Tag Archives | eco kids

5 Green Ways to Unwind As a Family on School Nights

EcoLunchbox

With tests, sports, homework, and lessons, after school schedules during the school year can get hectic quickly. Eben is a now a junior in high school which means his evenings are full of National Honor Society meetings, volunteer projects, homework, and tutoring. So, I would say that our schedule feels a little overwhelming right now. If you spend the school year wondering what’s your spouse and kids are up to, try these 5 tips for unwinding and reconnecting as a family on school nights.

#1 Family Dinner or Breakfast
Even if everyone in the house has a different schedule, try your best to sit down as a family even for 30 minutes to eat dinner or breakfast – whichever works best for your schedule. There’s no need for elaborate meals if you’re pressed for time—the important thing is that everyone sit down together to share what happened during the day and reconnect. The mister has Fridays off – so we always sit down together for a big breakfast before Eben heads off to school – it makes Friday a little more special.

#2 Walks Around the Neighborhood
After-dinner winter walks are so refreshing and relaxing at the same time. Grab your parka and boots and trek around your neighborhood. Kids can learn about the changing seasons and all of the animals that only come out at dusk, you can even look for animal tracks in the snow—make sure you bring your flashlight and teach kids nighttime outdoors safety like wearing a blinking light or reflectors if you’ll be out near dark. You and your kids will also sneak in a little exercise and will probably sleep better since you’ll be tuning your circadian rhythms by going out in the evening.

#3 Let the Kids Pick 
Eben has always been really into reading manga and watching anime. When he started to get a little older, I quickly realized that if I was going to bond with him as a young adult, I better learn as much as I could about both. It is really one of the best choices that I ever made as a mother, it paid off in a huge way. Eben and I have been watching anime and reading manga together for several years. Even now that he is almost 17, our anime time is something that we do together every single night. We look forward to it, and it gives us a ton of stuff to talk about on a regular basis. Not to mention, I found out that I love anime/manga and without Eben being into it – I might have never figured that out.

#4 Do Homework Together
During times when everyone’s just too busy to relax together you can still connect with your kids by sitting down and offering homework help (if your kids need it!). Just because you aren’t conversing about the day’s events doesn’t mean that you’re not connecting and learning from one another. Kids learn a lot from how their parents offer help and encouragement. Eben doesn’t need my help – however, I still sit quietly next to him catching up on my reading while he works, that way I still get the opportunity to be near him and offer assistance if he needs it.

#5 Offer to Coach
A great way to spend time with your kids in a different setting (and learn a little about them!) after school is by offering to coach their sports team, become a scout leader, or head up an extra-curricular club. The mister takes Eben and his best friend to Yugioh tournaments every single Saturday. You’ll get a chance to dusk off some old skills and will also have an opportunity to see how your kids interact with others and parent them in a new and different context.

What’s your favorite green activity to do to connect as a family on school nights?

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips Sweet Greens

While this time of the year is the most wonderful  – it is also the busiest. You may feel like there are so many things that you need to prepare and buy and deciding where to start can be overwhelming. Instead of getting things done ahead of time, many of us tell ourselves we will get everything done when the holidays get closer. Then, the next thing you know the holidays are upon us and we end of spending too much money, getting completely stressed out, and not making the best choices – not exactly the feelings that you want to experience. It happens to the best of us, right?To get your holiday shopping off on the right foot, I thought I would share my favorite budget and eco-friendly holiday shopping tips. These are all tips that I use every year to make sure that this time of the year is definitely the most wonderful without breaking the bank or losing my head!

1. Make a List – Check it Twice
Every year, I create a simple holiday gift list in my iPhone. It includes the name of everyone on my holiday shopping list, gift ideas for each of them and my spending limit per person. Since my list is on my phone, I can consult and update it at anytime. Then, I mark off each person as I finish their holiday gift shopping. This has saved me a lot of time and money and I never have to ask myself – did a buy a gift for so and so? Or, how many gifts did I buy for Eben or the mister? I just check the list and I am done!

2. Start Early
The earlier that you start your holiday shopping, the better. Just think, if you finish all of your holiday shopping early, you can spend the day after Thanksgiving at home, snuggled up with your family and a yummy warm beverage. I can’t think of anything more stress-free then having all of the holiday shopping done before December even arrives. It really frees up all of December to focus on making fun memories with my family. This is another place that #1 comes in, if you shop early picking up items when you find them on sale – you save a ton of money.

