Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GIVEAWAY: No more wire hanger...bags!

As we continue to honor No Plastic Day, we are teaming up with The Green Garmento in an effort to do away with plastic dry cleaning bags! One area that we rarely consider when thinking of our use of plastic is our dry cleaning. We drop off our pile of clothing and when we return, it's neatly cleaned, pressed, and ready to go...in a HUGE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAG! And what do we all do with the bag? Throw it away, of course. It's not even like the grocery bags that can be reused as trash can liners or handy carrying cases (maybe that's just me).

A solution to this problem has been created by The Green Garmento. This eco-friendly bag offers you the option of tossing your dirty dry-clean-only clothes into a hamper, taking the full hamper to the dry cleaners, and receiving your cleaned clothes and bag in one neat bundle! At the dry cleaners, simply request your clothes be put into your bag "naked", and you're all set! "NO MORE WIRE...," well, no more single-use plastic bags!

As an additional bonus, this bag is not limited to being used for dry cleaning. It makes a great laundry bag for traveling, as it folds neatly and can be stuffed into a suitcase. It lends itself to many different uses. Please visit their site for detailed information on the bags.

The Green Garmento has graciously created on offer just for our community! From now until August 1, 2010, they are offering FREE SHIPPING within the continental US on any purchases made using the code JADE upon checkout.  The bag makes a great gift to those who find themselves in the dry cleaners often. My husband loves his!





Enter for a chance to win a Green Garmento Bag!

Here is how you enter:
  • First, visit the Facebook fanpage of A Hint of Jade and become a fan. 
  • Then, check out The Green Garmento website, browse through the SHOP tab, then return to this post and leave a comment below sharing your favorite bag color and function for use. Be sure to leave your info under the NAME/URL tab when commenting (enter your e-mail address for in the URL space) so you can be contacted if you are a winner!
  • BONUS ENTRY: Send a Facebook friend request to The Green Garmento and leave an additional comment sharing that you've done so. All additional entries will be verified to be considered.
  • If the Facebook fanpage for A Hint of Jade reaches 200 members before the end of the giveaway, there will be TWO additional winners! So spread the word to your friends and family to increase the number of prizes!
The giveaway starts today and runs through, Monday, June 14, 2010 at 11:59pm CST (giveaway has ended). The winner will be selected using Random.org. Good luck!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DEE AND MELANIE, OUR WINNERS!
(The Green Garmento shared two bags with our community and we thank them!)

Honoring NO PLASTIC DAY!

Today is No Plastic Day worldwide! I hope that you'll take a minute to think about how you can lessen the amount of plastic that lands in our landfills and oceans. If possible, try a few of these simple solutions:
  • CLOTH BAGS: use cloth bags instead of plastic or paper when you shop (of course paper is better than plastic if you must chose). You can take them to the grocery store, the clothing store, the shoe store, etc. Anywhere you might need to carry your purchase. It's a one time, very affordable purchase that makes a huge difference.
  • NO MORE BOTTLED WATER! These days, you can purchase a stainless steel reusable bottle for the same price (and sometimes less than) the price of a case of water! If you don't have a water filter at home, purchase a filter pitcher and you've got a one-time purchase water bottle. It's the same convenience as the plastic bottle if you plan ahead and stainless steel will keep your beverage cold longer.
  • RECYCLE! OK, so I know it's unrealistic to think that we'll NEVER use anything plastic again in our lifetime. However, if we must, than we MUST recycle. These days, almost every community provides curbside recycling on trash days or the city provides recycling stations to drop off your reusable goods. Of course, with regards to recycling, this is definitely not limited to plastic. Contact your city to see what goods are collected. You'll be amazed at how little trash you accumulate when you're maintaining a recycling bin.
If you have any other suggestions as to ways to limit our use of plastic, please leave a comment. You can also visit the No Plastic Day website.

This community can do so much if we share our secrets. Remember, every little bit counts!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Exchange Kids Clothing....Nationally!

