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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?

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS
4. Smile Squared
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Smile Squared! Smile Squared is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ Smile Squared

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hello Friends!

Can you believe the holidays are officially here? I am super excited! We kicked off the holiday season last night making pies as a family and watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. So fun. Today, Eben and I spent the morning getting our home ready and putting together the tablescape. We think it turned out pretty great! We are calling it a success.  The mister does all of the cooking and we are drooling over all of the amazing smells and sights coming from the kitchen. Yay!

I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving Day full of family, friends and amazing food! I hope you get to spend the weekend doing whatever makes you smile (relaxing, sleeping in, reading a great book, shopping or like us, heading to the beach!)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Greens

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! 

Healthy Habits for Green Kids Start at Home

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As parents, the most important lessons we can impress upon our kids are the sorts of healthy habits that will stick with them throughout life, especially once they’re off on their own for the first time. Healthy lifelong habits can include eating well and exercising, but also extend to things like keeping their living space clean and following good hygiene practices. Today I want to talk about the latter, as no parent wants to see their kid end up as a stereotypically smelly, unkempt teenager!

Of course, kids have to be given freedom to explore their identities and express themselves creatively with their clothing and hair choices. I think it’s only natural for kids developing their sense of self to explore those avenues. But good hygiene is simpler than that, and important for everyone. Teaching kids to maintain healthy habits and take good care of their bodies starts at home, and is something the mister and I have tried to approach in a positive way.

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Personal hygiene is also an area fraught with marketing campaigns (some of which rely on shaming tactics or other nasty approaches to selling their products) surrounding the products we supposedly need to use in order to keep clean. Many of these are full of synthetic scents, untested ingredients, or are otherwise not very eco-friendly, being tested on animals or produced in unsustainable ways. So even our choices of hygiene products can be a big influence on our kids, and what they choose to use in the future. One of my favorite brands of natural personal hygiene products is Tom’s of Maine, who never use artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, or animal testing.

You’ve probably seen Tom’s at your local drug store or grocery, and they’ve been around since the ‘70s. I would bet that they’re the most recognizable brand of natural body products around today, not just relegated to health stores or other specialty retailers. I think Tom’s of Maine is great because they aim to operate sustainably and care for both the environment and the communities we live in.

I would say that three of the most important hygiene habits to build with your kids are the following:

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Brushing Teeth: Keeping teeth and gums in good shape is important to overall health and maintaining good breath. It can also be a task which kids (especially young ones) are more likely to shirk or do a half-hearted job of. Being a good role model by brushing and flossing with your children can go a long way to building good dental hygiene habits. Tom’s makes a wide range of oral care products including all-natural toothpaste that my family loves using.

Washing Up: Whether we’re talking regular hand washing to prevent the spread of germs, washing your face each day to help with teenage skin concerns, or getting active kids into the shower to rinse off sweat and dirt after they’ve been out playing, washing up is a huge part of personal hygiene.

Using Deodorant: This one can be a little more controversial, as depending on how you were raised, you might not think of deodorizing products as a necessity. However, in modern society they’re a pretty prevalent part of personal hygiene, and even if you choose not to use antiperspirants due to health concerns, a simple, natural deodorant is a good choice. Tom’s is probably best known for their extensive line of natural deodorants, for men, women, and children. If you’re looking for a healthy, natural deodorant, I don’t think these ones can be beat. My whole family uses them, and we’ve been really impressed by the quality and effectiveness.

I’d love to hear your tricks for helping your kids develop healthy hygiene habits, or your experiences trying natural body products. Have you successfully swapped your conventional hygiene products for eco-friendlier options? How do you teach your kids about the importance of taking good care of their bodies? Have you tried any Tom’s of Maine products that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

 

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield.  All opinions are always my own.

Reduce your Home Heating with a Hybrid Heating System

Reduce your Home Heating with a Hybrid Heating System

The eco-minded are always on the hunt for ways to reduce consumption. Hybrid heating systems are a really interesting way to lower consumption and your home heating bill at the same time. It’s an interesting concept, particularly the way that the automation does the eco watching for you.

