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Reasonably Priced Eco-Friendly Accessories That Give to a Cause

Of course it’s important to cut back on spending when you’re on a budget, but did you know that many sites offer eco-friendly and cause worthy products? Usually these products are affordable and you can justify your spending by knowing the clothing and accessories are going to a good cause. Eco-friendly products are a great way to help preserve our earth, give to a cause, and stock up on trendy pieces that are both unique and attractive. Here are some sites that you won’t regret checking out because purchasing your favorites accessories will help save the environment.

TOMS One-for-one Movement – TOMS is an outstanding company that sells shoes for all ages and the proceeds go to children who need shoes! This one-for-one movement is also cruelty free and they use materials from the earth whenever possible. Purchase a new pair of sparkly or plain shoes for friends and family members for Christmas or buy a pair for yourself! Plus there are TOMS promo codes that will help you save while you shop.

Etsy Eco-Friendly Clothing Apparel – Etsy is a great site for about absolutely everything these days, including eco-friendly apparel that’s made from materials from the earth. Many of these shops also give to great causes as well, from animal shelters to a non profit organization that holds a special place in the seller’s heart. Find clothing that’s made from organic cotton, rayon fibers derived from sustainable raw materials, and recycled polyester.

Love Infinitely Project – There is another great site that offers a variety of affordable products, from clothing to jewelry and it is called Love Infinitely. Find a yogi necklace that reminds you how much you love your yoga classes or wear a soft cotton tank that will go perfectly with your comfy workout pants. The money made from this shop funds The Love Infinitely Project which in turn helps fund volunteerism all around the world.

Don’t stop your eco-friendly hunt by shopping just for clothing, shoes, and other accessories. There are other great brands to explore that offer eco-friendly apparel that also give to a great cause! Find a vegan wallet, an organic purse for your little girl, or an upcycled top and feel great about your purchases!

About the Author

Sierra is a freelance writer and owner of Paige One. She loves discovering new eco-friendly sites that also give to a good cause!

What to Put in Green Gift Bags for An Eco Friendly Birthday Party

So, you’re preparing for your child’s birthday party and you’ve decided that this year, you’re going to go with a “green theme”. You’re having the party outside, you’re serving the food on recyclable plates, you’ve opted for having them play in the pool and/or do arts and crafts rather than use video games and the birthday cake is going to be made with 100% organic ingredients.

Now, all you need to do is figure out what to put into the “green gift bags.”

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, we’ve provided five ideas below that are green, good and a great memory for all of your child’s guests to go home with:

Seeds. A special thing that all of us can do for the environment is to plant a garden or grow a tree, so by sending the kids home with a pack or two of seeds, it’s a nice reminder that a little thing can go a long way. Plus, they are easy to find (you can get them at a local nursery or you can put “buy seeds” into your favorite search engine), plus they are very inexpensive to purchase.

Books. Can you ever go wrong with a book? Definitely not. It encourages a child to develop their reading and comprehension skills as it helps them to nurture their own creativity and imagination. And what’s the “green angle” with this concept? There are many companies that now sell children’s books on recyclable paper. FreeSpirit.com and SunBearPublishing.com are just two of the many ones that do it.

Homemade bubble bath. Here’s something else that’s cool, quick and fun. In order to make some of your own “signature” bubble bath, all that you need is 2 cups of baby shampoo (unscented), 1 ½ cups of water, 2 teaspoons of glycerin and a few drops of the essential oils of your choice (consult with the place where you are purchasing them about which ones are the best for a young child’s skin). This will make enough for one child’s serving. You can even go to your local Whole Foods store to pick up some organic food coloring and a Pottery Barn or Joanne’s to get some little bottles to put the finished product in.

Wooden puzzles or blocks. Let’s put wood to good use by utilizing it to educate our children. Target or Wal-Mart should have some wooden toys that are fairly easy to find and are reasonably priced. Or, you can go searching online. One great starting place would be MelissaandDoug.com. They even have a section with toys that are under $10.

Eco-friendly party favors. Or, if you would like to strictly put eco-friendly party favors in your wholesale gift bags, there are companies that specialize in “green” party favors for kids. One cute one that has everything from non-toxic silicone bracelets and decorative drinking straws, to LED sound activated T-shirts and eco-friendly plastic finger rings is Alibaba.com. All you have to do is go to the website and put “eco-friendly party favors for kids” in the search engine. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of the options that will pop up to make your child’s party a “go green” blast!

