Activist Mommy

{August 17, 2007}   Profits Before Safety

Made In ChinaEvery one it seems is talking about the dangerous products made in China. I’ve seen several blogs across the web swearing off anything made in China from their homes. For parents such as myself the toy recalls can be an big blow. How many toys that we buy come from China? Do you know which ones are safe? Do you know if they are really safe or jsut claimed to be? Melissa & Doug is a favorite in this house, but even they are made in China. So are Melissa & Doug toys safe? They say so, but we’re really only hoping it’s true.

 One thing that disgusted me is getting online last night. There on was a huge ad, soft blue skies with light clouds. It seemed so tranquil, so calm. And the words “Mattel cares about kids…” starting coming across the screen. I wanted to vomit. Because Dirk Star rants it better than me I’ll just point you over to his thoughts while I try to regain my composure.

What is the cheapest way to produce our widget and how much can we compromise the quality of materials going into it to maximize our profits. Where is the cheapest labor available? Where are the pollution laws more lax than in our own country? Where are labor laws, tax laws, safety laws, consumer protection laws or any laws more favorable to producing low cost goods and services?

First the Chinese food scandels, now toys. Living completely self-relient and off the grid sounds better and better every day.

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Did anyone else see the news report about the baby videos? Apparently letting your baby park it in front of the tube, even if it’s called “educational” isn’t that great. Who knew?

Baby Einstein videosUmmm, even with a name like Einstein how on earth could any parent think that spending hours zones out on TV be a good thing? I mean already the average American watches 4 1/2 hours of brain numbing TV every day, and that’s usually slumped down as a family. So you may think that by substituting some of that time with something “educational” you could make it better. Well, no. Kids don’t need to be watcvhing TV, videos, movies, etc… The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that older kids not watch more than 1–2 hours of TV or video per day, and that kids under age 2 not watch any television. And that includes those annoying Baby Einstein videos.

But they play classical music and show kids shapes and colors.”

Great. So pop on a CD and pull out a couple books that you can read or look at together. Problem solved, without the talking picture box doing the parenting for you. I know, I know. I’m up on my high horse again. It just bothers me when we go to visit friends and the kids are zoned out on the TV. Every. Damn. Time. Even worse when it’s these so-called “educational” videos because then the parent thinks they can go off and leave the child to watch the video on their own. It gives them a fasle sense of security that their kids are learning without them having to do anything like, you know, interact with their own kids. Part of me wants to go on a tangent about how that attitude leads to parents pushing their kids off to school and assuming that they are getting an education without actually having to be a part of it. But I’ll keep that rant for later. 

Next time you think about plopping your angel down in front of the boobtube think about how TV affects your child and how to have healthy habits for TV, video games and the internet.

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baby bottleLast night I was watching the news when a story came on about baby bottles and a chemical called bisphenol A. A short story on the chemical found in plastics is here. Honestly, it seems a bit redundent that it needs to be said. We alrady know that bottled water is unhealthy and that is in part to the plastic bottle itself. The chemicals in the plastic bottles are leached out into the water you drink. And, obviously, the same thing happens to your baby’s formula in that plastic bottle. Bisphenol A has been linked in tests to “problems such as obesity, early puberty, hyperactivity, and abnormal sexual behavior and reproductive cycles”. That is a pretty scary list of issues that could come using a baby bottle. I especially wonder about the hyperactivity link with the number of children diagnosed with hyperactivity rising.

I hate to get on my high horse, but this is just one more reason I am so glad that I made the choice to breastfeed. I sat on the couch watching women on the news making comments about not knowing what to do and all I could think of was how ingrained the “baby bottle” mentality is in most Americans. Because obviously breasts are for selling cars and pleasing men. I wonder if the ones who say “Ewww” to the thought of breastfeeding thinks that exposing kids to 10 times the safe amount of an artificial sex hormone is less “disgusting”?

Edited to add that I was sent a link to a great article on this that also contains a rebuttal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). You can read it here. They of course say that bottles are completely safe and that there is no concern from bisphenol A. Call me cynical, but isn’t that about like asking the fox if it’s safe to let him guard the henhouse? I mean the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers says that toys with PVC are safe, because saying otherwise loses them money. So what of the JPMA?

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JPMA) is a national trade organization representing 95% of the $7.3 billion industry.

Does anyone else smell a hint of money in their denial of health risks from bisphenol A? I know I would sure like to see what studies they have done, how it was researched, and who funded it.

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I was sent an email about the latest toy recall from Fisher-Price. What seemed ironic to me is the same day I recived a package from Fisher-Price trying to convince me to buy thier latest toys, Planet Heroes. What better way to divert my attention from the dangerous toys then a free DVD and a poster coverd in new and exciting toys. Or not.

There is a great article on How do our kids get so caught up in consumerism? over at Kids and Commercialism. I think about it everytime we get advertisements in the mail, an effort to catch those who aren’t watching nonstop TV and eating at McDonalds and other toy-ridden so-called food places. Buy, buy, buy! And if a few toys get recalled we’ll just make more for you to buy. And kids just eat them up, the bright colors and fun advertising made to catch their eye.

Before a child enters first grade science class, and before entering in any real way into our religious ceremonies, a child will have soaked in 30,000 advertisements.

Here is the email I was sent on the Fisher-Price toy recall and more information on what you can do about it.

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{August 1, 2007}   World Breastfeeding Week

Welcome to World Breastfeeding Week. From August 1-7 people all over the world will be celebrating breastfeeding and educating others on the benefits of breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding for children is stated by many. But did you know there are just as many health benefits for mothers as well? Benefits such as a delayed mentrual cycle, an extra 200 to 500 calories per day burned, frequent boosts of natural oxytocin, decreased risk of iron-deficiency anemia, reduced risks of various cancers, and much more.

