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Fun with Kids: Make Your Own Recycled Rainbow Crayons

If you’re like us, you probably have a ton of old & new crayons laying around! Since our little ones only seem to gravitate towards the new, fresh and sharp crayons, we have a large bucket filled with the ones that are not deemed ‘usable’ anymore! This is also a great way to use up all of the crayons you receive from restaurants. So, we took a rainy day afternoon to make our own recycled rainbow crayons!

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To Do This Activity, You Will Need the Following:

Crayons (and more crayons!) – wrappers removed

Muffin Tin(s)

Cupcake Liners

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to the lowest temperature setting. This varies by oven, ours is at 220 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake liners into the muffin tin(s).
  3. Remove the wrappers from the crayons. ***You may need to help your child do this part, as my 5 year old had trouble getting her fingernail under the wrapper to pull it off.
  4. Break the crayons into small pieces and fill the cupcake liners with the broken crayon pieces. The more colors you use, the more you will have a rainbow effect when done!
  5. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake the crayons for 20-30 minutes, or until the wax has melted. Our crayons took longer than 30 minutes, so it will vary by oven.
  6. Remove the muffin tin; let cool.
  7. Once cool, remove the cupcake liners from the crayons.
  8. Use the crayons to color and create!

*This article was written by Tiny Green Mom. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

 

 

 

six environmentally friendly waysSix Environmentally Friendly Ways to Dispose of Used Electronic Devices

As the world continues to consume more electronic products each year, it is important to either dispose of or recycle those items in a responsible fashion. The recycling of consumer hardware products is a major aspect of the global eco-friendly initiative. This is why so many firms have adopted a commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of their electronics, as well as that of their customers. To that end, there are numerous programs available to help consumers conveniently and properly dispose of or recycle their products. Below are six environmentally friendly ways to dispose of used electronic devices.

Participate in Earth Day
Many communities offer ways to celebrate saving the environment with festivals including dropping off unwanted electronics and their accessories at participating locations. This greatly helps to reduce and divert the approximately 96 million pounds or more of e-waste from U.S. landfills. Every citizen can check for details at their city or town’s website or other information resource.

Sell Your Old Electronics
Selling old electronics is another safe way to reduce waste and prevent improper disposal of potentially dangerous devices. For instance, it is safe to assume that many people generally have at least one or more old PDAs, cell phones or other devices lying about in their homes. However, rather than let these devices take up valuable space, people can participate in saving the environment while earning money by doing something as simple as deciding to sell your iPhone for cash at AppleShark.com.

Donate Used Electronics
Donating used electronics is another way to dispose of old products responsibly. Many organizations accept computers, VCRs, printers and other electronic products when they are still in good working condition. Check with community centers, schools and other firms in the local area or consider contacting an electronics charity program.

Find a Recycling Center
For electronics that no longer work, there are numerous disposal units and recycling centers in a number of cities and towns. Most state and major cities offer programs that make recycling convenient through special city-run drop off locations. Recycling organizations use old electronic product materials such as metal, plastic and glass, all of which require that energy be used to mine and manufacture them. In partnerships with townships and private vendors, some firms offer the convenience of recycling consumer electronics through national voluntary programs.

Trade In the Electronics
Trade in old electronic devices through retailer and manufacturer programs that give consumers credit or a gift card toward another purchase. Generally, the value of these products can be determined at each company’s website. Typically, items may be mailed in or dropped off. However, much like trading in a car, the credit for the product is generally less than what a consumer may receive when they sell their electronics.

Be a Conscious Consumer
Another way to reduce waste is to become a conscious consumer and purchase products that produce less toxins and are made of reusable products. This reduces the amount of potentially hazardous substances from entering the environment, while making it easier to dispose of them in the future.

