Blog Posts by Ask an Organic Mom, The Daily Green

  • Organic Mom: In Search of a Celebrity Organic Mom

    I'm not immune to the allure of celebrity. And I see how it sells green books. The ones with famous people attached to them absolutely have better Amazon ranks than those that don't. Odd but undeniable. So it's only natural that I wish one of the bumps People, Us Weekly, and others are constantly writing about would suddenly start carrying around a dog-eared copy of The Complete Organic Pregnancy and telling the stalking paparazzi and all reporters they speak to just how important having an organic pregnancy is. I see pictures of Jennifer Garner pushing a cart full of loaded cloth bags outside of a Whole Foodsand wonder (longingly) if she's the one to be our poster bump girl. I think she's a much, much more likely candidate than Ashley Simpson. And I harbor a certain fantasy that perhaps (I hope) Jessica Albaread the book. I've SEEN several reports saying she has greened her recently born babe. InStyle wrotethat she has an eco-nursery filled with organic cotton onesies and did

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  • Organic Mom: Why The Ban on Phthalates Matters

    It won't come in time for this year's holiday shopping, but it's pretty encouraging to see our Congress take a stand against the toxic chemicals in so many plastic kid toys (the same chemicals that have been obsolete in the EU for years). California led the way last year, the first state to baneven trace amounts of the plastic softening chemical in toys that's been proven responsible for reproductive problems in boys and girls. According to the Washington Post, the growing scientific evidencethat chewing on a plastic toy that includes a hormone-mimicking phthalate can cause problems was at last convincing enough to spur some legislative change.

    President Bush opposed the ban, but as of January 2009 the shelves of Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us will be phthalate-free. According to the Washington Post story: House and Senate lawmakers agreed to permanently ban three types of phthalates from children's toys and to outlaw three other phthalates from products pending an

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  • Organic Mom: (Gently) Greening The Family Beach House

    Ah the last days of summer. So bittersweet. And I'm not talking about saying goodbye to the weather. I'm referring to spending a few weeks at the decidedly ungreen family beach house. I've been coming to this shore house since I first met the babe's father, over a decade ago. It's owned collectively by his father, aunt, and uncle, and rented out for most of the season. But the end of August is family time, and they - we - descend in droves. There are highlights, for sure. But over the years as I have grown greener, I find it harder and harder to relax and have fun as I witness the insane amount of towels that get washed daily, the piles of paper plates and napkins that get trashed nightly, and toss and turn on the heavily fragranced sheets. Constant upkeep includes new (off-gassing!) wall to wall carpets, regular (VOC-heavy) paint jobs, and the worst conventional cleaning products on the market. Another sore spot: a passel of heavily scratched Teflon pots and pans. Ack!

    I'm

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  • Organic Mom: 14 questions to ask your daycare provider

    Trying to navigate daycare in my corner of Brooklyn is probably ten times harder than dealing with getting into college 20 years ago. My older daughter is only 21 months, but I'd like her to socialize a little with kids her own age come fall -- an idea much easier said than done. Her birthday is in November, so she misses the age 2 September cutoff and will probably have to wait a year to go to most of the daycares and schools that exist within walking distance. This means finding some kind of daycare-preschool alternative, usually an in-the-home situation with mixed-aged toddlers. I went to visit one such situation a few blocks away the other day and thought I'd be pretty relaxed about how organic the environment was. Then I noticed I was holding my breath and not feeling relaxed at all. A lovely Russian woman showed me around and explained how Saoirse would spend her time, but I was counting the seconds until the tour ended and we could get back onto the street. I thought about

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  • Organic Mom: Earth's Best Formula Secretly Reformulated!? Inquiring Moms Want to Know

    I love the Internet. It really makes this whole organic mom thing a lot easier. We get a lot of questions through this blog that are more tips than questions, queries that give us greater understanding of what other trying-to-be organic moms are coming up against. Some of this information from the front lines is news to us. One such email came in recently. I have edited lightly:

    baby bottle with formulaHi,

    I am wondering if you are aware of a reformulation of Earth's Best Dairy Formula. I just bought three of the 25 oz cans (I used to buy the 13 oz) and I noticed the first ingredients listed are no longer Organic Lactose, Organic Nonfat Milk. The ingredients are as follows: Organic Reduced Minerals Whey, Organic Vegetable Oils (palm or palm olein, high oleic (safflower or sunflower), coconut, soy,) Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Lactose, etc. Does this mean that the formula is now predominately whey and oils rather than milk? I am a bit disturbed by the reformulation without any noticeable change in

