July 13, 2015 Family

DIY “UpCycled” Crayons

“Here’s a fun one for the whole family.

What do you do with those boxes of old, heavily used (but loved) crayons?  You turn them into a DYI project with the kids!  They can be melted down and turned into great recycled, different shaped writers that your young and older children can both enjoy.

Here’s what you need:

  1. Kitchen knife
  2. Old crayons
  3. Mini –cake or muffin tins (cute heart or various shapes are fun!)

Directions:

  1. Parents use the knife to chop crayons in to pea-size pieces. Have the kids help remove any remaining paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees
  3. Have children fill tins with crayon pieces, mixing colors to make cool designs.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or just until the wax has melted
  5. Remove the shaped crayons after they have cooled.  If they stick to the tray, place in the freezer for an hour and they will pop out.

Tip:  If you don’t want to devote your tins to the melted wax, line them with tin foil

Now you and your kids can color away!”

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Housewares

Remodeling Your Home?

“If you are looking to do any home remodeling this year, do yourself (and the planet) a favor and opt... Read

“If you are looking to do any home remodeling this year, do yourself (and the planet) a favor and opt for a few green upgrades.  Now, we’re not saying you need to tear down your house and rebuild it to be Leed Certified.  But there are a few choices you can make to add value to your home and to Do A bit Better for Mother Nature.

Seal It Up
One of the biggest wastes of energy comes from window & door drafts.  Sealing off these leaks can reduce your energy usage & costs by anywhere from 5 to 30 percent!  Solutions vary – some small leaks may be solved simply by adding weather stripping or caulk, but more extensive jobs may require repairing or replacing windows & doors

Look for the Energy Star logo
Appliances are going to be one of the bigger expenses on a remodel list, so if you are going to invest in them, make sure to purchase Energy Star certified models.  The certification, managed by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy, helps consumers take the guesswork out of finding an appliance that is highly efficient (read: saves you cash) and also good for the environment. Plus, with over 18,000 certified products across 35 different categories, you won’t have to go searching high & low to find one that fits your budget & style.

Low Flow
We’re not going to bore you with facts about how much water is wasted each year from showers & toilets in the US.  So just know that low flow toilets and showers are a great way to save money and cut down on water waste.  For your porcelain throne, look for 1.6 Gallons/flush and 2 button flush option.  And for the shower heads, look for options with volume dials or buttons – in doing so, you can save up to 70% each time you bathe.

Lay Down the Bamboo
Bamboo’s not just for red ceramic pots with gold Chinese characters anymore! If you are going to do some more extensive remodeling and start replacing your floors, bamboo is a great choice.  First and foremost, bamboo is a highly sustainable product, so you don’t have to feel like you are chopping down the rainforest to freshen up your living room.  Secondly, they look great and are available in a wide range of sizes & colors.  Lastly, carbonized bamboo is hard and durable, so you’ll worry less about scratches when you put your furniture back in place.”

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Environment

Monday Tip of the Week: Get yourself an old fashioned rain barrel

“This weekend, we saw our first rain of the season–and it was a big reminder of all the great uses... Read

“This weekend, we saw our first rain of the season–and it was a big reminder of all the great uses for rain water. Rain water is great to use to keep your garden growing and healthy, why? Because rain water does not have any of the additives found in tap water. It’s also great for your wallet–last we checked, rain water was free!

Learn how to install your rain barrel with this handy step by step, here.

 “

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Mom & Baby

UpCycle Spotlight: The Almighty Baby Food Jar!

“We are always interested in clever ways to upcycle everyday products into new and useful items.  Today we are going... Read

“We are always interested in clever ways to upcycle everyday products into new and useful items.  Today we are going to showcase some of the coolest uses for all of those baby food jars you go through feeding your little one.

Spice Racks

   
Candle Jars & Holders
   
   
Pin Cushions & Sewing Storage
   
Herb Planters
Holiday Decorations
 
 

 

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Housewares

One Man’s Concussion is Another Man’s Treasure!

“Here at DAbB, we are always thinking about ways to recycle objects we no longer use (or our kids have... Read

“Here at DAbB, we are always thinking about ways to recycle objects we no longer use (or our kids have grown out of) and use them in new ways. Well, if your home is like ours, you have more than one old skateboard that is no longer being used.  There are so many great ways to turn old and unused skateboards into something fun and new – and one of our favorites is the wall mounted skateboard clock.  It’s perfect for any skateboard loving child (or let’s face it, some adults) at home.

