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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.*

 

 

 

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.

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.*

Using Oatmeal for More Than Breakfast

Although more and more people are having oatmeal as part of a healthy daily diet, there are other uses for it apart from eating as we’ll soon discover. Oatmeal is recommended to people who are trying to lose weight so that they feel fuller for longer. This prevents them from reaching for unhealthy snacks before lunch. However, the majority of people tend to make far too much oatmeal for their snack and are left with a lot of waste. Rather than putting it in the garbage, there are some useful things that you can do with these leftovers. Indeed, this healthy complex carbohydrate can be recycled time after time.

You can recycle leftover oatmeal by adding a little water and making up a paste. This paste can help to heal burns, eliminate itching and reduce swelling. Over the years it has been used to treat poison ivy and nettle rashes, and to stop children from scratching chicken pox. It’s best to wrap cling film over the oatmeal paste to stop it from drying out too quickly and flaking off.

Another way to soothe skin by using oatmeal is to recycle your breakfast leftovers by placing them in the leg from an old pair of pantyhose and attaching it to the faucet inside the bath tub. When the warm water runs, it will pass through the oatmeal to create a relaxing, medicinal soothing bath. This is the ideal way to treat scalds, shingles, and chicken pox or sunburn naturally. Oatmeal was used in times gone by before conventional treatments had been created, but there is still a place for these types of natural cures.

If you don’t have time to wash your hair and it looks lank and greasy, you can easily create some dry shampoo from oatmeal. You need to grind up a cup of oatmeal and mix with some baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture evenly onto the roots of your hair and let it absorb for a few minutes so that all of the grease is eliminated. Then brush the mixture out completely. Remember not to be too heavy handed or you could end up looking like you’re wearing a powdered wig! A light application is all that is required for shiny, clean and fuller hair.

If you have blemishes on your skin you can recycle unwanted oatmeal by mixing in the white of an egg and smoothing over the face. Leave this face mask on for around fifteen minutes then rinse off with warm water and pat skin dry. Oatmeal masks are very effective at refining pores and absorbing excess oil. Alternatively you could place some oatmeal inside an old sock or stocking and use to exfoliate the rough patches on knees and elbows to leave skin looking flawless.

If you have done all of these things and still have leftover oatmeal you could make some flapjacks to put in the kids’ lunch bags or add to stuffing to make meatloaf, stews or burgers. You can also add oatmeal to breadcrumbs to make crispy toppings for casseroles or other savory dishes. There are many ways to recycle oatmeal. You just have to use your imagination.

About the Author

Mike Sorensen is a structural engineer and master cabinet maker and the author of www.AcousticFields.com audio blog. He provides tips for soundproofing a room using environmentally-friendly sound production methods and generally tries to do good by Mother Earth.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

How to Prevent Food Waste With Eco-Friendly Storage Options

Finding eco-friendly solutions to everyday problems may not always be easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that hard, either, especially with a vast community of greenies more than willing to offer advice (and an easy-access forum thanks to the internet). Plus, the green movement has expanded so much in the last several years, what with the growing awareness of the effects of pollution and waste on our planet, that many retailers are now offering eco-products in addition to their traditional wares. So when you come to the conclusion that using disposable plastic baggies or even permanent plastic containers to store your leftovers is an approach that is less than environmentally sound, you’ll be happy to hear that there are plenty of other options that will extend the life of your perishable foodstuffs without contributing to the destruction of the planet. Here are some to consider.

Plenty of people find ways to work with what they already have. Plastic storage bags may not be eco-friendly, but they’re certainly handy. So if you like the convenience but hate to throw them away, avoid the feelings of guilt by reusing them. Many of these bags are fairly resilient, so simply rinse them out with some warm water and dish soap, set them on your drying rack, and use them again and again (unless of course they have had raw meat in them, they’ve harbored mold, or there is some other form of unsanitary conditions…then you may want to toss them). Of course, plastic is probably the worst possible option when it comes to doing your part for the environment, so once you work your way through the plastic bags you’ve got, consider recycling your permanent plastic containers in favor of something a little healthier for the planet and for your family.

You may be hesitant to use aluminum foil because of the damage caused to the earth during the mining of metals that are used to create this kitchen staple, but there is a solution here that’s probably better than plastic. Many stores now carry 100% recycled aluminum foil (even the popular Reynolds brand has started to make this concession), which means that your purchase is actually slowing the roll of this type of mining and showing manufacturers that you prefer the recycled fare (this is how you vote with your consumer dollars). Plus, you can reuse and recycle it on your own, making it a fairly eco-friendly option for food storage.