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  • Organic Mom: The Truth About Vanilla

    Taking care of small children doesn't exactly tax the brain. Most days involve a variety of repetitive activities that are far from stimulating, if almost totally mind numbing. Recently I was at a friend's whose parents live with her so they can be around her kids. Her parents are child psychologists and there are no two more dedicated people when it comes to the face time, but for the mind numbing stuff like laundry, toy sorting and meals, her mother straps on a fanny pack and walks around listening to books on tape. I was pretty impressed when she told me how many books she'd "read" so far this summer because it takes me weeks to creep through page-turning novels. But then on Tuesday I opened up the Science section of The New York Timesto find a storymaking a case for my totally disengaged brain. The idea of the piece was that boredom's kind of a good thing because "falling into a numbed trance allows the brain to recast the outside world in ways that can be productive and

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  • Organic Mom: Dreaming of living in a green building

    After yet another mini tussle with my building's management over asking them to use green materials for work that genuinely needs to be done, I found myself surfing the website for The Riverhouse, a new LEED-certified gold building in New York's Battery Park City. Imagine living in an eco building!? It has twice filtered air, a wastewater treatment plant on site, solar-powered energy, and will even boast a highly organic outpost of City Bakery (a personal favorite) plus a New York Public Library branch. I love to swim but don't often - I'm not comfortable in highly chlorinated pools. Their "green" lap pool beckons me from its online rendering: dive right in. I'm gushing. I don't care. It's a fantasy.

    It's so ecofabulous, Leo DiCaprio is said to have bought an apartment. But he's not what entices me. I have the site bookmarked because it's the ultimate family building: from the no to low-VOC finishes to the filtered water to the City Bakery snacks, living there would really take

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  • Organic Mom: How to Choose Safe Shower Curtains

    It's been a hot, moist summer here in NYC, and I ended up recycling my PEVA shower curtain and replacing it with a polyester one a few weeks ago because I couldn't wash the mold out of the bottom of it. A soon-to-be-pregnant reader on the hunt for a safer shower curtain wrote to us wondering about a new shower curtain material she keeps seeing, PEVA:

    In our quest to get pregnant this summer, my husband and I (ok, mostly me) have become more and more conscientious about the toxins, etc. around us - thanks largely to your book and blogs! While on the lookout for vinyl, I've recently noticed some products (shower curtains, lined baby bibs) labeled 100% PEVA. What is PEVA, and is it a safe alternative to PVC? I'm sure organic cotton is the best choice for many of these types of products, but when my options are vinyl, PEVA, or polyester, what's a girl to do?

    shower curtainDiane Diederich / IstockDefinitely skip the poly vinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtain. The plastic is softened with hormone-disrupting phthalates,

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  • Organic Mom: Pesticide Alternatives for the Family Garden

    My organic babe is no longer the only child on her father's side of the family. She's now, at the ripe age of two and a half, the oldest cousin. Her new playmate arrived late last week and we spent the weekend visiting and cooing over him. She's quite smitten.

    His parents, like most new parents, are becoming more and more interested in all things green. I have tried not to butt in too much, or be too obnoxiouswith unsolicited advice (there's nothing worse) but rather to remain available as a resource should they want to come to me. I admit that I have failed on a few occasions. Like the time I offered my services in response to a baby shower registry list they emailed around. They were quite lovely about it though, and their nursery now contains an organic crib mattress so it was a win-win situation for the baby. And it was great to be with them on site this weekend, talking about the specifics of organic versus natural chicken as we looked in their freezer, and chatting about

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  • Organic Mom: Choose Sunscreen Well, Because It's Better to Be Outside Than In

    Badger Sunscreen BottleBadgerIt wasn't blisteringly hot today, but after lunch with some friends the under-seven crew stripped down to play in the tiny plastic pool on our back deck. It's the hard plastic variety, which is supposed to be a little bit better than the flexible, and I've been impressed by its entertainment mileage. There's no shade until the afternoon so I was slathering up my fair-skinned girls with EWG-approved Badgersunscreen (rated number 1 out of 910 commonly available products) when my friend Julie told me about how her daughter got badly burned while wearing a coat of it lakeside in Vermont. She showed me the remains of her chest burn, which made me shudder and run for the Coppertone. My sister and both of my parents have had skin cancer and we've been told that it's probably a when not an if for the rest of us, so I'm paranoid about preventing early sun damage.



    Badger is a physical barrier sunscreen as opposed to a chemical sunscreen, which means it literally covers the skin with

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