make simple fixes can also empower them with a sense of accomplishment and resourcefulness. What kid doesn’t love tools and inventing? Especially if a tool belt might be involved? Your entire family can have fun, develop new skills and firmly establish a shared value to respect what you buy enough to keep it in good repair and in service as long as possible.

Using your own hands to fix things gives you a deeper connection to and appreciation for your belongings.

Simple Steps

  • Sew What! It can be frustrating when a child wears a hole in a knee of a pair of pants months before they outgrow the length or when one lost button can make a jacket, shirt or pair of pants un-wearable. Small tailoring fixes should be skills both boys and girls can master. Learn to patch a hole with a needle and thread or an iron-on patch. Fortunately, buttons are very inexpensive and can be attached in just a few minutes with a needle and thread. Many clothing items even come with a spare button attached to the tag or inside a hem. Round up your items in need of repair and have a family Sewing Bee!
  • Tighten or replace a screw. If a toy or piece of furniture has moving parts, it’s easy for a screw to become loose and even stripped from repeated use. Teach your kids how to use a screwdriver for quick fixes. Most of these repairs are safe for even young children to make with eye protection.
  • Fix a bike. Many bike repairs can be made by making sure all parts are cleaned and properly lubricated. Other fixes might require a few tools and understanding of how the bike works. Look for online videos that can walk you through diagnosing and solving your bike problems. Better yet, the cool thing about bike shops, skateboard shops are that they are guided by a can-do, fix-it attitude, so these hobbies are great to help children learn how to take responsibility for repairs. Classes are often available for very reasonable fees.
  • Make a Fix-It Kit. Having the right tool at hand will encourage your family members to fix small problems themselves. Fill a tote with a small sewing kit, glue, Duct tape, scissors, sandpaper, measuring tape, small tools—just the basics. Then encourage your kids to put those resources to use when you notice a need.
  • Find neighborhood repair shops. There is a reason Mr. Rogers always took his viewers with him to the mechanic shop or to watch Handyman Joe Negri work. Fixing things is fun! Make time to find experts for your broken items, and include your children in the process.

Learn More:

The book Stitch by Stitch provides great step-by-step instructions and starter projects for learning how to sew. You can also get tips for basic home maintenance at This Old House. The active community at Instructables has tutorials for fixing and making all sorts of things, and it a great place for inspiration for families who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

A Breath of Fresh AirJul. 18th

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One of the main motivations for me to start Playful Planet was the self-knowledge that, while I have every good intention of being a good role model for my child, I KNOW that there is so much more I could be doing on a daily basis to impact our world.

This is not to get down on myself Ive gotten past self-flagellation as sport. I simply recognize that life is complex. There is a constant stream of information coming into my life providing me with suggestions of how I can be greener, eat more healthily, be a more conscious citizen on the planet. Its all well and good, AND it can be a little overwhelming.

This is why I decided that Playful Planet was a perfect thing for me to focus my attention on. NOT because I am the perfect role model, oh no. But exactly because I am the perfect target market for the mission we have established empower kids and their families to be healthy and live sustainably. A grand mission to be sure. But one that we have decided can be approached with simplicity, accessibility, and yes, even fun.

sophia_bounceWhat I didnt know as I got onto this path was all the amazing information, organizations and groups that I would be introduced to along the way. I was recently led to the Moms Clean Air Force which I am now allied with because of the great work they are doing with a very specific goal: defending clean air and our kids health! Now that is something I can get behind!

Moms Clean Air Force is a group of powerhouse bloggers and writers who are committed to the preserving the Clean Air Act and a new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency. This new rule is in the part of the process where it is open to public comments the time when opponents (think big industry) will work to water down the standards.

What I have learned from the little I have learned through Moms Clean Air Force is that my voice can be heard. By taking the simple action of Joining the Force I am speaking up for my childs rights (and all childrens rights) to CLEAN AIR. Doesnt seem too much to ask for, right?

I like how focuselily_bounced Moms Clean Air Force is and how much great information is packed into digestable bites. For example, did you know, the Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1970 by Richard Nixon? And, that this Act delivers $30 in measureable health and economic benefits for every $1 invested? You can learn more here.

I am so grateful for organizations like MCAF that help me realize my goal to be involved in creating a better future in a way that is so very manageable for my busy lifestyle.