Active, eco-conscious mamas are going to fall hopelessly in love with the new Indri Campus Laptop Backpack from GreenSmart! This durable, sturdy and extremely comfortable backpack does it all – in eco-style! What do we love the most? On the front of each pack is a small tag that shows just how many 100% recycled plastic bottles were saved from landfills by being used to make each bag. “Mom” received the Indri Campus Laptop Backpack in Blue to review, and it was made using 35 recycled plastic water bottles. How cool! Not only is the pack made using recycled materials, but it is lightweight and very sturdy. Whether you are hiking or packing your backpack with your laptop and other essentials for class, this is one smart, eco-friendly pack!

Unique Features of Indri Campus Laptop Backpack include:

Separate access laptop garage fits up to 15.6″
Airmesh padded back and shoulder straps
Generous interior compartment
Two exterior bottle holders

To learn more about GreenSmart, and their various planet-friendly backpacks, laptop sleeves, messenger bags, and more, visit GreenSmart.biz.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

The Many Advantages of Upcycling

We all know about the importance and advantages of recycling. In fact, some governments today have passed laws to motivate citizens into recycling more, setting our garbage out on the curb each week already properly segregated and ready to go to recycling plants to be broken down and repurposed. However, only a handful of people know about ‘upcycling’, or the process of bringing new life to old personal effects.

Some call upcycling ‘salvage art’: taking something that would otherwise be thrown out and making it into something better ourselves. One can also look at it as the reconstruction of an item, revamping it, and creating a new product. With this eco-friendly concept, we can reduce the accumulation of waste in overcrowded landfills, which is also a great environmental consideration.

For example, take reusable shopping bags. These are a new trend in stores where you can buy a branded non-plastic or plastic hybrid bag to place your items in, as well as take on your next shopping trip to save on the use of normal plastic bags. You can upcycle here by using existing plastic bags that you have at home, or creating a new bag from them.

Upcycling opportunities exist all around us if one only had a discerning eye. An old sweater, for example, can be repurposed into a case for the pillows on your couch. An old pair of jeans, combined with a little creativity, can be turned into a great bag organizer. Coffee tins can be upcycled into pots for small plants and flowers. Giving new life to everyday household items is a smart, even chic, thing to do; the above are only a few possibilities in a seemingly-endless list – and you don’t even need to be crafty to take advantage of them. There are a lot of websites and materials that can help you get started.

So consider upcycling before you throw that item into the recycling bin. The process of recycling is to break down high-grade materials into their purest raw forms, whereas upcycling gives you more value for your money because you will be taking worn out materials and turning them into items of bigger or equal value. It also saves energy, so it is a better alternative to recycling or donating. Donating clothes is a great way of getting rid of things that you no longer use, sure, but it will still need to be transported to a distribution center, which will require the use of fuel.

There are businesses out there that can do your upcycling for you, if you’re unsure or don’t have the time to do it yourself. Check around your community for businesses where you can send your items to, say for example old shirts, which they will turn into a cool cloth bag. However, this option also uses up energy, so it’s highly recommended that you check out upcycling blogs or websites instead to figure out how to do it all yourself.

Upcycling is a simple process and doing it at home is a great way to express yourself and exercise those inner creative juices. So the next time you segregate your garbage, or do some spring cleaning, think about upcycling, and be inspired.

About the Author

George is a repurposing junkie who occasionally writes for Plastic Place, a wholesaler of eco-friendly trash bags and garbage bags. He was able to save close to $100 last month from upcycling alone.

A Beginners’ Quick Guide to Going Green

Going green might mean bringing on a wave of change into your life, and it can be a little daunting to start. Beware, in most occasions you will have to spend more or put in more effort that what you might have been used to, but this is a small price to pay for a clear conscience, right? Though going green is a huge step towards a better, healthier lifestyle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do something grand that will immediately create an impact — in fact, it’s the little things that actually do a whole lot of good. It’s these environment-conscious practices that make green living possible, and even enjoyable. Start small, and then you can slowly work your way up to bigger things. So how exactly does one start?

