Checklist for Finding an Eco-Conscious Childcare Provider

Green Child Care Center Checklist |

Parents who return to work after a baby is born usually rely on childcare outside the home. While cost, location and availability are big factors in making such a decision, natural parents might want to consider eco-friendly factors as well. This was not something I had considered at all when, at four months old, Sofie went off to daycare. My daughter’s first childcare provider was an in-home day care, which was nice in that it was small (3-4 kids) and Sofie received lots of loving, individual attention. The provider was agreeable to changing cloth diapers, feeding Sofie with my warmed-up breast milk, and occasionally wearing her in a carrier. Her home was cozy with plenty of time spent outside. On the down side, the TV was often on, and no preference was given to green furnishings or materials. At age two, we moved Sofie to an early childhood education center. … Continue reading

Helping Kids Reduce Stress

Ways to Help Kids Manage Stress |

Already, at nine years old, my daughter has mentioned that she keeps her stress in her neck and shoulders. Stress? At nine? What’s happening? Nothing major, as it turns out. But I haven’t attributed much weight to Sofie’s everyday quarrels with friends, homework anxiety, or even how she reacts to issues within our family. Apparently, as much as we try to feather their nests, our kids still deal with stress at an earlier age than we may have thought. While we can’t relieve them of their anxieties, we can help them cope. Here are some tools your child can learn now and use for the rest of her life. Cultivate a Positive Outlook The more you focus on your child’s best parts and behaviors, the more he will learn to see the glass as half full and seek solution to his problems. The latest research shows that we can mold … Continue reading

DIY Upcycling Projects: 5 of 12 – Valentine Gifts

Upcycled Valentine Gifts |

One of the cool things about the green movement is that it has inspired people’s creativity for  repurposing items. The term “upcycling,” which was first used in 1994, is now a widely understood concept that refers to the process of transforming waste or unwanted products into something new, usually of a higher quality. This post highlights 5 DIY Upcycling projects you can create for unique Valentine’s Day gifts. Be amazed and inspired!   FOR YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER: “52 Reasons” Card Book from Austin, Texas     FOR YOUR KIDS: “I Love You Around the World and Back” Globe from Driven by Decor   FOR YOUR DAD: Scrabble Tile Cufflinks from Mom It Forward   FOR YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER: Apple Clay Jar from Crafty Moods   FOR YOUR CHILD’S CLASSMATES:  Hand Warmers from About a Mom  

What Are Wetlands? (And Why We Should Value Them)

What Are Wetlands? (And Why We Should Value Them) |

Wetlands are areas where water mixes with or saturates the land at least part of the year. Areas like bogs, swamps, vernal pools and salt mashes are considered wetlands. While they may not be as scenic as other landscapes, wetlands are vital ecosystems that provide habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife. Below, you’ll learn why we should value wetlands, plus fun ways families (or classes) can learn more. What Do Wetlands Do? They filter pollutants from the water, trapping heavy metals, phosphorous and other toxins in their sediment. They act as a frontline storm defense against strong winds and tidal waves, reducing a storm’s impact and preventing erosion. They collect and store flood water. Acting as sponges, wetland vegetation absorbs heavy rain and snow melt to keep rivers at normal levels and prevent flash flooding. On the other end, wetlands can also recharge groundwater supplies and control flow … Continue reading

Tips for Greening Your Home in Winter

Ideas for Greening Your Home in Winter |

When people talk about going green in winter, what usually comes to mind is weatherizing your home: sealing cracks, and insulating attics, pipes and heaters. But there also are other household tips to help make your winter more eco-friendly. Circulate those ceiling fans. It sounds odd, but if you change the direction of your ceiling fan so that it runs clockwise, it creates an updraft that allows the fan to circulate the warm air that gathers at the ceiling down to the space you inhabit. This simple act can save up to 10 percent on heating costs. Make your ice removal non-toxic. Chemical deicers come with caution warnings on them for a reason — they’re harmful to humans, pets and the environment. The impurities and added chemicals in road salt have been linked to aquatic dead zones, poisoned pets and plants, and increased risk of cancer in humans. Forget trying … Continue reading

DIY Upcycling Projects: 4 of 12 – Household Organizers

DIY Upcycled Household Organization |

One of the cool things about the green movement is that it has inspired people’s creativity for  repurposing items. The term “upcycling,” which was first used in 1994, is now a widely understood concept that refers to the process of transforming waste or unwanted products into something new, usually of a higher quality. This post highlights 10 DIY Upcycling projects to help organize your home this month. Be amazed and inspired! PVC Pipe Shoe Organizer from Home Stories A to Z   Knife Block Crayon Holder from Thrift Diving   Old Window Jewelry Holder from Oak Ridge Revival   Tic Tac Box Travel Spice Containers from Seattle Sundries   Tin Can Office Supply Caddy from Shabby Chic Inspired   Oatmeal Box Ribbon Holder from Curbly   Old Chair Scarf Rack from The DIY Adventures   Baby Gate Clothes Drying Rack from Northwest Edible Life   Soda Box Can Dispenser from Then … Continue reading

10 Green Resolutions for the New Year

Ideas for Eco-Friendly New Year's Resolutions |

Whether you’re just starting out on the journey to a greener life or if you’re already pretty crunchy, there’s probably something on here that you haven’t yet incorporated into your lifestyle. Get your year off to a green start with one of these eco-friendly resolutions. Recycle your Christmas tree and old holiday lights. Many cities offer curbside recycling the few weeks after Christmas, so that’s easy peasy. Check out these other ways to recycle a Christmas tree. You can also recycle your broken or outdated Christmas lights (and sometimes receive coupons for new LED lights) through several organizations. Stay up to date on environmental issues. Subscribe to or check out these news sites.  Environmental News Network  The Daily Climate (for climate change news)  The Guardian  Mother Nature Network Compost your food scraps. The average American tosses about 20 pounds of food per month (source). Composting your organic waste instead is a great … Continue reading

Why Trees Are Awesome (and Why You Should Plant One)

Benefits of Trees |

Most everyone is familiar with Joyce Kilmer’s poetic line: “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.” What makes trees so lovely? They tower over our landscape with their leafy, needled and willowy beauty; mark the cycle of the seasons from stark nakedness to riotous colors; and serve as symbols of strength and flexibility. We know trees are good for the earth, but do we really know why? Here are some reasons behind the awesomeness of trees. Let me know if this doesn’t make you want to hug one or plant one — which you can do at the end of this post! Trees Conserve Energy and Water. Placed strategically, trees provide shade to homes and office buildings, either reducing the need for air conditioners or cutting AC costs by 15-35%. Trees planted in cities help combat the “heat islands” of unending asphalt and concrete. … Continue reading