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{July 25, 2007}   Boys and violence

Before I had kids I was absolutely certain that there was no dirrect link between boys and violence. In my pre-child know it all stage I often argued that it was obviously some outside factor, cue glance to parents, that pushed boys towards more violent games than girls. Of course, I would huff, gender stereotypes are just that: stereotypes.

And in many ways my sons have walked outside the stereotypes. They are free to like whatever color they want, wear whatever tickles their fancy, play whatever games they wish. I have a box of photos of my oldest son carrying his baby doll around in a homemade sling and even “nursing” the doll on the couch. While he’s very much a rough and tumble kind of boy, he’s still got a soft spot in him that is usually defined as “girly”. I don’t care. He’s happy, I’m happy, we’re all happy. Mostly.
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marionetteYesterday my mother-in-law had my son’s hair chopped off without my permission. Or my partial permission. She claimed that she was taking him in for a quick trim and brought him back without his signature curls. She and I have been at war over his hair it was long enough to be at war over. My son, like his father, has beautiful long curls that just beg you to run your fingers through them. It’s the kind of hair that strangers stop me in the grocery store to admire and fawn over. And now it’s gone. The icing on the cake is that this is the first time she has spent any time with my son since her and I last fuoght over something petty weeks ago, and she immediately goes for something she knows would upset me.

There are a few hundred parental violations involved here. Lying to me about what her plans were, using my son as a pawn for her revenge, not seeing what an awesome kid he is, the list could go on. But what really pissed me off was after she left. As we stood in the bathroom looking in the mirror my son beemed with pride and declared that he finally looked like a “real boy”. Whoa. Way to take a kid’s natural desire to please the people he loves and turn it into a classic lesson in boy vs. girl. And here I thought it was his other body parts that made him look like a “real boy”. So what was he before the hair cut? Plastic? A marionette perhaps?

I really hate the idea that at 3 he’s already getting pushed inside a box of what is “acceptable” and what isn’t. I actually got a kick out him being too little to understand the way gender is seen by most. He was a boy that played fast and loose with the rules, and was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t care. So when he wanted bright red sparkly shoes to wear with his monster truck outfit I said sure. When he picked out the purple bag with yellow daisies to carry his toy cars around in I put that one in the basket. When he would dance around the room and call himself a pretty ballerina I would applaud and tell him just how pretty he was. But now the seed has been planted as to what is OK for him to do and wear by other’s standards. I knew this concept would come, but I certainy didn’t want it happening so soon.

I’m sure for some it seems silly. After all, it’s just hair and it will grow back. But to me it’s like a first step in the wrong direction. Today it’s “real boys don’t have long hair”, tomorrow it will be “real boys don’t care for kids” or “real boys don’t do housework”. And it seems like just another example of an overall culture that has pretty messed ideas on what makes one male or female while centering far too much on how a person looks.

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{July 11, 2007}   Nestle = BAD!!!

boycott NestleMy post yesterday on water bottles lead to a great comemnt and a link to a post of 13 news stories worth checking out. Scroll down to #8, a great piece on Nestle yet again making money at the expense of others.

Many people don’t know that there is a boycott on Nestle and their products going on. One that has been in effect since 1977. The reasons for boycotting Nestle make a pretty long list. Check out What’s Wrong With Nestlé? to see for yourself. Irresponsible marketing, exploiting employees, supporting brutal / repressive regimes , and abusing animals are a few of the ways Nestle gets its kicks. Doing a full boycott of Nestle can be difficult for some, especially since they own everything under the sun. As the company grows and grows one almost has to stop going to the store at all in order to avoid the stretch of Nestle. In the future the world will be owned by Nestle and sold by Wal-Mart. *shudders*

 If you want to know more you can check out the Boycott Nestle blog, which has an interesting post up right now about the Boycott Nestle week and mothers in the Philippines being misled into think that processed formula is better than their own milk. Much in the same way women here in the US were told the same lies. There is a great post here about the according to the World Health Organization, some 16,000 Filipino children die as a result of “inappropriate feeding practices” every year.

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{July 9, 2007}   Show us your tits!

How’s that for an eye catching title?

I need to check my stats more often. It seems my post, I don’t do MySpace, has been picking up steam on the web. First it’s been loved a lot over at sk*rt and got an awesome comment from a poster named brightfeather. Who even went on to write a great post On Breastfeeding herself.

And lets not forget that the beautiful Queen of Spain was inspired enough by my post to bounce her Tit Brigade over to MySpace. I’ve been touched by royalty, and I liked it.

I found an interesting, and frightening, post last night about the Chinese food scandal and how it affects our health. To read about how heavy doses of fertilizers, poisons, toxins, and heavy metals could be sitting in my fridge right now leaves me feeling a bit uneasy. I’ll admit to having a creeping panic attack at the thought of feeding any of that to my children. Thanks to a loophole in the laws dealing with the labeling of food sources and the FDA not testing for metals in imported foods there is almost no way to know if the food you are about to eat is contaminated or not.

Suddenly Local Foods month has a whole new meaning.  Sure, making sure the foods you eat are organic and locally grown can be a bit more work. And to some it’s even anti-feminist.  But feeling a little more safe about the products my children are eating is worth it to me. And hey, someone has to be alive and healthy to run the country in 30 years when everyone else has cancer or brain damage from heavy metal poisoning and toxic chemicals.

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et cetera