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Archive: 2010 Archives - MOMS.

‘Tis The Season

9:58 pm in Food by Mary Brune

Today I discovered something that depressed me as much as learning there was no Santa Claus: my favorite holiday candy is loaded with harmful food dyes. Candy canes, a mainstay of the holiday season, contain Red 40, a synthetic food dye associated with severe allergic reactions and contaminated with carcinogens. But worse still, was learning that the package of Brach’s holiday nougats my mother sends me every year have, in addition to Red 40,  Red 3, which was banned by the FDA for use in cosmetics and has caused thyroid tumors in animal studies.

If you’re searching for some dye-free stocking stuffers this year, check out www.naturalcandystore.com, which sells natural sweets made without these dyes. Also, check out the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s food database to find out whether your favorite holiday sweets are naughty or nice.

And, if you haven’t already, sign our letter to General Mills, asking them to stop using harmful food dyes in products sold here in the U.S. (they sell naturally-dyed foods to their European customers!).

Where It All Begins

10:01 pm in Body Burden, Fertility & Reproduction by Mary Brune

When we first conceived of Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS) five years ago, the co-founders and I decided that in order to tackle the chemicals ending up in mothers’ milk, we’d need to track them back to their source. In the course of conducting our early research, one thing became clear: the problem of our toxic legacy began long before we were here. Before we became mothers, we were daughters. Before we were daughters we were in the womb, before then we were eggs, waiting patiently in our mothers ovaries for our lives to begin. Little did we know that our future health and potential had already been determined, in many ways, by the chemical exposures experienced by our mothers and grandmothers before and during their pregnancies. Read the rest of this entry →

Out With The Old, In With The New (& Used)

7:00 pm in Consumer Products, Sustainability by Mary Brune

ThredupI don’t know what it is, but I find the practice of purging to be incredibly satisfying (as in, the contents of closets or inboxes, or car glove compartments—stomach contents, on the other hand, not so much fun).

There’s always someone out there in need of something. That’s why I love services like Freecycle. Don’t think anyone wants that martini shaker with plastic pink flamingo on top? Think again! Post your available items and wait for the requests to pour in.

Another service iReuse, will come take your unwanted furnishings and either give them away to nonprofit organizations in need, or auction them for cash. There’s a fee for pickup, but it’s relatively cheap when you consider your time and physical energy costs in renting a truck and doing it yourself. Plus, I like the fact that nonprofits doing good work can furnish their offices for the cost of a little sweat and the use of wheels.

Have your kids outgrown their cool duds? If they are still in good shape, donate them to a local Goodwill, or try trading them in for something new at a clothing swap near you.You can also join thredUP, an online clothing swap that lets you exchange boxes of your kids’ outgrown clothing for new stuff that fits. Pay only shipping and handling fees.

If items are too beat to wear, you can still keep them out of the landfill by placing them in a USAgain drop box for recycling. USAgain collects unwanted textiles and resells them in the U.S. and abroad, effectively diverting millions of pounds of clothing from landfills. Locate a USAgain drop-box near you, or become a sponsor and earn money for your school or organization. Read the rest of this entry →

Beneath The Unfriendly Skies

7:00 pm in Air by Mary Brune

The next time you tighten your safety belt en route to see your in-laws, you might want to hold your breath. The National Geographic recently reported that you’re ten times more likely to die from pollution caused by airplanes than you are to die in an actual airplane crash. According to the article, airplane exhaust kills 10,000 people per year, compared with airplane crashes, which kill an estimated 1,000 people. While I’m sure these statistics are comforting to some, as a mom of two living a few miles from a major airport, in a major metropolitan area, I find them deeply disturbing.

And it’s that deep disturbance that is the issue here. The culprit is the particulate matter found in the fuel exhaust—super small particles of pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides—which can become trapped deep in the lungs when inhaled, and could, potentially, enter the bloodstream and contribute to cancer and a host of other health problems. [Recent studies also found lead in aviation fuel to be a health problem]

Eight years ago, when my husband and I were looking for a home, I don’t recall “proximity to deadly carcinogens” on our list of house-hunting criteria. Maybe it should have been.

After having lost out on our 10th straight bid to a buyer willing to pay $100K over the asking price for a house that needed a new roof, a new foundation, and which was located across the street from a known crack house, we were feeling a bit dejected. Our landlord was selling our rental home and we had less than two months to find a new place to live, so things were looking desperate. Read the rest of this entry →

The Food Revolution Begins At Home

8:00 pm in Food by Mary Brune

FrankenberryI was a huge fan of cereal as a kid. Captain Crunch, Golden Grahams, and Lucky Charms were among my favorites. Magically delicious is right. If I didn’t know any better—and I’m not claiming that I do—I would think those miniature, jewel-colored marshmallows had some kind of addictive quality to them. They were that irresistible.

As a parent, however, I’ve learned to resist. You don’t have to be a scientist—rocket or otherwise—to know that much of what’s marketed to kids as breakfast food these days has little chance of getting their day off to a good start. Unless of course you’re trying to give them a head start on the path to obesity, which is already an epidemic in this country.

