Tag Archives | Green Planet Parties

The Easter Bunny & Random Kindness

There is one part to setting up Easter egg hunts on Easter morning that I always miss – the fact my kids can’t help me set up. When planning fairy walks or party activities my kids are always right by my side planning and then executing – they love it!  So today while my kids where all home we came up with the idea to leave Easter eggs filled with sustainable goodie along the Inlet trail and park in our community. We used 8 plastic eggs we’ve been reusing for years and filled them with a felt pirate eye patch, finger puppets, basil seeds, felted jewelry, and a fairy leaf bed/pilllow set. We used plastic for the outside to hold the treasures because we hoped the eggs would be safe for a few days out in our rainy West Coast climate. I highly recommend this activity for kids with the excitement building up to Easter hunts, activities, etc.  but strongly petition you to please not fill them with junk!  Even a couple of pennies or treasures from the forest would be fun: acorns, gem stones, etc.  Just the magic of finding an egg in a playground with a note and goodie inside would be amazing for kids. Funny enough we talked with two adults that found one of our eggs under a park bench and they were beaming. Not just little smiles, you could tell their day had been made!  They turned out to be kindred spirits of the Peter Pan syndrome I have “never wanting to grow up and believing in fairies”.

Here is how we planned our random act of kindness egg hunt!

Egg setup. We selected plastic eggs to reduce moisture for the goodies inside. I let the kids select Eco-friendly presents to put inside based on their personalities. I didn’t want them to put candy inside because most parents would want their kids eating candy left by strangers…so we selected handcrafted, mostly felt or plantable treasures. I used new items from Green Planet Parties and included the logo in the note we left, not for marketing purposes, but so that parents would know that these items are new and safe to play with. The note simply read: “You are receiving a random gift of kindness. Enjoy your Easter treat and consider leaving one for someone else to find!”

Egg planting. We decided to walk through the forest in our local inlet that leads to a park and pier. The kids were very exited to leave the eggs in tricky spots for other children to find in the perimeter of the park. The boys watched a pair of kids find one of their eggs and loved listening to the shriek of finding a treasure and having them rush off to show their mom.

Here is a picture of the first egg we planted in the forest. The rest of the eggs that were planted along the trail looked beautiful too!

 

We don’t know who found those eggs we left in the forest (walking back along the trail we noticed most of the eggs had been picked up already).  But the best reaction of the day was from hiding this egg under a bench along the pier:

We had tied the egg under bench and then ambled down the pier. We took our time looking in the water, checking out a boat anchored and when we got to the end of the pier there were two lovely ladies and they looked tickled…but I didn’t assume they found the egg because we had just left it under the bench. They watched my kids play and showed them the felt eye patch they had found in the egg..my kids smiled and said they were the ones that put it there!  These two adults just loved the experience and they had already paid it forward and left some change in the egg and re-hidden it. So much fun!  I think it’s adults that need a bit of magic in their lives. We are always knocking ourselves out to insert magic whenever we can for our kids…but adults need to see magic too. The adults seemed to have the best reaction to this idea and it’s something that is really fun. This time of year is a great time to leave random acts of kindness and the best part is you can use eggs!

An important point here is that egg fillers do not have to be a plastic, crappy, toxic affair. Here are some earth friendly ideas that actually fit inside standard eggs!

Felt Finger Puppets

Pirate Eye Patches

Felted Rings

Felted Ponytail Holders

Seeds – we left basil seeds

Wooden eggs

Felt Moustache

Pocket Doll

Fairy Leaf Bed and Pillow

Fair Trade Worry Dolls

Wooden Decoder

Felted Toadstool

Bird Call

Felt Dressup Watch

Remember to have fun and tailor the act of kindness to something close to your family’s heart! Let us know about the stories you discover with leaving random acts of kindness on the Mommy Footprin fan page!

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Has The Word ‘Green’ Become Polluted?

For months now I’ve been scratching my head wondering why the green movement has stopped. Worse than stopped – reverse might be a better word for it. I’ve been asking questions like “why are people back shopping at Walmart?” and been at a loss, but I think I know the answer. The retail world and marketing minds behind them have simply started to overuse a word we used to trust. The word green meant safe, it meant Eco-friendly, and something we didn’t have to research, but with everybody now using this word is no longer has meaning. And with big box stores now offering ‘green’ selections, people just throw up their hands and start shopping back based on price.

