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Launched in late 2010, smilegram paper® by Plaids and Polka Dots is setting the standard for high-quality stationery for children made using recycled materials! A peek into Carey Grund’s business shows us that this cause is near and dear to her heart!

An Interview with Carey Grund of Plaids and Polka Dots, maker of smilegram paper®

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

My daughter’s love for art and fine appreciation for a handwritten note was the inspiration for smilegram paper®. I paired my daughter’s one-of-a-kind artwork with high quality, recycled materials and created a product that is fun for kids and also works to teach them the importance of handwritten notes.

Smilegram paper’s® mission is to help children turn creative thoughts into handwritten words. I have always believed in teaching my children the importance of a handwritten thank you note from a very early age, so it is my goal to provide parents with a tool to allow their children to express their ever creative mind. Because our stationery is designed with a child’s hand drawn artwork, the graphics are kid-friendly, bright and cheerful. It is also the only boutique style stationery that offers lined paper for guided handwriting. Smilegram paper® makes writing a handwritten note fun and easy.

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

We recycle at our home; everything from plastic to paper. Recently, my daughter made recycle bins to keep our items organized.

Guilty green pleasure?

I pride myself on building a company that is green and environmentally-friendly. All of our fine stationery is high quality 70 lb. stock with a soft matte finish. We use recycled materials in the production of all of our products. Being a green company is very important to me as it is good for our environment and teaches our children to be conservative and to recycle.

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

Continue to believe in yourself! Do good for your customers, your business, your community and most importantly, your family. Make smart and sound business decisions while having fun. Be sure to wake up every morning doing something that you love.

Is Your Furniture Eco-Friendly?

Have you ever stopped to consider just how much impact your furnishing may have on the environment? Probably not. Most people don’t put too much thought into the green factor when they purchase home décor; they’re more concerned with the comfort, quality, and cost of the pieces that they’re going to use day in and day out. And yet, you’ll be surprised at how many options there are for the eco-friendly fashionista looking to create a stylish home with green furnishings. Here are just a few ways that you can cut your carbon footprint when it comes to decorating your home, creating spaces that are comfortable, functional, and healthy for your family and the Earth.

1. Reclaimed furniture. If it doesn’t come home with you, it may be on its way to the landfill, so give it some thought before you write-off second-hand. Many pieces will be refurbished, but even if they aren’t, there are many ways to make a piece work for you. Kitchen tables can be sanded and refinished, couches and chairs can be reupholstered, and bedroom sets can be painted to give your space a fresh new look that will cost you a lot less than new and significantly reduce the impact of your purchase.

2. Recycled materials. Many furnishings these days are being made with recycled materials such as wood, plastic, and glass (just to name a few). Chairs, tables, and even lamps that are 100% recycled can grace your home and add a little pizzazz to a room with their innovative design. Coffee tables are a good place to start, and you can find options created from airplane wings, skateboards, CDs, computer parts, bicycle tires, and even dishwasher drums. These make for a great, green conversation piece. But you can also find items that look completely normal, so that no one would even know they’re composed of recycled materials.

3. Bamboo. More than other types of wood, bamboo provides an eminently eco-friendly option for furniture, flooring, and housewares. It is fast-growing (it takes 3-5 years to reach full height), unlike hardwoods that can take upwards of 30 years to regrow. But bamboo is sustainable in another way; it is also a drought-resistant plant, so it needs a lot less water to flourish. Plus, it is gorgeous.

4. Concrete. Admittedly, there are not a lot of furnishings you’d want to make with concrete, no matter how eco-friendly the material is. But it’s great for benches (especially outdoors) and even chairs, and it could also be used as a tabletop surface or for shelving. Remember those makeshift cinderblock shelves you used in college? The modern version made from molded, polished, colored concrete is way more stylish. And you might be surprised by the many interesting, beautiful, and functional pieces you can find for use in your home.

5. Organic fabric and filling. The greenest option when it comes to furniture is to keep what you already have. But you can easily change the look of many furnishings by reupholstering or simply creating slipcovers. If you choose this option, make sure to use eco-friendly organic fabrics and fillers that reduce the amount of chemicals seeping into the ground, water, and air.

Eco-chic ladies who want to get fit in style will fall in love with Restore® Clothing! Designed for the lifestyle that crosses over, this planet-friendly line offers a variety of gorgeous sustainable clothing items that are made from organic and earth-friendly materials.

Mom’s” favorite? The stylish Draped Front Top, which flows easily from the office to the gym after work, offering practicality and glamour infused with comfort. Made of Repreve® Recycled Nylon, the top is touted as a versatile little “glam” gem.

