Back to school means back to a routine, back to feeling crazy busy and back to packing lunches. Aside from the daily content question of what to pack, have you given much thought to how you’re packing your lunches? A waste-free lunch by definition is one that contains no throwaway packaging or food leftovers. In terms of lunch gear products, re-usability is the number one factor when packing a waste-free lunch. A second factor, critical for your child’s health, is non-toxicity and a final factor to consider is durability. If you’re going to invest in reusable lunch gear, it makes sense to ensure it’s made to last. It also makes sense to encourage your child’s input on colours and patterns to encourage them to pack up their reusables for taking home.
When I was pregnant with my first child I was intrigued by the idea of cloth diapering. It seemed like the right thing to do: better for the environment, better for my child’s skin and reproductive health. But there was so much information, so many choices… I was overwhelmed and intimidated.
I’ve been exploring household items we can reuse. I thought I would stretch the whole family to use items around the house we don’t really need to create things that are either beautiful or serve a function needed to be filled. We are getting crafty. Of course there are many ways in which we already reuse items—pickle jars become Lego storage, coffee tins collect coins in the laundry room and broken terracotta pots become drainage at the bottom of other potted plants.
Living on a small island 60 feet from the mainland is idyllic. We put groceries in a wheelbarrow, barge to school and compost all we can. As enchanted as it is, island living requires planning and energy. Typically I think of energy as the stamina to chase kids or dig for hours in the garden. We try to maintain and grow energy in our bodies by eating well and being efficient but I am a bit disappointed in myself for not paying enough attention to the energy we waste in our home.
I have been invited to participate in the SC Johnson 30 Green Days Challenge and will be sharing tips for making green-minded decisions each day. Many of my goals require simple common sense, and I am excited by the thought of being mindful in order to make my home more efficient and responsible to the planet.
This week our household focus is energy and we are starting small. As much as I want to replace the motor on my barge with an electric model, trade my car for a Tesla or install solar panels, my family and I have decided we will take a few baby steps first.
10 Ways to Conserve Energy Usage:
1. Use an appropriate appliance for what I am cooking. No more tiny pots on big burners or heating up the whole oven when the toaster would suffice.
2. Unplug chargers when they are not, well, charging.
3. Make turning off lights more of a priority in the kids’ morning routine. In fact, make a game of it!
4. Replace the seal on the fridge door so that the door closes properly.
5. Fill up my front-load washing machine to the brim every time. This shouldn’t be difficult with the mounds of dirty clothes produced by two boys.
6. Use the oven’s convection setting that I always forget I have.
7. Wear more sweaters = less turning the heat up.
8. Shut my computer down when I am not using it (gasp).
9. Put a towel under the door from my storage room (the one I have never used) which is 2 inches too short, allowing heat to escape.
10. Learn how to microwave well so I can make perfect morning eggs using a more efficient appliance than the stove.
The SC Johnson Green Choices website has a ton of tips to help you make green decisions too.
Small changes make a big difference.
While SC Johnson is the sponsor of the 30 Green Days Challenge, all opinions and comments within this post are my own.
We love lazy summer picnics filled with giggles, soft blankets and sandwiches with crusts cut off. SO we’ve come up with a few inspired summer picnic tips to enchant your family as you lead them into the lazy days of summer.
1. Head to a fabric store and use pinking shears to make cloth napkins so the edges won’t fray. It’s great for the environment and you can design themed, beautiful picnics at a low cost.
2. Use individual jars for salad and dressings so you can shake and serve.
3. Don’t forget baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
4. We have lots of printables on our pinterest pages so you can do nature walks and scavenger hunts.
5. Bamboo plates always look stunning and are earth friendly.
6. Ditch the tech and opt for old-fashioned entertainment like cards, etch-a-sketch and throwing a ball.
7. Make a picnic playlist for every summer and your kids will have years of happy memories associated with the songs.
8. If you have little ones, include a few favourite dolls or stuffies with tiny dishes. Enchanted.
9. To help teach responsibility and respect, throw a garbage bag and some plastic gloves in the basket and do a mini garbage cleanup of the site when you are done. Picking up litter of others will instill many lessinons in your children.
