Eco, makers

Sustainable Snack Bags That Make Lunch Fun – Meet Jane, The Creator of Snuppets!

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!

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Firstly, start by telling readers a bit about yourself!
 
I am a mother of three and have always been a maker at heart, even before I made a business of it! I have done everything from stationery to children’s clothing and even had a children’s boutique at one point. My kids have clearly inspired me and influenced my playful design style. I am motivated to continue “makin” and challenging myself to try new things. I am hoping to dive back into clothing eventually!
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Snuppets are SUCH a cute & unique idea. What was your inspiration for this product?
 
So, when my kids starting going to school I knew that I wanted to come up with eco-sensitive solutions for packing lunches. I made some simple little sandwich bags. When I was taking a walk with my son in his stroller I noticed that he was playing with his empty snack bag as if it was a toy. The idea struck me in that moment to make an interactive storage solution for kids so they weren’t left behind in the lunchroom and Snuppets™ were born! I immediately came up with the name when I thought of the snack puppet concept and decided to trademark my idea!
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After your first design(s) were such a hit, how did you go about evolving your product & adding more designs? Did you know from the start you wanted to continuously add new designs?
 
The evolution of the Snuppet™ has been quite a process! They started with hand stitched features and button eyes. Each one was so unique and one of a kind however I realized that if I wanted to grow the business, I needed to streamline my design process. I decided to draw the characters and have the fabric custom printed. I also started with a velcro closure and have moved to a zipper closure as I feel they are a bit easier to handle for little hands.
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Do you design & sew all of the Snuppets yourself? Do your children help with the design or creation process at all?
 
I design all of my products with the help of my built in focus group (my husband and three kids)! I sew all of my Snuppets™ with my own two tired hands! The making of a Snuppet™ is a bit laborious with the hand cutting and floppy ears so I have not had any success with finding a manufacturer that is up for the task (and I have tried!) I have recently enlisted the help of a local manufacturer to help sew my Reusable Straw Pouches. As much as I love the hands on sewing process, it is nice to have some inventory made so I can spend design time on the computer as well.
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As a mom of three, I imagine life can be pretty hectic sometimes! What are your best tips for time management and organization for maker mamas? 
 
Oh wow, time management is really not my gift. I generally have about 10 projects going at the same time (ask my very patient husband)! It is “organized chaos” around my house at all times! I have converted the corner of my garage to my sewing studio. It is nice to always have my machine out and ready to go so I will hop in there and bust a few things out while the oven is heating up for dinner! If I can steal a handful of productive creative moments throughout the day, I feel complete!
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All of your products make eco-friendly snacking such an easy option for parents. Tell us more about how you use Snuppets to create a positive environmental impact!
 
I really believe that being a true environmentalist is contemplating our impact with choices we make and always trying to do better. I challenge myself all of the time and admittedly have things I personally need to work on in my life. None of us are perfect, I certainly am not. We are all tempted by convenience in our fast paced world but it’s good to check in and challenge ourselves to make slight adjustments that can make a positive impact. The making of plastic bags have a negative impact on our environment and once used, they really never go away. They are virtually indestructible and will outlive all of us while wreaking havoc on our environment! Yes you can choose to recycle plastic which is certainly better than throwing them out however the chemicals released and energy used when recycling plastic is not a great solution. The best thing we can all do is reduce our use of plastic and choose to reuse! One Snuppet™ can last years and replace hundreds of disposable baggies! I have Snuppets™ that I have been using for 3 years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
You can read some staggering facts about plastic bags here…Plastic Bag Consumption Facts | ConservingNow
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You recently began to share some more politically motivated designs for your reusable straw pouches. Did you find that taking a political stance affected your business in any way? (would love to hear about your choice to use your influence as a maker to create change!)
 
I do try and stay consistent with all of my products having the purpose of reducing waste. It keeps me motivated when I believe in what I’m making and while the growth of my business has been slow, I do feel like people become loyal when they feel it’s authentic.
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What is your go-to self care routine to prevent burn-out and overwhelm as a small business owner? 
 
