::Here's To You, Mom!::

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! Today, we do a little something special for all the green mamas. Whether you're just a little bit green, or greener than the Amazon itself, we've got fun stuff for you to make your day even more special. Here's to you, moms, and all the hard work you do! We may be green by choice, but you're the whole reason we're here, so here's our salutation to all the hard-working new moms, veteran moms, stay at home moms, working moms, and moms-to-be to say 'thank you' for bringing us into the world and bringing us up green!

Have you ever asked your mother what she wants for Mother's Day? Chances are she said, Oh, nothing honey. Or, maybe she was very honest and said 'I want a nap'. Either way, we all know that mom deserves something special just for her to celebrate her special day. If you don't know what to get your great green mama, we've got some suggestions that will help her relax, unwind, indulge, and enjoy her Mother's Day all the more!

Let's begin with greeting card choices. While there's a veritable scbhmorgizbord of cards out there, all with different kinds of themes, whether it be sweet, cutesy, sappy, serious, or fun, there's one thing you can do to celebrate Mother's Day in a green way with your greeting. This year, when you're searching for that perfect card for mom, look around those endless greeting card aisles until you find the recycled paper section. There are plenty of cards to choose from and they're printed on recycled paper, such as the Papyrus line. With several, you can find a blank inside so that you can write your own greeting. A good idea for the non-creative types? Find a Mother's Day poem online and write it into the card. She'll thank you for the extra thought, and you've just given her a green gesture, too. The price of recycled greeting cards? Variable, depending on where you're shopping. You can get them locally made in most places, but they're going to be a little more pricey. However, Target has a section of recycled greeting cards that are priced right in line with the non-recycled counterparts. Some are even cheaper! This way, you can stay green, save a little money, and it will be a special gesture that means a lot to mom.

But what about flowers? How do you go green with those? Here's an idea: there are plenty of florists, flower shops, and floral sections around, but they all use pesticides and chemicals to keep their flowers looking fresh. However, all natural bouquets can last for days or even weeks if you treat them well. No pesticides necessary. Plus, those floral shops will charge you a pretty penny for a couple daisies and a rose. A good alternative? Go searching for mom's birth flower, the one that represents what month she was born in. Chances are there's a patch of grass somewhere around that's housing some of these beauties, and those flowers won't have any pesticides. Another alternative is the farmer's market. This time of year, the floral vendors are out with all their spring flowers, so you can shop there and get your green going with some chemical-free, local flowers, even ones that represent mom the most. Another extra little gesture that'll bring a tear to her eye. Thoughtfulness goes a long way to mom. :)

Let's address for a moment the wants and not-so-much wants of moms everywhere. Everyone knows that mom does a lot around the house, right? But remember, this doesn't mean that you should buy her a new vacuum cleaner to say thanks. [Unless she's been using one of those powerless prototypes for the past 30 years... in which case it might be time for an upgrade.] To moms, getting a Mother's Day gift that has something to do with housework is no way to say 'thank you for doing the housework'. Cleaning is the last thing mom wants to think about on Mother's Day, trust me. Instead of picking up that fancy new toaster, try going with something more personal. It's easier than you think. Avoid clothing, unless mom has a real thing for shawls or accessory items. Shirts, dresses, skirts, and pants... they're best left at the store. Another no-no? Age creams. I know it seems like a good idea, but trust me, this one is better off left untouched. Gift cards? A great idea, but most moms won't have much time to go shopping for themselves and honestly, and I can say this from experience, they might end up using that gift card for something more practical such as groceries. Groceries for Mother's Day? No way! Don't even give her the option. The exception to the gift card rule is this: if she has an affection for books or a specific little shop that only sells her kinds of items, then the gift card can be done. As long as she has to use it for herself, the gift card is acceptable. Steer clear of those Visa gift cards, though. That'll get spent on children's clothing and boxes of cereal quicker than you know.

So, what do you get mom for a Mother's Day gift? Well, we've covered the card and finished up with the flowers, so now all we have left is her special gift. Most moms really enjoy special outings and a little time to sit down and do something they always like to do. Is your mom the crafty kind? Maybe a gift certificate to a scrapbooking class might be a good idea. Our favorite subject is our family, so scrapbooking is appealing to many moms to keep all those special memories in place. Is she the classy type? Try finding her some dinner theatre tickets to a popular show. If she's sporty, maybe a new bike would surprise her! No one's mom is just run-of-the-mill. They each have their own special interests and quirks, so remember that while you're shopping and give her something that really comes from the heart.
Here's some great green gifts that we've come up with as suggestions for Mother's Day purchases. They're affordable and mom-friendly, plus they're eco-friendly at the same time. No matter what kind of mom you have, believe me, she enjoys a little rest and relaxation. If you've got an eco-friendly spa nearby, you've found the perfect gift already, but as those are hard to come by, try these use-at-home alternatives to give mom the peace of mind she deserves. Believe me, she'll be grateful!

