Monday, December 8, 2008

Green gifts for kids

Today is an exciting day. This post is written by Small Footprints (that would be me) and our bloggy friend at Wellness KIDS ( If you haven't stopped over at Wellness Kids, I encourage you to do so. There are some great articles about keeping our kids safe ... posts about what goes in and on their food ... information about using air filtration systems in the home ... and how cleaning one's home can be harmful. And here's the thing ... the information presented there is not only important for kids ... it's important for adults and the planet, as well. So, if you have a minute, stop over there and say "hello".

When it comes to special holidays and celebrations, it's easy to set aside our green efforts and opt for ease and convenience. That is especially true when thinking about gifts for children. Let's face it ... kids are bombarded with commercials for the latest gizmos and gadgets ... many of which contain less than environmentally friendly materials or are energy gluttons. And "green" gifts aren't always easy to find ... or on our children's list to Santa. Before giving up on green gifts, consider these ideas:

From Wellness KIDS, we have these wonderful suggestions:

I love the challenge of finding gifts that stimulate the mind, encourage creativity, are fun, and good to our planet. If you Google “eco-friendly gifts for kids”, you’ll find lots of great online retailers carrying a wonderful variety earth-friendly natural wooden, fabric and other types of toys. This year I tried to think of gifts that are not only natural or recyclable, but items that actually use or teach how to make use of recycled materials, and/or do something beneficial for our planet. Here are 5 of my favorite kids’ gift ideas this year:

$8.76 - Recycled Crafts Kit

I absolutely love this one. Get the book, Recycled Crafts Kit, by Laura C. Martin and pack it in a decorated recycled box along with lots of great recycled materials to be used in the projects from the book. The book is full of great information about waste and recycling, as well as fun projects for kids to make. Cheap, educational, fun, and eco-friendly! What more could you want?

$25 - Gardening Kit

Buy a great gardening book for kids, like Roots, Boots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together With Children by Sharon Lovejoy ($11.16 on For about $25, you could get the book, and pack it together with some great kid-sized gardening gloves, a trowel, a pot and some seeds. Or you could go all out and provide and all the items needed to do one of the great gardens in the book. This is a great way for parents to spend time with their kids, for kids to learn the wonderful art of gardening and to add back to nature.

$50 - “Adopt an Animal” at

Give the gift of giving. Make a $50 donation to the World Wildlife Fund in your (or another) child’s name. 82 cents of every donated dollar goes toward the World Wildlife Foundation’s conservation efforts.

A $50 symbolic adoption includes as a thank you gift: A plush, stuffed animal, a species spotlight card, an adoption certificate, a 5”x7” color photo of the chosen animal and a drawstring gift bag. Choose from 80 available species. Or you can send an adoption card and allow the recipient to choose their own favorite animal. Order by 12/17/08 for arrival by Christmas.

Note: For a gift closer to home, support your local zoo. Many zoos have great adopt-an-animal programs too! Some of them include great behind the scene tours and other great benefits. Check your local zoo for more information.

$64/$84 Earth Friends (

These adorable dolls are made entirely from organic or recycled materials. They are just the kind of soft, loveable dolls that become instant favorites with children. There are nine boys and girls to choose from. Each Earth Friend arrives with his or her own little backpack with a tree planting kit inside.

$1299 – MacBook

Okay – it’s a high-end gift, but I just saw the commercial for the new MacBooks and was amazed. Kids love Macs because they are great for gaming and graphics programs, plus they are sleek, streamlined, cool-looking and seemingly immune to viruses and spyware.

Now there is another reason to love MacBooks. According to Apple, they are the most environmentally friendly notebook computers in the world. The new version of their most popular MacBook can run on just one quarter of the power of a single light bulb!

According to Apple’s website, each new MacBook is designed with the following features to reduce its environmental footprint:

  • Arsenic-free glass
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • Brominated flame retardant-free internal components
  • PVC-free internal cables
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Up to 41 percent smaller packaging

So, if your kid has been especially great, this would be one heckuva gift!

A BIG THANK YOU to Wellness KIDS for those great ideas. Are you ready for some more? OK ... read on. These come from Small Footprints:

  • When buying holiday gifts for the kids keep in mind that it’s better to buy products that are made of organic cotton and wood.

  • It's OK to give slightly used gifts. Look for items that are in good shape and that don't contain toxic materials.
  • Have a little artistic genius on your list? Buy earth friendly ... and animal friendly supplies.

  • Bedding ... what kid doesn't like to jump into a bed with his favorite cartoon characters on the sheets? Look for organic, Eco friendly materials in colorful, playful designs.

  • Furniture ... when I was a kid, my parents got us a little table and 4 chairs. It was kid-sized and we thought it was just about the coolest thing in the universe. I'm sure that they thought we'd eventually do homework on our little table ... we, however, imagined tea parties and art projects and car tracks and table games and ... well, you get the idea. So ... how about some kid friendly, earth friendly furniture. Look for organic wood and non-toxic paint.

  • For the outdoor kid (and those wonderful nature hikes), consider a backpack made from natural or recycled materials.

  • How about a LED flashlight ... after all ... what would ghost stories around a campfire be without one. There are green varieties available which are solar powered and still others which are kid powered (a crank is used to power it up).

  • For the little ones, how about a fun, animal shaped toothbrush. Recycline has a series called Preserve Jr. Check out their link below in the list of resources.
  • Toys never go out of style. Here are a few options (be sure to look for Eco-friendly materials and minimal packaging):

  • Fuel cell racing cars (they run on water ... wow)
  • Wooden building blocks or balls
  • Stuffed animals
  • Science kits
  • Crayons made out of soy wax
  • Did you know that ToysRus has an Eco-friendly line of toys? Yep ... it's true!
  • Don't forget about homemade treasures (again ... made with Eco-friendly materials):
  • Scarfs, hats and mittens
  • Clothing
  • Stuffed dolls and animals
  • Books (for a very cute book, check out our bloggy friend at Musings from the Fishbowl
  • Candies and cookies
  • Doll houses and furniture
  • Kid friendly jewelry
  • Get the kids involved and help them make gifts for the people on their list.
For additional ideas and resources, check out the Internet. Here are a few suggestions:
Just remember ... with any gifts, consider packaging and materials. With a little effort and creativity, you can give the little ones on your list a gift that will not only bring smiles to their faces, but will make the earth happy as well.

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!