Eco-Friendly February Tasks

Can you believe it’s already February? Last year seemed like the longest year and yet it also flew by so quickly! With February already in full swing, there are lots of things we can do this month to kick start our goals for an environmentally friendly New Year!

VALENTINE’S DAY– Yes, yes, I know most people think this holiday is a marketing ploy, and I gotta admit, brands probably make tons of money for this holiday. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, I think it’s a fun tradition to begin or continue with your children. The colors of Valentine’s Day is quite festive – reds, pinks, lavenders, and even blues. But how do we make this holiday more eco-friendly? Candy wrappers are bound to be thrown into the trash along with other plastic and not so easily recyclable items. Here are some tips to keep it eco-friendly:

  • Send e-gift cards. This might seem less sentimental, but you don’t have to send gift cards to only your significant other. You can send them to your friends, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, teachers, and the list goes on! Electronic gift cards are fast and don’t require any shipping via mail or using those pesky unrecyclable plastic cards.

  • Purchase locally grown flowers or from family-owned farms. Locally grown flowers require less carbon footprint to ship and flower farms owned by small families usually have more unique and fresher varieties.

  • Try making a vegetarian feast for Valentine’s Day with these dishes: – Exotic mushroom pasta by using oyster mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, or Enoki mushrooms. You can find the more exotic versions at Asian grocery stores and natural grocery stores. – Heavenly Layer Dip, which uses red tomatoes, red bell peppers, sour cream, light shredded cheese, olives, and strawberry jam (or any berry flavored jam). – Chocolate covered fruits such as chocolate-covered strawberries, peaches, mangoes, or any other unique fruits.

  • Most children love to be spoiled on Valentine’s Day! Gift them with homemade heart shaped cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and mangoes, and a special trip to a local zoo or museum (if they are open in your area).

CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR – This year is the Year of the Ox so it’s important for those born under the Ox sign to be especially aware. Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is a huge celebration every year. But with the pandemic and safety concerns in mind, families might have to celebrate with only their immediate household. Traditionally, there are parades, firecrackers, and huge family and friends gatherings, so you would have to see what your state, country, and city have restrictions on. To make it eco-friendly this year, here are some tips:

  • Red envelopes are traditionally given to children or unmarried young folks. It’s still okay to give cash as cash is a recyclable and reusable commodity.

  • Celebrate the traditions of Chinese Lunar New Year by reading books. There are some great books that children can read to learn all about this holiday. Include books with pictures to make them more festive.

  • Decorate with paper decorations. Red is the traditional good luck color for the new year. You can find paper decorations at specialty Asian stores to decorate your house with.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – During Black History Month, it’s a great way to teach children about historical and iconic leaders who helped change the world. Purchase books with pictures that can be read every year.

VEGANUARY – The month of January was to celebrate Vegetarians and Vegans. But we could still continue with this tradition through February. Try to include at least one vegan or vegetarian meal during the week. Vegetarian dishes are fairly easy to make and don’t have to be just salads. You can make vegetarian pasta, vegetarian soup, and vegetarian tacos. Reduce the amount of animal protein to up to 3 times a week. Meat production is one of the largest polluters in the world and one of the biggest hidden pitfalls in carbon dioxide consuming our planet.

CAMPUS CLEAN UP – Depending on where you live and the safety protocols at your school, you can host a campus cleanup day. With the permission of the school principal, teacher, or an environmental club, pick a day where students can go around the school campus to pick up trash and or/pick weeds. A campus cleanup day promotes environmental awareness of trash and how students can help keep our schools and communities clean. Be sure to wear gloves while doing the cleanup.

SPRING PLANTING – With the spring season sneaking upon us, now is the best time to start your indoor seed planting. When you plant your own vegetables and fruits you get the full quality of your bounty and children can learn the growing process from seed to harvest to eating them! Easy plants for children to grow include: Peas, beans, beets, carrots, radishes, and sunflowers. Planting your own garden also helps with cleaning the atmosphere, reduces carbon footprint, and promotes healthier eating. Start by planting the seeds indoors and then transplant them outdoors when it’s warmer.

Start off the year with a goal to be more environmentally conscious in everything you do and buy. Take small steps if you’re just starting out and soon you’ll become an advocate for the planet!

*photo courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation, Food&Wine magazine, KidsGardenNews

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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10 Ways to an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

Every year, most of us are wondering how to plan for the holiday season. Some of us might have already started shopping for family and friends months before, while some of us wait until the very last minute. But as 2020 brought us so much conflict and turmoil, we could all try to end the year with something more positive.

