Healthy Child Healthy World Provides Tips for Healthy Teething

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Babies, Blog, Children, Front Page, Parenting, Slideshow, Tips

Teething is an uncomfortable process, and baby's will chew on just about anything for relief. Photo: © Lisa Eastman - Fotolia.com

Do you remember when your molars slowly poked through the surface of your gums? They were probably pretty tender and uncomfortable. But you knew what was happening: You were growing up! You were getting more of those permanent teeth that made you a “big kid.” So even though it was a bit unpleasant, you managed to brave your way through it — or maybe you took a baby aspirin or Tylenol to ease your misery.

Babies don’t know what’s happening when their teeth start to emerge. But they know they’re miserable — and they generally make their parents miserable, too. Not intentionally, of course. They just get fussy and gnaw on whatever they can find — clean, dirty, toxic, or furry; it doesn’t matter to them.

It's important to find safe objects for baby's teething. Photo: © Geo Martinez - Fotolia.com

As parents, we want to ease their discomfort and give them something safe to chew on. When I was a baby — and when my own kids were little — parents gave babies water- or gel-filled teething rings that could be frozen or cooled to provide some comfort. Maybe you or your kids chewed on similar toys.

But then we learned that teething rings weren’t all that safe, because even the purified water inside could grow bacteria once exposed to the air. In some cases, the gel that was supposed to be harmless turned out to be toxic. And all of that could leak into baby’s mouth as she chewed on the toys.

Other devices used for the problem had different issues. Some were made with BHA, a dangerous chemical that can invisibly seep out of the plastic and into baby. Other teethers had multiple parts, with seams that could harbor bacteria.

So what to do to relieve baby’s discomfort and give mom and dad a little peace?

Healthy Child Healthy World has a shopping guide that will help parents, grandparents, and caregivers make wise choices for teething toys — and for pacifiers. All you have to do is to download it, print it, cut it, fold it, and carry it with you to the store of your choice.

The guide also suggests natural options  — things like frozen breast milk, formula popsicles, and other cooled, slushy foods. It suggests homeopathic teething gel or tablets, and a gentle gum massage. Did you know it’s safe to allow baby to teethe on wood? Well, not just any wood; see the guide for more information.

So do yourself a favor. If you have a fussy, teething baby, go to the Healthy Child Healthy World website and download the “Healthy Teether and Pacifier Shopping Guide.” While you’re there, check out the many other pocket shopping guides they offer, like “Healthy Baby Care Products,” “Healthy Formula & Food,” Healthy School Lunch,” and a whole lot more. Your baby — or another baby you love — would thank you if he could. And you’ll know you’re doing the right things for a child you love.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Sprout Baby – Love Your Baby, Love the Planet

Teething baby at Sprout Baby

A Sprout Baby staff member's daughter tries out a teething toy. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

Sprout Baby sells organic and natural products for babies and moms. When Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed founder Jody Sherman by phone, we learned about the process the company uses to vet products for sale on their site. We also learned that the story behind this baby products company has an unusual — and heart-tugging — twist.

We think you’ll love Sprout Baby’s products — as well as its generous referral program. This is Part Two of two parts. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


BPGL: Do any of the staff at Sprout Baby have babies of their own?

Two infant children of Sprout Baby staff.

Sprout Baby staff have had three newborns in the past year. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

SHERMAN: One of my partners is a mom named Emily. Emily used to be a teacher, but after she had a baby, she decided she wanted to spend more time with her daughter. Emily basically looked like our customer base. She was 26 years old at the time, really focused on having a healthy environment for her baby.

She opened a store in Venice, California, that just sold eco-conscious products and slightly used recycled products. She got involved with Sprout Baby, and she does deep research on products. She represents the customer really well because she is the customer.

My other partners either had a baby or were trying, and since then, in the year we’ve been in business, we’ve had three newborns.

BPGL: So you have a lot of market research capability right in your own staff. Having their own little ones using the organic baby products must be a great motivator for working at Sprout Baby. Is that what gets all of you going to work each morning?

SHERMAN: I don’t have any kids, but I have two young nephews — five and six. I’ve known them, obviously, since they were born. And I think they’re the reason why we’re doing this — for me, anyway. The rest of my team will tell you they’re doing it for their own kids.

There was one other thing that influenced me getting involved in this business that I’ve only talked about recently. In 1988, somebody left a brand-new baby on my front porch. An eight-minute-old infant. Torn umbilical cord. On my porch. Wrapped in a sweatshirt. It was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had in my life.

At the time, it kind of put the hooks in me. I did what you’re supposed to do. I called the paramedics, and I did what the paramedics said, and the baby’s fine. But it really affected me, because I thought, Wow, this kid started out life being dealt the worst deck ever. He was dropped off on the porch of a bachelor who was never home — and just happened to be home on that day. Had I not been home, that baby would have died.

BPGL: That is an amazing story. I’ve never actually heard of that happening to anyone in real life. How did it affect your thinking about starting Sprout Baby?

Toddler in a grown-up chair

Another baby-products researcher on the Sprout Baby team. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

SHERMAN: I just found myself thinking, My parents did such a good job raising me and my brother, even though, if you were to use the same information they had then to make many consumer choices now, you really wouldn’t be a great parent. The information they had then was state of the art, and now that information has been updated by better and more relevant information, in many cases.

