Monday, August 31, 2009

The Purpose-Driven Breast

Let’s face it…debates over breast milk vs. formula can get as heated as a lit sparkler in a child’s hand (never a good idea, folks)!

Yes, it’s a matter of choice. No, there aren’t any laws dictating what you are to feed your baby. But there is a common sense factor here – which is, after all, the theme of the Green Grandma blog: combining old-fashioned ways with 21st century common sense!

Before I ruffle too many formula feeders feathers (nice alliteration, don’t you think?), let me preface by saying I’m only pointing out the facts on the benefits of breastfeeding. That doesn’t preclude some of the benefits you may find by feeding your baby formula.

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Before you even know you’re pregnant, your breasts seem to take on a life of their own. A-cups start fitting nicely into B-cups, Bs into Cs, and so on. While you may enjoy the burgeoning voluptuousness, the tenderness you experience is another story altogether. But there’s no stopping this natural progression. Your body prepares itself for what it was created to do – nourish your little one(s). And it can’t read your mind! If you don’t plan to nurse, it doesn’t stop its preparations….and engorgement is the unfortunate consequence that follows if the milk is not released by a suckling baby soon after he/she is born.

There are countless benefits to breastfeeding, both for the baby and the mother as well.

Moms benefit in the following ways:

• If you have a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding cuts your risk of developing breast cancer before menopause by 50% or more.
• You never have to worry about running out of formula and sending daddy out on a late night run for some.
• You will bond with your baby in a way unique only to nursing mothers.
• There will be a significant delay in getting your period after having the baby. A word of caution here: don’t think this means you can’t get pregnant while nursing – just ask any number of moms out there with children really close in age!
• Breastfeeding produces a calming effect in the early weeks and months postpartum. This is due to the brain’s release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin. Goodbye pre-birth moodiness. Hello serenity! This is a perk for daddy as well.
• Weight loss – if you’re nursing, you’ll be burning about 600 calories more daily than if you were using formula. Now that’s real motivation!
• You’ll save $$ -- tons of it, in fact. Let’s face it…there’s no comparison in the cost here.

And let’s not forget the benefits your child will reap:

• Research indicates a sizable drop in the risk for SIDS.
• Babies who are breastfed experience fewer allergy problems.
• The chance of becoming obese in their teen years is significantly less.
• Nursed infants are more immune to infections such as: diarrhea, ear infections, herpes simples, haemophilus infuenze, and RSV (respiratory syncytical virus).
• There is also a good deal of research suggesting a measurable increase in IQ and cognitive reasoning skills in breastfed babies.

The rest of us benefit as well when you choose to breastfeed your baby, because breastfeeding is much kinder to the environment. A green alternative to formula feeding, it produces nothing that will later reside in the landfills. Plus, think of the lack of manufacturing needed, as well as all the environmental costs of transporting the formula to the various outlets. It all adds up.

While some moms opt for disposable breast pads, there are greener alternatives to these as well – you can make your own cloth liners, purchase washable ones or try what has been described as “the revolutionary new alternative to traditional breast pads combining such unique features as flexibility, breathability, invisibility and ‘sticks to you ability’ to provide the kind of protection every expectant and nursing mother needs.” LilyPadz® can be purchased online or in stores like Target. Check them out at

“But I have to go back to work. I can’t breastfeed!” I hear you saying. Let me refer you to my daughter on that one. She’s been working fulltime and breastfeeding exclusively for over eight months now…plus using only cloth diapers! It’s called a breast pump and it’s really not that big of a deal. I can put you in touch with her if you’d like. She’ll be happy to discuss the benefits and challenges associated with working fulltime while breastfeeding. Maybe I’ll have her guest blog one of these days.

As always, this information is just for your consideration.