If you're like me, you probably have a ton of clothes, in great condition no less, that your little one has outgrown. I had a garage sale this past weekend to get rid of a few. But for the remaining mound, I was so excited to find an option to exchange them for sizes we need!

thredUP is a place for busy parents to exchange the clothes that are too small for the little ones for clothes in the right sizes! Here's how it works:
  •  Join their website with a small community of friends
  • PICK: You'll then be able to search through the listed boxes of clothing for exactly what you need. You're able to search by size, season, gender and/or brand.
  • PAY: to receive your box, you'll pay a flat fee of $13 and it will be sent directly to you home.
  • PREPARE: Request a FREE box from the United States Postal Service to prepare a box of your child's clothes that you'd like to add to the exchange. Your carrier will bring it to your home. Then, just pack it and post it on the site for someone to pick!
  • SEND: When someone picks your box, you send it to them. They pay shipping (that's where the $13 come in). You can schedule a pick up from the post office again if you'd like.
There's a one-to-one exchange rate: you get a package, you send a package. I think this is brilliant! It's much easier than organizing a garage sale, it's much more affordable than many other clothing options...it's a win-win.

Right now, the site is accessible by invitation only, so they have created an invitation link for our community! You can log on, look around, and see if this is something your family could benefit from. The invitation is open from now until July 1, 2010, so spread the word to any parents you think might be interested. ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More than a baby boutique...

During my time as a mom, I have come to find many wonderful online boutiques that meet the needs of our little ones. All of them have cute products that would make our lives easier and our little ones cute as a button. I must say, however, that I feel I have hit the jackpot and I can't hold it to myself!!! I've found the PERFECT  ONLINE BOUTIQUE!

Mom 4 Life is a one-of-a-kind shop that carries wonderful products that every parents needs for their family. They have the bases covered, whether it be to fit the needs of a first time parent or the parents of school-aged children. All of their products are invented by moms. Yes, you read correctly! Many of the mom inventors were sitting at home like you and I and saw a need.  They developed their idea into a product and here it is, ready for us to snag! They carry many of the items found in big box stores as well. You're able to get the same products, plus a larger, unique selection, without leaving your couch. On top of that, they offer FREE shipping! You can't beat it! Sign up for their newsletter and you'll get all of the info on the weekly deals and giveaways!

As far as customer service, the owner and team at Mom 4 Life is like no other! They are moms that run the boutique very efficiently and with such grace. I must say that I plan to shop here for all of my baby needs! The owner, Heather, also has a blog, which is so moving and heartfelt. She shares so many touching stories about moms she is blessed to meet and personal stories from her own life. As I read her blog, I can see God using her to change lives. Her transparency seems therapeutic to so many. It's rare that you see Christ so vividly in a business owner, but it's clear that she is doing a work greater than herself.

This company has the right idea. It's not just about making money; it's about changing lives. My life has definitely been changed by Mom 4 Life. Check them out!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Eco-friendly Potty?!

Potty training is an area that I felt wouldn't offer many options when it came to finding something comfortable, functional, end earth friendly. I knew we would be using our Nature Babycare pull-ups and other reusable training pants, but I assumed that the potty would be either wooden or the regular plastic ones we've all come to know. I was a bit mistaken! When it came time to start our journey to diaper freedom, I searched high and low for options that provided all that we'd need to be successful. A budget friendly option was a must as well.

On our quest, we came across a newly developed product line by the company Safety 1st. Many of you have probably heard of this company for their car seats, walkers, and other baby gear. The company recently started a line called Nature Next. I must say, I'm pleased with the findings.

Nature Next's Bio-Plastic 3-in-1 Potty has been working well for us. It is made out of bio-plastic (as the product name informs). Bio-plastic can be made in different ways, but the main benefit is that the production of the product uses renewable resources instead of fossil fuels. This product is made of 50% bio-plastic. Another great thing is that the factory that produces them is a zero landfill facility! They reuse over 99% of their plastic production waste.

