Itty Bitty Greenie

eco-fabulous finds for kids

10 EASY green parenting choices that will save you money

1) CHOOSE SECOND-HAND ITEMS: It’s tempting for parents to buy shiny new gear for their first born, but since baby items are only used for a short period, isn’t it wiser to cut your consumption and save cash? Graciously accept donations and visit garage sales and online shops specializing in second-hand goods like Petite Repeat. Supporting a sustainable future for our children is win-win for buyers and sellers.

2) NAPPIES: When you consider that the average family can save thousands of dollars by using cloth nappies instead of disposables, it really adds up. The good news is there are heaps of modern cloth nappies that are not only easy to use but gorgeous too. Some of our faves: TotsBots EasyFit cloth nappies and Designer Bums all in ones.

3) BABY WIPES: They are a nappy bag essential, but have you ever thought about the amount of waste they create and how much money they cost in the long run? One easy way save is to keep a stack of clean baby washers next to the change table and a spray bottle with nothing more than water and a few drops of essential oil – does the trick!

4) ECO CLEANING: Ever notice how much more laundry comes into your life when you have a child? If you are doing one or more loads of washing a day, that adds up to a lot of energy and water consumption. Invest in a good eco-efficient washing machine and it will pay for itself in no time. And for most household cleaning jobs, a little vinegar and baking soda can go a long way. And when you consider the health hazards associated with many commercial cleaning products, you’ll be doing your family a favour by cutting your exposure to harmful chemicals as well as saving money.

5) GROW YOUR OWN: Food prices in Australia are on the rise, and if you prefer to buy organic, it can quickly become unaffordable. The best way to manage both issues is to plant your own veggie patch. Even if gardening is not your thing, you can start small and experiment with a few seedlings. The kids will love digging in the garden, and there’s nothing more satisfying that eating food that you’ve grown yourself.

6) LUNCHES / SNACKS: There is so much money and unnecessary packaging that can be saved by using an eco-friendly lunchbox for your kids. Stop buying expensive pre-packaged snacks or using plastic wrap for sandwiches. Buy in bulk, and find reusable containers for packing lunches. Our favourite is the Goodbyn lunchbox, which is BPA free and has handy sections.

7) TOYS / BOOKS: When play is their primary job, it doesn’t take long for kids to get bored with their toys and books. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy more. Take a trip to the local library to find something new. Most communities have a toy library as well, so you can rotate things and the fun never ends. Save new toys (and your money) for birthday and Christmas gifts.

8 ) WALK / BIKE: to the grocery store, to the park, to the pool or post office. Stop using the car so much, support local businesses, get some exercise and teach your kids the value of this – not only for their health, but for the health of the environment too. Live local.

9) WATER: Water restrictions may not be as severe as a few years ago, but we should all remain conscious of wasting water and doing our part to conserve. Installing rain water tanks and recycling bath water for the garden, etc. will save money and this valuable resource.

10) SOLAR – The Australian government has offered homeowners incentives for installing solar panels, and depending on the size of your home, you can even sell solar credits back to the grid. A great way to reduce energy bills and your impact on the environment. For more information, visit the Australian government website on solar rebates and assistance.

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SPECIAL OFFER

Itty Bitty Greenie readers can enjoy a further 15% off the already low prices of second-hand baby clothing at Petite Repeat until the end of the year by including the coupon code: ittybitty at checkout (unlimited)! Click here to start shopping.

 

Christmas Time For Toys

Christmas Time for Toys with a few that make our list!  Christmas is a time of open hearts and kindness and giving the simplest of token in a gesture of goodwill and happiness makes us feel remembered and loved! It doesn’t need to break the bank either!
Be creative and up-cycle or revamp an old treasure or maybe add a bit of the old and the new together!
Think Recycle, Happy and Fun!

If you’re looking for some Eco-friendly Christmas Toys here are a few that make our list for eco-fabulous kids!

Christmas Time with Green Toys! 