For the expecting mom, Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter with Cocoa Butter and Vitamin E. 98.5% all natural, smells delicious, and the packaging contains 50% post-consumer recycled plastic.

For the already-a-mom mom, Burt's Bees Mama Bee Leg and Foot Creme with Peppermint Oil and Rosemary Leaf extract. 100% all natural, still smells delicious, and the packaging contains 26% post-consumer recycled plastic.

Cut flowers, or, better yet, a nice plant so that she can see it year-round and remember how much you love her. Remember to go pesticide-free!

Organic teas. If you don't know what kind of taste buds she has, get a variety pack from your local co-op, grocery store, or specialty shop and give her a tasty way to relax.

An Under the Canopy spa robe. Will she be at the spa all the time? Of course not! So why not bring the spa to her? These robes are made of organic cotton and super comfy. Plus, they'll give her something nice to wear when she locks herself away for that little bit of peace and quiet time that she so rightly deserves.

Local organic chocolates are a great gift if yourmom has a sweet tooth. In Lawrence, we haveSleepy Jean's Confections, available at the farmer's market and The Merc, along with various other locations. These chocolates are handmade locally with care and love and they're packaged beautifully. Every mom loves handmade... and most of them love chocolate, too.

Does mom love candles? This one does! Get her somesoy candles to relax her atmosphere, available for very reasonable prices at every place from candle shops to Target. If you get them from Target, maybe pick up a couple pretty reusable bags for mom, too. Moms love attractive bags, believe me!

For even more relaxation, pair some lotion or candles with natural organic bath salts, like theseBolivian Pink Sea Salts from Etsy seller Sacred Herbals. Nothing relaxes the body and mind like a nice long bath, and these are sure to add that bit of extra peacefulness to her spa-like experience.


That's all we have for you this Mother's Day! Send us messages and tell us what you got for your Mother's Day gifts or what special green goodies you gave to your mom. We love to hear from you! Shoot Mama Bennett an e-mail at and tell us what made your Mother's Day special. Thanks for reading, everyone! Happy Mother's Day! And as always, thanks for growing up green with us!


::A Little Bit of Baby - It's a Long One!::

Apologies for the lapse in posts! We had a little pre-term labor with our little sprout on the way, Daphne, just a few days ago, so we've been a little lax this week. But now we're back in gear, and I got to thinking, with all this baby business going on, why not do a little post on green babies? Sound good? I thought so! Let's get it started!

To start off, few people know the immense impact that babies have on the environment. Of course, I'm not talking about babies themselves - it's all that comes with them. Diapers, product packaging, squeaky bath toys, shampoos and lotions, baby wipes, and even baby food effect the environment to a great extent. Let's just say that decisions about baby rearing are just as important as the decision to recycle or buy an electric car. It's true! So, if you're expecting or you've got a little one of your own already, this post is for you!

Let's begin with diapers: did you know that one disposable diaper sits in a landfill for up to 500 years? Plus, the chemicals in the diaper poison the soil at the same time, making it unable to be used for farming. Even the chlorine-free diapers don't biodegrade any faster than the chlorine-filled versions that you see everywhere, and this includes Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, and even the chlorine-free Seventh Generation diapers. For the Seventh Generation version, the chlorine is left out, so the diaper won't poison the earth, however, it still sits in the same landfill, right next to the Pampers Swaddlers, for the same amount of time. Let's do quick math: 1 baby x number of diapers daily x number of days in diapers = ...well, let's just say an outrageous amount of diapers in landfills. Now, take that number of diapers total x the number of babies worldwide in disposable diapers... YIKES! That's a scary thought!

So how can you help lower the contribution to landfills with your diapering tactics? Nowadays, there are easy ways to do it. Generally, you've got the choice of 1) cloth diapering, and 2) the new and improved hybrid diaper - the gDiaper. Of course, option #3 is the disposable... but we already know the dirt on them. ;)

Cloth Diapering: This is a much less heinous undertaking than it used to be, believe it or not. Whereas our grandmothers had to use those white fluffy things and great big pins to diaper baby, our generation has been spared the hassle with the emergence of brand new cloth diapering ideas from places like Bummis, FuzziBunz, Bum Genius, and many more. The designs are endless and the cost is low, so you save money every time you change baby. Another advantage to any non-disposable diaper is that this alternative is more comfortable for baby too because the fabric is more breathable, so that means fewer diaper rashes and a happier little one. You still have to wash a lot of diapers, but it's the cheapest disposable alternative and saves you having to constantly buy more diapers.

