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Archive for Green Holidays

December 13th, 2016

Top 10 Tech-Free Gifts For Teens

This time of year it’s always a mad dash to try to find the perfect gift for the teens in my life. All things techie seem to be a sure thing with this age group, but I truly hate to add to their growing pile of electronics.

A few years ago I put together a list of holiday gifts for tweens that turned out to be a big hit. I also created a list of tech-free gifts for tweens for everyone in the same situation.

This year I was struggling yet again. My boys are now straddling the teen/tween world and their interests have changed over the past few years. I decided to do some market research and ask friends with teens what non-techy items topped their teen’s holiday wish list.

Here are a few favorite tech-free gifts for teens.

 iKNOW Trivia Game ($16)

iKNOW Trivia GameTech-Free Gifts for Teens Groovy Green Livin is perfect for some family bonding over the holidays. Test your trivia knowledge and use your bluffing skills to excel at this game. Even if you aren’t the best trivia player at the table, you can excel this game by using your bluffing skills to lead other players to the incorrect answer. Ages 15+ 2-6 players.

Kendama ($13)tech-free gifts for teens groovy green livin

Kendama‘s have been a big hit around here, providing hours of entertainment. First made popular in Japan, the Kendama is a hand-held game.The number of tricks you can do with this wooden toy is endless.

Spikeball ($60)

Spikeball is all the rage. It’s the reverse of volleyball. Hit the ball on the net to your opponents who have three chances to bounce it back. This can be played inside or outside.

Jamstik Electric Guitar tech-free gifts for teens groovy green livin($300)

The Jamstik Electric Guitar does have a little tech in it, but I’m OK with that since it’s being used to make music. This compact and portable instrument makes learning guitar simple.

Kooba Magnetic Target Game ($70)non-tech gifts for teens Groovy Green Livin

The KOOBA magnetic target game is such a clever concept. By combining the action and dexterity of darts with the strategic play of a board game the goal is to be the first to stack your markers to win the race.

Solarbotics Perpetual Motion Marble Kit ($44)

non-tech gifts for teens groovy green livinThis Perpetual Motion Marble Kit is a great gift for any teen who loves to build. It’s easy to put together with some solder, glue, and tools you have at home. Once built  it will collect energy from its solar cell and will then release that energy in pulses turning the gear wheel.

Fascinations Metal Earth Grand Piano 3D Metal Model Kit ($11)

non-tech gifts for teensIf you’ve never tried a Metal Earth model now’s your chance!The Metal Earth Grand Piano model is amazingly detailed which is fun and challenging to assemble. Each model starts out as 4 inch square metal sheets and you simply pop out the pieces using wire cutters and follow the included directions to assemble.

Learn To Play Ukulele Starter Kit ($70)tech-free gifts for teens groovy green livin

Ready for your teen to learn the ukulele? Check out this Ukulele Starter Kit which comes with everything you need to start playing immediately.

Over-The-Door Mini Basketball Hoop ($28)

non-tech gifts for teens Groovy Green LivinFor all the teens out there who love sports, this is a great gift. The Spalding NBA Slam Jam Over-The-Door Mini Basketball Hoop is a quality hoop that will provide hours of entertainment for your teens and friends.

Design Your Own Headphones ($30)

non-tech gifts for teens Groovy Green LivinSuch a great idea! Crank up your creativity and Design Your Own Street Art Headphones. With bright paints and cool stencil shapes, there are endless ways to make them your own.

Do you have any favorite tech-free gifts for teens to add to the list? 


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 Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you!
December 9th, 2016

How Are You Going to Pay it Forward This Year?

How Are You Going to Pay it Forward This Year and Every Year Groovy Green Livin

Thanks to the kind folks at Stonyfield for donating the gift card for this Pay it Forward post

Welcome to the holiday season. It can be the most wonderful time of the year filled with festivities, celebration, stress and responsibility. Yes, responsibility. As we shop for the holidays it’s important to remember those without and take the time to pay it forward.

Imagine if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness would continue. One good deed might not seem like much, but it is.

Over the past few years, I’ve connected with an incredible organization called The Box Project which is an organization working to enrich the lives of families living in rural poverty. Through this organization, we were matched with a family living in rural poverty.