What really burns my toast, is that the companies who make this crap for our kids get to obfuscate this fact by engaging in what I like to call “kidcoating” the issue: promoting healthy eating and lifestyles to kids, while serving up snacks and cereals that contribute to the obesity problem and may even cause ADHD. Read the rest of this entry →

If Only They Could Hover

8:00 pm in Children's Health by Mary Brune

The author's daughter hovering Something happens to a group of kids when they encounter an inflatable bouncy house. Their already high-pitched voices go up an octave, consumed by giddiness they crawl on bellies, barefoot, to enter the air-filled chamber. And then things go crazy: limbs fly every which way creating a turbulence that could bring down an airliner. Trying to stifle the all-out bliss kids feel when jumping around inside a bouncy house is like trying to shove a cork back into a bottle of champagne. It. Would. Not. Work. And, you know, it shouldn’t. Kids should be carefree, after all.

When it comes to keeping my kids safe from environmental hazards, I consider myself a pretty careful parent. We eat organic, I pack waste-free lunches for school, use safe cleaning products, etc. That’s why the recent revelation that inflatable bouncy houses contain lead was a complete buzz-kill. In August, my daughter (that’s her suspended mid-jump), celebrated her 6th birthday with a party at Pump It Up, a local bouncy house party venue. I heard the news, literally, days before the party. Imagine my dilemma: Either cancel the party and incur my daughter’s wrath (not exactly wrath, but a level of disagreeable-ness that could make my life hell for awhile), OR invite our friends and neighbors to knowingly expose themselves and their children to lead. Hmmm. That’s a tricky wicket. Read the rest of this entry →

Stinky Cheese Isn’t Always Best

12:44 am in Food, Water by Mary Brune

I’ll admit that I’m not much of a cheese connoisseur. I grew up in New Jersey eating sandwiches made from orange American cheese on white bread with mayo. I tolerated provolone on my hoagies and developed an ardent distrust of Swiss cheese. What’s with those holes, anyway?

Although I have been exposed to the delightful taste of smelly cheese and quince paste in the company of foodie friends—who apparently think the cheese that smells most like dirty feet tastes the most sweet—most of our cheese experience involves pizza toppings, cheese sticks, and the kid-comforting power of cheddar-flavored bunny crackers (all organic, of course).

Despite this lack of sophistication when it comes to eating cheese, I do, in fact, eat a fair amount of it. That’s why reading about the environmental havoc cheese has wrought on the rural California town of Hilmar gave me a stomach ache. I’d never before given much thought to the production process of the cheese we eat (and enjoy) before. Turns out, when it comes to making cheese, something really does stink, and in this case, that isn’t a good thing.

Skillz – Painting a banner

8:00 pm in Skillz - How To by Mary Brune

Painting a bannerOK, so you’re a member of your local MOMSquad and you’ve decided that you want to paint a banner for your upcoming protest or event. Even if you can’t draw a stick figure, you CAN create an eye-catching, media attracting banner that will send your message to the masses. The following tips are adapted from the Creative Direct Action Visuals Manual written by Hannah Strange of The Ruckus Society.


  • Paint (water-based acrylic, latex house paint, or spray
  • Paint are best. Do NOT use enamel or oil-based paints.)
  • Brushes (cheap foam brushes work best.)
  • Grommets
  • Scissors
  • Needles and thread or sewing machine
  • Flat nylon webbing
  • Thin nylon cord
  • Computer and digital projector (or old school overhead projector)*
  • Permanent markers and pencils
  • Wooden poles *
  • Fabric

* optional


Before you begin making your banner, consider the following:

  • Location – Where and how will the banner be used? What are the environmental conditions (high winds, wet weather, etc)?
  • Size and Scale – How large does the banner need to be to be visible, legible, and have an impact at the location where it will be used? A 30ft banner could look tiny if the scale of the background is large
    enough. Scout the location before making the banner!
  • Message – Keep it short and sweet. Test it out on a lot of people before you commit. Make sure it makes sense to your target audience and to the general public, and not just insiders.
  • Time – Making banners takes longer than you think! Plan time for buying materials, construction, painting, drying paint, attaching hardware and rigging the anchoring system.
  • Budget – Is there enough money for the labor and materials involved? The budget may end up determining the size and location of the banner.

Skillz – Media 101 with Kristi Chester Vance

8:00 pm in Skillz - How To by Mary Brune

Perhaps you’re on the heels of a major victory, having just persuaded a big polluter to shut down operations and to clean up the air in your community. Or maybe you’re looking for ways to put on the pressure and use media to help leverage a change in legislation. Whatever your message might be, make sure you get your story straight. You don’t have to be a media maven to get great coverage for your cause. You just have to know what to do when, whom to contact, how to follow-up, and the best ways to communicate your messages. Luckily, we have our very own media maven, MOMS co-founder Kristi Chester Vance, at our disposal to share her tips for taking advantage of our 24/7 media cycle. Check out our video interview here.