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December 14th, 2012
If you have a child or two who loves to build and create masterpieces then these cork building blocks will rock your world. My kids have been using wooden building blocks for years so building blocks in general aren’t a new concept. We’ve created roads, garages, houses, jumps and towers.
What makes these cork building blocks rock (has a ring to it, doesn’t it?) is that they are soft and lightweight. They also don’t have any toxic paint or finish on them. No worries if they end up in a little one’s mouth. My guys have also been known to chuck a wooden building block at someone’s head. These don’t hurt as much.
My kids are 12, 10 and 9. I was amazed to see their excitement when the box of cork building blocks arrived. When given the OK they ripped the box open and spent a good hour creating and recreating.
We started off with this.
The castle quickly turned into this.
EcoBayHome.com offers a range of products for the home all made from environmentally friendly materials. The set of cork building blocks comes with 20 pieces includes a handy storage bag to take the cork blocks on any outing. The building blocks are made from 100% natural, 100% renewable cork which is sustainably harvested from the Cork Oak Tree. The blocks in the set come in a variety of shapes and sizes which encourages children to use their creativity in numerous ways. The cork building blocks are recommended for children 3 years old and up while slightly older children (just like mine) enjoy playing with these cork blocks just as much.
EcoBayHome.com has graciously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a set of cork building blocks (value $49.95). By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
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Disclosure: I was sent a set of cork building blocks for review from EcoBayHome.com. The opinions expressed in this review are my very own.
August 30th, 2012
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and this year it’s bittersweet. Over the past few weeks our summer groove has finally fallen into place and I’m not ready to let it go. I admit there’s a slight craving for a routine-normal bedtimes, some sort of schedule and consistency. But I’m still not ready. Thankfully we have a few days and a few BBQ’s planned before school kicks in. If you’re planning to head to or host a barbeque this Labor Day (or any other day) there are a few simple ways to make it 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 make sure to use green accessories to help you create a delicious and safe meal.
2. 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.
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 summer is Buzzaway.
4. Recycle bottles and cans
I cringe at the number of bottles and cans tossed into the trash at a barbeque. 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.
5. Use fresh, seasonal and local food
- Safe for you-Grill and prepare organic and hormone-free meat, poultry and wild fish whenever possible.
- Safe for the planet-Buy local food whenever possible. When the food is locally grown or produced it doesn’t need to travel far to reach you-which means less fuel is needed to transport.
Looking for something delicious to bring to your barbeque this year?
My friend Amie over at The Healthy Apple has a spectacular recipe for your Labor Day BBQ. It’s a gluten-free twist on a traditional pasta salad and one that you won’t want to miss: sweet orange n’ grape pasta salad. This lovely recipe has no added sugar, no processed dressings and takes about 20 minutes to whip up. Hope on over to The Healthy Apple to check it out and while you’re there make sure to spend some time reading about Amie’s awesome approach to clean eating.
How are you spending Labor Day weekend? Any BBQ’s in your future?
Vegetable kebab. | Stock Photo © jura13 #2494373
Linked up with Seasonal Celebration.
August 17th, 2012
Running over the finish line in my annual triathlon
Over the years I’ve had plenty of foot injuries. Plantar fasciitis has tormented me through many years of running and a heel spur made walking and running pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully my injuries haven’t been acting up lately I think in part because I religiously replace my running shoes after 6 months and use prescription orthodics in all of my running and exercise shoes.
My fascination with barefoot running
I’ve always been facinated by barefoot running. I’ve wondered whether running without all that man-made support in traditional running shoes would cure my foot ailments. When Planet Shoes, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, offered to send me a pair of shoes to test out I jumped at the opportunity to give barefoot shoes a try.
I’ve worked with Planet Shoes in the past and absolutely love this company’s mission. From their eco-friendly selection of shoes and carbon free shipping option to their partnerships with charitable organizations, this company rocks the true meaning of green.
I chose the Merrell Dash Glove barefoot running shoe. Have you seen the Vibram® Five Fingers shoes with 5 toes? These shoes have a Vibram® Sole. I like the look of the Merrell shoes much better than the Vibram® Five Fingers.
