4. Donation to a charity in baby’s name
5. Most shocking of all . . . NOTHING! Before you discount this idea as completely Scrooge-like, hear me out. Will a baby really know if you got her a gift or not? Most pint-sized toys and clothes get relegated to the basement or attic within a few months.
You may think “going green” means shelling out extra cash for organic clothes and hand-crafted toys carved from sustainable wood. All the gifts we mentioned use no raw materials so your bundle of joy can leave a little footprint on the Earth. Rather than depriving your child, you’re emphasizing the true meaning of the holidays: family togetherness, festive food, good cheer, and of course (adjective) + (abstract noun of choice).
I live in Oregon where we’re surrounded by evergreens and breathe in pine-scented air on a daily basis. Every Christmas I’ve had a real tree, some of which we tromped out into the woods to find and others that we’ve picked out at our local tree farms. It has always seemed like a normal part of the holidays to have a real tree, so I was shocked to hear others touting the eco-benefits of plastic holiday trees. Say it isn’t so!
Still, it’s good to consider the plastic vs. real debate and then think beyond it. There’s certain to be a tree that will fit your budget and your green values.
Pros of Real Trees
Cons of Real Trees
Pros of artificial trees
Cons of artificial trees
If you celebrate Christmas, what sort of tree are you using this year? Did you find a way to make it eco-friendlier? Thanks for sharing your input—and for joining us this Thrifty Green Thursday! Please visit our amazing bloggers below and jump right in if you have a frugal, eco-friendly post to share.
I know that part of the fun is receiving a package, wondering what’s inside, and opening it with abandon. But here’s a green idea: what about giving the gift of experiences this holiday season?
Experience Gifts for Adults
Gift certificates to favorite local restaurants. My mother-in-law pays attention to the restaurants we frequent or mention wanting to try when she visits us–then we’re surprised with gift certificates to them months later!
Gift certificates to local grocery stores. This might not seem like much of a present, considering people spend money at the grocery store all the time. I personally love to get gift certificates to places like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and I make sure to buy something special for myself with them, because it’s a present–not a coupon!
Memberships to museums or theaters, movie theater tickets–anything to give parents a night on the town. These combined with some free babysitting would surely be appreciated!
A good old homemade coupon book. You know the kind: you scrawl out promises to take your loved one to a movie, on a walk, or to a favorite restaurant.
Experience Gifts for Babies and Kids
Children’s Museum or Zoo Memberships. A little friend of Audrey’s gets treated to a zoo/children’s museum membership by her grandparents. They live close to both locations and make good use of it.
Parents could make their kids homemade coupons promising trips to the park, bike rides, or other favorite activities. If you’re not the child’s parent, a coupon promising to take the lucky recipient on some sort of adventure would be great gift–and it doubles as a gift of babysitting for the parents!
Is anyone giving “experience gifts” this year? Do you have any other brilliant ideas for babies, kids, and adults? This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by Rocks in My Dryer.
Don’t forget to enter our wool changing pad giveaway!
Like some green moms, I aspired to blend boiled kale into ulta-nutritious meals that my baby would love without the expense and waste of prepared baby food.
After a few months of trying to balance sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, teaching, and my own sanity, I decided to embrace those tiny jars of freedom and relinquish my dreams of green perfection. Although I did supplement with home blended meals, organic jarred food was a huge gift. You can read about my baby food adventures here.
All those glass containers were carefully recycled, but now that I’m out of the baby food stage, I wish I would’ve reused them instead.
Here are just a few ways they could come in handy for holiday gifts:
Do you have any tips on how to reuse those nifty little storage containers? If so, we’d love to add to our list.
This week I’m sifting through our email inbox to let you know what’s going on in the green parenting world.
Not the Jet Set wrote us requesting a link exchange. You’ll notice they’ve been added to our blogroll. They’ve posted some great articles lately, such as ways to save money this winter and Can Kids Comprehend Value at Age 5?
