Itty Bitty Greenie

eco-fabulous finds for kids

Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

From plant … to potty … to plant?

EcoLife biodegradable potty

My son has proudly reached the potty-training stage and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to never having to change nappies again.

So I’ve been thinking (and reading) a lot lately about ways to approach the whole process, and I started with a trip to a local baby supply store to see what was out there in terms of “potties”. All I can say is that this, like many experiences of buying products for my child, was overwhelming.

Is it better to get the seat that goes on top of your toilet? Or the separate potty that sits on the floor? What about the travel potty? And there are ones with Thomas the Tank or Dora the Explorer and every other kids brand you can think of. Should I let my son choose? Why are they all PLASTIC? Can they be recycled? What do you do with it when you’re done? Unlike toys or clothes, a potty is surely not something most people would hand down to someone else – so do all these potties become landfill?

EcoLife biodegradable pottyThere has to be another option, I thought. And it turns out there is. I have found an eco-friendly version of a potty that’s new, and has some pretty nifty features. For one, it’s made from recycled plant materials that biodegrade naturally. Really?

Yes. EcoLife International has created a potty made from bamboo and rice husks, that have been ground into a fine powder and then blended with biodegradable resin to form the potty seat, which looks exactly like most standard plastic potties in shape and size.

You can use it and clean it in exactly the same way as any plastic potty, and once your child is (finally!) done using it, then it’s time for a little lesson about recycling and gardening that is sure to be rewarding. You can plant the potty in your garden with some seeds and water, and soon it will biodegrade and turn into something beautiful! How’s that for incentive to use the potty?

The eco-potty also gets extra points for using minimal packaging – using only a small cardboard sleeve that is made from recycled paper and is also recyclable.

And for those worried that the eco potty won’t stand up to repeated washings or exposure to sunlight, there’s no need for concern – EcoLife tests these potties rigorously and they are said to have a life-span of at least a year.  (It will only start to biodegrade after it’s been planted in your garden). With a price tag of $19.95 that’s pretty good value.

The EcoLife biodegradable potty is now available for the first time in Australia at Itty Bitty Greenie  – click here for more details.

Sophie’s the #1 choice

For nearly 50 years Sophie the Giraffe has been loved by babies all around the world, and she has become an iconic toy that has been passed through generations, a favourite among celebrity mums, old-school mums and modern mums alike. But what makes me love this classic teething toy so much more, is the fact it is also eco-friendly, all natural and toxin-free.

For those who don’t know her heritage, Sophie was born in 1961 in Paris. She is made by the French company Vulli, located in the French Alps, from 100% natural rubber derived from the sap of the Hevea tree that grows in Malaysia. Every morning, before the daytime heat sets in, the milky liquid latex that oozes from beneath the bark of these trees is collected. Vulli then applies a traditional process of rotational moulding to shape the rubber into Sophie as we know her. Amazingly, each Sophie is still produced traditionally, involving 14 manual operations before completion. With more than 30 million Sophies sold around the world, that’s a lot of manual labour!

Even more amazing, Sophie’s popularity grew by simple word of mouth – mums obviously know a good toy when they find one – and there are plenty of reasons why. This toy is not only soothing for teething babies, it’s great for early learning because it stimulates all five senses:

SIGHT – the dark and contrasting spots of the giraffe provide visual stimulation for young babies

HEARING – the gentle squeak of Sophie stimulates hearing and keeps babies amused

TASTE – the natural rubber is soft on gums and the all-natural food paint is non-toxic and completely safe for babies

SMELL – the singular scent of natural rubber makes Sophie the Giraffe very special and easy for a child to identify among all their other toys

TOUCH – the shape of Sophie’s long neck and legs is easy for little hands to grip; she’s also very light and soft to touch

It’s no wonder this sweet little giraffe has become the star she is today.  Soft and soothing, the perfect size to hold and chew, Sophie comforts and pacifies babies like no other toy or dummy can.

Buy Sophie here and we’ll gift wrap her for free!


