Tag Archives: reuse

5 Green Craft Supplies for Kids

Kids need something to do over the summer, after school, pretty much all the time. Playing outside is a great idea, but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate or they just need some cool down time indoors. Crafts are a wonderful activity for kids, something to allow them to be creative. You don’t have to buy books on crafting, just have the supplies ready and let your kids go at it. If you can keep the supplies on the eco friendly side of things, so much the better.

Think about crafts the kids can make more or less on their own. It’s good for them to make things without your help, even if they don’t look just right.

1. Recycled goods.

Start your kids’ craft supplies with recycled goods. Junk mail, newspapers, cans, bottles and so forth. The great part about these supplies is that you don’t have to buy them.

If your kids are interested in sewing, old clothes may be another option. Some clothes just won’t be worth handing down, but might be okay for crafting. Take a look and see what you can find.

2. Eco craft kits.

You can buy eco friendly craft kits with supplies made of recycled and eco friendly materials. These are great when you need some ideas to help get the kids started. Here are a few to consider:

ALEX® Eco Crafts
Flower Press
Paper Making Kit
Trash Robot Kit

3. Eco friendly crayons.

There are some pretty nice eco friendly crayons out there. Some have fun shapes while others look more like regular crayons. There are a number of brands to try.

Crazy Crayon Eco Stars
eco-kids Crayons
International Arrivals Natural Beeswax Crayons
Soy Crayon Rocks

4. Eco friendly paints.

Depending on what you want the paints for, it’s not too hard to make paints for your kids. Pudding spreads quite nicely and is really fun for kids, and there are simple homemade finger paint recipes out there. If that’s not your style, there are some relatively eco friendly paints for kids out there:

Glob All Natural Paint Kits

5. Eco friendly glues.

What’s crafting for kids without glue? They will want glue at some point, so make it the safest you can.

eco-kids Handmade Glue
Clementine Art Natural Glue

10 Popular Green Products

One of the most popular ways to go green is by shopping green. It’s perhaps not always done right, as people buy more than they need, but it’s usually better than ignoring the environmental impact of products altogether.

Some kinds of products are more popular than others, of course. Today I want to take a look at some of the more popular green product types, what I think of them, and share individual examples.

Eco Friendly Electronics

Eco Friendly Electronics

Electronics are a huge part of modern living for most people, so finding more environmentally friendly options is a big deal. Look for Energy Star ratings and EPEAT registration. Be aware that EPEAT registration doesn’t cover all kinds of electronics, but you can look at the information the manufacturer provides to decide what’s green enough for you. Familiar brands such as Dell, HP and Apple have EPEAT-registered products. EPEAT at this time appears to be mostly for computer products.

Apple MacBook Pro
I’m quite fond of my MacBook Pro, and it’s one of Apple’s products on EPEAT, with a Gold certification.  It’s a good laptop, and I love the mobility, as before I had only owned desktop computers. It has made working from my home much easier.

Samsung UN32EH4003 32-Inch LED HDTV
This is a popular example of an Energy Star television. Nice size, well reviewed by users. It sounds like a good replacement for when an older television needs replacing. Not something that happens much in my family, as there’s one TV in the living room and another, rarely used one in the master bedroom

Organic Food

Chia Seeds

Not everyone agrees about the benefits of organic food, but then it depends on the benefit you’re looking for. Many organizations that compare conventional and organic produce focus on nutrition, but may neglect pesticide and other residues. Organic fruits and vegetables may cost more than conventional produce, but you can get some good deals at farmers markets or through a CSA. It should end up being more local that was too. Just check to be sure you’re definitely getting organic produce.

Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have become very popular as a superfood. I find that soaked chia seeds go well in smoothies and yogurt, plus they can be added to other recipes. The antioxidants in chia seeds are said to be more stable than those in flax seeds, and they’re also high in omega-3 acids, protein and fiber.

Cacao Powder or Nibs
Perfect for chocolate lovers, cacao powder and nibs give you a healthier way to add a chocolate flavor to a variety of treats. It doesn’t taste like chocolate on its own, however; it’s rather bitter. The nibs have cocoa butter in them, but the powder doesn’t, so be aware that there is a difference between them. I like the nibs, but not by themselves. They add an amazing chocolate taste to smoothies. On their own, cacao nibs are very much an acquired taste, but a healthy one if you can manage it.

Baby Supplies

There’s no way around it – babies need a LOT of stuff. My favorite way to deal with a lot of it is handmedowns, and those can cover quite a bit of the clothing and toy needs for the first while. Sometimes even years of supplies, depending on how good a system you have going with family or friends. My youngest daughter, for example, very rarely gets new clothes because she has such an absurd amount of handmedowns, and she’s nearly 4 years old.

For babies, safety is absolutely a concern, which is a part of why people like eco friendly items. It’s one way to avoid potentially harmful chemicals.