gDiapers: These are a brand new invention, coined as being "the hybrid diaper". Why the hybrid? gDiapers combine the idea of cloth and disposable along with a great green concept. The concept was to save parents the trouble of constantly washing diapers [as you tend to do with cloth diapering] while still avoid the landfill contribution problem. Their solution? Make the diaper biodegradable, of course! And guess what? It worked! So wait, you're probably asking "exactly how does it work", right? Okay, here it goes - gDiapers have three parts to them. 1) the outer 'g' pant, which is made of cloth and entirely breathable [it also features a little 'g' on the behind], 2) the inner liner, which is plastic-free and simply snaps into place inside the 'g' pant, so it can be taken out and washed if need be, and 3) the flushable refill that goes into the liner itself. The liner is the biodegradable part, so when you change baby, the liner and the 'g' pant stay together [unless they've gotten a little messy from a stinky diaper] and you remove the refill that sits in the liner. But what then, you ask? Well, you can compost the liner, throw it away since it biodegrades, or our personal favorite - flush it! That's right. These are the only diapers you can flush. And you know what? It starts biodegrading the second it hits the water. Actually, it's made diapering time a little more entertaining for us. :) The best part is this - the gDiaper flushable refill will biodegrade in around - count'em! - 50 days. So, 50 days versus 500 years... I think we have a winner! Now, about the cost - yes, they cost more than cloth diapering, since you do have to buy the refills, however, you don't have to buy them through the gDiapers website and it's actually cheaper if you don't since it saves on shipping. Target carries gDiapers online only, Babies 'r' Us carries the starter kits, refills, and a couple of 'g' pants designs in their stores, and if you have a Whole Foods store near you, they have them too. If you check on the gDiapers website, it will tell you where your nearest location is that carries their products. Look around on eBay, too. You might just find a good deal on a gDiapers lot. The cost of a starter kit? $25.00 in stores or about $27.00 online [and the refill packages are actually priced cheaper than packages of Pampers]. It comes with two pairs of 'g' pants to start off with and each of them retail for about $17.00 each, so if you try the starter kit and it's not for you, you can always redeem your loss by selling your two pairs of 'g' pants to someone who needs them. Hey! That's reusing, too! :D Oh! And if you join the gMum or gDad program through gDiapers, which is for the people very excited about their gDiapering lives, then you can receive coupons on your gDiapers purchases, too! Hooray!

Alright, that's enough talk about the diapering dirt. Let's move on to something a little more pleasant, eh? How about this: baby furniture. We love to look at it, we love to shop for it, we love to buy it, but what are we buying exactly? Most baby furniture isn't made from sustainable materials, and most of the furniture that is not only boasts being non-VOC, but also totes a hefty price tag. $1500 for a baby crib? I think not! Now, if you've got the means to go with all sustainable furniture, go for it! However, for the majority of us, let's try the rather pocketbook-friendly alternative - buying second hand. There are plenty of people out there selling like-new baby cribs that may not be made of sustainable wood, but they are second hand, which reduces your product purchasing impact and gets you a great deal. Even a cherry wood sleigh crib in all its whimsical glory can be bought on Craigslist second-hand for $200 or so, even though it was bought new for $600. Pretty good deal, eh? So, for baby furniture, whether it's a changing table, a crib, a bassinet, or so on, try going second-hand with your options. Remember to start searching early too. Chances are you won't find your dream crib right away, but keep up the hunt and the odds are extremely good that you'll find it somewhere for a good price before baby's ready to sleep in it.

Shampoos and lotions and creams, oh my! On to the oh-so-famous baby products! Whether it's for bath time, changing time, or play time, try going eco-friendly with your baby products as well. Many shampoos [as we discussed in our last post] contain formaldehyde, which can be harmful to baby, so look for all natural alternatives such as Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and the Method product line, both of which are available in most any store. These brands are naturally made and won't irritate baby. Even Johnson & Johnson is something to be avoided, as they use formaldehyde in their products too, and trust me, it's hard to get any real information out of them about it. I've tried!

Also, Miles can testify to the glory of the Squeaky Green Diaper Cream by Method, as it was the combination of this and gDiapers that saved his sensitive derriere. For a boy once plagued with rashes, Miles now has a happy, rash-free bum, and believe me, he's happy about it! Try checking into these products and make sure to read, read, read your packaging to see what all is in that bottle of lotion you're buying. Synthetic fragrances, perfumes, and chemicals can irritate baby's skin, so steer clear of those. Also, many of these all natural brands use recycled packaging as well, so you may want to give a little glance to that recycled emblem as well. If it says 80% post-consumer recycled packaging, you've found a pretty good package. Pair that with a natural product on the inside, and you've got a great buy! Remember to shop around, too. As always, being eco-friendly doesn't have to be expensive, so don't let anyone tell you that it does!