Here are some tips to cut through greenwashing and hold stores or products accountable for their green rating:

1) What is the item made from? Make sure to cover exterior and interior of a product. I see so many products coated with a form of antibacterial coating but marketed as winkle free, or a good thing with avoiding germs. If you are looking for natural materials (100% cotton, etc.) ask that it’s in fact 100%.

2) What is inside the product? When the item you are purchasing doesn’t contain an ingredient list, this can be difficult but someone selling the product is responsible for knowing this information. Is the stuffing or inside sprayed with flame retardants?

3) Where was this item manufactured? * I have a story that is a great example of why a product might not be ‘green’ if it’s not locally made. This is a great question and why it’s not asked more often I have no idea. I ask it every time I go to the Mall. Ask the question every time you purchase something and the answers might surprise you.

4) Where can this item go when I’m finished with it? The end of a product’s life is pretty important. Once you figure out that land fills are getting to a point where they can’t take more junk, the 2nd hand stores are full of crap, and if we are back to shopping based on cost alone, my fear is we are turning away from a simplified approach to living that we’ve been moving towards over the last couple of years. Invest in quality, not quantity and you’ll learn that heirloom products in your life are important because they can be reused for a long time.

* I have an example that covers ‘green’ items that are imported. There are many items that we don’t manufacture yet in North America, however you might be surprised at how many we can! I actually felt ill when I received a price list sent to me by an overseas rep a few months ago. Because I’m the owner of Green Planet Parties, I’m often sent pitches from overseas companies and a flower felt garland caught my eye. I thought – “how cute and it’s made from felt!” But when I saw the price list my heart just dropped…the cost of the garland was $0.15. I had no idea this was how inexpensive overseas products could be. For 4 years I’ve had party decorations made locally by moms that sew so I’ve never out-sourced decorations before. Do you know how much I pay someone to make a garland?  $9.  How would a store like mine ever be able to compete with prices this low? I guess the only way is if you, the consumer, care that someone is receiving a penny to manufacture an item or not. Asking the simple question of “where is this made?” is easy, interesting, and will salvage small businesses and local artists. There is a great quote on Pinterest that captures this concept from Anne Lappe:  “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for what kind of world you want.”

If you are new to the term ‘green washing’ it simply means to market a product as ‘eco-friendly’ when it’s actually not. There have been great articles written about pink washing lately too!  This term deals with the topic of companies that put pink ribbons on their products for breast cancer awareness when the product actually contains ingredients that are linked to cancer. Pink washing again is a marketing ploy to sell products based on ‘marketing’ not the integrity of the brand.

If we continue on the journey of supporting big businesses that think they have our health and the environment’s interests at heart, I think we’re in trouble as consumers. If you are a big box business, in my opinion, you have a diluted business plan – meaning you carry everything under the sun because you want to be an all inclusive one-stop shop for everything a person needs to purchase. But by doing this, you are diluting more than just your products…but also run the risk of diluted product knowledge. If I’m shopping at the butcher shop – would I ask him/her for tips on how to garden? Or about the latest fads for my hair style? No I wouldn’t. Individual product expertise when we are talking about bringing new products into your home, this is the edge a small business has over big stores. I know of a respected organic skin care line that catered to children with sensitive skin. In order to be available at the big box stores, they had to add a new preservative to this line of skin care. Being available in the big box store actually made the small company reformulate their ingredient list. But when you drive prices down and don’t ask questions, these are the types of problems that will occur. Chemicals that are hard to detect like lead and flame retardants – you need expertise product knowledge to counter act if you are looking to bring ‘green’ items into your life.

I’m not the only person frustrated by green or pink washing. Here are some related articles for more info!

Avoid Greenwashed Brands by Fashioning Change http://fashioningchange.com/blog/five-ways-to-avoid-greenwashed-brands

Why Pink Ribbons Are Fading by EcoMom Alliance: http://www.ecomomalliance.org/profiles/blogs/why-pink-ribbons-are-fading

What Does Natural Mean To You? by Organic PR: http://www.organicprpro.com/2011/07/what-does-natural-mean-to-you/

From Paige Wolf, author of Spit That Out! Sins of Greenwashing http://www.spitthatoutthebook.com/2011/09/whats-a-green-mom-to-do-an-excerpt-from-%E2%80%9Cthe-sins-of-greenwashing/

And Danika, editor of https://www.facebook.com/greenwala manages two Facebook pages on the topics of Greenwashing and Pinkwashing

 

 

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Compostable Fairy Gardens: Fairy Party Craft