Directions

You will need:

A drill
An old skateboard
A clock kit (see below)
Picture hooks
Picture wire
Paint (optional)
Epoxy

  1. Make sure the skateboard you are about to drill a hole in does not have some sort of deep emotional connection to the user that you are unaware of.  No one wants to spend the next week trying to overcome any deep “trauma” your child may sustain from the loss of their childhood relic.
  2. Mark where you want the clockwork shaft to be.
    1. Your decision on where you want the hole to be will be dependent on the look you’re going for, as well as, the length of the clock’s arms.
    2. Next, decide if you want to paint the board, or leave it as is.
      1. If you are going to paint underneath, mark the wheel hardware with tape to protect it from the paint.
      2. Clean the board.  Yes it is true.  You may want to shine up the board using your favorite beeswax.  Any organic beeswax will work.
      3. Now follow the clockwork manufacturer’s directions to attach movement to top of skateboard and hands to underside of skateboard.
        1. We like the clock kits available at Clockkit.com or Klockit.com (yes, both are close)
        2. At either of these sites you will find different style of arms, numbers and even templates to make sure you place the numbers in the right location.  Very easy.
        3. If the installation doesn’t fit correctly, you can use epoxy in the hole to hold the kit in place
        4. Attach sturdy picture hooks to top of skateboard at the upper corners. Stretch and tie wire between hooks. Mount on wall.

Done!”

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Pets

Keep Fido Flea-Free

“While we think it’s important to protect your furry friends all year ‘round, the warmer temperatures of Spring often signal... Read

“While we think it’s important to protect your furry friends all year ‘round, the warmer temperatures of Spring often signal the official start to flea & tick season.  More than just a tough itch to scratch, these blood-sucking parasites can transmit pathogens and diseases to your pet and you.  But rather than subject your pet to a chemical plunge, here are a few tips to keeping the fleas & ticks away naturally.

–          For starters, regularly bathe your pet.  When doing so, be sure to use a gentle, all natural shampoo to avoid irritating your pet’s skin & eyes.  For flea & tick treatment, we like Only Natural Pet Herbal Defense Conditioner.  And be sure to rinse your pet’s coat thoroughly to remove all the suds!

–          Gently brush your pet daily with a fine tooth comb.  This will both help comb out the critters and also allow you to see any ticks lurking in the fur.  Check out the GripSoft Flea Comb. When you do find a flea, drop it in a bucket of soapy water to kill it and stop the spread of eggs.

–          Clean where your pet snoozes.  Vacuum the areas where your pet sleeps and the fleas and their eggs may be living.  Also, wash your pet’s bed at least once a week in hot soapy water to help further kill off the eggs.

–          If the problem persists, use an herbal flea collar.  Made with essential oils to repel fleas & ticks, these cheap, easy solutions knock out the problem, and don’t smell too bad either!  We recommend the Natural Research People Herbal Collar.”

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Twitter
Food

Quick Tips for a Better Pregnancy

“Pregnancy can be one of the most special and amazing times in a woman’s life.  But there’s no question that... Read

“Pregnancy can be one of the most special and amazing times in a woman’s life.  But there’s no question that it can also be incredibly difficult, too.  On top of major bodily changes, there is the constant need to make sure you are keeping yourself and your future baby healthy!  So here are a few tips to help you make your pregnancy a bit healthier.

The No-Brainers – While these tips may be obvious, they are still very important.  Cut out alcohol, caffeine, and stop smoking.  And when taking your prenatal vitamins, be sure to opt for the types that contain natural ingredients with fewer dyes and ingredients.

Water – It is important to increase your water intake while pregnant.  In addition to keeping you vitally hydrated and your skin glowing, water carries nutrients through your blood to your baby.  Water also helps prevent common bladder and digestion pregnancy problems.  And contrary to popular belief, the more fluids you drink during pregnancy, the less your body retains.  So if your feet and ankles are swollen, drinking more water actually helps!  Just remember to use a water filter (like Britta or PUR) and drink out of a glass, not plastic, when possible.

Cleaning Products – During your pregnancy, opt for all natural brands that are free of harmful chemicals such as bleach and ammonia.  And when possible, enlist a friend to help with the cleaning – you’ll avoid inhaling any chemicals and give you a chance to kick your feet up and rest!

Looking Glamorous – The natural pregnancy ‘glow’ is a real thing of beauty.  But if you still want to continue using makeup, be sure do a quick inventory of your beauty products.  Much of your current makeup may be loaded with chemicals that can unsafe for your baby.  Additionally, old makeup can be loaded with bacteria which can clog pores and cause breakouts.  Since no makeup is FDA certified as organic, look for credible sources to buy from such as our friends at Organic Beauty Now, Skincare By Alana and Yves Rocher.