Here are three things to regularly ask yourself to help rouse your green sensibilities:

Is this recyclable or reusable? Pretty much anything we use can be recycled, so it’s a good first step to consider what happens to an item after we’ve used it. With this, you can start with installing separate bins for recyclables and perishables at your home, and you can begin to practice reusing or re-purposing things in your household and at the workplace.
Is this a necessity? Going green involves exercising a measure of prudence and frugality. Avoid wastefulness by using only what you need, when you need it. This also applies to resources such as energy and water — conservation is key.
Do I have green options for this? Always be on the lookout for environment-friendly alternatives for items on your shopping list. Recycled, recyclable, biodegradable — these are only some of what could be available to you. From packaging to the actual product, there are often a number of options to let you enjoy a greener lifestyle.

Shifting gears towards a green lifestyle will definitely take some work, but these questions are small yet sure steps to the right direction. These seemingly simple ideas would eventually integrate into your consciousness and allow you to slide into an environment-friendly mindset. Being conscious of how your actions and choices would affect nature could take some time getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes almost instinctive and automatic, making it easier to keep up with a healthy and well-rounded green lifestyle.

About the Author

George is a writer who occasionally does work for PlasticPlace, a wholesaler of environmentally-friendly garbage bags. He has been living clean and green for almost a decade now and has saved a considerable amount from recycling and repurposing alone.

Yard Sales: The Eco-Friendly Way to Shop

Anyone who has been trying to reduce their carbon footprint has likely discovered the benefits of buying second-hand items. Just thinking about the many harmful drawbacks of the manufacturing cycle is enough to set your teeth on edge. In fact, it can hardly be called a cycle at all; it’s more like a straight line (with some pit-stops) from the manufacturing plant to the landfill. Natural resources are mined from the Earth by heavy-polluting and wasteful means, after which raw materials are subjected to more waste and pollution thanks to a variety of chemical processes at manufacturing plants. Then these finished products are wrapped in all kinds of packaging that consumers will purchase and discard (more waste), until finally the many disposable products that permeate our society are carted off to their final resting place at an overflowing landfill (more waste, more pollution…you get it).

Giving items a second life by reclaiming them breaks the linear mentality and creates a cycle in which less manufacturing and waste is required. Sounds pretty good, right? It is! And by frequenting yard sales, you can save money on this most eco-friendly mode of turning one man’s trash into your green treasure. However, there are a few things you should think about when you purchase items in this manner, such as what you can reasonably use and the impact it might have on the environment when you bring it home.

While you are probably doing a good thing by keeping most items out of the landfill, there are a few caveats to consider. For example, you must reflect on whether or not continuing to use the item will do more harm than good. Suppose you find an old fridge that still works. If it’s not an energy-star model, it will suck up massive amounts of electricity, unlike a much more eco-friendly model. But if you want to turn it on its side, throw a couple cushions on the top, and make it an interesting seating arrangement in your backyard, that’s a different story. Or what if you get a living room set and then decide to have it reupholstered. Do you have any idea how many chemicals are used in the process? You might as well get a new couch if that’s your plan!

The point is, you need to put some thought into the items you’re buying second-hand so that you make sure your purchases are the greenest possible choices. Whether you frequent San Francisco, New York, or Aurora garage sales, the truth is that you’re not likely to find items that were originally conceived to be eco-friendly. Sorry to break it to you, but conflict-free diamonds, organic clothing, and furniture built without varnish or glue are not common finds on the yard-sale circuit. You’re much more likely to find stuff that was made before the term “eco-friendly” even existed. So if you’re going to try to make strides for a greener future by buying second-hand goods at yard sales, it’s a good idea to find items that will help you to reach your goals rather than ones that will set you back in your efforts.

Get Rid of That Cell Phone Without Any Casualties

Because technology changes so quickly, and more and more people are dropping their landlines, it’s not uncommon to have a drawer full of used, outdated cell phones. Millions of people use cell phones and most of those people, on average, get a new phone every two years. Throwing your cell phones in the trash is incredibly harmful to the environment and, with the ease of cell phone recycling, should be avoided at all costs.

Cell phones on the market today contain arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Whether the cell phones are tossed in a landfill or thrown into an incinerator, these dangerous toxins are leached into the environment. When the toxins are introduced to our water supply, we, as humans, are put at higher risk for various types of cancers.

It has been approximated that only 12 percent of used cell phones are properly recycled each year. The rest end up in junk drawers and landfills. If you’ve got discarded phones taking up space in your desk drawer, here are five ways you can put them to good use:

1. Cell Phone for Soldiers: this group collects used cell phones, sells them to a recycling center and uses the proceeds to purchase calling cards for soldiers serving overseas.

