Articles by Wendy Gabriel

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Plastic Free July is a movement designed to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. Over a million people around the world participate in Plastic Free July, a challenge to refuse single-use plastics for one month.

Join me and take the challenge! It’s easy… just choose to refuse single-use plastic during the month of July.

 

Visit Plastic Free July here to learn more.

 

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During summer vacation I’m always looking for fun, healthy ways to get outdoors with my family. We all enjoy hiking, walks to get frozen yogurt and trips to the beach.

On one of our hikes,we thought it would be fun to create a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Here’s what I came up with:

Click on link to print: Nature Scavenger Hunt

What you’ll need:

  • Print out the Nature Scavenger Hunt or make your own
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Bucket or bag (in case you find some nature “collectibles”)

Be sure to customize your scavenger hunt to your local surroundings. Especially for younger children who will get tired quicker, suggest ideas of items that you know will be easy to find in your area. For older kids, to increase the difficultly, have a timed scavenger hunt.

Now get outdoors and have some fun!

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I’m always looking for practical ways for my family to reduce waste – especially plastic waste. Looking at the big picture and stepping outside what’s convenient is important when trying to reduce our family’s impact on the environment.

The Girls

From Earth911.com:

“Traveling from land to sea in the wind or through waterways, plastic pollution is causing extensive damage to our marine life and giving life to one of the greatest ecological disasters of our times.”

I send my girls to school each day with a homemade lunch. They have reusable lunch bags and reusable containers in multiple sizes. Now, thanks to the amazing folks at StrawSleeves, we have some new additions to the lunchbox.

 StrawSleeves Multi-utensil Pack

This multi-utensil pack is not just handy for tucking in a lunchbox, it can be popped into your purse or tucked in the car for road trips. Bottom line, it’s a convenient way to carry reusable utensils so you don’t have to accept disposable plastic ones.

Lunchbox essentials

StrawSleeves Straw Sleeve

This handy reusable straw holder is made from reclaimed denim. Pictured below with a bamboo and a reed straw from StrawSleeves.

StrawSleeves with lunchbox

From StrawSleeves:

“Bring your own reusable straw in this Cloth Sleeve made to hold and carry almost any design of reusable straws in 8 to 9 inch length. This light denim straw sleeve is made of reclaimed denim in a cotton blend. The design is self lined and triple stitched to ensure durability and stand up to frequent washings. It is machine washable and can also be hand washed. The invisible ‘inner cuff’ holds the straw securely and requires no fasteners. You can easily access and replace your straw in the pocket with each use allowing you to refuse disposable options when offered a single use plastic straw.”

The StrawSleeves site also carries reusable straws, straw cleaning brushes and stainless steel spoon straws. To find out more and purchase your own StrawSleeves products, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/StrawSleeves/.

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I love making to-do lists. Mostly because if I don’t write it down, it usually doesn’t happen. My sister joked recently that her boys call her notebook her “brain.” Maybe it’s hereditary. And since I relish writing things down, I really enjoy a good list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Here’s one of mine for 2017:

Limit screen time for myself and the girls (for real this time)

I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to limit screen time but it always seems to end up back where we started… waaay too much screen time. And, since it seems like all my oldest daughter’s friends have the latest iPhone and all of them participate on all the social media platforms they possibly can, limiting her screen time has gotten harder and harder. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that our kids “are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.” Yikes!

There are plenty of studies showing a link between too much screen time or poor quality screen time and:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

And while researching an article I’m writing for Earth911, I learned a lot of disturbing information about those volatile rechargeable lithium ion batteries that are inside those devices that provide all that screen time…

According to Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids. Whatever’s left over can be screen time.” Source: CNN.com

Instead of taking away screen time, I’m going to try to make ways to encourage non-screen time activities. For example, instead of interacting with a screen, we are going to find more outside activities to do as a family.

Hiking at Shaver Lake

 

Make more trips to our local library… we have one so close, we can walk to it which is an added bonus.

