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Green Thursday: Best Resources for Eco-Friendly Back-to-School Products

Green Thursday: Best Resources for Eco-Friendly Back-to-School Products

While you’re soaking up some much-needed summer rays, the back-to-school season is right around the corner. We recognize how important it is to start off the school year feeling totally equipped to take on the world. But the sad reality is that so many popular back-to-school products aren’t doing you – or the planet – any good. In fact, the vast majority of conventional items are laden with harmful ingredients, swathed in layers of wasteful packaging, and produced using unfair labor practices. The National Retail Federation predicts that this year’s back-to-school shopping will spike ten percent from last year, totaling a whopping $83.6 billion in spending. And most of those products are taking a significant social and environmental toll. Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to distinguish between conventional and conscious brands. So what’s a back-to-school shopper to do?

Green Thursdays

Enter Green Thursdays – Turning Green’s brand new back-to-school initiative, designed to help you put your dollars toward eco-friendly products with a positive impact. For your purchasing pleasure, we have curated a checklist of some of our favorite conscious brands in the following ten categories:

1. Body: Everything you put directly on your body, including shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste and more. Have you ever checked out the ingredients labels in your “go-to” products?

2. Clean: Most cleaning products contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds, such as ammonia), which contribute to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Not the case with our preferred brands!

3. Home: From desk lamps to houseplants, our list will help you make your living space as green as can be.

4. Study: Hit the books with 100% post-consumer recycled notebooks, eco-friendly backpacks, and tech galore.

5. Eat/Drink: Our list of FLOSN (fresh, local, organic, seasonal, non-GMO) snacks, beverages and meals makes it easier than ever to nourish the body and mind.

6. Bathe: Ethically made towels, toilet paper and shower shoes will help green your morning and evening routines.

7. Active: Healthy body, healthy mind. Gear up with some of the greenest brands in the business, featuring activewear, yoga mats and more.

8. Sleep: Cotton is one of the most pesticide-laden crops on the planet. You’ll sleep well knowing your sheets, pillowcases and PJs are 100% organic cotton.

9. Zero Waste: Reusable water bottles, food containers and utensils make it easy to eat on the go without creating waste.

10. Wellness: Maintaining your wellness is the key to crushing it at school. Herbal supplements, natural pain relievers, and essential oils will help you feel your best all year round.

As you curate your living space this year, we encourage you to buy less and shop smart while using Turning Green’s new Back-to-School Checklist as a guide. You can assess your personal footprint and take practical steps to reduce it. Look for labels like USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO Verified, Fair Trade, and 100% post-consumer recycled, as well as items that are second hand, recycled and upcycled. If you have to buy new products, consider our checklist your comprehensive guide to supporting businesses and companies that are doing right by people and planet.

Choosing these products over conventional brands means voting with your dollar. It means carving out a bigger piece of that $83.6 billion pie for conscious goods. It makes a statement that you care as much about what you’re putting in, on and around your body as you do about how those products impact your community, and the earth as a whole.

For the next six weeks, our Conventional to Conscious blog will highlight each of these ten categories, with tips about why, what to look for when you’re shopping and spotlights on some of our eco “hero” partner brands. Starting Thursday, July 27, we’re teaming up with industry leaders to help you and students across the country transition from conventional to conscious living with our #GreenThursday Giveaway. With your support, we will make this the greenest back to school season ever.

#GreenThursday Giveaway

Launching at 8am PT each Thursday morning (July 27-August 31), we will offer a giveaway on the Turning Green Instagram. One winner and a friend they tag will be randomly selected to win an ecofabulous #GreenThursday Essential Back-to-School Package (valued at more than $300). Turning Green will announce and notify the winners the following Friday morning at 8am PT.

Green Thursday Back-to-School products

 

Project Green Challenge

Want to dive more deeply into living green this Fall? Sign up now for Project Green Challenge 2017 starting on October 1st.

 

This is a guest post, with edits, from our friends and partner, Turning Green.

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9 Healthy Road Trip Snacks for the Whole Family

9 Healthy Road Trip Snacks for the Whole Family

Traveling is exciting but can be difficult with a car full of hungry kids. To keep everyone happy we like to get creative and pack an assortment of healthy road trip snacks. When we’re prepared with homemade real food snacks, we tend to avoid the overly processed stuff available along the road (and everyone feels better).

1. Wellness Energy Bars from The Wellness Mama

Wellness Energy Bars from The Wellness Mama

2. Roasted Chickpeas from Stuffed Suitcase

Roasted Chickpeas from Stuffed Suitcase

3. Peanut Granola Bars from The Healthy Maven

Peanut Granola Bars from The Healthy Maven

4. No Bake Energy Bites from Cooking Classy

No Bake Energy Bites from Cooking Classy

5. Baked Oatmeal Fruit Cups from The Wholesome Dish

Baked Oatmeal Fruit Cups from The Wholesome Dish

6. Savory Vegetable Terrine from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Savory Vegetable Terrine from Gourmande in the Kitchen

7. Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Bars from Half Baked Harvest

Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Bars from Half Baked Harvest

8. Parmesan Quinoa Bites from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

Parmesan Quinoa Bites from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

9. Easy Homemade Cheese Crackers from Living Well Mom

Easy Homemade Cheese Crackers from Living Well Mom

See more healthy road trip lunch ideas and snacks to make and pack. Happy traveling!

Post courtesy of our friends at Mighty Nest.