2. Donate them: many shelters will accept gently used cell phones, activate them and hand them out to residents. This is particularly true of domestic violence shelters as these phones can help survivors get back on their feet.

3. Sell them: why not take those old cell phones and turn them into cold, hard cash? You can have a go at selling them on your own or trade them in into a site like Amazon.com for store credit.

4. Fundraise: many buy-back websites will help you set up a fundraiser for your school or organization. Send out a flyer and ask that people bring their used cell phones for donation. Once you’ve collected several, send them in and earn money for your program.

5. Recycle: you can directly recycle your used cell phones. Many localities have electronics recycling days or you can simply find a site online who will dispose of your cell phone, once received, in an environmentally responsible manner.

Toxins in cell phones are not only hazardous for humans, they are hazardous for the environment as well. From soil damage to water pollution, the toxins leached into our environment can have far-reaching, detrimental effects. Gather up your used cell phones and recycle them; it’s the green thing to do.

About the Author

Author Stephanie Sanders is a communications consultant and writes for a mobile phone site in the UK, offering all the latest phones and plans.

*Image: chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Munchkin Click Lock™ Insulated Straw Cups and Sippy Cups

Leak-proof, BPA-free, and just plain SMART – the new Click Lock™ Insulated Straw Cups and Sippy Cups from Munchkin have “Mom” raving about them! Her independent toddler likes to do everything herself, and the regular sippy cups can be challenging for her to place on correctly, and more importantly – tightly! Well, Munchkin has created an ingenious solution, an easy-to-use cup that literally clicks in place, no need to keep screwing it around and around until is on tightly enough for it not to leak! “Mom” can hear the click when her toddler places it on correctly, and her little one feels confident in her abilities. Love it!

Click Lock™ cups are available in an assortment of vibrant colors, fun artwork, licensed characters, and styles including sippy, trainer, straw, flip straw and Big Kid™ spout-less. www.munchkin.com

Re-Play Tableware

New to the toddler tableware and cutlery line-up is Re-Play, all made from recycled milk jugs – no BPA, PVC or phthalates at all! In bright, cheerful colors, the affordable line of divided plates, cereal & snack bowls, sippy cups, and cutlery arrive in multi-packs that cost a reasonable $3-$6. The cutlery is large and toddler-friendly, boosting confidence, and the divided plates provide a proper portion size for serving all of your child’s favorites! Extremely durable and dishwasher-safe, all the products are manufactured and packaged in the USA, as well! What “Mom” especially loves about the new Re-Play line is the awesome recycled/recyclable packaging. Easy to take out with nothing to cut, the packaging is easily broken down for recycling. www.re-play.com

Eco-Ditty Organic Sandwich and Snack Bags from Reusable and Green

Just say no to plastic bags, and encourage your little ones to “think green” from a young age by having them decorate their very own snack pouches, made from 100% cotton! Washable and completely reusable, snacks and sandwiches can be tucked in neatly for any time of the day! This new item from Reusable and Green will definitely be a hit with the whole household, and would also make a fun activity at a birthday party that tiny guests can take home goodies in, as well! Printed versions are also available. www.reusableandgreen.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article.*

Different Ways to Recycle Printed T-Shirts

Moms know all too well how quickly children outgrow clothing. Buy something today and by next month it doesn’t fit. While you can take your outgrown kids’ clothes to Goodwill, give them to friends or sell them in a tag sale, you can also upcycle them into great new items! Here are some great, green ways you can get “rid” of those printed T-shirts once your kids have outgrown them!

Scarf

By cutting your old T-shirts into strips, you can knit, crochet or even finger-weave them into scarves. If you’ve left your house to go anywhere, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that scarves are being worn for more than warmth; they’re the newest fashion accessory. Get cutting!

Tote Bag

T-shirts can be up cycled into great, light-weight tote bags if you’re handy with a sewing machine. You won’t be able to cart around a bag full of books but you can use your tote to carry diapers, a magazine or two or even your wallet and essentials. Find a printed shirt you like or that holds fond memories and transform it into a bag you can carry with you every day.

Rug

If you’ve got hard flooring, you know how nice a rug or two can be. Not only do they keep your feet warm but they give your jars, phones and other breakables a soft place to land. Cut your shirts into strips and braid them into colorful throw rugs. If you don’t want to braid, simply knot them strategically; it’s easy as pie!