Cloth Diapers
I got into cloth diapers with my youngest; couldn’t convince my husband that we could make it wish sooner, and ended up wishing we had done cloth diapers all along. Saved a lot of money with them. We used Bum Genius, but there are a lot of good brands out there. Don’t forget the cloth wipes.

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping (sometimes at the wrong times for new parents!), and so you may care quite a bit about what they’re sleeping on. From the mattress to the sheets, think about your eco friendly options, such as whether the materials used will tend to offgas. Look for Certi-PUR-US certification for mattresses.


Kids of all ages want toys. The trouble is how quickly the things pile up over time. Add in how often toys are plastic, and it’s not often you can call children’s toys green.

I’ll readily admit to being imperfect in most areas, but especially with toys. My kids do have some handmedown and used toys, including an old Capsela set they enjoy, and a whole lot of LEGOs, most of which were my husband’s from when he was growing up. One thing I will say for those is that once in a while you can take advantage of things lasting just about forever.

Bamboo Toys
Bamboo is very popular right now for toys. More environmentally friendly than wood according to many, it makes some pretty nice toys. There are some nice looking bamboo toy cars and bamboo games available.

Plan Toys
Plan Toys offers a wonderful range of toys that are meant to be more environmentally friendly. They’re also fun. They have a good range of toys, including some very nice dollhouses. There’s even a little vegetable garden for the dollhouse.

Reusable Replaces Disposable

I have a few reusable items that are very much favorites. It’s nice being able to keep one thing rather than throwing many out. The trick here is to pick good quality – I’ve had reusable items that just didn’t last well enough for the difference in cost.

Reusable Bottles
My absolute favorite. I have a reusable bottle that I use every day for my water. So does my husband. My kids take reusable bottles to school rather than juice boxes or water bottles. We have saved a lot of money this was.

My husband has a large Klean Kanteen he really likes. The one problem is that it doesn’t fit in the car’s cupholders, but it’s otherwise a great bottle.

I much prefer stainless steel reusable bottles to plastics or polycarbonates. I’ve had polycarbonate and plastic bottles break on me, but so far no one has managed to break one of the stainless steel ones. Dent, yes, but not severely enough to matter.

Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries can be challenging for some uses, but for others they’re wonderful. We have a nice charger that can take pretty much any size, and a stash of batteries.

If the toy or other item is going to sit a lot without being used, rechargeable batteries may as well be taken out. In my experience, they don’t hold a charge for months on end for items that aren’t being used. It’s very frustrating for kids to try to play with a toy they haven’t noticed in some time, only to find out that they have to wait for the batteries to charge. Pulling the batteries on less-used toys doesn’t make them any more ready to go, but it does mean you can use the batteries for more than one thing, and you might be able to move them from toy to toy as interests demand.

Need New Outdoor Gear? Patagonia Says Seek Out Used First

Talk about walking the walk. I just read an article about Patagonia, an outdoor merchandise retailer, strongly encouraging people to look into buying used gear before buying new from them. That’s a pretty amazing thing to hear from a company which won’t be profiting on said sales of used gear, but I like it.

This is a part of their Common Threads Initiative, and participants get special privileges to sell their used Patagonia gear on eBay’s Patagonia Common Threads Initiative site, which also appears to show up on Patagonia’s website in the used clothing and gear section.

The pledge is pretty simple:

I pledge to buy only what I need.

I pledge to repair items when they are broken.

I pledge to use what I have, sell what I don’t need, and buy used when I can.

I pledge to keep my stuff out of landfills.

Together we will reimagine a planet where we take only what nature can replace.

Sounds to me like something that anyone trying to live an eco friendly lifestyle can agree to, even though it won’t always be easy. I believe most people will be challenged significantly by the Repair part, as well as the Recycle part, as even the best intentioned of us usually generate some trash that goes into the landfill.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Patagonia as a business. They’ve shown themselves to be quite active in environmental causes, but this step may impact their bottom line.

That said, I don’t know that it will be a big impact. There are still plenty of people who will be solely interested in Patagonia’s products as products, and not for the environmental philosophy. I expect there will continue to be plenty of people buying new from them.

How Do You Keep Reusable Items From Cluttering Your Home?

The environmental mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a great one for cutting down on the waste you create in your life, but it can have its downside if you aren’t careful. You can hit the reuse part of the rule too hard, and have more of a mess in your home than you can deal with. You have to make sure that the things you’re saving for reuse really will be reused. Otherwise it makes more sense to just get rid of them.

This can be difficult. If you’re really going to reuse something, I’m not a fan of getting rid of it just because you can get a new one later. That’s the kind of waste you’re trying to avoid. However, if a new one will naturally come into your life later, such as with jars and other food containers you may enjoy reusing, you should limit how many you save to the quantity you’re likely to need soon.