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

The Baby Burrito

Before I had my first child, I’ll admit I was slightly intimidated by the concept of swaddling. Newborns always look so cozy when wrapped snugly in a nice soft blanket – but would I ever be able to master the wrapping technique affectionately known as the “baby burrito”? And how is it even possible to wrap a wriggly baby so neatly?

Well, I soon learned that it’s not only possible, but the tradition goes back as far as human history itself, and babies love it. For generations, mothers have recreated the secure and cozy feeling of being in the womb by swaddling and, more recently, scientific evidence has proven that babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully because being wrapped snugly prevents spontaneous body movements from waking them up during the night.

In 2002, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep (the most restorative, deepest sleep) longer than those who were not. And there is growing evidence that swaddling may indirectly help prevent SIDS as well.

Once I mastered the swaddling technique (it’s pretty easy actually), I also learned that using a pure cotton muslin blanket is a great choice for baby wrapping – and this was something that seemed second-nature to Australian mothers, but I’d never seen muslin blankets in Canada, where I grew up.

Muslin is finely woven and breathable, making it ideal for swaddling because it has a natural “give” that allows the blanket to be tucked snugly around a baby without being restrictive, and it allows air to circulate around the baby’s body so you don’t have to worry that they’ll overheat in moderate weather. Cotton muslin is also a workhorse fabric – so the natural fibre not only stands up to repeated washings, it becomes softer – and better – with age.

All these reasons were motivation enough for one Aussie mother to start her own company, Aden + Anais, when she moved to America and couldn’t find muslin blankets. Raegan Moya-Jones designed the now-famous muslin swaddle blankets large enough to be useful not only for swaddling, but for stroller covers, nursing shields, tummy time blankets and burping cloths.

If the photo collection on her website is any indication, Aden + Anais blankets also seem to be the item of choice when celebrity moms want to shield their babies from the lenses of paparazzi cameras.

Closer to home, Aden + Anais has launched a new line of organic muslin blankets that I’m proud to offer at Itty Bitty Greenie. Not only do they come in some gorgeous prints, but each blanket has its own matching muslin bag, so there is no need for additional plastic packaging or tags. That’s what I call eco-fabulous – Check out the full range here.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

Shall we dine eco alfresco?

Why send your kid off to school or childcare with a boring old lunch bag when there are so many more fun, stylish and eco-friendly options these days? One of my favourite brands making super-cute, durable and reusable “lunchbugs” is Mimi the Sardine.

There are many fabric options to choose from, so whether your little one is into airplanes, animals, pretty flowers or ladybugs, there is one in their collection of fun Swedish designs that is sure to appeal.

Made from 100% organically grown cotton, the fabric has a water-based acrylic coating (not PVC) that is water, soil and mess resistant, yet remains soft and supple. And just to be extra sure (because by now you know that I’m pretty picky about toxins and the environment) the coated fabric meets CPSIA requirements, and the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard, which certifies that it does not contain harmful chemicals and components.

And because we all know kids are sometimes (ok, often) prone to spills, these lunchbugs can also be machine washed to keep them looking great!

While we’re at it, when you’re packing that lunch, why not ditch the plastic wrap and go for a reusable food wrapper instead? I’m a sucker for great design, and I love snackTAXIs because not only do they come in two perfect sizes for sandwiches and all kinds of snacks, the selection of materials is fabulous – from retro-cool designs to kid-friendly motifs they have dozens to choose from.

The exterior of a snackTAXI is 100% cotton and, to protect your food, the interior is lined with polyurethane coated nylon that has been tested and confirmed to be lead and phthalate free. Take a closer look at the styles available on our website.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

Sweet corn

By now most of us know that plastics and melamine are poor choices for dishware, since most contain hormone-disrupting toxins such as BPA and phthalates that are harmful – especially when they can leach into food. But parents also know too well that using glass or other breakable dishware is not a safe option for kids (especially if you have a toddler like mine, who regularly makes a sport out of seeing how far he can toss his dinner bowl …)

Thankfully there is a new and eco-friendly option of tableware for children. The Dandelion brand of earth-friendly goods has an entire range of re-usable dishware that is naturally free of BPA, Phthalates and PVC, and it’s made from a renewable resource: corn.

