Review and Giveaway: Fun, Affordable Eco Art Kits from Artterro

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My daughter, Sofie, wants to be an artist when she grows up. While she mostly draws or paints, I like exposing her to new mediums to get her creative juices flowing in a different way. Arttero’s Eco Art Kits are a great way to encourage that — they offer 11 kits with a variety of materials and open-ended projects to spark young creative minds.

*Scroll down to enter the giveaway. Use coupon code EM20 for a 20% discount off your order before November 15!

Artterro Eco Art Kits | Eco-Mothering.com

Making Art Eco-Friendly

When we received their Creativity Kit (Sofie’s choice) and perused their website, I was kind of blown away by the level of sustainability and social conscience behind Artterro.

  • Ethically sourced, natural materials including wool felt, recycled paper, glass beads, wood bangles, U.S.-made copper wire and non-toxic paints.
  • The handmade recycled paper is composed entirely of scraps from the garment industry and is processed pollution free!
  • Corn-based, biodegradable plastic bead bags.
  • Minimal packaging with 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard that can be repurposed. The box can become a birdhouse or mailbox; the inner tray can double as a shadowbox frame for your child’s art afterwards.
  • They print and manufacture their products with green companies that use vegetable-based inks, renewable energy and innovative environmental practices.
  • Kits are assembled by hand in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Company supports local teens in a mentoring program that teaches them about sustainable business.

Eco-Friendly art kits for kids | Eco-Mothering.com

Engaging Kids’ Imagination

The kits are open-ended opportunities for children to dream up unique creations. Presented with an array of natural materials, kids are encouraged to explore each item, solve problems and construct anything they can dream up. Such endless possibility is a welcome antidote to the structured school day where kids are often prodded into the single “correct” way to do something.

Sofie and I spent an afternoon making bookmarks and a holiday ornament. We incorporated some craft leftovers I had around the house: feathers, more beads, twine. I really liked Artterro’s materials. They’re beautiful, tactile and odorless — I’m always hyper aware of fumes — and they were not cheaply disposable or plastic like many art supplies can be.

Artterro Eco-friendly art kits for kids | Eco-Mothering.com

Artterro eco-friendly art kits | Eco-Mothering.com

My daughter was completely engrossed in the activity. As a perfectionist, she sometimes gets frustrated by a project that isn’t going exactly how she likes. And while some of that did come up for Sofie, this time she persisted in sewing thread through the wool felt pieces and bending the copper wire to accommodate her design. In the end, she was very proud of her creations — she even took the ornament in for share time at school.

artterro-owners-3Started in 2008 by artist mompreneurs, Forrest Espinoza and Jennifer Conn, Artterro is about fun, affordable and sustainable ways to get creative with family and friends. Each Artterro kit is unique, and there are 11 to choose from including Art Dolls, Bookmaking, Collage Jewelry, Bubble Wands, Wire and Bead and more.

Overall, Sofie and I spent an enjoyable afternoon engaging our creative right brains with beautiful, natural materials. Eco Art Kits are a unique and sustainable option for fueling kids’ creativity. Check out Artterro’s Pinterest boards for project ideas and inspiration.

Artterro Giveaway and a Discount for YOU!

These kits make ideal gifts, and Artterro wants you to have one! Enter the giveaway below for the chance to win an Eco Art Kit of your choice. Then stock up on kits for rainy days or birthday parties. *Eco-Mothering readers can also take advantage of this discount: 20% off your purchase through November 15! Use coupon code EM20 at checkout.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Deadline: October 31, 2014.

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10 Simple Ways to Green Your Bedroom

This is a guest post by Rosie Osmun.

A healthy, eco-friendly bedroom puts your mind at ease and sets the stage for sweeter dreams. From fabrics to floors, here are ten simple and effective ways to green your bedroom with earth-friendly alternatives to traditional products.

10 Simple Ways to Green Your Bedroom | Eco-Mothering.com

1. Snuggle Up in Eco-Friendly Bedding

Choose organic cotton, bamboo, wool and other natural textiles for your bed sheets and blankets. This keeps chemicals like formaldehyde and pesticides out of your bed. Traditionally-grown cotton is the dirtiest crop in terms of pesticide pollution, so opting for organic makes a big difference.

Instead of down or polyester pillows, look for pillows made with organic cotton and wool, millet, buckwheat or natural latex.