Quilt

If you quilt, you’ve got an instant stash of material in your kids’ old T-shirts. Cut them apart just as you would any other fabric and sew them into any pattern you wish. T-shirts make fabulous rag quilts and will give your sofa a bright, casual look when draped over the back.

Sachets

If you live with little boys, no doubt you’ve wished you had a green way to make their shoe closet smell better! Cut off the sleeves of your T-shirts, turn them inside out and sew one end shut. Turn right-side out, fill with lavender potpourri and fasten the top end with Velcro or sew it shut; you choose! When you need to refresh the scent, simply shake up your sachet or gently squeeze it.

Skirt

Another project for those handy with a sewing machine! Take a few old T-shirts and fashion them into a layered or tiered skirt. These skirts look great with a pair of leggings and flip-flops in the summer and are easy to wear. A T-shirt skirt is perfect for a casual weekend and, best of all, can be tossed in the wash and easily laundered.

Tech Case

Whether you need soft spot for your laptop or mobile phone, you can create one that is perfect out of an old T-shirt. You may need to find a pattern if you can’t come up with your own, but with a T-shirt and a bit of batting, you can sew the perfect protector for your tech device.

There’s no reason not to use some of those old, printed T-shirts to create something eco-fabulous! If you’ve got a crafty side, take a new look at those old T’s and see what you can come up with creatively.

About the Author

Sylvia Patterson is a marketing consultant for small businesses and she suggests that printed t-shirts are one of the most cost effective ways to get your name out in front of the general public.

*Image courtesy of Ruffled T-Shirt Scarf by ecokarenlee, on Flickr.*

5 Ways To Be Green While Sticking To Your Budget

Going “green,” on a large scale, typically takes a considerable chunk of change. Think eco-friendly cars and solar panels. The good news is, you can go green in a smaller way and still make a big impact on your environment. Here are five great ways you can adopt a green lifestyle and stay well within your budget:

1. Ride Your Bike

If you live in an urban area, riding your bike from place to place is fairly easy. Obviously you only want to do this if you can ensure the safety of both you and your children. If your kids aren’t old enough to ride, install a baby seat on the back of your bike or pull a trailer behind. A basket in the front of your bike will be large enough to carry small items from the convenience store or movies from the video store. Not only will you emit less pollution but you and the kids will get fresh air and exercise as well.

2. Conserve Electricity

After your initial investment, this one is totally free, making it incredibly budget-friendly. Replace the light bulbs in your house with the eco-friendly variety. You know those curly bulbs you see in the electrical aisle? You don’t have to replace good light bulbs by any means, but do replace your burnt out bulbs with the green variety.
Along with replacing your bulbs, be sure to get into the habit of turning off lights as you leave the room. If you need certain rooms lit up for the safety of your children, consider using night lights or even small, bedside lamps rather than larger, overhead lighting.

3. Credit Cards

Many people don’t consider credit cards as a way of going green but if you do a bit of research you’ll find that certain financial institutions are greener than others. By using credit cards from these institutions you are not only supporting their causes, which include green initiatives, but you are sending a message to banks that under perform when it comes to environmental causes and human rights.

4. Reuse and Recycle

There is a new trend among moms to upcycle, or reuse, items that they would otherwise throw away. For example, if your kids have outgrown their clothes, look at ways you can restyle them into fun accessories or household items. Use comics for wrapping paper, reuse sandwich bags and turn your old candles into wax tarts. The things you can’t reuse should be recycled at every opportunity. If you can’t recycle your items, consider donating them to a thrift store or shelter that can use them. There are all kinds of ways to get “rid” of your items without tossing them in a landfill.

5. Save Water

Get yourself and the kids in the habit of turning off the tap. No matter if your brushing your teeth, doing the dishes or washing your hands, the tap should be turned off when you aren’t physically using the water. This simple step will save hundreds of gallons of water a year. Put an egg timer next to the shower and limit yourself to five minutes. Put a brick in the back of your toilet tank and turn your standard toilet into the low-flow variety.

Conserving water takes a bit of getting used to, and a smidge of discipline, but it’s free and, ultimately, easy to do. You don’t have to break the bank to go green. There are dozens of things you can do around the house that range from free to cheap. Look into ways that you and your kids can help the environment that fit within your budget. The planet will thank you.