For example, you don’t want to leave the kid in the car with the air conditioner running because it’s cooler than bringing them in the store; it’s unsafe for the baby and bad for the environment. You don’t want to feed them white carbs all the time. And you don’t want to put lotions on their skin that contain harmful or extraneous chemicals. You don’t want to paint your house with VOC-laden paints.

They didn’t know these things, but we do. And I feel like, if my company can help move the needle even a little, in teaching people to be conscious consumers — that right choices don’t have to be more expensive, harder choices — we can really have a long-lasting impact.

BPGL: You have an ad for the Sprout Baby Referral Program prominently displayed on your website. Is it connected with finding an adoptive home for your baby, if you don’t want to raise it?

SHERMAN: Absolutely not. No. Our referral program is about word of mouth, or “Word of Mom,” as we like to call it. It’s the reason I got into this business, when I learned how parents were making decisions based on the advice of other parents.

Early on, when we would get a new customer, I would oftentimes get an email from someone saying, “I just was told about this by customer XYZ, and I have a couple questions.” So we did some testing. I went out and started talking to customers. — I still call ten customers every single day, by the way, just to ask them how they’re doing with us as a company if there’s anything they’d like. — And it gave me an opportunity to pick their brains.

Sprout Baby Logo

I asked them if they would be comfortable sharing what they know about us with other people, if we’d done a good job for them. And overwhelmingly, the answer was, “Yes!” So, I started talking with them about what would incentivize them to do that. Because, as much as I’d like them to be advocating for me, they’ve got other things to do, like raising a family and paying the bills and working at their job. We created this referral program based on those discussions.

When you become a customer, as soon as you get your first order, you get a card that has your referral code on it. You also get an email with your referral code. You can give that code to any of your friends, or anyone you know, and they will get 15 percent off their first order. And if it’s a new customer for us, we send you $10. There’s no limit to the number of customers you can refer to us.

We’re still running that program, and it’s been quite successful. Our customer acquisition cost has not gone up. What we’re paying as a referral fee is in line with allowing us to build our company in a way where we can responsibly grow and be around long term. Most moms know 10 people. If you tell 10 people, you can make $100, and you can do that fairly often. We send checks every week.

BPGL: What are some of the other products that you sell, besides baby food?

Nature BabyCare diapers

Sprout Baby sells Nature BabyCare diapers as well as several other top-quality brands. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

SHERMAN: We just launched diapers, and we did very extensive research on a lot of different diapering companies in order to pick a variety of diapers that met with our standards and our promise to Sprout Baby customers.

One of the brands we offer, Nature Baby Care, is even disposable — a choice a lot of parents make for convenience.

After doing massive amounts of research on every brand of disposable that was out there, including all of the “eco brands,” we liked Nature BabyCare because there is no polyurethane anywhere near this product. Urethane is one of the chemicals that we’ve sworn off.

Another thing is that it completely biodegrades. You can take this diaper when it’s done and throw it in the garbage. And when it goes into a landfill, it completely breaks down, back into nothing. And that’s the only diaper we’ve found that does that. Diapers take 500 years to disintegrate if they have plastic in them. It could be even be longer than that. Just think about that for a minute.

For cloth diapers, we’ve brought in Kissaluvs, Baby Bee Hinds and Play All Day. They’re wool, hemp, and cotton blends. The reason we went with them was that they are made of all-natural fibers from renewable resources.

We really like wool because not only is it a water repellent, but it stays dry, and it’s naturally cleaning. For example, when it gets wet, you can air dry it, and wool cleans itself. Every once in a while, you just re-lanolize it by putting lanolizing formula on it, and the wool diaper cover cleans itself again. It’s much, much lower impact on the environment.

BPGL: Have you noticed any issues with children being allergic to the wool in the diaper coverings?

SHERMAN: The wool is an outer cover for these diapers. We haven’t had any issues with that at all so far. The inner parts of the diapers are all either organic cotton or cotton hemp.

BPGL: What are some of the products you have for moms?

Two containers of Episencial

These Episencial products pamper babies and kids at an economical price. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

SHERMAN: We’ve just brought on a bunch of great lines of skincare products. There’s one in particular that we just introduced. It’s the line by Episencial. It’s a spinoff from Epicuren, which is an amazing high-end skincare line. Epicuren is an extremely well-regarded, boutique-only line that is super, super high quality. No bad ingredients. Everything is natural.

Kim Walls, the woman whose family started Epicuren, worked there for 15 years before starting her own company. Episencial is an all-new skincare line: sunscreens, lotions, etc., that are fruit-based, all-natural, and very reasonably priced.

BPGL: Have you vetted those skincare products on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database?

SHERMAN: Yes we do. We check every single product that we evaluate. We also have a partnership with Healthy Child Healthy World — in fact, we give 1 percent of all of our sales to Healthy Child Healthy World to help support their organization. Anything anybody buys from us helps support them. When we look at products, one of the first things we do is look at it against their criteria. That is our minimum screen for how we would consider whether or not a product works for us.

If it meets Healthy Child’s criteria, we then look at all of the ingredients and everything else on our own. We look at the product’s ingredients against the ingredient list Healthy Child says to avoid, and then we go a step deeper and use Skin Deep to check the toxicity in the ingredients.

