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Eco Friendly Parenting

November 16th, 2008

Article by Bridgette Barrett

Though they may be small, babies and children cost their parents a vast amount of money – on average, over £180,000 on each child until the age of 18. About £1,500 is spent before a child is born, with companies specifically targeting parents-to-be. However, many of the products aimed at babies can have a negative impact on the environment. For example, disposable nappies, plastic toys and mass-produced clothes can all have detrimental effects on the environment as a result of their production and/or disposal. By shopping around and planning your purchases, it is possible to choose products for your babies and children that are both eco-friendly, high quality and in the long run may save you money.

Eco-friendly parenting means choosing products that are longer-lasting, recyclable (or already recycled), and are produced from sustainable and renewable sources. Although this may seem hard at first, there are many sources of information out there to help you, including websites like The Green Parent and many forums such as on the Bounty website .

So how can you adopt eco-friendly parenting? Reusable nappies are increasingly popular, with over 15% of parents now using them. There are many fantastic sites selling and giving advice on reusable nappies, such as Plushpants, Totsbots and Lollipop. Not only are there many wonderful designs to choose from, but using reusable nappies will save you on average £500 per child, and you won’t be adding to the one million tonnes of nappy waste put into landfill each year.

Buying organic, fair trade or second hand clothing is also eco-friendly. Retailers such as Green Baby and Arabella Miller sell a lovely range of clothes. Although they can be a little more expensive in the short-term, fair-trade and organic clothing is made from higher quality materials, so is likely to last longer and can be passed on to other children. They also contain no chemicals and are less likely to cause skin irritations.

The food which you buy for your children can also have an impact on the environment. Buying organic, Fairtrade, unprocessed and ideally local food, perhaps from your nearest farmers market, can reduce your food miles and support your local community. In today’s difficult economic climate, many families have also started to grow their own vegetables. It’s amazing what you can grow even in the smallest space, reducing cost and ensuring you know exactly where your food has come from. For advice on growing your own food, there are many sites you can visit: one of the best is Garden Organic.

Another of the main expenses for children is their toys. Here at Great Green Toys we aim to provide affordable, quality toys that are also eco-friendly. The toys are all made from sustainable resources and there is also a selection of Fair-trade toys. We believe that our toys are made to withstand the bumps and crashes that they will endure. This means that rather being broken within a couple of days – as many plastic toys are – our toys will give your children pleasure for many years.

Eco-parenting choices may seem difficult at first, particularly when money is tight. With careful planning though, you’ll soon see that by making the environmentally-friendly choices, you can get better food, toys, and clothes for your family, and may even save money in the long run.

Eco-Friendly Baby Toys

October 31st, 2008

At no other time in our lives are we more aware of our impact on the environment than when we first have children. Perhaps it is the realisation that our children will have to live with the results of the choices we make regarding the environment. Whatever the reason, by choosing eco-friendly alternatives to your usual purchases, you can make a choice that is better for the environment and perhaps for your child. If you need advice and ideas about making eco-friendly choices there are many websites available such as Babycentre and The Green Parent.

One change that you can easily make is buying eco-friendly toys. So what makes a toy eco-friendly? As a general term it means that the toy causes the minimum harm to the environment, whether it is made from renewable or sustainable resources, whether it is fairly traded or made from recycled materials - it can be one or all of these things.

At Great Green Toys, we love environmentally friendly baby toys and have selected some of the best from a range of manufacturers. They are all high quality, durable products made from renewable and sustainable resources that will be enjoyed and passed on, rather than being thrown away. The products are all ethically produced, painted using non-toxic, preservative-free paint and meet EU standards.

One such manufacturer is ‘I’m Toy’ who make the very cute twisty butterfly and twisty puppy, as well as Tricksy Turtle. These toys with their bright colours and tactile fabrics are ideal for stimulating and developing your baby’s hand-to-eye co-ordination.

There are also the many toys made by Pintoy, whose products are made from rubberwood. The wood comes from trees that have finished producing latex. Once cut down, the trees are replaced and so the wood is both a renewable and sustainable resource. If you are looking for a first rattle there are some lovely ones to choose from, such as the Pintoy Smile Rattle or Geo rattles. Babies love the tactile surface of the wood and their movements are rewarded by a lovely tinkling bell.