Next up: baby clothes. Oh, how to clothe your baby! Obviously, organic clothing, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, organic is better than non-organic if you're buying new, but as always, the best buy is second-hand. Look around your city and see where your nearest second-hand baby product store is. Here you'll find like-new items, gently used, and for a whole lot cheaper than you'd buy them for new. AND you're still reducing your impact on product consumption! However, if you can't find any good hand-me-downs, you can definitely feel good about buying new organic clothing for baby. Organic cotton, bamboo, and soy-based clothes have no chemicals or irritants to bother baby's sensitive skin, so once again, baby will be happier too.

Feeding time! You've heard the phrase "breast milk is best", right? Well, it couldn't be more true. The vast majority of synthetic baby formula is far less than organic, and we know now that organic and eco-friendly go hand in hand. Plus, breast milk provides baby with something formula can't - immunity from viruses. This is a super system that nature has set up just for baby so that when you're sick with a cold, baby won't be. Your milk provides the anti-bodies that protect baby from it. Not to mention it's absolutely 100% free and always available at just the right temperature. No bottles needed! [But if you get one, go BPA-free, right?] So, go on and breast feed! It's better for you, better for baby, and better for the environment. If you want to learn more about breast feeding or want some support with it, check out La Leche League and find your local office. Even hospitals will have a breast feeding center, allowing you to ask questions, get advice, and help you every step of the way. Give breast feeding a shot! You won't regret it!

For older babies, try avoiding baby food altogether. You can start introducing cereal around 6 months or so if you choose to do so, but you can buy organic versions everywhere. Also, avoid baby foods in little jars. Sure, there are organics for those too, but if you buy some organic foods from your local grocery store or farmer's market, or even grow them yourself, you can mash them up and it's far less processed than what you'd buy in the store, which means it's better for baby. Plus, this will make it easier to switch to solid foods later on. Remember, a healthy baby = a happy baby!

The nursery: everyone loves to decorate the baby nursery. If you're expecting, you've probably found that everyone and their cousin is asking what your design plans are and contributing their two cents. It's normal! Here are some key things to remember about eco-friendly decorating for baby. Humidifiers and air purifiers are good, as are baby monitors, but look around to find ones with the Energy Star compliant mark on them. They'll help you save energy. For painting, use low or non-VOC paint. Ask your local paint shop or Home Depot about this and they'll be glad to provide you with the options... and there are lots! For rugs, curtains, and bedding, go organic. There are fewer allergens and chemicals in them, so baby will sleep happier without the irritation from the fabrics. Use low lighting to soothe baby to sleep, and to save energy. Babies will generally be comfortable in low to no lighting, but if you keep it on a dim setting, it'll probably set your mind more at ease knowing that baby isn't sleeping in the dark. If you plan on doing co-sleeping, however, great job! This is what we do with our children for the first 6 months. Generally, they sleep in a bassinet in our bedroom, then at 6 months they move to the crib. It's a pretty good practice for us, and if you're nursing too, it'll be much handier to have baby nearby for late night feedings. What about toys, you ask? Check out a little place called Melissa and Doug. They've got a great grasp on style without compromising their green goals, and in the process they've come out with some fantastic baby toys that are entertaining, simple, unique, and eco-friendly too.

Last but not least - the baby registry! Alright, if you're a first [or even second or third] time parent, you're probably wondering "how does this all fit on a baby registry? Will most stores have this available?" Sadly, the answer is no... but we've got a solution for you! I think you'll be happy with it for sure. It's called My Registry, and it's a free online registry that you can use for any product in any store or on any website. This go around, we went eco-friendly with our registry [save the crib, which needs replacing, and the bassinet, since we sold our old one] and we ran into the problem that all the biggest baby registry locations such as Walmart, Target, and Babies 'r' Us may have some eco-friendly ideas, but it's far from a fully green selection. So, we shopped online to find the most reasonably priced green baby items for our registry. It's turned out well, and we've found a great deal of handy dandy websites in the process. If you'd like to learn more about My Registry, check them out here, and if you'd like to get registry ideas, you can sneak a peek at our registry as well. Feel free to steal our ideas!

Let's finish off with some baby brands we love:

That's all the baby fun for now! I hope you've learned a lot and took some ideas along with you to use in your baby adventures! And if you've got questions on anything you've read or want to add a little something extra, send over an e-mail to me, Mama Bennett, at I'd be glad to hear from you!