Eating Right – Organic foods are the way to go while pregnant.  You’ll be avoiding harmful pesticides and preservatives used to treat the foods.  If money is tight or you can’t find organic foods, opt for fruits and veggies that traditionally contain the lowest levels of pesticides:  asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas.  And for the carnivores, look for fish low in mercury, and avoid unpasteurized foods or cheeses.”

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Family

A Greener Lunchbox

“How do you green your kid’s lunch box, but still make them happy?  Although there’s a huge selection of cute,... Read

“How do you green your kid’s lunch box, but still make them happy?  Although there’s a huge selection of cute, eco-friendly lunch boxes out there, finding one that suits you little one’s latest superhero craze may be difficult.  Let’s face it: you’re going to be hard pressed to make your little guy take a nicely decorated, eco-friendly Alien Bento Box to school when all he really wants is Batman!

Luckily, we’ve done some digging and found a number of creative people out there who have developed lunch bags and boxes to make your little one squeal with delight.  Take a peak at what we found:

Canvas Kids Lunch Bag Superhero

From our friends at Etsy, we’ve found the Canvas Kids Lunch Bag Superhero. The natural, reusable canvas bag is eco-friendly, and sports Batman, Superman or any superhero your kid might adore.  Your child’s name can even be added for a personal touch.

   

Superhero Blue Personalized Lunch Box

Another great find from Sweet Mady, these plastic lunchboxes are covered in superhero graphics, while still being lead and BPA free.  The faceplates are removable, interchangeable and can be personalized as well. So when you’re little one wants to be addressed as “Super-Ben”, you can swap the faceplate out in a flash.  Additional reusable containers and ice pack are also available.

Thermos Dual Compartment Superman Lunch Kit with Cape

Your little Clark Kent will love this Superman lunchbox with built-in cape. This insulated lunch box is PVC-free and lined with PEVA material. It cleans up easily and has two compartments to separate lunch items. They’re available through numerous sellers on Amazon.com.

Now send your child off to school sporting a special lunch box that only you know is good for the environment!”

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Men

Eco-friendly Lawn Renovation tips

So one of our staff came in to say his lawn has seen better days.  If you also notice your... Read

So one of our staff came in to say his lawn has seen better days.  If you also notice your lawn needs a bit of TLC, here is our eco-friendly lawn renovation process:

1. Rake lawn to remove thatch and dead grass, which creates good seed-to-soil contact.

2. Apply grass seed; and use it liberally.

3. Cover with layer of compost; this helps retain moisture and keep the birds away, and it’s a lot cheaper than spreading straw.

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Environment

More Throttle AND Better MPG? Sold.

“According to your grandparents, the best ways to increase gas-mileage are to keep the windows rolled up, don’t run the... Read

“According to your grandparents, the best ways to increase gas-mileage are to keep the windows rolled up, don’t run the air conditioner, and keep the speedometer below 40.  Thanks, Grandpa – but we have a better idea.  Fuel economy can easily be increased with a new Air Intake System – and there are other benefits, too.  Along with more MPG, you’ll also get higher horsepower, and better throttle response.

It’s simple enough to do and only takes a few minutes.  The friendly people at your local auto parts store will be able to guide you toward the right system for your vehicle.

These systems replace the cheap system your auto-maker included with the vehicle, and increases the efficiency at which your vehicle burns fuel.  The more efficiently your vehicle burns fuel, the less fuel it uses to do the same thing.

These systems can run from $50 – $200, depending on the make and year of your vehicle.  Less gas, more green.”

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Housewares

Green Rim Recycled Tumbler Glass

$7.00

A tale of transformation from trash to sparkling treasure—reclaiming what was once thrown away and giving it stunning new purpose.... Read

A tale of transformation from trash to sparkling treasure—reclaiming what was once thrown away and giving it stunning new purpose. Sparkling with bright, leafy green, evoking summer days and cool drinks with friends. These incomparable pieces are handcrafted by skilled artisans using traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation.

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Garden

UpCycling a Mini-Greenhouse

“Now that April’s here, it’s time to start thinking about gardening again.  If you’re growing anything from seedlings, you’re going... Read

“Now that April’s here, it’s time to start thinking about gardening again.  If you’re growing anything from seedlings, you’re going to want to keep things warm in case the frost hits.

While you could spend a great deal of money on a mini-greenhouse kit, you’d be surprised how easy it is to make one from home from materials you already have!

