7 Eco-Friendly, DIY Baby Shower Gifts

This is a guest post by Ali Lawrence.

As enjoyable as it is to select the right color or style gift for a baby and mom-to-be, it’s equally important to present a gift that is safe for mother, baby and Mother Earth. Baby showers are a great opportunity to get creative and stretch your crafting muscles.

Need inspiration? Try your hand at one of the seven eco-friendly options on this list.

  1. Knit Blankets

    Baby knitwear is a no-brainer for DIY shower gifts. Mothers will certainly appreciate having an extra blanket to tuck around Junior at home, in the car or at Grandma’s.When looking for earth-friendly yarn options, organic is a good place to start. Organic yarns are durable and chemical-free, plus they actually become softer over time. There are other renewable materials available like soysilk (from soy proteins), seasilk (from seaweed), bamboo and hemp.

  2. Burp Cloths

    Baby spit-up is a regular part of new motherhood. So why not make sure that your friend has a stash of reusable, soft, organic burp cloths to choose from?

    Consider getting the new mommy eco-friendly flour sack towels, which are easily customizable, durable and versatile. You can decorate them and use them in place of diapers in this gift-friendly towel cake.

  3. Custom Onesies

    Frilly dresses, tiny vests and other outifts may be adorable, but not very practical since babies outgrow clothes so fast! While every shower attendee is tempted by the siren call of cute outfits, opt to go a different route.

    Onesies are affordable and versatile. Buy a few organic onesies in different sizes (newborn, 3, 6 and 9 months), and personalize them with hand-drawn creations. You can customize the onesie with the baby’s name, an inside joke or a favorite quote or character.

  4. Baby Sling

    This relatively easy-to-make pouch baby sling makes the perfect DIY gift for a new mom, especially since babywearing offers many benefits to both mother and child. Use bamboo fabric to add an eco-friendly, soft touch to the sling.

    This particular curved-seam pouch baby sling design was invented by Hygenia Halfmoon. Unless you are similar in size to the new mom, you will need to know her measurements. Make sure you include directions with your gift on how to wear the sling properly.

  5. Baby Detergent

    Babies generate a lot of dirty clothes. While most guests buy off the registry, few think of gifting the mom with true essentials like laundry detergent. Make the gift personal (and safer) by making your own.

    There are a number of DIY natural laundry detergent recipes out there, designed to save money as well as ensure a gentler, chemical-free wash that won’t irritate Baby’s skin. Many recipes result in a large quantity, so you may even get to keep some for your own use.

  6. Baby Wipes

    Whether your friend plans to cloth diaper or use disposables, she’ll need baby wipes. Get her set up by making her a container of homemade wipes and solution. Try this tutorial on making cloth wipes.

    Homemade wipe solution is easy to make. All you need is about two cups of distilled water, a teaspoon of aloe vera, a teaspoon of witch hazel and two teaspoons of liquid castile soap. For a sweeter smelling wipe, try adding lavender or tea tree essential oils, which are great for skin irritation and rashes. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray onto the wipes. Don’t forget to give your friend the recipe!

    MYO Baby Wipe Solution | Eco-Mothering.com

  7. Baby Bean Bag Chair

    Baby bean bag chairs can sell for $50 or more, but you can easily make your own customized bag for less. Dust off your sewing skills with this easy-to-follow pattern.

    Make it green with organic cotton or by upcycling old clothing or scrap material. If you’re repurposing an old item, be sure to wash it with non-toxic detergent first. Instead of the traditional and chemical-ridden polystyrene beads that fill bean bags, use an eco-friendly chair filler such as recycled plastic or uncooked rice. Due to the small filler pieces, always be sure your baby is not left unattended in any kind of bean bag chair.

Of course, these are just a few ideas and options. What are some of your favorite eco-friendly, DIY gifts?

About the Author: Ali Lawrence is an eco-friendly mom who blogs with her husband over at Homey Improvements. In her free time, Ali enjoys cooking healthy meals in her apple-red kitchen, gardening and binge reading fantasy books. You can find her on Twitter @DIYfolks.

This post is shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Guilt-Free Green Tip #58: Switch to Paperless Billing

Welcome to a regular blog feature called Guilt-Free Green Tips. These will be easy action steps you can take to be a little greener, and each mini post will feature one tip. Choose the ones that appeal to you, and learn what eco benefits a single, simple step can make.

Even though I consider myself a bit of a Luddite (I will always prefer reading tangible books to e-books), one of the great things about technology is the ability to eliminate paper waste. Nowadays, banks, credit cards and utilities all offer electronic payment options; signing up usually takes just a few minutes of your time. Save yourself the hassle of misplacing bills, writing checks or buying stamps.

