The Berry Berry Designer Bags: Stylish Sustainable, Ethical Fashion

Have you heard of The Berry Berry designer bags yet? If not, you should have done! This ethical fashion brand was set up in 2014 by Lucia Jombikova;  she has developed a range of seven gorgeous bags out of fabric offcuts, reclaimed clothes and even upcycled magazines and sweet wrappers. Her bags come in a range of sizes from a small clutch bag and mini clutch purses to large tote bags and messengers, including one perfect for men. Each bag is unique and ethically made by a team of mumpreneurs.

Messenger bag. Girl and boy sat on wall next to river. Both have a bag

Protecting our Environment

In the UK alone, there are 1.3 million tonnes of textile waste each year, and in Europe 4.3 million tonnes. Fast fashion is an ongoing problem, but there is a much needed rise in sustainable and ethical fashion developing as consumers begin to increase awareness of this issue. The Berry Berry helps to tackle this; for every two handbags made, one kg of textile waste is saved from landfills.

Dominka Berry Berry Bag

Giving Back

For every five bags sold, The Berry Berry donates a bag filled with female essentials to Project Purse, a NGO who distribute them to homeless women, women in refuges and those who need assistance.

Lucia says: “it was important to me to create an ethical handbag range, as I found only either good looking but expensive handbags or cheaper, non-ethically made handbags. There was a definite gap in the market which now I hope we, at The Berry Berry can close so that women don’t need to compromise style, cost or the environment and no one needs to suffer in the making of the handbag. Women can wear our handbags with pride knowing they’ve empowered other women, the mumpreneurs I employ to sew and make the bags and those other women at Project Purse who also benefit from them purchasing one of our handbags”.

Justina Bow Bags. 3 bags on wall next to water

Kickstarter Campaign

The Berry Berry is running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund the larger scale production of their first batch of bags. The campaign aims to raise a minimum of £10,000 and, in return for your support, you will receive your chosen handbag in time for Christmas. To buy a bag and support the campaign please back them on Kickstarter before 24th October.

Types and names of The Berry Berry bags

Giveaway

I have teamed up with The Berry Berry to giveaway a gorgeous clutch bag to one lucky reader. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 11th November 2018. Good luck!

Clutch bag made from sweet wrappers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a collaborative post with The Berry Berry.

Zero Waste Eco-Friendly Postpartum and Menstruation Wear by Modibodi

It has been a decade since Squiggle came into this world. However, I remember the early days after birth very well; even in the hazy midst of that exhausted but elated sleep deprived state, it is not something to forget!

The practical new mum challenges that I wasn’t quite prepared for were things such as leaky boobs! (Which will happen regardless of whether you actually breastfeed or not by the way!) I went through a tonne of nursing pads. I was aware there were washable options, but I was somewhat less environmentally minded back then and it just felt like too much of a task. But faffing with breast pads and nursing tops also became an issue for me, and caused me quite alot of stress in our early breastfeeding days. That is why I think Modibodi nursing tops are brilliant!

Modibodi Nursing Top – RRP £45

Modibodi breastfeeding singlet is cleverly designed to look and fit like a regular breastfeeding bra, but replaces the need for nursing pads. It is beaitifully soft thanks to the bamboo outer layer, and uses patented technology to ensure maximum comfort, hygiene and effectiveness. The Breastfeeding Singlet is available in sizes 10-18 and cups A-G.

Maternity breastfeeding singlet

(Note: This is not me and I am not pregnant!)

5% of each sale donated to PANDAS throughout October

Modibodi have teamed up with PANDAS Foundation, a post-natal depression charity, to raise awareness and support their work. Throughout October, Modibodi will donate 5% of sales of the breastfeeding singlet to PANDAS. I was lucky enough not to suffer with post-natal depression myself, but I certainly do not underestimate the importance of such charities and the vital work that they do in supporting new mums!

Modibodi wants to highlight the realities of post pregnancy bodies. In a recent survey, undertaken by the brand, over half (53%) of the women surveyed revealed that they weren’t happy with their bodies and felt pressure to lose the baby weight quickly. 6 out of 10 mums surveyed also felt that there wasn’t enough comfortable and accessible nursing bra options, which is where Modibodi steps in, by providing a comfortable eco-friendly solution to breastfeeding mums.

Modibodi want women to embrace their post pregnancy body with #lovemybabybodi, and is encouraging women all over to the UK to upload a picture of their post baby body along with the hashtag, in order promote wellbeing and confidence for all mothers.

