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9-Year-Old Upcycling: Inspired by Terracycle

Inspired by Terracycle

Inspired by Terracycle

In one of my daughter’s more inspired moments, she decided to create an upcycled project.

Truly the trend of upcycling began with children when they turned that plain old cardboard box into a spaceship, castle, and/or barn.

What excited me about my daughter’s project was her description “Inspired by Terracycle“.

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Hank D and the Bee: Recycled Toilet Paper


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Family Games Night With Eco-Friendly Playing Cards

For some reason, when I think of products that need to ‘go green’, certain types of items tend to top the list.  Cleaning productsPlastic children’s toysPaint and building materials.  Baby suppliesFoodClothing.

Playing cards had not yet entered my mind.

So imagine my amused surprise the other day when, while shopping for a new deck of quality cards for bridge (my husband had even requested a plastic set), I stumbled across Bicycle‘s new (launched in 2008) line of Eco Edition Playing Cards.

While there is almost certainly a good level of bandwagon-jumping greenwashing going on here, there is still much good to say about these cards.  According to Bicycle:

Our playing cards are crafted from sustainable forest paper, starch-based laminating glue and vegetable-based printing inks.  This pack of cards is recyclable.

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Save the Earth Science Experiments: Book Review

“The Experiment- How do environmental conditions affect the amount of biogas produced?” If you are homeschooling like I am, entering a science fair or simply looking for a fun way to teach your children about our impact on this planet then Save the Earth Science Experiments, Science Fair Projects for Eco-Kids by Elizabeth Snoke Harris is the book for you.

This fun book (which I purchased through a Scholastic flier) is filled with experiments to get you thinking (and by YOU I do mean parents as well as the kids).   The book begins with an introduction on problems occurring in the world which impact our global well being.   It is then followed by a section on how to put together an effective Science Fair Project and more than 20 experiments that are related to our current environmental concerns.  Throughout the book, you will find short stories and facts which detail a concern or in “The High Price of Ethanol” points out that a solution (biofuels) we think is better, is actually just as damaging. [Read more…]

Rock on San Francisco: The Nation's Most Comprehensive Recycling Program

I just read that San Francisco, in another moment of environmental health leadership (brilliance, I would call it), just launched the most ambitious recycling program in the nation. For a city that already diverts 72 percent of its trash from landfills, San Francisco didn’t sit on its laurels. Mayor Gavin Newsom promoted the law that adds mandatory composting to the program and forwards the goal of achieving 75 percent diversion and zero waste by 2020.

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Green Cooking and a Red Chili Recipe

After years of experimentation, I have come up with the perfect recipe for easy, hearty, healthy, stick-to-the-ribs tasty chili, right in the slow cooker.  And I’m going to share it with you.

But first, let’s talk about what you can do to make your chili — and all your cooking, really — more “green.”

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Non-Profit Eco Canteen Makes Cheap, Affordable Reusable Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Eco Canteens are an affordable stainless steel water bottle

Editor’s note:  Please read the comments below. This company has come under scrutiny by consumers.

I’ve been noticing more and more people from all walks of life using metal water bottles. At about half the price of other stainless steel water bottles, non-profit Eco Canteen‘s mission is to get as many people as possible off of bottled water, since 80% of plastic water bottled are not recycled.  Of the plastic water bottles that do make it to the recycling center, 40% of them end up in China or Indonesia.

Here are some staggering statistics about the detrimental environmental effects of plastic water bottles:

  • 2.5 million disposable water bottles are thrown away in the US every hour.
  • In 2007, $16 billion was spent on bottled water.
  • 20 oz. of bottled water costs almost as much as a gallon of gas.
  • Discarded plastic water bottles take 700 to 1,000 years to break down.
  • A 20 oz. bottle of water takes 5 oz. of oil to produce and ship.
  • Dioxin, one of the deadliest air pollutants, is created when unrecyclable PVC is separated from PET/PETE #1 plastic water bottles and then incinerated. [Read more…]

Green Toys Inc – Recycled Toys Made in the USA

toy dump truck

What if that empty milk jug you just tossed into the recycling bin could be made into a fun toy for your kids to play with? Now it can, thanks to an amazing toy company called Green Toys Inc. This amazing toy company out of California creates cute and colorful children’s toys from recycled plastic milk jugs. creating toys that really are green in so many ways.

We believe the world would be a much better place if everyone said “please” and “thank you”, cell phones didn’t ring during movies, and all toys were fun, safe, and made from environmentally friendly materials. Since it’s probably no use holding our breath for those first two, we’re concentrating on the toys.

Green Toys Inc strives to be eco-friendly from start to finish. First their toys are made from recycled milk jugs and other environmentally friendly materials. Second, everything is local to their business in California. They are made 100% in the USA, reducing the fuel and energy use that transporting the toys or materials would use. And as they mention on their site the toys are made in California, a state known for strict toy safety and environmental laws. Even their packaging is recycled and environmentally friendly!

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Getting What You Need on the Cheap!

I’m all about a bargain. With a large family, we really focus on getting the longest life possible out of items and sourcing new to us items whenever possible.

So, I’ve become a HUGE fan of:

Freecycle. Seriously, folks. You sign up, get email updates with freebies being given away in your area and you offer up the extras in your closets. I gave away a sewing machine that was in need of TLC and an old wooden play structure. I’ve found clothes for the kids and baby equipment. The only money involved is the cost of driving to pick the items up. Awesome.

Craigslist. While this isn’t a great place to find freebies (though they do have a free section), it is a wonderful resource for new to you furniture, auto needs, tools, and kids items. I’ve sold bags of clothes for $20 a pop and purchased a couch for $150. Yay. [Read more…]

Folk Art Eco-Friendly Lunch Pack: Organic Cotton and Bamboo From Print*Pattern*Paper

eco-friendly unique lunch packOne of my favorite parts of elementary school was lunchtime. I always looked forward to my sack lunch.  My friends and I would compare our goodies and trade, as well as feel sorry the kids stuck with an overcooked, bland, awful school lunches.  Of course, I didn’t have a cool organic lunch tote, but I had one of those retro metal boxes, I think it was Scooby Doo.  Families today have more choices then we did in the Seventies, especially when it comes to eco-friendly lunches.

Print*Pattern*Paper offers many unique eco-friendly products from recycled stationary to totes. I especially like the Lunch Pack.  The Lunch Pack comes with a darling organic cotton sac, a matching organic cotton napkin, a bamboo plate, and bamboo utensils. The bamboo utensils are really cool, as I have never seen them before, but the spoon is rather shallow causing my four-year-old son to spill lots of yogurt with it.  The whole set makes a nice presentation, and for endurance sake, the bamboo plate and utensils may be better suited for dramatic food play.  The organic napkin and lunch sac are very hardy though. [Read more…]

Recycle Your Used Wrapping Paper Into Special Thank You Cards

ripped christmas wrapping paperNow that the presents have all been opened many houses are covered in torn pieces of wrapping paper, ribbons, and tags. You can gather it all up and toss it in the recycling bin, or reuse it yourself for some recycled craft fun. Recycle your used wrapping paper into thank you cards to let people know how much you loved their gifts. Making handmade cards like these is just one way to create special memories in your family.

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Should We Consume More To Recycle More?

money around a treeThere is a simple life cycle for recycled goods: the things you place out in the recycling bins are picked up, recycled, and then resold to you as something new. Your old phone book, newspaper, and paper bag comes back as a cardboard box to ship Christmas presents off in. Yet, with the economic decrease and consumerism dropping is that cutting into the cycle of recycling? Should we be spending more money and consuming more goods to keep recycling going?

Should we consume more to recycle more?

That is the basic premise of an interesting article on NPR – Recycling Industry Slows As Consumers Shop Less. The story shares how one man in the recycled fibers business is seeing declining profits. As fewer people shop there is a lower demand for the packaging boxes made from recycled products.
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Back to Basics: What Kids Actually Need for Play Fun

I am a firm believer in minimalist living. That said, my kids like so many others have WAY too much stuff. We are working hard to change this and focus on what actually makes sense. The phrase, “I’m Bored” is never to be uttered in my house. I get this from my darling Grandparents who had a large hand in raising me. There is NEVER an excuse for boredom and if you do find yourself bored, there are always chores to be done. It always amazes me what bored minds can come up with when given the alternative of scrubbing the bathroom.

I have a huge problem with how so many toys on the market today have one use. The toys tell you how to use them (this even goes for planned building sets). I want my children to use their imagination and to not be hindered by what a toy is suppose to be for. (And don’t get me started on all the idol/hero worship, dolls who look like streetwalkers and massive amounts of fighting toys.)

So, what does a child really need (other than love, shelter, clothing & food): [Read more…]

Shipping Holiday Gifts Without the Waste

Since we live far away from most of our close friends and family, we have to ship most of our gifts each year, which can end up being a pretty eco-unfriendly task considering the amount of wasteful shipping products out there. While we want our gifts to arrive completely unharmed, I want to make sure I’m not filling up the landfills with the three top offenders of shipping waste: styrofoam peanuts, brand new boxes, and plastic bubble wrap.

Thanks to my other gigs, I’ve got plenty of used packing materials laying around, all of which I reuse, or give to my kids for their art projects. In fact, our Christmas wrap is made entirely from brown packing paper stamped with carved potato stamps.

However, while you may not have those types of packing materials right in your closet, you probably have a few other things in there that will work well, and that won’t create more waste than necessary this holiday season.

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