10. Opt for tealights in mason jars for twilight picnics. It will be both safe and beautiful!
Enjoy – and don’t forget the bug spray! Add your ideas below!
Take the spookiness out of Halloween with healthier choices that are easier than you might think. Start with these simple 5 ways to green your halloween – steps to avoid toxins, sugars and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a safer, ‘eek-o’ friendly Halloween with your kids.
1. Non-Toxic Face Paint In its ‘Pretty Scary‘ report on heavy metals in face paints, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an alarming 10 out of 10 face paints tested contained lead, a neurotoxin. Instead of gravitating towards a pack of face paint or make up from the likes of the dollar store that may or may not contain lead or other nasties, invest in a set of quality non-toxic lead-free face paints that will last well beyond Halloween. Another great option is to wear a reusable mask.
2. Healthier Treats Now more than ever Halloween treats with less sugar and additives than the average rocket or caramel abound. From organic chocolate to fruit bars and apple crisps, the possibilities are endless, you just have to keep an eye out. One to try are Bug Bites from Endangered Species Chocolate. Another alternative is non-food treats that last a little longer like recycled newspaper pencils, recycled crayon sticks, colourful soy rock crayons and if you want to really lead by example, compostable toothbrushes.
3. PVC-Free Treat Bags Avoiding PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and the poisonous chemicals it can off-gass is always a good idea, especially when it comes to items used by kids. Choosing PVC-free bags, backpacks, and toys means nasty dioxins won’t be leaching or off-gassing into the air and causing potential hormone disruption, respiratory issues and more. For Halloween, give the nasties a miss and go for a PVC-free treat bag like this Envirosax pirates bag or this pretty pink sweet treats bag. Both can hold up to 44lbs of goodies!
4. Swap a Costume Save money and reduce your carbon footprint by trading costumes with family and friends. Alternatively, go to National Costume Swap Day Canada and find a costume swap event near you. It’s a great way to change things up without spending a lot and let’s face it, does anyone really want to wear the same costume twice, even if you haven’t outgrown it?
5. Make Reusing Part of Halloween Consider ways to decorate without buying new and you’ll not only save money but help teach your kids about the value of reusing. Here’s a great idea for making spooky eyes in the bushes with toilet paper rolls and for these clever ghost lights use old bleach bottles. Using what you already have around the house also works great for costumes. Make a jet pack out of pop bottles for your little rocket man or transform an old t-shirt into a scary skull for an easy adult costume. After the 31st, be sure to reuse your pumpkin for pie, muffins, scones or any of these 23 Ways to Use Pumpkin Puree. For the more adventurous, try a pumpkin hair mask or pinata from these 10 Fun Things to Do with Pumpkin.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. With just a little thought and planning, it’s easy enjoy a ghoulishly green Halloween!
– Louise Campbell, co-founder eco boutique Lavish & Lime
As a parent there are so many things to consider – but what good is all of the hard work on attachment parenting if we have no planet by the time the kids reach 21? We need to stop hurting our planet – and fast. With all of the things to remember as a parent or through pregnancy, you don’t need more to think about (and feel guilty for), so we’ve come up with a few easy tips that could easily become habits. Remember that kids learn what they are shown.
One of our resolutions this year is to proudly announce to the grocery store clerk… ‘no thank you. I don’t need bags. I have brought my own.’ Little did we know that few cloth bags are created equal. First there are those with skinny handles that cut into your hands or shoulder, then the crappy ones that develop holes, and finally, there is the ‘useless’ group – too small for any real groceries and good for only 2 wine bottles (what use is that?). UrbanMommies tried the stunning organic GreenOne Bag and we were thrilled beyond belief.
Summertime! The park! The beach! The campground! Uh oh! The bee sting! The sunburn! The knee scrape! Summer brings lots of outdoor fun but also the possibility of outdoor injuries. No need to keep the kids inside, just follow these environmentally-friendly tips. Recommended products are available at Whole Foods Market.
It’s time for back-to-school scrambling which usually includes shopping for brand new school supplies. But which school supplies are safe for your kids? Last year, a report was released by Environmental Defense and the US-Based Center for Health, Environment and Justice outlining guidelines for purchasing safe back-to-school products. Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC is found in many common school supplies and other children’s products and is of key concern in the report.