Itty Bitty Greenie

eco-fabulous finds for kids

Archive for the ‘Recycle’ Category

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.

 

Living in a dirtgirlworld

Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”
— Native American proverb

Dirt Girl WorldOn World Environment Day (June 5) this year, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by encouraging kids to get grubby with our favourite mini environmentalist — Dirt Girl.

One of the best ways to help your child connect with their natural environment is to spend time outside, do some growing in the garden and, even better, get them to keep a scrapbook of their adventures.

The new dirtgirlworld scrapbook can become a daily diary, a garden journal, a recipe book, an art pad or a field guide — in fact, anything kids would like. There’s also an expansion pack, with planting guides, weather stickers and more great ideas for keeping the journal.

I love that this is an item that your child can use and expand over time to express themselves and record their own experiences in their natural environment — and hopefully to foster an appreciation for the great outdoors as well. I also love that it’s printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper.

To celebrate the release of the dirtgirlworld scrapbook and World Environment Day, there are some wonderful eco carnivales happening throughout Australia. Visit www.dirtgirlworld.com/worldenvironmentday for more information and for a chance to win some amazing prizes too, including a Plan Toys Eco Charging Station from Itty Bitty Greenie!

The dirtgirlworld scrapbook and expansion pack are available at Itty Bitty Greenie.

5 easy eco-friendly Easter crafts

Easter is one of those family friendly holidays most of us look forward to, and this year, why not get into the spirit with some eco-inspired craft ideas that are easy to do with the kids? The big day is only a couple of weeks away, so hippity hop to it!

1) UPCYCLED EASTER BASKETS:  Use soda bottles, empty tins, a bit of ribbon, cloth or pipe cleaners to make some colourful baskets. Kids will love to add their own personal touches in anticipation of the egg hunt. To make it even more authentic, plant a few grass seeds in the bottom of the basket about a week before the big day – so much prettier than fake plastic grass!

2) NATURAL EGG DYES: Most commercial egg dying kits are made with chemical-based artificial colours that can pose a risk to health, including allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. There are many natural options for dying eggs that are just as colourful and fun to do, using household ingredients like coffee, beet juice, blueberries and more. Here are some great natural egg-dying recipes.

3) TOILET ROLL BUNNIES & CHICKS: This is an easy craft to do with the kids that has pretty adorable results. Just take some empty toilet rolls and a bit of paint or coloured paper & feathers to create an Easter bunny or chick that’s perfect for holding a few treats.

 

 

4) EGG CARTON CRAFTS: There are lots of ways to take a used egg carton and make it into something fun for Easter. I particularly like these chicks and bunnies that are easy to do with toddlers. Just take a few paper scraps to cut out some ears and feet, glue them on, and there you have it! Or if you’re more ambitious, try this gorgeous egg carton wreath made with paint, scraps of paper and material and a bit of cardboard.

5) EASTER GARLAND: Don’t you love it when you find a craft idea that takes one thing and reincarnates it into something completely different? This garland is made with recycled paint chips, and it’s great way to make any room in your home look festive and cheerful for the holiday. Find the how-to instructions here.

Hope these ideas inspire you to get crafty with some items you probably already have around the house. I know my son and I are going to have fun making toilet roll bunnies and chicks. Wishing you and yours a very happy Easter.

Fine dining in a world without waste

Ever since the Greenhouse restaurant in Sydney was featured in an episode of Australian MasterChef last year, I have been waiting with anticipation for Joost Bakker, the brainchild of the pop-up sustainable restaurant concept, to bring a similar event to Melbourne. This year during the food and wine festival, I had my chance.

Last night some girlfriends and I popped in to this city’s first pop-up restaurant, which is built using only recycled or sustainable materials. The floor is made from old conveyor belting, the chairs from disused irrigation pipes, recycled bottles and jars are the drinking glasses of choice, and terracotta-potted strawberry plants line the façade of the structure, which is mostly timber and old shipping containers stacked four-high.

Bakker is a Dutch-born florist, artist, builder and environmentalist who has inspired people across Australia with his visionary concept of “no waste” dining, and everyone at our table last night had to admit it was impressive.

The dinner was a four-course French-inspired feast created by Auckland chef Simon Wright (The French Café) and Melbourne’s Nicolas Poelart (Embrasse), which celebrated fresh, local and seasonal food in some most unexpected ways.

The standout dishes were Wright’s first course of marinated kingfish, spanner crab, apple jelly, verjus, shaved fennel and crème fraiche – which awakened the palette and made us all hungry for more. This was followed by a dish of Australian marron, then another of roast pheasant and finally, the piece de resistance, was Poelart’s dessert called “forest floor”.

Served on a piece of plywood covered in chocolate “dirt” were chocolate and meringue “mushrooms” along with fresh mint and sorrel granita. It looks like something straight out of a fairytale and it disappeared in record time.

In addition to the wonderful food was a jovial atmosphere and quirkiness that made the entire experience unique. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Rod Barbey, Australia’s only certified organic chef, from Organic Matters Food & Wine Store in Hawthorn East, who like me, wanted to experience the Greenhouse above all else at the festival.