I am 46 and still feel like I have so much growing to do as a person. Over the years, I have learned the importance of self-care & how it impacts me if I don’t make it a priority. I make time for exercise most days and try hard to make time in my life for people I love. I have recently carved out time in the mornings for some quiet yoga and meditation before my house wakes. I am feeling the value in this and while I have a long way to go in the meditation department, I can sense that this is going to become a habitual part of my daily life.
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Your branding is so on point – did you design your logo & product packaging yourself?
 
 I love the marketing side of making my products. I design all of my packaging materials/tags and coming up with names for new products is so fun. This past year I have added Happy Cloths and Seaside Straws to my collection.
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Where would you like to see Snuppets in the next 5 years?
 
My business has been a slow build but things have picked up the past year. Snuppets™ appeal specifically to children but the recent addition of products appealing to a broader market has helped grow my business. I do have some ideas on the horizon for new eco-sensitive solutions that I hope to launch in 2019. I would love to increase my retail sales online but overall, I am happy with the pace of growth for my business since I only have two hands!
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How many of your Snuppets do you personally use in your household? 
I really can’t say how many Snuppets I have in circulation right now in my house, probably around 20? A lot of them are older models or samples, I actually have very few of my latest designs!
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What is your advice for makers who want to begin acquiring wholesale accounts but aren’t sure where to start? 
 
I currently have 6 wholesale accounts. I am working on display ideas as I think this will possibly help grow my business in this department. I have found that stores like to be given a simple way to display. Space is typically an issue in the retail world so I feel that if I make it easy, they will be inclined to buy! I will keep you posted on this theory and let you know how it goes! (:

If Snuppets inspired you to make snack time more sustainable, pop over to visit Snuppets on Facebook or Instagram! If you can’t wait to get your hands on a Snuppet of your very own, head to Jane’s shop and pick out your favorite!

Eco, Uncategorized

3 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste Daily – Foodie Edition

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!

Switch to Stainless Steel Straws

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!

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Say NO to Plastic Lids

Instead of grabbing a to-go or a kid’s drink with a plastic lid, go topless – and put on your own!

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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!

Bring your own Bamboo Ware

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.

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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 bulk71NHCBkeluL._SL1500_.jpg

Together, we can save the world

(literally!)

What disposable plastic foodie items do you plan to replace with reusable items this year?

 

Transformation Tuesday

Transformation Tuesday – Pretty Pink Robe into Magical Unicorn Mon-stor Toy Storage Bag & more!

Last week, I snapped this hilarious shot of my son in this pink robe before I cut into it to make Mon-stors.

(sidenote: this photo is misleading. He only looks less than enthused because I interrupted a match of his video game, not because I asked him to model the robe – if you can’t tell by his hair, he loves the color pink & actually asked me if he could keep the robe!)

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This was an adult size large robe that found it’s way to the salvage center because of a little spot of something sticky on it’s hem that washed right off after one round in the washing machine! I still have a bit of it left to turn into stuffed monsters, but my main upcycles from it were….

One – This pink haired small Mon-stor toy storage bag, where I used the front panel of the robe to add additional pocket storage to the Mon-stor.

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And 2 – this unicorn themed Mon-stor, lined with a vintage wild animal sheet & also rocking the second pocket from the robe!

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Here is a shot of the amazing vintage sheet I used in this one!

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At the time of this posting, both Mon-stors are currently available in my monster shop! I will update this post when I use up the last bit of the robe to make stuffed monsters to show the full transition!

Eco, Uncategorized

CoffeeSock: it is not as weird as it sounds, and you totally need one

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!

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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!

What do you think? Will you try out reusable CoffeeSock filters, or stick with paper?

Monsters

What Mon-stors are Made From: Stop! It’s Snuggie Time!

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Am I alone in thinking that Snuggies are absolutely fabulous, if quite impractical if you aren’t 6’5″? I think part of the reason I adore them so much is because I frequently get these in donations & find them at salvage centers and I can make sooooo many Mon-stor toy storage bags & stuffed monster toys from them! Today, I’m showing off a few from a recent upcycle of this beautiful blue Snuggie!

