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10 Sustainable Products to Fight COVID-19

10 Sustainable Products to Fight COVID-19

Now’s a great time to work on consuming sustainable products to fight COVID-19.

It’s hard to draw a direct line between our instant-gratification/disposable society and the cause of COVID-19. (And yet, is it?)

However, it’s not hard to see that altering our sense of consumer entitlement will help us out of this pandemic.

There are several choices we can make, as a society, that simultaneously reduces our impact on the environment, saves us money, AND fights COVID-19. (And might help with online learning and homeschooling. Ugh.)

Everyone one of the following products is meant to reduce trips to the infected outer world.

Win-win-win, eh?

But also? When you buy them, maybe DON’T go to Amazon (despite embedded links herein).

Try your local retailers or your hardware store.

BARS OF SOAP

You KNOW you don’t actually need to get a plastic bottle for gel soap. Using a bar of soap with your favorite washcloth or loofah or poofy thing is EXACTLY THE SAME. Pretend it’s olden-times. Save a buck. Be as chemically-based, hipstery, or French milled bougie as you wanna be. As a bonus – go LOCAL! The bars last longer, cost less, and serve the same purpose. And when you’re at the end of the bar, you can make your own bars just like your ancestors during the depression!

No more paper towels! Instead: reusable cloths!

Reusable cleaning cloths like this bamboo version or this. These mean no more paper towels. And how amazing is that? No more runs on the Target shelves. They last for many months and are made of natural celluloid, saving trees and money and trips to the store.

No more Swiffer. Instead: simple MOP!

Okay, so it *might* require a bucket, but is it really that big a deal? Same effort, perhaps a tiny bit more water. Folks: we are in pandemic. Plus – you KNOW you have the time to mop. However – a compromise with less waste are these microfiber mops (or turbo mops) with at least washable, reusable pads.


No more Swiffer Dusters: Now: old school dusters

Use an old-fashioned one that can be re-used ad nauseum. Go ahead and do some role-playing as the maid with an old school ostrich feather duster (or a new-school one). Or at LEAST re-use your Swiffer dusters. Here: I’ve made a video demonstrating the complexity of cleaning a swiffer duster. (Argh – swiffer makes me so mad with their disposability. It’s a RUSE, folks! They just want you to buy more unnecessary crap!!!)

No more sponges Instead: well…sponges.

Ultimately, dish sponges aren’t the worst things on the planet, nor do we dispose of them too frequently (do we?) But there are still better alternatives for longer-lasting and less plastic. Like the cotton “unsponges” to the left…or this DIY project upcycling produce bags…or a bunch of rags, folks – you know…like your grandparents used their entire lives?!? Also, natural loofah options are super bougie and worth bragging about on social media to make yourself look a bit more committed to sustainability than your neighbor.

No more dryer sheets. Instead: Dryer Balls

Y’all are totally doing this by now, right? Linen dryer balls are re-usable and don’t gunk up your dryers. Add a couple drops of essential oils to be, well…extra. (And smell super fancy).

No more Purell Now you can DIY sanitizer

Just get you some cheap aloe vera and some VODKA!!! (or cheap 99.9% rubbing alcohol) and make your own! Cut down on the constant purchasing of Purell bottles, refill your little bottles, etc. So much less waste and indubitably better for your hands and the environment, not to mention PRICE GAUGING.

No more need to give more cash to the big cleaning companies like P&G. Instead, make your own sanitizer and cut down on all those disposable mini-bottles of sanitizer.

NO: Sandwich bags And now: Stashers

There are actually tons of alternatives to the disposable sandwich bags of days gone by. Might you need to do a little cleaning and rinsing and drying? Get over it. It’s a pandemic.

best diaper bag for dads
best diaper bag for parents – and sustainable to fight covid-19

DIAPER BAGS

Why not a shameless plug, here? Sustainable? Yes (it’s quality and won’t fall apart and you can use it for years after diapering days are over and you won’t be embarrassed by it and choose to trash it). Stylish? Obvi. Fights COVID-19? I mean…have you SEEN the instant access to wet wipes?

Out with the Saran Wrap……………….. And in with the Beeswax

Talk about the epitome of single-use plastics. No more saran wrap, folks. It’s necessary and wasteful and definitely kills turtles looking for a jellyfish snack. If you still really want to support mega-corporations, at LEAST use Glad or Ziploc containers. But really – beeswax is sustainable and keeps food fresher.