With this simple step, you’ll also save a few other things:

  • Paper Waste. The average American family discards 2,460 pounds of paper the every year.
  • Trees. If just 20% of Americans switched to online bill payment, two million trees would be saved annually.
  • Energy. You lighten the load of the U.S. pulp and paper industry, which is the second largest consumer of energy. Again, if just 20% of Americans switched to online bill payment, we could eliminate 720,000 tons of greenhouse gases and avoid using 135 million gallons of gasoline each year.
  • Clutter, Time, Money and Safety. By eliminating piles of paper clutter, you can regain six weeks of your time usually spent looking for important papers, reduce money spent on late fees and reduce identity theft by 85%.
Sources:
http://www.att.com/media/att/2012/support/pdf/Go_Paperless_4_2012.pdf
http://www.napo-gpc.org/about_media.php

 

Uses and Benefits of Yarrow

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We added a few new plants to our Zen garden this year; one of them my daughter picked out was the yarrow plant or Achillea millefolium. She liked its feathery green leaves, and it has since grown rather quickly (probably because yarrow is often found growing wild in North America) and bloomed pretty pink-orange flowers that she can see from her bedroom window.

It wasn’t until I looked the plant up online that I discovered what a highly beneficial plant Sofie chose.

Uses for Yarrow | Eco-Mothering.com

Staunching Wounds

Sometimes known as “nosebleed,” the yarrow plant has a long history in wound treatment. Sources vary on whether the Greeks, the Romans or the Neanderthals used it first; however, yarrow was often employed by soldiers in battle to staunch bleeding. I was intrigued by this. A few weeks ago, when I cut myself with a paring knife (a small cut), it stopped bleeding almost instantly once I held a yarrow leaf to the wound.

Sofie tested this theory during one of her frequent nosebleeds. Holding a tissue to her nose, she dashed outside and disappeared into the Zen garden. My daughter returned a minute later with no more bleeding. She had torn off a few yarrow leaves, put them inside her tissue and held it up to her nose. Done.

I have since read that yarrow can act as both a blood stopper as well as a starter. If you roll the leaf and put it inside the nostril, it may cause bleeding whereas pressing it against the nose stopped the flow.

In tea or tincture form, yarrow can be used for internal bleeding (ulcers, heavy menstruation) or used as a compress for bleeding hemorrhoids.

Relieving Pain

Chewing on yarrow leaves can relieve toothaches; Native Americans often did this. Drinking a yarrow infusion can aid urinary tract infections. Added to a sitz bath, yarrow can relieve hemorrhoids and menstrual cramps. *Note: Because yarrow affects the menstrual cycle, women who are pregnant should not take it in case it leads to miscarriage.

Breaking Fevers

Because yarrow is good at making you sweat, it is often used in colds and fevers. You might have your child drink a hot yarrow tea or add one to his bath to break a fever. Yarrow capsules can also be used with fevers or to shorten the duration of a cold. The herb improves blood circulation and relaxes the pores, which enables sweating and combats the infection.

Food and Drink

Young yarrow leaves can be eaten raw in a salad, cooked in soups and stews or fried. The flowers and leaves can be made into a tea. (Milfoil tea is often used in the Scottish Highlands for alleviating melancholy.) The leaves are sometimes used instead of hops to brew beer, which is thought to be more intoxicating.

So, unintentionally we are growing our first medicinal plant, and I’m excited about exploring some of its healing properties.

Don’t have yarrow in you yard? No worries. Yarrow is also available as a dried herb, capsule, tincture or liquid extract. (Shop Vitacost here and receive $10 off if you’re a first-time user.) As this powerful herb does interact with certain medicines, you should always consult your health care provider before using it.

 This post is shared at Natural Living Monday and Simply Natural Saturday.

 

August’s Top 5 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 a few back-to-school ideas.

 

  1. T-Shirt Tote from Planet Forward

    Eco Craft T-Shirt Tote

  2. Jute-Wrapped Pencil Holders from Untrendy Life

    Eco Craft - Jute Wrapped Pencil Holder

  3. Rock Dominoes from Childcareland Blog

    Eco Craft - Rock Dominoes

  4. Juice Carton Desk Organizer from Inhabitos

    Eco Craft - Juice Carton Caddy

  5. Mini Cardboard Guitar from Mini Eco

    Eco Craft - Cardboard Guitar

This post has been shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Infographic: Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

I made this graphic in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, 2014. Take part in one of the events worldwide including the Global Latch On being held August 2 at 10:30 a.m. local time.

Promote and support breastfeeding — share this image!

 

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding | Eco-Mothering.com

 

This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Blog HopNatural Family Friday and Natural Living Monday.

 

Guilt-Free Green Tip #74: Bring Your Own Containers to Restaurants

Welcome to a regular blog feature called Guilt-Free Green Tips. These will be easy action steps you can take to be a little greener, and each mini post will feature one tip. Choose the ones that appeal to you, and learn what eco benefits a single, simple step can make.

This particular tip is one I used to follow and have since fallen away from, so I’m hoping that featuring this advice will inspire me to bring it back. It’s easy enough. I just toss several reusable food containers into a reusable bag and keep them in the car. The tricky part for me is usually remembering to bring them from the car into the restaurant!

I have had the pleasure of seeing startled expressions on the faces of waiters and waitresses when they ask if we want our leftovers wrapped, and I say, “Oh, I’ve got my own containers right here.” It’s kind of funny. And I haven’t come across anyone yet who has said it isn’t allowed.

How Does This Help?

