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Jul 23 2014

How Do I Teach My Suburban Kids to be Environmentally Conscious?

By at 4:20 pm


My husband is vegan, we’re raising our children as vegetarians, and we even started our own vegan cheese company. But I have a confession: I am still woefully ignorant on many food-related environmental issues.

Food labels, GMOs, and the intricacies of recycling and composting intimidate me, yet I want to make educating myself and my children about these issues a priority. I want eco-consciousness ingrained in them from an early age, much like I want them to enjoy physical activities and speak a second language. I know firsthand that it is much, much harder to change your lifestyle and habits later in life. A few years ago, I wagered with my husband that I could stay vegetarian for a summer and lost the bet halfway through when our friends invited us to the best steak house in New York. Actions speak louder than words, especially when you can’t talk with a mouthful of meat!

But the sad fact is, it’s hard for my children to learn eco-friendliness at home. We drive everywhere; we fill our garbage bin to overflowing every week; much of the food on our plates comes wrapped in packages and no longer resembles what it looked like when it first came into being; and we live in the suburbs, shielded from the natural rhythms of the earth. How am I supposed to help them make informed choices when I am not well informed myself? Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2014

I Can’t Stop The Earth From Drowning, But I Can Save My Own Sanity

By at 12:44 pm


This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat B’hukotai. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Among the mind-blowing things I have learned from my first two years of motherhood is what it means to care about someone else’s existence as much as my own, to the point where their pain literally becomes mine.

It’s not that I didn’t care about anyone before…just that I had more boundaries. Of course when someone is suffering–someone I love or just know or even someone on the news or in a movie–I feel terrible for them. I cry. I ache for them. When my daughter is hurting, though, I find that it literally hurts me too–emotionally rather than physically, but it hurts. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 22 2013

Earth Day, Kveller Style

By at 1:01 pm

fresh fruit and vegetablesHappy Earth Day, everyone! If you’re looking for ways to instill a love and respect for the environment in your kids, Jewish tradition is a pretty good place to start. After all, one of the main tenets of Judaism is tikkun olam, repairing the world.

First, let’s talk about food (obviously). We have a great article on the site called “The New Jewish Food Commandments” and it’s all about ensuring that fresh, local, and environmentally friendly food lands on your kids’ plate. It’s chock full of great ideas like picking your own fruit in the summer, eating seasonally, and buying directly from local farms. For another perspective, check out Mayim Bialik’s thoughts on being a vegan, and how it correlates with the Torah and her own Judaism. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 5 2012

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Lisa Borden

By at 12:21 pm

Orb candles

Kveller talked to Lisa Borden, creator of Orb Candles and holistic marketing guru from Toronto. Orb candles are made of organic Manuka beeswax rather than paraffin. Lisa designed the candles to use on Shabbat, and considers them an actionable way to do tikkun olam–repairing the world. Here’s her thoughts on parenthood, $36 candles, and the environment.

1. What inspired you to start Orb?

My kids – I think that’s my inspiration for everything! I am not only a Jewish mother of 3, but I am also the owner of Borden Communications + Design Inc., where I commit myself daily to improving the quality of our health and the environment through business development and consulting. When I would gather around my family Shabbat table on Friday nights (a time I adore, marking the end of a usually hectic week), I couldn’t understand how in order to honor Shabbat, we were supposed to damage our world and our health by lighting toxic candles. It seemed very natural for me to want to raise awareness about the dangers of conventional candles, and how dangerous it can be to overlook them. But, I quickly realized there wasn’t an option on the market that was easily available and truly safe–so, being focused on solutions, and in marketing and design, I set into action to create a safe, healthy and beautiful Shabbat candle. Simple! Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 6 2011

The Power of a Clean House

By at 4:12 pm

Turns out that vinegar, baking soda, and lemons are more powerful than I thought.

As my past roommates can attest, I’ve never been what you’d call a neat-freak. I’m a little bit messy. (Not dirty-gross, just messy-cluttered.) And I never worried about that. Of course, I liked having a clean house, but I didn’t like having to keep it clean. So life was just cluttered.

But then we had a kid. And whatever level of messy I used to be is nothing compared to what my life is filled with now. Two-year-olds generate a massive amount of mess. (If you’ve ever given your 2-year-old rice, you totally get where I’m coming from.) So I’ve started thinking more and more about cleaning up messes, and how we do it.

We recently moved into a new apartment, and we very much needed to clean our dishwasher. (Though you might think that’s a self-cleaning product, it’s not.) So I googled “how to clean a dishwasher” and discovered that the best way to do it is really just with white vinegar and baking soda. And elbow grease. So an hour later, I’d removed a lot of gross stuff from the innards of my dishwasher (and a few pieces of porcelain and broken glass–thanks so much, people who lived here before us) and had an incredibly clean dishwasher that now cleans dishes better than any dishwasher I’ve ever had.

So now I’m wondering about those simple things I always have in my house: vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Is it better to use those around young children than the harsh chemicals in traditional household cleaning products?

Help me out Kvellers–how do you clean your home? And what else can I do with vinegar and baking soda?

Oct 21 2010

Going Green, Eh?

By at 10:47 am

Just last week, Canada became the first country in the world to ban bisphenol A (known as BPA), a chemical compound found in most plastics that, when heated, gives off gasses that disrupt the endocrine system and slow human development.

Until recently, lots of baby bottles, toys, and rattles contained BPA. Some companies in the United States have smartened up, but you still have to check products pretty carefully to see what they contain.

David Greene, owner of Livegreene, a store in Palo Alto, has put together a list of products that are organic, recycled, repurposed, and, of course, BPA free.

For eating and drinking at home and on the go:

  • BPA-free, recycled plastic baby bottles and sippy cups
  • Stainless steel snack containers and water bottles (with BPA-free plastic sippy cup tops)
  • BPA-free plastic toddler dishes, cutlery and cups made from recycled yogurt containers and milk jugs
  • Non-toxic ice packs with covers made from recycled soda bottles
  • Sandwich wraps made from reusable and recyclable plastic
  • Lunch bags made from organic cotton
  • Reusable bamboo utensils

For wearing:

  • Organic (never been treated with pesticides) cotton “onesies,” caps, mittens and booties
  • Child-size cashmere-like gloves made from mechanically manufactured bamboo (as opposed to chemically manufactured bamboo, which is rayon)

For playing:

  • Stroller and cuddle toys made from organic cotton
  • Toys made from repurposed industrial scaps of natural materials
  • Toys made from rubber wood, which does not splinter and is sustainably grown and harvested.
  • Toys made from recycled plastic
  • Toys made from recycled cardboard and soy-based inks
  • Toys made from bamboo

For creating:

  • Recycled crayons
  • Low volatile organic compound glue
  • Glue sticks made from almond (they smell like marzipan)
  • Biodegradable play clay scented with organic essential oils
  • All-natural botanical watercolor paints
  • Colored pencils made from recycled newspapers
  • 100% recycled construction and drawing paper

Please let us know about your favorites!


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