As well as wooden toys, there is the Kenana Knitters range. These lovely knitted animals are fairly traded and made from local wool by a group of women in Kenya.

Our lifestyle choices as parents have a great influence on our children so if you would like to foster a sense of ‘shopping with a conscious’ in your children, help minimise your impact on the environment and buy beautiful, long-lasting toys, why not start them off young and have a look at our range of baby toys at Great Green Toys?

Article by Bridgette Barrett

 

Make a statement by giving your children Fair Trade toys

October 30th, 2008

Fairtrade is something that most people are now familiar with and this is reflected in the 55% increase in sales of fair trade products over the last year. Many of us make a conscious effort in our food shopping to buy fair trade products – particularly coffee, tea and chocolate – in the hope that by doing so producers receive a fair price for their product.

The fairtrade mark that we are all familiar with was set up in 1992 by the Fair Trade Foundation, although the history of paying a fair price for products goes back to the 1960s, it didn’t become part of popular culture until the late 1980’s. As a supplier of eco-friendly toys, Great Green Toys supports the fair trade movement as the fair trade toymakers ensure that workers receive a fair price for the goods they make.

Fair trade also helps communities plan for the future by guaranteeing an income to each worker and helping to provide clean and safe working environments as well as fostering social and environmental projects.

Many toys that you pick up from the shelves in the high streets are manufactured in countries where there are no guarantees regarding working conditions and fair wages. Buying Fairtrade does not mean compromising on style or quality in fact just the opposite. Here at Great Green Toys, we are proud to sell a range of toys to help promote fair trade as an alternative to the mass-produced toys on the High Street.

Set up in 1998 to help rural women in Kenya, the Kenana Knitters range is a particular favourite of ours. The wool, which comes in shades of brown, cream and grey, is produced locally, bought by the group and then knitted into these wonderful soft toy animals. The money earned by the group goes directly to the women who are then able to improve their quality of life and that of their families. Each of the toys is handmade and no two are alike, making them a unique gift. They all bear the CE mark, and come with information about the Kenana Knitters project and the woman who made it.

Another option is the beautiful range of wooden products from ‘Wood Like To Play’. All of the toys from this range are handcrafted in Sri Lanka from sustainable wood sources. Our favourite wooden jigsaw is the beautifully crafted butterfly puzzle and the popular tractor puzzle. As well as being educational, they will look fantastic in any child’s bedroom or playroom.

So why not make a statement and buy Fairtrade toys this Christmas. Not only will they look beautiful, give excellent play value and last longer than many plastic toys, but they will also help the producers and their communities by paying them a fair price for their products.

Article by Bridgette Barrett

Interesting Numbers relating to meat

September 9th, 2008

These interesting figures were in the Guardian today

82g The amount of protein the average Briton eats daily, of which 50g is meat, the equivalent of a chicken breast and lamb chop. The figure is relatively low for a developed country, but higher than developing nations and 25-50 per cent above the World Health Organisation recommendation.

8 The number of beef cattle we eat over an average lifetime. We also consume 36 sheep, 36 pigs and 550 poultry birds. Britons’ meat consumption is now 50 per cent higher than it was 40 years ago.

500lb The amount of meat that is produced by the average cow.

1m tonnes The amount of beef we consume as a nation each year, along with 1.3 million tonnes of pork and bacon and 1.8 million tonnes of poultry.

990 litres The amount of water that is required to produce one litre of milk.

100kg The amount of methane emitted by the average cow every year. Methane is a greenhouse gas with an effect 23 times greater than carbon dioxide, so this is equal to 2,300 kgs per year, or almost the same as two return flights between London and New York, or driving 7,800 miles.

1.5 billion The estimated number of cows and bulls worldwide. They produce two-thirds of the world’s ammonia, which is the principal cause of acid rain.

7lb The amount of grain it takes to produce just one pound of beef.

36.4kg The amount of carbon dioxide emitted during the production of just 1kg of beef, according to a recent Japanese study. It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to: 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grammes of phosphate. It consumes 169 megajoules of energy. In other words, one kilo of beef is responsible for the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, or the energy required to light a 100 watt bulb fo 20 days.

1kg The amount of carbon dioxide needed to produce one burger in a fast-food restaurant.

