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Green Toy Safety Backfire?

By Linda Brown-Kuhn
November 24, 2009
File under: Health, holidays, Product Safety, Toys


The mad rush for holiday toy shopping is on. This can be tricky territory for the health and eco-conscious parent. And now a new law designed to improve toy safety may end up reducing eco-friendly toy choices.

The Scoop

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) sets mandatory safety standards for toys, clothes, and other items used by kids 12 years and younger. Toy manufacturers will have to test their toys to prove they are safe.

There clearly are issues with toy safety …read more of Green Toy Safety Backfire? here

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Free Play for Healthy Kids

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
March 15, 2009
File under: Family Time, Health, Toys


It didn’t take much to persuade me that letting kids play is one of the great joys of parenthood. I’ve been known to send mine outside to “shovel” snow to earn their hot cocoa.

Most days, our living room couch forms the walls of a space shuttle or bear cave or restaurant I am privileged to patronize.

Then I stumbled upon a wonderful story in Scientific American that linked several studies that support the simple, retro child-rearing theory: Kids NEED to play freely. …read more of Free Play for Healthy Kids here

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Make it: Valentines

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
February 10, 2009
File under: Eco-Friendly Merchants, Family Time, Food, holidays, Toys


Valentine’s Day has felt, for a long time, like a holiday made for merchandising. The pressure to buy a bit of happiness can be overwhelming. How do you convey your feelings for your family in a thing? Or a card? Or a Whitman’s Sampler?

Take heart. Natural gifts and simple, handmade Valentines will delight your little ones and remind them that love is worth celebrating—for far more than a day.

For the time-pressed, buying a well-made toy or useful gift beats disposable card store decorations every time. French toymaker Vilac makes a hemp jump rope with sweet painted heart handles that will stand up to years of active play. …read more of Make it: Valentines here

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Clearing out for Christmas

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
December 22, 2008
File under: Family Time, holidays, Toys


Gingerbread baked? Check. Cards mailed? Check. Presents wrapped? Almost… Now, all that’s left to do in preparation for the magic of Christmas is to make room for it. Sharing what toys, clothes or other belongings you no longer need or love is an easy way to make your holiday more sustainable—in every way. Imagine your little ones’ joy to find room in your living room to actually play with the wooden kitchen they’ve been pining over for more than a year. That means less for you to trip over, too.

In their utterly useful little book, Green Christmas, Jennifer Basye Sander, Peter Sander, and Anne Basye, reminded me of a few great goals for gift-giving (and life, now that I think of it). …read more of Clearing out for Christmas here

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Great Sources for Natural Toys

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
December 9, 2008
File under: Eco-Friendly Merchants, Toys


Ask your parents, and they’ll no doubt tell you that your favorite toy during your first holidays at home were the boxes strewn across the room after the melee of Christmas morning had cleared. Your young children are no different. Bells, whistles and (gasp!) batteries, even, needn’t ruin your homespun holiday. Instead, think: Simple. Natural. Heirlooms. They’ll be around long after you’ve recycled the boxes.

I have two young boys, and I’ve been sourcing the best outlets for great natural toys, tools and gear for the past five years. Lately, I’m enamored with Etsy, the online home of artisans who sell their well-priced handmade wares directly to you (just search for what you seek).

Below, though, is my tried-and-true toy team, the group whose catalogs I send to the grandparents to spark their imaginations. They’re all independently or family-run businesses that believe deeply in simple living, parenting and play. Visit them often, and tell them I sent you.

Visit Three Sisters Toys for a good explanation of …read more of Great Sources for Natural Toys here

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Stay current on easy ways to parent green, keep children entertained and active, plus ideas on how to raise your children in a healthier environment. Get parenting advice and exchange stories.

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