Keeping it green,


Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Never doubt
that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world.
it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Unselfish motives

"The first steps toward stewardship
are awareness, appreciation, and the selfish desire
to have the things around for our kids to see.
Presumably the unselfish motives
will follow as we wise up."
-- Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jake, my recycling dog

It's Friday, which means it's time to loosen up a little and enjoy ourselves. No one wants to focus on scary chemicals or overflowing landfills right least I don't.

So, in honor of my late dog, Jake (or Jakey Poo Poo as my husband affectionately called him), I thought I'd post a video of Jake showing off one of his many talents.

You see, Jake was a unique dog. As an American Eskimo, he was protective to a fault. But that stemmed from his loyalty and affection for us. He protected everyone in our family, from the two-legged creatures to those with fur and feathers.

One example of his role as a knight-in-shining-armor was the time I came home to discover the parakeet cage had been knocked over and Maggie, our animated little bird was on the floor of the family room surrounded by a semi-circle of four of our cats. Why Maggie hadn't flown to a safer perching spot, I'll never know. Perhaps it's because the little bird knew somehow that it was safe, because there on the floor between Maggie and the posse of kitties was Jake, who wasn't going to let a single one of them near the bird.

Speaking of kitties, we've had a whole slew of them. Jake was definitely outnumbered and suffered a bit of an identity crisis at times. He was an intelligent animal who learned sign language and tried his best to occasional "I love you" or "I hate school" (when the kids left in the morning) was decipherable. But speaking wasn't enough. Jake decided to master the meow. Thus the video, shot just about a year before he died.

I hope you enjoy this light-hearted moment. This coming Monday would be Jake's 14th birthday. If he were still with us, we'd grace him with a stuffed toy, even though he always gravitated back to his worn out yellow platypus.

Aww Jakey, you're missed, buddy. Oh to be as devoted and eager to please as you were.

Oh, but wait. I still haven't explained how he came by the title of a recycling dog. That's simple, albeit not too pleasant. Jake had a very sensitive stomach...or so we thought. He basically threw up all the time. While we blamed it on a digestive disorder, it's only in hindsight I realize it wasn't about being sick at all. Jake was just trying to pave the way for a Green Grandma movement. He recycled nearly every piece of food he ate...and seemed to enjoy it more the second time around.

With that said, grab some popcorn and enjoy the video! Oh, and it's perfectly acceptable that it's not the recycled kind!

Keeping it green,


Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's in your Baby's Bottle?

Too bad there aren’t flashing red warning lights whenever you give your baby something that is actually harmful. But there aren’t. Not only that, seldom are there even written warnings. Unless you’re researching everything yourself, chances are good you’re going to do something that won’t be in your baby’s best interest.

Like giving your baby a bottle. Whether it’s formula or pumped breast milk, depending on the bottle you choose, it could be quite dangerous.

The dangers of BPA have been known for years. So why is it that it’s only recently you see manufacturers advertising NO BPA on their products? You know the answer. It all comes down to money. Fortunately, the choices of BPA-free products are numerous for today’s parents. Stores like Whole Foods, and from what I understand, Babies R Us, no longer carry products that contain BPA.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I even addressing the issue? Simply because many of you may be using bottles you bought when you had your first child a few years ago or so. Or you’re using hand-me-down bottles from your cousin, Lucy, who loads you up with all sorts of baby paraphernalia now that she’s had her tubes tied.

At this point, you probably just want to click out of this site and move on to more pleasant topics. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without my having to introduce baby bottle blues as well? Unfortunately, ignorance does not make your child immune to the potential side effects brought on by exposure to BPA.

Up until recently, most plastic baby bottles were made from a hard polycarbonate plastic. These bottles contain Bisphenol A, which can leach into your baby’s milk and affect his delicate system. The danger of leaching increases when the bottle is heated. The worst leaching occurs when bottles are exposed to heat above 80°.

But it’s not just baby bottles that are a concern. Basically any product made of a hard plastic that is clear, not cloudy, is most likely made from polycarbonate. Look for the number 7 in the recycling triangle. Not all #7 plastics contain BPA, nor do all hard plastic bottles, but unless the manufacturer specifies that it is BPA-free, it’s safest to steer clear. If the #7 plastic is soft and pliable, chances are good that it is BPA-free. Sippy cups, can also be a source of Bisphenol A.