Starting off slowly
Everything that I’ve read about barefoot running suggests starting off slowly so your feet have a chance to become accustomed to the barefoot experience. I started off wearing them around the house. They are extremely light and comfortable. The shoes feel very different from my running shoes-there’s very little built in support and I wasn’t using my orthodics.
Next I ventured out on a walk with my new shoes. I have to admit that I missed the extra inch in height my running shoes give me. Barefoot shoes are flat, with no heel whatsoever. The walk went well. My feet and knees felt completely normal.
The gym was next on my list. I went wearing my new barefoot shoes, but not to my usual high impact class. I tested them out in a body conditioning class where there really wasn’t much jumping or running. One person commented that they looked like water shoes, which I hadn’t thought about but they really do.
Running barefoot up next
My next step will be taking these purple and pink pretty shoes out for a run. The Merrell site suggests:
Choose familiar terrain at first. Different types of terrain can affect your training. Steep ups and downs and areas filled with obstacles, like roots or rocks, should be avoided until you’ve built up greater endurance and strength.
After one week in these shoes I’m not completely sold on barefoot running. I’m planning to continue easing into them slowly. My traditional running shoes are still in the rotation and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The good news: I haven’t had any knee pain or foot pain during my transition to these shoes. From all I’ve read it sounds like barefoot running is best on off-road trails. I’m a bit leery about their performance on asphalt, which is where most of my runs take place.
Have you tried barefoot running? Any words of wisdom for us beginners?
Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of shoes, courtesy of PlanetShoes.com, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, from The EcoMom Alliance Sustain YourSelf series. There are a few affiliate links in this post-if you purchase through these links it will place a few pennies in my pocket and help support this blog. Thanks!
June 19th, 2012
Today I’m getting on an airplane with my oldest son to take him to overnight camp. He’s going for four weeks, two weeks longer then last year. I wish I could say that I’m not freaking out, but I am. Thankfully, there’s a level of comfort sending him to this camp-he’ll be with two of his cousins and it happens to be the camp that I spent most of my summers during my own childhood. But four weeks is a long time. There doesn’t seem to be any apprehension on his part-he’s excited, packed and ready to go.
We’ve been packing for weeks. Two huge duffel bags are filled to the brim with the ‘stuff’ the camp suggests bringing on their packing list. If you and/or your children have gone to camp (overnight or day camp) you know that most camps have a “packing list”. This list includes everything to pack, from how many pairs of underwear to number of stamps.
Whether it’s day camp or overnight, when you send a child to camp it means giving up control over that child for a few weeks. They will eat what they want and probably do things that they wouldn’t normally do at home. That’s what camp’s all about.
There are few essentials that I’m sending with him to try to keep his camp experience as non-toxic , eco-friendly and green as possible.
Here are a few of my summer camp favorites:
Purple Prairie SunStuff SPF 30 is one of my favorite sunscreens. We started using it last year and it worked really well. HERE are a few other favorite sunscreens, perfect for those summer camp days in the sun.
I’m sending my son to camp with a DEET free bug repellant. Buzzaway is our bug spray of choice this year. It contains a blend of wintergreen, citronella, cedarwood, peppermint and lemongrass oils and it works well.
DEET is the most widely used insect repellent in the US and is the leading ingredient in most conventional bug repellants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that as long as consumers follow label directions, insect repellents containing DEET aren’t dangerous. The tricky part is following the directions-most of us don’t and we end up applying too much bug repellent and leave it on our skin for far too long. DEET then becomes highly toxic.
There are also natural ways to treat bug bites. Check out a few of my favorites HERE.
He’s going to camp this year with shampoo that doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals.
Our go-to shampoo this year is Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. Body wash and shampoo all in one- we’re killing two birds with one stone! Last year he came home with his soap unopened.
He doesn’t wear deodorant yet, but if he did he’d go to camp with Tom’s of Maine Deodorant.
I’m just thinking how smelly a cabin filled with 11 year old boys will be. Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain controversial aluminum, their ingredient list is long and filled with other suspicious chemicals that I don’t want on my son’s body. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives.
Toothpaste is a tough one. He’s going to be brushing with The Natural Dentist Cavity Zapper in Groovy Grape .This toothpaste does have fluoride, but doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate or any harsh ingredients. Thanks to Suzanne of Mommy Footprint. we have a few new fluoride-free brands to try out when he comes back from camp.