Fun for Free: Old Packaging, New Toys

Are you the parent who spent hundreds of dollars on presents for your toddler, only to find that the cardboard box was far more entertaining to your child than what it contained? Thousands of parents swear each year that next Christmas, they’re getting their children nothing but empty boxes. Why wait until the holidays roll back around to make your children fun toys? With old packaging and a few bucks, you have the ability to create a roomful of toys for your little ones. Here are some of the best:

1. Houses

You’ll need a rather large box to make a house but they’re easy to find. Large kitchen appliance boxes make fantastic playhouses for small children. If you aren’t in the market for a new appliance, stop by your local home improvement store and ask if there’s a box that you can have. Even if it’s broken down for recycling, you can whip it back into shape with some duct tape.

Get creative with the house. You can add custom-printed stickers to the outside, strips from an old roll of wallpaper, or paint it to look like your own house. Cut out windows with a utility knife; add a door and roof “tiles” to make it look like a real house. Your kids will spend hours playing inside of your creation.

2. Play Town

You know those colorful rugs that are designed to look like towns complete with roadways? Instead of spending good money on a play rug, make your own out of a cardboard box. Pick a box that is large enough for your toddler to sit inside of and move freely. Cut off the longest side of the box, leaving about four or five inches around the edges. Draw a “town” on the inside bottom of the box, complete with roads, lakes and parking lots. With blocks, toy vehicles and plastic people, your child can play for an entire afternoon.

3. Cars, Airplanes and Trains; Oh My!

You can make virtually any vehicle with two cardboard boxes. No matter what your child wants to “drive,” you can create it in under an hour. The only things you’ll need to create vehicles for your kids are cardboard boxes, duct tape and a utility knife. When your vehicles are complete, let your kids color them with markers or otherwise decorate them.

All vehicles can be started by simple cutting a space in the top of the box that your child can slip into. A plan is finished by adding a propeller, wings and tail, all made out of cardboard. A car needs nothing but four wheels, and a train can be built just like a car, with another box added to the back for a caboose. Look online for inspiration; you’re bound to find dozens of pictures to copy from.

4. Doll Houses and Castles

If your child likes to pretend and you’ve got a box, you’ve got an instant toy. Cut two sides from the box, and cut a slit in the center of one piece, stopping about an inch from the top. Cut an inch off of the length of your other piece. Take the first piece and slip the slit you cut over the edge of your second piece, forming an “X” or “+” (think tab A into slot B). Stand your creation upright and you’ve got an instant structure. Paint your cardboard with acrylic or poster paints to make it look like a castle, house, hospital or any other type of building that will excite your little one.

5. Easel

Do you have a budding artist on your hands? Why not make him his very own easel out of a pizza box and a single piece of cardboard? Sit the pizza box on the table so that the end you would open is facing away from you. Take a ruler and draw a line about three inches from the edge that is towards you. Carefully bend the top of the box back along the line that you’ve made, creating a crease in the box.

Once you’ve made your crease, cut a second piece of cardboard that you can use to prop the lid open. Place the bottom of this piece of cardboard in the pizza box and tape the top end to the lip of your pizza box top. Once completed, you can tape a piece of blank paper to the “easel” and let your child make his next great work of art.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on the next big toy in order to provide your child with hours of fun. Building toys out of cardboard boxes encourages your children to use their imaginations. At the end of the day, isn’t that what play is all about?

About the Author

Amy Chandler is a blogger with DiscountBannerPrinting.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading providers of labels and stickers. Follow her on Twitter @DBPamy.

Recycle LogoHow To Reduce, Reuse, Recycle This Summer and Have Fun

Summertime brings with it a number of opportunities for fun and excitement. It’s the most popular time to grow closer to family. It’s the time of the year to consider fun as a significant priority. But we have to face the truth. Although some electric companies can be pretty fair about their prices, paying bills is the furthest thing from fun anybody can think of. Here are three ways to have fun this summer, either alone or with your family, that will both bolster your sense of joy while lowering your environmental impact and expected electric bill.

Make a Game out of Recycling With Sweet Rewards

Most people understand that recycling is becoming a necessity. An increasing percentage of the raw materials we use in day to day life are originating from recycled sources. Normally, being environmentally conscious doesn’t line up with having fun– but here’s where you introduce the game principal. In essence, you can make almost anything fun as long as you make it into an enjoyable game. Make a contest with your family members to see who recycled the most while using something like ice-cream as an incentive. If you live alone, give yourself a dollar for every pound you recycle. Use the money you save o treat yourself to something nice.

