Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gift Ideas for Baby's First Birthday

My cousin, Alicia, asked me for some ideas for birthday gifts for her daughter who will be turning one soon. I wanted to provide items that we use all the time, most of which are nontoxic and earth-friendly, and things that were gender-neutral.

While this is not the ultimate Earth Day celebration of gift ideas, we found the items in this list to be durable and indispensable (and the websites are all very eco-oriented).

1. Shopping cart/high chair cover that actually fits over big carts: Buggy Baggs

2. Tiny Diner "rubber" placemat for eating out.

3. Quality hard-cover books (though I admit the library is more sustainable).
4. Clothing gift cards (to offset the ever-present needs, especially with kid #1). Wal-Mart carries organic cotton stuff on their website. Another great quality retailer is Hanna Andersson.

5. A little early for this, but I use the Laptop Lunch Bento Box all the time to pack a meal for my kids.

6. Kleen Kanteen - stainless container that's great for taking milk or juice along. Has a sippy cup top option, but it's probably better suited to older kids (18mos+). The Soft Landing has great stuff like this.

7. I'm not a fan of high chairs, but I love the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster seat. Easy to clean, easy to take along.

8. My favorite toy stores online are Oompa and NMCtoys (not made in china). You can sort by age, too.

9. You might want to start collecting for a big kid bed. Be sure to
look for a chemical-free mattress...IKEA is surprisingly good and reasonable ($699 for latex twin mattress with eco-cotton and low chemical load). Another great option is Keetsa out of SF. Very sustainable shipping solution and excellent mattress at a good price ($555 for pillowtop twin, very low chemical). That's what I got my son and we are very happy with it. We did buy the protective cover, too, for about $50.

10. Soy crayon rocks at and they are only $5.49!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Organic Cotton Kids Clothes *Cheap*

Last week's sudden heat wave created a panic in our house to locate summer clothing. For my older son, that was easy, since I stuffed his shorts in a drawer right below his pants at the end of summer last year. For my little guy, it meant a trip to the attic to see if the archived outgrown included any appropriately sized summer pieces. My initial trip did not prove fruitful, so I started looking online to find affordable basics to hold him over until I could hit the second-hand store or dig further in the attic.

Of course, if money was overflowing, I'd just get a bunch of separates from Hanna Andersson and Tea Collection. But I'm not in a free-spending frame of mind.  I needed shorty jammies for both kids and shorts and tees for number two. I checked Gymboree. "Gymmies" were almost $20 a pair. Ouch, that adds up fast. I checked Old Navy and found them for $10 but lamented the flimsy constitution of these jammies. These cannot make it through two sons. Ditto for Gap pajamas and they are closer in price to Gymmies. If I'm gonna pay $20 for jammies, I'm going to pay Hanna $28 (or more) for their superior organic version. They are the bomb. I just hate paying that much for pajamas!

Last, I checked Wal-Mart and was very surprised to see that their selection of organic items has greatly increased. They carry a huge selection online, including two-packs of organic tees for $7. They also had shorts, jammies, polo shirts for dad, maternity shirts for mama-to-be, and on and on.

I had to see these organic kids clothes in person, so I ran over to my local store. In-store, I saw shorts and tees for $4 each. They were not thick and yummy like Hanna's, not by a long shot, but they were cute styles and colors. And I could buy five for the price of one Hanna. Besides, buying them casts a vote for organics, which, when it comes to cotton, makes a lot of sense. Pesticides create major environmental problems and health issues for the workers. I have to say, Wal-Mart is getting organic cotton out there at a ridiculous price, but still 25% more than a non-organic alternative, in this case.

I'm happy to pay the difference. But is the average Wal-Mart shopper going to pay a premium for organic cotton? Will Wal-Mart be able to advance the cause of organics? Remains to be seen...

Twitter Recap for non-followers: March 2010

Watched "Aftermath: World Without Oil" last night on @natgeochannel. Powerful & damn scary. Three more in the series. Hope people tune in.

If you get @organicconsumer Organic Bytes newsletter (, you get 15% off @edenfoods -- nice site, great products! Use code "OCA"

Interested in the intersection of #technology and #education? Follow @InnovativeEdu - Lisa has great ideas and a promising project.

@thesmartmama If someone wants disposables, I've found Nature Babycare to fit great, plus they're compostable. #ecowed

@3greenangels Absolutely! Tried 7th Gen (they leak), Earth's Best (they reek), gDiapers (not practical) & Nature's Babycare (fave). #ecowed

Best innovation I've seen in crib sleep system, but pricey... #nontoxic #green #eco #baby

Not a big Kraft proponent, but I love this well-designed initiative for Triscuit, tied to home farms:

See if there are big CO2 emitters near you: #energy #carbon

Companies like Clorox that offer reformulated greener products but keep selling their toxic versions are #disingenuous and not to be trusted

Cool! William & Mary is first "Do One Thing" university:

RT @odemagazine Winning the war on cancer?     

Yikes, Save the apples! RT @Grist:

RT @marionnestle Michelle Obama to Grocery Manufacturers: Let’s Move!: The First Lady spoke to the Grocery Manufacturers of America ... 

FTC warns that bamboo is not an eco-friendly choice: #eco #fraud

RT @greenandhealthy GAO report scolds EPA for not protecting children's health  

“Smart” coating for roofing materials knows when to reflect heat [Science News]

Princeton U confirms: High-fructose corn syrup causes obesity.