I can’t go by the holiday season without writing something about an eco-friendly holiday. By now, you can probably guess that I love helping people and companies that are trying to do more positive things for our planet. Our lives can literally go by in a flash without much thought to it, but when it comes down to what we truly believe and hope for, doing good for our planet will in turn do good for future generations. Add in some sprinkles of hope and joy and we can all try to do better for the planet and for ourselves.

10 WAYS TO GO ECO-FRIENDLY FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

1 – Handmade or homemade gifts.

– I haven’t yet met a single person who hasn’t enjoyed a handmade gift. Whether it’s from a child, a professional artist, or a dear friend, there’s just something unique and personal about a gift that’s made from scratch. To best choose what handmade gift to give, find out what the receiver enjoys. Does she like gardening? Cooking? Or an avid reader? Start off with what the recipient enjoys most and go from there. When making gifts from scratch, choose products and ingredients that are biodegradable and compostable. Ideas for handmade gifts include: soy candles, lotions made from essential oils, bookmarks and cards made from scratch paper or cardboard boxes, organic cookies, and homemade candies placed inside reusable glass jars. 

2 – Give the Love of Nature: 

Who wouldn’t enjoy a nice long-lasting plant or a well curated gardening kit? Nature gifts are perfect for anyone of any age and gender. To nurture the love of nature for children, get them something that’s easy to start with and require more hands on activities. You can also grow some plants from seeds (but start early, depending on the plant). When the seeds are sprouted and become seedlings, transfer them into clay pots or glass jars, depending on what you’re growing.

–  Heirloom seed packets. Gardeners who have some experience will enjoy seeds saved from heirloom plants. To find heirloom seeds, check out local nurseries or purchase online from specialty stores such as seedsavers.org

– Support national parks and arboretums. Our national parks are centuries old and behold such wonder that it’s important to help preserve them. Check out your state parks or national park organizations by purchasing memberships for your recipient. They’ll be able to enjoy these memberships by strolling through majestic trees and enjoying the fresh, clean air around them.

3 – Reuse newspapers, magazines, and catalogues. If you have lots of these hanging around your house, you can reuse them as wrapping paper or crafts. Magazines and newspapers make great wrapping paper, giving them an unusual and unique look to gifts. And because they are made from paper (most ink are safe when decomposed), they can be composted and broken down.

 

 

4 – Online classes/lesson. Depending on where you live and the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic, you can offer online classes as gifts. Check out local stores or nationwide companies that offer cooking classes, gardening classes, and even classes on nature. For children, have them try online classes from Outschool (https://outschool.com) and Coding with Kids (https://www.codingwithkids.com). Most of these online classes are supplemental study that inspire and nurture creativity and thinking. Depending on what your recipient enjoys, online classes can go at their own pace and provides the safety of learning in your own home.

5 – Buy eco-friendly products. As we’re trying to move away from unnecessary waste in our world, buying gifts that are made from renewable resources, biodegradable or compostable, and made from post consumer recycled materials are just easy paths to a cleaner planet. You lose nothing in buying eco-friendly and eco-conscious products but your recipient will gain the appreciation that you care about the environment and their health. Great companies to purchase eco-friendly gifts that also give back include: Plaine Products (https://www.plaineproducts.com/ref/Suzan%20C./) and use code: HappyMom to get 20% off total purchase. Honeybunch Naturals (https://www.honeybunchnaturals.com/) and NetZero Company (https://www.netzerocompany.com/?rfsn=4401981.96cae8). Sign up for their newsletter to receive 10% off. 

6 – Host a local park or beach cleanup. By giving back to your community, you are also helping your city and your neighbors live in a cleaner environment. Due to the pandemic, be sure to wear masks, gloves, and separate your clean up crew accordingly. Best time to start a clean up is early in the morning when there are less people around. You can also do a neighborhood cleanup with just a few friends or siblings.

7 – Reuse holiday decorations. We all love to buy something new now and then, whether it’s for actual use or as therapy. But we don’t really need to buy new decorations and supplies for the holidays. Save your holiday decorations from previous years and reuse them again. If you must purchase some new ones, make sure to buy sustainably made decorations and reduce your plastic consumption.