Do you have any natural or organic favorites to pack for camp?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything through the links it will put a few pennies in my pocket. Thanks!
© philipus – Fotolia.com
June 15th, 2012
The clock is ticking. The big yellow bus is going to pull up at any moment. Summer vacation is ALMOST here. Well, not quite. There’s a whopping 2 hours of school on Monday. Talk about delaying the start of summer!
My Plan for the Summer
Honestly, I have no plan. My hope this summer is to find a happy balance between work and quality time with my family. I’m not quite sure what that will look like yet, but we shall see. So sit tight and join me as we begin our summer journey.
Groovy Green Livin Named Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms
I am honored to have been named one of the Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms by Circle of Moms again this year. I know how valuable your time is so I wanted to extend a big ‘thank you’ to each and every one of you who clicked on that “thumbs up” next to Groovy Green Livin for the past 2 weeks. If you haven’t already, check out some of the other groovy green blogs on the list: SafeMama.com, Natureal Mom, The Greening of Westford, The Eco-Friendly Family, Climate Mama, Healthy Home Magazine, The Eco Chic, I Thought I Knew Mama, Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, and Green Gifts Guide, plus many more!
Join Me for a Plastic Free Book Party
Looking for something to do on Monday, June 18th at 1 pm ET? Hop on over to The Motherhood where I’ll be co-hosting a chat in celebration of my friend, Beth Terry’s launch of her new book: Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. We’ll be talking about Beth’s book and living plastic-free. Get personal solutions and tips on limiting your plastic footprint, letting go of eco-guilt and saving money along the way.
- When: Monday, June 18, at 1 p.m. ET. We will chat for 30 minutes!
- Where: On The Motherhood.
- Who: The all-text chat will be hosted by Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life.
- I’ll be co-hosting with: Alicia from The Soft Landing, Annie from PhD in Parenting, Calley from The Eco Chic, Danielle from It Starts with Me, Diane from Big Green Purse, Jennifer from The Smart Mama, Katie from Kitchen Stewardship, Leslie from Crunchy Betty, and Lisa from Retro Housewife Goes Green.
Grilled Watermelon Recipe
I’ve never thought to grill watermelon. It’s one of my favorite fruits, so I’m willing to give it a try. I stumbled across this recipe for a Grilled Watermelon Salad with Feta, Mint and Lime from The Family Dinner. Super easy and sounds delicious (minus the feta for me)!
Have a great weekend! Have you every tried grilling watermelon?
Photo: © Sergejs Bespalovs #8830279 Deposit Photo
June 11th, 2012
Every time I’m at a birthday party I can’t help but notice the mounds of discarded wrapping paper littering the ground after the presents have been opened. It takes me a while to wrap a present as I’m not very good at it, but I’m always amazed at how quickly that paper is ripped off and tossed to the side. What a waste.
The problem with wrapping paper
“Wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S,” according to Earth911.com. Seeing it as a simple way to make a big impact, I’ve recently started to move away from traditional wrapping paper and now focus on using eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives.
When I was contacted by VZWraps, the makers of fabric gift bags, to review some of their reusable gift bags I was very excited. They generously sent me a pack of 4 gift bags (pictured above).
VZWraps fabric gift bags are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping paper, paper that often can’t be recycled because it is dyed or laminated, contains non-paper additives, or is too thin to have good-quality fibers. According to the Clean Air Council, an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated in the U.S. during the Christmas holiday season.
VZWraps was founded by Isabelle Vesey, a stay-at-home-mom from Haverford, PA. Isabelle always enjoyed wrapping presents, using beautiful papers and embellishments. However, as her environmental awareness grew, she made some changes, switching to recycled paper and reducing her use of plastic bows. But a big change happened a few Christmases ago, when she went into her basement to gather her wrapping supplies, and just couldn’t do it. She just could not bring herself to wrap her family’s presents in paper that was just going to get thrown away, even if it was made from recycled materials. So after a trip to the fabric store, she got out the sewing machine, and stitched up some gift bags. Not only did they look great under the tree, there was no bag full of trash after all the presents were opened.
