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Toy exchange

24 Apr

Anyone partake in an Earth Day activity?  Please leave us a comment – we’d love to hear about it!

Today we thought we’d re-share a helpful blog about hosting an exchange party for kids toys.  Many parents nowadays are trying to avoid plastics, and keep their children’s toy collections to a minimum but the pile inevitably grows.  We’ve blogged before about clothing exchanges so why not host a toy/book/child exchange – just kidding, don’t trade your children!

We came across this post from Dawn Friedman (shareable: Life & Art) here a few excerpts:

On the spur of the moment, I sent out an email inviting friends to a used toy exchange. I know my friends and I know that the siren song of de-cluttering and getting a deal was likely to lure most of them in.The basic details were this:

  • Bring your gently used toys, clothes and books to share out at my house the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Expect to rummage through everyone else’s stuff, too.
  • Anything left behind would be donated to Goodwill.

As people began to leave (most of them loaded down with toys for their family and for friends who couldn’t make the exchange), they made me promise to have the exchange against next year. I promised to make it an annual tradition. Everyone agreed that a give away is about ten times more fun when you get to do it in person.

Once everyone was gone, I surveyed the room—we only had a single large box of toys to take to Goodwill. And me? I not only had cleaner closets and a stronger sense of holiday spirit, I also scored a fabulous bag of finger puppets to add to our collection.

Some tips to pull off a toy exchange:

  • Invite a variety of ages. People with babies won’t have much to give and people with older kids might have more trouble finding stuff to get, but having a wide age range promises that most people will be able to find something.
  • Have bags and boxes available so that people can pack up easily.
  • It’s easier to exchange without kids, but it’s likely some children will be there, so have something for them to do elsewhere so their parents can “shop” more easily.
  • Don’t worry about one-to-one trades. The goal isn’t to barter so much as it is to get the goods out of your house and to the people who want them.
  • Be prepared to take care of the leftovers. One of the pluses for my guests was my promise that they wouldn’t have to take any of their old toys back home with them.
  • Don’t forget the tiniest toys, which seem to multiply at the bottom of toy boxes and underfoot. They make great stocking stuffers for someone else.
  • Baggies are useful for keeping toys with lots of parts together. Building toys like Legos or K’Nex especially are more appealing when packaged up, ready for the new owners to wrap.

You can read her full post here.

Not only does this provide helpful de-cluttering and re-distributing but also: puts less pressure on toy manufactures to make new toys, it minimizes the packaging, encourages the investment in high quality products that can be passed on instead of single use disposable toys, and hopefully it starts a trend of collaboration!  So get your exchange on this spring and host a gathering in your community.



put a face on it

17 Apr

Hey folks – our apologies for the lull in blogging this season.  It seems winter really has taken its toll and has even kept us from posting…  For real though, we hope all you No-Waste-Wednesdays regulars have been staying inspired to reduce your waste in many other ways!

This month we’d like to bring up a few topics under the theme of family care.  Check back in 2011 & 2012 for posts on cloth diapers, the one-can-a-month challenge, insect repellents, the plastic toy debate, earth day, and inspiring kids to nurture a relationship with nature.

Earth Day 2013

Earth Day 2013

This year Earth Day 2013 is coming up on Monday April 22nd!  One of the most important aspects to environmental education is to have positive role models who show care and concern for issues of injustice and environmental degradation.  So if you work with kids, youth, students or have young people in your life – use this year’s Earth Day theme as way to engage them.

Earth Day 2013’s campaign is to show the many faces of climate change – check out their video below, use #faceofclimate in your social media and visit their website to upload a photo yourself.   Put a face on climate change!

Play Time

25 Apr

Hope you all enjoyed Earth Day!
For this week we wanted to point you towards the plastic toy debate – a lot of parents are hesitant about surrounding their children with plastic toys but how do you navigate birthday parties, the toy aisle and the favorite well-intentioned aunt?  Let’s explore…we’ll start with an excerpt from Mommy Footprint from, “What you don’t know about plastic toys made from PVC“.

“…I love toys. Not at a normal level ~ I enjoy buying them more than my kids enjoy receiving them. I really thought this made me a good mom.

When my Mommy Footprint journey began, many things changed in our household. I began to experience a new awakening of the environment and also an understanding that I need to check products for myself before trusting that big name companies were watching out for my children. Because of financial reasons and having a house that is filled with too much ‘stuff’ I’ve been scaling back for the better part of 11 months and feel quite ashamed of my access in the last 6 years of being a parent. I’ve also realized that many things in my house are indeed toxic; cleaning supplies, personal care products, and toys. My focus with this article is toys and the important lesson for consumers that purchase toys for small children.