MacGyver New Equipment out of Mundane Household

Most people can appreciate MacGyver, even if most of the younger generation has never even seen an episode of the show. His uncanny ability to take mundane materials and create something incredible out of it has been envied for years. Now there’s no need to envy. Using the internet or a few crafts books, you’d be amazed to discover what you could do with household items. You can make art, interactive displays, games, costumes, projects– the list goes on. There are even some gadgets that will lower your monthly utility bills!

Take a Trip Back to Simplicity

We live in a society that’s practically dominated by electricity. Most of our means of entertaining ourselves rely on some sort of electrical power. This causes the bill to hike up, especially in the summer months. But why not take a step back into simplicity? You don’t have to play video games or watch television. You could go for a walk, have family story time, or play a board game. You can lose yourself in the mystery of a good book. There’s no limit to what you can do with some creativity. And your wallet will thank you later.

Author Bio

Annabelle is currently a loving and caring mother of two children. She lives outside of Milwaukee, WI and loves cheering for the Bucks and Badgers. She is a blog enthusiast and loves writing, if she is not writing she is cleaning up after her two lovely angels. She is learning a lot about electricity and what she can do to save money from Texas Electric Retailers.

Creative Ways for Your Children to Recycle Old Books

Living green might sound like an easy undertaking; all you have to do is stop polluting, avoid chemicals, and conserve water, energy, and other resources. But while the prospect may be simply stated, the inception is anything but, thanks to a modern society that relies heavily on disposable goods and chemical solutions. In truth, green living is a process that many of us never fully realize, simply because modern amenities make life so much easier. But we all keep plugging along, finding new ways to reduce our carbon footprint along the way without making our lives too difficult. And for many, this includes developing strategies to help our kids get on board with building a greener future. So when you find that your children have a glut of used books that are simply too thrashed to be re-gifted or given to charity, here are a few ways that you can get creative with the recycling process.

While it is certainly tempting to tear out pages and throw them in the bin devoted to recycled paper products, you might not have this option if the pages of your children’s books are treated (and many are). The glossy cardstock common in many such books is non-recyclable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find myriad other uses for it. One great option is to use it for other papery purposes. For example, you might save the colorful pages of your children’s books to use as wrapping paper for birthdays and other holiday gifting. Or you can cut out favorite images or lines of text to for kids to create their own greeting cards or stationery.

And of course, you can set up all kinds of craft projects. Although the winter holidays are over for another year, these pages could be saved to create dozens of different kinds of ornaments and decorations for your home. In the meantime you could also get templates online to cut out paper flowers (or use a die cutter) in order to make a virtual garden in every child’s room. You might also use artwork or text to design mobiles or make fun funky furniture with decoupage. Your kids can no doubt come up with some imaginative ideas, but if you’re stumped there are plenty of suggestions (along with tutorials) available online.

Of course, you might also use the paper from old books to create new paper. In case you didn’t know, paper is merely pressed wood pulp. So if you can turn it into pulp again, you can press your own, new pages. It’s not like you’d shell out the cash for discount textbooks to this end, but if you already have stock on hand that can’t be recycled in other ways, why not make your own unique pages for penning correspondence, copying recipes, or making grocery lists? This is something that you and your kids can have fun with and you don’t need to purchase a ton of equipment to get the job done. With a few common household items (large bowls for sifting, a strainer, and some heavy, flat books for pressing pages, etc.) you can quickly turn your kids’ old books into brand new paper.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

Fun Furniture Upcycling Ideas to Take Your Home From Drab to Fab

Some people seem content to live with the same, boring décor for years, long after it has gone out of style. They seem to think that they decorated their house once and that was good enough. But most people are constantly in a state of flux where their décor is concerned. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying a new living room set every year. But what about adding a vase here or a picture frame there? What about holiday decorations, floral arrangements, and so forth? When you think about it, it’s pretty easy to get bored with your décor. And while we all like the familiarity of home, the truth is that we also thrive on variety. Over time, even your furnishings can start to look less appealing than they once did, not only from wear and tear that makes them shabby, but also from familiarity (which you may have heard breeds contempt). Of course, you simply might not have the budget to replace pricy items like furniture. So here are just a few upcycling ideas that will give you the new décor you crave with less cost and a healthy dose of fun thrown in.