About the Author

Andy Trace is a money consultant and content contributor for FinanceChoices.co.uk, a site offering detailed comparisons for the top providers, and side by side features like balance transfer cards.

12 Ways to Recycle your Old Furniture

Recycling has become the norm for many. From plastic bottles to clothing, the items that can be recycled are endless. Furniture is also on the list of things that can be recycled. Don’t consider your old furniture useless and send it to the trash. The information below is 12 ways that you can recycle old furniture.

Find a new purpose for it. Find a new way to use old pieces. Use a bedside table as a small desk for your laptop. Use your imagination and find a new purpose for each and every piece of furniture that you desire to get rid of.
Repaint it. If an old table looks worn out or scratched up, don’t get rid of it. Simply repaint it. Repainting is an easy way to create a new and interesting surface on many pieces of furniture. Give it an antique look by painting it antique white or go modern with a sleek, black touch.
Donate it to someone in need. Many charities will gladly take old furniture off of your hands. If you have a women’s shelter in your area, call them and ask them if they are willing to come and get it. Chances are that the furniture will be picked up within a couple of hours.
Consider what it is made of. If you have furniture that is made of plastic, it can certainly be recycled. Similarly, furniture that is made of steel can also be recycled. Determine what it is made of and make sure that it reaches the proper recycling center.
Make some cash off of it. There are many people who will be willing to purchase old furniture from you. Use websites such as Facebook to let your friends know that you have something for sale. Making even a little bit of cash off of the furniture will be better than making no cash at all. It will actually save you money because you won’t have to pay a bill for having the trash discarded.
Put it in your front yard for someone to take. Consider placing the furniture on the curb as first come, first serve. Some people spend the day driving around looking for giveaways. Place it on the curb and it is likely to be gone in very little time.
Keep it in the family. Can someone in your family use it? Choose to give it to a son, daughter, niece, or nephew that is just starting out. They will gladly take the furniture off your hands and it is likely to be heavily used.
Create an outside space with it. Consider moving old chairs outdoors to create an outdoor living space. If the space is covered and it will be protected from the weather, the furniture will be fine.
Break it down and reuse the pieces. If the piece is made from wood, break it down and reuse the pieces for projects around the house. Wood can be expensive and this will save you money in the long run. Spend the time breaking the furniture down.
Reupholster large pieces and make them new. If you have a solid piece of furniture, consider reupholstering it instead of getting rid of it. This will cost you far less than buying a new one and give your furniture a new, clean look.
Store it away for future use. If you have an extra room in your house, store the furniture away for future use. You never know when you might need it.
Choose to continue using it. Lastly, choose to recycle your furniture by continuing to use it. If it is still in good shape, there is no need to buy a new one, right? Save money and the environment by using what you already have.

Listed above are 12 ways that you can recycle old furniture. Don’t just throw it out and assume that no one can use it. Whether you choose to find a new purpose for it or to donate it to a charity, someone will be able to make good use out of what is consider your “trash.” Choose to recycle even the big things!

About the Author

Marina has written this article for 1001Shops.com. 1001Shops is a home of exclusive furniture products like round hall tables, glass console tables, corner metal etageres and lot more.

*Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Want to give a green, eco-friendly gift that will be absolutely adored by your children this Christmas? Put together a Cardboard Playhouse by Cascades Boutique and have it sitting next to the tree for everyone to discover on Christmas morning! This charming indoor cardboard house is not only made from 100% recycled corrugated cardboard, but it is an art project waiting to happen! Little ones can get creative and transform it into their own little home by decorating it as they desire with crayons, paint, stickers, and more! The Cardboard Playhouse is fully recyclable when it finally has seen its’ last day, and much safer and more resistant than an ordinary cardboard box. It is large enough for a parent to get inside for a tea party, too!

At “Mom’s” house, the cardboard playhouse has become a permanent fixture in the dining room as that was the only space large enough for the home. At Halloween, creepy cobwebs were draped all over it to make a tiny haunted house! Now, for the holidays, there is a colorful string of lights hung all around the playhouse to make it festive. As much space as it is taking up, it has become “Mom’s” little one’s favorite place to play, and is constantly filled with stuffed animals for imaginary picnics and tea parties!

Lightweight and easy to assemble in just 10 minutes, this affordable cardboard playhouse will definitely be a hit this season! Priced at $48, it is available for purchase at boutique.cascades.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*