Halloween, already? Not exactly, but National Costume Swap day is less than three weeks away and we wanted to be sure to give our readers ample time to prepare. In years past, we seem to announce the event just after it occurs, or maybe the day before. Not this year!
On Saturday, October 8th, families across the nation will trade old costumes in for new trick-or-treat wear. It’s green, it’s free, and it’s a great way to connect with local families. And the truth is, no matter how adorable our children look in their baby bumblebee costumes, they can usually only wear them once. Why not share them with someone else?
Green Halloween has a directory so that you can find the swap in your area, or get one started. The site is run by the illustrious mother-dauther team of Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson who also co-authored Celebrate Green. We love their work on Green Halloween and are excited to see how National Costume Swap day is growing each year.
Are you planning on dressing up your babe this October? What are your costume concepts? You may want to think outside the box and use some of our rather creative (and odd) ideas for baby’s Halloween ensemble this year. —or better yet, head to the National Costume Swap near you!
When I first posted about finding the perfect BPA-free lunch box for my kindergartner, I hadn’t decided what to buy. Audrey had already chosen the Crocodile Creek Pocket Lunch Box, so that was taken care of. I knew I wanted some sort of container to put inside, and I was leaning toward the Easy Lunchboxes 3-compartment containers.
I decided against buying them after reading the product description more carefully. While I like the idea of having one divided container rather than a collection of containers to keep track of, the lid doesn’t seal each compartment. Some reviewers complained that if you packed something like strawberries in one compartment and chips in the other, everything had a chance to mingle around before lunchtime.
For years we used the Sassy Baby Bento box (read my Sassy Baby Bento review for more information) for Audrey’s daycare snack. I was really happy with this product, but there was one big problem: She couldn’t open the containers herself.
I ended up buying something I hadn’t run across in my initial search for BPA-free containers: Ziploc divided containers ($8.75 for 2—much cheaper than Laptop Lunches!). They are similar to the Easy Lunchboxes, but the lid does seal each section separately. Also, according to Ziploc’s website, their storage containers are BPA-free. My five-year-old can take the lid off and put it back on by herself. And best of all, a container does fit perfectly inside her Crocodile Creek lunch box. There is even room left over for a cloth napkin.
Monday was Audrey’s first full day of kindergarten, so we’ll give this whole system a whirl and report back in a few months!
As you may have read in my post on zero waste lunches, my son’s school has banned all single serving food items to eliminate trash. It’s time to invest in some greener food storage options!
I was excited about trying Lunchskins or other reusable snack bags, but read a comment on Monday from a user who struggled with mold on the fabric. Many parents LOVE the product, but others have also complained about stale food and not being able to dry the bags out enough before the next use.
Moldy bags and stale food reports make me hesitate on the brink of a purchase. At $7-15 dollars a bag, it’s tough to shell out so much and not know whether or not it will work. Does anyone else have feedback on reusable snack bags? Are you able to use them successfully? What’s your trick for avoiding mold on the fabric?
My son, who helped to inspire our book The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, just turned five. Did he request reclaimed wood toys or organic cotton garments for his birthday? Nope. He’s in the midst of a feverish obsession with monster trucks, which are just about as ungreen as you can possibly be.
On the other end of the gender spectrum is my two-year-old daughter Jovi who must wear the finest dresses available (purchased at thrift stores), jewels, and purses on a daily basis. For her brother’s fifth birthday party (which included “pin the wheels on the monster truck”), Jovi received one special gift: A Green Toys Tea Set.
My thrift shopping habit has wildly skewed my price perception, so spending over twenty bucks on a plastic tea set was slightly painful, but I was happily surprised with the quality of the product. And when I did some research on the company, I was glad that I shelled out a bit more. All Green Toys are made in the U.S. from recycled milk containers. The whole process happens in California which saves the carbon cost of having raw materials shipped into the factory from overseas. They’re BPA free and meet the strict toy safety and environmental laws for the state of California.
