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Recycled wth Style

picture-2.pngAs the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade (or, if you’re like me, you scrap the lemonade all together and mix up a lemon drop cocktail instead). With that thought in mind, if my husband handed me my favorite wool sweaters–sweaters he’d accidentally shrunken–I’d probably struggle to look at things from the lemonade-making point of view. When it happened to Sue Burns, however, she didn’t see a pile of ruined sweaters, but an opportunity instead.

Instead of freaking out on her husband like I would have, Sue put her old sweaters to good use by creating funky, original clothing for children. What started in Sue’s basement as a laundry mishap has since blossomed in to baabaaZuzu, where old wool is given a new lease on life in the form of unique  jackets, vests, purses and other nifty things (like posy pins and Christmas stockings) using 100% recycled wool (and cool vintage buttons, too).   BaabaaZuzu’s recycled wares are quite fetching, albeit a bit pricey, but if you’re in the market for something recycled, handmade and just really cool, it may be worth a few extra Benjamins!

Find It Here: Baabaazuzu

Cell Phone Style for a Song

cases.jpgMade by women at a co-operative in New Delhi, these cell phone cases are fashioned out of antique saris that would normally be burned for their gold and silver. Each beautiful case is intricately detailed and completely unique. They’re equipped with a strap that can be hooked on to your purse, backpack or belt for safe keeping and are traded fairly from India. Choose from three colors – green, brown and turquoise.

Buying one of these cell phone cases is something you can feel good about. The women who create them earn the money they desperately need to raise their families and The Rainforest Site will preserve 1145.0 sq. ft. of land for each one purchased. So for just $16, you’re not only getting a one-of-a-kind case for your cell phone, you’re saving the lungs of our planet and putting gorgeous antique saris to good use.

Find It Here: The Rainforest Site Store

Art, Naturally

clementine.jpgHave you ever wondered what your kids’ art supplies are made of? One of my daughter’s favorite pastimes is painting, and there were a few occasions this summer where she wound up with paint in rather precarious places. Like her eyelashes. And I stood there and wondered just what, exactly, is in that paint? As previously noted in this post, many finger paints (and regular paints) contain heavy metals, VOCs and petro-chemicals.

From Clementine Art comes a line of all-natural children’s art products with nothing to hide. The ingredients, all of them, are listed right there on the package. Now that’s a first! The six creative staples–washable paints, soy crayons, water-based markers, flour-based modeling dough, soy crayon ‘rocks’ and washable glue–are made right here in the US of A using natural, non-toxic materials. Kids can dig in and express themselves, and we don’t have to worry about what it is they’re digging in to.

Cool things to note: the modeling dough is colored with turmeric, spinach and carmine, there’s a Clementine Art blog, and an informative ingredients glossary on the web site (look for the ‘nitty gritty’ heading).

Find It Here: Clementine Art

Gifts That Grow

productonly.jpgWhat: Pre-Seeded Gift Wrap

Features: Plant the paper after it’s been used and grow wildflowers

Green Factor: Made from 100% recycled paper, creates zero waste

Cool  Factor: Totally NOT generic (so your gift will stand out!)

Find It Here: Little Kay Gardens

Monopoly Shmonopoly

madagascar_detail.jpgThe next time you’re in the market for a board game, check out this environmentally friendly, award-winning board game for kids ages 8 and up—it’s called Xeko Mission: Madagascar, and it’s a great way for children to learn about exotic animals (like fossas, tomato frogs and lemurs), their environment and how to protect them. Kids battle against their friends for eco-points and special powers and the player with the most points wins!

Xeko Mission: Madagascar was made with the earth in mind, literally. It’s chock-full of recycled materials, packaged in recycled stock and game cards are made with recycled materials and are printed with soy-based inks.

2006 was a good year for this game – not only did Creative Child Magazine name it the Top Toy of the Year, the National Parenting Centre gave it their Seal of Approval. Recognition like that, coupled with its eco-friendly spin, makes Xeko Mission: Madagascar a favorite with us. The Starter Set comes with an oversized play mat, 50 cards, two guidebooks and a rulebook. To make the package even sweeter, four per cent of the game’s net sales are donated to Conservation International. This definitely isn’t your mother’s board game!

Find It Here: Green Home Environmental Store

Neogreene Beats Neoprene

Have you ever heard of “mixed dialkyl thioureas”? It’s a chemical found in neoprene, that squishy, stretchy material used for wetsuits, laptop covers, mouse pads, shoe linings and much more and it was recently named Allergen of the Year by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group. Neoprene contact allergies are becoming quite common due to the cocktail of phthalates, VOCs, chlorine and metals used to make the synthetic rubber material. Suddenly, my cute neoprene laptop sleeve that I got at a conference last year doesn’t look so cute—and neither does this mouse pad sitting next me. Fortunately, a non-toxic, more eco-friendly substitute called Neogreene is now available and we’re giving away a Neogreene laptop sleeve and water bottle tote to one randomly selected winner!

Find It Here: GreenSmart

Win It: We’re giving away a Neogreene laptop sleeve and water bottle tote. Click here to fill out our simple entry form. Just enter NG9 as the giveaway name and give one reason Neogreene is superior to neoprene. Enter by 9/17/09. $50 value. Open to US residents. Winner to be notified by email. Contest closed. Congrats to Sandra.

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