How to Find the Best Eco-Friendly Family Vehicle

When you’re young and seemingly indestructible, driving a tiny, two-seater sports cars with a souped-up engine is the absolute bee’s knees (or so your Granny might quip). But you get a little older, a little wiser – before you know it you’ve had a few auto accidents, not to mention a few kids, and you realize that the flashy sports car is neither safe nor environmentally sound enough for your changing sensibilities. In short, it’s not a forward-thinking family vehicle. So you sell off the two-seater in favor of something that suits your new lifestyle. But what should you replace it with? Minivans, SUVs, and wagons may offer the space and safety you want when you drive your family around, but most of them suck down even more fuel than your zippy sports car did. So how can you reconcile your interest in keeping the planet clean for the future of your children with your desire to cart the kids around in a safe and roomy vehicle? Here are just a few tips to help you find the eco-family car you crave.

You first need to acquaint yourself with the environmental options on the market, and there are quite a few these days, such as plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars (both of which still qualify for both federal and state tax incentives, unlike the hybrids of old). And while these alternatives to the dominant mode of transportation (cars that run solely on petroleum products) are eminently eco-friendly, one still uses gasoline and the other may come with limited range. However, they definitely bear consideration, especially if you’re okay with simply cutting back on fuel consumption (hybrid) or you don’t travel more than, say, 50 miles in the average day (electric).

Of course, there are also a variety of alternative fuels to consider, and most offer better mileage (saving you money at the pump) and reduced (if any) carbon emissions. Cleaner-burning diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) are two options that are taking the country by storm at the moment. The former can be found at most gas stations (although not all) and the number of stations supporting the latter is growing as more and more people convert their engines or purchase CNG vehicles. There is also ethanol, biodiesel, and a couple of other options to consider, but these types of fuel can be difficult to obtain, so you need to do further research on fueling stations in your area before you go ahead and make the leap to a non-gasoline alternative fuel.

Now that you know what’s out there, how do you go about finding the best green vehicle for your family’s needs? Well, you wouldn’t buy new cars or even used trucks without doing comparisons, checking consumer research, and reviewing safety ratings. The same holds true for purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle. So start checking magazines and blogs that are geared towards environmental technology or car culture to find road tests and reviews. This will help you begin the process of comparing green vehicles so that you can find the one that will best suit the wants and needs of your family.

The Pros and Cons of Solar Oven Cooking

It’s (almost) officially summertime. This means longer days, grilling out and perhaps making the eco-friendly move to invest in a solar oven.

If you’ve been considering it for a while now, but you’re not sure if it’s the best move, the “long story short” version is “Yes, it probably is.” Not only is it better for the environment, but being that a solar oven uses the sun as its primary energy source, this also means that it is not electric or fuel-reliant. In other words, after purchasing the oven, it costs absolutely nothing to run it.

OK, but nothing can be quite that perfect, right? There must be some cons along the way. It all depends on how you look at it. But, to be fair, here are a list a couple of pros and cons that you should consider before making your first big solar oven purchase.

Pro: It’s comparable in price. One of the main things that we look for in making any purchase is how much it’s going to cost. Well, let’s take a Camp Chef Camp Oven, for instance. The price for one of those will run you anywhere between $180-230. The price of Sport Solar Oven, on the other hand, is about $135 (plus around another $40 to ship). Yes, on the front end, it’s about even, but remember that with a solar oven, you’re basically just paying a one-time fee.

Con: You have to make sure that you get a good one. Although it’s a solar oven and you’re looking to get a good deal, you don’t want to skimp on making sure that it’s a quality product because you are going to actually eat the food that is placed with the oven. This is especially crucial when it comes to meat that you may place within your solar oven because undercooked meat can lead to bacterial infections and parasites.

Pro: You can actually make one on your own. This reason alone will probably get a lot of people hooked onto considering one. Yes, if you look on the internet, there are lots of sites (SolarCooking.org, for example) that will provide you with step-by-step tips on how to build a solar oven from scratch. It’s not super-expensive to get the supplies and it’s a great way to spend quality time with your kids as they help you make it.

Con: You will need to gauge your time better. Because solar ovens get their power from the sun, this means that it can be challenging, to say the least, to monitor the temperature and cooking times of the food that you put in it. Plus, you will probably have to go through a bit of “trial and error” before you create the perfect recipes for consumption. Another thing to think about is the fact that with an electrical stove, it’s usually pretty easy to make the necessary appliance repairs; however, with a solar oven, if it’s not working properly, the problem may not be as obvious.

