‘Little Things Matter’ video shows how kids are hurt by small toxic exposures

Blood testing shows that even babies have small amounts of toxic chemicals in their bodies. But how much do these small exposures matter? Chemical manufacturers say these trace amounts are not harmful. But research shows that even miniscule levels of lead and other chemicals lowers IQs in kids. This video argued that ‘little things’ matter.

These 7 gifts are perfect for nature lovers

Give back to nature by helping restore forests, oceans and wildlife. Your contribution will boomerang back in countless ways, curbing climate change, teaching kids about the outdoors, feeding endangered monarch butterflies, making space for whales and even helping tree farmers. All you’ll get is that lousy T-shirt. (But this year, they’re actually pretty cool.)

5 forest preserves where you can cut down your own Christmas tree (and why that’s OK)

If you’re a stickler for an old-fashioned Christmas, you may be venturing into the woods this year, ala Clark Griswold to chop down your own yuletide tree. Surprisingly, selected nature preserves, state and national forests are open to controlled tree-chopping activities, though you may really have to go hunting for these locations.

Dreaming of a green vacation? Try using FlipKey

Come mid-January, who isn’t dreaming of a tropical vacation?…We’re talking about solar-powered, LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), foliage-roofed homes in popular vacation spots from Taos to Thailand, the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, Vermont to California.
You can find these gems at a new service called FlipKey, which sorts its properties

Teenager finds a solution to massive food waste by ‘brats who won’t eat that apple’

A student in Omaha, Neb., has identified a problem with school lunches — as well as a solution that could help solve an entrenched food waste issue in school cafeterias across the country.

In order to get the best price for a school lunch, kids are required to take one serving of a fruit or a vegetable to create a full meal. If they don’t, they can end up paying higher ala carte prices.

Kids to Crayola: Help us recycle plastic markers!

Elementary school kids in San Rafael, Calif., are asking Crayola to initiate a recycling program for the millions of markers the company produces every year.
The children, who participate in a green group called Kids That Care, decided to petition Crayola through Change.org after realizing that many plastic products, including spent markers, wind up in landfills, said the group’s advisor Land Wilson.

The gift of cell phones may radiate more than love

ell phones and tablet computers may be coveted holiday gifts, but parents should consider the potential health effects of these devices before giving them to children, according to the Environmental Health Trust (EHT) and Healthy Child Healthy World (HCHW) , two educational groups focused on environmental health…. Manufacturer safety warnings, the groups note, are simply not sufficient to protect children because they were designed to meet a test for a “typical user” who never was typical:

Ready to gobble? Heritage turkeys can provide a healthful main course for Thanksgiving

People who do not want to support the cruel and dangerous conditions of industrial meat production, but aren’t necessarily looking to slice meat out of their diet, can find many sources for a better-raised turkey — or ham — this holiday.

Bronze breasted Organic, pastured, heritage turkey from the Elmwood Stock Farm in Kentucky.

Farmer’s Markets and the online seller Local Harvest feature dozens of producers with home-grown flocks that were raised on pasture and treated humanely. These smaller-scale farms can verify that they have not packed turkeys into giant sheds where they were deprived of sunlight and space to move around, as has become the norm in industrial production. (See our story on CAFO: The tragedy of industrial animal factories.)

Don’t let Halloween mask unfair labor practices

If you want to act on your concern for the environment and human rights this Halloween, give treats that come from reputable local or Fair Trade vendors.

That could mean foregoing some familiar brands.

Hershey’s, under fire for some time over allegations that it fails to ensure its cocoa sources treat labor fairly, came out dead last this week on the “Get Child Labor Out of Your Chocolates Scorecard” by Green America.

Swap Halloween costumes: A frighteningly sensible green idea

Imagine Halloween without the costumes. What a charmless, dull and possibly dangerous event it would be. Kids Openly Begging for Treats Day could lead inter-generational strife. Marauding Tots Pressing For Candy would be a PR nightmare, and a clunky acronym. You can see how it could get out of hand.

And yet, Tinkerbell, this Halloween costume business sure could use some re-tinkering.

Too many Halloween costumes, not to mention those buckets of plastic spiders, bats and eyeballs, turn out to be single-use items. Those plastic gee-gaws create about 10 seconds of amusement. A costume is good for a night or two.

Nine ideas for a green Halloween

Skip the plastic pumpkin -- eco-friendly bags are he way to go.


Planning a low-impact, money-saving Halloween is so much more rewarding than trying to turn some other holidays green. You don’t have to argue with relatives about whether or not to have a turkey, or disappoint the kids with gifts to humanitarian causes in their names at Christmas. All you really need to do is think creatively, get holistic about your pumpkin, maybe dust off the sewing machine and take it easy at the store. Here are our best nine ideas to help you get started.

New York’s Botanical Garden is sprouting herbs and celebrities this fall

Calling all New York City edible gardeners and home chefs, The New York Botanical Garden’s Edible Garden exhibit will be finishing up the growing season with a burst of appearances by chefs, including hospitality maven Martha Stewart.

Events will include cooking demonstrations that highlight the value of kitchen gardens and celebrity appearances through mid-October. (Martha takes the stage Sept. 21 at a cocktail party event near her namesake Culinary Herb Garden). Events include

Clearing the air: NYC proposes banning smoking in parks

New York City already has smoke-free restaurants. It may soon have smoke-free parks, beaches and outdoor plazas.
Under a proposal announced Thursday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Councilmember Gale Brewer, the existing local Smoke Free Air Act that bans smoking in workplaces and indoor gathering spots, would be expanded to include the great outdoors.

Reusable lunch gear that really works

Best in class reusable lunch containers: A Koko insulated lunch bag, wrap-n-mat sandwich wrap and a sleek Thermos, lead and BPA free.


Now that school’s started, the plastic baggies have taken wing, and plastic bottled beverages are spewing forth like water through a dam.
Are you still sending your kids to school with an arsenal of disposables? Maybe you’ve tried to cut back on all the waste, but with mixed success. We’ve sampled more than a few awkward and non-enduring, non-disposable packing containers. Our move to glassware storage seemed like progress around the house, but really weighed down the takeout lunches. And those wax paper sandwich bags that work so well at the deli? We got big complaints about fossilizing bread ends when they were employed for long haul packing.
This year, though, we feel like the San Francisco of lunchbag trash diverters. Our assembled retinue of carryout lunch tools is reducing our noon trash toll to almost nothing, save for a few cracker and granola bar wrappers.

Mother Nature can teach the children well

Kayaking with the LEAF program (Photo: The Nature Conservancy)


The kids are heading back to the classroom – if they aren’t already there sitting in rows in front of a blackboard – and parents are plotting how to give their children an academic advantage. Some are buying DVDs, books or computer programs. Some are paying for tutors or study skill seminars. All well and good. But if you want you kids to be smarter, some experts say, push them out the backdoor to play in the dirt, hunt for bugs and pollywogs, and explore the nearby park.

Southern California’s Planet Fest/Vegan Earth Day this weekend

Get ready to sample vegan cuisine and rally around the idea of going vegan to save the planet at the second annual Southern California PlanetFest in Orange County this Sunday (June 27).

This event, billed as environmental, health and food festival, will feature celebrities, sports stars, musicians and doctors, all discussing how our food choices can help address climate change, deforestation, drought and habitat loss and animal suffering.

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