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1) Pop-out and Play Christmas A magical winter wonderland to play and display! $16.95

2) Plan Toys Fire Truck Wooden Toy for junior rescuers! $24.95

3) Green Toys Fire Engine Race to the rescue! $32.95

4) Kit Pax Fire Station Build for fun-filled action! $39.95

5) Green Toys Fire Truck Protect the environment from harm! $52.95

6) Green Toys Fire Station Playset Spark imaginative play with your little firefighter! $99.95

7) Day and Night First Word Book From tummy time to toddler’s first words! $19.95

8) ABC Touch & Feel Alphabet Book Interactive play for sensory and language awareness! $19.95

9) Count with Me 1-2-3 Book Foldout Double Sided Animals for learning and fun! $19.95

10) Wooden Stacking Rabbit  Classic Toy with a modern look! $45.00

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Discover More Fun Eco-toys for Playing
Shop – 20% Off Now until 20th December, 2016.
using code: Xmasrescue at checkout. (Australia Only)

 

 

eco baby toys / ecofriendly wooden toys / green toys / plan toys / orchard toys / petitcollage toys / ravensburger / hess spielburg toys / tigertribe toys /dandelion /greenstart books /mibo / vulli toys

 

Good Onya

H2 Onya stainless steel bottlesDid you know :

- bottled water generates 600 times more CO2 than tap water? For Australia that’s 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
- Australians spend more than half a billion dollars a year on bottled water.
- 70% of plastic bottles end up in landfill, and they take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

There are many more staggering statistics on the subject, but suffice it to say, bottled water is something we seem to spend a lot of money on, and usually without thinking about the environmental impacts of that choice. In Australia we are lucky enough to have quality, accessible drinking water, and with so many great reusable water bottles on the market, there really is no excuse to be wasting away with plastic.

Add to this the fact that most plastic bottles contain hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and phthalates, and you should have even more motivation to make the switch.

Onya is an Australian company that has created some stylish and reusable stainless steel water bottles in sizes suitable for anyone, no matter what their age. H2 Onya bottles are especially great for children, because their ergonomic design means they don’t easily slip out of little hands, and they have interchangeable lids, so they can start off using a teat and drink milk from these, and then progress to a sippy lid and eventually one of the sportier lids. Made from food-grade stainless steel, these are built to last a long time – even if they are knocked around a bit (as they most likely will be when used by kids).

Even if you’ve already bought those popular Avent bottles, the teats and sippy attachments are compatible with the Onya lids too. Click here to check out our 350ml range for younger children. We have also tried out the Onya Reusable Sandwich Wraps and find they are a brilliant solution for keeping sandwiches and lunch nicely packed and ready to go!

And, for more interesting facts on bottled water and it’s affect on our environment, visit the cool australia.org

Top 5 tips for a spring clean – the greenie way

blog-springcleanSpring has to be one of my favourite times of the year. After a long grey winter, those first rays of sunshine and buds of green popping up in the garden somehow inspires me to freshen up our living spaces, indoors and out. Here are some of my top tips for greening up while you’re cleaning up.

1) REDUCE: The quickest way to do your spring cleaning is to have less to clean… so take this opportunity to clear out closets, toy boxes, shelves, the pantry and get rid of all that stuff you don’t use.

2) TURN UP THE SHINE: It doesn’t take more than a little vinegar and water to get rid of the grime on your windows, a little lemon and bi-carb to scrub the bathroom and a little eucalyptus oil and water to clean and disinfect floors and benchtops. Think natural and you’ll save on harmful chemical exposures found in most conventional cleaners as well as saving money.

3) CLEAR THE AIR: add some freshness indoors and out with a few potted plants. They act as a natural air filter indoors and can add some colour and cheer to outdoor spaces.

4) SHARE THE LOAD: Pick a day and have a family cleaning bee. It’s great to get the kids involved in de-cluttering their own things and sharing responsibilities at home. Choose some kid-sized chores (like cleaning out the cubby house, weeding or washing down patio furniture), and you can reward yourselves later for a job well done.

5) CHECK IT OUT: Spring is a good time to check your major appliances to ensure they are running efficiently. Dust off the ceiling fans, clean the seals on your refrigerator, and clean out your washing machine and dishwasher to ensure they are running efficiently.

We are currently testing  some amazing new eco-friendly products; an alternative solution to laundry detergents and a probiotic all purpose cleaner. Stay Tuned!

 

Sunscreen – is it safe?

sunscreenIt’s tough to argue against using sunscreen as an important method of protection against sun damage to our skin. But what many consumers don’t realize is that some popular products (used religiously by us sun-loving Australians) also contain an array of chemicals that could make applying sunscreen to your skin more hazardous than sun exposure itself.

As the demand for sunscreen with higher sun protection factors (SPF) has increased over the years, the skin care industry has had to increase the level of chemical compounds found in these products.