What does Restore® stand for?

Responsible

Earth-friendly

Sustainable

Technological

Organic

Recycled

Ergonomic

For more information on the entire line of eco-friendly and versatile clothing, visit www.restoreclothing.com.

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

Papa’s got a brand new bag! (and Mama too!) What’s not to love about this versatile, stylish diaper bag from Go GaGa!? Light on the shoulders, but big on room – this is one bag that will go from playdates to the coffee shop to the gym with ease! Made of 72% post-consumer recycled fabric, this uber-chic Slide Tote Bag is earth-friendly, as well.

Ergonomically designed for both men and women, the Slide Tote Bag from Go GaGa is available in a selection of rich, bold colors, such as Eggplant, Sea Blue and Cayenne. The features of this modern bag include:

  • Patent pending strap distributes the weight of the bag across your back and shoulders, so it won’t slide off or cut into your neck
  • The strap fabric is ideal for nursing Moms since it doesn’t put direct pressure on their breast
  • The bag is also designed for Dads, including a sliding a shoulder pad that cinches the strap for a more masculine look and feel
  • Insulated bottle pockets fit everything from baby bottles to Nalgene bottles and are angled so that you can get bottles in and out with just one hand
  • The interior features 5 pockets and a foam divider that gives you organization when you need it, but moves out of the way when you don’t
  • Stroller straps are adjustable so they fit any stroller handle bar (even double strollers!) or can be used to carry a rolled up yoga mat or blanket for a playgroup or picnic
  • The Slide can carry everything from a 13.5” laptop to gear for the yoga studio
  • The bags are healthy for the planet as well as for people – the recycled totes are made from 72% post consumer recycled fabric by a fair trade certified manufacturer in Vietnam

New parents and seasoned parents alike will appreciate the versatility and the comfort of the Slide Tote Bag! To learn more about Go GaGa, or to order one of their various bags, visit www.gogagalife.com.

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

Have you been naughty or nice this year? This holiday season – knotty is nice! Naturally Knotty offers sustainable styles to outfit you from head to toe that are absolutely stunning! The ultimate gift to give this season is the luxurious bamboo Pashmina beautifully packaged in a 100% compostable and biodegradable bamboo cylinder with festive ribbon!

Wrap yourself or a dear friend up in warmth as cocoa is sipped by the fire in a gorgeous Pashminas made from eco-friendly natural bamboo. This all-season wrap acts as a light cover-up in the evenings, a sarong at the beach, a classy shawl over a cocktail dress, and can even be used as a light blanket for baby when in a pinch!

The pashminas are available in 5 stunning colors this season. Choose from Black, Steel Grey, Espresso, Red or Ivory. At $34.99, the wraps make an attractive and affordable gift this holiday! In addition to their wraps, Naturally Knotty also offers roomy totes made from recycled materials, organic cashmere gift sets for wee ones, and fashionable clutches.

Please visit www.naturallyknotty.com for more information or to purchase an item from this fantastic, environmentally-conscious line.

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

Just in time for some spooky fun this October, Kelly Wilson has written a timely article brimming with DIY Halloween Costume ideas that are made using recycled and repurposed materials found in the home!

DIY Halloween Costumes Made From Recycled Materials

By Kelly Wilson

When I was about seven years old, I was a ghost for Halloween. This required a white bedsheet – arranged and trimmed so I wouldn’t trip over it – with holes strategically cut for my eyes and nose.

This kind of Do-It-Yourself costume fits well with my family’s desire to produce less waste and save more money. Plus, creating your own costume emphasizes the fun of Halloween!

Brainstorm Ideas

It was no problem for my kids to understand that our costumes would be created. However, it was more difficult to come up with ideas while sitting around the dining room table.

Start instead by presenting the idea, then holding a scavenger hunt for your family members to find materials that inspire their own costume ideas. Have them choose three to five different materials to bring back to the table to discuss their possible costumes.

Go through the ideas and materials with your family members, and have each person choose his/her favorite to pursue.

Gather More Materials

When the deciding is done, consider collecting the following materials to complete your family’s costumes.

Fabric and Clothing – Start by hunting through the different closets in your home and gathering clothes and fabrics of different sizes and textures. An old striped shirt and round glasses could be the start of your “Where’s Waldo?” character, while a yard of discarded velvet could make a lush cape.

Cardboard – Hunt for different sizes of cardboard in your recycle bin. Break down the boxes and flip them over to use the non-printed sides for your costume – these can be easily painted or otherwise decorated. Include bigger boxes that fit around you.

