Archive for November, 2009


Green Holiday Gifts for Him

Man with GiftLooking to find an eco-friendly treasure for your husband, father or brother? No worries!

If the dear men in your life are still using shaving cream out of an aerosol can, you can spoil them with Taylor of Old Bond Avocado Shaving Cream in a Bowl and and a Tweezerman Men’s Shaving Brush. Taylor of Old Bond comes in a few other varieties and apparently lasts a very long time for even a small container.

For the caffeinated fellows in your life, check out the 5 Lb Organic Fair Trade Green Coffee Sampler by Seven Bridges Cooperative. (Keep in mind that the coffee must be roasted at home before it can be brewed.) Newman’s Own Organic has some great choices that are roasted, ground and ready to brew.

If your husband has been meaning to get around to greening your household but doesn’t have the tools, he may be interested in the Green Starter Toolkit, packed with a surge protector, compact fluorescent light bulbs, reusable tote bags, sink aerators, a shower timer, and tire pressure gauge. (Or, if you have the time you could buy the products individually and put them together in a gift basket for a lot less!)

What are you planning on getting for the men in your life? Maybe you’ll opt for experience gifts over products or donations to green charities. Or maybe you’ll agree just to appreciate one another and opt out of gift giving altogether (which is certainly both eco-friendly and budget-friendly!)

avoiding holiday travelWhile we love seeing family from far away, traveling takes a toll on our children, the environment, and our budgets.  Surprisingly, driving has far less of a carbon impact than flying—and is usually cheaper as well.  Are you traveling by car or plane to see family this season?  Are you going to brave the journey with your little ones in tow?  If you are planning on staying home this year, is it a relief or a disappointment?

If you’re wondering how to shower the baby in your life with gifts this holiday season, you needn’t look further than last year’s posts on the Green Baby Guide. Here are some of our brilliant ideas, in review:

Green Baby Guide’s Gift Repository—We plug some of the companies we’ve had the pleasure of working with, such as Natural Pod, Pedoodles, and Monkey Foot Designs. We also get practical and suggest buying your bundle of joy bumGenius or Fuzzibunz diapers.
linen-morning-glory-monkey-foot-designs-wet-bag1
A beautiful Monkey Foot Designs wet bag for those cloth diapers!

Green Gifts for Baby on Etsy—Want a homemade onesie or knit cap without actually constructing it yourself? Etsy is the perfect way to treat your baby while supporting independent craftsters.

Affordable Kitchen Play Set—In this post I showed how I put together a few toys to create a play kitchen for my daughter.
melissa-and-doug-food-groups-set-wooden-toys-for-play-kitchen
Melissa & Doug Food Groups Set for Your Child’s Play Kitchen

Affordable BPA-free Sippy Cups—Joy finds a few sippy cups without BPA—all for just a few bucks.

Unexpectedly Green Holiday Gifts for Baby—In this post you will discover just how cheap . . . I mean meaningful . . . we can make our holidays.

Gifts of Experience—Do you really need to buy another toy or blanket? Read this post for alternate ideas. 

 

And more old holiday musings from the Green Baby Guide:

Baked Christmas Dough Ornaments

My Gift Wrap Closet

Vegetarian Holiday Recipes

The Christmas Tree Dilemma

Reusing Baby Food Jars for Holiday Gifts

We hope you enjoyed taking that little trip down memory lane. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Holiday Gifts from Baby

The smiles, the coos, the spit up… Let’s face it––babies give gifts year round.  Still, you might like to find a keepsake that baby could give grandparents or other family members this year.

So what does baby have to give?  At this point photos, handprints, or foot casts are the best they have to offer.31RGSN0VVDL._SL500_AA280_

If you’re a crafty soul, you can simply use an ink pad to make a print of baby’s foot or hand and frame it artfully next to a photo.  It’s simple, tasteful, and will be treasured by any member of baby’s vast fan club.