Of particular concern are sunscreens that are specially developed for children. While as well-meaning parents slather our bubs with those “kid-friendly” lotions (look! It’s purple – what fun!), we also might want to take a closer look at the ingredient list.

In Australia most sunscreens are regulated as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA). However, products containing sunscreen ingredients classified as cosmetic are not regulated by the TGA and are not required to be tested for photocarcinogenic effects.

Here are some things to look out for:

Benzophenone (benzophenone-3), homosalate, and octy-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate): These chemicals are bad news because they have shown estrogenic activity in lab tests. Oxybenzone is a derivative of benzophenone and it is linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. A study by the Center for Disease Control in the US found that 97 per cent of the 2,500 people tested aged six years and up had oxybenzone in their urine.

Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-): Parabens are common in sunscreens so avoiding them may prove difficult. They are preservatives that have estrogenic qualities. They have produced abnormal hormonal effects following on laboratory rodents, particularly male, resulting in decreased testosterone levels and other abnormalities. They have also been found to accumulate in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer.

Padimate-O and Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone): While on the surface of the skin these chemicals appear to prevent UV damage but when absorbed into the skin they can actually damage DNA. There is evidence that the sun’s light may cause these chemicals to become reactive and cause free-radical damage when they’re absorbed.

If you are looking for safer sunscreen options there are some great products out there, and here are a few that I love:
Little Innoscents Sunscreen (SPF 30+)
The unique sunscreen formula from this Australian brand provides skin with essential UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection. It’s also free from nanoparticles or chemical absorbers, and contains aloe vera, vitamin E and calendula as a safe and natural alternative for sensitive skin

WotNot SPF 30+ Sunscreen
Made in Australia and provides broad spectrum protection against UV-B rays as well as UV-A.

California Baby SPF 30+ no-fragrance sunscreen
It’s also the WebMD Expert’s Choice Winner

And for more on the subject, click here for a paper from Dr Peter Dingle, an Australian environmental and nutritional toxicolgist.

grow, build, eat, thrive, nurture, connect… yes please!

Since I have a background in graphics and print design, I love exploring other forms of design, from interior spaces to gardens and all things in between. But one thing that universally grabs my attention is when design – whether it be a small object or a grand-scale project – not only looks fabulous and functions well, but contributes to the community and has ecological benefits. So I’ve been giving some thought to permaculture lately. For those who don’t know what that’s about, here’s simple definition, courtesy of wikipedia:

“Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.”

Considering our climate in Australia and our potential for drought, the permaculture industry has enormous potential, and it’s growing indeed. Once you delve into some of it’s applications – from edible gardens to rooftop green spaces in urban areas, the benefits really are amazing.

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My interest was piqued when a friend told me she was studying permaculture and sustainable architechture in Melbourne. She’s originally from Mexico City, another place in the world that can surely benefit from eco design and agriculture systems. And then I came across Pip Magazine – a beautiful Australian publication that celebrates and informs on all things permaculture related.

Pip explores unique projects happening in Australia and around the world – and not only those at an organized level, but the kinds of things we can do in our own backyards, with our families and in our local communities. It’s an inspiration for eco and ethical living, and uncovers examples of social enterprise at its best.

Pip_magazine Issue #2 has a feature on Joost Bakker, an Australian entrepreneur and a powerful advocate of waste-free living whom I admire immensely. His vertical plant wall system he developed for his pop-up restaurants can now be seen at many restaurants and houses across the country.

Pip’s motto is “grow, build, eat, thrive, nurture, connect,” which to me reads like a perscription for building a stronger, more fulfilling connection with nature and our communities. It earns extra points in my book for being printed in full colour on 100% recycled paper too. But if you’re not into print products, the Pip website has a great selection of seasonal gardening tips, recipes, how-to guides and more.

Visit the Pip Magazine website for more information on permaculture, and subscription options.

Six clever ways to upcycle kids clothes

You don’t have to be a Greenie mum to appreciate second-hand baby clothes. Since we all know how quickly children grow out of their clothing (especially babies), accepting hand-me-downs from family or friends is a great way to prolong the life of garments and (yes) it’s also a sensible option if you aim to keep things eco-friendly by reducing and reusing. I love seeing my children’s old clothing worn by one of my friend’s kids — it always brings back memories. But what about those pieces that you want to hang on to for sentimental reasons, or the ones that are so worn they are beyond repair?

 

Here are a few clever ways to re-purpose used clothing and, if you are feeling crafty and inspired, create something even more special.