456 million The amount, in tonnes, of global meat production forecast for 2050 - almost double that of 2001. Half of the world’s pork is now eaten in China, while Brazil is the second largest consumer of beef, after the United States of America.

I find this fascinating.

I am not a veggie, but this kind of stuff makes me eat less meat….

Source

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint…!

August 23rd, 2008

According to CarbonFootprint.com,

“a Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.” Add up everything you do that uses carbon - that’s your carbon footprint.”

We should all try to reduce our carbon footprint.

Here are some tips to make a start with:

Sign up to a green energy supplier (an supplier that generates power from renewable sources)

Turn down the heat in winter (make your house cooler)

Use florescent light bulbs - they last longer, save money and use less energy.

RECYCLE! You really should be doing this by now.

Plant a tree.

Bristol named first cycling city

June 19th, 2008

Bristol is a great city.

I lived and cycled there for a number of years.

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You needed to utilise a certain amount of aggression however to survive as a cyclist ! !

I hope that this green initiative to double the number of cyclists over the next three years works

Source on BBC

Microgeneration - Power from the people !

June 18th, 2008

“British buildings equipped with solar panels, mini wind turbines and other renewable energy sources could generate as much electricity a year as five nuclear power stations, a government-backed industry report has shown.”

Source

Environmentally Unfriendly Toys for Teenagers

June 11th, 2008

We sell some brilliant ‘green’ toys for pre-schoolers at Great Green Toys but we’re wondering just how eco-friendly the toys our teenagers are playing with, are in 2008. Are the toys for big kids getting greener? Well, it seems not, as Greenpeace has said this month that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are not doing enough to get rid of potentially harmful chemicals and metals from their games consoles.
Greenepeace examined materials used inside the Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3), Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii and said that while all three machines complied with European laws, the consoles still contained harmful materials that “needed to be replaced”. Nintendo in particular, was slated by International Toxic Campaign co-ordinator Zeina Al-Hajj “Nintendo doesn’t have any environmental policies,we were shocked with Nintendo; it was our biggest surprise”

The report found that the PS3 and 360 both contained “very high” levels of chemicals, called phthalates, which are used to “soften” flexible materials like wires and cable coatings and Greenpeace is urging all technology firms to take immediate action to eliminate toxic chemicals from products.

These phthalates are not permitted in toys sold in the UK and Europe but apparently under EU regulations games consoles are not classed as toys. Al-Hajj said: “For us this is still a toy – and whether or not it’s a toy, we do not want these chemicals in our products.”

A Nintendo spokesman said “In order to ensure our products are safe for use by young children we also take into consideration the standards applicable to toys.”

You can see the full article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7407934.stm

Ecotowns Causing a Stir and Flooded Coastlines To Be Saved

May 28th, 2008

There are lots of green issues in the news this week like the legal challenge to the government’s ecotown proposals and Environment Agency plans for a 100 year plan to protect the south coast from flooding.
Campaigning group ‘Bard’ will challenge the government’s 6,000-home development at the village of Middle Quinton, which is about six miles from Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. Bard, which stands for Better Accessible Responsible Development, believes there was no consultation about Gordon Brown’s intentions to create ten ecotowns across the UK.
The campaigning group also feel that there was no information provided to the public about the plans at Middle Quinton in particular, nor why it was selected in the first place. The ecotown at Middle Quinton is to be built on a former Ministry of Defence engineers depot.
The group who have support from high profile actors Dame Judi Dench and John Nettles say the government has not abided by the Aarhus Convention, a 1998 United Nations agreement which requires public participation in drawing up policies affecting the environment.

Also in the news this week is a century-long plan to protect part of the south coast from flooding. The proposals from the Environment Agency outline how the flood risk from Folkestone, Kent, to Cliff End at Rye, East Sussex, could be managed over the next 100 years. Apparently, the “vulnerable and changing coastline” is thought to be one of the largest areas at risk in Southern England. Flooding and coastal erosion are expected to increase with climate changes and rising sea levels.

The report states that more than 13,500 homes could be permanently flooded or impossible to access, more than 1,100 homes could be lost due to cliff erosion and 25,000 hectares of agricultural land could be flooded

Zero-carbon Home

March 1st, 2008

Delegates attending a conference and exhibition on green building this week had the chance to see what manufacturers are calling the UK’s first commercially viable, affordable and ready to purchase zero-carbon home.

Full Story

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