Once a product passes those criteria, whether it’s a skin product or a feeding item, or whatever, we then start looking at it from the perspective of usability, practicality, and cost. Because, for us, that balance has got to be there. If a product costs the same as its non-eco counterpart, but it’s hard to live with, that’s not a good product.

We want to bring products to the market that are effective in doing what they’re supposed to, that don’t have any harmful ingredients of any kind, that are comparable in cost to their non-eco counterpart, and that are easy to use. We use them all ourselves. We’ve got enough babies and toddlers around the company where we can test everything.

BPGL: Do you typically warehouse everything and send it out yourselves?

SHERMAN: I sit in a room full of baby food and other products every day.

BPGL: So, if you get hungry, you have something good to snack on.

SHERMAN: I actually do. [He laughs.] In fact, yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch, so I opened a package of roasted bananas and brown rice. It’s like dessert!

BPGL: I assume you avoid ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.

SHERMAN: There’s nothing like that in Sprout Foods. In fact, if you were to look at the ingredients in something like Summer Squash, Yukon Gold Potatoes, and Parmesan, the ingredients in it are summer squash, Yukon gold potatoes, and parmesan. They don’t put anything that doesn’t belong in the food in it.

Sprout Food variety pack

Sprout Baby sells Sprout Foods organic baby foods. Photo: Courtesy Sprout Baby

Sprout Foods is an amazing line of food. It tastes really good. When you open the package, the smell that you get from this food versus the smell that you get from other brands that are popular — it’s like night and day. The texture is better. It doesn’t have any of that watery consistency that you see with most bottled brands.

And besides being convenient, the pouches are shelf stable, so you don’t have to refrigerate them before opening. You tear off the top, and if you don’t use the whole package, you can reseal it with the built-in zip lock. And if you’re away from home, you can just throw the packages in your diaper bag or purse.

Basically, we’ve taken the same approach with our entire product assortment. Every product is easy to live with. Also, for every single product we sell, you’ll see a manufacturer’s description and our own description of why we like it, which is the real-world reasons why we chose this product.

BPGL: I wish Sprout Baby had been around when my children were born.

SHERMAN: When I was doing the initial research with moms, that was what I heard over and over again: Where were you a year ago? Where were you five years ago? I wish I’d had you when I had my babies.

End of Part Two

Promo Code

Sprout Baby has provided Blue Planet Green Living readers the following discount code for 15% off your first order: BPGL15 The code is good through JANUARY 15, 2010.

Follow Sprout Baby

Website: SproutBaby.com
Twitter: SproutBabyClub
Facebook: SproutBaby.com

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living

Part One: Sprout Baby – Spreading by “Word of Mom”

Part Two: Sprout Baby – Love Your Baby, Love the Planet (Top of Page)

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My 5: Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Environment, Front Page, Health, Kids, My 5

Comments Off on My 5: Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

GAVIGAN:

Saving the planet — let’s just say, protecting the planet. I’d like to frame this whole thing as protecting the planet instead of saving the earth. The planet doesn’t need to be saved. The planet will be around a lot longer than we will.

Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

  • Really, we need to save ourselves and save our existence and our civilization as we know it. I believe that it’s a humankind challenge in how we accept and interact with each other. Certainly, love and respect and the ability to listen and be collaborative is part of that process. I think we could learn to love ourselves, our families, and each other a little bit more and judge less. I think if you embrace the fact that we’re all trying our best and really take that critical nature out of it, we would be less entrenched in our own opinions and more willing to listen and be collaborative.
  • We certainly all could eat less meat and rely less on land animals as food sources. There’s no question about it that the amount of resource intensity required by meat and dairy production and the amount of land source degradation happen because of eating animals. And so, I would embrace the fact that we could protect the planet more if we all ate less meat. I’ve been doing this as a vegetarian for almost 15 years now.
  • We should use less toxic products in our daily lives, from our cleaners to our beauty care products to the mattresses and furniture we build. We need to be aware of the chemicals that exist in each one of those and understand that you don’t have to live a chemically laden life. Reducing the amount of chemicals is more beneficial for the planet, for our waterways, and for land, our children’s future, and also our own health.
  • Another thing we should think about is the “buying cycle,” and put some intentional thinking around this. Every day, I realize that less really is more. Truly, I need less to have a fulfilled and happy life. Just buying less would be very anti-capitalistic and anti-consumptive, but the planet would breathe a big “Ahhh” of relief. Being less consumptive is a powerful thing. You’re requiring less, you’re demanding less of the earth. And you’re reducing your impact on the planet, something that I think about. Certainly, it’s a challenge of mine. I always can do better at it, but it’s an intention of mine, and I do a little better every day.
  • The last thing is being grateful. I don’t think, as a culture, as a species, we’re grateful enough. Grateful of the moments that we have. Grateful of the people that are in our lives. And grateful of the resources that we have and the ease of the life that we have. I try to be very intentional every day when I wake up in the morning. I try to think of those things that I’m most grateful for, and I try to think of something new every day. Being more grateful is a way to recognize the magnitude and the importance of where we are and our lives. And embracing the fact that we have a limited time here and we should make the most of it for our children, for the people who are around us, and for the planet.

