I have followed Jane of Snuppets for YEARS on social media and I am so excited to be able to not just introduce you to her amazing snack bag puppets, but also help you get to know the maker behind this fun, sustainable children’s brand!
Earth Day is fast approaching! I initially planned to have a post a day in April with environmental facts, sustainable life hacks, and eco-friendly product gift guides, but life happened & I was busy helping mom every day after work so I didn’t have time to blog, as her cancer treatments have been really rough on her and she had some exceptionally tough past few weeks, requiring a lot of additional care. ♥
But today, I’m present & prepared to share in a series how I have been cutting plastic waste out of our life daily & how a few simple little changes to your daily habits can have a huge impact on the environment, starting with the foodie edition!
Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. That is enough straws that if they were put end to to, straws would wrap around the world two and a half times – EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year. You can read more facts about plastic straw pollution, The Last Plastic Straw and the #banthestraw movement here.
I ordered my gorgeous rainbow Stainless Steel Straws from Pretty Candy Pin Co – look at how flipping beautiful they are! They turn every beverage into an instantly Instagram worthy #unicornlife photo!
There are several distributors of stainless steel straws, and you can buy accessories like PUL lined zipper pouches to keep them in your bag on the go! Care for them is so simple, too – a bit of soap on a pipe cleaning after each use, rinse well!
Instead of grabbing a to-go or a kid’s drink with a plastic lid, go topless – and put on your own!
SipSnap has silicone lids that stretch to fit over any cup, in either sippy top form or to hold a straw. They are usable for decades, easy to clean to prevent spills! Here is a video demonstrating their spill proof tops!
In addition to ditching the plastic lid, don’t forget to bring your own reusable cup to get coffee or beverages in when getting take out!
Heading to a restaurant you know uses plastic ware, or out to a picnic? Skip the plastic and bring your own portable & sanitary cutlery from To-Go Ware! Each set is dishwasher safe, has it’s own carrying case and you can order a single set, a family pack of 5 or a kid size set! Kid size set shown here.
Portable cutlery? Not gross at all! Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and odor resistant, easy to clean & safe for children to use! Plastic ware – including plates, straws and cutlery – make up the majority of the 269,000 TONS of plastic waste in the oceans. More than 100,000,000 plastic dining wares are used in America alone every year, and switching to bamboo cutlery can drastically cut down that number! You can even make the switch for parties & buy biodegradable bamboo cutlery in bulk!
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to go a little more green, use a little less paper, or drink better tasting coffee, you will LOVE this radical invention I am about to introduce you to!
I ordered a set of CoffeeSock reusable coffee filters about 4 months ago, and I made the switch from paper filters to cloth. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was worried it would make my coffee taste a little funky, but honestly, I have never had coffee brewed at home that tasted so good! Add in the fact using CoffeeSock filters reduces paper consumption & waste, and you can see why any sustainably minded mama who loves coffee needs these in their lives!
This company gets some extra bonus points for being handmade in America – you can “meet” each team member & learn about them on their maker page. You can also take a virtual tour of their maker space. The transparency and personality behind this brand/product is what sold me on testing it out – and what will keep me coming back!
Care for them is super easy – rinse with hot water after each use & hang to dry, and boil once every 6-8 weeks. They last up to a year with proper care. I can honestly say, I doubt I will ever go back to paper filters! A set of two filters is just $13, so they actually save you a bit of money if you drink coffee at home regularly. Paired with their sustainable production and reduction of paper waste, that makes them worth every penny, in my book!
I wasn’t paid for this post, and I bought my CoffeeSock filters with my own money, no discount, so this is not an ad in any way – I just really adore this eco addition to my morning routine and wanted to share with other sustainably-minded individuals!
It’s been a hot minute since I did a transformation post! I’ve been stockpiling before and after images but with baby on the way, sewing non-stop, babysitting 2-4 days a week… I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and work on blog posts. But this morning baby Z woke me up around 5am so I thought I’d get some blogging done!
So, today I’m sharing my latest transformation! From salvaged robe into…
A big AND a small Mon-stor! Oh, and…
A trick or treat tote/library book bag! AND!
Two mini stuffed monsters!
I was actually really surprised with how many monsters I was able to make from this one robe! Generally there’s some stitching, stains or holes that get in the way but this one was perfection!
I used the smallest scraps from it to make horns and features for other monsters, too.
Keeping textiles & scraps from monster production out of landfills is a challenge, certainly more work than just heading to the craft store and buying fabric off the bolt – but it’s so much more sustainable and rewarding to give new life to textiles! Saving the world, one monster at a time!