Visiting the library with cousins

To find out more about Media and Young Minds, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591. You can also make a Family Media Use Plan with this helpful tool at www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

 

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Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving which falls on November 29th this year. It’s a day where people across the world come together to make gifts to organizations that mean something to them. The great thing about Giving Tuesday is that anyone can participate—whether you give $1 or $100 or $1000, your donations support organizations that make an impact. This means that YOU are making a direct impact on the causes that matter to you.

#givingtuesday

How Can You Participate?

1.  Give a donation to a worth cause or charity. Here are a few if you need some ideas:

Healthy Schools Campaign is an amazing organization who’s mission is to ensure that all children have access to healthy school environments where they can learn and thrive.

To find out more about Healthy Schools Campaign, visit https://healthyschoolscampaign.org/.

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The Daughter Project is a sustainable and asset-based approach to the prevention of girl child trafficking and systematic abuse that specifically targets cultural values driving abuse, neglect and exploitation. “Trafficking in humans is considered one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world today. It is now estimated to be a $32 billion industry, affecting 161 countries worldwide.” It’s heartbreaking that our children are being exploited in this manner. The Daughter Project is making a difference but they need the funds to keep extending the help these sweet girls need.

To find out more about The Daughter Project, visit http://www.daughterproject.org/.

No Kid Hungry is a campaign working to end childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. One in 5 children in the US struggles with hunger, your donation would help No Kid Hungry surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play.

For more information about No Kid Hungry, visit https://www.nokidhungry.org/.

There are many local, national and international organizations that help children, families, the environment… if you’re able, plan to help one of them this year during Giving Tuesday. We are stronger when we work together and when all of us are healthy, happy and safe.

2.  Give by buying gifts that give back. There are many companies that give back when a purchase is made. Tom’s, for example, helps a person in need each time one of their products is sold. Take a look at your holiday shopping list and see if you could help others while buying your gifts this year.

3.  Give of your time. Many times, giving of yourself is even more helpful than money for some organizations. Look around your local community and sign up to volunteer at your local school, church, charity or food bank. Or call your local blood bank and set up a time to give blood. Rake a neighbor’s yard. Shovel snow down the sidewalk of your entire block. Bake cookies for your mailman.

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.  ~Roy T. Bennett

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GREEN TIP: When the little trick-or-treaters knock on your door this Halloween, give them healthy treats that also treat the environment kindly.

Before you head out the door with your own little trick-or-treaters, make sure you’ve feed them a healthy and hearty dinner. This way, they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary treats during your walk around the neighborhood.

Eco-friendly Candy

There are a number of different eco-friendly candies now available at your local grocery stop, health food stores or co-ops. These organic candies can provide Halloween treats that are a little friendlier for your trick-or-treaters and are produced using methods that are gentler on the environment.

My favorite find: Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop. Not only are they a Minnesota company and the official kettle corn (just one of their awesome flavors) of the Minnesota Vikings, the products are whole grain, vegan, Og trans fats, non-GMO, certified Kosher and certified gluten-free. This is one of my girls’ favorite snacks and a great Halloween treat option.

Non-GMO candy

Or Avoid Candy Altogether

Another option is to avoid candy altogether and to give your trick-or-treaters useful treats, such as colorful pencils, small boxes of crayons, or erasers in fun shapes.

Other ideas:

  • Fun magnets
  • Seed paper/bookmarks for planting or reading
  • Wash off tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Craft kits (Michael’s has fun craft kits for $1.00)
  • Adhesive bandages with fun themes
  • Barrettes or other hair things
  • Mini pumpkins or gourds
  • Fun toothbrushes
  • Unfinished wood items
  • Decorated pencils
  • Polished stones

Be Sure to Reuse and Recycle

If you don’t already compost, Halloween is a great time to start. You can add post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to your compost bin, along with fallen leaves, food scraps, and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste.

Compost creates excellent soil for your garden. You might even use the compost from your backyard bin to help grow the pumpkins that will become next year’s jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies.

