Monday, December 8, 2008

Green Gifts for Kids

My bloggy friend Small Footprints of the great blog Reduce Footprints ( kindly and generously invited me to collaborate on a post about green gift ideas for kids.    Reduce Footprints is a fantastic blog with great information about being a better citizen of this incredible planet.  It is a great blog that I am always learning from.  If you are not already a follower of Reduce Footprints, please check it out.  I'm sure you'll find it great reading!  Thank you so much to Small Footprints for this fun collaboration!  

This post is partially borrowed and modified from the collaborative article posted today on Reduce Footprints.  

With a blog called Wellness KIDS, our focus, obviously is on kids' wellness. Kids’ wellness encompasses not just physical health, but psychological, social, and moral health as well.  Our goal as parents is to raise children who become positive, healthy adults who see beyond themselves, beyond their small piece of the world and actively try to make the world a better place each and every day.

With that goal in mind, we are keenly aware that there are teachable moments in nearly every choice we, as parents make.  And the holidays are no exception.

The holidays are such an exciting time of anticipation and expectation for children!  Children who watch television are especially full of wishes for the latest and greatest toys that are flashed incessantly before their little eyes.  Fortunately, this is not the case with our kids.  They do, however, go to school with other kids who talk about the latest and greatest "have 2 have" toys. 

We have a comfortable home, but it is not large, so we are constantly trying to downsize the clutter.   It seems as if every time we give away a toy, two more come in!

So this Christmas, we are doing something different.  We are downsizing the "getting" side of the holidays and upsizing the "giving" side of the season.  We will try to use this economy to teach the kids about not spending in excess.  We will use our gifting choices to teach our kids about caring for our planet.  And we will use this season of joy and excitement to teach the kids about those less fortunate and how good it feels to help others.  My fellow mommy friends and I agreed not to exchange gifts this year.  Instead, we will use the money we would have spent on each other to demonstrate charity to our kids (those ideas will be my next blog post).  

Of course, our kids will get gifts from Santa (us) this year, but he (we) are making an effort to give them gifts that are gentler on our planet than the normal battery loving, buzzing, ringing, noisy shiny plastic stuff. 

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!

Here are more great green gift ideas 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):

·         Scarves, hats and mittens

·         Clothing

·         Stuffed dolls and animals

·         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.

Thank you so much to Small Footprints for initiating this great collaborative effort!  


  1. I had mentioned in a smaller footprint blog that I am giving stainless steelwater bottles. Now that I have thought about it a little more, I could even fill them with some organic nuts. You are keeping me on my toes.

  2. Thank you so much for working on this project with me ... and for mentioning Reduce Footprints here. It was such a pleasure to collaborate on a post with you!

    You have a great philosophy about raising kids ... your opening comments about giving this year and how you'll use it to teach your kids is wonderful.

    Thanks Wellness Kids .. for all you do!

    Small Footprints

  3. Kelli - Thanks for coming back! Stainless steel water bottles are an awesome green gift -even more awesome with something organic and delicious inside. I have three different stainless steel bottles and I'm still deciding which I like the best. Do you have a favorite one?

    SF - Thanks again for your kindness and for sharing my blog with your readers. Regarding raising my kids - I am literally always thinking about how to be a parent - how to give my kids the right balance of guidance and freedom, and help them to be high-quality human beings. I am far from perfect as a parent, but I sure am trying my best!

  4. Love your blog! I will definitely continue to follow your blog. Though they often drive me crazy, my kids mean more to me than anything and I try to do all that I can to protect them and keep them safe. Being as green as I can be is part of it all. So, thanks!

  5. Hi Stormy, thanks for finding and following my blog! I, like you, have two boys who can definitely drive me crazy! When I finally had my daughter I thought I would finally have a mellow child but she just as wild if not more wild than the boys were at her age! Yet my heart swells with love and joy when I look at them (especially when they are sleeping :)It is so trite, and you don't understand it until you become a parent, but it really is true that being a mother is the toughest job you'll ever love.


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