Christopher Gavigan, CEO

Healthy Child Healthy World

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post:

Healthy Child Healthy World – Inspiring Postive Action for Kids’ Sake

Healthy Child Healthy World – Inspiring Positive Action for Kids’ Sake

Whatever questions you may have about the environment and its health effects on children, Healthy Child Healthy World is a place where you’ll find well-researched, thoughtful, and practical answers. We are impressed by the work that the folks at Healthy Child Healthy World are doing, and are pleased to share with you our interview with Christopher Gavigan, CEO. He and his team are continuing the work Nancy and Jim Chuda began when they co-founded the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, following the death of their only child, Colette, to environmentally caused cancer.

GAVIGAN: It doesn’t take much in a conversation with any parent, no matter how old the child, to see that their top priority is their children’s health and, certainly, their happiness. If you ask any pregnant mom, she says, “I just want it to be a healthy baby.” That sentiment is so powerful, and every new set of parents can rally around this thought.

And yet, a lot of information in the media, a lot of information from peers and family and friends, and historical research and data, clouds the message landscape. For any parent, and anyone who’s looking out for the best interest of children, there is information that can be conflicting and fear-based. And there’s information that can be overwhelming at times. Essentially, our organization exists to clarify that message landscape, in particular, to show how one creates a healthy, or healthier, or healthiest environment for a child.

BPGL: Healthy Child Healthy World provides up-to-date information on scientific studies about the environment and children’s health. Why is it important to share the science with parents?

GAVIGAN: Children are so uniquely vulnerable to any type of potential threat from the outside world into their little bodies. It happens in utero. The Environmental Working Group did a study of mothers’ cord blood. People in the past thought the cord blood and the womb created an area of safety, and mom was the barrier for any type of potential danger to harm that child. But cord blood actually has over 200 industrial chemicals. Every mom has over 200 industrial chemicals coursing through her blood, and that can directly affect the child’s development and health.

Children are especially vulnerable to environmental toxins.

Children are especially vulnerable to environmental toxins. Photo: © crystal kirk - Fotolia.com

It’s no wonder, with the clear, scientific reality that we’re faced with: We have a regulatory system and a chemical approval system and policy in place that allow industry to bring chemicals to the market without doing sufficient testing. The burden of proof actually lies on the consumer and the marketplace to showcase whether the chemical is safe or unsafe, as opposed to the burden of proof going back to the companies and manufacturers themselves.

So, we have this unique space, where children are vulnerable. They’re so vulnerable just through their behaviors, especially through their hand-to-mouth behavior. They’re eating twice as much, drinking twice as much, for their size, as adults do. Their skin is five times thinner than ours. They are these little vessels and sponges absorbing things. They’re growing quickly. Their metabolism and body cannot excrete harmful agent and chemicals, as quickly as adults can. So they are being affected.

There’s no longer a question in science and the scientific community whether the environment affects health. The concept of “environmental health” is the understanding that the environment, the places we live, the places we sleep, the food we put in our bodies, the chemicals, and the beauty care products we put onto our skin, will affect our health. And it will do so in very dynamic and very significant ways.

The American Cancer Society suspects that 75 percent of all cancer is linked to environmental triggers and things we encounter in our environment. It’s no longer a genetic problem, as Nancy and Jim Chuda unfortunately found out with Colette’s death from a non-genetic form of cancer. Many people are experiencing that type of reality. Besides pediatric cancers, we’re also experiencing the realities of obesity, childhood asthma, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, behavioral disorders, and autism. Credible science links these diseases in a very significant way to environmental triggers. When children are exposed to the environment, it actually triggers an unfortunate development in the body. It changes the course of the future of that child and human being.

Healthy Child Healthy World exists because we want to prevent disease and illness. And we want to help parents understand that they can take action. There are solutions. There are easy things that they can do in their daily lives. We’re really talking about this next phase of parenting, this next generation of new parents, and understanding what their priorities are. We’re helping them understand that the environment is affecting their children’s health, and they can do something about it.

BPGL: What is Healthy Child Healthy World’s unique contribution to the discussion of children’s environmental health issues?

GAVIGAN: There are like-minded organizations and groups in the NGO space and the government space and the public health space that do similar messaging. But I would argue that no one does the messaging as well as us. Our constant passion — and our fascination — is with how we frame messages and how we are crafting a message to create the biggest impact and the biggest motivational influence on a parent, or on anyone who’s receiving the message.

We’re doing a lot of internal branding and discussions around this, and we’re always talking about “our voice” as being that trusted advisor and best friend. We want people to hear the message and be inspired. The word “inspires” is in our mission.

Healthy Child seeks to inspire parents to take positive action to protect their children.

Parents' top priority is their children's health. Photo: © Jaimie Duplass - Fotolia.com

I’ve actually been in a couple of conferences with some very like-minded and influential CEOs of other organizations, sitting there as they’re delivering the message. I don’t know if they’re numb to it, or if they don’t know what to look for as far as how people receive messages. I have a master’s degree in training psychology, and I’m constantly interested in how people are listening and understanding the information and behaviorally changing. You can sit up there and watch this entire audience be excited, and within four minutes of getting some of these scientific facts and realities, you can actually watch their bodies change. You can watch their faces change. You can watch their energy levels change. You can hear them and listen to them speak — they are no longer excited, they are petrified. They’re soon to put on their blinders and soon to put on their mask of ignorance, and say, “Oh, I just don’t know.” Or, “I can’t do anything about that.” Or, “It’s above and beyond me.”