I love the practical heft of the plastic, the colors, the simple design, and the fact that all lids are completely interchangeable. Since she got the set two weeks ago, we have had dozens of tea parties, and I think there are hundreds more to come. With a quality product like Green Toys, you get an heirloom toy that is made of recycled materials and costs just a bit more cheap plastic sets made in China. I’d definitely recommend it!
Do you own any Green Toys? Have you been satisfied with their quality?
I feel like I must have asked this question before. Believe it or not, almost six years after giving birth, I still have boxes of tiny garments tucked away in my attic. I may have hung on to some maternity clothes, a nursing pillow, and a high chair as well.
I’m sure having a high chair sitting around in the basement will come in handy at some point. . . .
Back when I was debating between the Boppy pillow and the My Breast Friend, one of my big concerns was resale value. Imagine spending under a thousand dollars on baby gear (which I did) and then making most of it back when I sold it at a consignment shop or on ebay (which I didn’t).
Can I interest you in a six-year-old Boppy pillow?
If you want to know how I scrimped and saved on baby gear, check out our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. And if you want to know the very best way to recoup your expenses . . . well, that’s what I’m asking our knowledgeable readers right now! I’m thinking that selling back these odds and ends might be more trouble than it’s worth. What would you do–make an effort to sell it, or give it all away?
Yes, I know this is the Green Baby Guide, but I hope you will allow me to indulge in just one or two more back-to-school posts as we approach kindergarten. Last week I wrote about BPA-free lunch boxes, and now I’m left wondering what to pack inside them. What are some nutritious, packable foods that don’t come with a lot of packaging waste? Those of you with experience packing lunch for a picky kid, please chime in!
Stay tuned tomorrow for more school and daycare lunch ideas from Joy!
Have you ever longed for a personalized shopping assistant? Someone who can brief you on which products are best so that you can make quick decisions before the baby wakes up/your children start flinging legos at each other/the casserole burns in the oven? What if that assistant (let’s call her Betty) could also help you select goods that dovetail with your values, leaving you with a green afterglow following 15 minutes of online shopping?
She’s here! She’s free! She’s not actually human, but she’s more thorough than any person could ever be.
The Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar (you may still call it Betty if you like) provides you with detailed product information for online shopping. You’ll be able to quickly bypass green claims, using the Transparency Toolbar’s data to choose items that are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and socially responsible.
So how do you use the Transparency Toolbar anyway? Simply install it as a web browser extension and it will pop up only while you are shopping online. You customize what date is important to you out of fourteen different categories including climate change, controversial ingredients, energy efficiency, organic, and nutritious. The Transparency Toolbar will then rate the product you’re viewing according to the criteria you’ve selected, as well as listing similar products that might meet your needs more completely. Isn’t Betty incredibly resourceful for being free?
To quickly get a sense of how the Transparency Toolbar works, simply invest four minutes of your life viewing Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar Video . It walks you through how to download the application and use it while shopping—showing you just how empowering it is for consumers.
For those of you who are currently gearing up for a new baby, the Transparency Toolbar can help you quickly decide which baby products you’d like to purchase or register for without having to spend hours researching companies or possible toxins.
Now honestly, I don’t do a lot of shopping online, but I’m thrilled to know that Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar will soon be available as a mobile app! Imagine rolling through the grocery store and being able to challenge a label’s green claims on the spot with Betty’s capable assistance!
We love The Good Guide, not just because it’s so consumer-friendly, but because one of its authors, Josh Dorfman, is a green hero of ours. He wrote The Lazy Environmentalist and also penned the forward to our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. In his television series on the Sundance Channel and his SiriusXM Radio show, he embraces the “progress not perfection” spirit that we promote in all our green endeavors. In addition to all those accolades, he’s currently in the trenches of early green parenthood.
So thanks to Josh Dorfman and his colleagues for The Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar! It isn’t just about keeping our families safe and helping the environment. It’s about holding companies to a higher standard. Because The Good Guide makes information so easily accessible, companies are bound to start watching their ratings and realize that consumers are choosing products with superior records. If each of our dollars is a vote, then the Transparency Toolbar is the key to electing better businesses!