By far the easiest place to start is with couches and chairs. I know what you’re thinking: these are the most expensive furnishings! How can I replace them at minimal cost? The beauty of upcycling is that you’re not really replacing anything; you’re just reusing it in a way that gives it a higher value than it currently holds. And value comes in many forms that have nothing to do with money. Now, the reason that your seating tends to be the easiest to upcycle is that as long as it is structurally sound, all you have to do is throw on a slipcover to enact an instant transformation.

You can purchase these items ready-made, but if you really want to save, as well as get the exact color, pattern, and texture you want, you can head to the fabric store or go online to pick the perfect textiles, and then get crafty with the sewing machine. If you have a little more money to spend you could go for actual reupholstering. But slipcovers are relatively inexpensive and you could change the look of your living or dining room weekly if you so choose, with no onus to stick to one fabric.

As for other items in the home, there are so many ways to upcycle furnishings that have begun to look a little drab. Bureaus, armoires, and other wooden furnishings can be updated easily enough with a rough sanding and a new coat of paint or stain. Of course, this won’t work with laminates. But if you want a custom look here you could order stick-on wall panels from a decal site like whatisblik.com, cut them to size, and adhere them to drawer fronts. Or you could replace the hardware with something more modern. And as for cabinet doors, think about knocking out thin center panels and replacing them with frosted glass or a mirror.

And don’t forget that another great, free way to upcycle is to find better uses for the items you already have. For example, that old bench that’s been wasting away in the garage can be placed by the front door for people to sit on while they remove their shoes. Or you could move the outdoor furniture into the basement so your teens have their own kitschy hangout (think Tiki bar, sans the bar). The point is that you may see all kinds of potential in the furnishings you already have if you just give them a second look. So save yourself some dough and upcycle to get the gorgeous furniture makeover you crave.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Turn Recycled Pallets into a Christmas Tree!

For those who are seeking an unusual and one-of-a-kind Christmas decoration for the outdoors, this Christmas tree was made using recycled wood pallets! In 5 simple steps, you can create your own this holiday season!

Step 1 – Find a couple recycled pallets and tear them down.

Step 2 – Cut your stump. We were lucky enough to find a pallet with some thick, sturdy boards on it. Saw off each corner so that it is a clean 45 degree angle, and the resulting stump is an octagon.

Step 3 – Attach and secure your stump. Cut chunks out of each half of the stump about 2 inches deep from the top. Fit the pieces together and fasten with screws. You can also create a base out of spare pallet pieces.

Step 4 – Cut the “branches.” Cut an equal number of boards at 30, 45 and 60 degree angles. Then, attach the “branches.” Attach the branches to the stump so that the 30 degree angles are at the bottom, the 45 degree angles are in the middle, and the 60 degree angles up at the top.

Step 5 – Decorate your tree!

About the Author

This article was submitted by Premier Handling.

5 Tips For a Greener Christmas

The holiday season gives you a chance to share joyful experiences with your friends and family. However, it’s easy to overlook the negative impact the holiday season brings to the environment, from wasteful wrapping paper to needless energy consumption. Through simple changes, you can reduce your own impact and still have a merry holiday season.

1) Rethink Your Gifts

Completely changing your old gift-giving habits can help save the environment. First, think carefully about the environmental impact of each gift that you plan to buy. If a gift comes with a wasteful amount of packaging, consider purchasing an alternative gift instead. In addition, don’t feel pressured to buy a new gift from a store for each person on your list. If you’re skilled at a particular handicraft, such as pottery, consider making your own gifts. Also consider gifts that help the environment, such as adopting a tree in the rainforest or giving a gift to an environmental non-profit in a friend’s name.