What I love about VZWraps
VZWraps has not only created a product that’s eco-friendly, all of their business practices are accomplished with the environment in mind. The bag sizes are based on no-waste cutting, so that all the fabric is used leaving no scraps behind. The bags are made from 100% cotton with some GOTS-certified organic cotton bags available. Most of the ribbons are made in the USA, primarily from recycled materials. The eco-grosgrain ribbon is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and the eco-satin is made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. The tissue paper the bags are wrapped in before shipping is made from recycled paper, and the envelope that my bags arrived in is compostable and made in the USA. They even use paper-clips to secure the ribbons on the smaller bags in hopes that they’ll be reused and not discarded.
The gift bags are great for any and all presents, but I’m having a difficult time parting with them. I think I need to change my perspective and view giving a gift wrapped in a VZWrap bag as paying it forward. I’m just not sure I can say goodbye to my gorgeous bags and I know I can’t ask for them back!
VZWraps has graciously offered to giveaway a $30 VZWraps gift certificate plus free shipping to one lucky Groovy Green Livin reader. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
In addition to offering a $30 gift certificate for the giveaway, VZWraps has generously offered to give Groovy Green Livin readers 10% off their order by using DISCOUNT CODE: GROOVY10 through August 31, 2012.
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Disclosure: Thank you to VZWraps for a complimentary set of 4 reusable gift bags. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.
June 6th, 2012
Put together two sisters with great taste and a passion for the environment and you get a jewelry shop that sells chic, unique, eco-friendly jewelry. The two sisters, Natalia and Luda (in the above photo when they were kids!) created Eco Lustre with the intention of creating:
“…a place to shop for cute, cool, elegant jewelry that’s affordable and environmentally friendly. When we didn’t find a single source that had it all, we decided to create one ourselves. And because we have fashion and jewelry merchandising background and two people’s worth of great taste, it was a natural fit.”
When I first had the opportunity to shop around their site I was amazed by beauty and elegance of all the pieces.
Eco Lustre is a storefront that brings together eco-friendly artisans from all around the US. Each eco-concious artisan approaches jewelry making as a work of art. Browsing through the profiles of each artist, some are inspired by nature, and others find different sources of inspiration: history, the beauty of everyday objects and family. It’s clear that each artist cares about natural resources and strives to preserve them by utilizing eco-friendly practices: using sustainable or recycled materials (most use primarily recycled metals), recycling scrap metals, and running their workshops with eco-conscious principles.
The Hannah Necklace from Eco Lustre
I’m very grateful to the fabulous women behind Eco Lustre for sending me the Hanna necklace for review. I’m loving the necklace and can wear it my outfit of choice: jeans.
This gorgeous necklace is made of labradorite and silver plated multi-faceted beads (nuggets), and strung on a waxed Irish linen cord. The metals used to create the piece are partially recycled.
The designer is in2 Design, a partnership of two Swedish born women, Inger Mark and Inga Louise Baldwin, who now live in Connecticut. They use natural and organic materials to showcase the exquisite beauty of the stones.
A few of my favorite things about Eco Lustre
- It’s eco-friendly. The artisans represented in their shop are all eco-friendly in many ways, from using recycled materials to maintaining sustainable business practices.
- Recycled packaging. Eco Lustre uses recycled packaging. The necklace arrived in a small cardboard box. Inside the box was a beautiful cloth bag with the necklace inside.
- It’s handcrafted in the US. All designs are original and unique; items are made by hand in limited quantities
- It’s hand-selected. All jewelry on the Eco Lustre website is hand-picked by the two owners-who happen to have great taste. They work with indie and emerging designers, so the items on their website generally aren’t widely available.
- It’s reasonably priced for high-quality, eco-friendly jewelry. There are pieces at most price points.
- Great customer service. I know first-hand that they are very responsive to questions and care a great deal about customer satisfaction.
I would love to see a few more earrings and bracelets in their selection. Earring happen to be my jewelry of choice and there are some pretty funky choices that I would absolutely wear.
Don’t leave without checking out their awesome collection of rings. I’m thinking about the Gloria ring. What do you think?
Natalia and Luda of Eco Lustre have generously offered a discount for Groovy Green Livin readers. Enter DISCOUNT CODE GR15 at checkout and you’ll receive 15% off all orders through July 15, 2012.
Disclosure: I was generously sent the Hanna necklace from Eco Lustre in exchange for my honest opinion.