You may have noticed the little Baby Eco Trends ad in our sidebar. If you visit Babyecotrends.com, you’ll find hundreds of eco-friendly products for your baby. If I had an unlimited budget (and a baby), I’d get the Oops crib made from reclaimed wood.
One great thing about ordering a crib–and other baby furniture–from the Baby Eco Trends site is that they explain the origins of the products, materials used, labor practices, packaging materials–everything you need to know to make your decision.
In addition to furniture, the site carries unique wooden toys, including toy kitchens and art supplies. Find an eco-friendly rocking chair or glider, organic mattresses and bedding, and even nursery art.
We’re pleased to have Baby Eco Trends as one of our sponsors on the Green Baby Guide. If you love their eco-friendly products as much as we do (and you actually have a baby to spoil, unlike me!), start a baby registry!
One week. That’s the last bit of my summer before I start cracking open teacher guides and scrawling out lesson plans.
I was going to make homemade jam from the hundreds of pounds of berries I was planning on picking.
I was going to read three novels in Spanish, develop abdominal muscles, and swim in a cold lake on a summer day.
I was going to camp in a yurt, make a pinata with the kids, and call my college friends.
But the view out this window is lovely. The hydrangeas are in bloom and we did manage a few picnics on our new deck. We went swimming at sunset today in the local pool and we picked a handful of blueberries in the backyard. I’ve watched one telenovela and studied a dozen Spanish verbs.
And that will have to do. Because expectations aren’t always our friends–especially when we’re raising small children. If we get caught up in what we could be doing, we forget about that magical thing happening right in front of our eyes. And who’s to say that my kids’ random dragonfly sighting in our backyard isn’t more exotic than any expectation on my list this summer?
Maybe our work as eco-conscious parents is to remember that the “progress, not perfection” mantra we use in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is about more than just the planet. It’s about our ability to sustain ourselves as parents, partners, and friends during this crazy-wonderful era of our lives. I shall also try to remember that this phase of parenting will fly by before I even have time to realize it’s gone.
And my expectations for sleep, order, and homemade jam will have to be downgraded considerably. (Can you really buy “homemade” jam? The company above is based close to our home. I may have to settle for something made in my region instead of something in my kitchen…)
Have you lived your summer dreams this year? Have you also found that you must shift your goals dramatically to accommodate a family lifestyle?
I can hardly believe that my little “green baby” will be entering kindergarten in a month! I thought I’d take a quick break from the cloth diapers and homemade baby food and talk about the latest in eco-friendly lunch boxes. While many of the options below are made from plastic, they are all BPA-free. I’m going to strive for waste-free school lunches, which means I’m looking for reusable containers to avoid buying juice boxes, individual tubs of applesauce, and other products with disposable packaging.
Now, Audrey is lucky enough to have a grandmother who bought her a Crocodile Creek Pocket Lunchbox ($13.66). These lunch boxes come in several adorable designs; my future kindergartner chose the princess.
Her lunchbox does not come with containers inside, but I’m thinking of getting the EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers. A set of four costs $13.95. I like that there are fewer pieces than other bento sets. This should make things easier for Audrey and for us.
LunchSkins Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags Set ($25) look like a good choice if you want to avoid buying disposable sandwich bags.
The Kids Konserve Go Wild Waste-Free Lunch Kit costs $38.07, but it does come with everything your child could possibly need in a lunch set!
I know that Laptop Lunches Bento Kits are very popular here in Portland. The outer lunch box comes in different patterns, and the inner bento sets are available in a variety of colors. The components of the kit are often separately, or for $40.00 you could get a complete kit with a recipe book.
This Collapsible Lunchbox ($20.00) looks like a novel invention!
Finally, the Eco Lunch Box three-in-one set ($20.95) is your choice if you’re looking for a stainless steel lunch box. Once upon a time I looked all over the place for a stainless steel bento box, and I ended up getting something very similar to this. It’s a great option if you’re opposed to all plastics.
We’ve yet to try out our lunch box system, so I can’t give it a personal endorsement. If you have experience with any of these products–or if we’ve left out a great lunch box–let us know in the comments!