2. Incorporate Air-Boosting Plants

Plants are nature’s air purifiers, so incorporating living flora into your bedroom can make your space healthier and greener. Areca palm, English Ivy, snake plants, spider plants and peace lilies are a few efficient air purifiers that can thrive indoors. Placing a few in your bedroom to suck up air pollutants like formaldehyde (from particleboard) and carbon monoxide (from fireplaces) gives you a better night’s rest.

3. Use Low-VOC Paints

Paints and lacquers for walls and furnishings can be a strong source of air-polluting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Opt for interior paints and finishes labeled low or no-VOC to avoid the off-gassing chemicals. Even then, always make sure freshly painted rooms are well ventilated.

4. Repurpose Old Furniture

Rather than tossing old furniture, consider refinishing, repainting or reupholstering it to breathe new life into existing items. Nowadays, many top interior decorators turn to vintage or upcycled items when furnishing bedrooms. Check out thrift and consignment shops as an excellent eco-friendly source of furniture.

5. Choose Eco-Friendly New Furniture

If you do buy new furniture, look for items made with more sustainable materials like bamboo, reclaimed wood or Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood. Choose items made with low-VOC finishes and non-toxic glues to keep your indoor air clean.

6. Relax with Natural Scents

Inviting aromas can make your bedroom pleasant and soothing — create atmosphere with 100% soy or beeswax candles and your favorite essential oils. You can even make your own linen and room spray by mixing essential oils like lavender or ylang ylang into a spray bottle with pure water.

Essential oils are an eco-friendly way to spice up the bedroom  | Eco-Mothering.com

7. Snooze on a Greener Mattress

Your mattress is the centerpiece of your bedroom, and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time. Opt for a bed made without toxic PBDE flame retardants, and look for more eco-friendly materials like plant-based, low-VOC poly foams, natural latex, organic cotton and wool.

8. Cool Off with Ceiling Fans

Cool temperatures are good for sleep, but the air conditioner consumes a lot of energy. Install ceiling fans to keep your bedroom cooler while reducing energy use. You can also use energy-efficient electric fans and open windows in the evening for more eco-friendly cooling.

9. Find Eco-Friendly Flooring

For soft flooring, choose rugs and carpeting made with recycled or sustainable materials. Wool, seagrass, jute, bamboo, cotton and recycled polyethylene are good green options. And don’t forget the eco rug pad for underneath!

Look into bamboo, reclaimed wood or stone for hard floors. Again, keep toxic odors at bay by ensuring that any foam and adhesives are all low-VOC.

Eco Rug Pad | Eco-Mothering.com

Photo: EcoRugPads.com

10. Be a Greener Cleaner

Cleaning products can also add indoor pollutants, so opt for green glass and furniture polishes and laundry supplies, or make your own household cleaners from items like vinegar, baking soda and soap.

HEPA filter vacuums can also help purify and clean your air. Don’t forget to wash all bedding every one to two weeks to keep allergens away.

Small Steps Make a Big Impact

You don’t have to totally renovate your home to be eco-friendly. Small, gradual changes can make a big impact over time. Choosing greener versions of things you already use and being conscious of what’s in the things you buy can go a long ways towards making your home healthier while reducing environmental impact.

Plus, knowing that your green bedroom is healthy and that you’ve made earth-friendly decisions makes sleeping and relaxing all the sweeter.

How do you green your space? Share your favorite eco-friendly home solutions in the comments below.

About the Author: Rosie Osmun is Creative Content Manager and writer at Amerisleep, a progressive memory foam brand focused on eco-friendly sleep solutions. She loves researching and writing about eco-friendly rest at the Amerisleep Blog and on Twitter.  

 

An Award-Winning, Eco-Friendly Children’s Book: “Earth Remembers When”

I am so pleased when I see another eco-themed book on the market, especially in children’s literature. Making the environment a regular part of our children’s vernacular is an important step in them becoming stewards of the earth.

My latest discovery, Earth Remembers When by Dawn Wynne, is an absolutely stunning picture book with many layers to enjoy.

Eco-themed children's books | Eco-Mothering.com

Layer 1: Reading the rhymed story in which the narrator reminisces about a clean, abundant earth when forests covered the world and foods came from the ground instead of a box. Even though my seven-year-old reads on her own, she wanted me to read this book to her, and we cuddled on the sofa together.

