Not So Great Eco Book for Kids

by Tiffany in Book Reviews

I made a rookie mom mistake today. I started reading a book to my two youngest kids and didn’t read through it myself first. I assumed since it is was an eco themed kids book that I would like it. I didn’t like it an regret reading the first 5-6 pages to my 3 and 4 year old kids.

I don’t like to do negative reviews when it comes to small business or mom products so I won’t name the book. But the experience showed me that not all books in the eco kids niche are created equal. I want to talk about the reasons why I feel an eco book for kids can take a dangerous turn into the inappropriate and why.

The book was about bears and forest animals losing their homes to environmental destruction told from the viewpoint of the animals. No red flags going up by the sound of it but the way it was told was kinda of like a junior horror story. My mom spider senses started tingling on the third page of the book when one bear is driven far from his home and relates the story to another bear including the kinda inappropriate detail about his best friend being by murdered by humans. The picture accompanying this was startling. The message was clear. Evil humans are targeting defenseless bears. Okay I don’t want to argue the validity of that point or not but I know my 3 and 4 year olds didn’t need to hear about it at this juncture in their young lives. There are numerous ways it should be phrased or represented to be sympathetic to the bears without making men at large look like villains.

The book declined in my esteem with every page, and we stopped reading after more bad humans caused some sort of explosion in the forest. In the picture the animals were terror stricken and running for their lives while humans stood about indifferently in the background.

I continued browsing silently and found pictures of an animal meeting where the bear at the head of the table was outraged with a fist slamming the table. Pictures of kids taunting and teasing animals for fun and another picture of kids almost drowning. Most of this book unfolded like a train wreck…total doom and gloom. Yes the end was nice with the animals and kids working together for change but there was still condescending language about their parents being the humans who caused all this and how the kids need to stop them.

My hubby was sitting next to us while I was reading and he kept glancing over in alarm when some of this stuff came out of my mouth. His response after I stopped reading was “are you reading communist, liberal, anti propaganda to my kids?” He was of course kidding but his point was valid. This is exactly the reason why so many environmentalists get labeled as wacko and our message gets lost. I just don’t think this is the way to raise awareness and help kids take up the cause to save our planet. I really don’t.

There was no need to paint adult humans (and kids) as evil and mean. There was no reason to show such violence.  I don’t want my children to think that people are inherently bad and that they are just too mean or stupid to care about the environment and the animal inhabitants. Even if there is some truth to that in some instances they don’t need that to be the framwork for their worldview at 4-8 years old… the target audience for this book. The same story could have been told by appealing to their emotions and not scaring the crap out of them. I was very dissapointed by how the message was delivered and I will be much more careful in the future.


N is for Nature Children's Book Review

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Children

nature book coverThis morning the kids and I set down to read a couple eco themed books. The first I will review now and the other in a separate post because one I loved and the the other really irritated me to no end and I don’t want to associate the two.

Anyway, the first book we read was N is for Nature – An Environmental Alphabet Book from Green Sugar Press. It is written by Tim Magner and illustrated by Mike Nudelman. The book was very appropriate for my 3 year old and 4 year old audience members since they are both in varying stages of learning their letters.

I loved this book. It was beautifully written and illustrated even if I thought some of the letter associations were a bit strange like J for Jaws. Most made sense to me though…H for Habitat, O for Ocean, W for Wetland. The illustrations show the shape of the letter weaving in the environmental aspects so they get a sense for letter shapes but they also learn about the environment at the same time in a very simple and fun way. It took awhile to read since my 4 year old wanted to turn every page into a discussion. ;) It had many small and interesting facts about the eco system we live in that they are sure to remember which is what this book is all about, weaving learning and environmental consciousness all into one.

My daughter and I both had a favorite page that highlights why this book is so fun and special…the page for T which discusses trees.

For the air we breathe, the water you drink, and the forests you see, we say “Thank you”  to our friends the trees. Without them there would be no you or me. And they do all of this for free.

It is just simple, fun, and educational. The pictures are beautiful too.  My 3 year old son held on to the book for an hour afterwards just looking at them. This one is definitely a keeper for our family library and a great intro to Green Sugar Press. They attempt to encourage kids to be kids: exploring, examining and investigating the natural world around them. Their approach is excellent…especially in light of the doom and gloom eco themed book aimed at kids we read AFTER this one from another publisher.

I would not hesitate to recommend Green Sugar Press and N is for Nature to all eco kids and their parents. They have a great product and a great approach to teaching kids about the environment and getting them excited about it. 

Check out Green Sugar Press.


Health and Immunity With Fish Oils

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

The foundation for a healthy immune system for our kids is a healthy diet with all the vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies need, getting adequate exercise, and good sleep. Because our food sources can be so tainted with inadequate soil conditions, chemicals in the food, cooking the food which reduces half the nutrient value, etc it is no wonder that so many have decided to supplement. I am one of them. I don’t think a healthy diet alone will meet all of their needs…our food chain is just too messed up. But Many health officials are telling us we should supplement with fish oils. Dr. Sears is one such doctor who endorses them for their benefits to immunity and brain function.

