Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! An exhaustively epic eco-friendly round-up.

We all know "Earth Day is every day," but it never hurts to be reminded to be gentle with the environment! Here are some great book, toy, and activity choices for everyone in your family, from baby on up.

Infants and Toddlers

We've recently started carrying Peter Rabbit Naturally Better books, and while the whole line is too cute to resist, my favorite is the Peter Rabbit Snuggle flannel book. You're never too old for a soft-as-a-bunny book/blankie made of non-toxic, organic materials, right? While you're in the baby room convincing yourself to stop snuggling Peter Rabbit Snuggle, check out the Peter Rabbit Naturally Better Baby Record Book, Classic Gift Set, and board book series. All are illustrated in a pastel collage style which is fresh and faithful to Potter's original watercolors.

Start environmental education early with a recycled board books that's eco-conscious both in message and medium. Leslie Bockol's One Tree -- part of Innovative Kids' Green Start line -- connects a single tree to a complex web of life, large and small. Check out the publisher's website for more green tips, activities, and games.

Miyim "simply organic" cotton baby toys are adorable and eco-friendly! Their cuddly bears, bunnies, monkeys, hippos, and giraffes are made from incredibly soft, certified organic and non-toxic cotton fabric, dyed with all-natural plant colors, and come in recycled packaging. You'll find plush and blankies in the baby room.

3-5 years
Our monkey friend goes green in Curious George Plants a Tree. After learning about recycling at the science museum, George decides to participate in an upcoming recycling rally. Being George, he gets carried away -- and gets into trouble. Fortunately, his good intentions (and a little help from the man in the yellow hat) smooth things over. Twenty tips for helping the environment are included. Also try The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore).

We have a whole line of Green Toys, who call their dump truck "the most energy-efficient vehicle on this or any other planet." It's made from 100% recycled milk jugs! Primary colors and rounded edges make this truck extremely toddler-friendly as well as earth-friendly. Tugboats for bathtub, pool, or puddle come in three different color combinations. Add on a spout for even more water fun. The 15-piece tool set includes screwdrivers (flat and Phillips), hammer, pliers, wrench, saw, an assortment of nuts, bolts, and nails, and a kid-sized tool box. All Green Toys are made of recycled plastic milk jugs, packaged in minimal recycled/recyclable boxes with soy-ink printing, and conform to a loooong list of toy safety and environmental standards.

6-10 years
A classic games get a makeover with Schylling's Panda's Pick Bamboo Games. The board for this Mancala game is bamboo, which is organic, sustainable, and biodegradable. The set is also light-weight and compact, perfect to take on the go.

The Eco Saucer is green literally and figuratively. This lime green Frisbee is made of recycled milk jugs like its fellow Green Toys brand items, plus it has ideal Frisbee size and weight. No wimpy throws with this one! It also has their doggie mascot Marlow's paw of approval for fetch.

Our staff members have been coveting the reusable drinking bottles by Crocodile Creek. The food-grade stainless steel bottles are decorated all over with the solar system, dinos, trucks, animal tracks, flowers, and lots of other fun options in the distinctive (CG-beloved!) Croc Creek illustration style. At 13 ounces, they're perfect to tuck into a matching Crocodile Creek lunch box! The bottles are fully recyclable, lead-free, phthalate-free, and BPA-free, and ALSO conform to or exceed U.S. and European safety standards. Whew!

Earth Smart Crafts by American Girl teaches eco-savvy tween girls how to refashion disposable items into gifts, jewelry, games, and room accessories -- all while reducing waste. (Pair it with That Girl Lucy Moon, Amy Timberlake's novel about activist Lucy's experience starting junior high. Which will she choose, activism or popularity?) The Cutest Nature Book Ever!, also by American Girl, is packed with nature-themed craft ideas, bird- and cloud-watching logs, and outdoor writing prompts. Both books are inspired by the newest American Girl, local-to-Boston Lanie, whose love of nature and science make her a great green role model.

Teens and Adults
In the environmentalism section upstairs you'll find Young Reader's editions of the best-selling adult nonfiction books The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore. The Young Reader's versions are more accessible, yet still packed with pertinent information about the sources of our food and global warming, respectively. (And believe me, you don't have to be a "young reader" to appreciate a somewhat shorter, friendlier adaptation of these books!)

Scientist, nature writer, and activist Rachel Carson published her pollution study/expose Silent Spring in 1962, virtually single-handedly launching the environmental movement. In her book, Carson reveals the devastating effects of pesticides and herbicides on wildlife and on humans. While some of the specific chemicals Carson writes about (like DDT) are now banned, the dangers of pollution are still highly relevant. Carson cites study results projecting that one in every four people will develop cancer in their lifetime; fifty years' worth of carcinogens later, that number is considerably higher. Sadly, Rachel Carson herself died from cancer not long after Silent Spring was published.

This is just a SMALL sampling of the many eco-friendly items we carry -- maybe I should have called it an "exhausting" post rather than an "exhaustive" one! Keep checking back for more.

One more thing: the Cambridge Green Streets Initiative has a Walk/Ride Day on the last Friday of each month. You may notice Walk/Ride Day info at our events, most recently at this weekend's Bookish Ball. Green Streets brought in their "10 in '10" passport, which makes a game of utilizing public transportation, to ride ten different Boston MBTA buses this year. Pick up a passport here, go green (by walking, riding your bike, carpooling, or taking public transportation) as much as you can, and be on the lookout for some Walk/Ride day fun in the near future!

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