1. It’s a Green, Green, Green Grad Party!

    Posted on June 12, 2012 by Chris

    graduation

    It’s graduation time again. And one thing I can say I’m most proud of in today’s graduating high school and college seniors is their caretaking of the environment.

    That may sound a little, er, on the dull side. But remember: I grew up watching a Native American cry over garbage on the freeway. (Points to anyone who gets that reference.) I lived through the fierce air pollution crises in the northeast and in Los Angeles. It was hard enough in those days to get grown-ups to care for our resources.

    So it brings a tear to my own eye to see today’s young population “giving so much of a hoot.” Go 2012 grads! We are all so very proud of you.

    And on that note, here are some awesome ways to have a very green party for your eco-conscious grad. Don’t worry: they’re not just smart, they’re fun. Yes, you’ll want to use recycled materials for plates and cutlery. But you don’t need to stop there. Spice things up with these great “green” graduation party ideas:

    Party in the Park

    Have the party on preserved or city/state/national parkland so everyone can enjoy the beauty that’s here on earth, right now. Always call your city or county in advance to find out their protocol, including what can and can’t be taken out of the park, whether cooking is allowed on the premises, etc.

    Go Organic

    Find out whether there’s an organic farm or organic seller in your area. (We have tons here; I’m so glad to know they’re “cropping up” everywhere.) Then buy ingredients, veggies and fruits for your grad party foods there. You may be thinking, “Yikes, expense alert!” but you’d be surprised how reasonably priced local produce can be. When you do this for your grad, you’re supporting local businesses and healthy, ethical growing methods.

    Delicious Decor

    Decorate the party area with potted plants. Be really funky and include vegetables and herbs. (Yup, right on top of the table!) At the end of the party, have a raffle for guests to win a plant to take home and grow. Ask guests to think fondly of the guest of honor as they cultivate and harvest their gifts.

    Fair Trade

    Think fair-trade. For example, buy coffee and have a fair-trade coffee bar. Stuffy and pretentious? Nope. In fact, it was a teenager who suggested this idea to me! (Go, Ben!) Here’s a link to The Fair Trade Federation’s resource site. So cool!

    Donate

    Make a donation in your grad’s name to the cause that’s closest to her heart (urban forestry, the arts and humanities, a local children’s hospital, etc.). Quietly place a receipt or confirmation of the transaction in the card you give to your grad. This is a nice way to honor your grad and the earth without making a big embarrassing fuss at her party. (But she’ll be as proud of you as you are of her, we promise.)

    Go Paperless

    Send e-cards for thank yous. We recommend paper in some form or other for the actual invitations – that’s only polite. But you can save paper and help the environment by electronically thanking guests after the party. Or, when sending (recycled) paper invitations, add a pack of seeds. You know – “grads are the seeds of the future” or “we’re proud you’re growing your roots” – don’t actually say this, I just need some (fair trade) coffee!

    Anyway, to parents of 2012 grads: congratulations to you, too. You raised a great generation. We know your child will thank you too for these thoughtful ideas – and for one great, green grad party!

    Chris Molnar will be tree planting at his local park this Saturday, so he expects sore muscles on Sunday. His daughter, who will be a “grad” of kindergarten, will be joining him! Chris is editor of a birthday party website and is a freelance writer and web designer.

    Image courtesy of Charline Tetiyevsky/Flickr

  2. 7 Ways to Get your Kids Greener

    Posted on May 16, 2012 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Christine Kane.

    Going green is a lifestyle you have adopted and made your own, but sometimes it may be hard to get your child on board. Children are less likely to go green on their own. Here are 7 ways you can help your child follow in your carbon footprint:   Read more…

  3. Kid’s Earth Day Party Ideas – Have Fun, and Save the World Too!

    Posted on April 17, 2012 by Chris

    tree planting

    Though every day should be spent celebrating the earth, Earth Day comes every year on April 22nd. Those most affected by the environment are, of course, our children. Many schools, libraries and zoos around the world celebrate a form of Earth Week, concentrating on recycling, composting and taking care of the planet. If your child has a birthday around this time, or if you are thinking of a spring party, why not turn this into a fun party honoring the earth? It’s easy to do, they’ll have fun, and (shhhhhh), your child and her guests will learn some important lessons they can take home with them.