If it’s something you aren’t likely to need for a long time, make sure you’re storing it well. Clothes that don’t fit should first be looked at in terms of whether or not they’ll still be in style when they do fit again. If they’re a clothing basic, don’t keep them with your other clothes – find a better place to store them where they aren’t taking up space you need right now. Just be realistic about whether or not you’re going to wear them again.

You can always send old clothes to the thrift store so that someone else will get to reuse them if you can’t do so yourself. No one ever said you have to be the one reusing. Just make it possible for someone else to reuse your old things rather than throwing them into the trash.

If your kids are like mine and love using found items for crafts, keep appropriate limits on what they can keep. Don’t let them keep every piece of junk mail, every bit of interesting plastic, every leaf, and so forth. Allow them to keep enough to encourage their creativity, but not so much that the mess challenges your sanity. A good storage container for holding their craft supplies can help you to give them a natural limit. When the container is full, they can’t have more craft supplies until they make room for them.

Keep in mind that you aren’t helping the environment by holding onto things that should be passed on to others who really will reuse them. If you aren’t reusing recyclable products, that’s more new materials that may be used to make products that might have come from the recyclables cluttering your home. Keep that balance, hold onto the things that you really will reuse, and allow the rest to continue in the cycle in the most environmentally friendly way you can.

5 Simple Environmentally Conscious Steps You Can Make Today

Being aware of the impact your lifestyle has on the environment isn’t always as difficult as it sounds when you first consider the problem. It’s not all about sacrificing comfort and going off to live in a cave. Matter of fact, it’s not at all about living in a cave. If you want to be more environmentally conscious, try these simple steps to get things moving.

1. Be more aware of the resources you’re using.

Just take a little time and think about what you’re using when you do things in your daily life. How much electricity and water do you use in a day? How much gas do you use? How much stuff do you buy?

Awareness may not sound like much, but it’s the first step in taking action to decrease your use of resources, especially the ones that aren’t renewable.

2. Find ways to cut back on the resources you use.

Once you’ve become more aware of the resources you use, you can also consider ways to cut back on what you use. Not only is this likely to be better for the environment, using fewer resources usually saves you money in the long run and often the short run.

It’s not all about getting off the grid or things like that. Such things are beyond what many can afford, although if you can make it, it’s not a bad choice. It’s about looking at what works for you, such as replacing light bulbs with more efficient bulbs, turning lights and electronics off when they’re not in use, carpooling or using public transportation, shopping less, taking shorter showers, things like that. Things that fit into your budget.

3. Reuse.

Reducing is the most important step, but after that comes the reuse of the resources you already have. This can be as simple as finding a new use for that glass jar the spaghetti sauce came in or using an empty gallon jug for watering plants in the garden. You could even make a reusable shopping bag out of an old pair of jeans.

The point to reusing things is to remember that just because something has served its original purpose doesn’t mean it’s garbage already. Think about other ways you could reuse things before you throw them out or even send them for recycling.

Consider buying some products specifically because they can be reused, rather than buying single use products over and over again. Water bottles are a great example of this. Drinking water is a great, healthy habit, but buying bottled water is not. Not only are the bottles wasteful, bottled water is less regulated than your tap water in most places, and may not be as good for you as you think. Get a water filter if you really need filtered water, and carry a reusable water bottle with you. A good quality one will save you money over the cost of buying bottled water.

Also consider a good quality reusable shopping bag. This won’t save you money if you aren’t charged for paper or plastic bags by the store, but just think about how fast bags add up in your home. That’s a lot of waste you can prevent.

4. Recycle.

Reducing and reusing your use of resources is important, but we all have to use some resources. There’s no way around that as long as we’re alive. What you need to consider is how to allow resources to be reused when possible.

Recycling is much easier now in many communities than it was even a few years ago. Large recycling bins are more common now, and you often no longer even need to sort your recyclables to have them picked up. Pay attention to what can be recycled in your community, as not every one has the same rules.

If recycling isn’t easy in your community, find out what it takes to get the job done. If you have to drive to a recycling facility, decide how often it’s worth it to you, and how you can store recyclable materials until that time.

Particularly important is to pay attention to how you dispose of electronic waste and hazardous waste such as old paint, certain types of batteries and so forth. It cannot just be disposed of in the trash. Many communities have particular places or particular days where they will allow you to bring in electronic waste such as old computers, televisions and so forth, or for the disposal of hazardous wastes. Some of these can be recycled in this way, while others need more careful disposal.

5. Get outside.

You won’t completely appreciate the environment if you don’t get out into it. Go for a hike, head out to the beach, even walk around your own neighborhood. Get out and enjoy yourself outdoors.

This is especially important to do as a family when you have kids. If you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious, then you’re probably trying to teach them the same, and how are they going to understand what they’re protecting if they don’t see enough of it?