All of these cuties are currently listed for sale in my monster shop – since I do only use upcycled textile discards, that means each monster is one of a kind – so pop over and snag one before they’re gone!
I get asked a lot about our efforts to live a more eco-lifestyle. Being on a budget it makes it surprisingly more difficult to live an eco0friedly lifestyle, post move and divorce, but I’m slowly finding eco alternatives for daily staples like soap and shampoo, dish soap and even coffee, here in WNC – which is luckily a very earth friendly, sustainably minded place! We are always trying to find ways to reduce our impact on the Earth with our consumption & every day habits, plus opting for ecofriendly alternatives to hobbies.
For all of you who want to start making easy changes with your children, teaching them how to protect Mother Nature, but aren’t sure where to start, here is a list of ten ideas for some easy habits to eco things to do even on the tightest budget that are good for you, your bills, the Earth & your family. Some I’ve blogged about before, but they are worth reiterating here. Enjoy, and feel free to add your eco-life tips in the comments! Together we can be like a superhero team all saving the world together all at the same time, which would be pretty rad!
1. Grow a garden! Not only is it great family time together outside building beds, prepping pots, planting seedlings, weeding, picking and preparing, it teaches your children about earth sciences, compassion for nature & how fun mud and bugs are! I have a Pinterest board for gardening tips and ideas here, including lots of container planting for small spaces!
No matter the space you have, you can save a lot of money growing your own food – even if it’s just a staple item in your house in a pot on your porch, like a few pepper plants or beans if you use them a lot. Pre-move, we had a vegetable garden each year with some staples like cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, and peas. We also had blackberry bushes & blueberry bushes. Now that we rent and can’t totally invest in a full size garden, we have a small bed with cucumbers and green beans, and also volunteer at my mom’s house helping in her garden, which has potatoes, onions, peppers, corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, grapes, blueberries & a few other staples. My sister in law also grows a huge garden, plus has pear & apple trees – come crops, we will all work together and swap food, meaning an entire fall & winter’s worth of stock piled dried fruits, canned apple sauce and vegetables, veggie soups, frozen veggies to add to dishes, jams, jellies and canned fruits – all just for the cost of weeding once a week!
2. Take a (biodegradable) trash bag and go for a hike through your local trails, a park or the woods to pick up litter so existing vegetation can thrive. Make sure to put on some bug spray & wear (reusable) rubber gloves! Use two bags – one for trash, for one recyclables, and use this unplugged family time to teach your children about the importance of recycling & protecting water ways and natural habitats.
3. Shop from thrift stores & consignment shops whenever possible – not only do you save loads of money but you also prevent air pollution, energy use & landfill waste from the creation of new products when you purchase gently used items. It also keeps money directly in your community instead of funding international trade for cheap clothing & home goods, which creates a ton of emissions and consumes lots of fuel. By shopping locally at community thrift stores you are directly supporting people who live in your city while having an positive impact on the environment, while saving a boat load of money. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside?!
4. If possible, let your kid ride the bus to and from school rather than driving them. This reduces a ton of exhaust pollution from the commute and idling in the pick up and drop off lane. If you can, arrange to have them carpool to after-school activities with friends or volunteer to be the carpool driver! If you live close enough to school, the park, a store, or any place you frequent, walk or ride your bikes whenever possible for some unplugged, active family fun!
5. Reduce the electricity you use & encourage your kids to do the same! Turn off your heat/air and open the windows on days when the temperature allows. Open the curtains rather than turning on lights. Unplug things that are not in use – this alone can account for up to 40% of your electric consumption! Turn off your computer & unplug it when you aren’t using it. Instead of drying bedding in the dryer, line-dry laundry, especially heavy linens. This will greatly reduce energy consumption plus give your linens that sunshine fresh scent.
6. My first option is to buy products with little to no packaging. Beyond that: Recycle or reuse whenever possible – paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans. This conserves energy and reduces air pollution & electricity consumption from production. Before you recycle something, make sure you can’t reuse it first. Don’t spend money on mason jars when glass jars from pasta sauces & pickles are perfect for drinking glasses at parties or simple vases, pen holders or containers in the bathroom to hold cotton balls, tooth brushes & other items. Hit up Pinterest for tons of great idea for upcycling & repurposing items. If you can’t reuse something, see if you can compost it. Most paper & cardboard (even toilet paper & paper towel rolls) can be composted. Even paper towels that have been used to clean up water can be composted! Jenelle of TN2T has several awesome boards on Pinterest for upcycling & creatively recycling items.
