Eco-Mama Tips

Living and having 'green' fun is all about finding stuff lying around and making new even cooler stuff out of them. Here are some of my best Eco-mama tips for having a blast with virtually nothing at all. It amazes me to this day what you can create from the things lying around your own household!

Learn how to sew!
 What you'll need:
- buttons with really big holes
- yarn
- ribbon
- squares of burlap
- a really big fat needle

This is Mia's first attempt at sewing...

...and before long, she upcycled and embellished her very own dress all by herself. I'll never need to sew a button for her again - a true gift for us both!



Here Come the Balloons
What you'll need:
- A package of the cheapest balloons you can find
- A windy day
- A bit of string

It's a non-disputable fact: kids love balloons! And, it's tons of fun to personify inanimate objects! 
Blow up a couple balloons and tie a bit of string onto them (makes them easier to catch). Go outside and find a place in the yard with wind-tunnel characteristics.
Have the kids stand there and let their balloon go, then watch them 'come to life' and fly away! The most fun is running after them and catching them.

Tip: If you want to make a theme out of it, rent the classic movie 'The Red Balloon' from the library and have a showing afterwards.  

Scientific Milk
What you'll need:
- A tall cup (preferably plastic)
- A long straw
- Milk
- Paper towels

The simplicity of this activity is what makes it so great. Yes, it will cost you milk. But if you've got little ones, you've probably got tons of milk in the fridge anyway! And I don't see it as a waste when I consider the benefits: fun, giggles and even a bit of educational value!
Fill the cup with a few inches of milk - you really don't need a lot. Have the kids blow in to their milk through their straws until it starts overflowing with milk bubbles! It's as simple as that! Watch them marvel at the big bubbles as they slide over the side of the cup. Great fun for all!

Makin' Soup
What you'll need:
- A big plastic mixing bowl
- Different mixing tools: spoons, ladles, whisks, etc.
- All the spices you never use
- Anything else you can spare, like macaroni, beans, coffee grains, veggie skins
- Water

When I was a kid, I often made 'Witchy Cross-Britches Stew' while my Mom was cooking dinner. I got to use the skins and rinds of the veggies she was preparing for dinner, and spices, like I was really cooking! If you're like me, you've probably got all sorts of spices you bought for a recipe ages ago, which are now gathering dust in the cupboard.

Arrange a variety of spices you're never going to use on the counter and watch the kids use them sparingly, just like you would. If you've got measuring cups, that's even more fun. Watch as they pour, sift, stir and share!

Tip: Cleaning up can be just as fun as making the mess! Give them a dustpan/sponge/paper towels/etc. and invite them to help clean.

Toilet Paper Tube Fun
What you'll need:
- Toilet paper tubes - the more the merrier
- Any kind of paper, i.e. construction paper, toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, tissue paper, etc.
- Pens, pencils, crayons
- Tape or glue
- Any crafty stuff you have lying around - sequins, ribbons, bits of fabric, etc.

I save toilet paper tubes like they're going out of style. You can make just about anything with them!
Let your imagination run wild with paper, feathers, ribbon and tape or glue. You just never know what you might end up with.

If you need some inspiration to get you started, download my 'Something to do on a Rainy Day - Toilet Paper Tube Critters' PDF in the 'Free Stuff' part of this blog.

Count the Critters
What you'll need:
- A yard with dirt (or a spot in your garden designated for the kids only)
- A couple shovels
- A couple small jars with lids
- Magnifying glass *optional

What is more fun than going outside and discovering the world around you? And the world is chock full of critters... worms, ladybugs, spiders, snails, potato bugs - you name it!
Go outside and start looking - under rocks, in bushes...

Give each kid a shovel and let them dig a hole till they find a worm and watch them as they shriek with excitement upon finding one! Look through the shrubs for ladybugs or in the crevices of the house for spiders. How many critters are there in your yard? You could even make a little chart by drawing (or having the kids draw) the kinds of critters they think they'll find outside, and tallying them once they start searching.
Teach them to create the right environment for their critter in the jar by using the same leaves/grass/bark/etc. they found them in. Allow them to 'keep' the critter for a little while, but that it has to go back to its home when they're done playing.
 Note: If you're concerned about any stinging/poisonous critters where you live, make clear the kids can spot but not touch!

Never Fails: Make Up
As far as make-up goes, sometimes less is more. You can do wonders with a black or brown (liquid) eyeliner - mega long eyelashes, whiskers, an eye-patch... 

Lipstick makes perfect round rosy red cheeks. If you've got some old eye-shadow lying around, let the kids apply it themselves with q-tips or cotton balls. Let boys and girls try out whatever they want - don't limit them to gender definition! Heck, if you were a boy and saw all that frou-frou business with princessy-type dresses, and all you got was a pair of pants, well, I bet you'd want to try it out too!

Be a Color!
Get out all the kids' clothes and make piles according to color, then get dressed in any color you want, right down to your socks and undies!

Here's Mia being purple...
And here she is being blue!

Give handmade gifts!
People love receiving handmade gifts - they're way more personal than anything you can get in a store, not to mention a lot friendlier for the environment!

Check out the 'Make it Yourself' page for fun, easy (and free) DIY projects!

Use yoghurt as an all-purpose cleaner!
Before you throw out that old carton of expired yoghurt that's been in the fridge for a month, use the rest to clean the shower!
Just pour some onto the tiles, or in the sink, smear it out with your hand and leave it alone for a few hours. The natural bacteria in yoghurt just eats away dirt and grime and when you wash the yoghurt off again, it's spick-n-span! Take it from me, it really works!

Kids massage!
If you've got a bad back and a toddler or two at home, then have I got a tip for you: the absolutely eco-friendly, not to mention free, kids massage! Lie on the bed face down and have the kid(s) run/jump/spring/leap/trample/walk/skip all over your back. They have the best time, and those little elbows/hands/knees/feet work wonders on your back!

Play dressup with old scarves!
Who needs expensive, mass-produced costumes when you can dress up a zillion different ways using old scarves! Simply tie a few around your waste, a couple around your arms and your head and you'll be the belle of the ball!