Most of us choose either an electric heat pump or a gas boiler to heat our homes. However, the new hybrid systems are an intriguing fresh option. A Hybrid heat system reacts to changing temperatures and automatically adjusts to the most efficient energy saving method available to heat (or cool) a home. It combines a furnace with a heat pump, rather than an air conditioner and it’s very much a fuel-saving alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems.

Electric and gas each have some benefits, but there are drawbacks that make it difficult to ensure you have a truly energy-efficient heating system in your home. At lower temperatures, gas boilers are more efficient than electric heat pumps. However, when you only need a small boost in heat, the electric heat pump uses less energy than firing up the entire boiler for just a short period of time. The new hybrid solution gives you the best of both the gas and the electric worlds.

An example of a hybrid solution is the Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump. It has new technology that automatically selects the most energy efficient method for heating your home. It automatically evaluates the outdoor temperature and your heating demands and switches between either the electric heat pump or your gas boiler.

Unlike the human brain, which is easily distracted and forgetful, these new solutions do the thinking for you, and these hybrids provide options for you that you wouldn’t have in a normal system. They make the shift between electric and gas to optimize for the most eco – and economical – settings for your home.

When the temperature is mild, the heat pump is more than sufficient to heat your home without the need to fire up the boiler. Once the outside temperature drops to a chillier season, the boiler begins to provide additional heating. When the outside temperature gets very low, the boiler operates alone. The system always conserves energy by providing the most efficient heat for the current conditions.

It’s gratifying to see that in some parts of the world, governments are recognizing and rewarding the environmental benefits of innovations like these new hybrid heating systems. In the UK, there’s a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) that pays residents who switch to hybrid systems 7.3p/kWh for each unit of renewable heat that they produce. (But UK residents, take note: you’re only eligible if you have your Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump or another similar hybrid system installed by an MCS accredited installer such as Calor.)

I hope that we’ll continue to hear about new environmentally-conscious technology like these hybrid heating systems from lpg suppliers. It reminds me of cars that use both a conventional internal combustion engine and also a high voltage electric motor.

Have you got a hybrid system in your home? How do you like the system? I’d love to hear about it!

6 Eco-Friendly Lunchbox Essentials for Green Kids

Now that the kids are back at school – you are probably testing out the new lunchbox. If you are like me, it can be hard to find the perfect lunchbox essentials. We have had a hard time with the lunch bag being too small, containers leaking, water bottles that won’t fit inside the lunchbox and even worse, the lost lunchbox. Over the years, we have fine tuned Eben’s lunchbox and have found 6 essentials that we highly recommend – all of them are eco-friendly too, read on to check them out!

1. Large Reusable Insulated Lunch Bag $35
Over the years we have tried out quite a few eco-friendly lunchboxes, the key is a lunchbox that is insulated and large enough to hold everything including a water bottle. For Eben it also helps if it has a handle to carry it by – since adding another bag to his shoulder isn’t an optimal option. I love this one printed with EAT on the front. Such a fun statement at lunchtime!

2. Hen House Lunchbox Napkins (6) $25
Reusable fabric napkins are a must for the lunchbox – these fabulously designed ones from Hen House Linens add a pop of color and whimsy to the lunchbox. We loves our and have found them to be super durable too.

3. Contigo Reusable Water Bottle $25
I adore Contigo products – I am a huge fan of the reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. These are large enough to hold a sizable lunchbox drink for Eben, keep his drink cold and they don’t leak! They also have a fantastic kids line with insulted food jars perfect for soup or chili on a cool fall day.

4. Island Picnic Reusable Organic Cotton Snack Packs $17
Pretzels and Popcorn and Nuts – oh my! These organic snack packs are the perfect size for packing those back to school treats! I pack Eben a couple of snacks every day and these are perfect for keeping the snacks together!

5. Wean Green Reusable Glass Lunch Cubes $6-12
These are by far my favorite reusable lunch containers, we use them every-single-day. They come in an assortment of sizes that fit perfectly inside a lunchbox, are made from non-leaching glass and the lock seal means no leaks EVER.

6. SwaggerTags $4
Never worry about a lost lunchbox again – Swaggertags are a fantastic way to identify your child’s lunchbox without giving too much information away (you have to open them to see the identification – the outside is customized by you with any photo!) They come in a selection of fun colors too and are guaranteed to not fall off. Perfection!

What is a must have for your child’s lunchbox? I would love to hear – leave your comment below!

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