I have also teamed up with Modibodi for one lucky reader to win one of these handy zero waste breastfeeding tops! Read down to the end of this post for further details and to enter.

Underwear

Modibodi also have a collection of underpants that cover all absorbencies and come in a range of styles. These are useful for both postpartum and monthly menstruation. I have mentioned before that I use period pants for a zero waste, eco-friendly period (along with a mooncup sometimes) so I was very happy to try out a pair of their pretty sensual bikini pants with heavy overnight absorbency.

Modibodi period pants menstruation underwear postpartum underpants

Review: Sensual hi-waist bikini pants (heavy/ overnight absorbency) RRP £23.50

I love these! They are super soft and comfortable, thanks to the organic bamboo material. They fit very well and look (in my opinion anyway!) ok too. I felt confident and secure wearing them, with no concerns even on heavier days. (They hold 15-20ml, which is the equivalent of 2 tampons and 3 teaspoons!) They also wash well. Out of the several brands of menstruation pants that I use, these are probably my overall favourites in fact! Shop here.

Sensual high-waist heavy overnight absorbency pants

Teen Range

I would also like to give a mention to their teen range of underwear. As a parent to an autistic daughter nearing the age of puberty, the subject has come up fairly often with other SEND parents about managing self-care when it comes to starting periods. I personally feel that period pants offer a good solution to this.

Of course, they are beneficial to any teenager just starting their periods! For this reason, Modibodi have their own teen range. They even have a handy guide to download too!

Swimwear 

Last but not least, Modibodi also do swimwear! I haven’t tried it myself but I still wanted to include it in this post because this is another thing that has come up many times before. It is certainly not cheap but may well be worth the investment if you are a regular swimmer who would like that extra boost of confidence and peace of mind! See the swimwear section for more information.

Giveaway!

For your chance to win a breastfeeding singlet, enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 4th November 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received items in exchange for review and giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Eco- Friendly Options For Your Interiors

After recently finishing off decorating a room, it can sometimes feel like you could start over as it just isn’t looking how you imagined. But, constantly changing your home’s interior can not only be costly to your bank balance, it can also have a big environmental cost. Even when starting a new project from the ground up, there are a number of environmental considerations to make in each step.

Choosing interior design pieces that are environmentally friendly is definitely something that you should consider. Eco-chic is becoming a large part of many professional designers work and something they are beginning to actively promote. Of course, going eco-friendly doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your design.

Reusing & Recycling

Book chair #reuse #upcycle

Before you make the decision to makeover your room with a great new design, you should take into consideration what is working already. Maybe you have a set of cabinets which are serving a purpose that couldn’t be replaced, so there is no need to remove them. Perhaps consider moving them to another place within the room. If you don’t like the colour, you can simple spruce them up with a few coats of paint to match your new interior colour scheme.

Another great idea is to switch around your curtains or drapes between rooms. If you have a set of curtains/drapes which will not match up with the new design, perhaps you can change them with another room in your house, rather than going out and purchasing a new pair. If you don’t have anything suitable in your own home, then why not see if you can swap with your friends?

Recycling Glass

Recycled glass table

With a number of suppliers coming up in the past few years offering recycled glass to be used in your home. A wide variety of design options are available for using glass within your home, with specialists even developing recycled glass into a source material used in wall tiles.

The tiles produced from this recycled glass give a great reflective sparkle and really catch the light in a unique way. This means that they are the perfect addition to any bathroom. These recycled glass products can also be used on your kitchen counters, lighting panels and even on your table top. If you are looking to use either a quartz or granite in your design, then you should consider replacing these with recycled glass, which makes for a smarter and more environmentally alternative.

Timber

When it comes to timber, you are best avoiding any furniture which uses hardwood (high density) within its construction. Hardwoods are mainly brought in from tropical rain forests, which are already being heavily depleted. There are a number of environmentally friendly options available in terms of wood furniture, so make sure you take a look around before deciding.

If you are wanting to go with a hardwood then you should make sure that you look out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark. Eco furniture which is often made using reclaimed wood and saw dust, can often be a lot more stylish and fitting for a room than hardwood. So don’t go abandoning the idea straight away.

Other options to achieve a more wooden look whilst being environmentally friendly is to choose a real wood venetian blind for your window dressing. These blinds are made using wood from sustainable forests and have a very low impact on the environment throughout their production.