For the rest of us, there are kits available that will make up for what we lack in creative skill.  The Babyprints Keepsake Kit comes with a frame and a spot for baby’s footprint.  The kit claims to require no mixing, baking, painting, or mess.  It dries overnight and is ready to go in the morning.  And it’s currently 30% off!

If you’d like something a bit smaller, you can go for the Baby Handprint Hanging Keepsake Kit, which creates a small ornament for the Christmas tree out of baby’s handprint.

Has anyone experimented with using plaster of paris straight from a craft store for baby’s prints?  It would be vastly cheaper than buying a premade kit but I’m not sure how easy it would be.  Any other ideas for simple gifts from baby?

As far as I know, I invented this tasty cranberry sauce, which takes just a few minutes to put together and about fifteen minutes on the stove.
raw cranberries for homemade cranberry sauce

Gingered Apple Cranberry Sauce

8 oz. fresh cranberries
6 fl. ounces frozen apple juice concentrate (half a can)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stick (or a couple dashes of ground cinnamon)

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cranberries break down, about ten or fifteen minutes. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, try adding sugar a tablespoon at a time until it’s sweet enough. Store in the fridge until Thanksgiving dinner, then enjoy!

Lately it seems like every other mom totes her tot around town in an Ergo Baby Carrier. Seeing all these other mamas with their Ergos made me wonder, what’s the big deal? My curiosity was also piqued by several comments on our baby carrier post. Ergo owners enthusiastically declared their loyalty to this comfy contraption.

But we loved our Kangaroo Korner pouch sling and even came to enjoy our preowned Baby Bjorn carrier after some technical difficulties. Why on earth would we buy another carrier?

ergo carrier is a great baby gift ideaWe didn’t, but we probably would have if we would have known with our first.  A friend urged us to borrow hers, but we were still hesitant.  It seemed difficult to strap on and like just another carrier to pack into our tiny house.  But when we used it, we were surprised by how much better it worked for our bodies.  When Jovi has been snoozing in it for over an hour, we aren’t struggling with aching shoulders or necks.  Plus, she can ride in the front or the back when she gets older.  Since her weight is centralized and the device has padded straps, we found it to be much more “ergonomically correct” –which may just be how this carrier got its name.

It’s amazingly easy to breastfeed your little one when she’s strapped into the Ergo. (I did it while waiting in line to get swine flu vaccine and none of the hundreds of other people around had any idea.) Other features we enjoyed are the little fabric flap that you can flip over babies head when she’s sleeping and the front pocket that you can use to store keys or pacifiers.

The strapping on is still a bit trickier than dropping baby into the pouch sling, but it’s worth it to me to have a happier body hours later.  If I would have known what I know now, we definitely would have purchased an Ergo for our first baby. They are expensive, but it’s a good investment in a piece of quality gear. And, you can always search Ebay if you have the time to hunt down a used one.

What is your favorite baby carrier?  Would you recommend the Ergo as a gift for an expectant mother?

Tofurky as thanksgiving treatSome of you are opting for a free-range bird while others are looking forward to enjoying a slice of Tofurky.  Maybe you’re skipping any semblance of a turkey and are going for grass fed roast beef or veggie stir fry. And will your baby be dining on breast milk or pureed pumpkin?  (Or both?)

Wooden Toys for Babies and Kids

Wooden toys are making a comeback! The wood toys below come from sustainably managed forests—many are made from rubber trees that no longer produce rubber.

Plan Toy Chalet Dollhouse with Furniture —My daughter loves doll houses. I’ve got to admit that this one from Plan Toys is even more adorable than the one I made out of cardboard and an Ikea catalog. This one is made from recycled rubberwood. You can buy the Plan Toy Modern Doll Family separately.
plan toy chalet doll house with furniture

Manhattan Toys Automoblox —Audrey has one of these ingenious cars. She likes taking it apart, putting it back together in varying combinations, and racing it around the house. Joy’s son Roscoe also has several of these and LOVES them!
Manhattan toy automoblox

Plan Toys 50 Construction Set. Nothing beats plain old blocks for entertainment. Recommended for kids from 24 months to 4 years, these blocks have a long lifespan in the playroom. Also made from rubberwood trees that have stopped producing rubber.
plan toys 50 construction set