8 – Use nature as inspiration. The best ways of helping our environment is to use what we already have in nature. Try decorating with natural flowers, fruit, and plants. Bring nature indoors by using leaves as table decorations, dried fruit as name tags, and flowers as wrapping ribbons. Check out this fun and therapeutic garland made from orange peels.

9 – Donate to charities. In a perfect world, we would all live peacefully and comfortably. But unfortunately not all of us will be able to enjoy a warm meal this holiday season. When we talk about the environment, we’re not only referring to nature. The environment is everything that’s around us, which includes all living beings. If you can set aside money and time to donate this holiday season, check out your local donation centers, food pantries, and animal shelters.

10 – Buy products with less packaging/Reduce waste. 

Many products that we buy in stores and online come wrapped in horrible packaging that are usually unrecyclable. If you must purchase online, I encourage you to shop consciously with companies that try to ship with reduced or carbon neutral shipping. Also look for less packaging or packaging in reusable materials such as paper, cloth, or cardboard. Another idea is to buy in bulk at a retail store and then package the gifts yourself. The Japanese culture has been wrapping their gifts in fabric called Furoshiki. The recipient can reuse the fabric, which is usually a fancy cotton material.

– We should all know by now that reducing waste is the first step to cleaning up our planet. This holiday season, think about whether we really need to buy those big ticket items, or expensive gifts that the recipient won’t need or use. Holidays conjure up bright and frivolous spending because we might be trying to show off or overcompensate for something. Think about why we are gifting to others. Is it something they really need? And if they don’t receive it, does it really matter in the long scope of things? If we can all think consciously about what we buy and why we buy them, then perhaps we can all take more steps to cleaning up our planet and helping our world become a much better place.

*Stay tuned on my blog for more eco-friendly gift ideas.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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An Eco-Friendly Back-to-School

 

The first week of September was when my son started 100% online learning and I returned to work at my elementary school. I have to admit that, back in March when school campuses were closed and we went to distance learning, those months were a lot easier. There were hardly any homework and grading changed to credit or no credit. Now, with 2020-2021 school year starting off with online learning and grading is back to normal, it is becoming a huge learning curve for the both of us. But, just like life, we all have to learn to adjust. And I honestly believe that kids having to adjust to something this new and unusual will be a great learning lesson for them.

However, as the pandemic is still going around the US and other countries, convenience has also become the new norm. That is, the convenience of plastic bags, store bought chips and cookies in bulk, and dumping masks and gloves all over the streets, beaches, and parks. We still have to be responsible for the environment because we still need to be responsible adults (and children).

So how do we continue to care for the planet? I could give you tons of data and research on how oceans and landfills are overflowed with trash. But I think we all know that there are already tons of trash in our oceans and landfills. But if you do want to know the shocking and sad data, here are some very interesting info:

More than 8 MILLION TONS of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year! This number continues to grow because of how many single use plastic items are used in the US every year. Here are some of the top contributors:

500 Million
40 Billion
100 Billion
 100 Billion

Those are catastrophic numbers! And it’s no wonder that diseases and illnesses run rampant in certain areas of the world where trash is more prominent. But we can do something about it! And this year’s back to school is the perfect time to start if you haven’t already started to reduce your single-use plastic dependency. With most schools going online, you can still perform the following steps to live a life less plastic. There is really not much to lose when you reduce the intake of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are plastic products that you use only once and throw away. Most of the times, these plastic entities end up in the landfill instead of properly recycled or sorted. We might even have high hopes that our careful recycling efforts are being met appropriately. But when our landfills are already filled up, we can see that our recycling efforts aren’t really being met. 

If you consider that in the US alone, every American sends 1,646.15 pounds of solid waste to landfills annually, that’s astronimically higher than the data from 20 years ago. Or even 5 years ago. It seems the trend to creating more waste only gets higher with big oil companies and the plastic industry making false claims to consumers. According to Scrap Metal, a materials collecting platform, the US generates nearly 7.3 billion pounds of PET containers and packaging every year, out of which only around 1.9 billion pounds are recovered for reclamation. And considering we live in a wasteful society, we must really do better for now and for the future.

I always say let’s start in our own homes and let’s teach our children, who are the future generations, to care more about what we buy, what we use, and what we support as a community. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what we don’t see or hear about. It’s easy to just say,”well, that’s someone else’s problem.” And it’s easy to ignore the scientific data that is carefully researched and compiled every year. Consider that what we buy affects everything in our lives. Consider that what we eat affects our own health. And consider that what we do now will greatly affect our future generations. 

