Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:52 pm
emma_in_dream: (kate bunce)
A recent study from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice found that all the children’s lunch boxes tested -- which technically aren’t “toys” and so aren't covered by current legislation -- contained up to 30 times the amount of toxic dust deemed safe by the federal government.

Disney’s lunch boxes were some of the worst offenders. Their lunchboxes are covered with beloved characters -- like iconic princesses and Spiderman -- but could be shedding toxic chemicals that put my kids at risk.

Tell Disney to be a leader for children's health and stop using dangerous phthalates in their products now.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
I have read a lot of parenting books in my time. This is partly because I like to do my research and partly because my children are statistical outliers which means that I have spent hours pouring over books trying to figure out, basically, what was up with my kids.

This was particularly the case before Pearl got her diagnosis. I would read the books which would assume the child would walk at roughly a year and assure the anxious reader that lots walked later than that but that if they had any concerns they should see a doctor. ‘Later’ would not be defined and it certainly didn’t mention what to do if the doctors could not make a diagnosis and just kept prodding and poking your child and then saying doubtfully that perhaps she was just a slow developer.(1)

This experience of parenting books has led me to pooh-pooh the majority of the genre. I think they are fiercely focussed on… well not the wrong things precisely because they concentrate on feeding your kid and getting them to sleep. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are focussed on the 10% of the parenting iceberg which is visible.(2)

Here are some suggestions for parenting reading which contain virtually no suggestions on how to get your child to eat vegetables or to sleep through, but which consider the political aspects of parenting. (Political in the sense of exploring the interchange of power over parenting and that my politics favour the feminist.  I eschew the sense of political meaning the short term chest thumping of politicians in parliament.)

Sandra Steingraber’s *Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis* (2011) really changed the way I view parenting and being green. Read more... )

Another work I enjoyed reading is Daphne de Marneffe’s *Maternal Desire: On Children, Love and the Inner World* (2005) which celebrates spending time with babies and very little kids. Read more... )

In short, both well worth reading if you want to consider the emotions and implications of being a parent rather than just focus on getting your child to sleep (as I type my daughter is shrieking at me rather than sleeping) or to eat (hahahaha, no good at that either).

(1) I particularly loath those books which go through what your child should be able to do month by month because my kids,  of course, lag behind. Even though I firmly believe it is just their physical development which is slow, this affects all the ways in which they can demonstrate their mental and social abilities so they wind up doing badly all round. (For instance, did Pearl gesture with her arms that she wanted to be picked up? No because her arm muscles were too weak to allow this kind of non-verbal communication as a baby or toddler.)

(2) OTOH, I suck at the feeding/sleeping parts of parenting so perhaps I just pooh-pooh the books in a defensive move.
emma_in_dream: (lotr)
I knew the Australian formulae for Johnson & Johnson baby wash has formaldehyde... because I wrote to them and their response was that it isn't such a big deal. What's a little carcinogen in the big scheme of things?

Apparently they actually have a version on the shelves in some countries, just not Australia or the USA.
emma_in_dream: (Monroe)
It’s Spring and I am feeling inspired about strawberries. I love the sweetness, the plump redness. It really is the taste of the fresh, summer season. I love the sight of Ruby clutching them in her chubby fists and stuffing them into her mouth with such joy.

But that’s not what’s inspiring me.

Sadly, what is moving me is a great book by Sandra Steingraber about parenting in our age of environmental toxins.(1) She talks about the need to take action to save our kids from environmental toxins, and she writes compellingly about how small issues link up to the bigger environmental issues.

One of the examples she uses is strawberries which, in the US are grown with the use of a fumigant called methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a known ozone depleter. These berries may have the taste of summer but their growing contributes to global warning. The fumigant is a neurotoxicant and as a bonus it causes climate change, so your concern about your child ingesting pesticides segues into your desire for your child to inherit a safe world.

Steingraber speaks movingly of the need to take action, the need to say to our kids - ‘It’s OK, I’m working on fixing these problems’.

So, OK, I am moved. I will start here.

Why will I begin with strawberries?

Read more... )

What have I found out?

Read more... )

What else can I do?

Well, firstly, I can distribute this information. (Hello, Internet!)