Enough with the mechanical pencils just use #2’s!

Seriously – do we really need to have plastic pencils that get trashed? Like when our little kids discover the intense OCD joy of clicked, extract all the lead, and then you’re too lazy to shove all those fragile lead sticks back into the environmentally unfriendly plastic tubes? Yeah – get you a #2 and a fabulous sharpener like this or this. Put the kids to work sharpening, listen to them complain, and then start to sound like your grandmother when you lecture about how good they have it and that “It’s a pandemic, you little entitled shits!”

We are a consumer society. And thank goodness for delivery. Try to shop local, check out the hardware stores (it’s a magical place) and get these sustainable product to fight covid-19. (Can we call it CV19, yet? So much easier.)

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

4 Bears (out of 5) for COVID-19 Film Festival Selection: The Little Prince

This addition to the COVID-19 Film Festival review is a little snobby, but in short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people.

The Little Prince (available on Netflix) is a unique take on the children’s classic, The Little Prince, simultaneously re-telling the tale while reflecting the messages of the book through a modern story of an unexpected friendship between a little girl and an old man.

The entire movie has a certain Netflix-filtered-through-European-sensibility that makes it less aggressively upbeat as American animated blockbusters. There’s more silence, more profundity, more sadness, and more time.


Your kids might fidget a bit, but once they get into the story, they should stay enthralled.

This is a movie that elevates children and expands their vision and appreciation for artistic themes and story-telling, not to mention movies a bit off the conventional path. Give it a try. You won’t be wasting your time.

Our entire focus in our family film festival is to watch things that won’t make me want to tear my hair out and won’t make the kids immediately wish they were dissolving their brains watching crappy YouTube content. This one definitely foots the bill.

And while you’re at it, supplement your COVID-19 film festival viewing by buying the book. It’s also one of those that elevates us with profound stories that children understand so inherently and adults forget with age.

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” – Anthone de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Now ain’t profound sentences like that the kind of advice we could all absorb during these COVID-19 times?

Trust – there’s lots more where that comes from in this movie. Served up by an all-start cast, at that.

Please share with us YOUR additions to some quality COVID-19 viewing!

COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

receives 5 teddy bears out of 5
A 5-teddy bear review for “The Black Stallion”. This is a must-watch for families.

In brief: The Black Stallion is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence.

Further, The Black Stallion elevates our kids’ movie viewing, from mere “kids’ movies” to a piece that’s pretty close to art – given the slow pace, incredible visuals, and multiple themes running throughout.

In the recesses of my mind (perhaps when I was in first grade and our teachers thrilled us with watching a movie before holiday breaks) I vaguely remember watching The Black Stallion. So I was excited to add it to our list for our COVID-19 family film festival.

I recall it being interesting with a child protagonist and an anthropomorphized horse. I remember there being lots about survival and love between person and beast.

Having re-watched it, last night, as one of our family movies for COVID-19 viewing, all of those themes rang true. Even my kids were thrilled this was added to their COVID-19 schedule.

Unfortunately, there were some dated bits of cultural insensitivities, as well, but not so many that I’d dismiss the movie.

The beginning of the movie has some animal roughness, though I wouldn’t say cruelty. Unfortunately, the rough man tyring to tame the beast (and later who grabs the protagonist by the ear) is Arab. That was furthered with the introduction of the dated trope of the wise, elderly black man who comes in to bestow inspiration on the child. These are the only two people of color in the movie, sadly. And these cliché roles are worth discussion with your children…both for their small roles and cultural presentation.

But the movie is a stunning cinematic experience, especially the “2nd act” when the boy and the stallion are alone on the island.

For a half hour or more there is no dialogue and the scenery of the Mediterranean island is sumptuous. Meanwhile, the visual story-telling is intriguing for parents and children.

The movie rolls along slightly slower than what our pre-COVID-19 attention spans could tolerate. But nowadays, if nothing else, we’re forced to slow down and temper our expectation of instant gratification.

And the Black Stallion is, indeed, spectacularly gratifying, especially for your COVID-19 Family Film Festival.

10 Best Children’s Books in 2020

10 Best Children’s Books in 2020

Obviously many books can serve as the ten best children’s books to delight and educate your children. This is especially true since it’s not about the substance you read to your kids but the act and tone and exposure to words.

But what about the grown-up’s experience? – shouldn’t the best children’s books delight us, too?

