People boycott companies to vote with their dollar.  A company called Joycott prefers to take another approach.  They love to ‘Joycott’ businesses by celebrating businesses who care about the planet.

And Bonnetfriend has been ‘joycotted’!

http://www.joycott.com/bonnetfriend/thinkingahead

What an honor!  It feels great to be joycotted!

 

Wee Three on a bike

HOW TO GREEN YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL FUNDRAISER

Cycle there. That’s where the fun begins…

At some point in your child’s early years, you may become involved in a school fundraiser or homeschool community event. As part of the planning team, you have a say in the small details of planning for the big day! Even for an established event, there are so many areas in which you can green your event to success!

But…is it an arduous task to green an event?

Let’s check in with Christina Soletti, Co-Chair of our preschool fundraiser, Village Playgarden Annual Winter Market. I asked Christina to share her thoughts about the ways we can look at event planning through a green lens!

So, the answer is..no! It does not have to be arduous to green your event! It’s really all about choices up front. Other than the time it takes to set green guidelines up front, subsequent years will be as simple as organic apple gluten-free pie!

A few simple changes can establish your school’s event as one that offers healthy food, avoiding the need for visiting parents to pre-pack snacks or detour away from tables of sugary cupcakes; where their children come home with prizes and crafts that last and foster imaginative play; where parents themselves can depend on finding eco-conscious products for gift-giving. Parents really do appreciate it, and will spread the word!

Village Playgarden Annual Winter Market is being held on Saturday, December 7th from 10-4pm (directions here).  We will see you there, and don’t forget your water containers!

FIVE KEY AREAS YOU CAN GO GREEN AT YOUR EVENT (video recap):

VENDORS

If a vendor market is part of your event income, set some criteria around what types of products or services they are promoting. For example, you may require that vendors only sell non-toxic products, items made using natural materials, items that are cruelty-free (vegan/not tested on animals), and items that avoid packaging.

FOOD

Both the food that you serve for families to enjoy at your event, as well as the food that you sell at your event for take-home purchase (eg. bakeshop) can be eco-conscious choices. For example, your menu can include foods that are both local and seasonal, where feasible. Use organic ingredients as much as possible. Serve fair-trade coffee. Sell some food that the children have been growing in the school garden. Of course, have a few compost bins and recycle bins clearly marked for visitors. Dishware, such as plates and cutlery, can be rented at a much more reasonable price than buying bulk disposable one-time use plates. Consider a one-time cloth-napkin-making club to cut and stitch a large supply of reusable napkins from recyclable fabric. Place a large hamper beside the garbage cans marked ‘cloth napkin disposal’. Napkins can be washed and tucked away in a storage bin for every year after. Think of all the paper napkins you’ll spare and not spend money on ever again!

DRINKS

Place free-standing water stations around your event, similar to the water coolers you may have in your own home. Encourage people to keep their cups to reuse throughout the event. In your advertising and promotional materials, encourage visitors to bring their own fillable water container in order to receive a free drink or free entry (if it’s a paid event) Stop the madness with juice/pop/water bottles! Rather, set up a smoothie station! Children and parents alike will appreciate the sweet and nourishing boost (of organic fruit goodness), keeping everyone’s spirits up!

DECOR

Skip the disposable balloons and streamers when there are so many other beautiful choices! Nature’s beauty of fallen leaves, pine boughs, acorns, rocks, branches, flowers. Experiment with fabric/felt/wooden materials for signs and décor. This can be a coordinated effort by parents for the first year round, but then year over year, there is no work involved at all – just hanging them up to enjoy!

PRIZES & MATERIALS FOR CRAFTING

While it can be tempting to load up on plastic prizes and plastic craft beads at the dollar store, handmade is always appreciated and is so much more meaningful! Before the big event, organize a gathering for school parents to make prizes together. Children appreciate prizes that have lasting value, like a painted wooden peg doll, felted acorns in acorn caps. Use natural materials like shells, wooden beads, seed packets and small crystals as prizes or crafting materials. There are many online shops that sell reasonably-priced small wooden products in bulk that are perfect for prizes, just as they are or watercolor-painted.