Hardwood floors

Eco-Chic Flooring

Choosing the right flooring for you interior can be challenging, especially when considering one that is made using a sustainable material. However, there are many suppliers who are seeing the demand for this style of flooring and the popularity it currently has. If you are looking for a floor that is hard wearing then bamboo is definitely a great choice! With bamboo having a high fiber rating than most hardwood flooring and being overall very strong.

As bamboo has a very short grow time which means that it can be harvested regularly unlike with hardwood. It has a great underfoot feeling and is a great natural material which can be recycled after it has been used. Another option would be to use interlocking eco floor tiles. These are made from hard wearing recycled material and look fantastic whether you use them in your kitchen or bathroom. With another benefit being that they give great thermal insulation.

Paint

VOC free paint logo

A number of paint products contain harmful chemicals, these are known as VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Therefore, it is important that you choose a paint which doesn’t contain these compounds (VOC Free), especially if you are painting your children’s bedrooms. Reusing your past paint trays are a better choice than going out and buying new ones. Of course, if you’re a first time buyer or have only just moved out of your parents home, you won’t have any old paint trays. Instead, you could select reusable paint trays, which are made using recycled cardboard.

*This is a collaborative post.

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

Green City Breaks: Guest Post by Sally – Life Loving

Hello all! I’m Sally and I blog over at Life Loving. My blog is my way to inspire others to get out and about and enjoy life more. I live by the motto ‘ketchup tomorrow, relish today’.

Sally at Life Loving outdoors

The lovely Katie has kindly let me put together a guest post about one of my favourite topics – travel. But today, I’ve given it a twist. I’m going to give you some inspiration for a green city break, so you can be a bit more environmentally-friendly, when planning your great escape.

Paris

One of the greenest options for travel is the train. We are lucky down here in Kent to have the Eurostar right on our doorstep. The travel time into Gare du Nord station in Paris is just over two hours, so it’s perfect for a day or two away. Eurostar trains also run regularly from London St Pancras. Paris is a wonderful choice for a city break. I love going up the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame. Paris is a city which you can easily take in most of the sites on foot. If you are visiting, I’d high recommend the lesser known Montparnasse Tower, as an option to see a different high-up view of Paris.

Paris arc de triomph

Venice

Keeping on the rail theme. Did you know you can travel all the way to Venice on a train? What’s even better is that you can travel overnight and wake up in your destination. You board a sleeper train at Paris’s Gare du Lyon. Your ticket will give you a bed in a cabin of either three or five other travellers. There’s also a restaurant and bar on-board. This will make the start of your city break really special, travelling in through France and Italy. Once in Venice, there’s a plethora of famous sites to take in including St Mark’s Basilica or heading up Venice’s tallest building, the Campanile, to take in the view. Whilst you are there, you must take a gondola ride – it’s iconic and if you go and don’t, you’ll regret it!

Manchester

Taking a coach to reach your city of choice is really good way of travelling greenly and cheaply. Coach operators like National Express have fares to cities like Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff starting at just £5 one way. Manchester is a great city break in particular. There’s endless shopping opportunities, including the huge Trafford Centre. Manchester is also known for its restaurants and nightlife, so it’s quite a grown up city break. You can add to your green credential by travelling around the city via its famous tram network too.

Copenhagen

This is a city which is famous for its investment into cycling. There’s plenty who would agree that the best way to see the city is by bike. Hire a city bike and you’ll get an electric bike, with built-in GPS and tourist information, so it’s really easy to get around and see what you want. It works out about £3.50 an hour to hire a city bike, but they are perfect to take in Tivoli Gardens or the Little Mermaid statue. If you are visiting in the summer months, make sure you head to the old port of Nyhavn. The surrounding houses are iconic as they have been painted in different colours. But it’s the restaurants you are after here. You can dine whilst enjoying great jazz music.

Scenic view of Copenhagen

Nice

For my final recommendation for a green city break, I will draw your attention to the French Riviera. You again can travel down on train. There’s a high speed service from Paris which takes just under six hours. You can be walking down the famous Promenade des Anglais before dinner time. The old town of Nice is great for exploring on foot or if you fancy a more leisurely option, the open-top bus tour will take you round the sites of the city. If it’s sunny, and it often is in Nice, you’ll be admiring the views from the top deck.