Fish oils are rich in essential fatty acids, including omega-3s, so they provide a powerful immunity boost. I know that there are many moms that disagree with using this source of omega-3s, vegans included, but other sources such as flax seed may not be a very good alternative. Flax seeds contain the omega-3 fatty acid ALA that must be converted to DHA so that the body can incorporate it into cells and use it. Children make this enzyme only in small amounts, if at all. If they do not have the enzyme they will not benefit from the omega-3 fat in flax seeds. Newborns are completely unable to convert ALA to DHA. Even adults struggle with this conversion. Hence, flax seeds may not  be an adequate source of DHA. That doesn’t mean we can’t give our kids flax seeds…mine love them…but I supplement with fish oils too. I am covering all my bases. You just need to make sure it is high quality so that you can avoid environmental contaminants associated with taking concentrated fish supplements.

One I came across recently is Omax3 where purity seems to be the name of the game. Omax3 omega-3 supplement is made from highly purified fish oil. It offers an unprecedented level of purity, potency and freshness – as well as a perfected balance of the omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. They claim that the market has been dominated by expensive, poorly formulated supplements that contain as little as 30% omega-3s that mostly consist of marine bi-products, cholesterol, saturated fats, and environmental contaminants that can do more harm than good.

Omax3 claims that their formula is 91% pure and one of the highest quality fish oil supplements you can get. Their freezer test was really interesting. If you stick your fish oil capsules in the freezer for 24 hours and they get white and cloudy, they claim this is an indication that the capsules have a high lard content and a high impurity rate. After freezing Omax3 capsules remain clear. Pretty interesting. I may have to do more research into what makes some fish oil supplements superior to others.

challenge sidebyside


Better Life Green Cleaners

by Tiffany in Green Cleaning

Kevin and Tim of Better Life Cleaners

Green cleaners are not negotiable in our home. We are just too sensitive to the chemicals in conventional cleaners. My son had a severe reaction to toilet cleaner a couple years ago and I got hives the last time I touched bleach and Windex. So we use green cleaners around here. Some I make and others I buy. It just depends on my mood at the time but a green clean is not negotiable.

Better Life Green Cleaners are a nifty new option for green moms. They are called better life because as parents we want a better, healthier life or our family when we shop for products and these products meet that need. The company was founded by two dads and life long friends (Kevin and Tim) who wanted products that’d be good for their kids, our kids, and our planet.

They have also seen the trendiness of the word “green” and they wanted to stand apart as a company who walked the walk and actually sold safe products instead of just greenwashing questionable ones.

I know you want to try them. Well, Mama Goes Green is a store that sells sustainable goods for practical families. The owner Sara has graciously offered one of my readers a Better Life Non Toxic Cleaners Set.

It includes:

I Can See Clearly, WOW!™ glass cleaner  – It is solvent-free (no ammonia, alcohol, or ethers) and pH neutral, so it’s safe to use on acrylic and tinted/treated windows and glass.

Even The Kitchen Sink™ gentle scrubber– This naturally powerful gentle cleaning scrubber works wonders on tubs, tile and grout, toilet bowls, shower doors, stovetops, glass cooktops , stainless steel sinks, porcelain, ceramic, enamel, stone, cultured marble, non-polished solid countertops, and laminate. If concerned, test in an inconspicuous area first.

What-EVER!™ All-Purpose Cleaner– Use this safe cleaner on any washable non-porous surface, including: countertops, appliances, sinks, toilets, baseboards, walls, floors, tables, chairs, showers and tubs. Better Life products are ethoxylate-free so waterways and marine life will not be harmed.

This set is valued at $22.50 and one lucky reader will get it free, courtesy of Mama Goes Green. Thanks Sara!

The winner is #5 Andrea! Congrats!!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

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Preserve Colanders – Recycled and BPA Free

by Tiffany in A Green Home

All this week I have been using a Preserve colander in the kitchen. Therecolanders is just no better kitchen gadget than a colander for washing all the fresh fruits and veggies we eat. Our colanders also do double duty as produce bowls on the counter when they are not in use. I am loving my Preserve colander too.

Preserve is no stranger company to me. I am already a big fan of their toothbrushes. What I love, love, love about Preserve… other than their fantastically designed products… is the fact they recycle plastic already in the waste stream to make their products. They use 100% recycled #5 plastic to make their products including open ended containers like yogurt cups. This is a big boon in my eyes because many recycling plants will not accept open mouthed plastic containers like cottage cheese or yogurt containers. They just end up in the landfill. Preserve is doing something about that.

My Preserve colander is 100% recycled plastic, it is recyclable,  it is made in the USA, it is BPA free, it is dishwasher safe, and it is beautifully designed and attractive. All their products have vibrant colors and a kind of modern yet retro look. The colanders come in Milk White, Berry Blue, Apple Green, and Ripe Tomato. I have the Apple Green.

I also have a stainless steel colander with an enamel finish. But I find myself going straight for the Preserve colander more often than not because it is so light weight and easy to clean. And because it is using recycled plastic headed for the landfills I feel no guilt about it being plastic. This is in fact the best way to buy plastic! And of course plastic is also more affordable. This plastic is sturdy too. It will last a very long time so that I can get many years of use out of it and then of course it can recycled again. :)

Target is now carrying the Preserve line if you want to check it out. The prices are as follows:

Large colander: $11.99
Mixing bowl set of 3: $21.99

Large plastic cutting board: $12.99
Small plastic cutting board: $8.99