Layer 2: Studying Gloria Piñeiro’s beautiful illustrations of oceanscapes, sunlit forests and wildlife families. Her work is vibrant and nostalgic, rich with lush detail.

Review of Earth Remembers When children's book by Dawn Wynne | Eco-Mothering.com

Layer 3: The pages fold out to reveal a very different scene of what happens when we lose environmental focus. Wynne shares some startling statistics on how careless human action affects our planet, yet she doesn’t leave us feeling hopeless. Each fold-out spread ends with a tip on what we can do to help reverse the tide. They are simple steps that kids can do, too.

Review of Earth Remembers When children's book by Dawn Wynne | Eco-Mothering.com

Because of its multiple layers, Earth Remembers When works wells for readers of many ages. My daughter Sofie read it on her own again, and she loved searching for the hidden Earth within every illustration — another layer of fun!

The eco-friendly theme extends beyond the story, which concludes with positive action. Wynne includes several pages of kid-friendly, vegetarian recipes plus crafts and games you can make with recycled household materials. She also participated in the Eco-Libris program, which means 100 trees were planted for this book.

Earth Remembers When is the recipient of the Readers’ Favorite Silver Award and the 2014 Living Now Awards.

Dawn Wynne is a best-selling author, award-winning educator, certified health coach and mother to a six-year-old. She also blogs at The Everyday Environmentalist, educating families to create greener, healthier lifestyles.

To buy Earth Remembers When, learn more about Dawn or schedule a school visit, go to DawnWynne.com.

 

October’s Top Eco Crafts

Welcome to my monthly installment of eco-friendly arts and craft projects gathered from around the Internet. While some projects require adult supervision, they are a fun, educational and green hobby for your kids to enjoy!

This month’s collection includes ideas for Halloween and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

  1. Cinnamon Stick Candle Holders from Elena Arsenoglou

    Make it greener by substituting soy or beeswax candles.

    craft-cinnamon-stick-candles

  2. Paper Mâché Bowls for Diwali Gifts from Mommy Labs

    craft-paper-mache-bowl

  3. Lentil, Rice or Flower Rangoli from Artsy Craftsy Mom

    (scroll halfway down the page)

    craft-rangoli

  4. Halloween Neighborhood from Natural Mommie

    craft-halloween-house

  5. Egg Carton Bats from Care2

    craft-egg-carton-bats

Unique, Wacky and Gently Green Holidays to Celebrate in October

Some people only think about an eco lifestyle on Earth Day, April 22. However, a little research showed me that every month has a few unique and earth-friendly holidays that can be cause for celebration. Pick whichever ones appeal to you, then get out there and celebrate!

A few unique and earth-friendly holidays to honor in October | Eco-Mothering.com

OCTOBER is Adopt-a-Dog Month. My family did that in August, and our lives have certainly changed. Learn more about rescue centers and reasons to adopt a shelter dog into your family.

October’s Celebrations by Week

  • 1st Sunday – Change a Light Day
    Really. Just change one light bulb to an energy-efficient CFL or LED one and you’re all set.
  • 1st Monday – World Habitat Day
    A day for promoting awareness about our growing population and advocating for everyone around the world to have proper shelter. Learn more.
  • 1st Saturday – Frugal Fun Day
    Like it says, have fun for free or cheap! Go hiking, picnic in the park, dance yourself silly, create a scavenger hunt, sleep until noon, read a book… Remind yourself that you don’t have to use a lot of the earth’s resources to have a good time.
  • 2nd Friday – World Egg Day
    Meant to promote the health benefits of eggs – yum!
  • 2nd Saturday – Universal Music Day
    Also known as the Universal Day of Healing, perhaps because of the healing power of music. Turn on some tunes or make your own. Explore the health benefits of music therapy for children and families.
  • 3rd Wednesday - Take Your Parents to Lunch Day
    What is your kids’ school feeding them? Find out by dropping by on this growing national holiday.
  • 3rd Thursday – Conflict Resolution Day
    Since 2005, this day aims to promote peacefulness and non-violent communication across the globe.
  • 4th Saturday — Make a Difference Day
    Choose a project. Start a project. Volunteer.