Are you on our blogroll? There are so many wonderful eco-conscious bloggers out there, and we may not have had a chance to add some of you to our blogroll. If you don’t see your blog listed, please drop us a line and we’ll do a link exchange!
Emily from Wondertime magazine wrote us to tell us about an article in December’s issue: Branching Out. It’s a story about a family’s decision to get a Christmas tree for the first time in their kids’ lives. (The author’s son drew this picture for his class’s holiday quilt.) Out of everything Wondertime has published, this article has elicited the most passionate reactions from readers.
Reader’s Digest also contacted us to tell us about an article in their December issue: Raising Kids Who Care. The article gives parents five ideas for helping your kids get involved in the world around them.
Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a wool changing pad from Cozy Bunny!
Also, we’re planning on reviving our blog carnival, Thrifty Green Thursday on Wednesday at 8 p.m. PST. If you have a blog and a few “thrifty green” tricks up your sleeve, don’t hesitate to join us. It’s a great way to generate some traffic for your website and connect with other likeminded bloggers.
Ali Palmeri began making wool clothes and changing pads for her son when he was a little baby. “I’ve been opposed to having plastic be a regular part of his life, both for his own health and the health of the planet,” she says. Now she has her own company, the Cozy Bunny, offering handmade woolen changing pads, mattress protectors, and wool-cashmere baby pants and overalls made from recycled sweaters.
Palmeri loves the way wool keeps her baby warm, especially during the cold winter months ahead. “Another great aspect of wool is that is soaks up diaper accidents and is great for elimination communication,” she says. “Wool is absorbent and antimicrobial, so items only need to be laundered about once a month; otherwise, I just let them air dry.” She recommends washing her products on the gentle cycle and laying them flat to air dry.
In addition to all the adorable wool baby clothes and accessories, the Cozy Bunny carries Natural Woman Herbals products. Not only do they provide natural products for pregnant women (such as Belly Love Oil) and babies (such as Baby Booty Spray and Calendula Baby Oil), they use minimal plastic packaging.
Now for the giveaway! The Cozy Bunny would like to offer one of our readers a wool changing pad (pictured). These pads are made from 100% Pendleton wool and are a great alternative to plastic pads. They’re “soft, antibacterial, water-resistant, and easy to care for.” On top of that, they are “all made with 100% love for baby and the planet.” Would you like a soft wool changing pad for your baby? Just post a comment by Friday, December 5, and you’ll be entered to win.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. While the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are key factors, I mainly love that we spend a whole day basking in thankfulness.
Gratitude takes me beyond household chores, my desires for a dishwasher, and my fantasies of a foot massage. It helps me to look into my son’s chocolate brown eyes and take a moment to be humbled by what I already have.
When I’m in a thankful state of mind, I’m not feeling urges to buy or impatience over what we don’t have. If we could all wander around in a constant state of gratitude, we’d most likely all have less stuff, more happiness, and a much cleaner planet.
Here are a few images that remind me to be thankful for my glorious little family. They’re both taken from a hike last summer. The experience cost nothing and will be remembered for many years to come. (And yes, those green toes are mine.) Happy Thanksgiving!
We’ll be back next week with Thrifty Green Thursday!
Last summer I found out that Chinet, purveyor of paper plates, is actually a green company. If you are planning on using paper products for holiday parties or even (gasp!) Thanksgiving dinner, why not choose plates made from 100 percent recycled materials such as repurposed milk cartons and cardboard? Chinet’s plates are not only chlorine-free, they’re compostable, making them an eco-friendly choice for large gatherings. (Note: I swear I don’t work for Chinet! I am just impressed by their environmental efforts. Their recipes look pretty tempting, too.)