    Here’s some ideas to make your party a success.

    Invitations and Partyware

    Cut out rectangles from paper bags and fold in half. Have your child draw an outdoor scene on each one, such as trees, a sunset, mountains, etc. Inside, write the party details, and add a seed packet of flowers or vegetables inside. If the party will be small and you can hand-deliver the invites, place the invitations in a small recycled container.

    Have your guests bring something to the party, such as a can donation to a local food bank or some recyclable materials like egg and washed milk cartons (which you can use for an activity – see below).

    At the party, use your own plates and silverware, which will of course be washed. If you’re uncomfortable with this, use recyclable party supplies or even those that can be composted, such as plates made out of palm leaves, corn starch or sugarcane fiber.

    Bugs, Leaves and Dirt

    If you live in an area where spring is well advanced, use this opportunity to have a garden party in your backyard or the park. Encourage guests to carpool, walk, bus or bike to your home or the park. There’s a lot of fun activities to be had here!

    • With a bucket in hand, send the kids scavenging in the park for old leaves, grass and flowers. Have them return to make a nature collage.
    • Go on a nature hike, and bring along a bird or butterfly guide book and have the kids try and find some of the wildlife.
    • In your garden or a local community garden, have the kids plant a row of flowers or vegetables. Give them little watering cans to water their plants or seeds (they can take these home). Send pictures to the parents a few weeks later to show the progress. If they planted vegetables, send them a bouquet of what they planted at harvest time.
    • If you are having a birthday party or even an outdoor tea party, focus on a nature theme – a ladybug party is one idea. There’s also fun themes and ideas for butterflies, caterpillars, farm animals and fruits and vegetables. Pick one and plan your activities and food around it.
    • With paper and water paints, show the kids a scene in front of their eyes and have them create a painting.
    • See if the local park is going to have a tree planting day. You can coincide your park party with it, and encourage all the guests to devote some time volunteering. Hey, if it means shoveling and playing with dirt, everybody will love it! (Our kids did, though they look a bit tired in the picture above.)
    • Set up some picnic blankets or decorate a picnic table for the food. Which leads us to …

    Nature’s Bounty – Earth Day Food Ideas

    What child doesn’t love digging in mud? My 3 year old decided last week to transfer a good part of the flower bed dirt to the patio, where she made “mud soup” – we all pretended to have some. This gave me the idea of “compost tea” which is, of course, a real term, (a liquid compost mix for your plants.) Our will be a bit more appetizing!

    Compost “Tea”:

    • black cookies, crushed
    • chocolate pudding mix
    • gummy worms
    • green coconut shavings
    • cleaned, recycled individual yogurt containers, small, clean clay pots or small glass jars

    Sprinkle a layer of the crushed cookies on the bottom, then pour in the pudding. Top with crushed cookies to make topsoil, then add coconut shavings to make the turf. Stick in two or three gummy worms. If the cups are clear, you can see the layers within, and point out to the kids that this looks like a compost pile.

    Here’s some other food ideas. Think of anything natural, organic and unprocessed:

    • water or fruit juice
    • fruit smoothies
    • vegetable and fruit slices on toothpicks. The toothpicks can be composted after.
    • Chocolate balls with blue icing. After the icing hardens, add green continents, and viola, you have mini earths!
    • Trail mix
    • Eggs in a nest treat. Check out how to make this here.
    • Use beeswax candles for the cake

    Earth Day Party Activities

    Plant a plant – give each child a small clay pot or part of a cardboard egg carton, fill with a mix of compost and dirt, and plant some carrot seeds. These they can take home.

    Ready, Set, Recycle! – Remember asking for recycled materials for the party? Now you can use them. Give kids a variety of recyclable materials, such as egg cartons, cardboard, paper rolls, junk mail and clean empty jars or milk jugs. Place the kids in groups, and give them a theme (for instance, make a bridge, a tower or a tree.) Give them some tape and see what they make from it! Take pictures and vote on the most creative project for prizes. After all is done, make sure they dismantle and put everything goes in the recycling bin.