A few weeks ago my twins celebrated their 6th birthday. We incorporated a really special party craft that I wanted to share for a few reasons: it is basically compostable, so party guests can return it to the earth when it gets ratty looking, the amount of imagination it inspired with the kids was amazing, and the supplies required where found for the most part in the forest. I am always totally inspired every time I walk into a West Coast forest – the amount of moss, ferns, and toadstools right now is breathtaking. I wanted a way to bring some of this beauty into the party give aways at the twins party. I mean really, it would just be too easy to go into the Green Planet Parties warehouse and start pulling out magical items. I wanted to challenge myself and incorporate a few of the fairy items from this popular category on the site, but also input some creativity. So voila – the concept of creating compostable fairy houses and wooden dolls was born and the effect was quite magical. So here is how you can construct the ultimate craft with a fairy themed soiree!

Collecting Supplies For Compostable Fairy Houses:

This was my favorite part of the craft. I got the opportunity to walk into our local Mall and rather than walking out with purchased goods, I went to all of the shoe stores and asked them for empty shoe boxes. Shoe stores collect many empty boxes during the day from customers that opt out of taking them home.  They are just broken down and recycled, but I managed to collect close to 20 over a 2-day period. I would advise getting regular sized shoe boxes…not big ones from boots. Here is what the stack of boxes looked like pre-party.

After we had boxes collected (1 box per party guest), we headed into the forest and started collecting our nature. The bottom of each shoe box was going to be lined with moss.  It’s easy to find thick, wet, beautiful moss in our local forest so we collected our moss and fallen twigs. Moss to line the bottom of the box and twigs to create rugs and ladders for inside the fairy house and fallen ferns to create a pretty design inside the house. I thought the ferns might look nice in small section in the fairy house glued to the side of the walls to give a shutter or the allusion of window blinds.

 

Making Wooden Fairies for Fairy Garden:

We then decided to include a wooden clothespin fairy for the girls to decorate inside their fairy house. We used all upcycled materials for these that included: wooden clothespins, tissue paper for wings, sharpie to draw faces and hair, fabric scraps to make clothing. We pre-painted faces (I did the faces and my girls did the hair) onto the clothespin dolls and we loved how they turned out. The ladies are whispering below how excited they are to get dressed and have a rest on their leaf bed.

The ladies continued to chat to each other about how they wanted to be dressed. Also included in the below picture is some inspiration to avoiding glitter to decorate the fairy wands. We found glass beads and glued them to the middle of the wooden wands (same beads we used for the pond) – loved the effect!

In order to ‘dress’ the fairies, we cut out rectangular strips of tissue paper. We slid the tissue paper up the clothespin opening, then fanned out wings. Then the girls used Green Glue and glued on the little bits of clothing I had pre-cut. The effect was lovely and I wanted the party guests to have a doll and some quality pieces from inside the house that they could play with for a long time.  Here is a dressed doll after one of our guests finished gluing on clothes.

Putting Together Fairy Houses:

After the party guests finished making a doll, they painted a few quality pieces that would be reused from the fairy house (the shoebox, moss and twig pieces could later be composted) and they included, fairy doors and beds from Green Planet Parties. The beds had huge impact with the girls because they were able to lay their newly acquired fairy dolls and put them to sleep inside the box. Here are the fairy doors that each party guests painted.

A great idea if using a fairy door for your fairy house is to cut out an opening in the shoe box where the fairy door can be placed. It’s the entry point for all the magic inside the house to be contained!  I did this for a few of the guests and they loved the effect!

While the guests were painting fairy doors and wooden wands, I was getting another table ready for the completion of the houses. The guest had their shoebox ready with moss inside, a leaf bed w/ pillow and twig ladder next to it to put inside the box, the fairy they had decorated, I put the guest’s name on the box, then they walked over with their fairy door and wand that was put into the box to dry. They started looking like this:

Another extra I had waiting to put into the box were blue glass rocks. Once a few were added to the corner of a fairy house it looked like a pond where the fairy could have a swim later.

Voila!  Close the lid and the fairy garden/house/doll is ready to go home when your party guests. I wrote names on the outside of each box so it was easy when guests were picked up to find their box. With the shoe box lids closed, I loved watching the reaction of parents (probably thinking why is she giving me this?) but then I looked them in the eye and said “compostable fairy house” and the adult’s eyes lit up because they knew these take home gifts were something different and unique.