Side note for adults: If you’ve been avoiding bottled water and carry your own refillable plastic water bottle around, unless you know for certain it is free of BPA, toss it out and purchase a new one. I picked up a nice one at Target that boasts a BPA-free tag and it’s all I use.

What are dangers of exposure to BPA? Here are just some of the supposed side effects. Whether or not they’re valid remains to be seen. But animal testing has revealed the following disturbing results:

• Early onset puberty. This is because BPA is a hormone disrupter and appears to mimic the effects of estrogen. Naturally, this affects the neurological, reproductive and immune systems.
• Breast and prostate cancer
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Down Syndrome
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Hyperactivity
• Reproductive problems, including low sperm counts
• Developmental problems

Is the danger of BPA exposure all hype? Maybe. But are you willing to take that risk. Just because it’s still legal to produce it doesn’t mean it’s safe.

To ensure that your baby’s health is not compromised by the bottles you give him, choose glass bottles. There are bottle covers available to prevent breakage (Silikids or The Soft Landing) and you’ll find no dangerous chemicals lurking inside a glass bottle. Plus, glass can be heated and washed in the dishwasher without a problem. Plastic bottles should never be placed in a dishwasher, nor should they ever be heated in a microwave! Heat degrades plastic, which will cause the most seepage of chemicals.

Once you’ve rid your cupboards of the dangerous hard plastic baby bottles, there’s one more thing to be aware of. Many manufacturers of canned formula use BPA-lined cans! Ready-to-feed formula contains the highest threat. You will find PBM, Enfamil, Similac and Nestle all use cans lined with BPA. If you are giving your baby formula, skip the liquid and purchase powdered formula in cardboard packaging. If you must buy cans, stick to the powdered kind.

If you’ve stuck it out and read to the end, take heart. You, as a parent or caretaker, are in control. That’s what your little one’s counting on!

Keeping it healthy and green,



I just discovered today that Health Canada has released a report stating that Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottle, an award-winning BPA-free baby bottle, contained the highest traces of BPA when tested for leaching into water. Other products boasting a BPA-free label also showed traces of the chemical when tested. Glass bottles, folks. We have to go back to basics and that means glass baby bottles in this case!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Greener than thou....not me

The diapers are on the line and a jar of sun tea is brewing on the patio. Lunch included lettuce and basil from my balcony garden. Aren't I feeling green today?

Before I can start boasting a "greener than thou" attitude, let me tell you I still drive a Buick Regal, with less than stellar gas mileage. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, I can't afford a hybrid, even though my car Green Grandma car magnet would look more appropriate on one. Number two, I don't want to give up my heated leather seats. Now that's rather self-centered, isn't it?

The bottom line, which I refer to from time to time, is that going green doesn't require a total change of lifestyle. Not everyone is going to turn into an Ed Begley, Jr. While I admire his devotion and lack of hypocrisy, I'm not quite willing to go to those extremes. Does that make me a hypocrite? I hope not.

If everyone did their part, even in small ways, it would make a huge difference. If more people would use reusable bags, rather than taking home a dozen plastic bags with each trip to the grocery store, there wouldn't be a need for laws banning plastic bags. After all, don't we have enough laws already?? The same goes for plastic water bottles. Banning them is not the answer. While I use filtered water at home and often carry a BPA-free plastic container of it with me, there are times when I need to buy a bottle of water when I'm out. If bottled water is no longer available, what are we supposed to do? Buy a plastic bottle of soda? Now that sounds like a healthy alternative! When will common sense return to the U.S.?