I love these products because not only are they natural and functional, they are well-designed – taking into account the little things that can make a big difference to your little ones. The divided plate, for example, keeps foods separated and fussy kids happy. The easy-grip bowls have deep sides to keep food inside, and parents happy! The utensils are specially shaped to fit small hands and help toddlers as they learn to feed themselves. They’re also affordable, and sold in multi-packs, so you’ll always have enough.

What’s better is the Dandelion company is ticking all the boxes when it comes to being a “green” company. They use the bare minimum of packaging and its made from 100% recycled cardboard printed with vegetable inks. No twist ties, no plastics, no cellophane wraps. They have a fair trade policy and encourage manufacturers to minimize their impact on the environment by striving to reduce waste, energy use and emissions, and implement environmentally friendly technologies. They also offset their carbon emissions with, a leading non-profit carbon offset and climate solutions organization, and they contribute a portion of the proceeds from sales of its corn feeding line to support organizations providing food to people living with hunger.

Now that’s eco-fabulous. Look for these items in IttyBittyGreenie’s eco-shop … we’re one of the first retailers to offer them in Australia!
Shop Dandelion Earth-Friendly goods here.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

A healthy snack for your itty bitty bookworm

It’s never too early to plant the seeds of earth-friendly living, and since most kids love books, the Little Green Books series is a great way to start. Not only are these books printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable inks, the stories are devoted to educating children (and parents) about the benefits of being green.

As a mum and booklover, I can say one of the things I like about this series is not only do these tales deliver a great message, they’re entertaining as well. In The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle for example, kids follow the journey of a plastic bottle from a blob of crude oil, to a plastic bottle, to being recycled into a fleece jumper. Told in diary form, this humorous tale is sure to give readers a laugh while stressing the significance of the recycling process.

In My First Garden, follow a mother and daughter as they dig up soil, plant a flower bed, and water the seeds to make their very first garden of colourful fruits and veggies. It’s a board book with a handle cut out of each page, so kids can take it with them wherever they go.

The books in the series cover a variety of subjects, teaching children about the dangers of global warming, the benefits of recycling, and what they can do to help endangered animals. There are also a couple of soft books in the series, which are perfect for babies. The covers of the Little Monkey and Little Panda books are Polartec® fleece, made from recycled clear plastic bottles. Super-soft and machine washable, they make a great gift.

The books also include a glossary of terms at the back so that parents and children can learn what “post-consumer” means or what “compost” is. And one of my favourites in the series is the It’s Easy to be Green book, loaded with easy activities you can do with your children to help them learn about the environment and living sustainably.

For more information and lots of green tips and games for kids, check out the Little Green Books website. And to purchase books from the Little Green Books series, please visit the “Greenie Books” section of the Itty Bitty Greenie retail site.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

What’s going on?


If you think of the huge transition newborns face when going from the protective environment of the womb to the outside world, skin care is one of those delicate matters every parent should consider. Newborn skin is immediately challenged with exposure to germs, changing temperatures and irritating substances – and those small, developing bodies are less capable of fending off chemical assaults.

Of course we all have the best of intentions when caring for our baby’s skin, but here are a few good reasons to take a closer look at the ingredient list on your skincare:

> The surface area of a child’s skin relative to body weight is greater than adults, and infant skin is considerably thinner than adult skin. That means anything that is absorbed by the skin of a baby is a lot more potent. After a review of 23 studies of early life exposures to cancer-causing chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that carcinogens are typically 10 times more potent for babies than for adults, and some chemicals are up to 65 times more powerful.
> A child’s developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposures, and children are less able than adults to detoxify and excrete chemicals.
> Children have more years of life in which to develop disease triggered by early exposure to chemicals, and research suggests exposures to industrial chemicals may prime children for adult disease, just as a few severe sunburns during childhood doubles the likelihood of developing malignant melanoma later in life.
> There are more than 10,000 ingredients being used in the skin care industry, and 89% of these have not been tested for toxic or carcinogenic chemicals.

Awareness of chemicals in skincare is certainly increasing and more parents are trying to choose wisely, but in the meantime the number of so-called “natural” products on store shelves has multiplied dramatically. These days, buying baby’s bathtime bubbles isn’t so straightforward, but here are a couple of ways to keep it simple.