If you are interested in composting, your local hardware store, garden center, county extension service, or waste disposal agency should be able to help you get started.

Instead of throwing away your Halloween decorations each year, store and reuse them year after year, just as you do decorations for many other holidays. Source: About.com, Environmental Issues

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I’ve recently submitted my second article to Earth911 (insert happy dance) which is so exciting for me. You can read the first article I wrote for them at http://earth911.com/living-well-being/recycling-tips-home/. I’m also still writing for Recycle Nation and feel extremely blessed that I’m able to do what I love while helping people and the environment.

The girls at the farm

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know this next article includes a pesto sauce recipe. I’ve had a number of requests for the recipe so here’s my recipe for a pesto sauce you can put on pasta, spread on a sandwich or toss into your salad.

Pesto Sauce Ingredients

 My Green Side’s Pesto for Pasta recipe:

(this recipe makes approximately 2 cups of pesto, enough for at least 1 pound of pasta)

  • 3 tablespoon pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 3 cups of fresh organic basil leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Wash your basil leaves in cold water. Put nuts, salt and ½ cup of olive oil into your blender. Blend and then add your basil leaves, garlic and the rest of your olive oil. Blend. Add your cheese and blend until your mixture is at your desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt and cheese if necessary.

Mix into your favorite prepared pasta for a quick, healthy and yummy meal. Enjoy!

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In honor of Plastic Free July, I have joined the campaign to try and avoid all single-use, disposable plastics for this month and beyond. You can do it too! To join me visit http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ and click on the “YES, I accept the challenge!” button.

plastic free july

Follow my progress (and send some encouragement) on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mygreenside/.

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Ecocentric Mom is a proud member of 1% For the Planet (1% FTP) which means they have pledged to give 1% of their sales to environmental related charities. This month’s boxes were full of wonderful products from other 1% FTP partners. As part of my partnership with Ecocentric Mom, I receive one of their amazing monthly subscription boxes for review. Ecocentric Mom Box

This is how it works: 

Ecocentric Mom is a natural/green health/home/beauty product discovery subscription service that gives you three different box options: Mom-to-be, Baby Box, or Mom Box. Boxes ship monthly. Ecocentric Mom works hard to pack the very best of the best in each and every box… and they deliver (pun intended)!

The March Mom Discovery Box is full of products I would never have discovered on my own. The items this month were selected, like I mentioned, to promote some amazing companies that are 1% FTP members. Getting an Ecocentric Mom box each month has been great way for me to learn about healthier products that reduce the amount of toxins in our home.

Here’s a look at the great products I received this month and I’ve also included some discount codes that you can use:

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GoodLight Natural Birthday Candles ($2.99 for a 12-count box) I was so excited to see this product! I am a huge fan of paraffin-free candles but have never found birthday candles. GoodLight Natural Candles has two stated missions: to provide the most affordable paraffin-free candles in the country, and to create a healthier planet by contributing to the sustainable production of palm oil as well as 1% For the Planet organizations that protect rainforests and endangered wildlife. The adorable colored birthday candle assortment is made with 100% palm wax and pure cotton wicks. These would make a cute addition to any birthday gift… maybe tuck a box of these adorable candles with a gift card or check out their website for a number of other products.

Visit https://www.naturalcandles.com/ to find out more about GoodLight Natural Candles and use promo code “EAKDLD” for 25% off all scented candles.

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U Konserve Food Kozy Snack Wrap ($6.49 for 2-pack) U Konserve offers a full line of quality, safe and reusable food-storage solutions designed to reduce the enormous amounts of food packaging garbage that end up in our landfills and our oceans. It’s easy to clean, dries quickly and the smooth surface is ideal for messy foods. This product is a great addition to any family that is packing lunches, going on road trips or having picnics at the park.

For more information about their complete line of reusable food-storage products, visit http://www.kidskonserve.com/ and use promo code “ECOMOM20” for 20% off your order.