A couple extra ideas for green baby showers:

  1. Send e-invites instead of paper ones.
  2. Use biodegradable party ware instead of styrofoam.
  3. Ask that guests bring organic dishes to share as a kind of pot luck.
  4. Play green games and test your guests' eco-friendly knowledge. They might leave with handy new information!
  5. Request eco-friendly packaging for gifts. No bubble wrap here!
  6. Make green your theme! If everyone sees that your theme is eco-friendly, they'll take a hint and make the occasion all the greener just for you.
  7. Have a blast! That's what baby showers are all about!

For more great green tips, visit us on Facebook and become a fan! We'll share ideas together, get discussions going, and let you in on any upcoming events we hear of. As always, thanks for keeping an eye on our green blog!

Miles enjoying his gDiaper.......



::What's Green About Going Organic?::

or·gan·ic adj. ...3.d. simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle.

We've all heard of eating organic. We've all heard of organic clothing. And we've all heard of natural cleaners. But what does going organic have to do with being eco-friendly? You want to know and we'll tell you!

Alright. Let's begin with organic foods. Why is organic grocery shopping good for the environment? Not only is eating organic healthy for you and your family, but it's greener too. When you eat non-organic, your fresh fruits and veggies are the carriers of various pesticides and fertilizers, none of which are good for the earth, not to mention unhealthy for your body. Even when you wash a non-organic apple, there are still pesticides that are left behind and some can even soak into the apple itself to be ingested by you or your kids, and those pesticides are far from healthy. Some have even been linked to forms of cancer. Plus, pesticides, of course, aren't produced in a green manner. So not only is eating a non-organic apple supporting pesticide production and use, but it's much less healthy for you as the consumer. What about canned and non-perishable foods? The problem here is the practices in factory production, not to mention how processed the foods are, and processed foods are much less healthy (and sometimes even harmful, if you have an irritable stomach) for you than organic. Another issue is packaging. Not only is it often packaged in non-recycled materials, but the packaging itself rarely gets recycled too. That's a lot of empty jars of JIF winding up in landfills.

And meat? Wow. Where to start? First of all, over half of all water consumption in the United States is used for raising animals for human consumption, so the less meat consumption you can handle the better. Fact: a meat-based diet requires 4,000 gallons of water per day, while a vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons. That's a HUGE difference! The second meat problem is that it takes not only a great deal of water, but also a great deal of food to feed all that livestock as well, so by buying more meat, or even just slightly more than you need, you're actually supporting the use of all that food for that purpose. As we lose more and more farmland every day, we're running out of space set aside for farming to support just the human race, and we're using that food to feed our livestock instead. So, again, the less meat you can handle, the better! To top this off, factory farms are run on nonrenewable fossil fuels, so they're about as far from green as you can get. Now comes the issue of chemical usage. Cows don't need pesticides to make them edible, right? Well, yes and no. Pesticides from the food provided for the cows are retained in some of the meat, but pesticides aren't the issue here - it's synthetic hormones such as rBGH and rBST, both of which are used to increase milk production in cows. While rBGH was banned about a decade ago, it is unfortunately still being used. Sadly, not only do these hormones make it into our milk, but they also result in horrendous and inhumane side effects in the cows, making their lives painful and short. Even the manufacturing of the hormones is ecologically harmful, not to mention unethical. So, what should we do instead? Drink local milk. Many milk jugs and cartons will be labeled if they don't contain any hormones, so look for those on the shelf. If it's available to you, buy your milk from a local producer, many of whom will sell their milk in co-ops and natural food markets. Here's a way to help the local economy, support humane treatment of animals, live healthier, and still spare your spending. Just so you know, most hormone-free milk is priced about the same as hormone-filled milk. It's an even exchange! If you'd like more on the benefits of going organic, you can learn more here.

Now, on to organic clothing. What's all this mumbo jumbo about anyway? Usually, organic clothing is made from either cotton, soy, or bamboo, although you can sometimes find it made from other fibers. More often than not, even the inks used on the shirt are soy-based, so they're eco-friendly as well. If you've ever shopped for or purchased a piece of organic clothing, you know it can be pricey. However, with a little bit of searching, the priciness can be avoided. Organic clothing is often more comfortable than non-organics, simply because it isn't treated and produced in the same manner. Also, there are no chemicals or irritants in organics, so they may spare you any allergic reaction you might have to a certain fabric. The main reason behind producing organic clothing is, you guessed it, sustainability! When your tag says "100% organic cotton", you can assure yourself that the shirt you just bought was produced without causing harm to the earth. The cotton fiber is completely sustainable and the fact that it's organic means that no ecologically harmful methods were used in its growth or production. Your organic cotton shirt is completely green, and Mother Earth will certainly be happy about your wardrobe choice.