There is a major complaint that plastic bottles are filling up the landfills. But, folks, plastic water bottles are recyclable. The problem comes down to a few different things.
  • People are too lazy to recycle. That may seem a bit judgmental, but it's true. I've watched as people, who I thought had sense, have tossed large plastic containers in the trash because there wasn't recycling nearby and they'd have to, gasp, carry it home to recycle it. Which brings me to my second point.
  • Too many businesses, churches, shopping malls, parks, etc. do not have recylcing receptacles or recycling pickup. Why is it that the citizens can be fined for not recycling in their homes, but can toss as much recyclable materials away when they are shopping, at work or enjoying a day at the park? What is that about??
  • And back to my original point: People are too lazy to recycle.

So, what's the answer? How do we rouse people from their comfort zones and encourage them to recycle? First, we can do it by example. Second, we can offer to recycle for them. Third, we can contact business owners, mall managers, etc. and request recycling receptacles. Recycling can actually bring in money for some businesses, so research that and talk money with them. That's a sure way to get their attention.

As far as the plastic bags's an idea for you. Purchase a supply of cloth bags and stand outside a grocery store where you can hand them to customers as they head into the store. It would cost you a little bit, but who knows what that little gesture could lead to. You could even slip a sheet of paper with plastic bag stats inside.

Remember, every little bit helps. You don't have to give up everything in your life. Maybe unplug the microwave when you're not using it, but you don't have to get rid of it. Maybe you need a plastic store grocery bag or two for garbage, but you don't need a cupboard full. Little changes.

If nothing else, I hope I'll make you think twice the next time you're about to toss a water or soda bottle into the trash. Stick it in your purse or cloth shopping bag and take it home to recycle. Our babies and grandbabies are counting on you.

Keeping it green,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Green Grandma?

You may be wondering why I chose the title "Green Grandma." After all, I'm not really old enough to be a grandma, am I? Alas, the calendar doesn't lie and the grandma part of the title is actually overdue.

My husband and I have a slew of daughters, with the oldest about to turn 33 next week. But it was our baby who gave us our first and she was 24 at the time! After Laura was born, I predicted a domino effect and imagined Christmases to come with a houseful of young 'uns. Ten months have gone by since the lovely little Lady Laura made her debut and there have been no more baby showers to plan...yet. Perhaps next year at this time it will be a whole different story. We can only hope.

So, although I was not eager to be called Grandma, the title now suits me well and I wear it with honor. That takes us to the "Green" end of things.

Aren't you absolutely sick and tired of hearing the word 'green?' I mean, seriously. It was under the guise of 'green' that brought about the Cash for Clunkers debacle. Yeah, baby, let's fill up the landfills with perfectly good vehicles so we can save a few miles per gallon....don't even get me started.

Maybe if the tag word for the environmental movement was blue or yellow, I wouldn't even be blogging about it. After all, it would be difficult to come up with a catchy name. Maybe "Yellow YaYa," but what would that say? No, green fits. I like the alliteration. I like how it works with the song by Kermit the Frog (one of my favorites in Jr. High). Besides, there's a certain 'coolness' to being called "Green Grandma." I feel socially relevant, unlike how I felt when my own children were young and I was a SAHM -- see even stay-at-home-moms now have identifiable initials to set them apart. Not so a couple of decades ago. Back then I was "just a housewife."

There was a certain stigma attached to staying home and raising kids.

"Maybe she's uneducated," I could hear the female business managers I met saying as I told them I didn't work. It was like I was confessing a hidden world of pornography or something. They'd gasp and back away....afraid perhaps of catching whatever it was that was ailing me. Now I realize I may be exaggerating a bit...but just a bit. Staying home and raising kids is just not as prestigious as furthering our careers. But, oh, it is just as important, if not more so.

Unfortunately for my daughter, she has to work. Not for a fancy car or a $400,000 house. She has to work for benefits. My precious grandbaby has VSD (ventricular septal defect), which may or may not mean some hefty doctor bills down the road. Fortunately, I'm available to help out and have been blessed to watch Laura through the many changes in infancy. The rewards come when this precious child reaches for me in delight when she sees me. She doesn't understand that I'm 'green.' But she will someday.