Healthy Child is all about inspiring people. We are capturing their interest and empowering them with information that they can take direct action against. We are asking people to change their behavior. We’re asking them to buy one product different than the other. I’m asking them to take their shoes off at the door. I’m asking them to turn their products around and look at the labels and look for certain things. So, if you’re asking people to do something, you’d better frame the message correctly.

BPGL: How do you inspire legislators to take action on behalf of children’s health?

GAVIGAN: There are many, many different groups that do good policy work. We’re not positioned, and our resources aren’t best utilized, in that area. We certainly have relationships in the legislative community and policy and advocacy community. We try to best infuse our voice and our influence in certain key moments.

Just last year, there was a very key moment where California‘s Governor Schwarzenegger had a decision on his desk. It was either to sign or not sign AB 1108. The bill was particularly to prohibit phthalates in children’s products, any product that touches the hands of a child between age 0 and 3. He was not sure if he was going to sign it. Through some influential relationships we had in specific circles, we were able to get him to listen, and understand the importance of this moment. He actually signed that initiative into law — it was a great moment in his leadership and demonstrated the power of specific and targeted influence.

BPGL: In what ways are you supporting the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act?

GAVIGAN: The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act would reform the Toxic Controlled Substances Act (TCSA) of 1976. It would put the burden of proof back on the manufacturers, much like REACH does in Europe. We’re hugely supportive of that.

There are many, many different approaches to attack this thing. We’re going from the approach that the parents are the ones who have control over their domains, and a lot of the unfortunate environmental triggers and factors happen in our homes happen while sleeping in our own beds. We want to make sure that parents are capably preventing that. We hope to support those folks who are doing the legislative work, in any way possible.

Parents have control over their children's domain.

Healthy Child seeks to protect children from environmental triggers in our homes. Photo: © Suprijono Suharjoto - Fotolia.com

But we don’t have folks on Capitol Hill. We don’t have folks in Sacramento. We’re a nonprofit, and we have limited resources. We don’t want to do a hundred things well, we want to do five things really well. We’re very attuned to understanding what our capacities are, what our skills are, what our strengths are, and maximizing that effort and being efficient with that effort.

One of our Board members uses the term, “Death by a thousand initiatives.” I don’t want that to be how we come to pass. I want us to focus and understand what we do and our impact, to know what we’re good at and what we’re not good at, to be very self critical — relentlessly self critical — to nurture the things that we do well, and to do them really well.

BPGL: One thing Healthy Child Healthy World is known for doing well is the Health eHome site. Nancy Chuda told us about the original Health eHome. What exciting features have you built into the new Health eHome?

GAVIGAN: The first Health eHome was an award-winning piece when it was crafted in circa 2001. And still, up into early 2009, people referenced it and talked about it and used it as a resource. It was the first of its kind, virtually traveling through a home and space and understanding some of the environmental factors that are a risk in our own homes. But it was very much in need of a refreshment, if you will, and some invigoration of new life and technology.

And so, internally, within the staff and within the Board, we scoped out a brand new creative brief for it. We did some donor cultivations with private foundations and families, and also some of our corporate partners. But my big challenge and concern with it was, just because I built it, that doesn’t mean people will find it. We’re constantly building our audience and really doing great in that area, but I needed a partner and a collaborator that was going to magnify this to the next level and beyond. That’s where WebMD came in.

BPGL: The new Health eHome is co-branded with WebMD. Why did you choose WebMD as your partner?

GAVIGAN: The universe very serendipitously brought WebMD into the fold. I’ve cultivated that relationship for well over a year now. After some time, it was very much apparent that they were excited about the opportunity. They vetted the organization and were excited about the fact that they could start having a national conversation around prevention.

WebMD is an organization that is highly passionate about health and about very credible information. That is their sole goal, to be the most trusted and the most viewed health site on line. And that’s what they are, bar none. No one touches their numbers. They have 52 million unique visitors a month. They just have incredible traction and respect in the space. Together, with us as an editorial partner and educational collaborator, we built the new iteration of the Health eHome and brought Seventh Generation on as sponsor.

Healthy Child inspires parents with practical solutions for a healthy family.

We actually just launched it March 17. We are extremely, extremely excited about it. It takes much of the old content and refreshes it. We bring some new video content into it. We have over 50 documentary-style videos in there. We have small, bite-sized information and very comprehensive, longer articles. We’re going to be filling up our content as the years progress.

WebMD sees this as a core feature and core function of their site and are eager to get into the space of prevention and environmental health. It’s a huge, huge boon for the organization in the sense that we get to present our message. Besides, Healthy Child is a winner, and WebMD is a winner, and Seventh Generation is a winner. I’m just excited that environmental health gets to be broadcast into so many homes around the nation.

BPGL: It’s a wonderfully effective medium. Health eHome is a boon to parents and grandparents.

GAVIGAN: People just want to know how to do it, and video’s a powerful way. Presenting small, bite-sized pieces of information is a powerful way, and we’re going to be filling out some more content around some of those action steps and checklists. Healthy Child has three pages in there, where we get to talk about what we do outside the Health eHome too.

And Seventh Generation talks about their positioning and what’s important to them. They’re a thought leader in the landscape as well. One would argue they’re the first nontoxic cleaning company in the United States to bring this to a level of mass market. I really admire folks like Patagonia. If you look at their mission statement, it has nothing to do with making clothing. It’s about affecting change, and a positive change for the environment. That is very much in line with the thinking that Jeffery Hollander and his team at Seventh Generation bring to the table.