    Gifts and Goodies Bags

    Think of reusing and recycling when it comes to gifts, too. Instead of wrapping paper, use newspaper instead! For gifts, encourage locally-made wooden or fabric toys, something vintage, or even in lieu of gifts accept a donation to a children’s charity. For goodies bags, use brown paper bags or small boxes and fill with seed packets, organic candy, and small wooden or fabric toys. Thank you cards can be crafted from junk mail or, keeping with the theme of the invitations, cut outs from paper bags.

    Enjoy your party, and celebrate the only planet we live on!

  4. Wean Green Review (& Giveaway!)

    Posted on April 12, 2012 by Stefanie

    I know this makes me a terrible Greenist, but in my kitchen cupboard right now is a small mountain of plastic food storage containers, some of which I’ve owned since my freshman year of college (way back in the early ’90s), well before any of us had ever heard of BPA and had any idea to look for “BPA-free” (or anything-free) labels on plastic containers before we bought them.

    I’ve been meaning to remedy this situation for years. I have bought a few glass containers in various sizes to replace the plastic, but my collection could definitely use some rounding out before I chuck all the plastic for good. So when Mickey asked if I’d like to give some Wean Green containers a try, I jumped at the opportunity. (Fine; there may not have been any actual jumping, but I did fire off a very prompt “Yes, please!” reply, and that’s close enough, I say.)

    Read more…

  5. Spot It! Giveaway Winner

    Posted on April 9, 2012 by Courtney

    In lieu of Meatless Mondays, today we’re announcing the winner of our Spot It! game, as reviewed by Jacob! We had only four entries for this contest and after consulting our friend the Random Number Generator, we’ve determined the winner is commenter #2, who is Kandi!

    Congratulations, Kandi! We’ll be in touch shortly to get your address so we can mail your Spot It! game to you. And check back soon for more giveaways on The Greenists!

  6. Giveaway Update: A Homemade Holiday

    Posted on December 19, 2011 by Melissa

    Thank you for entering at A Homemade Holiday for a chance to receive the Play Cafe Breakfast Set. The lucky recipient of the Breakfast Set is #6, Patrice (duplicate entries and entries from Greenists Writers were removed). Patrice, congratulations! You will be contacted soon for your shipping information.

  7. A Homemade Holiday

    Posted on December 14, 2011 by Melissa

    No one enjoys talking about it, but the costs of the holiday season really accumulate. Between numerous trips to the grocery store for special holiday foods and baking supplies, and drives to department stores for gifts and decorations (or if you’re like me, strolls to the laptop on the kitchen table to make sure Amazon stays in business)  we may tell ourselves, “It’s okay! It’s the holidays . . . I’ll get my budget under control again after New Year’s Day.” Read more…

  8. Homemade Sensory Dough

    Posted on September 27, 2011 by Melissa

    My 3-year-old son, Colin, and I have a new afternoon hobby that I’m very excited to share! We have been hard at work in the kitchen, cooking up creative batches of Sensory Dough, our special version of homemade play dough. Making homemade play dough is super cheap, eco-chic, and incredibly easy. Once you get started, you’ll never go back to store bought name brands again! I call it Sensory Dough because the batches we have been making have exciting scents and textures. Read more…

  9. Nature Craft: Bark Owls

    Posted on August 2, 2011 by Melissa

    Throughout the summer, I have built up a great collection of pre-loved nature craft books for children. My son, Colin, has built up a great collection of natural craft supplies. Pine cones, barks, lichens, shells, and twigs have been collecting on a shelf in our family room, just waiting for the perfect project!  Read more…

  10. Green Toys are the Greatest Toys

    Posted on July 13, 2011 by Melissa

    Dig! Toss! Splash! Vroom! Scrape! Wheee-ohhh, Wheee-ohhh! These are just some of the sounds of summer when two little boys, a lake, and Green Toys are combined.

    Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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