October’s Celebrations by Day

  • October 1 – World Vegetarian Day
    You don’t need to become a full vegetarian to have an impact. Going meatless just once or twice a week (Monday is the popular choice), reduces water usage, greenhouse gases and fuel dependence.
  • October 4 – World Animal Day
    Begun in Italy in 1931, a day to honor our furry friends both wild and domesticated. Also a great time to begin choosing products not tested on animals.
  • October 6 – Mad Hatter Day
    Since 1986, people have picked this day to bring out their silly side. Just so you know that going green isn’t all drudgery and seriousness.
  • October 19 – Evaluate Your Life Day
    How’s it going? Here’s a day to take a break from the routine and reflect on all aspects of your life, maybe make a few improvements.
  • October 21 – Reptile Awareness Day
    Learn about turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodiles and the ecological threats facing them. This site has science links for grades K-12.
  • October 25 – International Artists Day
    Cuz what’s life without art? Support local artists today: visit a gallery, see the symphony, attend a poetry reading. Expand your worldview.

 

12 Ways to Treat Bug Bites Naturally

This is a guest post by Aradhana Pandey.

Watching the ugly red swelling of a bug bite is not something you want to witness on your child’s body. Those nasty, itchy bites require immediate relief, and you’d prefer to do it without chemicals. Fortunately, there are natural remedies easily accessible at home that do not have the side effects of market drugs and ointments.

Here are a few natural treatments to aid your family in recovery from seasonal bug bites.

  1. Ice

    An immediate cooling of the inflamed area is a good first step. Ice numbs the area, reducing itchiness and easing the skin into normalcy.

  2. Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oils

    The antimicrobial properties of tea tree and lavender make them natural healers of various skin ailments. Whereas chemical ointments may burn the skin, essential oils — especially lavender — soothe it. Tea tree also fights cuts, burns and infections. Both essential oils can help reduce the swelling of a bite.

  3. Apple Cider Vinegar

    A household staple with a multitude of uses, apple cider vinegar has an acetic nature that counters the venom of bug bites and prevents it from spreading. Dabbing a 50/50 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar to the bite can help reduce pain.

  4. Raw Honey

    The antimicrobial properties of honey work wondrously in relieving the itch of bug bites. A natural antibiotic, honey also helps prevent infection. Use raw (unprocessed) honey to reap more of its benefits.

  5. Tea Bags

    The tannins in tea help relieve inflammation. A steeped tea bag placed on the bite will eliminate the itchiness (or you can use the tea itself, applied with a cloth).

  6. Baking Soda

    Another kitchen remedy, a baking soda paste mixed with water relieves itching. Leave the paste on the bite for 10-20 minutes.

  7. Basil

    This sacred plant in the Indian culture, known by the name of Tulsi, has a history of medicinal value. Basil contains camphor and thymol, which are anti-itching compounds. Rub a few fresh basil leaves on the bug bite or grind it into a paste as advised by Ayurveda medics. You can also use basil essential oil.

  8. Lemon

    Lemon has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties that act against the bacteria and prevent possible infection from bug bites. Rub a lemon directly onto the bite to reduce itching and redness. You can also try mixing lemon with basil for extra power.

  9. Milk and Water

    Bathing the bug bite with a mixture of milk and water soothes the redness and reduces itchiness.

  10. Aloe Vera

    With 130 active compounds beneficial to your skin, aloe vera’s healing benefits are many. Rubbing the leaves directly or in paste form gives tremendous relief from the itchiness and eliminates swelling.

  11. Peppermint Toothpaste

    Mint toothpaste can also provide instant relief from bug bites. The cool menthol effect of the mint blocks the itching and burning of the skin. Peppermint essential oil works well too.

  12. Banana Peel

    Banana peel is perhaps the most unorthodox treatment for bug bites. However, rubbing the peel on the bitten area can provide some immediate relief from itching.

Try any of these natural remedies the next time your little one complains about a bug bite.

About the Author: Aradhana Pandey is a passionate writer on topics of yoga, wellness, health and lifestyle. She is a contributor for Natural News, Elephant Journal, Naturally Savvy, Curejoy and Stylecraze.com, through which she hopes to motivate people to develop healthy habits.

 This post has been shared at Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Blog Hop and Natural Family Friday.

 

How Adopting a Dog Mimics Early Motherhood

Last month my family rescued a two-year-old maltipoo from Arkansas. All we knew of her background is that she was picked up as a stray by a southern shelter. Her friendly, laid-back personality and love of children leads us to believe that she once lived with a family. We named her Dolce, Italian for “sweet,” also in reference to La Dolce Vita to represent “the good life” that we’re giving her and she to us. 