BPGL: Your book, Healthy Child Health World: Creating a Greener, Cleaner, Safer Home, is in its third printing. Tell us what parents can find in there and why they will want to buy it.

GAVIGAN: The goal of the book is to continue the tone of freshness and approachability and being upbeat. I wanted that indispensable reference guide for parents, one they could pack away in their diaper bag, take on the go, or sit in their bed — for that precious reading time when the kids are asleep — to digest a bit more.

What I also wanted to do is to showcase the fact that this is a movement that’s happening. There are experts, and there are parents, and there are public health advocates, and there are moms and dads around the country who have a voice in this landscape — everyone from Erin Brockovich to Meryl Streep to First Lady Michelle Obama.

What we did is to prioritize the top ten areas in the home or topics that we each thought were most important for parents to address. It has tips and advice and recipes and a whole 27-page resource section on shopping and products. One of the greatest quotes about it that I love, this one reviewer said, “It’s relentlessly optimistic.” I love that.

Parents need to grip reality and understand the facts and the science, and that needs to be motivational and credible. But if you’re not positive, and you don’t tell them, “You can do it,” they’re not going to do anything. So that was a key goal of mine, to make parents feel like we were their advocate and friend in the process, and we had their best interest in mind.  And we were going to be their guide along the way.

BPGL: Is the book in your own diaper bag for your baby?

GAVIGAN: It is in my diaper bag for my baby. Absolutely.

BPGL: What do you see as next for Healthy Child Healthy World?

GAVIGAN: We’re trying to create a movement here. Besides being a reference space, and besides having information, we really need to get people to feel emotional about these topics. So we’re doing a lot of thought and brand scoping around what it means to tell a good story, and how to tell a story that’s going to make people listen and become emotive and want to do something about it.

Children trust us to protect them.

Children trust us to protect them.

Definitely in this next year, most likely in late summer, early fall, you will see campaign collateral from Healthy Child — and who knows who else — in and around telling a good story and motivating and capturing in a very passionate way. Most likely — because it’s just the power of the audience and the power of the medium — it will be some type of social media play in and around some type of video presentation or storytelling campaign. You can’t underestimate the power of a story.

Embedded in that new thinking is that we want parents to understand, as I said earlier, there is a new generation of parenting and parenting-type of philosophies. We want to help package that type of thought and give people the right to say that they are that type of parent. I don’t think the terms “green mom” and “green parent” and “green world” really capture what we do, because we’re really about health. And yes, we care about the future health of the planet, because that’s what our children will inherit, and their world is wherever they are, from their playroom to their school to their backyard. We really want healthy children and a healthy world.

Health as a concern never goes away, but we are seeing some green fatigue. I think businesses are embracing green because it makes sense for their bottom line. But as consumers, you’re seeing some confusion and some apprehension, and there are some stories of greenwashing that have led people to question the authenticity of the movement. We certainly embrace the word green, but we never have positioned ourselves as a green organization.

We’re a health organization, and we want people to understand that health will always be that evergreen topic. That’s really what motivates people. You think of the circles of influence: your kids, your family, your planet. That’s how you think. Everyone loves the polar bears, but you don’t see them every day. You don’t see the redwoods in your backyard. You don’t see the oceans, and everyone doesn’t have that connection point. If you have a family, you have family members you love and adore and want to keep safe, and help them have the longest and healthiest life possible.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Posts:

Healthy Child Healthy World — A Story of Heartbreak and Hope

My 5: Christopher Gavigan, CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

My 5: Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder, Healthy Child Healthy World

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

NANCY CHUDA:

Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder of Healthy Child Healthy World

Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder of Healthy Child Healthy World

  • Less consumption. Learn to recycle, reduce, and reuse the things that we have in our homes. Reduce greenhouse gases by selecting energy-efficient appliances and devices and technology.
  • Support community outreach by volunteering in your neighborhood  to educate  parents about Healthy Child Healthy World — and our five-step program. Teach them about the importance of having clean food, water, and air.
  • Buy organic. Support local, sustainable farmers and growers, who are eking out a living. Think locally, act locally, grow locally. You can survive in your community and help others to do the same.
  • Take heed to the environmental challenges President Obama has placed before us. We can become energized to create “green shoots” for the future. T. Boone Pickens is one great example with wind power. Save energy at home using efficient lighting, insulation, xerescaping, LifeSource water, hepa air filtration, and solar power, and by driving fuel-efficient cars.
  • Don’t use pesticides and herbicides, and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Get your school to create an organic vegetable garden and make it part of the elementary curriculum.

Pray for world peace. Walt Disney dedicated his life for “the little people,” when he created, “It’s a small world, after all.”

Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder

Healthy Child Healthy World

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Healthy Child Healthy World — A Story of Heartbreak and Hope

“When a parent loses a child, there really are no words. There are no words to describe this grief, and there are no words to mend the broken heart that remains forever after. But my husband and I chose to try to make a difference,” said Nancy Chuda, referring to the death of their only child, Colette. “We said, let us take the remains of what would have been her life and, in her memory, establish something that would give benefit to countless millions. It fueled our passion. It was our pain that carried us through — from pain to passion — in building the network.”