There is so much confusion with the terms PVC, phthalates, plasticizers, types of plastic, etc., it still has me scratching my head at times. There are a few things I’ve learned and it would have altered the course of my parenting had I known that most soft plastic toys are toxic. If you knew that a child simply mouthing a PVC plastic toy could be compared to a child sucking chemicals from a sponge wouldn’t you call poison control and find out what the effects were? Well the European Union really had a grasp of this problem back in the 1990′s and banned a lot of products that continue to be sold in Canada and the US ~ why? In 1997 Austria, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden all banned phthalates (one of the most common chemicals used to make plastic soft) from being used in toys.  Why is North America so much slower to react?”

Want to know more??  Keep reading or check out these links:

Tell us about your experience with kids and toys!  Leave us a comment.


Insect Repellents

18 Apr

Spring is upon us and if you’ve been cooped up all winter – we’ll bet you are eager to spend time outdoors.  As the weather turns warmer however, you may find yourself reaching for some bug repellent before stepping out or spraying down your kids on their way to a soccer game… If this is the case please read on to learn about some of the harmful effects of DEET and a much less toxic alternative.

All over the country, people are purchasing insect repellent products made with DEET. They are spraying them on their skin, soaking their clothes in the chemicals, and even eating foods after they have spread lotions containing DEET on their bodies with their bare hands. There’s little doubt that DEET is effective at repelling insects such as mosquitoes, but growing questions remain about the health consequences of using DEET.

The environmental protection agency and the CDC both state officially that DEET is not harmful when used as directed. However, this advice is based on the idea that DEET is not absorbed through the skin. This is a common myth in the medical and pharmaceutical industries — that cosmetically-applied lotions somehow stay outside the body and don’t interact with the blood stream and internal organs of the body. In fact, as any good medical researcher knows, nearly all chemicals that are placed on the skin, especially in liquid form, are eventually absorbed and enter the bloodstream. DEET is known to cause neurological damage, and once it enters the bloodstream, it makes its way to the nervous system, where it is known to cause seizures and even deaths. It can be especially harmful to children, which is why its use should be strictly limited with children.

(From Natural News – Read the entire article here)
Citronella as a safer alternative:
Citronella candles have been around for years and studies show that people sitting near the candles had 42% fewer bites than people sitting outside without. Oil of Citronella shows little or no toxicity (although you should avoid contact with skin) and gets the Environmental Protection Agency’s stamp of approval. Fight mosquitoes without hurting the environment and put the itch-relief cream back in the medicine cabinet.
(From Green Is Sexy – Read the full description here)
The good news is that citronella is not only available in candle form but can be found in sprays, lotions, soaps, wipes and even sunscreen for babies!  Check out these items from Herbaria.

Act For The Planet

11 Apr

Welcome to April’s focus on Family Care!  You can check out our posts from last April when we blogged about “baby steps” to help your home and family live more sustainably, cloth diapers, Earth Day 2011 (including the one-can-a-month challenge from enviromom), and children’s unique relationship with nature.

This year we look forward to another Earth Day and many family care eco-tips!

This week, for parents out there – having trouble inspiring your kids to care about the planet?  Check out ecokidsActs For The Planet for simple ideas…

And read this article from the David Suzuki Foundation on why “Replacing Screen Time with Green Time is Good for Kids”

Docs Talk: What kind of activities do you recommend parents do with their children to help them connect with nature?

Dr. Lem: There are two major concepts to consider: role modelling and active involvement of the child. One of the most effective ways parents can strengthen their child’s connection to nature is to minimize screen time and embrace green time themselves. The other is to promote a mix of both parent-supervised and independent outdoor play, which encourages children to form and build upon their own nature experiences.

Fun family activities can range from planting a garden to a weekend camping vacation in a provincial park. The backyard is a safe and stimulating place for younger children to explore green space. Encourage them to cloud watch, build a fort, collect stones or come up with their own nature-based games. Outdoor, environment-based volunteering can be an effective way for younger and older children to build self-esteem and strong family and peer relationships.

We’d love to hear from you – please leave us a comment!  Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. Did you spend more time outdoors when you were a child than you do as an adult?
  2. How has that affected you or given you an appreciation for nature?
  3. Has you appreciation of nature translated into a desire to preserve it?