Helpful Hint: Buy your organic clothing online and look for discounts, sales, and special offers and deals. Back Country Outlet and Sierra Trading Post have some great buys that may even undercut your current clothing purchases, and for baby, check out sites like Organically Baby, Positively Organic, and BabySoy. Check out eBay, too. If you're diligent, you'll find fantastic deals on organic clothing from several different brands, all being sold at really cheap prices. Best of all? You'll be following the second of the three big "R"s: Reuse. Buying second hand, whether it's been worn or still has the tags on it, will reduce your consumption while still getting you a great deal and some new organic clothes. Try the same tactic with all your purchases. Frequent eBay auctions, check up on Craigslist, and scope out local garage scales, many of which will be featured online in your local newspaper. Your hard work will really pay off and reduce your impact on the earth, plus you'll still be one step closer to being 100% green and you'll still have money left over. That's a pretty great deal!

Last but not least, moving on to natural cleaners and household products. Wow, these guys are really something else! You might think that your Swiffer wet mop is the only thing that works for your floor cleaning, but there are some things you should know. First of all, many household cleaners use formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has no determined safe level of human exposure - it's a toxin. It also has links to early aging (causing wrinkles to form), as well as emphysema and heart disease, and various cancers. Ever dissected something in your high school biology class? Those little frogs are soaked in it, which is what makes their bodies so tough to dissect. Nowadays, dissection classes are less prominent to avoid formaldehyde exposure to our kids, so if your child happens to be in a biology class, ask questions. Chances are, they won't be doing dissections, but if they are, you might want to consider writing a note to excuse your child from the class. Try sharing your helpful info with other parents as well. They'd be grateful to know! And as far as household products go, formaldehyde can be in any of your toilet cleaners, dishwashing detergents, air fresheners, or even in your shampoo. It's even in Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo! If you google search your products, you can find out if formaldehyde is contained in them and spare yourself the chemical exposure. But formaldehyde isn't the only harmful chemical being used in seemingly benign household products. The Swiffer sweeper that's so popular, for example, has had trace amounts of chemicals found in anti-freeze in the cleaning solution. The ASPCA has recently stated that any link between these chemicals and pet death or illness is unfounded, however, if your pet walks through your freshly Swiffered kitchen and then licks its paws, you can bet they're ingesting some of those chemicals. Fatal or not, the warning on the Swiffer WetJet still reads "May Be Harmful to Children and Animals", so it's probably not a risk to be taking. And what about those baby toys that go between your child's hand, the floor, and their mouth? That's right. More chemical ingestion. Whether it has fatal effects or just causes some intestinal pain, it's enough to put any baby or pet in danger. So what's the remedy? Natural cleaners. Now, you may think that if you go and buy Seventh Generation detergent or invest in some Green Works kitchen cleaner you're going to be paying a pretty penny and breaking the bank. Not true! While there are plenty of excellent natural cleaners on the shelves, you don't have to buy your cleaners when you want to go chemical-free [and eco-friendly]. Here's the better way: make your own cleaners by trying these clean and green alternatives. Most of them will use a mixture of water, vinegar, and lemon juice, and they'll clean just as well as the brand names off the shelves, only without the chemical additives. And don't worry about compromising your purchasing and losing your streak-free shine. With as many recipes out there for natural cleaners and household products, you'll find that they work every bit as efficient as the chemical-filled ones, only they're healthier for you and your family, including your pets, and they don't harm the planet.

Try this! Find some recycled plastic spray bottles [and as a note, check to see what percent of the bottle is recycled and whether it's pre-consumer or post-consumer - if it's post-consumer, you've found your bottle], gather up some online recipes for different detergents, cleaners, soaps, shampoos, etc., and get to mixing. Chances are that what you need to make your cleaners is already in your cabinets. That means you save money while you enjoy your healthy, sustainable living!

So, the conclusion is this: buy organic. If you can help it, buy local organic by shopping at your nearest co-op or hitting up the farmer's market. The amount of toxins you'll avoid and the amount of chemicals you'll be keeping out of the earth really adds up. You'll feel healthier, spend less of your money, and live greener. So the next time you see an organic apple, pick it up and stick it in your reusable bag. You've just done yourself and your family a good service, not to mention the world.

♥ Mama Bennett

Bennett Family Organic Favorites: Burt's Bees Baby Shampoo & Yerba Mate Tea

This stuff keeps Miles' and Molly's hair smelling delicious, looking fantastic, and all without formaldehyde. Just like Johnson & Johnson, it's tear-free, so it won't sting their eyes, plus, the scent is natural too and made from coconut and sunflower oils. It's even phthalate-free and not tested on animals. An even bigger perk? The bottle is made from 80% post-consumer recycled materials. And when baby has used it all, you can recycle it again with your #2 plastics. Remember to remove the cap first!