Prep time for these fairy boxes should be about two weeks before the actual party. You want to enjoy the process of going into the forest and searching for treasures. Try to find sticks, leaves, acorns that have already fallen onto the forest floor. One idea we had was to collect acorns and glue them to the head of each fairy doll but there weren’t any in our area this time of year. It would have been a cute accent but I love how the faces on the dolls turned out. A glue gun really came in handy with making the twig ladders – I would have loved to make and hang some windows with twigs in each box too.  Using the glue gun also allowed me to not have to use glitter with decorating the wands. By adding a glass bead to the centre of the wooden wands, the girls just added some paint to them and we by-passed using glitter. I try to stay away from it because it’s plastic. I didn’t want this getting into the compostable materials inside the box.

We had a little over 15 party guests and it’s doable, but a smaller number of children is probably recommended for this craft. I divided the kids up into 2 groups otherwise it would have been overwhelming to orchestrate all of the little steps. It’s fun when you can take the time to listen to the kids and have them decide what all of the materials will be in their house: carpets from sticks, windows, ponds – very fun!

I write this article not as the owner of Green Planet Parties, but as a mom of two adorable little girls and a person with a serious Peter Pan complex; never want to grow up and someone that believes that fairies are real!

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Holiday Shopping & Making Magic Fund

It just doesn’t feel like the holidays if you can’t give back. This year, for me personally, the need to really enjoy the holiday spirit of helping others has been at the forefront of my holiday planning – but where do you start? Many recent news stories were very inspiring; one in particular was published in the The Vancouver Sun a few months ago by a inner city school teacher asking for help.  It doesn’t matter where you live, read the article she wrote – it will move you. Click here.  The teacher named Carrie inspired a fund to be started by the paper that published her story; The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund launched a special fundraising project called Adopt-a-School. This project identifies schools and their specific needs throughout Metro Vancouver. It’s special in the fact you can go to the site and look at individual needs within a school so even a single family can identify something to donate (shin guards, winter coats in particular sizes, mitten, socks, etc.). This site allows you to feel like you can make a difference at a grass root level. The most needed item identified by all the schools of course is money so they can assess and fix their most outstanding needs. The great thing about donating the money via Adopt-a-School is they will match all $$s that are contributed so the money is being doubled at the time it’s contributed – very cool!

Through Mommy Footprint and Green Planet Parties, I connect and work with many very dedicated and passionate small business owners. After MF reader Ti linked me to the Adopt-A-School site (thanks Ti!), I emailed a few of these businesses to see if they wanted to join efforts to help this fund. They are all BC business owners, but their sites are online and setup to ship anywhere in North America.  Please give them a click or little shout-out as they are donating a portion of their sales over the next week. We even have a name – Making Magic Fund. We are a total of 13 BC small businesses owners joining together to help children. Between December 5-11th if you shop at these stores – proceeds will be donated to help schools, which help children, and that helps families. Even if you’re not local, a quote I read from the amazing letter written by Carrie has stayed with me:

Think about what you vote for, speak for, and speak up against. Are you willing to put your time and/or your money towards affecting change? Will you advocate for a child that is not your own?

Here is a list of businesses that are under the Making Magic Fund. Please shop and support this cause – it’s inspired from the heartfelt plea of a teacher and has inspired a movement for helping other schools in need.  Take a peek at these sites and feel good shopping with a small business that is giving back this holiday season. I also have and would shop at these stores and think it’s wonderful that their focus is supporting safe products for our children and home. Thank you to all the businesses involved and for their enthusiasm and energy to make this happen!

Apricot Culotte:  an e-boutique specialized in previously loved baby clothes that we bring in from France. We also carry end of season brand new designer baby clothes including some very nice French organic brands.

Bamboobino: an adorable line of children’s clothes and accessories made from soft, eco-friendly bamboo.

Bumblebee Toys: offers a unique collection of natural toys, crafts and playthings to inspire the imagination and nourish the senses.

dandelion KIDS: modern kids shop that stocks hip baby clothes, stylish duds for boys and girls plus cool, unique gifts for the next baby shower or kids birthday party.

Fill Your Own: offers an array of carbon-neutral, non-toxic and reusable products ideal for both kids and adults.

Giving Gifts: carries gifts that give – fair trade, eco friendly and fun gifts for babies, kids, adults and pets.

Green Planet Parties: where it’s possible to shop for eco-friendly party supplies in one place! Supporting locally manufactured decorations & goodies!

Kippo Kids: proud to offer you a quality mix of products that include a good selection of eco-friendly, handmade, organic, and Made in Canada items.

Maxwell Designs: leading Canadian designer of beautiful purses, the best diaper bags in Canada, and many accessories.