We started using the potty a few weeks ago and my son is getting the hang of this potty thing! For the other boys out there, this potty has a smaller than desired deflector shield, but it, honestly, hasn't been a problem. I remind him to pay attention to it as he pees and we are good to go. It's even less of an issue when we use the removable seat and place in on the large toilet.  I love that after he's finished his business, we are able to use the potty as a step stool. He loves it too! So far, so good for us!

Nature Next offers many other eco-friendly options for our baby and toddler needs. Some other products include infant tubs, step stools, and booster seats. I applaud this company for taking a step in the right direction. For parents like me that are mindful of our earth impact, it helps me breath easier to support such efforts.  Every little bit counts, right?!





Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great Diaper Debate

Cloth or disposable? Which should it be?!

There are pros and cons to both options. With disposables, you can go for a "change it and forget it" approach. They are definitely affordable for most of us as well. The main drawback for many is that they are one of the largest contributors to landfills in the country, taking hundreds of years to even begin to break down. This made them "not so hot" in my book. Cloth diapers are 100% reusable, leaving nothing behind in the landfills. However, they are definitely NOT a "change it and forget it" option. You must chose how you will store them once they are soiled. I have yet to come across anyone that washes each diaper after every change, but the fact remains that serious sanitation is a MUST! They are also not the most convenient when it comes to "dirty" pants, especially when the family is out and about. Many a mother has found herself rinsing out a cloth diapers in the mall restroom toilet. The thought of this was all I needed to walk away from this option. My hand in a public toilet? Yeah. Not gonna happen.

In true "Jade" fashion, we embarked upon the journey to find a diaper that would satisfy both me and my husband. Needless to say, it was very long and arduous. We each had different non-negotiables. I wanted an eco-friendly option that didn't call for toilet dipping and my husband wanted a simple diaper that could be tossed when it was dirty. It took lots of digging,  but JACKPOT, I've found two options we can both handle!

 gDiapers came into our lives at the perfect time! This small, but fast-growing, company was started by a husband and wife team that saw the need for an option of diapering for our every-changing lifestyles.  gDiapers describe themselves as a hybrid between cloth and disposable. The diaper consists of an outer cloth gPant (which are very fashionable, might I add), an inner removable plastic liner, and a disposable insert. They allow you the option of changing a diaper and throwing it away when you finish, knowing that it won't sit at the city dump for years to come. The inserts actually breaks down in as little as 60 days. They can be flushed if you want them to dissolve immediately. The wet inserts can also be composted. As far as cons go, from time to time, you'll have a "stinky situation" when you baby has a stinky diaper. If the stool is soft, it can spill into the plastic liner, which will then need to be washed and changed. But fixing this issue takes all of sixty seconds, and you're back in business. Honestly, I've had a few "stinky situations" with traditional disposables, so this wasn't a major con for me. One other issue is that they are a bit more of an initial investment to have enough to use them full-time. But they've developed a few packages and programs to get you started without breaking your budget. It's my favorite diaper we've found, hands down, and the one we use full-time.

Our other staple is a brand called Nature Babycare. These diapers were developed in Sweden by a mom who, simply, cares about the environment. She started her small company and it continues to grow, reaching all across the world. This option was appealing because at first glance, it looks and functions exactly like the disposables we've all come to know. The difference is that they are made from natural and biodegradable materials. They are also continuously evaluating their design and materials to be sure they are moving closer and closer to being 100% biodegradable and natural. For our family, this has been a great alternative to the traditional disposable. I can breath a little easier when we are traveling, at church, or anywhere else where we need to toss and forget it. Nature Babycare also has a wonderful line of eco-friendly baby wipes, and as we approach potty training time, they have flushable wipes and pull-ups. A great find!

In my search over the years, these have been the best options I have come across in the US. I hope that both gDiapers and Nature Babycare can help you breath a bit easier, knowing that we aren't making a mess of our earth. Every little bit helps! And as you can see from the picture, our guy doesn't mind one bit!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mmmm....GRANOLA!