And for Mom and Dad, there's Yerba Mate tea by Nativa. It's extremely healthy, increasing energy, clearing the mind, relieving allergies, and even improving your sleep. It even contains less than half the caffeine that you'll find in ground coffee. You can find it pretty much anywhere, but we buy ours from HyVee. Don't go to a natural foods store for this one. Keep costs down by buying from a grocery store or your local Walmart, if they carry it there. It'll save you quite a bit of money and it's still all-natural. A little tip: if you like things sweet, add some organic honey and a touch of sugar to make it extra delicious. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy some quiet time with your Yerba Mate! It's a great way to relax after a long day.


::Paper or Plastic - Does Your Shopping Bag Really Make a Difference?::

Alright, if you've ever watched the television show Living With Ed [and we have!] you know the answer to the oh-so-common question "paper or plastic". According to Ed, as well as many other eco-friendly shoppers, the answer is - "neither". But does toting around a reusable bag or two really make that much of a difference? Good news - it really does!

Fact: Plastic bags sitting in landfills don't only take up to 1000 years to break down, but during their breakdown period they release toxins that pollute the earth and soil. The production of plastic bags also uses a great deal of oil, which also adds to the pollution problem. It's estimated that the citizens of the United States collectively use more than 380 billion plastic bags every year. Paper bags, while a seemingly better alternative, are in fact made of paper, which means that the use of paper bags requires using something very important to the environment - a lot of trees. Even paper bags that are made from recycled materials are often made from pre-consumer materials, not post-consumer, thus nullifying their eco-friendly effect. So even those who are trying to remedy the plastic bag problem by going with paper are still stuck in a corner with this option. The remedy? Go with reusables!

Around here, we have a house stocked with reusable bags from all our most frequent shopping locales. Of course, Target and Wal-mart are two of them, but our personal favorite is the Community Mercantile, better known as The Merc, which is our local co-op grocery store. Like a smaller version of your typical Target Super Center, the Merc has everything from fresh produce to books, cosmetics to cleaning solutions, and everything in between. The best part? If you shop smart and keep your eyes peeled for great deals, your budget stays the exact same, and you may even save money by shopping at your local co-op. Chances are it's packed full of items produced locally and sometimes at lower prices than you'd find on the shelves at a large corporate grocery store. Better yet, these co-ops frequently encourage going the eco-friendly route, as is the case with The Merc. Not only do they have your everyday reusable bags for sale, but they also have ones displaying The Merc logo, various designs from local artists, and even handmade bags by locals for locals. [In case you'd like to find the location of a community co-op near you, try searching through the natural food co-op national directory!]

Of course, if you buy your reusable shopping bags handmade, they may cost you a smidge more than a run-of-the-mill one, but the good news is that nobody needs a fancy bag to go grocery shopping. In fact, you may want to save a bit of money by going with a set of the average reusable bags than buying pricey alternatives. That way, when the bag finally needs replacing [which will generally take quite a while] you aren't out $20-$30. The price of a reusable bag at a corporate grocery store such as Target? $1.00-$5.00, depending on what design you'd like. And don't hesitate to take your Target bags to Wal-mart or your Wal-mart bags to your local co-op. If you're worried about insulting the store you're at versus the store bag you're carrying, keep this in mind: you're coming to their store to shop, so there's no harm done no matter what bag you tote in. Don't worry about store-appropriate bag etiquette!

But how many bags should you keep on hand? And how will you remember to take them with you to every shopping excursion? For us, we have a total of about 10 bags altogether. They hold quite a bit and are sturdier than both paper and plastic, so that's about all you need. Got a big family? You can always buy an extra bag or two, for those just in case shopping outings, but chances are 10 will be the right number and you won't need extras.

Helpful Hint: If you think that you'll forget your bags when going to the grocery store and once again be faced with the "paper or plastic" question, try this: When you return home from your shopping and everything gets put away, fold up your reusable bags and place them in the trunk of your car or under one of the seats. This should ensure that they get taken with you each trip and you won't be turning around halfway to the store to go back for your bags or end up buying extras at the store.

For the Fashionably Green: In case you don't just want to sport the average reusables and would rather make a statement along with your eco-friendly actions, try searching through the savvy and swank reusable bags on Etsy, a site specifically for all things handmade. Here, your bags can be made from anything from organic cotton to recycled materials and you can even request that a seller make a one-of-a-kind item just for you. Now you have something with sass, something eco-friendly, and something handmade all in one! Try browsing through the Etsy site for these shops, [or just click on the links here]: Happy Family, The Craft Pantry, and Proletariat Bags. Each has its own style, and each store has great feedback! Now you can go green without compromising your style... or your pocketbook.

