Dear SafeMama: Etiquette and Countertops

By Kristie Turck •  Published 07/30/08 •  5 min read

Q: This is more of an etiquette question… what is the best way you have found to ask family and friends not to buy evil Fisher Price toys or chemical laden bath products for your kiddos? I certainly want to be polite, but I don’t want their gift selection for birthdays and Christmas to go unused if it doesn’t pass muster. Maybe I should keep my trap shut and just say, “thank you,” like my mom taught me. 🙂

In this day and age, it’s nice to see people who still hold regard for proper etiquette. That said, this is one of those fine line questions. Because you’re taught to accept a gift and say thank you. But in this instance, you’re trying to avoid filling up landfills and poisoning your child with toxic chemicals. I flat out told my mother that we were boycotting Fisher Price. But when it’s your mom, you can say things like that and not sound like a selfish brat. So you could do this a couple of ways:

  1. For people who want to just buy something despite your wishes to your feelings, you can ask for donations to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts. Kids don’t need toys. We have far too many, and my son prefers to empty out the kitchen cabinets for entertainment.
  2. For people who you’re comfortable with telling exactly what your child “likes”, Amazon has lots of options and of course the great wish list feature. You can put items on there to fit every budget and not sound like a greedy gift monger. After all, it’s not really all about the gifts, but some people want to buy presents. I love buying presents, but my feeling is, that I’d rather see it get used, than have the person toss it aside.

There are ways to tactfully explain to people in casual non gift related conversation your views on toxic plastic toys. But there will always be people that are going to buy something that is not only probably noisy (grandparents revenge), but also created a lot more pollution to make. And in that case, you can save it, and give to Goodwill or Toys For Tots at Christmas and teach your children a valuable lesson in giving to others in need. Everyone wins.

Q: I’m in the process of remodelling my kitchen, which includes countertops. Well, I have just found out that granite countertops are linked to RADON…now, I need to find something safe for our family. Is there a safe/green kitchen countertop out there? Please help!!!

It always seems like there’s something we have to worry about in regards to keeping our indoor air quality safe. The truth of the matter is, just about everything in your house probably poses a hazard. Your furniture, your paint, your carpet, and now, your countertops. Last week, the New York Times released an article regarding possible radon emitting from granite countertops. Radon, for those who aren’t aware, is an odorless, colorless gas that is caused by the breakdown of radium in the ground. Most people who have bought a house may remember having to get a possible radon test done. The Environmental Protection agency states that anything under 4 picocuries per liter of air is considered safe. The EPA also confirms that granite countertops are safe, however, not one to ever take anything at face value, you should still do your own testing via a home kit, which can be purchased at most hardware stores. Or you can have someone come out and do radon testing for you.

For those that are in the process of remodeling and haven’t put your countertops in yet, there are other alternatives that look great and are better for the environment too. Paperstone is a good option, which is made from 50-100% (depending on the line) post consumer waste. The only drawback to this, as I’ve been reading, is that the resin used to seal the counter is made from cashew shells, which could pose a problem if you or your family have nut allergies. Another option is Icestone, which is another eco-friendly choice as it’s made from recycled glass and concrete. I’ve seen a lot of Icestone popping up lately, and while to me, personally, it’s not as sleek looking as granite, it’s still really nice and I do like the fact that it’s made from recycled materials. Another option would just be poured concrete countertops. I’ve seen these before (in fact, if I remember correctly, Kathy had them put in a house, once, but maybe I’ve been drinking too many martinis).

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