Tag Archives | eco kids

Teaching Your Little One About Sustainability Through Fun Projects

Taking care of our environment has become a top concern around the world. If you have children at home, it’s time to start teaching them about sustainability so they can grow up with knowledge on how to make the world a better, greener place.

Here are a few fun projects you can do as a family that’ll give your children a solid foundation for sustainable living.

Learn How to Care for Indoor Plants

If starting a vegetable garden in your backyard isn’t a task you’re up for just yet, you can teach your children how to care for plants in an easier fashion by adding indoor plants to common living spaces in your home. With over 28 million small businesses throughout the country, you can surely find a greenhouse or two in your area that sells an assortment of plants to choose from.

Start with plants that don’t require a ton of upkeep. Aloe vera plants, snake plants, cacti, spider plants, baby’s tears, and prayer plants are a few easy types of plants your kids can handle. Go over how to pot, repot, water, and care for the plants on a daily and weekly basis. You may have your kids write down which days they need to water the plants on their personal calendars so they can own the responsibility of caring for them on a regular basis. Once they’ve mastered the easy plants, you can move to plants that require more care.

Turn Cardboard Into Art

Between cereal, pasta, and other snacks in your pantry, you likely have a lot of cardboard boxes filling up your recycling can. While recycling is the best way to dispose of these boxes, you can also turn this “trash” into art.

Your kids can turn flat pieces of cardboard into their own board games, create a painting for their playroom, and even create themed pieces of art during the holidays. For example, you can create cardboard turkeys for Thanksgiving festivities and snowmen and reindeer for the December holiday season. By creating art with cardboard, your kids will learn how to make a product useful for something other than holding food.

Create Nature-Themed Picture Books

If your children attend one of the 87% of private schools that have fewer than 300 students, they likely have an excellent selection of kids’ books to choose from on a daily basis. Your children probably spend a good amount of time reading and writing at school, but how can they bring these skills home and learn about the environment at the same time? Creating handmade nature-themed picture books is a unique idea you can get started on right away.

All you need is your cell phone or another type of camera, a printer, empty scrapbooks from a craft store, glue or tape, and colorful writing utensils. Take your kids outside in your backyard, around your neighborhood, and to local parks. Have them take a bunch of pictures of the nature that surrounds them. Then, get their photos printed. Create a crafting station at your dining room table and let your kids get to work gluing or taping their photos in the scrapbooks. Encourage them to a write caption for each picture. Not only will your kids love their handmade books outlining their naturesque adventures, but they’ll get in some writing practice, too!

Encourage Your Kids to Become Leak Investigators

Did you know that fixing easy-to-fix leaks can save you about 10% on your water bill? Dripping faucets and worn toilet flappers are among the easy-to-fix leaks everyone in your family should be aware of. To help avoid water waste in your home, encourage your children to become leak “investigators.”

Show your children the signs to look for in a bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room that indicate there’s a leak. For example, if your children notice damp or damaged flooring, strange noises when the water is on, reduced water pressure, or water stains, there may be a water leak in your home that requires some further investigation.

Teaching your children about sustainability and how to better take care of the earth around them is a responsible parenting move. Consider these fun projects as you teach your kids the best ways to take care of our environment and reduce waste at home.

20 Best North Carolina High Country Fall Family Activities + Rent Our Mountain House!

As soon as September arrives, I always start dreaming of a fall family trip to North Carolina.

I love living in Florida, but since the mister and I both grew up out west, we start to crave fall weather and the changing colors! Getting away to see the leaves changing colors, hiking in the early cool mornings, sipping hot cocoa, and visiting the local farmer’s market and pumpkin patch makes us very happy. We’ve been doing it every fall for 20 years! 

We made a goal to buy a house in North Carolina by our 20th wedding anniversary! Well, Clementine Cabin is almost finished and we’re sharing it with you as one of the best vacation rentals in Banner Elk, North Carolina! Yes, you can rent our vacation home! Hooray! 

So, if you’re looking for a little fall getaway, check out our mountain house and rent it yourself! 

Either way, here are my top 10 favorite activities that I’ve been dreaming about for a fall family trip. We’re sneaking away to North Carolina in the next several weeks:

  1. Staying at our favorite getaway (Clementine Cabin!)
  2. Wrapped up in a blanket sipping cocoa on the porch (listening to the creek!)
  3. Bouldering at Hebron Rock Colony
  4. New River pumpkin patch and corn maze
  5. Boone Farmer’s Market
  6. Sitting by the river at Banner Elk Winery
  7. Stopping to shop and antique in quaint little shops (they are everywhere!)
  8. Smores on the fire pit
  9. Caramel apples at Kilwin’s in Blowing Rock
  10. Grabbing a pretzel at Lost Province Brewing Co. 
  11. Shopping for stocking stuffers in Blowing Rock
  12. Mast General Store in Valle Crucis
  13. Apple Picking at The Historic Orchard at Altapass
  14. Dinner on the patio at Over Yonder
  15. Hiking, Hiking, Hiking
  16. The fall colors! Need I say more! 
  17. A picnic on the grass by the New River 
  18. Grabbing a Dutch Creek icecream
  19. Music in the Park at Valle Crucis
  20.  Spending time with the boys 

Do you have a fall family tradition that you look forward to? I would love to hear – leave a comment below!

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.

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as a 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 pizzas 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 option 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 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 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 actually 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 don’t think there will be a farmer’s market this year, but I will cross my fingers!) I love it 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?

Green Tip: 4 Things to do Before You Leave on Vacation

Are you going out of town during the fall months?  Have a fabulous road trip or getaway planned? I am so jealous.

Don’t forget to do these simple green things before you leave on vacation.

#1: Adjust the thermostat accordingly and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater.
#2: Unplug all appliances that you won’t be using while you are away, such as your coffee maker, microwave, washer, dryer, lamps, TV’s etc;
#3: Put your home lights on a timer or have a neighbor stop in and turn the lights on/off, instead of leaving the lights on the entire time you are gone. Burglars are keen on this too, they realize if your porch lights are on all day and night, chances are, you are out of town.

#4: Put a hold on your mail. This will save the post office, UPS and FedEx from having to drive to your home – this is especially effective if you live in a rural area.

YOUR TURN: What are your fall vacation plans? What are your green vacation tips?