Adopting a Dog | Eco-Mothering.com

I assumed that finding the right dog would be the biggest hurdle. Little did I realize how much adopting a dog would resemble the early weeks of parenthood. We’re completely exhausted and wondering what exactly we got ourselves into.

Sleeplessness

The first several nights I slept fitfully, alert for any sounds from Dolce in her living room crate. Was she whining? Was she scared? Would she think we had abandoned her? This was preceded by a lengthy family discussion about whether we should move her crate to one of our bedrooms or keep her in the living room. We did co-sleep with Sofie for five years, after all. However, the living room won out since we were expanding Dolce’s territory gradually in our home, and the bedrooms were yet to be allowed. We also weren’t sure how long Dolce could hold her bladder, which meant one of us kept waking pre-dawn to take her outside.

Getting on a Schedule

Just like a baby, we’re trying to figure out the dog’s feeding and bathroom schedule. I’ve been recording when Dolce poops every day (is this normal?), looking for a pattern so I can feed her at the times best for us now that the school schedule has begun. Most books say dogs will poop 20-30 minutes after eating, our dog ranges from three to seven hours later. Which makes planning family outings a bit of a hassle.

Separation Anxiety

Like many rescue dogs, Dolce has issues of separation anxiety and abandonment. She doesn’t know that we’re her forever home; to her we might just be one more in a series of transitional places. This expressed itself with Dolce whining and barking whenever we left the house that first week. Upon our return, she’d be overeager to see us, she’d claw at her crate and pee in it — an involuntary action we learned was called excitement urination.

This made me not want to leave the house, which made me feel trapped, which, in turn, made me resent the dog. Rather similar to those newborn days when leaving the house with Baby was such a production that remaining stuck inside the house seemed the lesser evil.

Happily, I’ve struck upon Piano Magic. That’s the name of the Pandora music station that lulls Dolce into a calm state when we’re not home. I discovered online that solo piano sounds tends to soothe dogs, and it’s working for ours. We combine that with returning home in a quiet state and not approaching Dolce’s crate until she’s had five minutes to calm down. Now she sits in her crate wagging her tail until we let her out. No more excited urination. Woohoo! We’re working our way up to longer periods away so that we can return to normal family outings like polo matches and fall festivals.

Soothe Dogs with Piano Music | Eco-Mothering.com

Methods of Dog Parenting

There seem to be as many diverse dog-caring methods and opinions as there are for parenting. And folks can be just as touchy about which way is best.

With Sofie we followed attachment parenting. With dogs, I’m not sure where we lie. Our tendency is toward easy, positive-based training, however, that was not working when it came to training Dolce to walk on a leash. Our frustration at not being able to take our dog for a simple walk around the block led us to training collars that heretofore I might have seen as medieval torture devices. While the prong collar seems to be working with Dolce, I still struggle with that new parent guilt — Am I doing the right thing? What if the other parents judge me? Will my dog one day end up in therapy?

We know many dog owners with various methods and opinions. So whatever we choose to do, we’re going against somebody’s well-meaning advice. Perhaps I was surer of what I wanted with raising a baby (exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapers, unisex clothes and toys), because I had nine months to research and prepare.

I spent my two months pre-Dolce researching what breed would be best for our family and which were quality rescue organizations. By biggest concern was that the dog be housetrained. I hadn’t considered a multitude of other issues: leash training, quality food choices, herbal vs. chemical flea and tick meds, appropriate and safe pet toys, whether to allow the dog on the furniture, whether to feed her from the table, whether she might be triggered by other dogs, people or pigeons… I feel like I’m cramming for an exam in dog care, worried that I might get an answer wrong.

As in parenthood, every day has its share of little frustrations (having to take Dolce outside three times in the evening before she would poop) and small triumphs (yesterday she walked into her crate all of her own accord — she’s obviously starting to feel comfortable there)

My quick frustration reminds me of those early days with Sofie when the simplest tasks seemed insurmountable. However, this time I have the benefit of not being overrun with post partum hormones and knowing that it does get easier. It’s early days. The dog and I are still establishing our bond. For me, it’s a bit slower than bonding with a baby that grew inside me, but I am beginning to consider Dolce the fourth member of our family. I know it will all be worth it.

 This post is shared at Natural Family Friday and Natural Living Monday.