I spoke with Nancy Chuda about Healthy Child Healthy World, the organization she and her husband, Jim, founded nearly twenty years ago in honor and memory of their daughter. This is her story.

It all began with a group of very committed friends, Wednesday’s Moms. My best friend, Olivia Newton-John, and I had shared the joys of motherhood together. We conceived our girls within weeks of one another, and they were born six weeks apart. Like us, Chloe and Colette had a very unique bond. They were glued at the hip.

Colette Chuda, the child who inspired Healthy Child Healthy World

Colette Chuda, the child who inspired Healthy Child Healthy World. Photo Courtesy: Healthy Child Healthy World

On Wednesdays, we would meet in special places with a group of friends and their kids. The William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom is a beautiful park, filled with old-growth redwood trees and a duck pond with coots and mallards. It was the perfect place. It captured our children’s attention and inspired us moms to protect them and the environment. We sensed then that the fragile ecosystems that supported all life — air, food, and water — were becoming tainted with chemicals. Nature herself was beckoning, “Protect me.”

As mothers, we were sensitive to this calamity. We knew we had to defend our children. And we had to speak out against the use of pesticides and other chemicals that were invading our environment. Yet, in many ways, we felt helpless.

When Colette was born, I was a television journalist. I had been working as a reporter for The Home Show, an ABC network daytime talk program, a predecessor to programs like The View, where topical subjects became a platform for discussion. I was fortunate to obtain an interview with Meryl Streep, whom I had gotten to know as a member of an organization she co-founded with Wendy Rockefeller, called Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits.

Meryl had graced the cover of Time to defend the rights of children whose food supply — mainly apples — had become tainted with Alar (daminozide). This agricultural spray, a pesticide, was causing worldwide concern. Meryl had testified before Congress, demanding its removal. The controversy became the centerpiece for the Children’s Environmental Health movement. It gave birth to the need for greater science and investigation in terms of children’s vulnerabilities.

Meryl’s determination to awaken others to the misuse of pesticides gave me an opportunity to take a stand. I rallied many of my influential friends in the entertainment community to support the passage of an all-inclusive environmental measure, California’s Big Green initiative.

To get national attention and raise awareness in support of this initiative — which would provide clean air, water, and food in California, as well as what I believed would be a template or model for other state initiatives — I produced an ABC television variety special called An Evening with Friends for the Environment. It starred Meryl Streep, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Lilly Tomlin, and Robin Williams.

Then all of my work as an advocate became distilled in what I call an “infinitesimal moment of disbelief” the day I learned Colette had cancer.

On May 23, 1990, our lives changed forever. Colette was given an 80 percent chance of survival, but the odds changed when her cancer metastasized. She lived briefly, only five years. But she lived long enough to experience what she had always felt and believed as a child — something that is intuitive to all children — that animals and humans share a precious habitat, Earth. Nature had gone awry, and we had a mission to protect and defend life against the threat of man-made chemicals, many of which would cause illness and life-threatening disease.

Two weeks before she died in 1991, Colette wrote a short story called, “Inga Binga and Whitepaw on an Easter Day.” We sat on her bed, propped up against her favorite stuffed animals and pillows, and she recited, word for word, her dream for what she described as “the best day ever”: a world in which her loving animals, cats, birds, horses, dogs, chickens, zebras, monkeys all lived in harmony with nature — not against it. At a very early age, Colette developed a respect for life and living things, and, as a child stricken with cancer, she sensed her own vulnerability.

Even while undergoing chemo and losing all of her hair, she refused to wear a hat. Instead, she insisted on leading “babe walks” in the park she dearly loved. She wanted to teach other children how to protect the environment. This was her mission.

In our darkest hours, days before she passed, we made a promise that we would keep her memory alive. Like her favorite color, we would make the word “green” and children’s environmental health a global educational platform for all parents worldwide.

On April 21, 1991, on the eve of Earth Day, we held her in our arms for the last time. But when morning came, her spirit took hold. Within a few short months, and with the help of our dear friend, Olivia, and a small group of committed friends and family, we established The Colette Chuda Environmental Fund, to conduct research into the causes of childhood cancer in relation to the environment.

We knew that millions of dollars — now billions — had been spent trying to find cures for cancer, but very little effort was placed toward prevention.

We conducted many research studies, which led to major scientific epidemiological results. We proved that carcinogenic substances trapped in airborne particulates could traverse the blood barrier of pregnant women and affect the developing fetus in the womb environment.

Dr. Frederica Perera, a leading scientist at Columbia University, was one of the first recipients of a grant from The Colette Chuda Environmental Fund.

The science mounted. In cities like Krakow, Poland, evidence revealed that environmental exposures to vulnerable sub-populations put children’s health at risk. Other parts of the world benefited from the early epidemiological studies we conducted. We later proved that children who suffer from early exposures have a greater predisposition to disease; however, the onset of certain childhood cancers could be prevented, if the exposures to harmful chemicals could be avoided.

Knowing that the science was critical to, if not the most important motivation for, establishing a grassroots movement, we decided to build an impossible dream. We would pull together a coalition of groups and committed citizens who would rally behind this basic principle: By educating parents, we would protect children and, hopefully, eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in the environment.

The Children’s Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC) was born in the summer of 1992, at the Snake River Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A very dear friend, Elizabeth Sword, had offered her family’s ranch retreat as a meeting place. It was the perfect destination and location, set beneath the Grand Tetons, a pristine and inspirational gift.