Green guides would suggest growing your own. I’ve had zero success in growing anything in my shady, shady garden. Like geraniums die, lemon trees die. I seriously doubt strawberries would grow and I refuse to waste money trying.

Green guides would also suggest a community supported agriculture group (CSA). These seem to be common in the USA but I’ve had trouble finding one in Western Australia.

And I am open to other suggestions, people, especially from those of you who actually understand science.

(1) Sandra Steingraber, Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis (2011). You can find out about her at:







(8) Not only is organic fruit way more expensive but the books on eating sustainably bang on and on about deep freezing and storing food. In order to do that you have to have enough space for a deep freeze (also money) so this advice irritates me greatly. My experiment is with one punnet. If it works, one day when I live in a space with more space I’ll freeze on a larger scale.
emma_in_dream: (partners)
The response from the ACCC.

Dear Ms XX

We did complete some tests on a range of children's jewellery. The first test involved using x-ray fluorescence to detect any heavy metal content in the jewellery. This first test helped us narrow down the range of jewellery for further testing. The further testing was acid-digest testing, which replicates the acidic conditions of saliva or stomach acid to determine if any heavy metals present would be absorbed by sucking or swallowing. The results were that no leachable (absorbable) cadmium was found in any of the jewellery tested.

While the tests were negative, we are continuing to monitor and test for heavy metals in children's products. We now have a team devoted specifically to chemicals and product safety.

I hope that helps alleviate some of your concern, but I would still advise you to minimise the use of jewellery while your daughter is still in the mouthing stage.

Regards, etc
emma_in_dream: (uhura)
They told me six months ago they were reviewing policy on importing cadmium in jewellery. So I have rewritten to them.

Read more... )

Green Bed

Mar. 2nd, 2011 08:55 pm
emma_in_dream: (supernatural)
I have nearly got Pearl's grown up bed set up. My aim was to get something that would not have toxins or chemicals which could potentially harm her. An added bonus would be if getting her bed didn't harm the environment or the workers who made it.

So, the bed was one from my parents' house. It was made by my father for one of my sisters about thirty years ago, using parts that had been thrown away. It is seriously over-engineered, as is everything he makes and will undoubtedly last another hundred years.

Any toxins on it were off-gassed a lifetime ago, and it's environmental impact must be close to zero. Plus, of course, it was free.

The mattress, on the other hand, has cost a fortune. I have ordered it from Organature. It has yet to arrive but should be OK, mostly organic wool and made in Australia.

The mattress protector came from Nido Organics and is made of wool felt. It's not as water proof as a plastic one, but it also is not made of PVC stabilised with lead.

One set of sheets are an environmental disaster. We bought them new, made in China, no doubt full of toxins, but very pretty and with butterflies as chosen by Pearl.

Another set will come from my parents. They hoard everything, so their house is full of the belongings of my deceased elderly relations. They have already found me several sets of used pillow cases, and I am confident that more linen will come there. It will no doubt look like the pillow cases (that is to say, hideous stuff bought in the 1980s) but the good part of the used linen is that is used. The toxins have already been washed out through years of use.

I have noticed this before - green things are either very cheap, repurposed stuff or they are vastly expensive, made specially for the purpose things.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
It’s Plastic-Free February but I’ve not been doing the big challenge ( What I have done is keep track of what I’ve used and thrown out today:

2 bags covering bread
1 plastic nappy bag
1 bin liner
1 bag containing new bin liners
1 shopping bag re-used for soiled nappies
10 straws
1 bag covering biscuits
1 bag covering ham
1 bag covering cheese
2 plastic wrappers over the wax wrappers on individual cheeses
8 nappies

Mapping it will, I hope, let me see where to save on waste.

The obvious one is nappies. Of course I know disposibles total the planet. And yet. I tried cloth ones on both kids and if they wore more than one or two a day they got horrible nappy rash. So I chose their comfort now over their planet in the future.

Food in bags would be a good place to save. I have decided that I am going to try ordering dry goods on-line from Coles next time. Shopping with two kids is ridiculously hard. If I do the main shop on-line I can go to a butchers and a specialist green grocers - that should save a little packaging.