So what did we figure out?
1) Ed's right! The only real eco-friendly answer to "paper or plastic" is "neither".
2) Sacrificing plastic bags doesn't have to break the bank or your personal style.
3) Utilizing reusable bags is easy to do [even with kids in tow!] and makes a big impact.

So the next time you go grocery shopping at your local co-op, supermarket, or even the farmer's market, remember to say "I brought my own bag". What a big difference one little bag can make! Happy shopping, everyone!

Tiffany's Favorite Reusable Shopping Bag: The Brown Multi-Dot Bag from Babies 'r' Us

"Believe it or not, even Babies 'r' Us has a few reusable bags for sale! Super durable and sporting a neat modern design, [not to mention costing only a couple dollars], this bag is definitely my current favorite! Talk about neat eco-style for cheap!"
*the reusable bag featured at the beginning of this post can be found on the site at The Craft Pantry*

::Meet The Bennetts!::

So, just who are we, eh? And who are we to tell you how to go green when you could simply be watching Living With Ed to find out all your green tips? Good questions! Let's start with introductions!

Meet Mom and Dad! Tiffany and Zac Bennett!:

Zac comes from a background full of great green goodness! Mom and Dad on that side of the family have all the knowledge on both electric and hybrid vehicles and could talk non-stop about solar paneling for hours! We'd like to say that Papa Bennett has a pretty good grasp on all things green, not to mention fact vs. fiction.

Though Tiffany comes from a much less green background, being married to a green guy says something! Unlike Ed Begley's wife, [whom we still love no matter what!] Mama Bennett is always searching for ways to go more eco-friendly and all that stay-at-home mom time is certainly good for lots of research and experimenting! Everything from green cleaning to natural cosmetics reviews are available here!

Meet the Baby Bennetts!:

Molly may be just now getting her green footing, but she knows how important the environmental cause is, even if she forgets to turn off a light switch now and then. For her, the expertise lies in what makes going green fun. Want some advice on green toys or what ways you can keep you and your kids entertained while still saving the planet? She's your go-to girl!

Miles, although he's yet to begin expressing himself through words, has a whole 15 months worth of green experience, and he's getting pretty savvy! His area of expertise? Green eating, of course! Wanna know if something produced in an eco-friendly way is still super tasty? If so, he's got the dish on all the dining delicacies! Not bad for a 15-month-old, eh?

So, now you've met the family! Now, let's go back to the question "who are we to offer green tips?" Well, now you see that each of us has a separate area of emphasis in the green cause! The best part? We're an absolutely normal family with a tight budget and a tight time schedule. What's good about that you may ask? We understand how hard it can be to go eco-friendly, especially with little ones in tow [and believe me, the Bennett babes aren't any more well-behaved than anyone else's!]. But we can help you in your green efforts by keeping you up to date with our green family! Everyday in our house is filled with discoveries, green challenges, questions and answers, and fantastic finds. Then, we put our finds to the test! After that, we pass on all our green knowledge to you! And with a little luck, a bit of elbow grease, and maybe even a smidge of solar power, hopefully we can help you out a little bit in your quest to go green. Are our reusable shopping bags alone going to single-handedly save the planet? Probably not... but if every person we see decides to tote a canvas bag for their fresh produce instead of going plastic, we might be on to something!

Thanks for meeting the Bennetts and check back very soon for our latest daily discoveries and helpful hints to keep you and your house growing up green! And don't forget to keep checking your blog updates - we've got a new all-natural made-from-scratch bundle of joy coming this summer! Get ready this July to welcome Daphne, the new Baby Bennett, to our great green house!



Welcome to Growing Up Green! This blog is for parents who want to learn how their decisions, purchases, and parenting methods effect the environment and how we as parents can create positive change by going eco-friendly without a lot of expense or hard work.

It's a big job - saving the planet. But parents have some of the most say over what goes into landfills and how we interact with our environment. Did you know that just one disposable diaper, even a chlorine-free diaper, can take up to 500 years to biodegrade in a landfill? Take that times how many children you have, how many diapers they go through in a day, times how long they're in diapers - it's nearly unfathomable! But parents today have two things on their side: 1) they can find out easily how their choices effect our planet, and 2) they can easily find ways to help the environmental cause through switching and altering their choices, most of the time through simple and easily accomplished methods.

In our blog, we want to connect and reach out to other parents by handing out the facts about eco-friendly parenting and communicating on a personal level with other parents by sharing what our family does to keep growing up green. Thanks so much for dropping by, and keep in touch for updates, suggestions, tips, and tidbits of information that could change your idea on parenting, make a huge change for our environment, and teach you how to grow up green along with us!