The Rainbow Loom Project

Fact: Sweet is turning 7 on Tuesday, and I am not ready!

Probably a Fact: We are the only family in America who hasn’t joined in on the Rainbow Loom / rubber band bracelet phenomenon sweeping the country.

Well, that’s all about to change.

The Rainbow Loom Project - Make bracelets and send them to children in Africa!

Some friends asked me if I wanted to join in on their service project to send a bunch of these awesome bracelets to kids in Ethiopia who’ve never even heard of Rainbow Loom. It took about .024 seconds for me to jump right in feet first. I thought, what a great opportunity and fun way to celebrate Sweet’s birthday! The last thing we need around here now is more toys.

We’ll have friends and family stop by, a few Master Rainbow Loomers on hand to help us out, and several thousand colored bands to get us started. Since we’ve never used a loom before, we are reading up on the matter now and looking for fun tutorials we might want to use on Saturday.

I’ve linked to 14 of our favorite bracelets below, I love that there is something for everyone in here – girls, boys, older kids, beginners, shoot there’s probably one or two in here I can even make!

10 Rainbow Loom Bracelets You Must Try

Make Rainbow Loom bracelets for a birthday party

10 DIY Band Bracelets
Kaleidoscope Bracelet
Starburst Rainbow Bracelet
Circle of Hearts
XO Band Bracelet

Want to know more about the cause?

AHOPE – an organization that provides free assistance, housing, clothing, schooling, medical care, etc. to HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia.  

A Hope for Children - a center in Eithipia that raises orphans born HIV+

AHOPE is currently serving 213 orphans – kids and teens.  Many of them have lost their parents to AIDS.  All of them were born HIV+.  At first, AHOPE was a hospice to provide a nurturing, comfortable setting for the orphans to transition with dignity.  Thanks to medical advances in the last few decades, many of these children are thriving and living to become adults! 

Today, I’m joining Susan from Crafterhours, Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore, Jenny from The Southern Institute and Jen from Upcycled Education in a Joint Rainbow Loom Project to collect bracelets for kids at AHOPE. Extra bracelets will be given to the community surrounding AHOPE.

Want to help? We hoped you might!

The Rainbow Loom Project - Make bracelets and send them to children in Africa!

1. Get your kids making bracelets and talk to them about what you will do with them and the kids they will be going to.

2. Raise money for a good cause – we’re asking for a monetary donation to be send along with your bracelets. It can be as large or small as you need it to be. I am donating $1 for every bracelet my kids make between now and drop off date, up to $200. Ask friends and family if they would be willing to match your donation. Get as many people involved as possible.

3. Mail your bracelets (and donations) by March 15th 2014.

All bracelets, creations, and checks (made out to AHOPE) should be sent directly to:
Jen Lara at Upcycled Education
P.O. Box 950
Savage, Maryland 20763
by March 15th.

If you prefer to make a donation using your credit card, you can do so directly on AHOPE’s website (http://www.ahopeforchildren.org/)

All bracelets will be hand delivered to the children of AHOPE in April.

Recycling is cool.

Green is good. Recycling is cool.

That’s not just something we say around here, we really believe it.

My kiddos buy in to it because they know how big I am on it … but they are really acting on blind faith. This year I have set out to not just tell them recycling is cool, but also SHOW them.

They understand a little, we compost and talk often about what happens to the food we put in the bin and the soil we take out. We have started making our own homemade broths each week (oh my gosh — YUM!) and the kids call it compost soup because the things we used to throw outside … we are now cooking and eating. It was a huge concept for them to grasp and I think it has really helped them tie together the food cycle and the role we play in it.

Leap forward a bit to the paper we collect to drop off at their schools, or the bottles and cans we recycle each week, the box tops we collect, the cardboard we either reuse or recycle, the batteries, the plastic bags — all of which have to be dropped off or picked up at different places, it’s enough to make a child’s head spin.

So when I partnered up with REPREVE I knew it would be an excellent way to address WHY we save and sort those materials and what becomes of them.

A company that turns plastic bottles into cool products

The kids LOVED the green beanies they sent us. Each beanie is made from 6 plastic bottles; they were designed to be a part of the X-Games this year and well bold, funky and fun just falls right in line around here. They’ve gotten a TON of use. And when I explained to the kids that the hats were actually made out of recycled plastic bottles, they flipped their lids — literally.

These beanies are made out of recycled plastic!

They’ve been collecting bottle caps (for school) and recycling as many plastic water bottles as they can get their hands on .. which isn’t easy because we don’t even drink water bottles at home – so the folks at REPREVE can make more recycled fiber and turn it into more cool stuff.

It’s incredible all the things they are creating.

Check out this short and sweet little video promo they did for REPREVE.

This post is sponsored by REPREVE, all thoughts and opinions are our own. Now that we know more about what happens to our plastic after it’s recycled, we’ll be seeking out more products made with REPREVE.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot … who wants $5,000!!!