I’d also recommend hopping over to Monaco. The train ride takes about a quarter of an hour and you can take in some of the famous sites that you see televised on the Grand Prix – the harbour, the casino and the Palace. If you time it right, as we did, you can be there just in time for the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place just before midday.

A picturesque view of Monaco

I hope this has inspired you to look at some different ways to explore some of Europe’s most interesting cities. If you can, I’d highly recommend looking for alternative ways to travel, rather than simply just flying or taking taxis. You really see more of a place when you use the public transport, whether that’s a train, bus, boat or bike. You end up using your eyes more and really understanding how a city works. Plus you’ll know how to get around!

For more tips and advice you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the launch day events for Plastic-Free St Albans is a Plastic-Free Picnic at Highfield Park. This is also an awesome way to celebrate Earth Day too. So whether you are planning a picnic for this reason, or having one on any other day, here are my top tips for a plastic-free picnic…

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

Shopping

Firstly, choose items that are sold loose or in recyclable packaging. Avoid plastic packaging as much as you can! It is hard to do, which is why there are several campaigns focused on holding shops and supermarkets more accountable for this too. If you are feeling abit rebellious, you could unpackage everything after you pay, before you leave and give the rubbish back to them… maybe it will help them to take the hint!

Better yet, head on down to your local eco store, if you have one, with your refill jars and avoid the supermarkets with all their unnecessary packaging full stop!

(Oh, and wherever you shop, don’t forget to take your reusable bags, obviously….)

Plastic Free St Albans eco friendly reusable bag organic cotton sustainable bag

Packing Your Picnic

Transporting

Use an old style wicker basket to carry your picnic! Or choose from one of the many reusable bag options available. This one is easy; just don’t use a plastic bag! Moving on…

Containers

Tuppaware containers are ok as they aren’t single- use plastic. However, there are even better alternatives! Stainless steel containers are more environmentally- friendly and will most likely last you longer too.

Keeping it Fresh

Rather than cling film, use sandwich bags or reusable wax wraps. These keep food fresh very effectively and are much kinder to the environment.

Reusable sandwich bag

Plates, Bowls and Cutlery

Taking your own cutlery that you use at home is a good choice. You don’t actually need different cutlery just because you are eating outdoors! But if you do prefer to use something else, invest in a reusable bamboo cutlery set if possible.

For disposable cutlery options, as well as bowls and plates too, choose eco- friendly items such as from The Blue Speck. They are 100% biodegradable and sourced directly from plants.

Drinks

Take a flask along with a reusable cup for hot drinks. For cold drinks, take along a reusable drinks bottle. If you need a straw, invest in a reusable one made from metal or bamboo, or buy disposable alternatives to plastic, such as paper straws.

Reusable eco friendly cup

Other Useful Info

Low Tox Box also has a fab zero waste starter kit. It contains several reusable bags, spork, cup and straw for £30 plus P&P. They also plant a tree for every box sold and send a certificate too.

Enjoy your plastic- free picnic!

Click here for more zero waste tips

7 Simple Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle: Guest Post by Veronica – My Parenting Journey

Families often live wasteful lives, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle with children can seem like a daunting task. Little humans can create a lot of waste, but there are plenty of ways kids can contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle. Now is the time to change your habits and set better habits for your growing kids.

Child outdoors exploring nature

Can Families “Go Green”?
A common assumption is that families can’t go green because children tend to produce a lot of waste. The amount of waste children generate depends entirely on the lifestyle you live.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that an average American family generates 4.4 pounds of garbage a day. That means each week your family puts out about 29 pounds of trash. Seems crazy, right? There are ways to reduce that output. Having kids doesn’t have to be wasteful!

● Use cloth diapers
● Try an eco-friendly laundry detergent
● Breastfeed
● Save clothes for other children
● Shop used sales
● Use stainless steel or glass bottles

Talk With Your Kids
Before you introduce an eco-friendly lifestyle to your kids, it is important to sit down and have a chat with your kids. Discuss with them why you want to make this change! Show them ways you may already be going green at home or school. Do their schools or classrooms recycle?

During your talk, encourage your kids to think of ways you can go green together as a family. Kids are creative and inventive, so give them this time to shine. Start with their ideas first to encourage them to keep going!

7 Simple Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle title with image of two children

7 Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

1.Start a Garden
Our family, kids included, gardens and grows a large portion of our food. You don’t need a large garden; growing any of your food is a step in the right direction. Gardening gets everyone outside, soaking in vitamin D, and it brings the food cycle to you! Kids make fantastic gardeners with a little direction.

