Monthly Archives: November 2009

Re-Gifting in the Gift-Giving Season

I really do have some of the greatest friends.

This past week, I let my guard down and showed that I can’t be Wonderwoman all the time. I admitted my struggles to maintain a tidy house while working, keeping up with two young kiddos, and caring for my 5-month pregnant body. And you know what? Those friends took time out of their beyond busy lives and helped me clean and declutter my ENTIRE house this past Saturday! What a lesson in humbling myself and allowing others to take care of me!

I also learned another valuable and money-saving lesson this weekend.

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Great “Green” Toys

Last week, I shared some of my ideas for what makes a good kid toy. This week, I would like to share with you some sources and suggestions for toys that are durable, fun, useful and green!

Next week is Thanksgiving and as we know the day after T-day the Christmas spending season begins. However, some folks (like me) observe a special day of consciously not consuming (known as Buy Nothing Day). I really like this website that has great ideas to make the day after Thanksgiving Make Something Day.

And if you just don’t have the time, skill, materials….

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Planning for a Green Holiday

The holidays are approaching really quickly. Far more quickly than I would like, in fact. And along with the parties and the treats and the annual photo of the kids with Santa, I am thinking about the environmental impact of all of this celebrating. When you consider the presents, the packaging, the gift wrap and the energy (both electrical and emotional) that go into the holidays, you can see how quickly it all adds up.

In an effort to reduce my environmental impact this year, I am doing a few things to make the holidays a little greener. I’m starting now, because some of them require a little planning ahead.

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Timeless Toys

When I go out looking for toys for my son, I want to find things that will become treasures.  For his first birthday he received from family a handmade wooden slide, a rocking boat that can serve as stairs and a small wheel barrow. His second birthday he received a wooden train table with storage drawers for his cars and trains and a small wooden kitchen. This year I am probably going to get him a wooden wagon.

What do these toys have in common? They are timeless… he will continue to enjoy them well into elementary school; they are sturdy and wooden and can stand the test of time; they encourage creativity and community and he (or his friends) are the ones making the action- not the toy.

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‘Add to Cart’

I’m a big fan of online shopping. I was well-versed in Paypal and credit card verification numbers back when my next-door neighbor, my hairdresser, my mother-in-law, and everyone else’s mother-in-law were still shaking their heads in disapproval, telling me it couldn’t possibly be safe, and that my bank account, identity, and quite possibly my firstborn child were being lifted by some shadowy web-hacker every time I typed in my Visa number.

I also pride myself on finding the best bargain. I actually enjoy comparison shopping, and will flit back and forth between various websites like a cat toying with a mouse for days or even weeks before finally parting with my cash.

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Greening Up Isn’t Just for You

This time of year, the urge to splurge on family is everywhere. While the sentiment is nice that we “greenies” are reminded of certain candles to avoid, of how to reuse packaging, and how to keep our holidays green in general, one thing seems to be forgotten: nature itself.

While many of us enjoy using all natural products, we forget that nature is still out there and still needs protecting. As a biologist, one of the things that always strikes me as odd is how one can very quickly spend the dollars for a label that says all natural without any care as to where the ingredients came from.

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Going Cloth for Greener Diapering

When I was pregnant with baby #2 in 2008, several of my friends were making the switch to cloth diapers for their babies. I looked on and listened, all the while thinking they made the grossest and most “trendy” decision in the world. Why would they want to use cloth diapers?! And how could they possibly be making a better choice for their babies and saving money??? Little did I know how far their influence would go.

As I learned more about the cloth diapers they used, the brands they trusted, and changed those little cloth bottoms when I watched my friends’ children, the idea grew on me for several reasons:

* Saving money.

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Greener Cleaning

It was just five months ago when my husband and I moved our family into an 1852 single-family farm home. There was so much we loved about our new home: the increase in living space, the playroom, two large bathrooms, the character that comes with an old home. We saw past the much-needed improvements, looking forward to painting rooms and re-decorating together.

What we did not expect were the struggles we would have with the hard water. For weeks I would pull out freshly-washed clothing from the washer, only to find them looking increasingly dingy. The worst, though, was our cloth diapers.

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Washing my Face with Honey

Image courtesy

Early on in my green journey I learned about all the chemicals that lurk in our beauty products. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics there are phthalates in fragrances, lead in lipstick, and potential carcinogens in baby bath products. To be clear, the jury is still out on exactly what effect, if any, these chemicals actually have on human health. But speaking as a mom, I would rather err on the side of caution and avoid exposing myself and my children to potentially harmful substances.

Once I learned about the potential toxins in many beauty products, the search was on for safer alternatives.

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