Gifts that Change Lives: World Vision


One thing I hate about the holidays is the pressure to BUY something for loved ones that truly have everything, including our kids. The truth is that globally, we are the 25%. Our wealth and the way we dispose of it around gift giving is quite embarrassing when you consider how little the rest of the world lives with in comparison.

Last year, I started giving service gifts. I started with my father, but I had never considered how this might be a very appropriate gift for a child, especially one like my daughter that is sensitive to the plight of those that are less fortunate.

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Children’s Music: The Endangerbles

I have high standards for children’s music, and well, frankly, The Endangerbles don’t make the cut. The message is sweet, for example, “Let’s make extinction extinct”, but the music is just not that aesthetically pleasing.

The Endangerbles’ goal is to be educational and fun.  Inspiring children to “respect and protect all the species of the world including each other” is the mission of The Endangerbles.  Its endearing cast of animal characters effectively entertain and educate children of all ages about the wonderful world of animals, specifically relating to those that are endangered, threatened or vulnerable.
The Endangerbles music CD features 10 original upbeat songs, all composed by Fred Bogert, the three-time Emmy-nominated musician-performer widely acclaimed for his musical contributions to the popular kids-based folk-rock duo Trout Fishing In America.

Top Ten Eco-Friendly Toys

The following is a list of the my children’s favorite eco-friendly toys. These are toys they continue to play with year after year, or ones similar to them.  These toys are not only eco-friendly because of their materials, but because they stand the test of time.

Top Ten Eco-Friendly Toys

1. Play Silks
2. Anamalz
3. CITO Wooden Toy Semi Truck
4. Tree Blocks – 36pc Set
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5 Green Gifts: SLOWCOLOR, ITO EN, STL Ocarina, Life Without Plastic, & Made to Play

1. Boulder Scarf

As a weaver and fiber artist, I am fascinated by SLOWCOLOR. The video above not only explains the company’s “trend toward more conscious gifting”, but the natural, handmade processes of the weavers, spinners, and dyers inspire me. I would love to go and visit SLOWCOLOR’s artisans! That would be my dream vacation!

We were sent a beautiful Boulder Scarf to review.

  • The scarf that goes anywhere. A treasured companion on your life’s adventures: casual, elegant, for work, and for play. Men like this scarf as much as women.
  • Gauze Weave
  • 100% premium linen handloomed with pride and passion in India
  • Hand Made: As this is a hand made product, slight size and color variation only show the human touch of a soul and heart at work
  • Size: 24″x72″

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Gifts for the Crafty Parent: made to play! Handmade Toys & Crafts for Growing Imaginations

During this time of year when parents and grandparents are looking for the best toys to give this holiday season, we are reminded that the best toysare simple and have been adored since children began playing.  The best toys inspire imagination and are handmade toys.

Joel Henriques, a crafty dad, has assembled a book of easy projects any parent can make with their children. Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations includes simple to follow directions, photographs of finished products, and diagrams.

Delight young children and encourage play through unique handmade toys. From sewn and stuffed musical instruments to interlocking paper building blocks and wooden animal figurines, the projects in this book are meant to encourage open-ended play. Organized by kid-loving subjects, the toys here follow the themes of Zoo; House; Blocks, Cars & Trucks; Dress-Up; Music; and Art. Overall, the projects here are meant to stimulate imagination, build confidence through success and enjoyment, and enhance the bond between family and friends through the creation of unique, artistic handmade toys and crafts.

The thirty-five projects in this book include a variety of crafts, from drawing to sewing and light woodworking. The toys presented here are made out of wonderfully tactile materials—repurposed fabrics, wood, and paper—and invite opportunities for creative and imaginative play. Every project is easy to complete, made with accessible materials, and requires little time to make. The projects are simple enough that endless variation can come from the making of each, leaving enough room for you to make the item to suit your own personal interests.

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Plastic-Free Gifts: Children’s Stainless Steel Utensils

We aim to live plastic-free in our household, but upon inspection, you will find the ubiquitous plastic containers, although BPA-free.  Utensils and dinnerware designed for children are often made of plastic, as parents fear breakables and expense, but it doesn’t have to be so.

Life Without Plastic is a great online retailer that can help you find safe alternatives for your family.

Our vision is to help all living beings, including the Earth, by working toward decreased reliance on plastic. We realize that plastic is not going to disappear any time soon. We recognize the benefits of plastic and the important roles it plays in society. We simply wish to build awareness about its dangers and the existence of healthier alternatives for household products. Healthier for the Earth, healthier for us all.

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Green Gifts for the Budding Musician: STL Ocarinas

Children love and deserve musical instruments; however, the noise they produce can be irksome to parents.

One trick is to only choose instruments that are pleasant sounding, no matter how they are played. STL Ocarinas fit this description with beautiful, ancient sound.

We were sent two ocarinas to try:

Teacarina:  When I first opened up our Teacarina, I thought, what a charming little cup. This multifunctional instrument allows you to play and sip, which is sure to delight any child.

The Teacarina, a combination pottery teacup and ocarina, allows you to play simple tunes between sips of your favorite tea or other hot drink.

Manufactured in a range of beautiful colors, the Teacarina is a hollow walled, handle-less teacup that doubles as a soothing and intriguing musical instrument.

As with other ocarina, you produce music by blowing through an air chamber, changing pitch by fingering four holes of various sizes on the side on the cup.

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5 Green Gifts: Anamalz, NurturMe, Flying Cauldron, Munchkin, & Krimson Klover

1. Anamalz – Zoo Characters – Crocodile and Triceratops

Anamalz have to be my favorite wooden toys!  Each animal has its own personality, and the design aesthetics are superb!  We were sent two toys from the zoo and prehistoric characters collection:

Award winning

designed in australia, anamalz are the award winning animal range made from sustainable wood and textile products that have the unique function to bend in different poses.

environmental toys

anamalz are made from a wood known as schima superba or “needlewood” a fast growing tree harvested in a forest plantation. Millions of anamalz are carefully hand painted using child friendly paint. Anamalz use formaldehyde free glue and minimal packaging. Even the waste wood is used on a farm to grow mushrooms. Anamalz horns are made with fda approved tpr combined with pine wood powder. This product was developed by anamalz and is an eco alternative to plastic.

on a mission

our development focus is on designing products using safe eco material and creating professional entertainment properties through the web, animation, publishing, music and performance. In becoming a stronger brand, anamalz is able to give to various children and animal charities.

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Best Wooden, Environmental Toys: Anamalz Animal Toys

Anamalz have to be my favorite wooden toys!  Each animal has its own personality, and the design aesthetics are superb!  We were sent two toys from the zoo and prehistoric characters collection:

Award winning

designed in australia, anamalz are the award winning animal range made from sustainable wood and textile products that have the unique function to bend in different poses.

environmental toys

anamalz are made from a wood known as schima superba or “needlewood” a fast growing tree harvested in a forest plantation. Millions of anamalz are carefully hand painted using child friendly paint. Anamalz use formaldehyde free glue and minimal packaging. Even the waste wood is used on a farm to grow mushrooms. Anamalz horns are made with fda approved tpr combined with pine wood powder. This product was developed by anamalz and is an eco alternative to plastic.

on a mission

our development focus is on designing products using safe eco material and creating professional entertainment properties through the web, animation, publishing, music and performance. In becoming a stronger brand, anamalz is able to give to various children and animal charities.

[Read more…]

Outdoor Kid Gifts: Princeton Tec Bot LED Head Lamp for Children

I take my kids hiking, camping, and backpacking at every opportunity.  Real gear is essential. Toys are toys.  One way I know I can trust outdoor gear designed for children is if it comes from I company I trust for adult gear.  The Princeton Tec Bot Headlamp fits the bill!

Small, simple, and ready for action, meet Bot. The newest and youngest member of The Family is designed with the same ergonomic features of the older members, but with a fun and bright PTec twist. Two Ultrabright LEDs housed in a variety of wild colors will certainly be the center of attention, but look beyond that. The Bot is built with the same ruggedness and reliability as the rest of the headlamps in The Family. Durable plastics, a single arm bracket, and large push button make the Bot sturdy and simple to operate. In addition, the battery compartment on the Bot screws shut to ensure that the batteries won’t be accidentally accessed. PTec reliability, PTec personality – the Bot rounds out The Family in a big way.

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5 Green Products: 5 Phases, Klean Kanteen, Cascades Cardboard Playhouse, B. Toys, & Organic Family Cookbook

1. 5 Phases Glass Baby Bottles

Our mothers and grandmothers were raised with glass baby bottles, but the current generation of parents worry about the safety of plastic chemicals and the risks of glass breaking. 5 Phases has a solution: [Read more…]

Eco-Friendly Products: B. Toys Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube

B. Toys has sent us products before, and I felt the company’s eco-friendly promotion was borderline greenwashing.  I am pleased to say the company has improved with this toy, and I love the Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube we were sent.

Play as you please!
There’s so much to do!

  • Doors to open, friends to find
  • Beautifully illustrated A to Z animals
  • Loopty-loo routes
  • Zigzag race paths
  • Spinny spinners

All B. toys are eco-friendly; the packages are recycled, recyclable, some toys come in reusable bags made from recycled PP plastic, and others come in boxes that reverse to become automatic gift-wrap!

B. toys are beautiful, fun, interactive, unique, eco-friendly and affordable and they give back to children all over the world with our cause marketing partnership with Free The Children.

The lead toy designer, Gisela Voss, is from Peru. She has integrated some incredible color palates and designs in all of the toys!

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Eco-Friendly Product: Children’s Cardboard Playhouse by Cascades

We’ve reviewed quite a few cardboard playhouses in the past.  Usually these house are small, maybe allowing a toddler inside.  My children alway enjoy figuring out how to put them together and decorating them, but the size is limiting to the imagination.  Not so with Cascades’ Children’s Cardboard Playhouse:

Lightweight, strong and mobile, this corrugated cardboard playhouse will win over the hearts of your children, who will use their creativity to decorate it to their own taste, with crayons, paint, paper and other materials.

  • Dimensions: 36″ x 50″ x 48″ height (97cm x 152cm x 136cm)
  • 3 years and older
  • Biodegradable, made with 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard
  • Easy to assemble
  • Safe
  • Easy to store in the transportation box
  • Includes 2 doors, 4 windows, 2 skylights, a chimney and a mailbox
  • Shipping fees may vary according to your postal code
  • Made in Canada

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Sustainable Designer Loomstate Creates One-of-a -Kind Eco-Friendly Barbie

In honor of Fashion’s Night Out, eco-designer Loomstate created an “eco-fashionista” Barbie to be auctioned off for charity.  Ecouterre explains:

It’s no secret that Barbie is an unrepentant shopaholic, so we weren’t surprised to find her all over Fashion’s Night Out in New York City. Still, the plastic bombshell took time out from her jam-packed schedule to don one of our favorite sustainable designers, although you won’t find this special-edition “Loomstate Barbie” on store shelves anytime soon. Loomstate dressed but a single doll in miniaturized versions of its “Abenaki” sweater and “Shkani” short, and she’s available only on the auction block for a starting bid of $500.

Loomstate is an organic and sustainable designer concerned with issues such as “using socially and environmentally responsible methods of production”.  Obviously, Mattel did not have a hand in the creation of this doll nor shares these concerns.

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