Environmentally friendly educational toys

Think before you buy: your kids’ toys are killing the planet. 90% of all toys sold is made of plastics, and there are very few toys that are able to be recycled or repurposed.

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When my children were tiny, I caused some bad feelings amongst family members because I banned plastic toys: I politely refused to accept those noisy, battery-operated, garish plastic monstrosity, especially those with flashing lights!

My parents-in-law used to make toys for my children: almost 30 years later, we still have some of those precious toys (Photo: Harry Helium, made by my mother-in-law based on a story I wrote).

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My parents, who weren’t so good with the sewing machine or hammer, nails and saw, entertained the children with nature (Photo: drawing from 30 years ago!)

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No, they did not suffer not owning any plastic toys. They made their own with discarded packaging and stuff they find around the house (Photo: the two sisters making something).

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When my children got older, I softened my stance a bit and allowed Legos into the house. But by then, they had gotten over the idea that toys are fun. They much preferred pets, and at one stage, we had two dogs, two cats and eleven rabbits. That rather large menagerie did not leave them much time for gadgets either!

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Recently, I visited my children’s father’s classroom (he teaches Design & Technology) and saw these Chinese puzzles that his Year 8 students made:

This can be made environmentally friendly by suing softwood. The design is from MYP Design & Technology textbook published by IBID Press.

Here is something you can make simply at home with your children, using paper or even flour tortilla! A hexaflaxagon that my daughter made:

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The instructions are here. Have fun!

Related reading: There’s A Huge Problem With Kids’ Toys That No One’s Talking About

Here’s an innovative company repurposing plastic toys:

First published in www.raisinghappystrongkids.com

The cost of small things

Last week, we made four circuits round a particular block in Phuket Town trying to find parking so that we can buy ribbons. Think about the hydrocarbons burned in our quest to buy those pretty things.

Moreover, those pretty things, if you think about it, are synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, and polypropylene) and harsh dyes. There is nothing natural or organic about those ribbons at all – they cost a mere THB50 per roll, so chances are that they were manufactured in some sweat shop with slave labour.

But we need those ribbons!

Do we, actually?

I managed to salvage these from old clothes that are headed for the recycling bin. And these “ribbons” are much prettier, if you ask me. I wish I had thought about that sooner.

The thing to do is to get into the repurposing mindset and delete the word “BUY, BUY, BUY” from our modern psyche. 

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What do you know about paper towels?

In my daughter’s school in Phuket, there is a sign above the paper towel dispenser in the loos that say, ‘Use one sheet only’.

Good idea! We often don’t think about the effects of paper towels on the environment. They are not plastic, are they? And don’t they biodegrade?

In America, 517,230,000 pounds of paper towels are used each year.  Here’s an interesting (and engaging) talk by Joe Smith for TED. Definitely worth watching! And please share with your children too….it’s fun to do together!

Plastic – it needs government involvement

Asia is the worst region for massively producing and underly managing its plastic waste. According to UN Environment:

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On my walk this morning, I saw many discarded ones (which will inevitably end up in landfills and oceans) and was offered many by shopkeepers who automatically pack my purchases into plastic bags.

Try as we might carrying our own reusable bags, our efforts need to be backed by governmental legislation.  This is the success of Ireland’s “PLASTAX”:

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Yesterday, it was reported that the Indian Prime Minister vows to abolish single-use plastic by 2022. You can read it here.

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Here’s hoping that other governments, particularly in Asia, will jump on this bandwagon.

In the meantime, pop over to our ideas section to see how we made a reusable bag from an old dress in less than 5 minutes 🙂  Please click on this link.

 

Death of a pilot whale…let his death be your beginning

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Pilot whales are majestic creatures of the sea and are in the same family as dolphins. Like us, they are mammals” warm-blooded and give birth to their young. The mother pilot whale nurse her calves for more than three years, and the mother-calf bond is typically strong for this species (Photo: wikipedia).

Last week, a young male pilot whale was washed up in a canal between the Thai-Malaysian border.  A large group of volunteers tried to keep him alive by helping him stay afloat with buoys and holding up umbrellas to protect him from the scorching sun. The young whale vomited up five plastic bags, but the other EIGHTY in his stomach, weighing a whopping 8 kgs), killed him in the end.

To read, please visit the BBC by clicking on this link:

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A few short years ago, eco-activism is the province of the hardcore but since then, there had been so many wake-up calls that we can no longer ignore. Adopting “green” practices and making changes in our lives is something that we all have to do. It is our responsibility.

South East Asia is the biggest user of plastic bags that end up in landfills and oceans. This is effect of those plastic bags.

Please do not let this pilot whale die in vain. If you have not join the green revolution yet, let his death be your beginning. With Simple Green Planet, we will show you the simple changes that YOU can make in your lives to make the planet a better place for all.

Please click on the orange icon at the left of this page and follow us on Facebook.

Main photo: ThaiWhales/Facebook

Repurposing a holey dress

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Clothes these days are dirt-cheap. But look closer. What do you see? Sweatshop labour and harmful chemicals polluting the environment. And these cheap dresses don’t last long.

This lovely-looking dress (impulsive beach buy) lasted a few washes – admittedly, I wear them hard – before holes started appearing.

Fortunately, I have a very practical partner-in-crime (Jane) who came up with the idea of repurposing the dress into a reusable cloth bag:

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It took less than 5 minutes to make this (no stitching involved), and I have used my “new” bag twice in the last three days:

…and Jane made a scarf for herself, too 🙂

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Why was she tittering? Watch this video, which gave Jane the inspiration in the first place. Highly recommended (*thumbs up*) and may it inspire you too (*wink wink*).  Looking forward to seeing more repurposed dress-bag around ….. and stay posted for more ideas, giveaways and fun.

How green can you go?

A couple of days ago, we went on an eventful trip to Phuket Town to look for eco-packaging for Jane’s biscuits (her contribution to the Ride 4 Kids bake sale).

Our destination (after a loooong stopover in Boat Lagoon for a spot of clothes shopping) was Gerbera House right in the middle of Phuket Town. This old-fashioned shophouse, spread over two higgledy-piggledy floors, is a proverbial treasure trove of baking stuff. You could literally find anything here.

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And as with everything in our society today, plastic is always the cheap and convenient option…..hmmph!

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Our preferred choice wasn’t so available: we couldn’t find simple brown paper bags of the right size. So should we buy doilies and wrap the cookies in them, and tied with ribbons?

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As we were in the shop debating our options, the friendly traffic police clamped us!!!!! Apparently, even if you are legitimately parked (i.e. in a parking bay on the right side of the road), it is a clamp-able offence if your car is facing the wrong way!!!

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Well, we certainly didn’t run into this happy chappie (shown on the right), reported in Phuket News 😦

So off to the police station on the tuk-tuk to pay the THB500 fine, back to the car via motorbike taxi this time, before rushing back to school!

Yes, it does sound like a palaver, but we had a fun day out, learned something new and had a good time overall.  And really, this is what we are trying to promote with Simple Green Planet: the little things you do everyday that slowly moves you towards a different – and more green – way of thinking.

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Please follow us by clicking the orange icon on the left of this page to stay tuned to our escapades ….. and join us!

*NOTE: Nikki came with us and she survived 😀

 

Essential oil products

The Dream Crafters group from Young Living has generously agreed to donate 5% of all sales to BISP environmental projects. They were at the school during Eco Week to show us how to make environmentally friendly products for the home and were impressed with the school!

This are the special promotions offered by this group.

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Promo 1
Lemon EO 15ml
Lavender EO 15ml
Peppermint EO 15ml
THB 2100
FOC 3 roller bottle blends

 

Promo 2
Diffuser c/w 5ml Lemon & 5ml Lavender
THB 3100
FOC Orange EO 15ml (worth THB 500)

Promo 3
Premium Starter Kit c/w diffuser, 11 oils (5ml)
THB 5700
FOC Diffuser bag & Orange EO 15ml

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Please order directly from them. This is their Facebook page.  If you would like to be part of their business, drop them a line, too!

Your hair and the environment

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My waist-length hair is one of my few concessions to vanity, and as my daughter also has long hair, we go through one (plastic) bottle a week of shampoo, unless we can get our hands on industrial-sized version of our usual brand (not easy in Phuket; we rely on family and friends to courier them over when possible).

And because I live in a hot country and I run and cook everyday, I wash my hair several times a week. The hair products that work best for me are from Aveda, a company that prides itself in its natural ingredients as well as its environmental leadership:

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However, not all of this company’s products come in glass bottles. Some, like my Shampure shampoo and conditioner, are in plastic bottles. Looking at my empty plastic conditioner bottle this morning, I wondered about alternatives.

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I recalled my daughters’ and niece’s favourite shop: Lush. When the first Lush store appeared in the UK, the girls were besotted with the brand. My niece said that her greatest ambition was to work for Lush. Reason: you feel like you are stepping into a delicious store each time you enter a Lush outlet.

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A google image search on Lush yielded this colourful and tempting montage:

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The youtube clip below shows how Lush’s shampoo bars are made. Each bar is good for between 60-100 uses. Which means, you are saving on average 3 bottles of shampoo with each bar….3 bottles less for the landfill and oceans each time you buy a bar! And aren’t they just delicious 🙂

Please follow us by clicking on the orange icon on the left of the page. We will be posting more about homemade cosmetics and cleaning products.