And straws. We go through a lot of straws because Pearl likes to drink from multiple straws at the same time, and she has milk so the straws must be chucked pretty quickly int his weather. I have dealt with this - we are using up the straws we have now and I have bought us some steel straws to use in the future.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Does anyone have a recommendation?

The only one I can find is Nido Organics and they have closed down!
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Pearl is very keen on Fisher Price Little People. I like them too - they are the right shape and size for her and they are very gender neutral as all the characters are basically the same shape (including the dog).

But then, alas, I saw that both and had given them low ratings for safety. Damnit. Apparently they are high in chlorine which is measured as a proxy for PVC.

So I wrote to Fisher Price in Australia and I got back the usual kind of answer. Ie. we meet the regulatory standards and PVC is in everything and it is safe, or at least there is no evidence that it isn’t.

Fisher Price letter

Read more... )

I do not know enough to make any kind of reasonable decision. My understanding is:

PVC is toxic to make and to dispose of (ie. bad for the manufacturers and those around them).
PVC is not recyclable.
PVC emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
PVC becomes most dangerous to us when phthalates are added to it to make it softer.  This softer version of PVC is the sort used in children’s toys. Phthalates can cause harm to the reproductive system of both males and females.

And it’s ubiquitous. I really don’t know what to do.
emma_in_dream: (Invented in Russia)
Last year I got Pearl a very expensive Debresk truck for her birthday. And then the axle broke.

After some effort, I got a replacement.

And the axle has just broken. No replacement this time, just a sorry from the company.

So, with regrets, I must write this anti-recommendation.


And Debresk make beautiful toys that look like they will be heirlooms, and which then break in a quite dangerous way.
emma_in_dream: (Elizabeth Peters)
Obviously our Government is ticking over just fine in caretaker mode. In fact, it is more efficient than when under actual Government. I finally got a response from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. That is, from the CEO of that agency, saying 'as the Federal election has been called and caretaker convention arrangements are currently in place, I am responding on the Minister's behalf.'

As I read it, it means the answer has been sitting on the Minister's desk for three months and the bureaucrats are taking advantage of the opportunity to clean things up.

He writes:

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (Default)
It reads:

Read more... )

Basically there's little regulation at the moment but because of the problems in America they are testing some stuff to see if they need to increase regulations here. So I shall leave it for six months and then hassle them again.

And let me point out that I was right in the beginning. These are the first guys I contacted.
emma_in_dream: (Jeremiah)
Latest letter in the pursuit of this

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (bobby)
I have finally had a response to the letter I sent to the Minister for Home Affairs in April about cadmium in children’s jewellery.

Read more... )

I do intend to get back to him. Firstly, the ACCC are the first people I contacted, back at the beginning of the year and they told me point blank they have nothing to do with this so, despite what they are telling the Minister, it is obviously not a priority.

Secondly, what if the people importing the jewellery don’t declare that it has cadmium in it? This system seems to rely on operator honesty.
emma_in_dream: (bobby)
So, Austrade and the Department of Consumer Affairs don't know anything about who controls imports. I am beginning to suspect no one does.

Also, DOCEP do inspect show bags at Royal Show time but only 'to make sure the toys don't fall apart immediately'. They don't test them, so those bilious, neon-coloured toys - probably radioactive.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
The Department of Consumer and Employment Protection has referred me back to the ACCC and also suggested the Department of Health.

emma_in_dream: (Default)
Standards Australia sent useful information, and have lead me to the Department for Consumer and Employment Protection:

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (Default)
ACCC's lame response to my inquiry:

Subject: Lead and cadmium in children's jewellery

I see that Americans have just found that lots of cheap kid's jewellery has cadmium in it. This makes me worry about imported children's jewellery in Australia. I want to know: 1, who tests kid's
jewellery in Australia? 2, what are the results? Thank you.

The response:

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Pearl is such a little girl and very much likes pretty jewels. However, I am loath to give her plastic jewellery as she sucks on her necklaces and bracelets. I just keep thinking about that 50% lead Disney pendant and how much I don't want her sucking on lead.

Then, ta da!, I realised I had a jewellery box full of stuff that I almost never wear. She is now the proud owner of an enamelled red rose on a leather thong and a pendant made from interesting weathered rock also on a leather thong. She is very fond of both of them and shows them to strangers.


emma_in_dream: (Default)

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