The easiest and most common way to build a mini-greenhouse is with empty plastic bottles.  Simply peel the label off and cut into a shape that fits over the plant (we like to use the cap-end, so that you can vent the air on particularly sunny days).  Cold beverage cups from coffee shops can work equally as well, and sometimes better if you need a longer, more horizontal area.

If your plants are already a bit bigger, then you’re going to have a hard time finding a large enough Soda Bottle (don’t go rummaging around Costco trying to prove us wrong!).  Cellophane to the rescue!  Four ground-stakes at equal heights wrapped in cellophane will create the perfect greenhouse square.  Finally, wrap the cellophane over the top and watch nature take its course!  Oh, and did we mention that cellophane is eco-friendly?  It’s made from plant materials (regenerated cellulose) and is 100% biodegradable.

Before shelling out the big bucks next time you think about raising a seedling of your own, consider what’s around you and how you can UpCycle it!”

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Environment

Green Ideas – Great Green Summer Camps

Environmentally-friendly may not be the first thing to come to mind when planning your kid’s summer camp schedule, but why... Read

Environmentally-friendly may not be the first thing to come to mind when planning your kid’s summer camp schedule, but why not consider some green ideas?  Believe it or not, there are some great summer camps that combine environmental education with fun outdoor activities.  So once you get over the thought of letting them live in the wild for a few weeks, here are a few recommendations:

IslandWood School in the Woods, Bainbridge Island, Washington – The camp prides itself on being a model of evolving sustainable practices in addition to serving as an outdoor classroom

Hog Island, Maine’s Audubon Center Summer Camp – Hog Island hosts educational programs focused on ornithology, ecology and conservation

Tanglewood 4-H Camp, Maine – A nonprofit partnered with the University of Maine. The goal is “to leave no child or adult inside,” and offers a range of opportunities include learning about sea life, forest ecosystems, sustainable living and much more

Youth Empowered Action Camp, locations in OR, CA and NJ – YEA Camp is for kids who want to make a difference in the world

Plantation Farm Camp, Cazadero, CA – Campers learn what it’s like to live on a sustainable farm

Now send your kids out to summer camp knowing they are learning how to live green and appreciate our planet

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Family

Tin Can Art Supply System

“Our kids all seem to be little Rembrandts. They love to color, draw, paste and paint – and sometimes stick... Read

“Our kids all seem to be little Rembrandts. They love to color, draw, paste and paint – and sometimes stick pencils into play dough.  But at times storing these items can be less than ideal. Thankfully, we found a practical (and, may we say, beautiful) way to store your art supplies.

What You’ll Need
8 Clean tin cans
Metal sandpaper
Green metal cleaner
Heavy-duty magnets
Hot glue gun
Steel cookie sheet
Label maker or a sheet of paper
Pan head screws (optional)
Drill (optional)

 Steps
1. Sand down the open edges of the cans with the metal sandpaper. Make sure the edges are nice and smooth to avoid any ouchies later.  Bandages also optional. You can find metal sandpaper at your local hardware store.

2. Using a green cleaner, go to town on the cookie sheet to get it clean and make it look nice.

3. Hot glue the magnets to the outside of the tin can.  The magnet should be vertical, going along the vertical length of the can.

4. Using the label maker, create some nice labels to keep things clearly organized. Or, be creative and help the kids make nice labels!

5. Using the magnets, attach the cans to the cookie sheet.

6. If you plan on hanging your masterpiece storage facility, drill a small hole into each corner of the cookie sheet. Lastly, mount it to the wall with 4 pan-head screws.

7. Let the kids pick which can they want each of their art supplies in – it’s more likely that they’ll put things away if they get to decide where they go.

If the cookie sheet you’re using is particularly old, here’s a great way to make it look brand new: Line your sink with aluminum foil and place the cookie sheet inside. Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda over the cookie sheet (somewhat evenly), then pour boiling water over it. Putting some elbow-grease into it, scrub particularly aged spots, making sure to push the baking soda into it. Finally, pour 8 cups of white vinegar over the mixture and let sit for 10 minutes. Give it one last scrub with the bubbly mixture, and then rinse.

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Doing A Bit Better

Groupon Gives Back

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a... Read

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a group action fundraising program called Groupon Grassroots, you can only imagine our excitement.

 

According to Groupon, the new program (which just launched in April, 2012) is “a new way to discover local causes, rally together, and lend a helping hand”.