Just do what we did and make a video or take a photo of yourself sharing how you #TurnItGreen and send it to @Repreve by the end of the month. Here’s some info on the contest straight from the horse’s mouth.

Tell Repreve how you #TurnItGreen for a chance to win $5,000! More details if you click the link

#TurnItGreen X Games contest:
Dates: Jan. 1-31
Grand Prize: $5,000 cash

To celebrate the X Games, REPREVE invites participants to share how they “turn it green”, or how they live a more sustainable life by recycling or reusing materials, by sharing an image or video on Twitter, Instagram or Vine with the hashtag #TurnItGreen.

Once you share the image or video with the hashtag, you will be entered into a sweepstakes where five entries will be randomly selected as the Top Five. Those five will be voted on by visitors to Repreve[dot]com where the image or video with the most votes will win a $5,000 cash prize. The other four video entries will receive a REPREVE Jacket and a Go-Pro camera (retail valued at over $350).

Awesome. Crossing my fingers one of us wins!

Recycling is cool. Wear what you believe. Repreve #TurnItGreen

Wear what you believe. REPREVE.

They made that out of what!? Recycled plastic wear

I have 4 very expensive pairs of socks in my closet.

I paid more than $10 a piece for them (which makes them pretty much priceless to me), so I only put them on when I really intend to use them.

I call them my magic running socks

Awesome clothes made with Repreve, fiber made from recycled plastic bottles #TurnItGreen

They fit tight and hug my feet like they know what’s coming next. When I slip them on I walk taller and prouder, and dare I say run faster and harder than without them.

I bought them while I was training for my first half marathon and they were worth every single penny I spent.

Last night, I was doing a bit of research for one of our new sponsors this month and found a reason to love these socks even more …

Now, they are made out of recycled plastic.

In fact, there are all sorts of cool things being made out of plastic these days: from bikinis, to jeans, to polar fleece, and everything in between. The more I read the more excited I get about where sustainable technology is headed and what great stuff can be made using recycled materials.

Cool colored jeans made from 8 recycled plastic bottles! #TurnItGreen

I’ll be sharing more about Repreve, the recycled fiber helping us become more sustainable this month and I think you’ll be just as impressed as I am. For today, I encourage you to take a quick peek at some of the amazing things being made out of plastic these days.

I’m making up a wish list of my own right now!

This post is part of partnership with Repreve I am proud to be a part of, look for more information about how these products are made and where you can find them coming soon.

Simple ways to improve air quality indoors

We’ve really enjoyed the planting a forest campaign this month, together we’ve planted almost 300 trees … but wanted something a little more hands-on.

Have you planted your tree yet?

If we are truly “planting a forest”, then there needs to be some actual planting going on, am I right! So when we spotted these living Christmas trees we knew they’d be the perfect thing! We’ll keep them indoors till spring, then plant them in the backyard.

Help this little guy plant a forest for his 8th birthday

The great thing about these little trees is the learning opportunity that came with them. I like to think we do a pretty good job teaching our children how to care for the environment – we recycle, we compost, we conserve water, and try not to waste energy. We talk to them about using scrap pieces of paper for all their “projects” and we discuss big issues like alternative energy and our carbon footprints.

One thing we’ve never done however, is bring the outdoors in. It’s such a simple thing to do, but one we had overlooked until now.

These little trees aren’t just pretty to look at or fun to have around for the holidays, they are actually serving a significant purpose right now for our family. They are improving air quality in our home.

Indoor air pollution is actually a big deal. The concentration of chemicals, toxins and pollutants is much stronger indoors than the air you breathe outside; it can be a huge health problem if you are sensitive, have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.

The way all of the males in our home do.

The more we talked about the good the plants were doing in our home, the more questions they asked – what other ways can we make the air inside our house cleaner? Here’s the list I came up with for us and it’s easy enough I bet it could help your family too.

Simple ways to improve air quality indoors

1. Open a window, and let some fresh air in.

2. While you’re at it, bring in some living plants too!

3. Take your shoes off and keep them by the door.
You’d be surprised how many chemicals you track in on your feet!

4. Mop & Vacuum Weekly. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter

5. Dust often

6. Use non-toxic, natural cleaners and detergents with natural or no fragrances

7. Do not use aerosol products in your home

8. Ban smoking indoors

9. Stop using store-bought air fresheners
They are made from petroleum-based products and put off a significant amount of VOCs

10. Change you air filters every 30 days

If you have questions about any of these, want me to elaborate or have ideas of your own — I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

We’ve been working hard to raise awareness about New Leaf Energy’s plant a tree initiative on Facebook. We invite you to share your ideas on how to teach our children to go green on any social media platform with the hashtag #PlantingWithPablo.

Share your ideas on how to teach our children to go green #PlantingWithPablo