2. Work a Compost
If you are going to garden, composting makes sense. Composting creates a source of free nutrients for your garden while eliminating your waste.

Your kids can collect items each day for the compost, such as the eggshells from breakfast and veggie scraps from dinner prep. Kids can also stir the compost and add in grass clippings or shredded leaves!

3. Sort Recycling
Reducing the amount of waste you generate as a family reduces your carbon footprint. All should do recycling. Create a recycling bin system and encourage your children to sort the waste throughout the day. They can rinse out milk jugs or put the newspaper into the right bin. Later, take your children to drop off the recycling and see if you can visit a recycling center!

4. Turn Off Lights
Make it a game to see who can turn off the most lights each day. Reducing your electricity usage saves your money and contributes to a green lifestyle. Children are sponges, and they adopt whatever lifestyle you encourage in them. Teach them to turn off the water as they brush their teeth and more!

Another idea is to have family nights when you turn off all electronics. Unplug the TV and spend time together reading or playing board games. If it is nice, head outside for a hike or a game of soccer. You are reducing your energy output while spending time together.

5. Bike Together
Cars are massive producers of pollution. Biking to places may not be easy depending on where you live. If you live in a city, biking could be a great opportunity for your kids to get exercise and to reduce pollution. Walking or riding bikes are great alternatives! If you have a baby, you can get a seat to put on your bicycle. Families with toddlers can attach a pull-behind seat!

6. Make Reusable Bags Together
Kids love to craft, so why not make a craft that has a purpose? Reusable bags are a staple for green families. You might end up with a small collection everywhere. You can find easy tutorials to make bags from t-shirts or old pillowcases. Be creative! It is also a great opportunity to teach your kids to use up what they have rather than going to purchase new.

7. Make Homemade Cleaners
Another easy task for your kids is to get them involved with making homemade cleaners! Working with vinegar, baking soda, and more is quite safe for your kids. Older kids can learn about the toxicity of harsh chemicals. Show them how to clean with simple ingredients. It is best for you to add essential oils if you use them rather than the little kids!
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle takes more than just one person in a family. It has to be a family effort. Teach your kids the importance of treating the earth with kindness and show them simple ways to do so. You are instilling values that will last a lifetime.

Image of two young children exploring a pond

About the Author
Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Chief Editor of My Parenting Journey.

Costa Rica: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Have you ever considered visiting Costa Rica? This Central American eco country is famous for its rainforests and biodiversity, so is an absolute dream for nature lovers. It has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic because it crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And with roughly a quarter of the country made up of protected national parks and areas, which are home to over 840 species of birds, around 2000 plants and hundreds of mammals too, it is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Costa Rica even aims to be the first country to eliminate all single- use plastics; it takes environmental issues very seriously!

It is also a great place to travel generally. As explained in this article by The Telegraph, it is a cool country to visit for loads of very good reasons. For example, in 2016, it was named the happiest place in the world by the Happy Planet Index; that is pretty awesome to say the least! Who wouldn’t want to visit?!

Title Costa Rica: Nature Lovers Paradise on faded background image of Costa Rica coastline.

Where To Stay

Enjoy a spot of luxury in one of these beautiful Costa Rica rentals. Or you could spend time travelling around different parts to fully appreciate the diversity of this fabulous country. Honest advice suggests that perhaps the capital, San Jose, is not the best place to stay and it is probably a good idea to plan as little time there as possible. However, the rest of Costa Rica sounds absolutely amazing and there are lots of fantastic location choices.

The west (Pacific side) tends to be hotter and is the more touristy side, especially with American visitors, so this might be considered easier with kids. Manuel Antonio National Park, for example, is situated right in the centre of the west coast, and is a great place for seeing an abundance of wildlife.

Costa Rica National Parks map

Source: Go Visit Costa Rica

Places To Visit

As I have said, Costa Rica is all about the stunning scenery along with an incredibly vast range of plants and wildlife. These can best be found at the numerous national parks and nature reserves, and each one has its own unique qualities. I have already mentioned a couple of places briefly, but here is some further information about a selection of the must-see, must-do nature spots…

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Puntarenas Province

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sounds like a truly spectacular place where you can not only see an amazing array of wildlife, but you can also walk across a hanging bridge to view the forest canopy from magnificent heights. You can even zip wire over the forest!

Monteverde Cloud Forest hanging bridge above the forest canopy.