After you have purchased your gifts, don’t rush out to buy new wrapping paper. Save gift bags and high end shopping bags throughout the year and embellish them with materials from around your home. You can use paint, buttons, ribbons and other crafting supplies to decorate your homemade packaging.

2) Decorate with the Environment in Mind

Your festive decorations should reflect your commitment to protecting the environment. Start by replacing your old Christmas lights with LED lights. These modern Christmas lights will reduce your energy consumption and still look fabulous on your home and tree. You can use an electric timer to make sure your lights are only on for a few hours each night.

Unless you already have enough decorations to reuse this year, you may need to add a few decorations to your collection. Instead of buying new decorations at the store, try to come up with your own ideas. A walk through your backyard or local park may yield tree branches and pine cones you can use in wreaths and garlands. You can also create your own decorations with paper and fabric.

3) Holiday Card Alternatives

If you normally send out hundreds of holiday cards to your family and friends in all corners of the world, consider taking a different approach this year. For relatives who live thousands of miles away, you can send out digital cards that will save you money and help the environment. For those loved ones who live closer to you, think about making your cards with materials you already own. By using old magazines, calendars and wrapping paper, you can make festive holiday cards in an afternoon of fun.

4) Reuse and Recycle

During the holiday season, you’ll likely need to dispose of a large amount of trash. However, you should try to recycle or reuse anything you can. For example, if you carefully open your presents, you can save the wrapping paper and bows to use next year. Old gift boxes are useful no matter the season. If you can’t find a use for old packaging, make sure to properly recycle it. You can also avoid accumulating waste simply by shopping wisely throughout the season. Take your own shopping bags to the store, and avoid buying gifts with excessive amounts of packaging.

5) Plan Your Meals

In addition to paper and plastic waste, you may end up with some food waste during the holidays. If you plan out each of your holiday parties in advance, however, you can avoid buying too much food. Start your approach by making a list of the food you need for each party. If you end up with too much food after a party, consider bagging up small portions to give away to the guests. You can also store the leftovers in your fridge to eat later.

About the Author

This article was written by Philip J Reed on behalf of the Redstone College Wind Energy Technology Degree program.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Green Grandparents: Leading the way in Sustainable Living

As the population continues to expand and the natural environmental resources become depleted, baby boomers are realizing the importance of the need to maintain a “green” lifestyle. Seniors are embracing this practice in a number of ways that include using eco-friendly materials around the home, purchasing energy-efficient appliances and even choosing a green retirement community or assisted living center for their next home.

Simple Environmental Tips

There are a number of easy tips seniors can incorporate into their everyday lives. Switching your light bulbs from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs will help and can save you money on your energy bills. Other cost-saving measures include replacing your older appliances with energy-efficient items.

When it comes to cleaning and gardening, you want to select products that are kind to the earth. Most of these items are powerful enough to eliminate germs, remove odors and get rid of weeds without adding toxins to the air we breathe.

Reduce Waste by Recycling

Probably the easiest way to be of help to the environment is through a recycling program. You can reduce the amount of garbage entering the landfills by recycling glass, plastic, paper and aluminum. Also, batteries can be harmful to the planet by leaking corrosive acids into the ground and water system. Recycling your batteries is simple to do and it’s much better for the earth.

Creating Green Communities

Seniors who are fueling the demand for green retirement communities are having a positive impact on the planet while enjoying numerous health and environmental benefits. As our world moves toward living a “green” lifestyle, eco-friendly adult communities are becoming a popular draw for many. These new communities may either be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, or they may follow various aspects of living eco-friendly.

Many of the retirement communities today are using earth-friendly materials. Some of the bigger features included are solar panels and dual pane, low-emittance windows. These options are particularly popular in areas that see high amounts of sunshine, and they will help you save money on your energy bills. Other items include energy-efficient air conditioning and heating units, climate control systems to regulate cooling and heating units and satellite set sprinkling systems.