Wonderworld Mini Dumper. Finally a dump truck not made from plastic!
wonderworld mini dumper

Maxim Wooden Kitchen . Wow—not only is this play kitchen made out of wood, it’s a great value! It’s made from renewable forests.
maxim wooden kitchen center

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Cutting Fruit Crate . All of the wooden food from Melissa & Doug inspires hours of creative playtime.
Melissa and Doug deluxe wooden cutting fruit crate

Maxim EverEarth Activity Walker. This wooden walker is packaged in recycled materials.
maxim everearth activity walker

Wonderworld New Stacking Rings. The classic stacking ring toy made from rubberwood. Believe it or not, my daughter still plays with her set, and she’s almost four years old. (She pretends to “make donuts” and asks us which color we’d like to eat.)
wonderworld new stacking rings

On Tuesday we revealed our picks for toys made from recycled plastic and organic cotton, but wood remains our top choice for new eco-friendly toys. Let us know if you have a favorite wooden toy we’ve left out of the list!

It’s a bit strange to recommend a baby blanket as a holiday gift idea since we found ourselves submerged in mountains of fleecy, cottony, polka-dotted blankets for both our baby showers. Really, how many blankets does a baby need?

bambu blanket is ideal for eco-friendly babyJust one.  The Baby Bambu Bamboo Crib Blanket has turned out to be our absolute favorite after trying dozens upon dozens of others.  But we were skeptical in the beginning. With a price tag over $40.00 (although it’s currently on sale for $30) and a “dry clean only” recommendation we were sure it would quickly be stashed in the closet along with the others.

Its incredibly soft bamboo fabric was the first thing to impress us followed by its perfect thickness—not too bulky, not too thin.  Still, we tossed it in the wash along with all our other laundry in rebellion of the dry cleaning recommendation—sure it would disintegrate when exposed to water and detergent.  It has emerged stain free and just as soft after dozens of washings. (The company has since changed the recommendations to “machine wash, tumble dry.”)

We also love its ample size (40”x55”) which is ideal for swaddling or draping over the car seat when baby falls asleep—unlike those smallish square blankets that become completely worthless after just a few months. Although the picture shows several colors of border stitching The Bambu Baby Blanket is only available from Amazon.com in white or blue border stiching, which makes it an heirloom that can be used for several babes, regardless of gender.  If you really love the other colors, you can check Baby Bambu’s website.

While bamboo is certainly more environmentally friendly than polyester, it does have a lot of impact as it is processed to be made into fabric.  Still, it’s nice to support an eco-friendly company that makes such a high quality product. In short, it’s a wonderful gift for a newborn that will last well into toddlerhood.

What are your favorite holiday recommendations for baby?  Do you have a favorite brand of blanket that has stood our amongst the rest?  Or did your child choose his or her favorite?

What makes a toy “eco-friendly”? If you buy them used, you know you’re saving the energy it takes to make a new toy—and you’re keeping something out of a landfill. There are also some eco-options for brand new toys made from sustainable materials such as rubberwood or recycled plastic. We will reveal our favorite wooden toys on Thursday. Here are our top picks for new, eco-friendly toys made from other materials:

Sprig Toys Eco-Truck Loader. Made from a “wood-plastic composite that smells like wood.”
sprig toys eco-truck loader

Green Toys Tea Set. Made from curbside collected milk containers!
green toys tea set

Green Sprouts Stacking Cup Set. BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free.
green sprouts stacking cups BPA-free

Sevi Xylophone Eco-friendly Toy. Colored with vegetable dyes!
sevi xylophone eco-friendly toy

Under the Nile Banana Toy. Made from fair-trade organic cotton.
under the nile organic cotton banana toy

Have you purchased any eco-friendly toys for your children? In just a few years, we’ve seen the selection go from obscure and expensive to accessible and affordable. Let us know if you have any other recommendations!

This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesday. Head on over to We are THAT Family for more ideas!

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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