PLANNING, PROMOTION AND MISC

• Before the event, have school parents bring in extra reusable shopping bags to have available for visitors to use at the event. You may just encourage more shopping, to fill those bags up!
• Planning: There are several online tools, such as Google Docs, Volunteer Spot, and email to assist in planning your event, the paperless way.
• Promoting: While hanging posters in libraries and community spaces are key to advertising an event, promote the paperless way too with social media tools such as e-vites, facebook, twitter, blogs, and your school’s website.

Feel free to share this post on your social media to give more parents ideas for going green!

Family: At Home

AT HOME

If you have ever moved your family to a new home, city or country, you are no stranger to the hope and optimism of new discoveries.

My partner, daughter and dog and I made a big move back in 2010. After settling into our wee apartment that first day, daughter in sling, we walked our new neighborhood. We lived here now. Not where we lived yesterday. Stepping over gigantic tree roots jutting from the sidewalk, I realized we would come to know that tree root very well, eventually stepping over it without a glance. We would smell these jasmine flowers on this hedge over and over, through it’s many blooming seasons. We will soon know the name of the waggy-happy dog in that yard, and it will become a part of my daughter’s first memories of dogs. We will walk by this corner and make a game of finding the lazy cat in the window.

And then we turned the corner, and were greeted with this welcoming sight, under a shady tree just off the sidewalk. For anyone to enjoy.

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Our view from the bench.

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This landmark came to be our family’s nature bench for walks, nursing, just listening. We have moved to a new home since, but visit this bench often. More weathered and worn, it holds a special place for a family. The nature bench was a sign that our family was most certainly, at home.

Bonnets in Wonderland - Unique LA

SHOPPING LOCAL AT UNIQUE LA

This time last year, I set myself a challenge: If we were going to buy gifts for family over the holidays, we would choose handmade gifts.

From music, art, meals, toys and clothes, people we know are creating all around us. We find ourselves buying less each year, which made this challenge realistic, and very rewarding. Not one to rest on my earth-loving laurels, I have upped the ante: This year, for the few gifts we do buy, I’m going local:  Unique LA, to be exact.

bonnetsinwonderland-unique-la

Held in New York, San Francisco and L.A., Unique is an independent design show that features hundreds of local designers and artists offering Made-in-America goods.

(We are also holiday-shopping at my daughter’s school’s Annual Winter Market, another abundance of local handmade love!)

I attended Unique LA’s Spring Show, and marked the Holiday Show on my calendar immediately. On Sunday, December 8th, you will find me grooving to the upbeat vibe, feeling good that every item is made in the U.S.A. There is a chill-out area for fun DIY arts and crafts, and kids under 12 are free. Check it out!

Why is buying local good for the environment?

A hugely reduced carbon-footprint! When goods are produced locally, there is reduced transport involved. There is far less wasteful packaging than one otherwise experiences with goods shipped from overseas. Not to mention, you can actually handle your product, grab n’ go. And if you’re so inclined – this is my favorite part – you can actually meet the designer! Unique LA, in particular, has collection of young and up-and-coming businesses who embrace social-consciousness as the standard and expectation in today’s business model.

I look forward to sharing with you any bonnets-in-wonderland-worthy artists I meet at the show! Don’t miss the scoop – enter your email to subscribe for posts directly to your inbox!

Bonnets-in-Wonderland-Mudbrick_Fairyhouse

BUILD A MUD BRICK FAIRYHOUSE

Build your own mudbrick fairy house in one afternoon, right in your own backyard. It is easy, and so much fun!

Bricks made out of sun-dried mud are called adobes. Adobe bricks date back to the natural building techniques used in the southwestern United States, South America, and the Middle East. This building technique requires a lot of labor, and simple tools. So, it is widely used in areas where there are many workers and not a lot of capital.

Our mudbrick fairyhouse is suited for little hands, costs nothing, and inspires the imagination!