So lately, I've been looking for ways to eat yummy things that are both tasty and healthy. I stumbled across this recipe online and have been changing it up for my family. It's been a hit! Here it is for you.

4 cups oats (can be oatmeal or any combination of grains)
1/3 cup flax seed or flax seed mill (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter
4 tsp vanilla

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
*Combine oats/grains, flax, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
*In a small saucepan, melt butter and honey or agave nectar. (Tip, if you spray your measuring cup with oil before pouring honey, it will slide out) Once melted, remove from heat and immediately add vanilla to liquid mixture.
*Combine wet and dry mixture, mixing thoroughly, making sure all is coated well. Spread on an oiled cookie sheet.
*Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool and enjoy! Store uneaten portion in a sealed container.

The complete recipe can be found at http://www.grouprecipes.com/423/oatmeal-cookie-granola.html.

My family LOVES it! You can add dried fruit, nuts, etc. Our favorite way to enjoy it is to eat it with yogurt and blueberries. Yummy!
 

Friday, February 5, 2010

let's get started...

Where do I begin? Well, I have been a woman that is interested in living a healthy life that offers the least amount of impact on the earth. Over the past years, however, I've become more aware that the choices that are most easily available to us aren't always the best choices for us. Two years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child into the family. This triggered a need within me for better understanding of the products we were using in our home. I have always been mindful of the food that we eat as a family. Having gained the responsibility to now shape the world of someone, I realized that I could do so much more to be sure I wasn't exposing him to harmful chemicals in our food, soap, lotion, and other household products.

Here's where it gets interesting. After the birth of our son, I started feeling guilty about the amount of disposable diapers that we were using. I knew that they do nothing but sit in our landfills, literally sinking up the place. I, previously, found soaps and lotions that were natural and contained no harmful chemicals and really felt a since of relief, knowing I was beginning an effort to keep my baby healthy and our water supply clean. So I decided to look into what other products that were out there. I wasn't going to fool myself. My husband is a wonderful man, but eco-friendly living isn't something that's ever been on his radar. He isn't one who really thinks about nature or the earth. His only concern on the topic is that we keep our home free of any "roommates" that were meant to live outside. So as I begun my search, I automatically knew that cloth diapers would not be an option. If I ever wanted help with changing diapers, I needed to have something more creative. I also came upon information that there are chemicals in the most popular soaps and lotions that can be harmful to our bodies, potentially causing a number of health concerns in the future for our baby. I had already started the process of transitioning our family to a diet that included no processed foods, full of whole grains, and that would nourish our bodies in their most natural state.

As I dug deeper into the process, I struggled to find products that were easily attainable and would allow us to come together as parents to feel we were both making the best choices for our little guy. I must say, this was a difficult process! As I discovered some new products, some were "over the top" in my husband's eyes and others weren't natural and gentle enough for my comfort. As I discussed our situation with my girlfriends, no one was able to relate to my need to be creative with my approach to green living. Most of the people I spoke to either has full support of the effort from their spouse or they simply didn't have green living on their list of things to do.

So here I am. I've come to find an alternative approach that allows for simplistic changes in a household that allow for the same lifestyle that we all have come accustom to. I totally understand that each of us finds passion in different areas, but when it comes to being gentle to ourselves and our earth, we either choose to make changes, or we choose to ignore it. I've chosen to make creative additions to our household in all areas and I continue to search high and low for ways to maintain a green lifestyle with a twist of our traditional conveniences. The best part is that, generally, my husband hasn't even noticed a difference!

And thus, A Hint of Jade. It's not our traditional method of green living. We are developing an alternative approach to creating a eco-friendly household when to traditional approach doesn't fit our family. I've started this blog because I'm sure I'm not alone on this journey. I hope to offer an outlet, open discussions, and create a community where we can come together and share our great finds. In the end, I hope for a peaceful, healthy household and a flourishing earth. We can do this! Who's with me?!