This year, let’s take some extra steps for back to school learning. The tips below can be beneficial for remote learning (online learning), on campus learning, and a hybrid learning sytem.

Tips for back-to-school eco-friendly style:

  • Make a list of school supplies that you need. Check off what you already have saved over from the previous year. There are many supplies you can reuse.

  • Buy quality supplies. Even if you’re trying to save money on supplies, buying generic, cheaper quality products will result in them breaking sooner and end up in the trash. Check out these wonderful companies that makes high quality products and gives back to the planet: www.plaineproducts.com, www.mermaidstraw.com, www.lunchskins.com

  • Buy a few high quality back to school clothes. Better materials and construction results in longer lasting wear.

  • Choose companies that give back to the planet. Look for labels such as: 1% for the PlanetBeauty without bunnies, Leaping Bunny, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Certified B Corporation

  • Choose organically grown and made products. Certified organic ensures that the raw ingredients and materials are not treated with toxic chemicals or pesticides.

  • Buy locally whenever possible. This reduces your carbon footprint and helps with the circular economy.

  • Look to support environmentally and socially responsible companies. 

  • Don’t buy bulk when you don’t need to. We all want to save money and reduce waste, but unless you plan on using these bulk products right away or are donating them, they will likely end up forgotten or wasted.

  • Buy a few daily use resuable products. These include a glass or stainless steel resuable bottle, glass or stainless steel lunch container, reusable straws in glass, stainless steel, or bamboo, and reusable lunch bags.

  • Reduce your intake of conveniently made food. While at home, we can actually be more conscious of what we eat. Make fresh food and snacks to munch on throughout the day rather than depend on convenient snacks packaged in single-use plastics. Try fresh fruit, fresh sanwiches, and fresh veggies with healthier dips.

For more in-depth resources on the environment, data collecting, and everyday eco-living tips, be sure to check out Earth911.com’s website: https://earth911.com/

Hope you all have a very successful school year!

Yes! You can have an Eco-friendly Halloween!

happy-halloween-8-e1572022501531.jpg

Halloween is THE favorite holiday of the year for me and my family. Is it a holiday though? I don’t care – we celebrate it no matter what! Much like a few other holidays celebrated in the US, Halloween is also a celebrated event in other countries such as England, Germany, Taiwan, and Mexico has something similar in their Dia de los Muertos festival. And the best thing about Halloween is that it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old – you can dress up, eat treats, and decorate to your hearts content!

But let’s pause a few moments and think about the environmental impact that this fun holiday creates. We buy bags of candy and treats, we wear store bought costumes, and we adorn the house with store bought decorations. Do you ever think about all those plastic wrappers that the kids throw away after eating the treats? Or the polyester materials that usually make up the costumes you find in stores? All those things will eventually end up in the landfill and they are usually not recyclable nor do they decompose properly. So how do we be more environmentally conscious this Halloween? Is it possible?

Yes! You can have an eco friendly Halloween this year and every year. Let’s start with these suggestions:

1- Choose Halloween treats with less packaging. Candies in individual boxes might be saved for recycling. You can also buy in bulk and choose the candy that has the less packaging.

2- Reuse plastic bags for trick-or-treating. Or better yet, cut out the plastic bag altogether and go for a reusable cloth bag or make your own from an old T-shirt or pillow case.

3- Avoid store-bought costumes. Costumes on the rack are often made of nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers. One of these plastics is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a carcinogen that releases harmful toxins in its creation and breakdown. Opt for an eco-friendly costume made of natural materials.

4- Create your own Green Halloween decorations. Make creepy ghosts by stuffing old bed sheets with leaves, newspaper or other filling then tie with a string to form a head and hang from your trees. Or, instead of buying synthetic spiderwebs that you’ll throw away after the holiday, make your own with shredded black pantyhose or cotton balls.

5- Know what’s in your Halloween face paint. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent 10 kid’s make-up sets to a lab and found all 10 contained lead, as well as nickel cobalt and chromium. These products aren’t listed on product labels. Look for organic non-toxic face paints that comply with Campaign for Safe Cosmetics standards.

6- Buy locally grown pumpkins. Sure, those plastic pumpkins can last for years as long as you remember to use them every year instead of throwing them out and buying new plastic ones. You can also make delicious treats from the large pumpkins buy, such as pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie.

7- Swap costumes. Costumes swapping is an easy way to reduce your waste on costumes that your child will likely outgrow next year. Find friends or family members who are willing to exchange costumes with you.

