Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top Posts for 2012

Just going through my statistics here to find out what my most popular posts this year were. It’s interesting to see what people found interesting here.

Green Stay at Home Mom top posts 2012

36 Eco Friendly Quotes
I expected this one to be popular, people like quotes. It was fun locating relevant quotes and then designing the graphics.

13 Great Apps for Green Living
Another one that didn’t surprise me much. With the popularity of apps, sharing ones that help people be a little more eco friendly was a natural.

Is Citric Acid an Eco Friendly Cleaner?
Citric acid is a new favorite cleaner of mine. I don’t know that it’s perfect solution for eco friendly cleaning, but it’s really safe to use around the kids, and pretty effective.

6 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey
I’m actually pretty fond of leftover turkey. You can use it up so many ways, making it a very affordable meat.

Being a Green Soccer Mom
My son loves soccer. It’s great for getting kids out and exercising. The snacks for after games can be a little wasteful and unhealthy.

There’s HOW Much Arsenic in Rice??
Another interesting one to write. Rice can be fairly healthy, properly prepared (especially if you avoid white rice), but it has its problems too.

It’s Time For Back to School! Do You Have Green School Supplies?
Back to school shopping takes so much work. A little extra effort is required to make them a little more eco friendly while sticking to what the teacher says your child needs.

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap!) Book Review
I was sent this book to review, and the post was fairly popular. I’d call that a good deal overall.

Eco Living During the Holidays

While trying to be eco friendly is important throughout the year, it can be harder to remember during the holiday season. There are so many excuses to buy stuff you don’t need, and cut corners to make things easier, whether or not it’s a good choice for the environment.

Being green isn’t at all impossible around the holidays, however. You can make choices that are good for the environment while keeping to your eco living ideals.

Use Natural Decor

hollyWhat’s available to you in terms of natural decor? This can vary quite a bit from person to person, so take a look around. Pine trees can have a lovely scent, a nice alternative to artificial trees, especially if you can deal with the limitations of bringing in a live tree.

Pine cones look nice, and certain kinds of produce, such as gourds, can sit out through the season as decorations rather than food.

Use Natural Scents

The holiday season is full of wonderful odors, especially if you love to bake. Take advantage of natural scents when you’d like your home to smell more like the holidays.

A simple way to start is to throw some herbs in simmering water. The heat releases their scent all around the house. Just pick your favorites.

You can also time your baking for when you want a particular smell, at least some of the time. Who doesn’t like to smell cookies or an apple pie baking? If you don’t need the oven for other things, think about making something delicious to give your home a scent no candle can beat.

Reuse Gift Wrap & Bags

My supply of used gift bags is ridiculous. I can find a bag for just about any gift I’m likely to give. I’m pretty sure some have made it to my home more than once, as I’m not the only one in the family to reuse gift bags.

Reusing gift wrap is trickier, as it doesn’t always survive in a smooth form. Take a look at what remains, and consider crafts that can be done with it. At the very least, kids love anything they can cut up into interesting shapes and tiny pieces.

Rethink Gift Wrap

Of course, you don’t have to use traditional gift wrap or bags. The wrap itself could be a part of the present. I wrote about a variety of eco friendly gift wrap ideas a few years ago.

Trade Decorations

You’re tired of some of your old decorations. Someone else is tired of theirs. Can you arrange a trade with them? Be careful about moving around any sentimental items, but often there are other decorations that you’ll be content to part with, either forever or for a time.

Simplify Gift Giving

This works especially well with extended family, but kids can be willing to get in on it too. Cut back on the number of people you buy gifts for, whether by instituting a name drawing or by simply agreeing that you don’t need to exchange gifts anymore. Try setting a price limit too. This can really ease the stress around the holidays.

Make Recycling Easy

When you have family and friends over, make it easy for them to recycle as appropriate. Just think about the wine and beer bottles, beer and soda cans and so forth that get used. They’re easy to recycle, so make sure it happens.

Ethical Products to Give For Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time to think of family and friends, but take the time to think about others. This isn’t just about what you buy, but who you buy it for. Here are some great ethical gifts to give for Christmas.

Rethink What’s Needed

Ethical Christmas presentsA part of the problem with Christmas as most of us celebrate is is the emphasis on consumerism. Take the time to really think about what makes a good gift for those you love. Think about what you ask for when people want to know what to get for you.

Fair Trade Products

Take the time to think of those who made the products you’re buying and look into Fair Trade options. You can find Fair Trade clothing, chocolate, coffee, jewelry, sporting equipment, toys and much more.

