Tag Archives | eco kids

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! 

Holiday Traveling? Can a Long Distance Trip be Eco-Friendly?

Eco-Friendly-FlightsNOTE: This post was written for me – thank you for supporting the companies that help keep Sweet Greens in business.
——————————————————————–

Like most families, the annual vacation is something we all look forward to – my family is super excited for our fall family trip later this month! With the holidays right around the corner, we will be traveling again to spend time with friends and family – like many of you! While most of our travels are done by car, your long distance trip may require you to fly to your vacation destination. Naturally, you may be concerned about flying and whether you will be undoing a year’s worth of good eco-friendly living with this one trip, while flying isn’t always the most eco-friendly option – it is something a necessity, so we have outlined 3 tips to help make your next flight to your vacation destination more eco-friendly.

1. Flying the Eco-Friendly Skies
Lowering emissions on a jumbo jet is no easy task, but the major airlines are trying to find new ways to lower emissions and make the skies a lot friendlier. First of all, airlines are exploring the use of biodiesel fuels as an alternative way of fueling flights. While there have been several successful flights with 100% biodiesel on board, bio diesel has a major drawback in that it freezes, thickening up like gravy. All is not lost, though; blending biodiesel with jet fuel generates a more environmentally-friendly fuel that won’t freeze up at 40,000 feet. While the fueling debate and experimentation continues, airlines are taking other steps to assist environmentally-savvy travelers, helping them to travel with peace of mind. Many airlines are using environmentally-conscious materials, both inside the plane and in the structure itself, to increase efficiency and decrease excess carbon output. Airlines are also adjusting flight patterns, improving the quality of landing procedures, and making it easier for planes to fly higher and faster. Hopefully as more time passes, flying the eco-friendly skies will become easier to do.

2. Off-Set Your Carbon Vacation Footprint
Even with all the advances that airlines are making, you have to acknowledge that, no matter where you go,  you will be in an aircraft producing greenhouse gases. Nearly ten percent of the greenhouse gases on earth are produced by aircraft. For the environmentally-conscious, this is a real problem; the solution for many is carbon off-setting. Carbon off-setting allows you to make up for the polluting emissions that your flight will be causing by having trees planted to restore balance in the environment. Many airlines, including American Airlines, are partnering with carbon off-setting companies to offer passengers a way to restore balance to the environment and still enjoy the vacation. Once you have your flight information, you can enter it into one of a number of websites that calculates flight mileage and total carbon emissions. Then, simply pay the desired amount to off-set the effects of your vacation footprint.

3. Look for Alternatives
Planning a family vacation that required you to fly to your destination means considering the effects that your trip would have on the environment. I recommend looking at alternatives to flying but, when a flight can’t be avoided, to do the research and try to make your trip as green as possible. After selecting your flight plan carefully, look for an airline that demonstrates a concern for the environment and a desire to improve their carbon footprint by increasing fuel efficiency and offering eco-friendly features such as carbon off-setting.

It is possible to travel the world and keep on saving the world in the process. All it takes is some savvy research and careful planning.

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

5 Tips for Throwing Green Summer Parties

green-bbq

Summer is almost here which means BBQ’s, baby showers, and engagement parties are right around the corner. Since these events are often filled with flowers, decorations, catered food, and disposable cutlery and plates, their carbon footprint is often bigger than you’d expect. Don’t worry, there are tips you can take to make your summer party more eco-friendly. Read on for my five great tips for greening your summer parties.

#1. Serve Locally Grown Food
Unless you know where the restaurant or grocery store catering your event sources its food, chances are it’s traveled a long distance to make it to your doorstep, using manpower, gasoline, and a lot of packaging. And while a catered meal is impressive and beautiful, most hosts find themselves throwing away 30-50% of the food after the party is over. These two factors amount to a lot of unnecessary waste. Instead of ordering an elaborate meal that won’t get eaten, why not shop for produce, cheese, and pastries at your local organic farmer’s market? For starters, you could grill seasonal veggies, make fruit-infused water with local citrus and cucumbers, or even pick up a few growlers of a local micro-brew. Some farms even sell locally raised meats! You’ll be supporting local farms and serving seasonal, organic food so it’s guaranteed to be a healthy, delicious spread.

