Eco-Ditty Organic Cotton Sandwich Bags

As Eco-novice readers know, I love reusable bags! I'm happy to say that I haven't purchased a box of disposable plastic baggies in several years. I have reusable bags in many different shapes and sizes and made with many different materials.

Recently we have been test driving Eco-ditty's reusable sandwich and snack bags. Eco-ditty food bags are
  • Made in Colorado
  • Made with 100% organic cotton fabrics (GOTS certified and fair trade)
  • Available in a variety of attractive and stylish fabrics
  • Have an undyed organic cotton liner -- no synthetics, plastics or chemicals touching your food
  • Printed with low-impact inks and dyes
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Washable by hand, machine or dishwasher (line dry is recommended -- although I accidentally dried mine in the dryer and they are still fine)

Children's Book Advent Countdown with an Eco-friendly Twist

My take on the children's book advent calendar uses
reusable fabric bags instead of wrapping paper.

Last year I happened upon a lovely idea for an advent calendar: 24 children's books all wrapped in shiny red wrapping paper (numbered with a candle-shaped label).

Advent calendar by Babyccino Kids blog

I love the look of those different-sized overlapping rectangles in matching red paper all lined up on the mantle. And I love the idea of counting down to Christmas by opening a wrapped book each night and reading it together as a family! But guess what? I don't use wrapping paper.

Come On Already, California! We Need New Flame Retardant Regulation Now.

Just read this excellent post on EWG's Enviroblog about recent flame retardant research. The author suggests at the end of the post writing to California' Bureau of Home Furnishings to tell them you support the efforts to reform fire standards (TB117-2012).

I was sitting at my laptop when I read that. Since my children weren't screaming (yet), I decided to go for the gold and just do it. The link in the Enviroblog post wasn't super helpful, but a little googling later and I had the Contact Us page for the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, where I found the following information:
Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation4244 South Market Court, Suite D
Sacramento, California 95834-1243
Telephone (916) 999-2041
FAX (916) 999-2043
Here is my email I sent off:

If I Can Sew This, So Can You: DIY Reusable Gift Bags

Thanks to my stellar friend Lys, I learned to sew last year. I've probably sewn less than 10 times total, but I now know how to thread my sewing machine (actually my sister's friend's sewing machine) and sew a straight line. I may have forgotten how to thread the machine actually, since I haven't sewn since my baby was born (over a year ago), but I have the instructions and am confident I can figure it out again!

One of the best things I did with these new skillz is make reusable fabric gift bags. Mostly I used free cast offs and scraps from Lys' extensive stash, which is why, while all the fabrics are nifty, they don't really coordinate. But I did buy a little bit of holiday fabric to make Christmas gift bags. A little splurge. Fabric is expensive even on sale! I bought several fabrics that were just green or just red so that I could cleverly use these for birthdays as well.

These bags are about as easy a sewing project as it gets. And fast. I whipped up 20+ bags in little more than a hour. This season, my fabric bags are done early enough to be used as wrapping for my Children's Book Advent Calendar! Here is how I did it.

New Favorite: Rainbow Stacking Toy

We have a new favorite toy at my house: the Giant Rainbow Stacker.
rainbow nesting blocks
I've had my eye on this toy for a while. I love everything about it: made of natural and non-toxic materials, open-ended, durable, well-made, and aesthetically pleasing. I leave it on display on top of our piano in the living room until the next play adventure. 

The 5yo, 3yo, and baby all love our Giant Rainbow Stacker.

So far, our Giant Rainbow Stacker been used as tunnels for cars and balls, houses for dolls, boats for animal figures and puppets, and as a bridge for little ones and vehicles. They are also a wonderful addition to our regular wood block set. 

In Search of a Better Sweetener: Alternatives to White Sugar

Honey is my sweetener of choice.

About a year ago I decided I wanted to stop using white sugar in my baking. It's true that my family would probably be better off with no sugar, but that's not really what I was going for. Specifically, I wanted my sugar to be less refined and, in particular, not bleached. So I began doing some research on the different types of unrefined cane sugars out there (raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, turbinado, demera, rapadura, muscavado, panela, sucanat, etc.). In trying to figure out what exactly was the difference between all these unrefined brown sugars, I ended up also learning about the many liquid sweeteners now available that are not derived from cane sugar.

Now when deciding what sweeteners to consume I consider:

  • Level of refinement
  • Glycemic Index (although it is very difficult to find definitive information about this)
  • Distance (where the sweetener is grown and produced)
  • Price (although it can be tough to compare sweeteners on price, not only because some are measured by volume and others by weight, but also because you often don't substitute them one-to-one)

Eco-novice's Favorite Alternatives to White Sugar

Green Phone Booth's Meaningful Memories Holiday Challenge 2012

Halloween, my least favorite holiday, is finally behind us. Hopefully folks will now stop throwing handfuls of candy at my children. My son attends a dual immersion elementary school with a large Mexican-American population, and it has been interesting to be part of a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration for the first time in my life. My son and I made a poster about my grandfather, for whom my son was named, for a class project for the holiday. I would love to trade Halloween in for Dia de Los Muertos permanently: instead of teenagers at my door demanding candy, a kind of festive Memorial Day where families and communities celebrate loved ones who have passed. Next up (for us Americans) is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. 

Pretend this says 2012 until I get
a chance to update this button.

And on that note, it's time to kick off the Booth's Meaningful Memory Holiday Challenge. Time to reflect on the kind of holiday season we want to enjoy. What do you want your holidays to be like?

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth


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