3. Shop Locally
Instead of hitting the closest big box store this holiday season, consider supporting small, independently owned businesses. Many towns have a shopping area that is filled with adorable shops that focus on the work of local artisans and many have eco-friendly options. In my opinion, a handmade gift is the best gift! You could also give a gift from your local farm, such as; fresh vegetables, fruits or dairy items. Another option is to check out Etsy for fantastic handmade goods, you can click here to shop Etsy shops located in your local area.

4. It’s All About Quality
Each year, I like to focus on purchasing the mister and Eben quality gifts that they will enjoy for years and years to come. I focus on items that I think they will really enjoy and steer clear of items that are disposable, or would only be enjoyed temporarily. My favorite items to purchase for them include; books, experiences (see below), heirloom quality items that they will keep forever and gifts that focus on their favorite hobbies.

5. Give the Gift of Experience
I am a huge fan of giving the gift of experience, some that I have given in the past include annual passes to local nature and science museums, state parks, botanical gardens, art centers and even scuba lessons. I think gifts that allow the recipient to learn something new or go to place they have always wanted to see builds memories and brings much more happiness long-term than any material gift could ever could. Plus, it’s just another excuse to spend more quality time with my family – and that is the best gift of all.

What are your favorite holiday shopping tips? Please share them in the comments section – I would love to hear! 

3 Smart Ideas For Creating An Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume

It’s no secret that many people who celebrate Halloween do so by getting together with friends and getting into the spirit of the spooky season. For many of those who celebrate, creating a unique costume that showcases your individuality is the biggest appeal of the holiday altogether. But instead of heading to the nearest chain store to spend money on an overpriced costume made of cheap and wasteful materials, consider taking some extra measures to ensure sustainability while maintaining creativity makes all the difference in your costume’s environmental impact. Here are just a few ways to keep Mother Nature in mind while preparing your Halloween costume.

Skip The Synthetics
One eco-friendly rule of thumb when shopping for Halloween costumes at big box stores is to look at the labels and do your best to avoid synthetic and toxic materials.

“Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun-scary, not scary-scary. Yet, store-bought costumes are often made up of nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers,” writes Laura Bailey on Wilderness.org. “Those Halloween costumes can include one of the scariest plastics — polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a soft plastic and known carcinogen that releases harmful toxins in its creation and breakdown.”

Instead, look for costumes with natural materials and fabrics if you’re shopping at a big box store. Better yet, you should consider looking into small businesses that may specialize in eco-friendly products. There are currently around 27.9 million small businesses in the United States, and many shoppers may be surprised at the number of eco-friendly products both small and large businesses are now incorporating into their inventory. Don’t hesitate to take up your inquiry with a store employee, as well.

Consider A DIY Project
If you consider yourself to be the crafty type, you can easily purchase some organic or otherwise eco-friendly materials and create your own costume. Sales of organic non-food products in the U.S. were up 8.8% in 2016, meaning there are more options than ever as far as styles, colors, and materials. If you have the resources, you can make a DIY version of any costume you find in a big box store, and you may even spend less doing it!

Incorporate Recyclable Elements
Finally, whether you buy your costume from a store or make it yourself, try to incorporate some reusable or recyclable materials. About 60% of the U.S. population, or about 148 million people, have access to a plastics recycling program. Similarly, if you have any young kids who may be participating in trick or treating festivities, be conscious about the bag or container they’re using to stash their sweet treats.

“Avoid the ubiquitous bright orange plastic jack-o-lanterns that have no chance at ever breaking down in a landfill. Instead use reusable shopping bags, canvas totes or the ole pillowcase trick. A funky thriftshop handbag can add a fun twist to a green Halloween costume as well,” writes Bailey.

Ultimately, it doesn’t take much to make a few small changes toward sustainability. By keeping an eye out for reusable and organic materials, you and your family can enjoy all the traditional festivities of Halloween while doing your part to preserve the Earth’s resources.

5 Spooky Fruit and Vegetable Halloween Treats for Healthy Kids

Halloween is my favorite holiday – mostly because it is an anything goes, don’t hold back, get as creative as you want holiday! I have been adding a little spookiness into Eben’s snacks by getting creative with fruits and vegetables. He seems to enjoy these “sweet” treats just as much as a sugary alternative – maybe even more. Read on for 5 spooky fruit and vegetable Halloween treats that I have used as inspiration for celebrating the holiday with my healthy kid.