#2. Go Compostable
If you’ve ever hosted a party you know that the used plates, napkins, utensils, and platters from your event make trash day quite the spectacle. Instead of adding to the enormous amount of garbage already filling our landfills and oceans, spend an extra few bucks on compostables. Specialty stores, and an increasing number of mainstream supermarkets, carry everything from compostable cups and forks to straws. And you don’t necessarily have to compromise design; sites like SustyParty.com sell biodegradable party supplies that are fun and colorful. If you’re planning a big event, many eco-product sites offer discounts for bulk orders of compostable party supplies.

#3. Let Nature Do the Decorating
Instead of hosting your party inside where you’ll need to decorate (and air condition your guests!), take it out back or to a local park and let nature’s beauty do the work! You’ll be saving money, trips to the store, and the waste created by cheap decorations that only offer a single use, and won’t be filling the house with cut flowers that will only last a week.

#4. Email Invitations
Paper invitations and RSVP cards are becoming a thing of the past. With the speed and convenience of electronic invites, there’s no reason not to go green! Sites like Evite offer dozens of designs for all kinds of holidays and events, and personalizing is encouraged. Creating and emailing invitations or sending guests a message about updates takes mere minutes. Plus, your guest list and RSVP’s will all be in one handy place!

#5. Green the Gifts
If the event you’re hosting is for you or you have a say in the gifts, offer guests the option to give money or gift certificates. Even items purchased from a registry can end up being duplicates, or the recipient may change her mind if the list was made before she had enough information. If the guest of honor is also eco-conscious, she may accept a hand-me-down like used baby clothes or a beloved heirloom, with as much excitement as a store-bought gift.

YOUR TURN: How do you minimize waste at your gatherings? Do you have tips we didn’t think of? Let us know—and get creative!

6 Ways to Green Your Summer Trip

summer-vacationSummer is in full swing and I hope your family is taking advantage of the warm weather and break from school to take a trip together! With all of the travel, eating away from home, and sightseeing, vacations can leave quite the carbon footprint. Here are 6 tips to help you make green choices on your summer trip.

  1. Travel locally
    Traveling closer to home (or taking a staycation) cuts down on fuel and emissions—not to mention the expense involved with longer car trips and flights. Who knows, you might just discover your new favorite getaway a few towns over!
  2. Rent a Hybrid
    Many car rental companies now offer the option to rent a Prius or other compact hybrid. Even if you don’t see a hybrid option when booking online, many companies have one or two on hand that you can ask for when you go to pick up your rental. Hybrids are quiet and cut down on fuel cost and waste immensely and are a great choice if you’re taking a sight-seeing road trip.
  3. Stay at a Green Hotel
    There is a growing number smaller hotels and B&B’s choosing to become Green Certified. The Green Certification process evaluates the hotel’s overall carbon footprint and what choices they are making to positively impact the environment as well as to minimize their otherwise negative impact. Areas evaluated include energy and water conservation, solid waste management, indoor air quality, building infrastructure, and community outreach, to name a few. Most green hotels that offer meals also buy organic and local.
  4. Eat Locally
    Isn’t it wonderful that you can travel to almost any city in the US and find a farmer’s market—or at least a local fruit stand? Since I live in the high desert of Colorado I love sampling local fruits and vegetables when I travel to states at lower elevation or with a more humid climate. I’ll never forget eating dozens of peaches in one sitting on a visit to Mississippi or a crate of strawberries in California! Put your money towards local business and sustainable living by picking up a few meals or snacks at the farmer’s market or small, local grocer on your next vacation.
  5. Explore the Local Environment
    One of my favorite things about vacation is the variety of trees, flowers, and animals native to the state I’m visiting. Exploring new environments is especially valuable when traveling with kids, who can learn about different species and ecosystems and by doing so appreciate and protect them better. States with protected open space or forests sometimes offer tours of wildlife sanctuaries—a fun, educational choice for families.
  6. Leave No Trace
    Whether you’re roughing it back country camping or staying in an upscale hotel on your vacation, the 7 principles of Leave No Trace are helpful guidelines to bring and follow. Don’t forget to educate kids about their impact on the places you visit!

YOUR TURN: What green tips does your family have for vacationing this summer?