If after reading all of this, you’re still on the fence about making a solar oven purchase, look at it this way: You can do the environment more good than harm by getting one. Just make sure to be patient, to be alert and to be willing to make a few tries at salmon or vegetable shish kebabs. Hey, it takes a minute even to get food in a traditional oven right, so don’t be in a rush. Summer is the perfect time to take your time…until you get it right!

Firm Uses Mushrooms for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Are you frustrated by the sheer amount of plastic “packing peanuts” that arrive in your mail order boxes? Those tiny pieces of synthetic material that stick to your clothes and can wind up in every nook and cranny of your house? If you’ve ever been concerned about the environmental effect those packing materials can have, you may be interested to learn that Evocative Design, a plant in New York founded by Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, has sidestepped using synthetic material altogether. Instead, their design calls for mushroom parts to comprise the bulk of the packing material, primarily mycelium, the roots of the mushroom you normally wouldn’t see.
McIntyre and Bayer, both in their twenties, have discovered a way to produce mycelium in such a way that it grows together with seed husks or other related offshoots of agricultural production to form shapes that are ideal for packing. They also make a lovely green alternative.

As eco-friendly solutions grow ever more popular, Evocative Design has found itself in exactly the right place at the right time to help out the environment while making a tidy profit for themselves. Business has been so good, in fact, that the young gentlemen behind it have decided to expand into footwear and vehicle bumpers. One of the advantages, they believe, is that the fungus they use can be changed and its growth conditions altered in such a way that there is some flexibility in what it can produce.

Bayer first noted that mycelium had elastic properties as a child on a farm in Vermont. When he teamed up with McIntyre, the boys exhibited their business savvy when they chose packing materials over insulation, figuring that they’d make more money. Now they run an attractive business that may utilize promo codes for interested customers.

Not too bad for a couple of former engineering students who recently turned a deal with the corporation known for producing Bubble Wrap.

The geniuses behind this eco-friendly design also recently increased their workshop area, where employees grow mycelium, mix it with other byproducts like seed husks or stalks, then create the preferred piece by placing it all into a plastic mold. While the mixture remains covered for five days, the mycelium becomes an adhesive as it grows over and through the feedstock. The next step insures that any future mushrooms will be prevented from sprouting as the mixture is heated to kill any fungus.

Anything that can be made of plastic, the boys believe, can probably be replaced with mycelium.
Evocative now employs 42 workers, has received millions of dollars in grant money, and attracts big name companies like Dell, who have an investment in pursuing green initiatives like the one offered by Bayer and McIntyre.

One of the benefits of these fungal chips is that they are created from cloned mycelium, meaning there are no spores involved so no one handling them should have an allergic reaction. In addition, they are completely biodegradable and break down within six to nine months. They can also be eaten, though McIntyre and Bayer don’t recommend this approach to recycling.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson is a contributing writer for Sidepon where you can find OldNavy online promo codes or Pac Sun coupons online along with many other codes and coupons for your favorite brands.

What Characteristics Make an Eco-Friendly Credit Card?

With more and more emphasis on finding environmentally friendly businesses, products and living practices, it makes sense that some credit card companies are jumping onto the bandwagon to give consumers what they desire. There are many different ways that a credit card company can claim their products are Eco-friendly. Some provide points that can be converted by carbon credits that help the environment, others let you donate your points to environmentally friendly charitable organizations and still more simply make the actual credit cards themselves from recyclable materials. Here are some explanations of what makes a truly Eco-friendly credit card.

Discounts from Environmentally Friendly Businesses

One offer that many companies extend to holders of an environmentally friendly credit card is discounts on their products. Many of the most popular Eco-friendly credit cards come with a list of companies who work will offer reduced prices to card holders. This could mean everything from green building supplies, local organic grocery stores or even online shops selling recycled furniture.

Recyclable Materials in the Card

Some credit card companies consider the term Eco-friendly credit card to be a literal explanation, and they make the actual cards themselves through an environmentally friendly process. Typical cards are made of a material that is incredibly hard to break down over time, but some companies are now offering cards made from biodegradable plastic. Although they look and feel the exact same, they can break down in landfills over time which is considered to be the most green approach.

Carbon Offset Points

Most credit card companies offer their card holders some kind of point or cash back accumulation over time based on how often they use their card and for what amount. Environmentally friendly credit cards often do the same thing, but the customer will not reap the benefits of these points. Instead, the bank or lending institute exchanges each point accrued for a carbon offset purchase.