7. Also, on composting… Did you know that 20% of human produced methane that damages the ozone layer comes from food in landfills? This shocking number is hard evidence of why every home should compost! All raw vegetable & fruit waste can be composted, along with coffee grounds, grass clippings & leaves that typically end up on the curb for trash pick up. So skip the “all-natural” plant food and go for the truly all natural plant food. Leaves can be used as mulch around your garden & plants year round, too, providing nature-intended nutrients for plants that eliminates the need for chemically saturated fertilizers, so it’s a double whammy of Earth saving goodness and saves you money because then you don’t have to buy mulch! Yay! There are so many good resources for composting out there. It’s so easy to get started, it greatly reduces landfill waste & has a huge impact on the environment. Give it a Google & see how you can get started! Kids will have fun watching the process of foods decompose & learning how bugs, worms and mold help break down the organic matter.
8. Purge. Make it fun and reward the kids with one new item or special event (like a trip to the movies) for purging unused toys, clothes, games. Get rid of (donate, sell or give to a friend) anything you absolutely don’t need or use. Since we are living in very tight quarters, I purged more than half of mine and my son’s clothes & all but a few linens – now everything has a purpose, plus less laundry to do means less water and electricity used! Fewer toys in my son’s room means more space to play with things he kept, like Legos and Nerf guns.
9. Use all-natural cleaners – Apple cider vinegar is an amazingly versatile cleaner and at less than $3 a gallon, is a super cheap alternative to expensive, chemical laden laundry soaps, floor cleaners, surface wipes and more. We use it for laundry and our floors! Stop using dryer sheets full of harmful chemicals – Nerd Felt makes reusable dryer balls that soften your laundry for hundreds of loads. Infuse them with essential oils to add a lovely scent to your laundry!
10. Build a backyard haven. A small investment up front for major savings and fun in the long run! Get a trampoline, swing set, pool, whatever tickles your pickles and fits your budget. Don’t forget to check FreeCycle and CraigsList for items before heading to the big box stores! Build a fire pit and pull up seating for relaxing evening fun. Spring through Autumn (or even in the winter, snuggled under blankets with cocoa while it snows around you!). Create a space that’s just as fun as the local park, and invite friends over! You’ll save a ton of money not going out, your kids will want to spend more time outside, and it’s about time we return to a life of having neighbors over for coffee on the porch or beers by the fire. Building a home filled with functional spaces you love & inviting others to enjoy it with you is a great way to build community, foster friendships and have free, ecofriendly fun!
Being the earth-loving hippie that I am, I’m passionate about natural resources, and the ocean is no exception. I used to live two hours from the beach, and every time we went to visit I spent a good amount of time picking up litter from the beach. You can help save the earth (yay, you’re a super hero!) if you are lucky enough to live near a beach by organizing a big beach clean up – or setting up a date night with you, your main squeeze, and a (biodegradable) trash bag to pick up litter as you take a long walk on the beach at sunset. Or you can make a family day out of it with the kids, and use it as a teaching opportunity about global environmental impact of litter and every day consumption habits.
Or if you are landlocked like me, you can help in other ways – the biggest one being removing plastic disposable items from your life. Plastic bags, sandwich bags, bottle caps, tooth paste caps, micro plastic beads from tooth paste, facial scrubs, and soaps, plastic bottles, coffee cup lids, straws, plastic toys and more fill our oceans and ruin ecosystems and kill marine animals.
Some simple ways to remove disposable plastic & help keep plastic waste from entering the ocean & harming marine life:
Use bar soap & shampoo rather than chemically saturated beauty products in plastic bottles. Avoid any beauty products & tooth paste with evil plastic micro beads in them, especially. My favorite brand of bar shampoo is Herban Life & my favorite soap is Thumbprint Soap.
Take reusable shopping bags to the store with you. I love these fruit and veggie sacks you can make from this tutorial because they are doubly ecofriendly, being that they are upcycled from shirts AND they keep plastic bags not only out of landfills, but from even being produced – if you stop using plastic bags at the store, you are reducing the amount of pollutants released into the environment from factories that produce the bags. Go, you!
Stop using plastic sandwich/snack bags. Buy reusable containers, though since many are still made from plastic, this actually is NOT as ecofriendly because once they are no longer of use to you, they also become disposable plastic since most containers aren’t recyclable so be sure to check labels before you purchase or opt for glass or ceramic containers instead, and scoop up a reusable sandwich/snack bag that is machine washable rather than buying more plastic plastic bags.