  • You avoid using harmful plastics (#3,6 and most #7s) that many restaurants still use in food containers. Which means you’ve just saved your family from ingesting the hormone disruptors and neurotoxins that can leach from these harmful plastics into your food. (Make sure the food storage containers you use at home are glass, stainless steel or plastics #1,2 or 5.)
  • You keep Styrofoam containers out of the landfills where it takes up about 30% of available space. And you keep your food away from a known carcinogen (styrene).
  • Through quiet action, you send an eco message to restaurants about the quality of their packaging and about reusability. Who knows? The lady at the table next to you may overhear your exchange and be inspired to bring her own containers the next time she goes out to eat!
Sources:
http://www.earthresource.org/campaigns/capp/capp-styrofoam.html
http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/know-your-plastics/

 

 

5 Tips for Creating an Eco-Friendly Garden

This is a guest post by Rachel Jensen.

We live in a time where being eco-friendly and reducing our footprint is of the utmost importance. Many people focus on green technologies in the home, which typically involves a variety of factors. In the garden, the main factor you need to consider is space.

Here are five great and easy ideas for turning your yard into an eco-friendly garden.

Eco-friendly Garden Tips | Eco-Mothering.com

Create Your Own Compost Heap

A compost heap is a great way to control the waste your household produces. To create a compost heap, simply choose an area of your yard in which to confine any food waste and other organic materials that decompose (dried leaves, yard clippings, etc.). Keep the pile moist by adding water every now and then, and make sure it is aerated by turning it over with a pitchfork.

If you’re a keen gardener, a compost pile becomes a bonus, as it will eventually decompose to become excellent, nutrient-rich soil for planting. A good compost pile can also help to control plant diseases and to distract insects that may want to eat your favorite roses.

Save Water with a Rain Barrel

It’s ridiculous how much water gets wasted on a regular basis. Through the simple use of a rain barrel, you can save and reuse water that would normally be wasted.

Rain barrels can be purchased for an affordable a price, or you can make your own. A rain barrel normally holds 50 to 80 gallons of water. Most have a built in spigot that you can use to fill a watering can or connect a hose. A rain barrel is an easy way to obtain free water for your garden.

rain-barrel

Plant a Tree

This is a simple tip, but also one of the best things you can do in your garden.

The benefits of planting a tree are many. Since trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, you’ll be combating greenhouse gases. Trees are also beneficial to wildlife. Insects will congregate and live off the tree. Birds will be attracted to the food. A tree can be a great source of shelter for creatures and a welcome source of shade for you while tending to the garden.

Grow Your Own Food 

Growing your own food isn’t as daunting a process as you may expect. Peas, green beans and lettuce are just a few vegetables that anybody can easily grow. There are plenty of fun ways to garden with kids, too. Make sure you research each plant’s growing requirements, whether it be full sun or a trellis, as well as how much water they need to flourish.

You’ll find that gardening is great outdoor exercise and that homegrown veggies taste so much better.

Once you’ve produced your first vegetables, you may try your hand at canning or otherwise preserving them. Homemade food makes for great birthday or holiday gifts.

Keep Honeybees

Honeybees have been dying over the past few years, and nobody is quite sure why, but it presents a big problem. One-third of all vegetables and fruits that are produced are actually pollinated by bees; this is also how flowers prosper.

It’s common misconception that you need a large expanse of land to keep bees. Sure, the larger the space, the easier it can be, but even in London people are using terraces to raise their very own bees. Not only are you contributing to the existence of bees, but, you can harvest your own honey. Like your own vegetables, beeswax and honeycomb make great presents for special occasions.

If you’re afraid of bee stings and don’t want to invest in special clothing, there are stingless bees that you can keep. They produce a different kind of honey, but still act as pollinators without the aggressive stinging.

bee-shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock.

What other eco-friendly garden ideas would you suggest? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author: This blog was written by Rachel Jensen of  the Green Deal Shop, the one-stop shop for all of your Green Deal needs.  

This post is shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Guilt-Free Green Tip #103: Reduce Your Junk Mail

Welcome to my blog feature called Guilt-Free Green Tips. These are easy action steps you can take to be a little greener, and each mini post will feature one tip. Choose the ones that appeal to you, and learn what eco benefits a single, simple step can make.

How to Eliminate Junk Mail

Your mailbox is bombarded with catalogues, credit card offers, store promotions and direct mail advertising. Aside from being annoying, that’s a lot of wasted paper. You can choose to reduce or eliminate the amount of junk mail you receive.

How to stop junk mail | Eco-mothering.com

By Dvortygirl CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a list of places that will do it for you (most are free). It takes just a few minutes online to sign up for a service, although it may take 60-90 days to be fully junk mail-free.

How Does This Help?

  • You save money. (Americans spend about $370 million each year to dispose of junk mail that isn’t recycled.)
  • You save trees since about 100 million are cut down every year to make junk mail.
  • You help keep landfills free of junk mail (about 44% ends up there unopened).
  • You get back 8 months of your life (or about 70 hours a year) that’s typically spent dealing with junk mail.
Source: http://www.infohow.org/statistics/junk-mail-stats/