We did some digging and found out that Groupon Grassroots isn’t just a good idea on paper – it’s actually working.  On this year’s Earth Day, the donations through Grassroots resulted in some pretty impressive numbers!  Here are some of the highlights:

-$126,000 in cause-related donations were made
-4,400 trees planted across US and Haiti
-443 bike light sets and helmets sent to locals in Austin & Portland
-1,400 attendees to environmentally focused programs
-40 volunteers traveling to Zambia
-18 vacant lots in Cincinnati were filled with over 25 raised garden beds
-5 cities were treated to improve water quality through trash removal and training volunteers  to test water

And that was all in 1 day!

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Mighty Leaf Tea

Tea Drinkers Rave

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Environment

Harvesting Your Own Rainwater – Hip or Hype?

“There’s been quite a lot of talk recently about how eco-friendly harvesting rainwater is. But there’s two sides to every... Read

“There’s been quite a lot of talk recently about how eco-friendly harvesting rainwater is. But there’s two sides to every story, so we thought it might be a good idea to measure the pros and cons about harvesting your own rainwater.

 

Pro’s                                                                    Con’s
-During water shortages, rainwater is an excellent way to make sure your plants don’t die or get under-watered. -Many Rainwater Collection Bins are made from PVC or other plastics, which are made with a lot of oil and energy. Upcycled wine barrels would work better.
-Your water bill goes down when you don’t water your plants from the hose every evening. -Rainwater can contain bird droppings or other pollutants.
-Reduces chemical runoff. -It may mean cutting a bit of your gutter-pipe so that you can fit the container under your gutter, which can be difficult to replace.

The end result?  If done right, the benefits to collecting your own rainwater can far outweigh the cons.

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Environment

Cloth > Paper

When cleaning, like the counters in the kitchen, the first thing that many people go for is the paper towel.... Read

When cleaning, like the counters in the kitchen, the first thing that many people go for is the paper towel. While effective, this habitat can take a toll on the environment. After all, they come from trees! Instead, why not find some old t-shirts stashed way back in your closet that you never wear anymore and use them like you would a paper towel. They get the job done, you use less paper, and you are able to repurpose an item that would have most likely been thrown away.

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UpCycle

Getting Creative After Your Coffee

As the weather gets warmer and the coffee shops roll out their newest frozen-mochajavachino (or something like that), it means... Read

As the weather gets warmer and the coffee shops roll out their newest frozen-mochajavachino (or something like that), it means there’s going to be a lot of iced-coffee cups coming your way.  Assuming you don’t take your own reusable cup every time you get coffee, you’re going to have to make a decision on what to do with those cups.  Recycle them? Sure, that’s an option.  But what else can we do with those clear plastic cups?

-Reuse them.  They’re usually sturdier than you think, and make great spare glasses for around the house.  Use them at your next party for cocktails or beer.

-Plant in them. They make great planters, and there’s something nice about being able to see all of the soil. Drill some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage – and keep it elevated enough to allow water to drain out. Alternatively, flip them over and use them as a terrarium to keep your plants warm and moist in the cool night air.

-Get crafty! There are plenty of things you could do with them, and don’t forget that they’re already circles!  Consider cutting them into bracelets and wrapping them in fabric or spray paint to make flashy bracelets for the kids.

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UpCycle

Monday Tip of the Week: Back-to-School Notebooks

This year, my nephew enters “big boy” school, Kindergarten. While babysitting last weekend, we worked on an upcycling project that... Read

This year, my nephew enters “big boy” school, Kindergarten. While babysitting last weekend, we worked on an upcycling project that not only kept his very active little self completely absorbed, but also better prepared him for his start to a new class and school-year.

Themed -Notebooks from Cereal Boxes

My nephew loves all things Star Wars related. Now that he’ll be learning to read and write, what better way to equip him than with his own, Star Wars themed notebooks?

Here’s all you need:

  • Cereal box
  • Paper for the inside pages (college ruled for school)
  • A piece of decorative paper (we used Star Wars wrapping paper)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Glue stick, tape runner or double-sided tape
  • Needle and dental floss
  • A button

Here’s how we did it:

  • Cut out the cereal box to create the cover for your notebook (we cut ours to  5.5″” x 8″”)
  • Fold it in half with the blank side out
  • Run Thread a needle with dental floss and sew the button to the front of the notebook. Leave about enough of the thread hanging to wrap around the notebook twice
  • If you want to cover the images of the cereal box, just glue a piece of paper to the inside
  • Take your 8 ½” by 11” paper and trim about 1/4” inch
  • Stitch the paper to the notebook with the dental floss down the spine
  • Cut your themed paper (we did 2 ½” by 8”) and glue to the flattened notebook

 

That’s it!

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