Have a refillable water bottle with you at all times – and make sure it’s made from glass, not plastic! Keep one in the car or in your bag at all times – this way you won’t ever need to grab a beverage in a plastic bottle while you are out! We also stopped buying soda and buy our milk in glass jars rather than plastic bottles. We have only have one plastic cap from the milk jug every two weeks, which still equals 21 caps a year that ends up in landfills since they aren’t recyclable in our area. Replacing sodas and drinks in plastic containers with filtered water or smoothies/juice made at home reduces a huge amount of plastic pollution!
Always carry a ceramic reusable to-go mug or tumbler with you. Most coffee houses actually give you a discount for bringing a reusable coffee mug. Keep forgetting to bring it? As soon as you get home, rinse it out, wipe it dry and stick it in your purse or diaper bag, or put it back in the cup holder in your car for the next day – voila! Looking at the graphic above, think about Starbuck’s daily traffic, and imagine how small 1.8% of people bringing their own tumbler really is – now imagine what an impact it would make to switch to a reusable tumbler for your daily coffee!
Ordering take out? Skip the drinks in disposable cups with plastic lids and just pour a drink at home instead! Dining out? Straws aren’t recyclable, so tell the serving staff no thanks.
Less is more at the store – buy individual produce rather than packaged fruit or veggies on saran wrapped plastic trays, skip putting the produce in plastic bags, and opt for fresh stalks of greens over bagged varieties. In short – Try to buy the products with the least plastic packaging!
The dreaded battle: getting veggies in your kids. At least, that’s what I hear. My son loves vegetables, so I got lucky there. People always ask me how I get him to eat things like Brussels sprouts, radishes & asparagus. However, I babysit usually 1-5 days a week, and some of those kidlets aren’t huge fans of veggies, so I thought I’d share some of my tried and true tricks for getting delicious, nutritious veggies into reluctant kiddos.
Make it a rainbow of finger food fun with their favorite sauces to dip in. My son & the kids I baby sit love to dip raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, sugar peas, green beans & peppers in ranch dressing. Swap out old, boring orange carrots for purple, yellow or white carrots, cut up red, yellow, green and orange peppers & hype up how exotic it is. The first time I served purple cauliflower, you would have thought it was chocolate the way the kids gobbled it up! What I usually do is fill one tray with veggies & tell the kids to eat what they like from it but to at least try one of every thing. The tray almost always comes back totally empty!
The most sneaky of these methods is a delicious fruit smoothie – that has some carrots, spinach, kale, and sometimes cucumber or peas in it. (Someone gave me a bunch of baby food that had peas in it, it was surprisingly good in a smoothie. Don’t knock it til you try it.) Mask the flavor of the veggies with vanilla yogurt, a squirt of honey, and lots of berries. I use bananas as a base for my smoothies, but you can also use coconut cream or mangoes. My favorite smoothie recipe: two bananas, a cup of spinach, two or three carrots, vanilla yogurt, little squirt of honey, half dozen large strawberries, handful or two of blueberries and a dash of cranberry juice. It’s super delicious and so full of vitamins and I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t like it! Tip – blackberries are good for asking vegetable flavor but have lots of seeds, so if your child has texture issues I wouldn’t recommend trying them in a smoothie!
Similar to above, just make some smoothie mix, freeze into popsicles, and let the kiddos enjoy an all-natural cool treat on a hot summer day!
Roast veggies like carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potatoes with a little butter, salt, pepper, honey and cinnamon. It sweetens them up and most of the kids I babysit ask for seconds and sometimes thirds! You can also make candied yams or candied carrots to add as a veggie side to dinner.
Every kid I babysit loves mac & cheese, so at dinner time I serve it with three sides of veggies. Everyone gets a small, bite sized portion of veggies as well a small scoop of mac & cheese. In order to get more of the mac, they have to clear all the vegetables off their plate. It’s just three bites & of vegetables I know they will at least tolerate, so this gets a full serving of veggies in their stomach & while encouraging them to try new foods! Using this method I have converted kids to asparagus & even Brussels sprouts lovers & typically, they opt for seconds of everything.
I think part of my success with getting my son to eat all the veggies is I started him young – instead of giving him expensive, sweet baby finger foods I gave him peas & cooked carrots. Instead of messy spaghetti, mac & cheese or other starchy foods I gave him cooked potatoes, broccoli & green beans at meals along with fruits & applesauce. Offering a diverse option of foods when they are young can help them grow up enjoying healthier options at meal & snack times!