#1: Jack o’Lantern Fruit Plate
This may be one of the easiest treats in the bunch – simply peel, cut and arrange a selection of organic strawberries, clementines, blueberries and grapes and you have a Halloween treat that is sure to please everyone!

+ Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate
+ via Wholesome Dinner Tonight

#2: Veggie Skeleton
Looking for a fun way to get your child to eat more vegetables this autumn? Look no further than this adorable veggie skeleton. This, along with the Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate would be perfect for your child’s class Halloween Party or your family’s spooky get together!

+ Veggie Skeleton
+ via Feeding Four Little Monkeys

#3: Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
Yum! These goodies are definitely calling my name – I bet the bananas would be even better if they were slightly frozen! These would be great for a kids party – just grab and go.

+ Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
+ via Kid Party Food Ideas

#4: Apple Teeth Treats
While these little yummies might take a little more time to prepare – I bet they are worth all of the compliments you would get at your Halloween party.

+ Apple Teeth Treats
+ via All Recipes

#5: Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
I want to whip up a batch of these yummy sweet potato fries to go with Halloween dinner. Not only does my family love them – but the spook factor will win them over for sure.

+ Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
+ Babble

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family Jennie Lyon

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as family and spend more time reconnecting with each other. Since the days get shorter and it gets dark outside so much earlier, we really focus that time on family time. This is the time of year that our bowl on the dinner table gets filled with card games and brain teasers, and our nightly dinners get dragged out by long conversations and hot steamy beverages for dessert!

It is also the perfect opportunity to go green together as a family. To get you in the autumn mood, while getting your excited about sustainability, check out my 7 favorite eco-friendly ways to welcome fall.

1. Make it Family Dinner Night
One of my favorite fall family traditions is to have make-your-own organic pizza night a few times a month. There is something fun about kneading the dough, cutting up vegetables and pulling hot vegetarian pizza’s from the oven. We like to make ours look like sweet, smiling faces and it always ends in a night of laughter and fun!

2. Green Your Overall Health
Fall is the perfect time to amp up your healthy lifestyle before winter hits – because with winter comes sniffles, colds and the flu. You can start by boosting your immunity, packing healthy, organic school lunches, adding some super-foods to your marketing list and by doing a whole-body cleanse. You want to stay healthy through all of the fun fall and winter holidays, right?

3. With Fall comes Leaves, Lots of Them
When it comes to the leaves that fall in your yard, the way that you dispose of them can have a huge impact on the environment. The best options would be to mulch them and use them as ground cover for your garden. The worse option would be to blow them around with a noisy, emission polluting leaf blower. If you want to have fun with leaves, consider making leaf prints for your family room or you can always jump in piles of them.

4. Enjoy Your Natural Environment
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a lovely fall day with my family is by taking a bike ride. In fact, I think we should take our bicycles on our fall family trip to this year. Another fun thing to do this time of year is to visit your local botanical garden – you could try one of these surprising ways to make it a day of full of fall fun.

5. Prepare for Winter
Before you know it, winter will be here – and fall is the perfect time to prepare. When we lived in Colorado, I liked to stock up on non-perishable organic goods so we didn’t have to go marketing as often. It is also a great time to weather-proof your doors, windows and prepare your garden for the cold, winter ahead. I also like to think of fun ways to cozy up our home – this usually means bringing out stacks of books, blankets and pillows and sipping hot organic tea and cocoa.

6. Green Your Halloween
Whether you are making plans to make your own Halloween costumes, decorations or you want to turn your home into the ultimate eco-friendly haunted house– now is the time to get started. We like to scour our local thrift stores and tag sales for fantastic Halloween decor well before the holiday. It always gets us in the mood for Halloween and when the holiday actual gets here, we are completely ready!

7. Go Local 
In Florida, our farmer’s market season starts at the beginning of October – which is the perfect time to stock up on those yummy fall vegetables. I love when the mister whips up a batch of one of his fantastic soups during the fall months using local vegetables from the farmer’s market. And pumpkins from the farmer’s market, oh my, they are my favorite. If you live in a cooler climate that doesn’t offer a farmer’s market during fall, consider joining your local food co-op.

How do you welcome fall with your family?