Selecting an Environmentally-Friendly Home

Seniors all around the United States are realizing the many benefits of making the move to an environmentally-friendly retirement community. Remember that in addition to your “green” living needs, you must find a community that will accommodate your personal and medical preferences also. A real estate agent or Internet search can help you find locations that best suit your needs. Do your research, visit the community and ask questions to determine if the center is right for you.

Baby boomers are the biggest trend setters, and they have their sights set on saving the environment. Through purchasing energy-friendly products for their homes, using electric cars and recycling, this is one generation that knows how to go “green.”

About the Author

Author Shelby Warden researches the latest lifestyle trends for seniors and contributes this article for the green retirement and assisted living center programs of Pathway Senior Living, an award-winning provider of adult living communities. Pathway is once again paving the way as a champion of the environmental movement in seniors’ housing with their sustainable living philosophy and eco-friendly techniques.

Your Child’s Grandparents: Keeping Their Assisted Living Homes Green

In this day and age nearly everyone is concerned with protecting the environment. Every living and working space can be made more green. Assisting living quarters are no exception. In fact, making grandparents’ homes more eco-friendly not only safeguards the environment, but their health and that of everyone who spends time with them, especially small children. Below are some tips on how to make and keep assisted living spaces green.

1. Monitor temperature. More energy efficiency can be easily accomplished by regulating the home temperature. It is often assumed that seniors enjoy much warmer environments. However, that may not always be the case. Ensure that the temperature is actually comfortable for grandparents. Environments that are too warm are actually unsafe as they provide a welcoming place for viruses and insects to thrive.

Close off rooms that are not used regularly. Then also use other ways to increase warmth by using tree shading (which also works to help with cooling), blankets and warmer clothing. A thermostat that is merely kept a few degrees lower can make a huge difference in energy consumption and costs.

2. Change to CFL light bulbs. Because these bulbs cost more, they are still overlooked by many people as a source of positive environmental impact. The lighting quality is better which makes it easier for elder grandparents to see and puts less stress on their eyes. Many are surprised to learn that electricity is conserved with the newer bulbs so that bills are reduced as much as 90 percent.

3. Install an air purification system. EPA studies have concluded that clean air ducts will naturally contribute to energy savings, as well as improve the indoor air quality. Also, clean air enhances heating and cooling efficiency. This is better for overall health and the environment while reducing energy costs.

4. Use Eco safe cleaning products. The first advantage of using environmentally-friendly products for cleaning is that natural cleaners contain almost no irritants. This makes it far more comfortable for anyone who is sensitive or has allergies or an illness. They are also designed to be just as effective, if not more so at removing dirt, germs and odors as traditional products.

Also, natural cleaning products are disposed of much more safely, making them additionally beneficial for the environment. All of these aspects make them a better choice for the residents in assisted living quarters, the people using them and, in keeping with guidelines followed by popular senior living communities like Atlanta-based Dogwood Forest, the health of visitors too.

5. Recycle. Waste is not only costly, but clearing it away helps make a cleaner environment. When glass, plastic and paper is compartmentalized for disposal, it is easier to keep the space cleaner since other items containing germs can be discarded more easily.

Also, many of the recycled items are used in making other products, further reducing the amount of waste in landfills. If there is not a common recycling program at the assisted living facility already, it could be easily instituted and made available for everyone to use.

6. Discard old electronics. Many people enjoy keeping older equipment such as stereos, radios and sewing machines for sentimental reasons. However, these relics often use a great deal of energy. In addition, most of them were not designed with safety in mind, so they could be a hazard to have around smaller, visiting grandchildren. Having them donated to a conservatory of some kind, or taking them to a proper recycling center, will go a long way to adding green value.

Adjusting grandparents’ assisted living spaces to be more green not only helps the environment and saves on costs, but is a great way to teach everyone involved by example. Keeping the home clean and safe for them also insures it will be clean and safe for visiting grandchildren.

About the Author

Ann Bailey is a green-home enthusiast and contributes this post on better environments for homes for the assisted living environments of Dogwood Forest. Based around Atlanta, Georgia, the senior communities provide clean, comfortable and secure housing for long-term, short-term, and memory-care family members and grandparents.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/natapics/2313888476/