I’m far too selfish only to think of my kids when reading. I better be delighted and educated, as well – and that, for me, is what qualifies books for being on a list of the ten best children’s books.

Below are 10 of the best children’s books in my kids’ collection, as well as a few more foregone conclusions for classics that should just be in your collection by default.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud & David Messina – Feelings are sometimes abstract and hard to articulate for kids. Even grown-ups often wonder “what’s the point in being kind for kindness’ sake?” Further, why bullies are mean is particularly complex. But this book gives you tools for explaining the self-interest in being kind and why bullies are mean. It feels like a corporate H.R. in-house self-publish. But trust. You’ll find it unmissable.

Tuba Lessons by T.C. Bartlett and Monique Felix is magical. Plain and simple – evocative illustrations inspiring children to fill in their own blanks. Trust me – open the cover and watch the kids dive in. There are very few words – so challenge your kids to narrate the pictures, themselves!


Little Boy by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds – For those of us who struggle with being present and mindful, this book, with its unique cadence and adorable illustrations helps parents slow down and think of the importance of days made of now.
It’s too bad the book is specifically gendered and focused on a white boy’s perspective. The only improvement would be to expand the lens to universal gender and skin color.

I Stink! by Kate & Jim McMullan The best children’s books lend themselves to creative voicing and a personality that leaps off the page. This, the first in a series, is educational and entertaining and allows the reader to be as ridiculous as possible. You’ll never look at garbage trucks the same way.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

The importance of cooperation and teamwork is one of the most fundamental we should pass on to our littles. And Little Blue Truck always shows that life is easier when we work together. Further, the rhymes and illustrations are entertaining for everyone.

The Secret Circus by Johanna Wright Similar to Goodnight Moon, this beauty combines uniquely simple illustrations with quiet language perfect for lulling little ones to sleep and allowing grown-ups to take their time with the sparse language and just revel in the quiet of the story.


Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak – – The author of Where the Wild Things Are created masterpieces of childhood wonder and unique illustrations. This series of mini-books allows kids to experience unique stories (and alphabet repetition) in a tiny package that kids can organize, discover and (re)organize.


Press Here by Heuvé Tullet – Reading this book requires children’s interaction giving them a sense of cause and effect. They will insist on executing every page’s instruction and will result in tons of delight. And if your kids are like mine, hours of repetition and ripped pages that have been repeatedly over-loved.

Stuck – Oliver Jeffers – Another element of children’s book magic comes from nonsensical storylines that delight. This is one of those. Just trust me.
How Much is a Million? – Conceptualizing large numbers is tough for anyone. This book actually illustrates a million. It’ll expand your mind and warm your heart.

City Dog Country Frog by Mo Willems While Mo can do no wrong, and all of the pigeon books are must-haves and Piggy and Gerald are modern classics, this wonderful book about a friendship through the seasons gently introduces loss and sadness in a way that may introduce your children to your own tears.

How Big is a Million? by Anna Milbourne & Serena Riglietti

Again, children grapple with complex ideas of feelings and numbers that are fascinating to contemplate and very difficult to illustrate and understand. And haven’t YOU wondered what a million looks like? Look no further. This gem literally illustrates it for you. This wonderful book is guaranteed to blow your mind as well as your kid’s. Again, children grapple with complex ideas of feelings and numbers that are fascinating to contemplate and very difficult to illustrate and understand. And haven’t YOU wondered what a million looks like? Look no further. This gem literally illustrates it for you. This wonderful book is guaranteed to blow your mind as well as your kid’s.

Also, I have to include the basics, without which your kid’s cursed to live a pointless, unfulfilled life. Kidding. (Sorta.)

Honorable Mention: Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd(?). Despite being a parody (knock-off) of one of the best children’s books of all time (see above), its application to modern life is hilarious and apt. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in cleverness.

And all of these bags could be easily carried in the best daddy diaper bag with confidence that your kids will love them and you won’t be annoyed.

Movie Review: A Dog’s Purpose

Movie Review: A Dog’s Purpose

I’m late to the game, but having recently watched it, A Dog’s Purpose becomes more than just a movie, it is a teaching tool for profound topics. I’ve got all the feels for it – a movie that’s beautifully shot, well-acted, charmingly written, and poses questions about mortality, kindness and mindfulness for children and grown-ups alike.

A Dog’s Purpose follows a dog’s quest for his, er – purpose?, over the span of several reincarnated lives as several men’s and women’s best friend.