But the best solution comes in the form of glass. And there are a couple of options here. If you’re lucky, you can get your mom or grandma to part with the family set of vintage refrigerator dishes (often made of Pyrex) which can go from oven to fridge and back again and come with glass lids (unlike modern options that tend to feature plastic lids). You can also find these sets on eBay and even at flea markets and garage sales (a pods promotional code that ends with a storage locker full of junk means you win when the owners finally sell it all off). Just get ready to cough up some dough; they’re not cheap, but they are an investment that will last you for years if you’re careful (and save you over the purchase of disposable plastic items in time). Another option is mason jars. They come in a variety of sizes, and thanks to metal lids that seal air tight you can store solids and liquids without the fear of leakage.

Fun and Easy DIY Summer Green Projects

The Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy nature, and it is also a great time to get out and do something useful. The beauty of Summer inspires in us a love of nature, and a want to be as green as we possibly can, just to ensure that the beauty of nature never fades. Thus, Summertime is the perfect time to pick up some fun, easy do-it-yourself green projects around the home and around the neighborhood. Here are a few ideas:

Natural Sunscreen

With the sun being out, it is only natural to want to bask in it and soak up as many rays as possible. Of course, we all know how dangerous that can be, as it raises the chance of skin cancer among other things. But, that can all be taken care of with a little sunscreen. In order to be green and to do it yourself, you can make your own natural sunscreen and it will make you able to soak up those rays and absorb all that vitamin D, which does wonders for the body – not to mention getting a great tan in the process.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

● an 8 oz. bottle or container of some kind
● some type of oil (i.e. olive oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil or soybean oil)
● 1 oz. of emulsifying wax
● some kind of sun blocking agent (i.e. zinc oxide or titanium oxide, etc.)
● any kind of essential oil (depending on what smell you like, it can be orange, geranium, or anything else that is available at the local shop.)

Turn all Those Bandanas into a Tablecloth

This is a great idea if you have plenty of time on your hands, and are adept at stitching things together. The idea is to make a tablecloth out of bandanas, which will be stitched together to create it. While it may not sound like an outdoor activity, that is not exactly true; as you can always take the materials with you to a park, or work on it in your backyard. In the end, you will have the coolest tablecloth in town, and you can show it off to all your friends the next time there is a bbq or a picnic in the sun.

Natural Mosquito Repellent

We all know when it is Summer, that also means it is time to go hiking, canoeing, kayaking, chilling on the beach- and most of all camping! Yet, we all know the biggest pain in the butt when it comes to camping is the mosquitos, and all those itchy bites they leave on your body. So, mosquito repellant is a must, but it contains many chemicals, but you can make your own all-natural mosquito repellent. Citronella, soy oil and cat nip can all be used.

About the Author

Tom is a writer and does ESL teaching at Online Colleges Guide.

Being Green and Frugal

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that minimizes the use of the earth’s resources as well as personal expenditures. This includes being ecologically aware in personal consumption and making economical choices in spending habits.

Sustainable living is based on simple principles you can incorporate into your current lifestyle. Developing habits that will decrease your expenditures and make a smaller ecological footprint is easy when done gradually.

Reduce

Using less affects you both financially and ecologically. Reusable grocery bags and refillable containers for commercial products reduce the amount of plastic waste produced. Reusable plastic storage containers for sandwiches and lunch snacks reduce the number of plastic bags you purchase and throw away.

Plan driving routes to combine errands, and reduce the number of trips you make and miles driven. This cuts down on fuel consumption and wear on your car, as well as extending time between oil changes and other scheduled maintenance.

Eliminate waste in food purchases. Buy only what you will use. If you find yourself regularly purging spoiled food from the refrigerator, you are buying more than you can reasonably consume.

Reduce the amount of disposable paper products you use. Paper towels and napkins can be replaced with cleaning cloths and cotton napkins, which can be washed with other loads of laundry and reused.

Reuse

Before running to the store to make a purchase, check to see if you already own something that is an appropriate substitute. Reusing wrapping paper and bows is a common practice, but many household items can be reused or repurposed.

If you print a lot from your computer, consider reusing the backside of paper that you normally throw away. Kids can use it for drawing and coloring, or you can cut it into smaller pieces for scratch paper. Buy refillable ink cartridges for your printer and use inexpensive refill ink to extend the use of the cartridges.

Before buying new home décor items, think about the pieces you already own. Moving furniture to a new room or changing the location of paintings and wall hangings can give a fresh look without additional purchases.

If you don’t find what you need at home, consider shopping for used items. Many shops and websites sell used video games, DVD movies, books and other specialty items. Thrift shops and second hand stores carry clothing, toys, furniture and kitchen goods. Items from these stores typically cost less and may be better quality than similar items in discount stores.

Recycle

You may already recycle newspapers and plastic with the garbage service in your community, but there are many other ways to recycle.

Donate or sell your unwanted items. Your donations may be charitable deductions, and selling unused items adds a little to your income.

For your yard and garden, there are ways to save money and contribute to the ecology. Build a compost system to provide nutrition for your plants and garden. It is a simple idea that costs little in time and effort. Add a rain barrel to a downspout to provide water for gardening and plantings. This reduces the amount of water you use and will decrease your sewer bill. Some communities also provide storm-water credits for residential water containment systems.

Re-evaluating what is essential and what is superfluous in your life is a step toward sustainable living. Eco-conscious living is a step in doing your part to preserve our natural environment. Both are worth doing for yourself and our planet.

About the Author

This article comes from Nisha representing freestuff.co.uk – with the latest free stuff, competitions, deals, and games.

How Students Can Stay Green in College

Although the spring semester is almost over, it’s never too late to start thinking up ways to make your life on campus a little better for the environment. In fact, with finals over you’ll have some time on your hands to plan for your eco-friendly return in the fall. You may not have access to all of the same amenities you enjoy at home (like your mom’s organic vegetable garden, solar panels, a pick-up recycling service, or your family’s electric car), but there is actually a lot you can do to reduce your carbon footprint on campus.

Here are just a few ways to employ the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) while you’re working towards your own bright future.

1. Hike, bike, and bus. One of the easiest ways for most college students to save the environment along with a little money is to eschew the use of a personal vehicle. Yes, a car is a symbol of freedom and it can be quite convenient. But the truth is that most college students can’t really afford all of the expenses that come with a car anyway (insurance, registration, gas, parking, etc.). And whether you live on campus or nearby, you’re likely close enough that you rarely have use for a vehicle anyway. Plus, most campuses offer some kind of discount on bus passes, which are likely a lot less expensive than keeping a car in any case. By making the decision to non-op your car, leave it at home, and walk, bike, or ride the bus, you’ll make a big difference for both your budget and the environment.

2. Conserve. There are so many ways you can conserve, even when you don’t have access to low-flow toilets and alternative energy. For example, you can wait until you have a full load of laundry to run the washer and then use only cold water. You can get long-lasting, low-energy CFLs for your dorm room and use natural light as much as possible. And you can turn off the AC unit and electronics when you’re not in the room.

3. Recycle. Nearly every college campus has instituted some type of recycling program so that all you have to do is take the cans and bottles that build up in your room to a designated drop-box in order to ensure that they don’t clutter up the landfill. However, there are other ways to recycle, as well. For example, when getting rid of clothing of furniture you can donate to a charitable organization (like Goodwill), or if you’re dumping electronics that no longer work you can contact the local trash company about dropping off hazardous materials for free.

4. Ask for organics. The campus cafeteria may not offer organic or local options, but that doesn’t mean you can’t request them. With enough student signatures on a petition you can get the attention of the administration, and if you do the research and present them with locally-sourced, organic options and ways to save money on these items, you might actually do something good for your college and the Earth at the same time.

5. Start a community garden. If you simply can’t get the organic foods you want on campus, think about organizing a community garden. You don’t have to pursue an MSW online in order to help others in your community, and by starting such a project you can bring students together to do something that is good for them and the environment, as well as involving the campus in an outreach project that could have resounding positive ramifications.

Sustainable Play Items – the Green Way to Go!

Green and eco-friendly products are very common these days – there are so many products that make a ‘green’ or eco-friendly claim so that now we come to expect it on the shelves of our supermarkets, on websites or banks who claim to be ‘paperless.’

Have you ever thought about what your children play with and how these items may impact the environment?
Now that summer will be upon us soon, outdoor play is something we should start thinking about now and sustainability should be on our minds.

Some equipment does not last!

Unfortunately, a lot of consumer products we buy for our children are not built to last. Typically, these tend to be the cheaply made plastic toys that break or stop working properly. The sad fact is that usually the cheaper products, which are made of plastic, tend to be the ones that end up in landfills and aren’t biodegradable, so will sit there for many years to come.

What are the greener options?

There are two main things you can do to be more environmentally-friendly when buying play equipment, and in particular outdoor play equipment.

1. Buy to last. This can be a hard one as there are usually no guarantees. It also depends on how boisterous your children are. However, larger items like swings and climbing frames can come with a 10 year warranty – like Action Climbing Frames which can be bought at the Big Game Hunters climbing frame shop, Mad Fun and All Garden Fun, amongst others.

Wooden play items will on the whole have a longer life than many of their plastic counterparts. Apart from a longer life, the wood can be re-used if still in good condition once the play equipment is no longer used or needed and most importantly it will not fill up landfill, as it will eventually degrade.

2. Think about the materials they are made from. A lot of wood that goes into playhouses, climbing frames, tree houses and swings comes from sustainable wood sources. This means that the wood comes from somewhere where they are constantly planting new trees so the amount of trees does not diminish.

Look out for people reusing things to make new play items. Garden Games uses old tyres for its tyre swings, which uses up old tyres, which would otherwise have no use, and makes something fun for children to play on. Rubber does not biodegrade so they can fill up landfills just like plastics! Instead, by using them as swings, they are not sitting in landfills, and costs to the consumer have been reduced as the tires are being reused for this purpose.

About the Author

Written by Abbi Stewart, advisor and creator of play equipment for children at Big Game Hunter’s climbing frames shop at www.climbingframes.com.