Mattole Valley Naturals Vanilla Plant Protein ($3.50 for 30g, $39.95 for 454g) Mattole Valley Naturals is a family conceived, owned and operated business. Their nutritional products are made without unnatural additives, fillers or binders. The Vanilla Plant Protein is an easy and delicious way to add a boost of protein without any bad stuff.

Visit http://mattolevalleynaturals.com/ to find out more about Mattole Valley Naturals and their amazing products use promo code “ecocentricmom25” to get 25% off your order.

Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze ($2.49 per pack) This is a perfect on-the-go gluten-free breakfast or snack. It’s kid approved “yummy” and is a great blend of whole grain rolled oats, flax and fruits. It’s also Non-GMO Project Verified which is something I’m always looking for when I buy food for my family.

To find out more about Munk Pack, visit http://store.munkpack.com/ and use “ECOCENTRIC10” to get 10% off your order.

SIGIL SCENT ‘Balance’ Scent ($4.00 for 1 ml, $90.00 for 50 ml) SIGIL SCENT loads every bottle of their unisex fragrance formulas with pure flower and plant essences and are made without phthalates, parabens, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance or propylene glycol.

Visit SIGIL SCENT at http://www.sigilscent.com/ to find out more about these products and use promo code “ECOMOM30” to get 30% off. 

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All Good Lemongrass Coconut Oil Skinfood ($14.99 for 7.5 oz glass jar) Born from Elemental Herbs, All Good offers a diverse line of organically grown, plant-based formulas that smell good, feel good, and are practical and useful for everyday needs. From skin repair and lip care to sun protection and fast pain relief, the products’ ingredients stay true to the company’s roots by always putting the planet first. I have extremely dry skin so when I received this I put it all over and saw an immediate difference in my skin. It smells amazing too! I will be purchasing more of this product.

To find out how you can get your own All Good products, visit http://www.elementalherbs.com/ and use promo code “ECOMOM25” for 25% off.

LEAP Organics Orange Blossom Lip Balm ($3.49 for 1 lip balm) LEAP Organics is a sustainable, certified organic soap and skincare company based in Boston. All of the company’s products are cruelty-free and the lip balm smells unbelievably good! Their lip balms are made with organic coconut oil and shea butter. In fact, 100% of their products are certified to USDA organic standards.

To find out more about LEAP Organics, visit http://www.leaporganics.com/ and use promo code “LOVE20” to receive 20% off your order.

1% For the Planet is a global movement of companies donating at least 1% of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. To find out more, visit http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/.

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Disclosure: I am a part of the Ecocentric Mom Blogger Team and receive monthly subscription boxes for review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Affiliate links appear in this post.

 

As part of my partnership with Ecocentric Mom, I receive one of their amazing monthly subscription boxes for review.Ecocentric Mom Box

This is how it works: 

Ecocentric Mom is a natural/green health/home/beauty product discovery subscription service that gives you three different box options: Mom-to-be, Baby Box, or Mom Box. Boxes ship monthly. Ecocentric Mom works hard to pack the very best of the best in each and every box… and they deliver (pun intended)!

The January Mom Discovery Box is full of products I would never have discovered on my own. The items this month were selected with the theme of getting a fresh start for the New Year. Getting an Ecocentric Mom box each month has been great way for me to learn about healthier products that reduce the amount of toxins in our home.

Here’s a look at the great products I received this month and I’ve also included some discount codes that you can use:

ACURE Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes ($6.99 for 50 ct.) ACURE was founded on sustainable principles and reasonable pricing to steer people away from toxic chemicals, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice health for beautiful skin and hair. These cleansing towelettes gently remove makeup, dirt, sweat and environmental toxins. They are easy to throw in a bag when you’re on the go and they really work.

IMG_0191Visit http://www.acureorganics.com/ to find out more about ACURE products and use the promo code “ECOMOM20” for 20% off your order and get free shipping on any order of $25 or more.