Point Donations

Just as mentioned above, points are typically accrued over time with credit card usage. Rather than needing to spend the points on just one thing automatically, such as carbon offsets, some companies allow the cardholder to choose where their points are donated. This means you can choose to give your points to a long list of charitable organizations that mean the most to you and work to improve the state of the Earth. However, some argue that is merely a way for banks to write off charitable organizations. It might be smarter to choose a credit card that awards cash back points instead and then simply donate the money to charitable organizations on your own and enjoy the tax write off.

Eco-Friendly Prize Redemption

Some Eco-friendly credit card companies offer a system where your accumulated points can be used to purchase products. However, because of the nature of the card all of the products will be environmentally friendly, such as jewelry made from recycled materials, organic grocery items or even cleaning products and household items that are green rather than chemical.

For those interested in being eco-friendly in all aspects of their lives, finding an eco-friendly credit card is a must!

About the Author

Writer Andrew Bennett specializes in finance and offered suggestions on how to build your credit and prepare for the future.

An Interview with Carl Blanchet, Owner of Cascades

Founded in 1964, Cascades has been providing affordable and sustainable products to consumers for decades. Committed to the environment in both his personal and professional life, Carl Blanchet truly knows what it means to live a greener, more eco-friendly existence.

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Since the beginning in 1964, Cascades has respected the environment by recycling and reducing the use of natural resources, as much as possible. We have used 5 times less water than the industry and produced 50% less CO2 emissions in our operations since 1990. We have a R&D Center which focuses its innovation on sustainable development approaches.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

By recycling, composting, by using eco-responsible products and recycling my clothes. I educate my child of the importance of respecting the environment via many simple gestures. I drive a car with low gas consumption.

Guilty green pleasure?

I like to grow my own vegetables in my own garden.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Each small gesture counts. In the long-term, sustainable development is profitable. A company has to walk the talk and be constant in what they say and what they do. Employees are proud to work for a green company. It enhances the sense of belonging.

Mom” recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Tara Dickinson, who just launched Nirvana Mama in 2011! Tara shared a little insight into why she created Nirvana Mama, and the inspiration behind the designs of the line. For moms, babies and toddlers – we think you will fall in love with this new sustainable company!

An Interview with Tara Dickinson, Founder of Nirvana Mama

1. Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Nirvana Mama was born during a meditation session. In collaboration with another artistic friend, the original designs draw on the joy and happiness of childhood. Not just baby clothes; these are the beginning of a greener future.

With your child’s comfort in mind and knowing we each have a commitment to a healthier planet, the fabrics chosen are made with 100% certified organic cotton yarns grown from non-genetically altered seeds and nourished without the use of chemical fertilizers.

Through awareness of self and of the moment Tara strives to share herself with others. She hopes Nirvana Mama can bring smiles and lightness to people’s lives as they raise the children in their midst. Every child deserves the best and Nirvana Mama is making it easy to go green with kids.

2. How do you choose to go green in your own life?

Every single way I can possibly can! Mostly I recycle just about everything, every piece of cardboard, paper, bottle, can, foil, jars, clothing, yard waste–you name it I recycle it. I compost so no food goes into landfills. I have yet to create a successful garden or eatable food but at least I making some good soil. I eat organic and mostly unprocessed fresh foods. I buy locally for as many products as possible and never spend my dollars at large corporate stores. I never use fertilizer on my property, never waste water on lawn maintenance and have moved to mostly native flora. Walk, bike and car pool as much as possible. Always use shopping totes—working hard to make others aware of the over 1 billion plastic bags American’s deposit into landfills every year. And just this year I have made a commitment to never buy a plastic bottle again.

3. Guilty green pleasure?

My non-green guilty pleasure I would have to say is the Sunday paper from time to time and for a super cheat: orange food. Cheese whiz on top of cheese puffs. A guilty green pleasure …..can’t think of any green thing that’s guilty

4. Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

I would say tenacity and standing by your convictions. Put yourself and what you have to offer out there and liked-minded people will find you. We’re here! The sayings are true; each one of us can make a difference. Our biggest power is where and how we spend our dollars. If we all personally make the sustainable choice as often as we can, those choices get noticed. They get noticed by our family, our friends, and than by the population and industry at large. At this very moment in time sustainable can be a harder and often times more expensive choice. But if we keep offering alternatives the market and demand will turn the tide until we’re living in a sustainable society!