Because, the bottom line is, I'm doing it for her. Every time I choose a greener way of life, I invest in a future I won't be a part of. There's really little benefit for me. But a world of difference for her.

Choose green. Do it for Laura and all the other little ones out there who are counting on you.

Keeping it green,


Monday, August 24, 2009

A greener way with peas

We live in a preservative-happy culture. Chemicals and preservatives are everywhere. Does that mean you have to spoon-feed them to your precious little one? Absolutely not!

Homemade baby foods are the best choice for your baby and for the environment! Eliminating the waste produced by boxed and jarred baby foods definitely qualifies you as a green parent/grandparent/caretaker. And eliminating the chemicals and preservatives in your baby's diet qualifies you as a smart one.

Even celebrities have jumped on this bandwagon. In a recent Good Housekeeping article, Gyweth Paltrow is quoted as saying, "When I'd read about what pesticides do to small animals, I thought, Why would I expose my child to that?...I just want my kids to be as healthy as they possibly can. And I feel like eating well is the best start for living well."

People magazine reports that Tori Spelling makes all of her own baby food for daughter, Stella.

And let's face facts, folks; Paltrow and Spelling aren't pureeing peaches because of the cost factor! But that is another benefit for those of us on budgets! I picked up a small handheld baby food grinder at a garage sale for 25 cents! Brand new! I don't even have to plug it in, which gives me a couple extra green bonus points!

But don't just grab a handful of peas or a bunch of ripe grapes and start grinding. Age-appropriate foods are important. Stick with Stage 1 food for babies under 8 months of age. This will ensure less chances of allergic reactions. Most experts recommend not giving solid foods to babies under 5-6 months old and starting with cereals, followed by vegetables and fruits, meats, egg yolks (NOT egg whites!), and ending their first year with cheese and plain yogurts during the last couple of months.

Breast milk (or formula, if you must) can be added to foods as you puree them to give them the runny consistency necessary for babies starting out on solid foods. Don't store the pureed food for longer than 48 hours in the refrigerator. However, you can freeze portions by filling an ice cube tray and popping the frozen meals into containers for easy access.

An excellent website for advice and recipes on making your own baby food can be found at

One last thought on going green and healthy with a grinder or for local produce! Visit farm markets and look for organic foods.

Of course, it would be more convenient to just drive down to the store and pick up a jar or two. But, as I like to say...who said being a parent was about convenience. To quote Kermit the Frog, "It's not that easy being green."

Keeping it green,


Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's not about instant gratification

"The ultimate test of man's conscience
may be his willingness
to sacrifice something today for future generations
whose words of thanks will not be heard."

-- Gaylord Nelson, co-founder of Earth Day

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Wisdom of Seuss

"But now," says the Once-ler,
"now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax
seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not."

-- Dr. Seuss

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's not all about diapers

I'm hoping my first blog entry didn't scare some of you disposable diaper users off. That certainly wasn't my intent. I have some very good friends who use disposable diapers :-)

While I will be posting info about cloth diapers, I'll also be adding other baby-related content about the dangers of BPA in babies' bottles, etc. While the articles I write may not all pertain to the green part of my blog, they will often pertain to the grandma part.

Somedays I won't write anything pertaining to babies at all. Occasionally, you may find me just blogging for blogging's sake. After all, I am a writer because it's my passion. It's what I do. Perhaps I'll sneak it a link to a magazine article I've written or even post a silly poem or two.

One thing I can promise is that every day will be different. Sometimes I'll attempt to inform and other days I'll attempt to entertain. And if we're all lucky, maybe I'll even manage to do a little bit of both.

I'm off now to spend some time with my love, Bill, the one who first made me aware of environmental concerns, by the way. He's been recycling since long before recycling was cool and makes the title "Green Grandpa" least for me.

Keeping it green,


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