Paper – Need bulky filler for your costume? What about simple decorations that are easy to attach? Head to the recycled paper bin in your garage. Decorate the blank sides of paper for your costume – don’t forget to recycle it again when you’re done.

PVC – My husband loves PVC pipe and has used it for projects, so we have a ton of it around the garage. This material can be used for a variety of costumes, and provides a strong support.

Classic Costume Ideas

These classic costume ideas are great if you’re looking for a simple costume.

Ghost – mentioned above, a ghost is an easy and non-threatening costume, plus it can be easily seen when trick-or-treating in the dark!

Witch – the basics include a pointy hat, some unusual make-up, a fake wart or two, and a broom.

Soldier – put this costume together with camouflage pants and shirt, a headband, and boots.

Hippie – tie-dye, a couple of peace signs, long hair and a funky pair of glasses completes this classic.

Pirate – create and decorate a cardboard sword, fashion a fabric sash and make a simple eye-patch.

Robot – this classic can be easily made from cardboard, paint and a metal colander as a headpiece.

Princess or Knight – Skip the tutu and have your little girl dress up as a princess, or provide a cape, a cardboard sword and a garbage can lid as a shield for your dashing knight.

Cowboy or Cowgirl – Jeans, boots, a cowboy shirt and a faux-lasso make this costume quick and easy.

More Unusual and Easy-to-Create Costumes

It didn’t occur to me to get too creative with Halloween costumes until a co-worker dressed as a Chick Magnet one year for Halloween. He wore a simple t-shirt decorated with baby chicks and u-shaped magnets made from paper – all of it was easily recyclable or reusable.

Cell Phone – grab a black sweatshirt and some duct tape. Cut the tape into number keys and other decorations to put on the sweatshirt to make the front of the sweatshirt resemble a cell phone. You can also create an iPhone costume out of cardboard worn in two panels like a sandwich board.

Giant Lego – Legos are a favorite at my house, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to fashion one of my children into one this Halloween with some cardboard and paint!

Candy Bars – similar to the iPhone idea, decorate a panel of cardboard to look like your favorite candy bar. Don’t stop at candy – choose another favorite food and make a creative costume!

Poop and Toilet Paper – my husband was reluctant to join me in this costume idea, but finally agreed as long as he could be the toilet paper. With some PVC pipe, a sheet and a sewing machine, he fashioned a pretty convincing toilet paper costume. As poop, I simply dressed in all-brown and borrowed a friend’s foundation. It was fun, cheap and totally reusable.

There’s a really good chance that you already have much of what you need to create a fun and eco-friendly costume for every person in your family!

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and editor for Teaching Resource Center, a Teacher Store providing families and classrooms with high-quality, low-cost Teacher Supplies.

Making activism fashionable, these comfy, eco-chic tees from Revenge Is… are all the rage this summer! Silky-soft, you would never guess that they are made from recycled plastic water bottles (RPET) combined with 100% organic cotton! It only takes between 3-5 plastic water bottles to make each Revenge Is… organic cotton and RPET blend tee. Give it a think – how many plastic water bottles are in your recycling bin at the moment? Conscious of the environment in all aspects, from their packaging using Tyvek® or poly bags that can be recycled to their commitment to using eco-friendly materials, such as soy ink, to make their stylish tees, Revenge is… is a stand-out company! In addition, the ink used on their children’s shirts are PVC, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Heavy Metal, and APEO free. To learn more about the materials used in the production of their products, click here.

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is living in these tees this week! Not only are they true to size, they can go from dressed up (paired with a nice pair of heels and a skirt) or dressed down (with khakis or jeans) – either way, you will be so comfortable, and making a statement at the same time!

Revenge Is… makes an effort to give back each year and contributes at least 10% of their profits to charity. To view a complete list of supported charities, please click here.

To purchase their fashionable planet-friendly wear for men, women and children, visit RevengeIs.com.

*Company sent samples, images and information for ths review.*

Awww – A Little Piece of My Art. The name just puts a smile on your face! Check out these gorgeous, handprinted pendants and bracelets made with love by Dawn Patini of A Little Piece of My Art. Printed on recycled stainless steel washers and placed on soft suede, Dawn’s pieces are eco-chic and so, so pretty – made to order for a special occasion. Whether it is your daughter’s first soccer game or your grandmother’s birthday, a necklace, bracelet or complete set can be made for the event. Reasonably priced, starting at $15 for a single pendant, these lovely gifts arrive in an organza gift bag within days of ordering. To purchase a custom piece, please contact Dawn directly at patini03@bellsouth.net.

*Company sent a sample and images for this review.*