Rustic MAKA’s Calming Fields Pachy Deodorant (travel size $7.95) This deodorant smells like heaven and really works! I am seriously in love. My plan was to let my tween daughter test this product but I couldn’t stop myself from trying it first because it smelled so amazing. Don’t worry, I will be buying one for her because… it really works! I am even going to pick up one for my husband to try, he is very stubborn about his deodorants so I am continuously trying to find something healthier for him that he’ll actually use.  Each Rustic MAKA’s deodorant is carefully formulated with rich, organic plant-based oils and butters, along with pure powders and plant extracts. They DO NOT contain aluminum, parabens, synthetic fragrances or propylene-glycol.

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Go find out where you can get your hands on this product, visit http://www.rusticmaka.com/ and use promo code “EcoMom15” for a 15% discount. I’ll see you there!

Simply Earth Natural Air and Fabric Freshener ($6 for 2.5 oz.) This product is literally a life saver. Simply Earth gives 13% of the profits to human trafficking victims. The air and fabric freshener uses a natural odor eliminator that actually traps the odors and essential oils to make your home and clothes smell amazing. I put it to the ultimate test. My oldest daughter’s cheer team put on a cheer fun night for the younger kids. The fun included learning a few cheers, a pizza party and so on. My husband and I volunteered to pick up the 32 pizzas needed for the evening. We got the pizzas, dropped them off and quickly discovered that, although the pizzas had left the car, the strong pizza smell was remaining. Thankfully, I had Simply Earth’s Natural Air and Fabric Freshener and I used it to deodorize the car… and it really worked!

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Check out http://simplyearth.com/ to find out more about this amazing company. When you’re there use promo code “EcoMom” for 10% off your purchase.IMG_0194

 

Tangie Stain Remover Bar ($5.00 for 3 oz.) This natural stain remover is made with coconut oil, grapeseed oil, soap nuts liquid, oxalic acid, sea salt, citric acid, lemon essential oil and love. This product is tough on stains but gentle on the environment. My youngest daughter loves to wear ballet pink but loves to play tag, football, basketball, soccer, etc. at recess. This results in stains every day so this product has been vigorously tested and has passed with flying colors.

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Visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/ilovetangie to find out more and check out their other great products. Use “Ecomomships” for free shipping and free Laundry Past (up to 12 loads) with purchase.

Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets ($6.99 for 25 ct.) I already use this product and love it so I gave this sample to a friend for her to try. The whole Ecover product line is amazing and they have fragrance-free products as well. Ecover has been a pioneer in plant-based cleaning products for more than 30 years. 

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To find out more about Ecover and find a store in your area that carries these products, visit http://us.ecover.com/.

ENLIGHTENED Crisps – Roasted Broad Beans ($1.50 for 1 oz.) OH. MY. GOODNESS. These crisps are delicious!! ENLIGHTENED Crisps are lightly roasted in sunflower oil, sprinkled with sea salt and seasoned to perfection. They only have 100 calories per serving, are certified vegan, gluten free, non-GMO Project verified, OU kosher and wheat free. And have I mentioned they are SO yummy?! My eight year old talked me into letting her try some and she loved them too. This would be a perfect snack to have in my bag for all those times when people get a little cranky because they need some protein (7 grams per serving).

IMG_0196If you live in the San Francisco area, you can run out to the store right now and pick up this delicious snack, if not, visit http://www.eatenlightened.com/to purchase the crisps online.

Sweater Stone ($8.99 one stone) I love this product not only because it really does remove the pills from my favorite sweaters but because this product is made utilizing the Seattle areas sheltered workshops. In case you don’t know, sheltered workshops are places that provide opportunities for increased independence and self sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.

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Visit http://www.sweaterstone.com/ to find out where you can purchase your own Sweater Stone and make a difference in the life of someone else (along with extending the life of your favorite sweaters). 

Disclosure: I am a part of the Ecocentric Mom Blogger Team and receive monthly subscription boxes for review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Affiliate links appear in this post.

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