Take the time to remember those without and pay it forward. Here's how! #stonyfieldblogger Click To Tweet

What I love most about The Box Project is the ability to directly connect with and help a family in need. The support you provide to your Box Project family can be as much or as little as you are able to supply. These families have very little and are eternally grateful for anything sent their way. We try to involve our children as much as possible by sending letters, photos, and other items so they can get to know and trust us. We talk about our Box Project family as much as possible with the hope that our kids will someday understand and feel compassion towards those living in extreme poverty.

How Are You Going to Pay it Forward This Year and Every Year Groovy Green Livin

Photo courtesy of The Box Project

This year we asked our match family to send us a list of their immediate needs. The list was long and included things that many of us take for granted such as toilet paper and school supplies. Rather than tackle the list on my own I reached out to friends and family to ask for help. Within days the gifts started flowing to this family in need.

Many of you have seen the movie, Pay it Forward. It’s a story about a social studies teacher who gives an assignment to his junior high school class. Their task is to think of an idea to change the world for the better and then put it into action. One student discovers how one random act of kindness can spread into a wave of human kindness. This becomes the pay it forward phenomenon.

One of my favorite companies, Stonyfield, has kicked off a “pay it forward” campaign this year. They are encouraging families to spread good fortune in the form of a charitable act with the hope that others will be inspired to do the same. I’m hoping you’ll join me. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, just take a moment and do something unexpected to spread holiday cheer. Maybe it will spiral into something much larger than you imagined.

We took a family vote and decided to use our $50 gift card generously donated by Stonyfield to purchase something other than a “necessity” for our Box Project family. We bought each of the children a watch and the mother a slow cooker and a cookbook. How Are You Going to Pay it Forward This Year and Every Year Groovy Green Livin

Now it’s your turn!

How you can pay it forward

Take the time to do a good deed for others without asking for anything in return. Hold a door open, pay for someone’s groceries, leave a care package for someone in need. Find an organization that means something to you and ask how you can help. Take your passion and pay it forward.

Happy holidays!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our FREE Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 Disclosure: Thanks to the kind folks at Stonyfield for donating the gift card for this Pay it Forward post. All opinions are my own. 
June 26th, 2015

How to Green Your Fourth of July

How to Green Your Fourth of July Groovy Green Livin

The Fourth of July tops my list of favorite holidays. It’s right up there with Thanksgiving. It signifies the beginning of summer and is filled with fireworks, parades, and barbecues. To kick off the Fourth of July this year I’m planning to run a Four on the Fourth race again. Hopefully it won’t be 90 degrees and humid like it was last year.

After the race the plan is to relax and hopefully catch up with friends.

If you’re planning celebrate this Fourth of July there are a few simple ways to make it green and eco-friendly.

1. Green your grilling

As delicious as grilling is, research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when meat, poultry or fish are cooked at high heat. Try cooking your food at low temperatures, flip it frequently and don’t leave it on the grill longer than necessary. While grilling your food this Fourth of July make sure to use green accessories to help you create a delicious and safe meal.

2.  Non-toxic sunscreen

There are a lot of sunscreens out there, but not all are created equal. Look for sunscreens that are safe and non-toxic. Try to avoid spray sunscreens when you can, or apply them carefully. I try to find a sunscreen that works and doesn’t leave a thick, white film on my skin. Thankfully there are some good nano-free options without the white film. Here are a few tips to get your kids to wear sunscreen.

3. Non-toxic bug repellent

The bugs can be fierce this time of year. DEET bug repellents can be toxic if we apply too much and leave it on our skin too long. Thankfully there are a quite a few bug repellents out there that are DEET-free. There are even plants that can be strategically placed around your yard that act as natural bug repellents. Our DEET-free bug repellent of choice this Fourth of July is Buzzaway.

4. Reusables instead of disposables

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year. That’s a lot of trash. BBQ’s are know for their abundance of paper products and plastic utensils. How about mixing it up a bit this year and adding in a few reusable products in place of those single-use plastic and paper products? Using reusable cloth napkins, stainless steel flatware, reusable plates or even stainless steel straws would be a simple way to make a big impact.