Monteverde, Costa Rica by Haakon S. Krohn (Source: Wikimedia)

There are other cool things to do at Monteverde as well; such as eat in a quirky treehouse restaurant, exciting horse riding treks or visit Don Juan’s Coffee Farm. Costa Rica Experts detail this tour on their website: “This tour gives you a closer look of the production of Don Juan’s coffee. After learning the drying and roasting process of the beans, explore other food staples of Costa Rica. Embark on a culinary journey. Discover the history of cocoa pods and make your own chocolate using traditional Costa Rican recipes. Yes, you will get to try your creations! This sweet experience continues to the “El Trapiche” (a mill made of wooden rollers), which is used as a tool to extract sugarcane juice and make tasty sweets and much more. This visit wouldn’t be complete without the chance to buy an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee at the souvenir shop.”

Tortuguero National Park

This is home to nesting sea turtles, and respect for their needs is to be priority if visiting this park. For this reason, the area is out of bounds after 6pm unless you are with an official tour guide. During these night tours, you will see most likely see adult turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. However, if you are lucky, you might even spot a newly hatched turtle heading toward the water!

As well as turtles, there are plenty of birds, fish, monkeys and other wildlife to see at this National Park. A good way to do this is by taking a boat ride along the canal. Or you can hire a canoe and paddle down.

La Fortuna, Alajuela

This is perhaps one of the best known tourist spots, because it is situated at the centre of several wonders. Top of that is Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that regularly erupts. There are also hot springs to bathe in, heated naturally by the thermal activity from Arenal. Then there is the most stunning waterfall too. Plus there are day and night tours at nearby Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecology reserve, for wildlife watching. With such breath-taking scenery and experiences, it is hardly surprising that it is a popular choice. For this reason though, I am told it can get very busy! Check out quieter times to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds.

La Fortuna waterfall, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park has a wealth of wildlife to discover. You can explore independently or get a tour guide. As A Strong Coffee To Go explains, even just sitting on the beach you will see animals such as sloths, monkeys and iguanas without going to any effort. But if you are keen to spot more hidden creatures, as well as gain greater insight and knowledge, then you might find a tour guide beneficial. They carry telescopes and know where and what to look for, which gives a somewhat huge advantage over an inexperienced traveller with their naked eye. Of course, you don’t need a telescope, or an expert, simply to bask in the beautiful surroundings though!

One of the beautiful birds that can be spotted in Costa Rica rainforests.

Obviously these are just a small handful of the wonderful places to visit in Costa Rica. But wherever you choose, and whether you cram in as much as you can or take things at a more leisurely pace, it is bound to be an unforgettable experience! It truly does sound like a nature lover’s paradise.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

3 Questions That Make For a Better, Cleaner Wardrobe

We’ve all been there. You open the door to your closet and it’s a mess. Closets seem to always become the place we store everything we love and hate at the same time. They always have the top you can’t live without, while also containing some items you hope never see the light of day. Cleaning and organizing our wardrobes is a task that can always seem daunting, which is why it rarely gets done.

When we start to ask ourselves some tough questions about where our clothes come from and how they were made, the choices of what to keep and what to donate can be much easier than you think. Today I wanted to bring you some hard and fast rules you can use to get the job done. As a bonus, you’ll feel better about yourself and the environment as well.

Go through each piece of clothing you own and ask the following questions…

3 Questions That Make For a Better, Cleaner Wardrobe

Was it ethically made?

It’s easy to overlook the true cost of some of our clothing in regards to the physical labor that goes into making it. Unfortunately, with the rise in globalization came an increase in child labor and exploited adults in the fashion industry. Take a look into some of the brands you own and find out if they are using ethical labor to produce them. There are a lot of tools out there made specifically to help you research various brands and their manufacturing practices. If you find out something nasty about a brand, ditch their clothes! You’ll make some room and will no longer support their actions as a brand.

Is it made from sustainable material?

It’s no secret that the production of the clothes we love has a pretty big impact on the environment. Cotton alone  consumes 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all the pesticides! Now more than ever it’s important to support brands that ensure their materials come from sustainable sources. Sustainable clothing materials include soy, hemp, bamboo, PET plastic, and organic cotton. Pact is a great example of an up-and-coming clothing brand that uses only organic cotton to help cut down on the use of chemicals in the environment. Bonus: they’re GOTS certified, which means their clothes are also ethically made.