My Little Green Shop: is a hip e-boutique that provides a wide range of safe, non-toxic products for babies, children and mamas. We are careful that the products we carry meet our standards of what’s safe and eco-friendly.

Onyx Containers: food storage containers that are of the highest quality, manufactured in responsible conditions and available at affordable prices.

Puddlegear: toddler and baby raingear- children can play outside feeling warm, unrestricted and dry in their PVC and Phthalate free rainwear – certified by oko – tex.

Today I Ate A Rainbow: passionate about creating tools to help parents and caregivers raise healthy kids!

We are all like-minded small business owners championing for one cause – such a cool array of products!  This is our logo (designed for us by the talented Marina Duque)! If talking about this special project, you are welcome to use the logo. We hope it will be a logo that will become recognized and used annually to help those who need it.

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Eco-Friendly Dolls for Christmas

I’ve been asked this questions many times over the last few weeks with parents getting ready for Christmas: “What is an Eco-friendly doll?”  Greener dolls are often called Waldorf dolls because historically they didn’t contain facial expressions to further enhance imaginative play for children. I believe the definition of Eco-friendly dolls include ‘manufactured locally’, ‘stuffed and made with natural materials’; no plastic or polyfill preferably.  I prefer a face on the Waldorf dolls when I was searching for my twins because children become quickly accustomed to how ‘real’ many of the plastic dolls look.  But we know that plastic dolls are far from Eco-friendly. I have yet to find a plastic doll that’s make from a recyclable plastic or from ‘rubber tree’ design like the toy Sophie the Giraffe.  When I think of an Eco-friendly doll, my first thought are Bambolettas or Dragonfly’s Hallow dolls. I was lucky enough to purchase two Bamboletta dolls for my daughters but it took me close to a year. Why a year?  The demand for these hand-made dolls is so high, you are very lucky to actually get the opportunity to purchase one. Both doll makers handcraft these beautiful dolls, step by step, from dying the wool to create the magical hair, use wool stuffing, hand-embroidered faces, even the doll’s clothing is made the by the respective store. They are unique, one-of-a-kind, and like nothing you will find in a traditional store. They are truly Eco-friendly.  Follow either of the Facebook pages for a few days and you will get the feel of how much work and time goes into creating these dolls. Here is the link to my article on Bamboletta Dolls from last year. Here is one of my girls snuggling their Bambo.


By now you’ve fallen in love and your chances are low to purchase a doll in time for Christmas. That wasn’t my intention – honest! There is hope, with getting a doll. I’ve also just become a fan of Crazy Baby Accessories doll’s called Gumdrop Kids and asked her about her beautiful waldorf dolls. I wanted to know what the dolls were stuffed with and the dolls listed in the shop are a mix of wool and polyester, but can be custom ordered 100% organic for an extra $20.  I can’t believe there is actually a listing this time of year – walk don’t run mamas!

One of my favorite things about these dolls is the interchangeable clothing options that become available after you own a doll. There are many stores that make clothing for these dolls and the clothing is also mama-made and totally unique! One of my favorite waldorf doll clothing suppliers is Reggies Dolls. She is a very sweet person and the clothing she makes Waldorf Dolls is awesome. I purchased some mermaid tails for my daughter’s Bambos and it solved my dilemma of trying to find a Waldorf mermaid. It transformed the Bambo from a doll into a mermaid and was easy for my girls to pull onto their dolls. With different clothing options your children will play with these dolls longer. It’s kind of neat to add to the dolls wardrobe and see how adding PJs, bathing suits, mermaid tails, etc. keeps the dolls in more demand by the child. Also promotes reusing with the doll because instead of buying more dolls to change things up, you are just adding clothing.

I’ve also carried dolls stuffed with wool and bamboo at Green Planet Parties – trying to make an affordable option for Eco-friendly dolls.  Also for Christmas I love the Sweetie Petites that are fabric panels, ready to be sewed to create a little doll and yes, they come with carded wool stuffing! They are a completely different designs from the Waldorf dolls I’ve talked about, but also a very nice option for greener gifts.

 

I hope this explanation of an Eco-friendly dolls gives you some options. You will most likely not find these in a store – check online by using Google and the phrase ‘Waldorf Doll’, checking out winter markets, or checking out my above recommendations. I love the Bamboletta and Dragonsfly Hollow blogs so much because they are able to breakdown and educate us why these dolls are so special, why they cost what they do, and why it’s important to support how they are made…it’s mama powered and mama created!  That’s important.

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