Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (While I Sit Here And Worry)

This post is part of a partnership with Allstate.

My oldest daughter turned fifteen a couple of months ago, and as usual another year older brought another whole set of worries for me. This time it's sophmore boys, college planning, and what if Lady Gaga's next concert falls on the exact same day as the homecoming dance? (That last one is her worry, not mine.)

But I have to say the thing that's weighing heaviest on my mind lately is the fact that my first-born will be old enough to drive a car next year.

[Pause for emphasis.]


Chances are she won't be running out and getting her license on the very morning of her 16th birthday (like I did) but it's inevitable she'll be getting behind the wheel sometime in the next year or so. How did this happen? It seemed like one minute I'm changing her diaper, and the next thing I know I'm grabbing the dashboard with my white knuckles and screaming, "Don't hit the tree!" as she overcompensates and veers off and hits the neighbor's brand-new Mercedes instead and then bolts out of the car yelling, "I TOLD YOU I DIDN'T WANT YOU TEACHING ME HOW TO DRIVE. MOM."

Okay, I admit I may have been overthinking this whole thing, but the truth is the statistics for teenage drivers is sobering. Add to that my memories of crazy teenage driving hijinks and it's enough to make me want to campaign to have the legal driving age raised to 30.

Plus it's my legacy to worry about my teen driving: Every single year since we got our licenses, my mom has paid for the roadside assistance program for all five of her kids saying that she "sleeps better" knowing that we're covered for emergencies on the road. I think it's a great idea, and along with scrawling 'No Boys Allowed' on the dashboard it's one of the things I was thinking of doing for my own daughter once she starts driving.

But with the statistic that 52 million households pay annual fees for roadside assistance with the average driver using their service only once every three years, I started thinking about the last time either my husband or I used our service and I realized I couldn't remember when it was. Although there was that one time I was thinking of calling them when I was on that long barren stretch of the 5 and I couldn't find a Starbucks to save my life. Hey, at the time it seemed like an emergency.

Here's something that might make more sense: Allstate has a program called the Good Hands Roadside service that offers pay-as-you-go roadside assistance. It's absolutely free to sign up, you do not have have Allstate insurance to use the service, and there is no sign-up fee or monthly fees. And check it out - you can sign up right here using this handy widget:

I realize this isn't going to protect my daughter from all that can go wrong while she's at the wheel, but it's one less thing to worry about. Now all I can do is make sure she gets excellent driver training, doesn't drink/text and drive, and follows all the other rules of save driving. And make sure she knows where to get a cup of coffee on the road when she really needs one.

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I was compensated for my participation in this program, but no restrictions were placed on the content of my review. All opinions are solely my own. 

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fair Trade: Not just coffee

A few weeks ago I was invited to a breakfast hosted by Fair Trade USA to see a presentation by Ashley Koff, an author, registered dietitian and spokesperson for World Fair Trade Day (recognized on May 14 this year.) I have to admit that before meeting Ashley and hearing her speak, I had only associated Fair Trade with the coffee I've seen on the Starbucks order board. Well, that and the heated exchange between my two daughters regarding a clothing swap. Oh wait - they called that UnFair Trade.

In a nutshell, fair trade is a movement that seeks to ensure that farmers and workers in developing countries get a fair price for their product, which would in turn enable those farmers to practice sustainable agriculture. So, by purchasing products that carry the official Fair Trade logo, you're supporting this fair system of trade while at the same time protecting our planet. Sounds like a win-win situation to me, unlike the hoodie-for-five-tank-tops deal my daughters were brokering. 

So what are some of the items that you can buy that are Fair Trade certified? I got a few products to bring home to sample including coffee, olive oil and chocolate (which was awesome, by the way), but you can pretty much find anything you can think of from food items that you use everyday to exotic spices to clothing (Koff was wearing an outfit that day that was Free Trade certified.) There are wines, beauty items and plants and flowers. And for those of you who want to engage in outdoor activities with an entirely clear conscience, there are even soccer balls that carry the Fair Trade logo. Score!

It was eye-opening for me to learn a little bit more about Fair Trade and to see the benefits of advocating the cause. I can't say that I'll be living an entirely Fair Trade existence from now on, but I have been seeking out more products that bear the certified seal, and I especially want my daughters to have a bit more of a conscious approach to their consumerism, whether it be the food they eat or the tank-tops they're buying. And yes I gave them a Fair Trade lecture before I handed over that chocolate bar I brought home.

Like most things that are good and good for you, it may take a little more effort to find Fair Trade products. But I love this idea for starting a Fair Trade commitment - make your daily cup of coffee or tea a Fair Trade certified cup. Of the more than 100 categories of Fair Trade Certified products available in the U.S., coffee and tea are the most common and easiest to find and available in almost every grocery chain, most coffee shops and many restaurants. So have your latte and help the world! And now I'm off to find a Free Trade donut.

Look for products that bear this Fair Trade certified logo. Find out more about Fair Trade here: Fair Trade USA 

Photo: Stock.Xchng
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