Bonnets_MBFHingredients
Wander your yard, collecting dirt, dried roots, grass clippings, crunchy leaves. Little hands can crumble and mix all together, adding water – wet enough to hold together but not soupy.

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Spoon mixture into an ice-cube tray and pat it down gently. Ice cube trays with removable dividers will be best for maintaining brick shape. However, we did well using our old ice cube trays that are not BPA-free, and labelled them ‘for crafts only’.

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Drizzle water along the tray if the mud still seems crumbly. Pat down.

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After a few minutes, gently remove the mudbricks from the ice cube tray. Flip the tray upside down and gently knock it against the ground to loosen bricks enough to fall out on their own. Little hands can reshape the bricks, if needed.

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Now, the mudbricks need to dry out. You can either lay them in the sun for three days to dry naturally. Otherwise, if your little one is eager to get to the fun building stage, you can dry your mud bricks in the oven for two hours at 150 degrees.

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After much wandering and conversation about where the fairy house should be built, we decided to claim some land at the foot of our Sequoyah, allowing for shade from the elements, and access to neighboring flowers for fairies to pick their petal skirts from.

Time to make mortar! Use the same mud mixture, but soupier, to be used as your mortar to stack your mudbricks. Lay a coating of mortar on your selected location.

Bonnets_MBFH8

When your mudbricks have dried hard, begin building!

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We laid bark across the width at the front of our house, to structure a front entrance. Eager hands laid soft grass clippings inside for resting fairies.

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Two long pieces of fallen bark were collected to make our roof, leaning and adhered with mortar. Leftover mortar can be laid for setting a winding flagstone path.

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Another piece of bark made a perfect sign, to help direct wandering fairies to the newly built mudbrick fairy house, waiting to be claimed as a home.

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We popped out of bed after dark that night, flashlight in hand, to take a peek inside….no inhabitants yet. But we know there will be!

So many thanks to www.imaginechildhood.com for inspiring our adobe mudbrick fairy house. If you are not familiar with imagine childhood, you should be!

The possiblities are endless…fairy houses, gnome homes…please share your creations with us! A global village is on the horizon!

Bonnets-In-Wonderland-Nature-Play

IS NATURE PLAY EXTINCT?

We have all heard the tales… how once upon a time, children ran free, exploring, climbing, discovering the woods in solitude. They used to listen to the sounds of the morning forest, pick at dry sap on the trees, eat apples from a tree branch, rest on mossy ground when they were tired.

But are they still out there?  
Let’s visit the Netherlands, where one fortunate soul caught a glimpse of – not just one – but several!


The answer is no!
They are not extinct. And in fact, there have been sightings all over the world, a steady increase.

Is your child one of them?

photo by: Ahron de Leeuw

Is organic the new black?

natural children
                                                                            

 

Four years ago, we had our baby. I was hard-pressed to find organic clothing for her…back then. Times have certainly changed.

Parents have become aware of the benefits of organic cotton, for baby and the planet. The demand has increased. Designers have heeded the call.

Organic Childrenswear

Stripe coverall www.brokentricycle.com

8189302567_925ddafebe_b

kids will have their say, www.miniandmaximus.com

No longer are parents restricted to a classic onesie in earth tones, the accessible organic choice five years ago. Sustainable fabrics abound, designers are limited only by their imaginations.

As the demand has grown, the once-prohibitive prices for organic-wear has become much more reasonable.

organic childrenswear, sustainable kids

hug me sweater, sustainable knitwear, www.oeufnyc.com

organic childrenswear, organic sunhat

shaka muchaca, www.miniandmaximus.com

From rough-and-tumble play to lounge-y pants, we can find whatever our earth-loving hearts desire.

organic childrenswear

Thea, inspiration for www.naturebaby.com

I love offering organic shower gifts to parents-to-be will appreciate too. A few of my fave go-to designers:

P.S. Truth be told, earth-tone organic onesies are still a favorite gift choice for me. Do you have an organic source for kids clothes?

(Top Photo: mexico rosel † / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND)