Earth-friendly gifts for kids

Collage artwork by MapleShadeKids
With spring in
With spring in full bloom, it seems like the perfect time to showcase beautiful goods handmade out of recycled or vintage materials. What better way to celebrate the season of renewal than by supporting artists and artisans who use Earth-friendly materials to create products for our kids?

Of course, the place to go is Etsy, a veritable shoppers' paradise with every conceivable handmade product available from artists and artisans worldwide.
Picking just five was not an easy task, but I limited the criteria to products that are useful for the typical child, affordable, beautiful and, thus, created with love.

Here are my picks for the season:





Journal made using recycled kids' clothing


"Old world bookbinding" may conjure up images of thick, dusty books but bookbinder Andrea Kohler of Nicopapergoods uses her artistry to create fun and beautiful journals and notebooks for the young and the young at heart. Born in Switzerland, Andrea learned her craft in Zurich, where she had her own shop for 14 years. Since 1996, she's been based in Seattle, where she painstakingly binds books by hand and restores damaged books.

Notebooks open flat and feature unique touches

Andrea recycles kids' clothing to create the covers of the hardbound notebooks. Handy at a size averaging four-by-six inches, these journals would be great for a teen to record his or her thoughts and observations, or a younger child to draw. Or keep one of these fun creations for yourself to note memorable ancedotes. Either way, these are notebooks you won't ever want to throw away.
throw away
Some notebooks include a set of four pencils and an eraser
Perhaps a
Perhaps a little pricier than a typical mass-produced notebook, each of these sell for $19 U.S. dollars, but the price is still within reach and the quality and uniqueness of each item more than makes up for the difference.
makes up


Maple Shade Kids is a fairly recent addition to the roster of Etsy sellers, but in a few months already has a few dozen customers who say the pegboards and artwork are beautifully crafted, high-quality and add the perfect touch to their kid's room.



Pegboards ($30 U.S.D.) and shelves ($45 U.S.D.)

The online store is the natural outgrowth for a creative mother of three who discovered her talent for making room decor and artwork using sustainably harvested wood after she and her family moved into a new home. Wanda Hirsch says she is inspired by simple things like her children's hugs and the "huge old maple trees surrounding our New England farmhouse."

Maple Shade Kids ensures the products are safe for children by using non-toxic glues and sealers. Equally important, Wanda uses rescued wood salvaged from a ship builders' scrap pile for most of her designs. She uses a combination of rescued woods and other woods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which aims to eradicate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous people and violence against people and wildlife.


Well-loved kids' books are turned into decorative accessories and toys at the Tiny Giraffe Shop. Amy McGrath, a stay-at-home mother of two in New Jersey, sells wooden blocks, puzzles, clipboards, light switch plates, and pails, among other things, that feature illustrations from vintage and recycled books.

Her creations feature classic characters such as Mickey Mouse and contemporary stories such as Thomas the Tank Engine.

Amy scours yard sales for books with broken binding, torn pages, or unreadable pages at yard sales. Sometimes, books come from people she knows. "You'd be surprised how many people have boxes of old, beaten-up books in their basements!" Amy says.

Pencil box ($10 U.S.D.) featuring images from Sleeping Beauty

This shop donates 10 percent of its proceeds to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a non-profit organization that promotes children's literacy (and played a key role in my enthusiasm for books when I was in elementary school).
when I


These storage bins created by Sewing Momma are sure to add a dash of color to your home and offers a fashionable way to corral all your little one's bits and pieces.


A mother of four, Sarah Latimer of Denver needed a new alternative to store her kids' toys after realizing her plastic organizer bins were constantly breaking and she was always cleaning up after her natural baskets.


Sarah uses colorful fabrics such as those designed by Amy Butler for the outside, a natural muslin for the inside and stiff interfacing to make the bins sturdy. She also offers an eco-friendly interfacing made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles, though she notes that the bins aren't as stiff. Most bins, which are about 11-inches tall, sell for $22.99 U.S. dollars.






Dawn Garini of Bearly Art has always been an entrepreneur. As a high school student in Connecticut, she worked her way through all the art classes and sometimes sold her paintings at the end of the day to fellow students for $5 back in the day when "five bucks got you something."

She raised three kids, continued painting "on whatever people would pay me to do," eventually landing a job painting children's furniture. Still, it wasn't always enough to earn a paycheck and that's when she stumbled upon the idea of creating clocks out of old record albums. She got a paycheck, clients were happy and she helped save albums from filling up landfills.



Bearlyart's clocks, which feature everything from dogs to mermaids to trains, sell for between $4 to $25 U.S.dollars

1 comment:

3rd Wave Inc said...

Organic products are essentially earth-friendly, sustainable and natural, not only in its entity but in production mode. Which makes safer and healthier.

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