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US Sibling for Organic Baby

Organic Baby, a New Zealand based web site has just launched a United States version of their popular Natural Parenting directory.

Organic Baby started in New Zealand three years ago, and parents in the United States have been especially enthusiastic about the web site.

The web site is rich in information and resources including articles, latest product scares, recipes and links to local organizations. And now Canadian and United States visitors can find local organic veggies and read about dangers lurking in their own neighbourhood.

“We are a huge fans of Organic Baby your site is very informative and provide us with wonderful knowledge about green & organic products safe for the earth & family under one roof…… we are always looking on your site for parenting information and products.” (Adam of Montoursville, PA)

Natural Parenting encompasses everything from what you eat during pregnancy, natural birth through to raising your child in a healthy eco-friendly environment.

The product finder directory allows parents to find just what they are looking for - whether organic baby food, clothing or non-toxic toys in the United States/Canada or New Zealand.

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Organic Coffee and babycino’s anyone?

“With the recent explosion of cafes serving organic coffee (and milk) around New Zealand, there is a great opportunity for our members to meet up offline”, says Lianne of Organic Baby.

Organic Baby has recently launched their Eco Coffee Club. Membership is available throughout New Zealand.

The first meeting is taking place at The Organic Grocer in Wellington this week, followed by Kokako Organic Coffee Roasters in Auckland (early March).

While most antenatal groups compare milestones, sleep patterns and bowel movements, eco mums get more of a buzz from discussing new eco products, growing their own vegetables and modern cloth nappies!

The Eco Coffee club is a great way for like-minded parents to meet in an eco and baby-friendly environment. Each event is hosted by a local organic business owner. The aim is to keep them relaxed and informal as possible, so people can share information and ideas.

Register online at www.organicbaby.co.nz

Coming soon to an organic café near you…

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Toxic clothes -The tip of the iceberg?

Dangerous toy recalls have dominated the news lately and this week the Target programme on TV3 will detail how scientists found formaldehyde in woollen and cotton clothes at levels 500 times higher than is safe.

These recalls and consumer concerns sadly confirm what many so-called “greenies” already suspected. That cheaply made imported goods contain materials that could put your child at risk.

Most parents feel that they are buying quality when they buy 100% cotton clothing. Yet people are unaware of the many chemicals used to grow cotton for manufacturing. Traditional cotton production involves the heavy use of synthetic chemicals at all stages from fertilising the soil to cotton cultivation, harvesting, scouring, dyeing, printing, and finishing.

It is the treatments used in the final finishing stage, that the Target programme has bought into the spotlight. Finishing can be easycare, stain resistance, fireproofing, mothproofing, softening, deodorizing, anti-static, and mercerizing treatments. The chemicals used are Formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines. Chemical traces on the fabric can cause burning eyes, nose, and throat, as well as difficulties with sleep, concentration, and memory. Can increase susceptibility to cancer; emissions of chemicals from fabric increase with temperature. (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/a-guide-to-cotton.html).

This is why many parents are choosing to dress their babies only in organic cotton and the organic cotton market is expanding into older children’s clothing, adult clothing and bedding.

The Organic Baby web directory (www.organicbaby.co.nz) is a great place to find listings of organic products available in New Zealand.

It is not only clothing and bedding that parents should be concerned about, but children’s furniture, and air fresheners used around the home.

Cheaper children’s furniture is often made from composite wood products such as plywood, fibreboard (MDF) and glues which are known to release formaldehyde. Asthma research has found a link between home exposure to volatile organic compounds and incidence of asthma in young children. (http://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/design/unhealthy-air/).

Air fresheners which are commonly found around homes, and in shops and restaurants, also contain toxic chemicals including pinene and limonene which react with ozone creating formaldehyde (http://www.mcs-america.org/airfresh.pdf)

Air freshener products are unnecessary. What ever happened to opening a window? or using natural alternatives such as fresh flowers or dried lavender. Alternatively, you can burn pure essential oils (not the artificial varieties).

Yes, Target has certainly unearthed a minefield. It is very disturbing but will hopefully mark the start of a move away from the consumer-driven demand for cheap, low quality products and an increased demand for quality.

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postscript: 10 July 2008. Target have been ordered to broadcast an apology and pay the Crown $4000 after being found guilty of airing a misleading and alarmist episode on formaldehyde in clothing. Read more...

Are our Plastics Safe?

Recent toxic toy recalls and alleged formaldehyde levels in clothing have left parents worldwide in a state in anxiety – uncertain which brands they can really trust.

In the US, recent reports on the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) have given rise to a new cause for anxiety.

Thirty-eight Independent Specialists in BPA toxicity from around the world issued a consensus statement on 2nd August, 2007 (http://www.ewg.org/node/22300) saying that BPA present a clear risk to human health, including as a potential carcinogen and in abnormal sexual development.

The chemical BPA has been around since the 1950s and is a common ingredient in plastics, including the polycarbonate used in baby bottles, toddler sipper cups and the resin lining of infant formula tins (http://www.ewg.org/node/22338).

Sarah Barnett in her article for the NZ Listener: “Toxic Inheritance” - May 5, 2007, said that if a plastic container carries the recycling numbers 1,2,4 or 5 it won’t contain BPA or phthalates (another known endocrine disrupting chemical). BPA is found in plastics labeled 7 and phthalates are found in plastics labelled 3.

Phthalates are also found in Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) which carries the recycling number 1. PET bottles have become the plastic packaging of choice for many food products, particularly beverages like bottled water and carbonated soft drinks.

All sides agree that BPA and phthalates are known to leech out of plastic into food and liquids they are in contact with.

There are conflicting opinions as to what level is safe.

In the US, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates many plastic products, says it will take a close look at the new reports but so far agrees that polycarbonate appears to be safe. (http://www.ewg.org/node/22512)

The FDA have also found that the migration of any components of PET plastics under laboratory conditions is well below applicable safety levels. (http://www.plasticsinfo.org/s_plasticsinfo/sec_generic.asp?CID=657&DID=2605)

How do parents know what is safe? Every parent has a right to be concerned - this information affects almost every parent in NZ – except those with a totally breastfed child who has never drunk out of anything except glass.

For more information, visit the web site of The Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.
(http://www.ewg.org/featured/218).

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Lianne and daughter Selina

Web site creator, Lianne and daughter Selina.

Photo reprinted with permission Duo Photography, Wellington, NZ

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