8- If you’re having a Halloween party, consider all the environmental impact. Follow the steps above as guidelines and help your guest be more environmentally friendly too.

9- Keep sweets at a minimum. It’s good for your health and the health of our planet too!

10- Remember to reuse and upcycle anything leftover from Halloween. Upcycling is a fun and creative way to reduce your waste.

So this Halloween, don’t let extra plastics and waste scare you from having a fun and safe Halloween. Use and buy consciously and enjoy!

*photos and content credits given to deliciousliving magazine.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Green Christmas

The holidays are the perfect time to be more “green”. Around this time of year, when the holiday season is upon us, we’re too busy decorating, buying presents, and attending parties. People spend hordes of money and effort on making their homes just right for Christmas and for buying the ideal present for their family and friends. Neighbors outdo each other by seeing who can put out the most Christmas lights or decorations so that no one within a 50 mile radius can miss their house. It’s an opulent time of year to celebrate and an even harder time to try and be more green.

Well, as I’ve learned more about the importance of preserving our precious planet, each year I try to do a bit more in helping the environment. It’s gotten easier throughout the years as companies are learning how crucial it is to improve the sustainability of our planet by offsetting their manufacturing, using recyclable packaging, recycling their products, and so forth. There are certainly more options out there in what you can buy for people when it comes to environmentally-friendly gifts. You can even buy a tree to be planted to offset all the traveling you’ll probably be doing during the holidays – what with last minute gift shopping, heading to the local market to pick up some sugar that you forgot you ran out of, or picking up extra wrapping paper. You can learn more about planting trees throughout the world at American Forests website:  http://www.americanforests.org/.

But honestly, it’s more than just planting an extra tree to help preserve the environment. It’s more about how we can all reuse, reduce, and recycle. Take for instance the Christmas lights. Unless you’re getting LED lights, you’re using up an enormous amount of energy which can be saved for more important things. Most Christmas lights are LED lights so you’ll definitely find a good selection but then how much lights do you put on the outside and inside of your house? This year, I was seriously thinking of putting up some Christmas lights on the outside of our house but then even with LED lights, it’s still wasting A LOT of electricity. And our neighbors literally do try to outshine each other every year – our neighborhood looks like Disneyland fireworks – so bright and eye-catching! But alas, I think we’ll just stick with the Christmas lights on our Christmas tree and especially with a mischievous toddler in the house, I really can’t afford to have lights everywhere.

For many years I try to save wrapping paper and gift bags that I can reuse or repurpose. When I open a gift, and if the wrapping paper is extremely beautiful, I’ll be careful not to tear the paper and save it to wrap someone else’s present. And gift bags are truly too wasteful if you don’t save them and reuse them. I also buy brown recycled gift bags that I can just decorate myself to make it even more personal and fun. And for this year, instead of using the saved tissue paper from previous gifts, I think I’ll shred up my old magazines that I no longer read and use them as stuffing for gift bags and inside boxes. Everyone has some sort of magazines laying around that they no longer need and instead of recycling them, shredding them in your shredder would be a fun and different usage for them. And the more colorful the pages are, the better! And since you’re planning on recycling them anyway, at least they’ll be repurposed for something delightful.

And what about Christmas trees? Is it better to buy artificial trees or real trees? Artificial trees may last forever as long as you continue to like the style, but most artificial trees are made with a toxic material like PVC that can emit chemicals into the air and can be potentially harmful. PVC’s are the leading health toxins that can affect a person’s immune system over time and is especially dangerous for young children. And if you have a large Christmas tree that you’re going to put up for a few weeks and store throughout the year, then there’s always a risk of the PVC leaking into the air. While real Christmas trees are beautiful and can last a long time as well, they are also expendable. I always feel sad for the Christmas trees and pumpkins during the holidays (and turkeys) when they are grown only for the holidays and sold in mass quantities everywhere. But what happens when they don’t sell ALL of the trees and pumpkins? I always think it’s such a waste. Then there are trees called “living trees” where you can replant them after the holiday is over. However, I don’t hear very good things about them because they are hard to grow and it all depends on the climate and the space.

So, when it comes to trying to be more green this holiday season, I plan on using less electricity, less plastic decorations, and more eco-friendly packaging and gifts. I think the recipients of my gifts will appreciate that as well and I’ll feel better too. And it’s also a great time to teach my son the importance of trying to save the planet and help the people.

Happy Holidays!