Amazon.com Fair Trade Merchandise
Gifts With Humanity
The Ultimate Green Store
Earth Divas

Help Someone Else

Perfect for that person who has everything, give a gift in someone’s name. You can use this as an example for your children too. Make sure it’s a cause they agree with, and that the charity makes good use of the money you send.

Charities that provide livestock are popular, as are programs which allow you to lend money to entrepreneurs.

Charity Navigator
GiveWell
Charity Watch

Sign Up for a Food Co-op

Why not sign up for fresh produce from a food co-op? Check Local Harvest and other directories for co-ops available in your area. Not only do you get wonderful food, you get a variety you may not be used to, which encourages trying new recipes.

Heirloom Seeds

For the gardener in your life, think about providing some interesting heirloom seeds to grow. This may be more of a stocking stuffer than a full gift for some, but it can still be a lot of fun.

6 Cardboard Presents Kids Love

One of the gifts my youngest child will be getting this year is a cardboard castle. I love cardboard playhouses. Kids can color them as they will, they last pretty well, they fold up small if you need to store them, and they’re recyclable. It’s pretty neat. But you don’t have to stick just to the basics. Here are some great Christmas or birthday presents for kids made out of cardboard. The only possible problem is that they really need to stay indoors. Cardboard doesn’t do so well outdoors, especially in wet weather or lawn sprinklers.

cardboard playhouse1. The Classic – Cut Doors and Windows Into a Used Cardboard Box

This is the most basic and eco friendly way to go. Find a business that has cardboard boxes to get rid of, and ask for a big one to be put aside for you. They’ll usually do this for free, so it’s budget friendly too. If they have double thickness cardboard boxes, so much the better. Just make sure they save a big enough box for a playhouse.

Cut out doors and windows, leaving one edge attached and bend it back and forth so the kids can open and shut them.

We had one of these last a couple of years, including being taken apart for a move. The double thickness cardboard was strong enough that the kids could climb around on top.

2. Marble Run

This idea doesn’t take as big a box – matter of fact, it’s pretty flexible. Take a cardboard box and some paper towel tubes or toilet paper tubes. Cut the tubes in half and attach them to the box to make a marble run. You can go simple or get really creative with this.

3. Pirate Ship

If you want something a little more complex, try a Pirate Ship. The creative can make one of their own, but you can also buy them online and possibly locally. They’re really cute, just right for your little buccaneer.

4. Cardboard Blocks

I remember playing with these as a kid. They were great because you didn’t have to worry about hurting someone when they fell down. They last pretty well too. If your kids like to build a lot, you may need more than one set. They’re much bigger than other blocks, but you don’t get a lot of them in a single set. You can go for the simple brick style that I remember or the more varied Giant Archiquest Cardboard Blocks.

5. Space Shuttle

If your child is more into space, or you just prefer it, the cardboard Space Shuttle
looks wonderful to me. Just one more way to encourage kids to use their imaginations.

6. Robot

This one doesn’t come with the cardboard, instead the Makedo™ Find and Make Robot Kit gives parts to help kids make their own robot from things they find around the house. It’s a really interesting idea, sure to challenge kids.

5 Types of Eco Friendly Toys to Consider This Year

Kids love getting toys for Christmas. That’s normal, but oh, the mess of it all. And it lasts. It’s not like the toys vanish when the kids tire of them. You want toys that will last well for your children, that are made in a reasonably eco friendly manner, can be handed down or recycled, and of course are loads of fun to play with. It’s a tall order, but I think some toys succeed in hitting those points.

1. Bamboo Toys

Bamboo toys are really popular with eco friendly families. Bamboo grows really fast, making it a nicely renewable resource. Make sure the toys are painted with non-toxic paints, of course. You can find toy cars, dollhouses, games and more made from bamboo.

My favorites:

2. Wooden Toys

Wooden toys are generally eco friendly too, but some more so than others. Make sure you consider the company you’re buying from and that they have a good, eco friendly reputation.

My favorites:

3. Recycled Plastic Toys

While plastic is generally not eco friendly, recycled plastic is much better. There are some great toys made from recycled plastic that might not hold up so well if made from other materials, such as a plastic tea set.

My favorites:

4. Solar Powered Toys

For kids interested in science or alternative energy, or parents who want to save on batteries, solar powered toys may be a good option. These are kits for kids to build their own toys, so they’re better for those who are ready to put a bit of work into a new toy.

My favorites:

5. Organic Plush Toys

Plush toys are common favorites of younger children, and may be treasured as they get older. Check out some of the plush toys made from organic fabrics for some fun, cute options.

My favorites: