From my one of my favorites sites Your guide to green parenting, eco baby & green kids | Inhabitots.
Green Goes Simple: Family Footprints
Winter Boredom Be Gone
By Lynda Fassa for Green Goes Simple
It may be cold outside, but have no fear! Kids can be entertained — and educated — inside. Here are six eco-conscious activities guaranteed to engage any antsy kid.
Not sure what to do with that Christmas tree post-holiday? It actually contains all the ingredients needed to make lovely keepsake sachets. Collect needles and set kids up with 6 x 6-inch patterned fabric squares. Spread the fabric out, pattern-side down, drop a tablespoon of pine needles in, gather into a ghost shape and secure with a ribbon. The bundles can also be filled with dried flowers, herbs or potpourri, and then hidden away in drawers and closets to give spaces a lovely scent.
Start a Pretty-things Box
Often, what’s economical is also eco-friendly! This is especially true when you reuse what you were planning to throw away. After all those carefully chosen and meticulously wrapped holiday presents are, well, presented, there’s an awful lot of paper and ribbons that often get tossed. Save those — not for next year, but for the next time you hear, “I’m bored!” Tuck them away and start a pretty-things box. Arm each kid with a shoebox and have them collect the really good stuff after the presents have been unwrapped: ribbons, foiled paper, glittery name-cards and the like. Let your kids sort and label the goods, then stash them with the art supplies for the ultimate addition to a snowy, crafty day.
Create Your Own Telescopes
For this crafty creation, you’ll need:
- Paper-towel tubes
- Colorful cellophane
- Rubber bands
- Pretty-things boxes
Have kids decorate the outside of their telescopes with the contents of their pretty-things boxes, but leave the ends unadorned. Cut colored cellophane into squares and affix over one end with a rubber band. The world suddenly looks very pink, orange or green!
Clay Your Way
You can cook up your own clay in less than five minutes — and kids can make anything with it, from ornaments to dinosaurs.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- Food coloring
Mix the flour, salt and oil, and then slowly add water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until dough becomes stiff. Drop onto foil and let cool. Knead until it reaches the proper molding consistency. Divide and add food coloring. If you want to go super-natural, color with spices like turmeric and cinnamon. Try to keep kids and pets from eating this dough — it’s filled with way too much salt! You can store unused dough in zippered plastic bags for the next indoor-activity day.
Baking is truly the activity that gives back. The process is fun and messy, and the results are sweet and delicious! My family can’t get enough of these couldn’t-be-easier peanut butter drop cookies.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
Mix together sugar, peanut butter and egg. Roll into balls and pattern with a fork. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Makes 12 chewy cookies.
Think Apple Pie — All Year Long
Apples are a favorite fruit that won’t break the budget. If you want to put them to use through the winter, try canning — an easy and fun activity to do with the kids.
What you’ll need for apple pie filling and canning:
- 7 quart-sized canning jars, cleaned and sterilized
- Apples, peeled and sliced (enough to fill all 7 jars)
What you’ll need for the syrup:
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
- 12 cups water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
For the syrup, cook the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cornstarch, nutmeg and water together until they thicken. Stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour over apples in jars. Seal and process in a canner for 20 minutes. This also makes a great topping for ice cream!
Lynda Fassa is the founder of Green Babies, an organic-cotton baby clothing company, and the author of two books (Green Babies, Sage Moms and Green Kids, Sage Families). She is a frequent blogger for sites like Grist.org, ParentsConnect.com, Treehugger.com and PlanetGreen.com. Lynda has also appeared in People, The New York Times, Parents and Parenting, and on the “Today” show, “Planet Green,” “Fox News Happy Hour,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC News” and more.
By Cynthia Ramnarace for Green Goes Simple
Without a doubt, the kitchen is the most popular room in my house. From meal prep to mealtime, homework to crafts, it’s the center of our family life — and the ultimate candidate for a recent eco-makeover.
In the interest of increasing my sustainability IQ, I first took inventory of what I knew about conservation in the kitchen:
1. Don’t leave the water running. (This one’s easy — if I slip, there’s a 6-year-old water watchdog always ready to remind me.)
3. Stock up on non-disposable plates and utensils and embrace the durability of reusable shopping totes.
This is a good start, but my kitchen — and I — clearly needed professional assistance if we were going to take it to the next level. This is where green living expert Annie Bond came in. The author of Home Enlightenment: Create a Nurturing, Healthy and Toxin-Free Home shared some surprising tips for transforming everyone’s favorite room into an environmentally savvy space:
The Dishwasher is a “Do.” A full dishwasher uses less water to clean a day’s worth of dirty dishes than hand-washing them in the sink.
DIY Dishrags. “Let’s say you’ve got a pair of old, unused pajamas made from beautiful soft fabric,” says Bond. Grab a pair of scissors and give them new life as dishrags and hand towels. But get ready for a bigger laundry basket — these need to be washed daily to prevent bacterial growth.
Compost your Scraps. Vegetable peels, fruit rinds and coffee grinds make excellent garden fertilizers. If you have an in-house compost bin, you can keep unwanted odors away by cleaning it out every couple of days.
Downsize your Oven. When you can, bypass the energy-guzzling oven and stove in favor of smaller cooking appliances. Look beyond toast, and you’ll find that a toaster oven is ideal for heating up or cooking small amounts of food. Slow cookers and electric kettles are also everyday energy savers.
Use Natural Critter Control. Bond recommends trading chemical pesticides for the homemade variety. Drop a few cotton balls into a small glass jar and fill it halfway with a mixture of 1 part Borax (a natural pesticide), 1 part sugar and 3 parts water. Watch as the ants go marching one by one into the jar, where they take their final swim.
I took Bond’s suggestions for my kitchen and found an added bonus: These tips are time savers too! Filling the dishwasher is faster than washing dishes, and toaster oven cuisine is refreshingly speedy. Saving time and the earth — what’s not to love?
Cynthia Ramnarace is a freelance writer in Queens, N.Y. She is a regular contributor to iVillage.com and AARP Bulletin. Her work also appears frequently in American Baby and Kiwi magazines.
Green Goes Simple: Conservation at Home
Go Green — and Save Money
By Amy Levin-Epstein for Green Goes Simple
Sure, protecting the environment can sometimes mean spending more, but there are plenty of ways that greening your life can help keep more green in your wallet. “Living green and healthy can be done on a budget and, in many cases, can actually save you money,” says Sara Snow, green lifestyle expert and author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living. Here are six tips from Snow on how any family — with any budget — can start helping the planet and saving money today.
Make Time for a Tune-up
Next time you get your oil changed, spring for a new air filter, which can improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent. Driving around with a clean air filter, properly inflated tires and working spark plugs can save you as much as $600 a year in fuel and maintenance charges.
Be a Biker
If you haven’t already joined the ranks of the two-wheeled, you can start by buying an inexpensive used bike online. Assuming you spend about $30 a week in gas, you could save up to $1,500 a year in fuel costs by peddling from point A to point B. Even if you only bike once or twice a week, it will still add up to some serious dough. The bonus? You’ll get nice toned legs along the way.
Not only does meat cost more money than vegetables, it costs the environment more resources, including water and feed. Even if you can’t quit turkey, well, cold turkey, try going veggie a few days each week. If you spend about $20 on meat each week, you could save around $500 a year by eating it half as often. Plus, a healthy plant-based diet may reduce your medical bills as well.
Streamline Your Stuff
Be the ultimate antihoarder by selling valuable household items that you rarely use. The Belgian waffle maker gifted by your Aunt Suzy last Christmas? Let it go. The vintage roller skates you never got around to using? Say goodbye. If you sell your I-made-one-juice-last-year $300 juicer for $100, you’ll be recycling the product — and cycling some money back into your bank account. You can host a garage sale or offload used things to new owners online.
Buy a Better Bulb
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent lightbulbs. Plus, each CFL can save you about $30 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb. Figuring that a CFL bulb will last about 10 years, that’s $3 per year per bulb. By replacing 20 bulbs in your house, you’ll save $60 annually in lighting costs — clearly, a bright idea.
Take Control of Your Thermostat
Your thermostat no longer calls the shots automatically. A one-time investment of $30 will upgrade your old device to a programmable version that will allow you to control when and how intensely your home will be heated or cooled. You can also set the thermostat to turn off when you’re away or asleep, saving around $100 a year in energy costs.
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who’s been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details and in newspapers like The New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com.
One of our favorite mediums is crayons on cardboard. I love the way the colors look on the tan cardboard.
Lately we have been going through more art supplies. Crayons get broke into tiny pieces and become unusable. Play doh doesn’t get put away becomes hard. We paint on the front and back of everything possible.
I am keeping all of the bits of crayons thinking someday I will melt them together and make one big crayon or some cool shapes like these.
I have seen a lot of recipes for homemade play dough but I haven’t tried any yet, Do you have any that you recommend?
Here are a couple great websites I have came across while looking for eco art supplies :
Clementine Art -Natural. Fresh. Real. I am going to have to check these supplies out. I am especially curious about the paint(especially for my art projects)
Eco-kids eco-kids is dedicated to offering art supplies for creative play the natural way using only the most natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging.