ID-100120230Top 5 Eco-Baby & Toddler Gifts for 2013

The holidays are here, and it is time for “Mom” to reveal her top eco-friendly gifts for babies and toddlers! The five items below will delight and surprise both parents and children this season!

KicKee Pants Blanket

KicKee Pants Ruffle Blanket
Wee ones will love to snuggle up with this super-soft Ruffle Blanket from KicKee Pants! Made from soft Viscose from Bamboo fabric, the blanket is the ideal combo of stretch and softness. Great for swaddling or for cuddling as your child grows – this will surely be a favorite for years to come! Available in a variety of solid colors and cozy prints.

Dots on Tots

Dots on Tots Flap Hat
Celeb-loved line Dots on Tots has the perfect stocking stuffer for babies this season – the organic cotton Flap Hat! Made from 100% certified organic soft baby cotton, the Flap Hat is double layered for warmth, and seamless with a soft Velcro (hook and loop) closure on the flaps. The hat is a must-have for chilly weather! Made in the USA with low-impact dyes, the Flap Hat is available in white, blue or pink in either cotton or sherpa fabric.

Baby Mantra

Baby Mantra Skincare Line
Safeguard your baby’s sacred bedtime bath with Baby Mantra, a new baby skincare line made of top quality, all-natural and organic ingredients. Lush formulations pamper mom and baby alike, without the harmful chemicals and carcinogens often found in mainstream products. For the perfect gift set for a newborn baby this season, Baby Mantra offers four toxin-free products to protect, pamper and soothe, including the Newborn Shampoo & Body Wash, 3-in-1 Baby Bubble Bath, Shampoo & Body Wash, Calming Massage Oil, and Calming Lotion. The line can be found at Walgreens,, and


Cloud b Lullabag
Little ones will be snug as a bug all winter long in the Cloud b Lullabag! This gorgeous, extremely comfy sleep bag helps keep your baby’s body temperature just right throughout the night, making for better, longer sleep. Used in place of loose blankets and bedding, it is a safe alternative that helps to reduce the risk factors associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation. The Lullabag is available in fleece, bamboo/cotton and pointelle in a variety of prints in sizes S-L.

Green Toys Rocket

Green Toys Rocket
Your future astronaut will love pretending to blast off into outer space while being socially responsible this holiday season with the new Green Toys Rocket, which is made from recycled materials and is free of toxins. The fully equipped, 2-in-1 set includes a detachable top capsule and two astronauts that sport molded spacesuits, helmets, and dual-tank backpacks. Powered by a main booster and three auxiliary fin boosters, the Rocket has a large door that flips down to double as a set of steps up into the main cavity, while the detachable nose cone capsule has its own door that opens to reveal buttons, dials, and more. $24.99.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this piece. Top image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

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

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.

Recycle LogoTips on Recycling Electronics

Like other forms of recycling, electronics recycling has become very prevalent nowadays because of the endless environmental benefits that it brings. Electronics recycling is the salvaging of damaged, non-functional, and worn out electronic devices or gadgets by collecting the useful parts and utilizing them for other purposes.  This is very effective and efficient when it comes to minimizing electronics waste that may harm the earth’s food and water systems.

Why is electronics recycling important?

With almost everyone using electronic appliances and gadgets, piles of electronic waste have become a major concern nowadays. It should be noted that the said issues not be neglected since electronics can contain hazardous materials that should not be disposed the conventional way. Because of such issues, in the United States and in many parts of the world, there are extensive laws concerning electronic waste or “e-waste.” They strictly impose guidelines to reuse and recycle electronics to save the planet.
How are e-wastes recycled?

Recycling electornics can not be done by simply tossing the item in the recycling bin! Ordinary citizens should not engage in electronics recycling alone since it requires expert skills and sophisticated machineries.  They might encounter certain components that require expert handling to avoid potential poisoning and other unwanted incidents. For this reason, they should employ the services of electronics recycling companies, such as Elgin Recycling.

Employing the services of legitimate companies should be prioritized because they practice strict environmental compliance laws and guidelines. In addition, the company that will be chosen should have certifications from government regulating bodies such as the ISO. Companies who perform electronics recycling without the said documents should not be used because their standards may not be enough to stop wastes from effecting the environment.

As mentioned earlier, electronics recycling is very different from plastic and paper recycling. It requires segregation of components that will be used and those that will be thrown away.

What happen to the components that cannot be used?

Almost 90 percent of electronic components that gadgets and appliances contain can be processed for recycling. The rest that cannot be recycled are carefully disposed to make sure that electronic waste will not harm the environment or cause health problems. These precautionary measures are important because disregarding them can cause a myriad of unwanted incidents. For instance, many electronic devices and gadgets contain mercury, an element that is deadly to human beings and animals.  A vast majority of electronic appliances and gadgets that are found in households contain mercury that is why owners are warned not to dispose of them the conventional way so as to prevent potential mercury contamination.

Electronic waste takes up a huge percentage of the total waste that is generated on a daily basis. Sad to say, an alarming amount of electronics still go to dumpsites and landfills. With this in mind, everyone should make a serious stand with regard to electronics recycling to effectively and efficiently reduce electronic waste and improve the overall environmental condition.

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, 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*

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.

Recycled Shipping Containers are Doing the World Good

Recycling is probably the most visible movement of our emerging green society, but one “recyclable” rapidly growing in popularity was staring us in the face for decades before we realized its potential. Most of us have seen the steel shipping containers that house merchandise and materials on ships and freight trains, but very likely never thought twice about them. And that was the problem.

Since the 1950s, when they came into widespread use, the worldwide population of these containers has grown to around 17 million, which would seem sufficient for decades of future needs. But many of them sit dormant, because it costs less to manufacture new ones than it does to retrieve used ones from often-distant locations.
These sturdy, weather and wear-resistant containers have a useful life of 15 years or more, and since they contain durable resources that could be put to far better use, which is precisely what far-sighted entrepreneurial folks are now doing.

Here are just a few of the startlingly logical and inventive ways in which steel shipping containers are finding useful second lives:



With the price of decent housing so far beyond the reach of so many people, reconfigured shipping containers present an affordable, viable alternative to homelessness.

Their steel structure is sturdy and weather-resistant, and they can easily be outfitted with plumbing and electricity, doors, windows, flooring and other amenities. A single container can serve as a small home, and additional units can be combined for larger single-family homes or even stacked to create modular apartment buildings.


Field business operations, such as mines and pipelines, pose the question of how and where to house on-site employees. Reconfigured shipping containers provide an easy and affordable answer.
As with residential use, employee shipping container housing provides portability, durability, expandability, comfort and numerous design options. They can also be utilized as on-site kitchens, dining rooms and conference rooms.


Join together the imagination of small children and the possibilities of steel shipping containers and you have a perfect combination for a small preschool or nursery school.

Shipping container schools work because they have as much room to grow as young minds. There are hundreds of ways to design, redesign, transform and customize the spaces in ways that will keep young, inquiring minds fascinated and inspired.


Children can play for hours with an empty cardboard box, so imagine the fun they can have with a portable, mutable playground made with recycled shipping containers. They can be used individually for a myriad of activities or combined to create a central activity area or classroom. You might see them in public parks, used as covered eating areas, vending stands or even restrooms; their outside walls are even, on occasion, a canvas for aspiring muralists.


Recycled shipping containers are being used increasingly around the world as unique retail facilities, from small shops to multi-level shopping centers or malls. Lacking only elevators or escalators to differentiate them from traditional retail spaces, the construction savings of up to 80% certainly rises above those conveniences.
This movement is not restricted to low-budget needs, though. Such green-minded corporations as Starbuck’s and Puma have also opened outlets fashioned from shipping containers; rather than spending the time, money and resources for new construction.


Artists and sculptors are notable for the endlessly inventive ways they can find and shape their materials. It was only a matter of time before they discovered recycled shipping containers.

The containers have been stacked, twisted, painted and otherwise pressed into service as art for such public spaces as beaches and shopping centers. They also make excellent studios and traveling museums or exhibition spaces, allowing art to go directly to the people.

About the Author

Author Cherrell Tarantino is a freelance writer and advocate of environmental innovations, such as recycled or reclaimed portable storage containers. Whether this article has you thinking about containers for rent or purchase, you’ll find their many uses inspiring.

Photo credits:

Christchurch Shopping Mall:
Jones-Glotfelty House:

Woman Uses 30,000 Recycled Bottle Caps to Decorate Home

People come up with all kinds of ways to decorate their homes in order to add their personal sense of style and beauty to a space and make it their own. They may choose to hang art and add architectural pieces that speak to their penchant for world travel. Or they might feature the many art and craft projects their children create. Some will design their rooms to emulate the sleek photos seen in interior decorating magazines. And others will surround themselves with an eclectic array of antiques handed down through generations of their family. In short, we all have our own idea of the type of décor that turns a house into a home. And one woman has apparently decided that recycled bottle caps provide the best bet for home beautification.

Olga Kostina may not be well known outside her hometown of Kamarchaga, a remote Russian village nestled in the taiga forests near the Siberian border, but her artistic and eco-friendly endeavors are putting her in the international spotlight. The retired Kostina has decided to spend her twilight years not tending her grandchildren, sitting by the fire and reading, or traveling the globe as other senior citizens do. Rather, she has opted to turn her home into a massive art project by using recycled plastic bottle caps to create colorful mosaics and nature scenes on the exterior of her wooden home.

From the ground all the way up to the eaves, passersby can get a gander at entire outdoor walls covered with plastic bottle caps painstakingly nailed, one by one, into complex macramé patterns consisting of an entire palette worth of colors. And if that weren’t enough, she has also created wall-sized murals depicting wildlife, like one scene that shows a ram pausing to stare out at visitors under a starry night sky, as well as domesticated animals, such as a wide-eyed kitten looking thoughtful beneath a smiling sun. Each wall features thousands of bottle caps that she has collected over the years and according to the amateur artist, she plans to keep going until she has covered every building on her property. In the meantime, her home has become rather popular with the locals, and even some tourists have journeyed to the area to get an eyeful.

Kostina’s unique home is certainly an interesting example of the potential to use recycled goods around the house, but hers isn’t the only story of success to hit the headlines of late. Olga Queen, a fellow Russian woman from Novoshakhtinsk, collected 5,000 glass bottles to place between the walls of her home for insulating purposes while residents of Yelwa, a village in northern Nigeria, built an entire living structure from nearly 8,000 plastic bottles held together by mud. Bizarrely, the home is not only stable, but it is also earthquake safe and apparently even bulletproof. And there are many more stories like these of people using innovation and ingenuity to create an eco-friendly building site by utilizing recycled products in strange and interesting ways. It just goes to show that the possibilities for reusing products that might otherwise go to the landfill are only limited by our imagination.

The Difference between Upcycling and Recycling

Reducing our resource consumption and reusing whatever we can is important for a great many reasons. The economy is still totally stagnant, and being able to avoid buying new as much as possible keeps money in your pocket that can be put towards other things. But the environmental reasons are just as important. You might not think your family alone can make a difference, but if we want to leave a livable world for our children and grandchildren, we must reuse what we have as much as possible. Recycling has been a common aspect of everyday life for decades now, having come to popularity back in the 1970’s. Most people are familiar with splitting their cans, plastic and used glass, and wrapping up their newspapers for pickup. You’ve probably also taken advantage of recycled products, from toilet paper to car tires. But you might not be as familiar with upcycling, an additional effort towards sustainability that has become popular just over the past decade. Knowing the difference between the two will help you bring them consistently into your life, saving time, money and energy for the future.

Recycling as it is done today involves taking a used item and transforming it for reuse. Depending on the product, that process can take a number of different shapes. If the product has already been used, it is processed so that it can be used again for a similar purpose, as with paper. If the product had a previous use that is now redundant, it can be repurposed, such as when machine plants are turned into arts centers or movie theaters. In all of these cases, the product being recycled must be changed practically down to its core, and often can no longer be used for the exact same purpose. For example, recycled plastic bottles are not often used as bottles a second time through, due to concern about chemicals being ingested. It is much more likely that that recycled plastic would become a toy or a piece of clothing.

Upcycling is quite different. In general, it means reusing a product without impacting the quality of that product for further use. While recycling is extending the life of something a touch longer, it will inevitably end up in a landfill. Upcycling, at least in theory, could extend the life of a product indefinitely. That makes the difference massively important. Upcycling cuts down on waste, and further reduces the need to use new resources to inevitably replace the original.

The way that we handle soda cans is a great example of upcycling. All of that aluminum is turned into new cans, which basically saves nearly 100% of the resources required to make a new aluminum can from scratch. And since the material doesn’t degrade, the process can keep going over and over again, well into the future.
It’s worth our time as a culture to create more ways to upcycle, and should be just as much a part of everyday life as recycling. While recycling is a hugely important aspect of environmental sustainability, upcycling represents our best chance to maintain a good quality of life going on into the future. Don’t be discouraged against recycling, however. If you have a vertical blind that needs replacing, using one made from recycled materials is still far preferable to buying new. Just think about ways you and your family can focus on upcycling, and you’ll be doing more than your part to extend your purchasing power, and the life of our planet.

Teaching Kids to Recycle Old Games, Electronics and Computer Equipment

Even in a down economy, most Americans experience a better quality of life than in almost any other country in the world. We have access to clean water, abundant food, quality housing, and an almost unlimited array of technology and entertainment options. Most children grow up not really knowing how well they have it, and it’s up to parents to help instill a real appreciation of that abundance. If you care about the environment and want your children to understand that all of these games, computers and electronics come at a price, teaching them some perspective is even more important. It goes much further than recycling, but that’s a great way to start. Here are a few ways you can teach kids to recycle old games, electronics and computer equipment.

Kids get so many presents they often don’t even appreciate half of what they have. Grandparents and friends spoil our kids with gifts at every possible occasion, and you’ll have to monitor your children closely to make sure they keep a grounded perspective. One great option, especially after over-abundant birthday parties or holidays, is to have your child choose his favorite couple toys, and then donate the rest to charity. Your child may not be willing to do that at first, so you’ll have to show them that there are thousands of kids all over the world that don’t even have a single toy to play with. Use the internet to show them how important it is to share our bounty, and chances are they’ll get on board with the idea. Take them to donation centers so they can see how it goes, and even help them organize a holiday toy drive, starting with their own overflow but working with their friends to pull together a ton of games and toys they can donate to the less fortunate.

When it comes to electronics, most kids have tons. They get each video game system as it comes out, and then move on to newer games as they are released. If your child tires of one video game and wants another, tell them they need to sell back the used games until they’ve gained enough store credit to get a new one. You can also have them donate their electronics at consignment shops. If you really want to get creative, have your child help organize a garage sale. Whatever money is generated from the sale of his old electronics, he can keep and use to buy something new. It will show him that he can’t just keep getting new things without shedding the old, which will certainly help your house from cluttering up.

Older computers are a bit more difficult to recycle. When you’re ready to upgrade, have your child help you research how to properly recycle old computers. If it’s still usable, you can donate it, again reinforcing the idea that you have to look out for people who don’t have as much. But if the computer is really ready to be put out to pasture, sit with your child and call the manufacturer. They can tell you how to recycle all those old monitors, fiber optic patch cables, hard drives and computer shelves, so that the materials can be reused to create new computers.