 

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Road Trip Essentials: What to Pack When Traveling with Kids

traveling with kids

Everyone looks forward to summer vacation: school is out, work slows down and it’s the best time to plan a few trips with your family. Whether they are short trips for a weekend away, or a long flight across the country, traveling with kids is a challenge, so here are some tips to help you prepare for your next summer outing.

Listen

With the pull of social media, it’s nice to find something to do in the car so that kids spend time looking out the window instead of staring at a screen. Downloading audio podcasts is a favorite of ours for long road trips. Look at Common Sense Media for age-appropriate recommendations. Find a biography, a book-on-tape (like the Penderwicks, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or James and the Giant Peach), or choose from the seemingly endless list of riveting TedTalks (about everything from Bees to Creativity), and time will fly by.

Read

Many schools have a summer reading list, so road trips and flights are the best time to get going on reading homework. If books aren’t holding your child’s attention, try checking out magazines from the library. Little kids will love Ladybug and Spider, and our all-time favorite is Stone Soup. Also try books with riddles or poems like Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein or science books like Exploratopia by San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

Play

Any version of Taboo is a great road trip game, and even the drivers can play without taking their eyes off the road. Similar to Password, one person tries to get everyone else to say a word by saying anything except the “taboo” words listed on their card. It’s tricky and encourages some creativity. And, there’s always the old-fashioned license plate game that can keep kids busy for hours. Everyone in the car keeps a list of all the states they can find represented by license plates on passing cars. It’s easy to change the game depending on the ages of the kids: after older children find a state, they can name the states that border it, or name the state’s capital. Also try homemade travel board games like travel tic-tac-toe or a marble maze. You could also pass the time by sewing your course on a map, then you can keep the map later as a souvenir.

Eat

Of course traveling with kids is never easy without snacks to help perk up weary minds and pass the time. Pack more than you think you’ll need, and include a variety of healthy snacks, dips and treats. Try these energy bar and bite recipes, full of protein, easy to make (many are no-bake) and store, and low in sugar. Cut fruit or a selection of veggies and dips are also great road-trip snacks. For a longer trip, try these healthy lunch ideas. Pack your snacks in easy-to-clean, leak-resistant stainless steel containers. Don’t forget to bring water in glass water bottles. It will also be handy to have your reusable bottles and containers at your destination for family outings.

Photo courtesy of SuperShuttle.

10 Tips to Help You Raise Eco-Conscious Kids

Tips to Raise Eco-Conscious Kids

To ensure that our planet remains healthy for future generations, it’s our responsibility to teach kids how to be eco-conscious. According to the EPA, Americans generate about 254 million tons of trash every year. That breaks down to 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day. And, we’re only recycling and composting about 1.5 pounds of that waste. Each bag of trash we roll out to the curb has to be collected, then taken to a landfill where it’s either buried or burned.

Unfortunately, neither burning trash nor burying it is good for the planet. According to National Geographic’s story Human Footprint: Where Does All the Stuff Go? burning trash releases gasses into the air, contributing to dangerous smog. Burying trash in landfills simply covers it up, and because the trash isn’t exposed to air and water, it fails to break down and instead releases toxins into our air, soil and groundwater.

Trash is just part of our environmental problem. Our carbon footprint also includes the cars we drive, the electricity we use, the water we waste and the food we buy. Almost every action we take somehow impacts our planet.

The good news is that we can lower our impact with a few easy changes, and we can teach our children to be mindful of their everyday behaviors to decrease their carbon footprint as well. Follow these 10 tips to raise eco-conscious kids:

Flip the switch

Don’t waste unnecessary electricity. Even very young kids can be mindful of their electricity usage and should turn off lights and other electronics when not in use.

Turn off the faucet

Another great way to help younger kids participate is to help them remember to turn off the faucet when they are soaping up their hands or brushing their teeth.

Don’t toss out food

According to the NRDC, “40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane emissions.” Don’t toss out food. Begin a family compost effort so that food can be used to help the Earth, not linger in landfills.

Start a family garden

The best way to help the Earth is to plant more green! Organic produce gardens, flower gardens or shrubs and trees all help the planet. Every bit of green adds more oxygen and eliminates carbon dioxide from the environment.

Leave the car at home

Driving creates pollution. Bike or walk with kids when you’re able. Encourage them to embrace more natural, eco-friendly forms of transportation.

Donate clothes, shoes and toys

It’s best to buy fewer clothes, and try shopping at consignment and vintage shops. If you do have items that you don’t need, don’t toss them in the trash. Instead, donate used items to a local charity or thrift store. Your older items may be someone else’s treasure.

Limit red meat

Red meat and carbon dioxide go hand-in-hand. According to the World Resources Institute, raising cattle for beef uses an incredible amount of resources like pasture and water, and “ruminants, of which cattle are the most common, accounted for nearly half of all agricultural production-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.”

Pick it up

Trash and litter pollutes our planet. Teach kids to not be a “litter bug” and encourage them to pick up trash when they see it lying around in parks, beaches or other areas.

Reuse

Saving the environment means reusing items when possible. Buy books and other items at thrift stores and donate them back. Use reusable water bottles and lunch containers so your kids limit single-use plastic and learn that everyday actions can have a huge impact.

Recycle

Even though recycling is not the answer to our waste problem, it is important to do if you have items that can be recycled. Glass, paper and aluminum can usually be easily and efficiently recycled. Check with your local waste-management service to find out which plastic products can be recycling in your county.

This is a guest post, with edits, from Uma Campbell.