Furoshiki for Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Furoshiki are simple Japanese cloths that are generally made of cotton, bamboo or silk crepe and come in a large variety of colours and sizes. Not only are they made durable for wrapping and carrying heavy objects but they are also a beautiful eco-friendly touch to replace wrapping paper or plastic wrap for the holidays.

Simplicity and Versatility

These simple cloths can be plain or have stunning patterns in the fabric. They are generally square shaped and have a wide range of special techniques for wrapping even the most awkward object, so that it’s completely concealed and easy to carry. From books, boxes, pair of wine bottles, clothing, toys or anything else that you plan on buying loved ones for the holidays, these cloths are the perfect solution for quick and professional looking gift wrapping.

The best part about using furoshiki for gift wrapping is the fact that they don’t require any adhesives or even pins to wrap objects, all that’s needed is a simple knot or two. This way, it’s easy to save on the cost of common holiday wrapping materials and even save time since the cloths only need to be folded over the objects being wrapped.

Ideal Gift for Men and Women

Furoshiki are also considered a unisex item that can be used over and over again. For men, there are many masculine colours and patterns that can be used as handkerchiefs, bandanas or even neckerchiefs. For women, there are many different tying techniques that offer a wide range of different bag styles from cute little handbags, shopping bags, cloth backpacks and more.

Over the years, furoshiki have become very popular eco-friendly items for many different uses as a means of saving less sustainable materials that are only used once like paper lunch bags, plastic shopping bags, wrapping paper or decorations for parties. They can be tied in any manner required, washed in regular laundry and used on a daily basis. To find furoshiki, they are available in a variety of specialty shops that carry Japanese fabrics, eco products shops online or there is always the option to make one at home using old fabrics from clothing or blankets.

About the Author

Miho loves to travel the world and learn creative art techniques everywhere she goes. She shares DIY projects, eco tips and offers traditional Japanese items through her Miho Suzuki Blog.

Planning for an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

If you’ve been living the green lifestyle for a while now, then you know that there are always ways to implement eco-friendly practices, regardless of the situation. And the holidays are no exception. So when the gluttony of turkey-day rolls around, you may be a bit nervous about hosting a huge feast; but you likely know that you can find methods of managing your carbon footprint. You might just need a few tips and tricks to help you out. So here are some good ways to do something to show the Earth that you’re thankful for the bounty it provides.

1. Type of food. When it comes to getting eco-friendly with the eats, you really can’t do better than going organic. Fruits, veggies, meats, and even animal products all come in organic options that keep chemical pesticides and fertilizers out of the air, soil, water, and more importantly, your body. They taste amazing and they will keep your holiday feast healthy for your family and for the environment. If you can find locally grown and raised options, as well, you’ll also cut back on the greenhouse gas emissions that the shipping industry is notorious for and you’ll get the freshest foods possible.

2. Amount of food. Historically, Thanksgiving is not only about giving thanks for all that you have, but also about producing (and consuming) a bountiful feast. However, you don’t have to go overboard creating everyone’s favorite dish so that you’re so overwhelmed by food that you can’t possibly hope to eat it all (even with leftovers) before it spoils. Everything in moderation is a good rule to live by and if you end up with just enough leftovers for later in the evening, you’ve done well.

3. Decorations. You can use organic textiles to make tablecloths, napkins, and even banners to hang for many years to come. But if you want to create a decorative centerpiece for the table or festive decorations to place around the house, look to nature. Take the family for a nature hike leading up to the holidays to collect fiery leaves, pine cones, and branches that have fallen from the trees. Then use them to create beautiful, seasonal decorations for your home that can be sent back to nature (instead of the landfill) when you’re done with them.

4. Entertainment. You’re not hosting a block party or office event that requires some crazy corporate entertainment like magicians, belly dancers, or an A-list band. Thanksgiving may bring a big crowd to your table, but everyone is likely to be family and close friends. So they’re not going to expect anything big for this shindig. But if you’d rather skip the energy drain that comes from leaving the football game on all day, why not opt for energy-free entertainment like board games, charades, or a round of singing and story-telling? These activities will bring everyone closer together and make for some great family memories, unlike a football game or rerun on TV.

5. Altruism. Just because you have a lot to be thankful for doesn’t mean everyone does. If you really want to go green this year, take your party to the trenches by volunteering for service and donating food to those in need over the holidays.