“Bailey”, charmingly voiced by Josh Gad (so you can tell your children “That’s Olaf’s voice.”) cycles through several lives, some thrilling, some sad, some long, some short.

If you’ve ever had a dog in your life, you best bring some tissues. I mean – why DO we cry so much over the loss of cinema canines? I’m about to foist “Old Yeller” and “Where the Red Fern Grows” onto my kid because of the unforgettable tragedy and emotion it conjured in my youth. I can’t wait to share that experience with her. Am I an emotional masochist?

But I digress.

What particularly moved me was the provocative questions the movie inspired: thoughts about reincarnation, mortality, kindness and mindfulness.

The day after watching, on the way to school, my younger kid asked, “Why do dogs have many lives but humans don’t?”

We then had several blocks of talking about profound human beliefs. That led to more spirituality, speculation and religion after I said, “Religion is often what comes from people asking un-answerable questions about the world and about life and particularly about what happens to beings after death.”

He responded, “Uh-huh.”

It was 8:15 in the morning. Too much for him, too.

Anyway.

Talking about the life cycle while watching A Dog’s Purpose when children ask “why does he have to die?” and “Oh, good, he came back to life.”

It’s tough to chat with children about death, but there are beautiful and constructive ways of doing so and develop constructive life-long coping mechanisms. Death is part of life. We shouldn’t deny that fact from our kids.

Kindness entered our post-viewing conversation as we observed the treatment of the dogs by their owners. Some were neglectful, some strict, some were…uh…euthanizing, but most were quite loving. Kindness isn’t a hard concept for children, but it’s often glazed over or discounted. We all could use more modeling of kindness, right?

Finally (and most profoundly for me): mindfulness. Throughout the movie, Bailey is on the search for his (and in one life her) purpose. Discussing with children, “Why am I here?” and “Do I have a purpose in life?” ain’t easy. It’s tough for adults, too. But  it’s a question that renders life stimulating for our feeble brains. (That old “the unexamined life…” adage.)

By the end of the movie, Bailey shares with the viewer: “So, in all my lives as a dog, here’s what I’ve learned:”

  • Have fun (obviously)
  • Whenever possible, find someone to save, and save them.
  • Lick the ones you love.
  • Don’t get all sad-faced about what happened and scrunchy-faced about what could.
  • Just be here now.

Be here. Now.

Isn’t that simple and wonderful and pure?

Life would be so much better for us all if we relentlessly sought a purpose, played more, didn’t get scrunchy-faced about the past or the future and learned to be here – now.

Simple and thought-provoking, A Dog’s Purpose is a must-watch for families.

Netflix’s “Klaus” will Delight, Confound & Tickle

Netflix’s “Klaus” will Delight, Confound & Tickle

A surprising (and unconventional) re-telling of Christmas legends with a cheeky tone leaving you thinking “huh – that was better than I expected.”

Kid will love it – but this review is for you, not them.

Netflix’s ambitious jump into the animated waters is exciting and hilariously convoluted: it’s simultaneously quirky, dark, sophisticated, and cliché.

Another “origin of Santa” story that blends time periods, technology, and even some proletarian messages about haves and have-nots. It left me frequently thinking, “Huh?” but then made me chuckle . The right amount of Where is this going” that I kept engaged and never rolled my eyes.

Your children are elevated because it’s not a vapid movie of inane Santa clichés. It makes them stretch and engages them on a higher level with an invented story involving many societal elements that might confuse them – but the animation keeps them riveted.

Synopsis – Jesper (voice by Jason Schwartzman), an entitled son of some Scandinavian gentry, fails to succeed at Postal School, he is sent to a remote arctic island as a last chance to prove his worth with the challenge of increasing postal use on the island. His own disdain for his job is superseded by the bizarre hatred all citizens of the island hold for each other. Tone changes as he befriends a local teacher (Rashida Jones) and is intrigued by a toy-making carpenter recluse (J.K. Simmons). Comedy ensues and hearts will be warmed like stockings hung by the chimney with care.

Made by the creators of “Despicable Me”, the humor is cynical and funny. So it’s not a Hallmark schmaltzy bit of predictable nostalgia, but it definitely provides the right amount of holiday clichés to warm your heart and bring Christmas cheer.

Give it a try. You might be surprised by the circuitous and fresh take on the over-mined Santa origin story. But it’s not a waste of your holiday time.