 

1) Make a memory quilt or pillow

While those baby days may seem long, before you know it your child will be ready for their big-boy/girl bed, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal and hand-made quilt or pillow for them to cuddle up with? Using special baby clothes that they’ve outgrown, you can design something truly unique and heirloom worthy, whether you have the sewing skills or not. Websites like custommade.com and morethanquilts.com allow you to create your own design in collaboration with someone who will do the handiwork for you. Hooray!

 

2) Make a soft toy

Have an old sweater that hasn’t been worn in a while but you don’t want to part with? Consider making a new toy for your little one. I love these soft balls, that would make a colourful and unique baby gift. Or you can use scrap pieces of fabric to create a unique soft toy that your child can help to design – perhaps based on their favourite animal. Feeling even more ambitious? How about making a set of letters to introduce your little one to the alphabet and spelling?

 

3) Make a piece of artwork or wreath

I love the idea of using old bits and pieces of fabric and ribbons to create a colourful wreath. In fact, I’m totally doing this for my little girl’s room! Or, if you have an old T-shirt that your child loves but has outgrown, stretch it over a canvas frame for a unique and personal piece of artwork.

 

upcycling children's clothes

 

4) Make hair accessories

Put on your crafty hat, take an old T-shirt, cut it into strips, braid the pieces, and voila – a colourful headband for your little girl. There are lots of tutorials for making headbands and hair clips on Pinterest. And goodness knows my little one is always losing hers, so having a few extra would definitely come in handy.

 

5) Make doll clothes

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a few orphan socks (where do they go?). Well here’s a clever and easy idea for creating a Barbie dress with one. Or you could take old baby tops and pants and make them into doll’s clothing with a few easy nips and tucks.

 

6) Make an activity book

I love this book that uses all kinds of different pieces of clothing to tech kids how to zip, button and snap. The different textures make for a unique sensory experience for little ones, and it introduces them to problem-solving, too.

 

All images are courtesy of Pinterest. Like these? You’ll love our IttyBittyGreenie Pinterest boards. Check them out and follow us here.

 

10 Things you’ll probably find in a Greenie Mum’s pantry

If there’s one thing eco-conscious mums have in common it’s a desire to find alternatives to big brand, overly processed foods and a keen interest in keeping the family healthy. That means seeking out local and organic food producers, growing our own and spending lots of time reading ingredient labels. Here are some of the staples you’ll find in our cupboards:

green pantry

1) Coconut Oil

Incredibly versatile, organic virgin coconut oil is wonderful for cooking, moisturizing, boosting immunity and metabolism, treating skin conditions and so much more. Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, which contain antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

2) Natural sweeteners

Agave syrup, rice malt syrup, maple syrup, organic honey, organic molasses, stevia, Medjool dates – these handy sugar substitutes help when a recipe calls for the “evil” white stuff (sugar). There is definitely a war on sugar these days, with three major health organizations in Australia alone calling for a sugar tax to curb consumption as it is blamed for everything from cancer to rising childhood obesity.

3) Non-dairy milk

Many of us grew up drinking cow’s milk and were lead to believe it was a health food, but there is plenty of recent evidence to dispute this. Since the rise of factory farming, with hormones and environmental carcinogens entering our food chain, many now question whether the benefits of cow’s milk (and dairy products in general) outweigh the risks. This month a British scientist and six-time cancer survivor urged Western nations to curb consumption of dairy and animal products because of links to hormonal cancers. In the meantime rice milk, oat milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk or soy are excellent dairy substitutes for your morning cereal, baking or smoothies.

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4) Apple cider vinegar

Hardcore health enthusiasts will tout the stuff as a miracle elixir, but greenies tend to like it because it’s all natural and can be used for everything from detoxing to house cleaning to treating sunburn and making your hair shine. Raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, apple cider vinegar is so much more than a salad dressing.

5) Quinoa

Surely by now you have heard of this superfood AND know how to pronounce it? It’s one of the most protein-rich foods out there, which, if you’re looking to cut down on meat consumption, can come in handy. It also has twice as much fiber as most other grains, is high in iron, magnesium, lysine and riboflavin. We love it because of its versatility too: serve it warm in porridge or as a substitute for rice, or cold (in salads) and pretty soon you might understand why the Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.

6) Chia Seeds

Another food that’s been around for centuries (it was an important crop for Aztecs), Chia has re-emerged as a modern day superfood. Why do we like it? It’s a great source of calcium and fibre, protein and healthy omega-3 fats (which can improve brain function, sleep patterns and behaviour in children). It’s also flavourless, making it easy to add to just about everything. We regularly top our muesli, baked goods, smoothies and yogurt/fruit bowls with a sprinkle.

7) Kale

Starting to see a pattern here? It’s true, greenie mums love superfoods, and Kale is also a biggie because it’s high in iron, antioxidants, vitamins and calcium. Shhh… my kids don’t know I sneak it into everything from soups, lasagne, risotto, smoothies and more.

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8) Lemons

We have a lemon tree in our yard, so I’m always looking for new and helpful ways to use them. Besides the obvious benefits of boosting Vitamin C intake and using lemons to clean and whiten, they are great to have in the greenie mum’s arsenal of home remedies. Lemon and honey can soothe a sore throat and fever, lemon can ease the itch of bug bites and help acne. more on the health secrets of lemons here.

9) Muesli

Greenies are often labelled as granola-munching hippies and I say what’s wrong with that? I love making my own muesli, packed with oats, seeds, grains, spices and dried fruit. When the kids get home from school and you’re suddenly faced with that dreaded refrain of “I’m hungry” you’ll be thankful it’s in the cupboard as a go-to snack any time of the day. And it’s good for you.

10) Organic Fair Trade Chocolate

It’s a greenie mum’s favourite treat. I only read the studies that say it’s beneficial (dark chocolate is best), and always look for fair trade brands. My favourite Australian organic chocolate makers are Pana Chocolate and Loving Earth.

Holding out for a school lunch hero?

goodbyn hero

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that parents (in general) don’t enjoy packing school lunches day after day. I’m no exception. Keeping things interesting, organized and fresh can be challenging for us time-poor caregivers, which is why I appreciate products that make things that little bit easier.

I’ve long been a fan of the Goodbyn lunchboxes – mostly because they offer an attractive and toxin-free solution to packing a healthy, waste-free lunch. My son has been using a Goodbyn Bynto for three years and I can honestly say we both love it because it’s sturdy, easy to use (and clean), and it can store a surprising amount of food without being too bulky to carry in his schoolbag.

goodbyn lunchboxRecently Goodbyn introduced it’s newest lunchbox – the Hero. What’s different? There is one large bento-style container with three handy compartments for keeping food separated. In addition, the set comes with two extra smaller containers that are leak-proof and perfect for packing things like yogurt and dips. These also fit inside the larger container to keep the whole set neat and tidy. Easy, versatile and very practical.

Now, if all you need is a little inspiration for what to put in your trusty Hero lunchbox, the Goodbyn website has some handy hints and recipe inspiration. Yay!

It’s also worth noting that Goodbyn lunchboxes are completely recyclable. All of the pieces are made of #5 polypropylene and #2 high-density polyethylene, and can be placed in your municipality’s recycling container. That is, if you ever want to part with it – and I can’t see that happening in our house…

View our complete range of Goodbyn lunchboxes and other eco-friendly products for helping you pack a waste-free lunch at Itty Bitty Greenie.

Eco, organic and natural does not = boring…

eco rainbow bright

When I started my search for eco products for children — long before Itty Bitty Greenie was born — I was overwhelmed by the selection of “natural” coloured organic onesies and plain wooden toys. Sure they were pure and beautiful, but having looked forward to the time when I could buy things for my own children, I craved a little more colour and fun. After all, making eco choices shouldn’t have to be boring, right?

I’ve always found rainbows cheerful and inspiring, so I guess it’s no surprise that colourful items figure prominently in our collection of eco-fabulous finds. Here are some of my faves:

1) Plan Toys Baby Car $24.95

2) Hess Spielzeug Elephant Rattle $15.95

3) Playable Art Balls $49.95

4) Beeswax Honey Sticks (box of 12 colours) $14.95

5) Hess Spielzeug Heart Rattle $15.95

6) Frugi Rainbow Organic Babygrow $29.95

7) Rainbow Rattle and Teething toy $14.95

8) Teddy Bear Rattle and Grasping Toy $16.95

9) Little Innoscents Certified Organic Skincare for children – gift set $19.95

10) Tots Bots EasyFit modern cloth nappy – Rainbow Spot print $32.95

11) Plan Toys Oval Xylophone $39.95

12) Frugi Rainbow Spot Organic Babygrow $24.95