If you are on the fence about keeping something, take a look at what the item is made out of. If you like it, and it’s made from natural, recycled or upcycled fibers – keep it. But if you’re not sure, and it’s not made from something sustainable, ditch it!

Does this piece bring me joy?

Sounds simple right? But how often do we ask ourselves that question about the clothes we wear? It won’t have a major impact on the environment or teach any unethical brands a lesson, but it will help you ensure that every time you open your closet, you’ll come away with something that makes you feel great. This method of organization was pioneered by Marie Kondo with her now famous “KonMari” method of organizing. This way of thinking teaches us to cherish the things that matter, and get rid of the things in our lives that don’t. If you tackle your closet in this way, you’ll be amazed by the impact it can have on your well-being.

Eco fashion, ethical clothing, sustainable fashion clothing. Lady wearing a comfy jumper.

I hope these questions help you get your closet organized. I think the ethical and environmental impact of our clothing should play a huge role when deciding what to keep, and what to purchase for that matter. And of course, never settle for anything that doesn’t make you happy!

*This is a guest post.

How To Live More Sustainably: My Top Tips On Easy Ways To Become More ‘Green’

Would you like to find out more about living a more eco- friendly sustainable lifestyle? Are you looking for tips on Green Living so you can be more environmentally friendly? Then this post is for you! Read about my top tips for green living and overview of different ways you can live more sustainably…

I have talked alot about green living previously and regularly discuss ways that we can all help to protect our environment. But more often I cover specific aspects in-depth, therefore I thought it would be useful to pull it altogether into a post about my top tips for green living. So here is an overview of different ways you can live more sustainably…

Background image of wind turbines with title How To Live More Sustainably: My Top Tips On Easy Ways To Become More 'Green'

Go Electric

Have you thought about buying an electric car? There are many factors when choosing a car generally of course and some specific considerations when it comes to choosing an electric car. One of the biggest concerns – aside from the retail price, which is in the longer term offset by the low running costs and also is dropping dramatically as they become more common anyway – is the availability of chargepoints. However, as electric cars grow hugely in popularity, the distribution of chargepoints has become far more widespread. You can also get a NewMotion chargepoint to charge your vehicle safely at home too.

Electric car at charging station

Home

From a full renovation to simply changing a light bulb, there are lots of ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Using LED lightbulbs, changing your shower head and toilet flush to low-flow and turning your water temperature down on your boiler are all fairly cheap and easy minor changes you can make. When it comes to buying new appliances, choose environmentally- friendly models with high energy efficiency ratings. Also opt for eco-friendly, ideally natural, products to clean your home so there are no nasty chemicals!

Switch To Clean Energy

I mentioned above switching away from fossil fuels in the context of vehicles; the same applies to your home. Install solar panels if you can or switch your supplier to a green energy company.

Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse (then Recycle)

The term zero waste sounds daunting I admit! But really the aim is simple – to reduce the amount of rubbish you create. Especially waste that ends up in landfill in particular. Key elements for achieving this are actually quite straightforward:

  • Refuse single- use plastics, especially ‘the big four’ (straws, bags, cups and bottles).
  • Reduce your waste by trying to choose items that have less packaging, especially plastic, when shopping generally. Try to reduce your amount of food waste too.
  • Reuse items. Invest in reusable bags, straws, coffee cups and bottles. Use long-lasting reusable containers to store food too.
  • Recycle as much as possible of whatever rubbish you do create. Don’t throw anything into the landfill bin that doesn’t belong there!

And an extra point on this subject…

  • Upcycle and Repair. Try to mend before discarding things. Upcycle old furniture and other items if possible. If you have any household items, toys, clothes etc… that you have finished using yourself, pass them onto someone else to use.

Graphic of bottle, bag, straw and cup with caption 'I will say no to plastic's big 4'

    Slow Fashion

    Fashion has alot to answer for in terms of environmental impact. With ever changing trends, there is a high consumer demand for cheap fashionable clothing. The problem is, this throwaway fast fashion culture has a high price on the environment. Make a capsule wardrobe with high quality pieces made from natural materials your new latest trend instead.

    Reduce Meat Intake

    Whilst not everyone necessarily has any desire to become vegetarian, or vegan, a plant based diet is better for the environment. Even reducing your meat intake by having just one meat-free day per week is a step toward living a more sustainable life.

    Picture of a delicious healthy vegetarian meal.

    What are your top tips for living a more sustainable life?

    *Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.