5. Recycle! 

I cringe at the number of bottles and cans tossed into the trash at a barbecue or at the beach. If you are hosting the party take the time to set up a extra bin or two for recyclables.  If you’re headed to a BBQ and there’s no recycle container you might just have to carry it home.

6. Head to the Farmers Market

I love seeing farmers markets popping up everywhere. They range from large to small, but they all have one thing in common: farmers selling directly to consumers without a middle man. Head to the farmers’ market for all your Fourth of July produce and meats. Whatever they don’t have you can fill in at the supermarket.

Do you have any green 4th of July tips?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


photo credit: P1020920 via photopin (license)

February 9th, 2015

4 Climate-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gifts

 

Climate-Friendly Valentine's Day Groovy Green Livin

 This was originally published on the Huffington Post.

It’s hard to ignore the sea of red gifts and boxes of chocolates lining the aisles in most stores this time of year. Valentine’s Day is upon us. While we ponder how to best surprise our loved ones, many areas in the country are being hammered with multiple blizzards. It’s hard to imagine, with several feet of snow on the ground, that winters have, on average, been getting warmer since the 1970s. According to Climate Central there has been an overall drop in the number of nights below freezing in most cities.

This increase in warmer weather throughout the world is becoming the new normal. Climate change is real. With 61 Senators (a vast majority of the Senate including 15 Republican senators) admitting the scientific reality of man-made climate change, we can now move forward and talk about solutions.

While discussions of political solutions to climate change are beginning to circulate we can continue with our own personal efforts to reduce our individual carbon footprints.

This Valentine’s Day rather than focusing on those red and chocolate filled aisles why not look outside the box and give a gift that will truly make a difference and impact climate change.

Adopt a Polar Bear

American polar bears are on the brink of extinction unless we take immediate action. These large marine mammals spend much of their time on the Arctic Sea, in areas where they can hunt seals at openings in the sea ice hundreds of miles from land. But the Arctic Sea ice is rapidly diminishing due to climate change, thereby destabilizing the polar bears’ habitat.

This Valentine’s Day give the gift of adopting a polar bear. Your gift will help to protect the fragile Arctic by fighting climate change through vital research and policy work, advocating a ban on all drilling in the region, and pushing for polar bears to gain the full protection they deserve under the Endangered Species Act.

Declare Your Love for the Planet 

The Climate Coalition is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. This Valentine’s Day they’re asking everyone to submit photos of things they love and that they fear losing due to the effects of climate change. The #ShowTheLove campaign is a way to show politicians and those in decision making roles that climate change is something we all care about.

Climate change affects the things we love most. Our childrens’ future. Our hobbies. Our passions. Our lifestyles. Our safety and wellbeing. We’re saying loud and clear – let’s act on climate change, for the love of everything we hold dear. 

In honor of Valentine’s Day head on over HERE and #ShowTheLove by sharing what you love and how it could be impacted by climate change. There’s also a short film and green hearts to make, wear and share with your loved ones.

Plant a Tree in Honor of Someone You Love

Instead of giving cut flowers this Valentine’s Day why not give a tree? According to the Arbor Day Foundation planting trees helps to fight climate change.

Through the natural process of photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen.

You can reduce your energy use by strategically planting trees near your home. Trees will keep your house cool in the summer and allow the sun to warm your house in the winter. According to the U.S. Forest Service Center just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save up to 30% of energy use. Forests are the world’s second largest carbon reservoirs (oceans are the largest). We can’t create new oceans, but we do have the ability to plant new trees. One acre of forestland will capture between 150 – 200 tons of CO2 in its first 40 years.

Honor your friends and loved ones this Valentine’s Day with the gift of trees. Every dollar donated to the Arbor Day Foundation plants a tree in one of our nation’s forests.

Forgo the Cut Roses and Give a House Plant

So often we forget that the environment has the natural ability to clean itself. Many common houseplants act as an air purifier, removing toxins from the air we breathe. They are known to produce oxygen from CO2 and they absorb toxins including benzene (gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber), formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives).