The following year, 1993, the National Academy of Science (NAS) presented findings on how pesticides were affecting the diets of infants and children. Dr. Philip Landrigan, who is referred to as the “Father of the Children’s Environmental Health Movement,” and who is a leading pediatrician and scientist based at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, joined us at the ranch for our second annual meeting to reveal the findings.

Jim and I had invited guests, who brought tremendous experience and expertise in pediatrics, science, media, and government. Those early meetings under the magnificent Tetons would later become the foundation from which we would create Healthy Child Healthy World‘s mission and goals. Together, we carved a vision for the future. Each individual dedicated their time and resources. Today, our founding Board members comprise an Honorary Board of great distinction.

Almost twenty years have passed since that historic meeting. Some of our earlier accomplishments include:

  • an educational video called, Not Under My Roof: Protecting Your Baby from Toxins in the Home;
  • passage of state and federal legislation protective of children’s health;
  • working with the Clinton administration to establish an executive order that would protect children from harm in public places; and
  • the launch of a national educational childproofing campaign, reaching more than 80 million people with our message of inspiring parents to protect children from harmful chemicals.

Looking back, I would say one of our greatest accomplishments happened in 1998, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave us a grant. “We’re going to give you half a million dollars to build a Health eHouse,” they told us. And it became the very first, virtual, Internet, interactive medium — a one-stop, cyber shop — that gave people the opportunity to explore, room by room, using a mouse or a keypad, to learn safer alternatives to protect children in their homes.

We did this with the help and support of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). We translated hard-to-comprehend scientific data by making it consumer friendly. At the time, most people did not understand, for example, what the term “VOC” (volatile organic compounds) meant, though it is a term that is well understood today. People now know that many products contain harmful ingredients that, when used, create a vapor trail we refer to as off-gassing.

We helped people understand the danger of exposure to certain chemicals that were found in everyday products used in homes. These products contain inert ingredients, some of which have been proven in laboratory studies to cause cancer. Yet, US trademark law does not require inert ingredients to be revealed on product packaging, even though they may be carcinogenic.

Today, parents enter the marketplace wanting to do the right thing — intuitively knowing that some products are safer than others. Thanks to companies like Seventh Generation, one of our partners, we are able to provide information about a multitude of consumer products that are safe to use.

By educating parents to become smart shoppers — to use the power of choice by purchasing cleaner, greener, and safer products, we were able to burst that bubble of trademark protection.

Today, focus studies on children’s welfare reveal parents’ primary concern is health and safety.

At a time when our nation’s economy dictates cutting back, for some that just might mean less money spent on recreational pleasures and toys. But for most parents, ensuring health care for the entire family is the only insurance they have to protect their children.

The sad news is that our children’s health is suffering due to the inexplicable amounts of toxic chemicals that are released into the environment. Only half of all chemicals have undergone toxicity testing, but less than 1 in 5 have been tested for possible toxicity to children.

In 1995, Senator Barbara Boxer introduced legislation in the United States Senate in memory of our daughter, Colette Chuda. The Children’s Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) was the first amendment to safeguard children from toxins in the environment. This vanguard legislation contains language inclusive of children and their unique vulnerabilities. It was later amended onto other bills to support children’s disproportionate physiological needs, as well as other vulnerable subsets of the population, such as pregnant women and the elderly.

As parents who lost a child to cancer in 1991, we believe that Colette would have survived had we had the knowledge and tools Healthy Child Healthy World provides parents today.

In the mid-eighties, we were all living in a “toxic soup.” Few knew about the harmful dangers of living with and around a perversity of chemicals — and fewer knew about the compounded exposures due to their cumulative effects. It took time for scientific studies to reveal that chemicals are now known to be a major cause of cancer, and it took even more time to prove that heredity may predispose cells and DNA to cancer.

This year, we invite you to share the news that Healthy Child Healthy World will expand its knowledge base throughout the entire world by:

  • launching the new Health eHome program in partnership with WebMD, reaching millions per week;
  • collaborating on the groundbreaking National Children’s Study that will collect health and environmental data on over 100,000 children in the U.S. for over 20 years;
  • participating and partially funding the creation of the Autism Discovery Project at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and
  • nationally advocating and promoting the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, federal legislation designed to protect children from risky chemicals in everyday products by making manufacturers prove products are safe before they land on store shelves.

I wanted to share our story with the hope that together we can build a stronger alliance to protect children’s health. We want to partner with you — build a solid relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency and continue to work with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences — to provide a solid platform for this change.

Jim and I are very proud of the organization we founded. Today, thanks to the leadership of Christopher Gavigan, the CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, we have been able to reach a much larger audience, build a consensus amongst constituents, create partnerships that are aligned with our mission and goals.

Healthy Child Healthy World exists because of Colette and for the millions of children we protect everyday. And a day does not pass without her inspiring words, “Green is my favorite color. I love you a million, kabillion, trillion, bigger than God, bigger than the universe, two times.”

Many years ago we decided we weren’t going to let our personal tragedy, losing our only child to a non-hereditary cancer, beat us. Instead, we decided to set some winning goals — to help others — so that other children would not have to experience our daughter’s fate.

Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder

Healthy Child Healthy World

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)