Even a trip to the loo was educational, as diners were told in a note on the bathroom wall that their “wee” was going to be used to help grow mustard plants. From the light fixtures made from vintage tins to the herb gardens planted outside in old metal barrels, the resourcefulness and attention to detail was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

There is only a week left to experience the Greenhouse in Melbourne, as Bakker’s masterpiece will be taken down from the banks of the Yarra after the festival, which closes on March 21. I hope I can get back there just to have a drink at the rooftop bar!

Makedo your own toy masterpiece this Christmas

For many of us with children, there’s a familiar scene on Christmas morning after all the presents have been opened and the kids are happily playing with their new treasures: a mass of packaging carnage littered across the lounge room floor. And while it used to be that this “waste” was discarded or recycled and forgotten, there’s a better way to engage kids in the process, and even get them making their own new toys and Christmas masterpieces by upcycling.

Makedo is a connector system that enables everyday materials including cardboard, plastic and fabric to easily join together to form new objects or structures. It has been hailed as the “Lego of the next generation” by media around the world, and has won some very impressive toy and design awards. But did you know that it was conceived by a Melbourne-based company?

I love the brand because not only does it inspire children to use their creativity and change their perspective on what might otherwise be thought of as rubbish, it also has no boundaries, it celebrates sustainability and aims to foster social change and sharing.

The makedo system started with the Freeplay Kit that includes their clever “re-clips” (reusable nylon connectors), “lock hinges” for creating corners, and “safe saw” for cutting cardboard or plastic as needed. Recently they’ve added new products to the line, including a “Find & Make Robot” “Find and Make Car” “Find and Make Dollhouse” and “Find and Make Flowers”, which are all based on the same concept of using found materials to inspire new creations.

And of course, coffee lovers will adore their newest addition to the makedo family: Makedo Cup Critters, which allow you to take an ordinary coffee cup and turn it into a cute creature, from silly monkeys and cheeky chicken, to happy hippos and waddling penguins.

Best of all, the parts are reusable, and the possibilities are endless. The makedo website has instructional videos, teacher resources and a photo gallery where you can upload your own creations and connect with others.

Discover the makedo range this Christmas at Itty Bitty Greenie, and share your creations with us too – we’d love to see them!

Win a Green Toys Recycling Truck!

I had a laugh the other day when I dropped my son off at childcare, and noticed as I was leaving that there were quite a few kidlets with their noses pressed against the window watching intently… and just what were they so interested in? Why it was rubbish day, and the recycling truck was on it’s way down the street to pick up the bins.

I don’t know what the fascination is about the rubbish truck, but I do remember waiting eagerly to watch the same weekly event when I was a child. And that’s probably one of the reasons the Green Toys version of the recycling truck is such a popular toy. It’s an awesome eco design, made from 100% recycled plastic milk containers and no metal axles – it even has a movable recycling bed and open/shut rear door.

My son received one as a gift on his second birthday, and I can honestly say he’s played with it almost every day since. He sorts rocks, sticks, cardboard and just about anything he can find before re-enacting the ceremonial “dumping of the rubbish” complete with some pretty interesting sound effects.

Since we know our customers love this classic, we’re giving one away in time for Christmas! Just tell us in the comments below any of your own recycling tips. Whether it’s getting the little ones to help with sorting, or “upcycling” by reusing household items for crafts and such, we’d love to hear your ideas.

A winner will be chosen at random and notified on Dec. 10. In the meantime, discover the entire Green Toys range at Itty Bitty Greenie – and save 20% until Christmas!

Gifts that keep on giving…

I don’t do it often, but I’ll admit, I love getting crafty – especially at Christmas time. And I’m always looking for nifty new ways to recycle all those beautiful holiday cards that come in the mail. I’m always looking for nifty new ways to recycle everything, actually!

But after spending all that time in planes, trains and automobiles to get to my snail-mail letterbox laden with a heavy carbon footprint, it seems a total shame not to recycle these lovely little treasures and heartfelt notes from friends and family into something beautiful to keep.

Here are a few favourite ideas I found recently, that I can’t wait to try.

Recycled ornament balls: This one is courtesy of Martha Stewart, and to be honest, I love her team’s ideas, but rarely give them a go because they just seem too fiddly and tedious. But these ornaments are really beautiful, and hey, I can cut and glue stuff… Actually speaking of cutting and gluing – I also found this idea for creating your own gift tags out of recycled cards courtesy of Martha. Easy peasy!

Recycled Christmas trees: This project seems a bit easier – and I love the layered, wobbly look of these trees. Kids will love them too.

Holiday greetings are not the only things that make great recycled Christmas decorations. Check out these other lovely seasonal ideas:

Cute Christmas trees made from recycled wine corks: Hmmm… how many bottles of wine do you think it will take to make one of these…?

Fuzzy trees made from recycled wool jumpers: These are beautiful, (almost huggable!) and such a great way to recycle all those old sweaters no one wants to wear.

And look at these lovely wreath ideas – all made from recycled materials. I love the one made with recycled gift cards cut in the shape of holly leaves. It would make a beautiful gift. There’s also the wine cork wreath. But for me the ultimate in eco-chic has to be the wreath made from recycled plastic bags – who knew those nasty things could actually look so pretty?

Time to get into my Christmas workshop to start making… happy holidays everyone!