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Eco-Friday: How to have a Baby Clothes Swap Party

 swaps! 
Personally, I have attended a couple of clothing/closet swap parties for adults where girlfriends get together, take turns and shop each others’ clothes that we won’t wear any longer. It is a trendy and economical way to get “new” clothes without breaking the bank and swapping out your wardrobe.
In these tough economic times, purchasing new clothes for an impending arrival, especially for families on a budget and with more than one child, is not always an option. Organizing a baby swap is a very wonderful way for everyone to save a buck and get some new stuff. Here are some tips I gleaned from online research:

Step 1 – Select a date. 

  •  Based on your schedule and your family’s schedule, select a date that best works for you.  
  •  From there, decide if your swap will host both kids and adults – this will also help in determining the time of your swap (daytime vs. nighttime), the food, the activities, etc.  

Step 2 – Declutter. 

  • Get the word out about your Clothing Swap house party sooner rather than later. This gives everyone ample time to clean out their closets and find items to swap.  
  •  Make sure to invite your  guests three-to-four weeks in advance. With your invites, give your guests the following instructions:

What to bring:
Kids clothes and accessories in all sizes that are wearable and freshly laundered.
Most swap-worthy items fall into 3 categories

  • NEW Clothes (with tags)
  • NEARLY NEW Clothes (worn only once or twice)
  • GENTLY USED Clothes (worn, but still in very good condition)

What NOT to bring:
Out of respect for fellow swappers and your community, please do not bring ripped, dirty, stained items, those with broken zippers, or otherwise unwearable.              
            
Note that all unclaimed items can be donated to a host selected non-profit or cause.
Step 3 – Prepare for your party. 
You can create a successful swap by designating different areas of your home for different articles of clothing or different children’s clothes sizes. For example, your living room might be the location for all clothes for newborns, while the bedroom might have clothes for toddlers. 
Set up different tables clearly labeled with sizes or type of clothing to help your guests “organize” when they arrive. 
Mirrors, racks and hangers are helpful but not required

Hope this is helpful. 
And sidebar: it was refreshing to see Tia Mowry Hardrict  and Tamera Mowry-Housley balk at a pricey bottle of olive oil in that episode earlier and second guess a decision to pay $80 for some flimsy resort wear an episode before when they went to the Bahamas. So many times on reality TV shows, we have women, who may not necessarily be independently wealthy, make so many outlandish shopping purchases flagrantly and without any regard to the final price. You’ll see the camera zoom in to a total that is 500th times what an average family would pay or even earn in a month. Many times, they can’t really even afford the crap but do it for the cameras and show. It’s so great that Tia and Tamera don’t buy into that and reveal that even though they may earn more as actresses, they watch their pennies and wallets and refuse to succumb to extravagant spending. It’s a great lesson and good to see. The truly wealthy people on this earth do not spend extraneously as “new money” people do and that is the reason they remain wealthy. Okay. Off my soap box now! 🙂

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Jaime King is latest celebrity to launch children’s clothing line

If you’ve followed this blog, you’d know that I have a slight healthy obsession with model-turned actress Jaime King.

So with that, I was quite excited to learn that she is going to join the long line of celebrities with children’s clothing labels with her newJaime King for Sapling Child  collection of organic, non-toxic, vegetable-dyed clothing for children.

Sapling Child is an organic clothing company.

I found out about this day late to share as our occasional “Eco-Friday” post but I couldn’t wait until next week to share! Woot!

I admit, I am one of those off-again-on again vegan, all-the time pescetarean, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, holistic, juicing, whole-foods eating, detoxing, yoga-doing, feng shui types of persons who geek out for news like this. *sigh*

Tee hee!

photo: Justin Campbell Photography

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Eco Friday: Fair Trade Month, 10 Tips to Fair Trade Living

October is Fair Trade Month. As the month dedicated to encouraging consumers in the Western world to purchase products made by local farmers and artisans in the developing world draw to a close, the folks at Globe In came up with 10 ways to bring fair trade values into our everyday lives.
  Tip 1. Eat In Season. 
   Seasonal foods are fresher and gentler on the environment. 
  Tip 2. Go Car-Free.
   Petroleum is one of the world’s least fairly traded commodities, and that’s especially true right now. What’s more, getting around sans-car is one of those things that may sound daunting, but in reality, can be tons of fun. 
  Tip 3. Volunteer (Locally).
   You don’t have to fly to a foreign country, or even make a big time commitment, to make a significant impact. Volunteering in your local neighborhood will have that positive impact, and put you more in touch with your community and environment.
  Tip 4. Plant Garlic.
   Really? Garlic? Why?
Well, aside from the tastiness factor, garlic picking is one of the most physically damaging tasks for farm laborers to do all day. Plus, it’s one of the only things you can plant this time of year.
  Tip 5. Pick yer Own!
   Not garlic, of course … but fall’s aplenty with darn near everything from straw bales to strawberries. And what’s more fun than planting food? Eating it! October is the perfect time to enjoy the harvest and give your kids a small glimpse of what it truly means to put food on the table.
  Tip 6. Can Something.
   After you’re done pickin’, why not get on with the picklin’! Canning is another great, kid-friendly way to enjoy sustainable preserved eats throughout the winter.


   Plan to make a difference this Halloween. Hand out fair trade treats to the little guys and ghouls. You can get kits with fair trade candy and kid-friendly fair trade info.
  Tip 8. Read a Book.
   Get educated on the impact of food production and consumption. For an inspiring read, I recommend the “American Way of Eating by Tracy McMillan.
  Tip 9. Watch a Movie.
   With our hectic lifestyles, reading often comes more in the form of a movie. Food Inc is canonized in our society at this point. For a less conventional choice, Matt Damon in The Informant! is an entertaining dive into the creepy history of our mono-culture food supply chain.
  Tip 10. Win Fair Trade Goods
   Fairtrade.org is running daily giveaways of fair trade products. Visit their site and enter daily right from their home page. 
Again, if you’re interested in usable information on how to live a more “fair trade” lifestyle, sign up for our Fair Trade Lifestyle List.

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Eco-Friday:4 Re-Usable products to use while pregnant

Reusing items is one way to “go green,” since doing so produces less waste and ultimately means less resources are used to manufacture new items. Here are a few items you can reuse during pregnancy to reduce your – and your baby’s! – carbon footprint.
1. Reusable water bottle – It’s vitally important to stay hydrated during pregnancy! Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a high quality and eco-friendly reusable water bottle so you can fill up at home and keep water with you while you’re on the go.
2. Food storage containers – During pregnancy, it’s important to keep a light snack with you while you’re out and about in case hunger strikes. Be sure to keep your snacks in reusable food containers rather than disposable plastic bags.
3. Maternity clothes – If you don’t already have maternity clothes from a past pregnancy to reuse, consider finding what you need at a thrift store, garage sale or consignment store. You might even have a no-longer-pregnant friend with some maternity clothing to get rid of.
4. Items for baby – Since you’ll be doing plenty of shopping for baby now, during your pregnancy, start thinking about how you get your baby off to a eco-friendly start in life. Cloth diapers are reusable – you can even use them for more than one child! Some cloth diapering moms also use reusable cloth wipes for clean up at changing time. You can also reuse toys, clothes and larger items like cribs and play yards. You might have these items still on and from when older children were little, but even if this is your first baby or if you got rid of those items before, you can still reuse by shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales and looking out for general freebies. Family members and friends might also have items they’d like to unload.
As you can see, there are many ways to make use of reusable items during your pregnancy. Many cities even have entire consignment shops dedicated to items and clothes for pregnant moms and babies, so you can be green even without having to search and search through thrift store racks and garage store piles to find what you need – unless that’s something you enjoy, of course!

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Eco Friday: How to Plan a Green Halloween

 

Green Halloween is volunteer-run, grassroots initiative started by a Seattle-area mom who, back in 2007, approached Whole Foods with an idea to make Halloween a holiday that is better for the environment, but still fun.  Whole Foods loved the idea and it got picked up by local and then national press and since then has grown into a nationwide movement. In 2010, Green Halloween became an official program of EcoMom Alliance, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, and global network of green moms.

You can go to the website to get some tips and ideas on how to make this Halloween a green one.   Here are a few scrubbed from its Green Halloween website:

It’s really not about the candy. Kids have fun when their parents get involved and have fun themselves. Part of being green is focusing on people instead of things, so try to reduce the amount of ‘things’ you incorporate into your Halloween by increasing the focus on fun. Here are some ideas for making your Green Halloween fun for your kids and for you:

  • Make a big deal of your child’s costume – getting dressed, taking pictures, etc.
  • Have a neighborhood party and forgo trick-or-treating all together. Ask your child’s school to consider making their Halloween celebration green as well.
  • Have a charity-themed party. Instead of giving out prizes for games, allow children to pick from a list of charities and make a donation in their name.
  • Have a Halloween gratitude party. Deliver handmade cards to your local farmer and take a tour of his/her field. Arrange before hand for each child to bring a mini pumpkin home.
  • Talk to your neighbors about what they will be giving away in advance. One option is to trick-or-treat only at homes where you know Green Halloween items will be passed out.
  • Show your Green by displaying your own Green Halloween sign and ask your Green Halloween neighbors to do the same. Turn looking for the signs into a hunt for treasures. The Green Halloween sign on your own door will announce to trick-or-treaters that they’re in for a great surprise!
  • Give kids a full, healthy meal before they go out trick-or-treating so they are not hungry.
  • Talk to your kids about what is in candy and why it is not healthy. Ask them to come up with creative, kid and Earth-friendly alternatives that your own family can hand out and feel good about.
  • When trick-or-treaters come to your door, shout, “Happy Hallo-green!!!

Check out GREEN HALLOWEEN for more tips, ideas, games, printables, costume suggestions and more for kids, parents, teachers, schools and community organization! Good luck!

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Eco-Friday: End of Summer Eco-Fun Tips

I’m digging the wonderful eco-friendly tips that HuffPo recently shared. I’m constantly struggling to find fun environmentally-friendly activities to do with the kids in the summer. It is a HUGE challenge to keep them entertained and their brains stimulated all summer. That’s why I loved seeing these eco-summer tips and ideas:

1) Grow a garden

Sunflower Playhouses & Mazes

Sunflowers are inexpensive and easy to grow. Certain varieties like “Sunzilla,” “Mammoth,” and “California Greystripe” can grow between 12-20 feet tall which makes them a great plant to use to make an outdoor playhouse or maze. All it takes is a couple packages of seeds and a little watering and in 8 weeks you will have a bright and cheerful “nature made” play area.

Pizza Garden

If space is an issue or you have older children, a pizza garden is a lot fun and keeps them really engaged. In a small bed or pots, plant a few tomato plants, basil and oregano — all of the garden ingredients that you need for a pizza. After you harvest at the end of the summer, make pizza sauce with the ingredients from your garden.

2) Use Nature’s Art Box

Go on a stroll in your yard, neighborhood or nearest park and collect leaves, small twigs, and flowers to use as materials in a translucent garden window or mobile. All you need are the materials that you have collected, translucent contact paper and string.

For older kids, it is fun to collect rocks and pebbles from your yard or neighborhood and paint them. It is great to show your child pictures of ancient cave art for inspirations. You can even try making your own natural pigment paints using egg white and ochre (blush) for reds and charcoal for black.



3) Recycled Box Crafts

Boxes are by far the best item to let the imagination nation run wild. Refrigerator and wardrobe boxes make a great playhouse or puppet theaters. You can take them outside and let your child color or paint them. You can help them cut windows and doors into them. One way to make the decorating easy and fun is to use a paper cup to hold the paint and tape it to the outside of the box right at your child’s arm level.

Medium-size boxes that may be gathering dust in the attic or garage are great for toy train tunnels and matchbox car tracks/highways. Help your child cut the tunnel hole in the box and then help them put tape highways across the tops and sides, then take a marker and add the line for the road.

You can also combine several medium size boxes with multi-colored masking tape to make a fun play tunnel for your child to crawl though. Another option would be to have your child color or paint the tunnel to look like a caterpillar.

Continue reading

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Eco Friday: 10 Ways to have a Greener School Year

This year, why not encourage your kids’ school to go greener. Here are some tips from a past blog post on how to do that:
  1. Swap it out. Hold a clothing and school gear swap party with other families in the neighborhood. It’s a great way for the kids to get “new” clothes and backpacks without hurting the planet, plus it saves money. Another great tip was to visit trading sites like ThredUP.com to swap clothes your kids no longer wear for newer duds.
  2. Throw a closet-cleaning party. Clean out closets before going shopping to see what fits, what can be repurposed or what can be donated. Make it a fun activity for the whole family to do together–turn on some music, serve some snacks and have a fashion show!
  3. Put a new twist on something old. Pull out your sewing machine, material stockpile and accessories to re-invent hand-me-downs. It’s a fun and creative activity for the family, saves money and encourages the kids to enjoy recycled clothing.
  4. Extend the life of your crayons. Take crayons from the previous school year, melt them and pour them into molds to create different shaped crayons. Once cooled, you have cool “new” crayons.
  5. Save on textbooks and conserve paper. Buy used text books from students who were previously in your kids’ grades. College students can use textbook renting sites such as Chegg.com, which even plants a tree for each book rented. And if you buy a textbook on Amazon.com, you can sell them back for gift cards to use towards next year’s books!
  6. Plan a supply hunt. Organize a pen, pencil and notebook scavenger hunt around the house–you’d be amazed what you can find in drawers and bags. It’s a fun rainy day project for kids, and a great way to reuse the supplies you’ve already bought.
  7. Give supplies a facelift. You can add some flair to old school supplies that are still useable. Fill an old binder with un-used pages from cast-off notebooks, recover them with sturdy fabric and then break open the craft drawer and let your kids go wild! Last year’s binder becomes a work of art.
  8. Make it a game. Each morning, get out the stopwatch and have everyone race through the house to ensure all lights are off and appliances and electronics are unplugged. This helps save energy, and reduces your electricity bill and burns off excess energy!
  9. Paint the classroom green. Encourage your child’s school administrators to have recycle bins in the schoolyard, classroom and hallways so kids develop the habit early. If your school doesn’t have recycling, bring in your own bins and set up a collection schedule with other parents! If your town is a Recyclebank community, families can take turns collecting bins and share the coupons with the classroom. Many towns supply recycling bins to residents, but if yours doesn’t places like Home Depot and Target sell them.
  10. Form a club. If you have junior high or high school aged kids, ask your school if you can form a “Green Club.” Members can serve as green ambassadors in their respective classrooms, and help raise awareness and implement school-wide eco-friendly actions.

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Eco-Friday: 200+ Upcycle Projects for Families

Old is new again. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. These are the tenets of upcycling: taking a product that is old, used or not wanted and repurposing it for another use. Add ornaments, cut up, saw, refinish and retouch. 
For budget-conscious families and cash-strapped households, it may be a better option to upcyle to save pennies. Pinterest is a perfect go-to for ideas. Check out these links to places where you can learn to upcycle over 200 items!
Over 200 Upcyling projects Source
Source

100 Items to Upcycle
Source
Just threw this in for good measure because it is so cute!

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Eco-Friday: 50 Creative Ways UpCycle old products

Most people have loads of old things laying around the house that they just don’t get rid of. How about using them to repurpose, reuse and upcycle those old items into new uses.
You need to go to TwistedSifter‘s blog and check out its very full list of 50 products you can upcycle.  Just click through the images to take you to the DIY guide to each item. Here is an image sample of some of the upcyle projects.

 

 

 

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EcoFriday: 20 Tips to have a “Green” Memorial Day cookout

It’s Memorial Day weekend and many families around the US may be hosting barbecues and cook-outs in celebration of the holiday remembering fallen soldiers of war or military servicemen who have passed away. As you prepare to host an event in your home, consider implementing some of these simple suggestions for having a Green, Eco-Friendly and Environmentally-friendly event. 
  1. Plan ahead so you don’t have too much food.
  2. Use natural charcoal or better yet natural gas or propane grill which are more environmentally friendly. 
  3. Buy local produce from local farmer’s markets
  4. Buy organic foods
  5. Consider vegan or vegatarian options which are better for the digestive system
  6. Use all natural insect repellant and bug sprays which are better on the skin, especially for small children
  7. Bring home the goods in a recyclable or paper not plastic bags
  8. Serve food on reusable plates and utensils or biodegradable or recyclable flat and tableware
  9. Start your fire with a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid
  10. Cook with pans and items made of recyclable materials
  11. Spread the energy consumed cooking around by having guests bring a dish
  12. Grill as much as you can, and even cook the foods in the burners on the grill because it saves energy
  13. Cover pans while cooking to reduce cooking time or energy bill if you are cooking on the stove in the kitchen
  14. Cut up the food into smaller pieces to let them cook faster and save energy
  15. Consider using a water-filter pitcher or a faucet mounted filter for water instead of bottle water
  16. Mix up a batch of lemonade or iced tea and serve in a large pitcher or punch bowl to cut down on cans and plastic bottles
  17. Figure out creative ways to “remix” the leftovers rather than dump them out. 
  18. Compost the veggies or grill scraps. 
  19. Clean up using non-toxic cleansers and Green cleaning products
  20. Recycle when you’re done!

Even if you can institute a few of these suggestions, you would have done at least something to reduce your carbon footprint, and give back to Mother Earth. Happy Grilling!

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