If you visit Chinet’s website, you’ll even find some holiday recipes. Here are just a few:
Perfect Roast Turkey
1 whole 14 to 16 pound frozen young turkey
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
½ tablespoon allspice berries
½ tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
1 whole red apple, sliced
½ whole onion, sliced
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
To make Brine, combine kosher salt, light brown sugar, vegetable stock, black peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Early on the day of cooking (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and a cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine. Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add the apple mixture to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
Grand Cranberry Relish
2 lbs fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
1 whole orange, zested and juiced
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse several times to break down the cranberries and incorporate the ingredients; it should still be a bit chunky. Allow the cranberry relish to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can marry.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
8 ounces packaged cream cheese, softened
2 cup canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg combined with
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 piece pre-made pie dough
Whipped cream, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a 9-inch pie pan and press down along the bottom and sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is beginning to color. For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, and beat until incorporated. Pour the filling into the warm prepared piecrust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.
Holiday Hot Toddy
2 whole tangerines
½ cup whole cloves
3 quarts pure, unsweetened cranberry juice
2 cups sugar
3 cups amber rum, if desired
Cut tangerines crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rounds and remove seeds. Stud rind of each tangerine round with 4 or 5 cloves. In a large saucepan simmer cranberry juice, tangerine rounds, and sugar, covered, 5 minutes and stir in rum. Serve toddies with clove-studded tangerine rounds in Chinet Comfort Cups.
Biodegradable paper plates and wonderful holiday recipes work for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.
The truth is, I didn’t. I had no idea that the chemicals used to flameproof mattresses sometimes include arsenic and phosphorus. Friends who purchased organic crib mattresses spent large amounts of money on their babies without a second thought. At the time, an organic mattress seemed like an indulgence rather than a necessity. It has only been in the last six months that I’ve read all the scary facts about traditional mattresses.
Will I buy an organic mattress with our second child? Absolutely! I’ve found a few eco-friendly mattresses that are in the $200-$300 dollar range and I’ll spring for one when the time comes.
Would I consider a used organic mattress? All the data on used mattresses seems to indicate that it dramatically increases the risk of SIDS. Although SIDS affects a tiny portion of the babies born in the U.S., I don’t know if I’d take the risk.
Dr. James Sprock claims to have cured SIDS with his campaign of “mattress wrapping.” He theorizes that a common household fungus infects mattresses and breaks down the fire proofing chemicals, resulting in toxic gases that poison babies. Honestly, the data seems a little shaky and he isn’t in good standing with the SIDS organization, so I’m not convinced.
What did you choose and why? I’m especially anxious to discover any thrifty solutions for organic mattresses. Thanks for your input!
What a glorious and empowering week it’s been in green-blogger land!
Crunchy Domestic Goddess has helped to shut down an offensive Motrin ad just by posting a few blogs voicing her opinion. The ad referred to baby-wearing (i.e., using a sling) as something that’s “in fashion” but horribly painful. You’ll have to read the entire text of the ad to catch its condescending spirit, but it was pretty awful. Within hours of blogging about it, this is the email that Crunchy Domestic Goddess received directly from the company. Bravo!
We also have to commend EnviroMom for being featured on Nightline in a story about household waste reduction. Since Heather and Renee started the One Can a Month Challenge, they’ve been doling out great tips that have impacted hundreds if not thousands of families. Check out their Nightline clip here.
Since not all of our green actions provide press coverage, No Impact Man, Colin Beavan suggests that we choose some obvious ways to make simple green statements. He uses only a repurposed glass jar with a screw top lid for carrying tap water or hot coffee. This simple green action apparently shocks and interests dozens of people on a regular basis, which gives him an opportunity to share a bit about green living. Since small, obvious steps are what it takes to make a ripple in the social consciousness, he recommends that we go for “making a spectacle of living green.”
Speaking of spectacles, we had our thirty seconds of fame this week when one of our local papers, The Register Guard, ran an article in their sustainable living section about our blog. What an honor!
It’s great to be part of such an innovative group of bloggers who are helping other parents make simple eco-friendly changes. Whether or not you get any attention for it, I hope you realize that each cold trip out to the compost bin and every week that you sort the recycling, you are changing the world too!
Next week we shall suspend Thrifty Green Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday so that we can focus our energies on consuming as much pie as possible. We’ll be back the following week with more eco-friendly, budget friendly tips and we hope you’ll join us then.