To make Mon-stors, I also use things like curtains, sheets, pajama pants, dresses or skirts for the lining. Here, I used this curtain that had a some stains from bleach splashing it.

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I combined those two, to make this huge Mon-stor toy storage bag! (He’s still available in my shop, too!) My big toy storage bags fit a LOT of toys – 9 Build-a-Bear sized stuffed toys, almost an entire load of laundry, 11 pairs of jeans, or a butt load of MegaBlocks, haha! They are ideal toy storage for play rooms or kid’s rooms, or make great hampers for pre-teens! Smaller children especially love “feeding” their Mon-stor toys – it makes cleaning up fun!

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Now, like I mentioned above, I can usually make a LOT from an adult sized Snuggie – here are two other Mon-stors I made! This one is lined with vintage fabric that was donated to me – it was going to get thrown into a box on the curb for the garbage man, and a friend scooped that box up & brought it to me instead!

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This one is also lined with some vintage material – a table cloth another person’s grandmother was going to throw out, but they rescued and put in my hands! This small Mon-stor toy bag is also available in my shop!

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I also made a few stuffed monster toys from this awesome, vibrant blue, but unfortunately it was right before The Big Crafty event I did in July in Asheville, so I sold a  lot of them before I snapped photos because of the pre-show chaos! I did snap this photo on the 4th of July, which has two of the four or five I made in it! I can’t remember exactly how many I was able to squish out of that Snuggie.

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If I were pressed to say, I may say that Snuggies are my favorite textile discard to work with. Unfortunately, they were a “trend” item and a TON of people bought them during the hype… to later throw them into donation bins or worse, just into the trash bin. But due their popularity, I do receive them in donations or find them at salvage centers frequently, often in mostly usable condition. If they are stained or worn out in places, I just cut around the stains and use those bits for dicing into stuffing.

Saving the world – one monster at a time!

 

Monsters

What Mon-stors are Made From: From Pajamas into Mon-stor Toy Storage Bags

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A lot of people ask me what I mean when I say I use textile discards, so I wanted to bring back my “What are Mon-stors made from” series! I’ve made a LOT of monsters lately and don’t always remember to snap a before photo, but I do have a few from when I received a lot of donated pajamas – some may have had missing buttons, a small stain, a tear or some every day wear, and would otherwise have gotten tossed & ended up in a landfill. Instead, I gave them new life & turned these funky pajama pants…

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Into these two cute, fiery Mon-stor toy storage bags! Small Mon-stors are perfect for taming car clutter in the minivan, toy storage in the playroom, holding pajamas & a book for bedtime routines or as an overnight bag for sleepovers with grandparents! Both of these cuties are available for adoption in my shop, along with several other Mon-stor toy storage bags, stuffed monster toys, sensory blankets and more – all made from upcycled materials!

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After I make the monsters, I turn the smaller scraps into stuffed monsters, sensory blankets, tooth pillows, etc. Once I’ve used as much of the materials as I can to create product, I use the smaller scraps for facial features like mouths, tongues or irises in the monster eyes, or cute little monster horns/ears! Once I deplete all the bits big enough for that, I take those super mega itty bitty scraps, go at them with the rotary blade, and dice them super fine to blend with polyfil for stuffing – so there is absolutely no landfill waste from their production!

I hope to bring back these posts at least once a week to demonstrate the sustainability and process behind making these toy bags, plush toys & such. That, of course, involves remembering to take “before” pictures and snapping photos of the process – I usually get so excited as I root through donations & salvage center scores after I wash them that I forget to snap a photo & dive right into making monsters! Ha! But I do have a few “before” photos stored up on my computer & will work to pair them with their finished monsters for weekly posts for you guys!

Eco, Monsters, Transformation Tuesday

What Mon-stors are made of – how many monsters can I make from a robe?

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…

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A big AND a small Mon-stor! Oh, and…

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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.

small mini stuffed monster made from recycled fabrics in Asheville NC

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!