First, read labels carefully. Just because a product claims to have “natural” ingredients doesn’t mean ALL of its contents are derived from organic sources or are paraben and phthalate free. Knowing how to decipher ingredients can be a bit tricky, but some key toxic ingredients to look out for are: parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), petroleum derivatives, diethanalomine (DEA), mineral oil, artificial fragrances and colours.

For a more comprehensive list of ingredients and their potentially toxic affects, read Skin Deep’s safety guide to children’s personal care products, which identifies 20 common ingredients of concern. The Skin Deep website also has a good database if you want to look up the safety rating for baby products.

Second, bear in mind that whatever you put ON your child’s skin, is also going IN. Most people use far more product than is necessary and children don’t need to be slathered in suds, lotions and powders. A little warm water and mild cleanser at bathtime, then a small amount of moisturizer (or spot treating) does the trick.

While we’re on the subject, here are some of my tried and true favourite products I use regularly to keep my baby’s very sensitive and eczema-prone skin healthy:

Taslie Skin Care
Not only are these products super cute and organic, the packaging is completely biodegradable (pictured right). I LOVE supporting companies that embrace a green ethos in everything they do. To purchase items from the Taslie skin care range, please click here to visit Itty Bitty Greenie’s retail site.

Little Innoscents

This Australian brand of certified organic skincare (pictured above) was developed by a health care and aromatherapy specialist. I love the the sweet orange, lavender and spearmint combination in the body wash – it’s so refreshing. The gentle vapour rub balm is also a must-have, to soothe any congestion from cold & flu. Check out the entire range here.

Buds Cherished Organics
Buds was formulated in Australia, and uses unique organic ingredients sourced from 100% organic farms all over the world. The formulas are preservative-free and certified by ECOCERT, one of the world’s most highly regarded certifying boards. Visit Itty Bitty Greenie’s retail site for more details on the Buds range of skincare.

Organic matters…

Well-Spotted's organic T-shirts

Remember bringing your baby home from the hospital and that teeny-tiny onesie you picked out especially for the occasion? For many parents, finding adorable children’s clothing is one of the fun parts of the job, so most of us would rather not think about the fact that cute little outfit might have been made using pesticides, flame retardants, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals. But considering the potential health effects these chemicals could have on children, it might be worth a little more consideration.

Most of us know that organic materials are considered “better” when it comes to clothing … but do we really know WHY this is so? And when you consider that many organic products are a little more expensive than the items for sale at many major clothing stores, do you ask yourself if it’s really worth it?

Well, from research on the subject, we know that children’s skin is more porous, and, even though they’re smaller, babies actually breathe more air than adults, kilo for kilo. So when babies come in contact with toxins, they have a potentially more hazardous effect. For example, a lot of children’s clothing – especially sleepwear – is treated with flame retardants such as Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), and these chemicals have been linked to everything from allergies and asthma to cancer and reproductive disorders. (Now you know what those “low fire danger” tags mean on your child’s pajamas…)

And when it comes to production, organic farming means the soil used for growing cotton and other natural fibres is free from pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers, and is generally more gentle to the environment. Conventional cotton farming does have a dark side, and once I did a little more research on the subject, it really had me thinking. For a great article revealing some fascinating facts about world-wide cotton production, click here.

Hmmm, when you consider all those chemicals that end up not only on clothing, but swirling through the water supply in the midst of production, suddenly spending a few extra dollars on organics doesn’t sound so bad. And the good news is there are so many great companies out there producing quality organic clothing that is adorable, safe and durable. Here are a few of my favourites.

Well Spotted is an Australian-made brand and their organic line of T-shirts is oh-so eco-trendy.
Far out brussel sprout.

Green-eyed Monster is a British brand making very urban and very cool garments that are 100% certified organic.  All aspects of production, from dyeing, printing and production – right down to the buttons on those baby garments is certified non-toxic and they follow a fair trade ethos as well.
Check out their “arcade” baby grows – for that irresistable touch of retro cool (yay for PAC-MAN!)


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management