Through air purification household plants reduce the amount of humidity in the home, which in turn means less air conditioning is needed during the hot summer months.  Most electricity needed to run an air conditioner is currently produced by burning fossil fuels. Reducing the amount of air conditioning needed will require less electricity to run an air conditioner, which will in turn reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

A few years back NASA scientists studied nineteen different plants over a two year span to see which did the best job cleaning the air. The NASA study recommends that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Rex Rosetta Fur Heart via photopin (license)

January 23rd, 2015

5 Healthier Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes

Healthier  Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes Groovy Green Livin

Now that my son no longer has a peanut allergy (stay tuned for this amazing story) nuts of all kinds have been a staple in our home. And there’s a good reason.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found people who ate a daily handful of nuts (including peanuts which are technically legumes) were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t.

So in honor of National Peanut Butter Day (January 24th, 2015) I’m going to share with you 5 amazing recipes from a few peanut butter loving bloggers.

But first this fact: Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter?

Now it’s time to take a peek at these delicious recipes and if something floats your peanut-butter-loving boat click on the link to bring you to the full recipe. My only suggestion-use organic peanut butter without added sugar whenever you can.

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge by Chocolate Covered Katie

I was so excited to stumble across this recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge. Something so delicious without butter, heavy cream, or high fructose corn syrup.

Healthy Peanut-Butter-Fudge Groovy Green Livin

No-Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven

What got me with these delicious treats is the “no-bake”. And they’re incredibly easy to make. Take a peek here.

Peanut Butter No-Bake-Energy-Bites-Groovy Green Livin

Double Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting by Desserts with Benefits

This Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting looks seriously decadent, but it’s also healthier than most cakes, low sugar, high in fiber and high in protein.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cake Groovy Green Livin

 

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter and Avocado Pudding by Healthfully Ever After

Chocolate, peanut butter and avocado sounds like an interesting combo in this recipe. There are only 7 ingredients and the recipe is relatively healthy! This recipe calls for Greek yogurt and personally I like to add Stonyfield organic Greek yogurt to my recipes. I think you know why!

healthy chocolate peanut butter avocado pudding Groovy Green Livin

Flourless Chocolate Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Topping (Gluten Free!)by Nutritionist in the Kitch

This cake is flourless! Guess what holds it together? Sweet potatoes! Don’t worry, Christal assures us that you can’t taste the sweet potato for all you sweet potato haters.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE BROWNIES WITH SALTED PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING (GLUTEN FREE!) Groovy Green Livin

 Enjoy National Peanut Butter Day! What’s your favorite peanut butter recipe?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

November 26th, 2014

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Thanksgiving

Groovy Green Livin Thanksgiving

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many. It’s a time to eat, indulge and spend uninterrupted time with family.

It’s also a time for reflection. A time to think about what we’re thankful for and a time to think about how the choices we make impact our families and the planet.

Although every day provides an opportunity for reflection and change, Thanksgiving stands out as the perfect day to kick off a few new habits that will effect the longevity of our planet. If each of us revamped our consumption and waste habits by slightly adjusting what’s already in place, the overall impact could be huge.

Here are a few tips for the Thanksgiving holiday that will reduce our carbon footprint and help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.

Shop Local 

Shop locally this Thanksgiving and lend your support to the little local business rather than the big box stores. Go for holiday supplies that don’t need to travel far to get to your Thanksgiving table.

Buy Organic

Organic food typically requires 30-50% less energy during production than it’s conventional counterpart. Make the shift this Thankgiving to a table with more organic food choices. Knowing that your food isn’t sprayed with pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified is enough reason to incorporate organic foods into your menu.

Turn the Heat Down

Watch your home heat up on its own as your Thanksgiving guests arrive and as the oven is turned on to warm the food. Rather than opening windows to cool off the space remember to set the thermostat a few degrees lower before the celebration begins.

Don’t Use Disposables

Make the switch to reusable napkins, skip the paper towels and pull out the good dishes this Thanksgiving. It’s a bit more effort at the end of the evening, but it’s worth it. Each person in the United States uses 749 pounds (340kg) of paper every year. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world. The industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution.

Reduce the Amount You Buy

Reducing is the first of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. When planning your Thanksgiving celebration try making some slight alterations to your shopping list. Give some extra thought as to whether or not you truly need those items on your list and reduce the amount of food and decorations if possible.

Compost Table Scraps

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year? That means about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden thrive.

Fill Your Dishwasher Before Running

Fill your dishwasher to capacity before running a cycle. You’ll end up saving water, energy and detergent.

Green Your Turkey

A Cornell study shows it takes 14 units of fossil fuel to produce a serving of turkey. If you’re planning to have turkey try to make it a little greener by purchasing it from a local market or farm.  If the turkey is traveling a long distance to get to your table that’s adding to your carbon footprint. Best option-skip the turkey!

Clean with Non-Toxic Cleaners

Make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products. When making the switch to green cleaning products replace products you’re currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.

Stay local

According to USA Today, it’s predicted that 24.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between November 21st and December 2nd this year. That’s a 1.5% increase from last year, or 31,000 more passengers on average a day. For many of us traveling is a long-standing tradition and needed to visit with our family. Use this handy calculator from The Nature Conservancy to help you calculate the amount of carbon you emit and offer ways of offsetting those emissions.

If your plan is to drive make sure your tires are fully inflated and your car has been properly serviced. This will help reduce your carbon emissions and improve your gas mileage.

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Benjamin Chun via photopin cc

June 13th, 2014

On Father’s Day: Green Lessons Learned

Groovy Green Livin Father's Day

Father’s Day. A time for honoring fathers, celebrating fatherhood and recognizing the influence of fathers in our society.

This Father’s Day I celebrate all the fathers in my life. Those here now and those no longer with us.

Born in Queens, New York I was destined to be a city girl. When I was about 5 my family picked up and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Just like that, this city girl was plopped in the country. I was not happy. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

One childhood memory stands out. When I was growing up in Madison we joined a community garden. At the time I was so angry at my father for making us do this. My valuable time as a tween was spent lugging milk containers filled with water from our home to this garden. At a very young age I had a chance to connect with the food we were eating and the opportunity to eat seasonal, fresh, organic food that came from our very own garden. Thanks to my father I try very hard to instill that same connection with my own children, whether it’s through a CSA, farmer’s market or gardening. I’m not always successful, but good intentions are always there.

In honor of Father’s Day I asked a few bloggers to share their thoughts on any ‘green’ lessons (or not so ‘green’ lessons) learned from a father figure in their life.  

Here’s what they had to say:

My father taught me not necessarily about the art of living green, but about the art of living simply. He is a man who does not need much to be happy. No flashy car, fancy clothes, or other materialistic item can light up his face. All he needs in life are his wife, his daughter, and now his grandsons. What a fabulous lesson about what is really important.

~Jessica, Eat Sleep Be

My dad, Bob, he’s always been “green” so to speak. In fact, he’s the first person who ever told me to not use bottles with BPA and I thought he was crazy at the time. What did my dad know about bottles and BPA!? Well, father knows best and I’m glad I listened to him. He’s the man who shared with me how to garden, cook and not waste food. When I didn’t like to go into the woods or be outside because I was too girly, he encouraged me and took my sister and me out hunting, four wheeling and fishing. I might not have enjoyed all of it back then but now I appreciate what he did for me and I’m thankful. He’s really a great dad and so many of his attributes have rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.

~Sommer, Green and Clean Mom

While I had an abundance of fresh produce around growing up in tropical South Africa, I never had the experience of growing my own fruits and vegetables other than my grandfather’s mini farm. He lived in a small town called Ladysmith 3.5 hours away from me and he had a decent amount of land where he grew things like carrots, cabbage, plums, peaches, and he even had a grape vine. I recall him yanking a huge carrot out of the ground, rinsing the soil out under the faucet and giving to me to eat. My grandmother was fussy about eating it right there, but he kept watch for her as I munched on it. I don’t think anything tasted better than that carrot or anything that grew on that land. I’ve always been determined to grow something and each year I try with our veggie garden and each year I learn to do it better. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the miracle of seeing food come out of the ground.

~Niri, Mommy Niri 

My father instilled a very strong work ethic in me. He taught me to stick to my values and not be afraid to go out on a limb for what I believed in. From him I learned that hard work pays off and that loving your job makes all the difference!

~Micaela, MindfulMomma

What’s your favorite Father’s Day lesson?

photo credit: pipitdapo via photopin cc

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

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