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Go Green: 12 Genius Eco-Friendly Products

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Paper or Plastic?

    Neither! I'm excited to see parents moving toward these reusable “paper” towels by Bambooee, made from sustainably harvested organic bamboo. They're machine-washable, fit in your current paper-towel holder, and one roll ($13; bambooee.com) can replace up to 60 paper-towel rolls. But don't stop there…

    Lap it up with reusable MYdrap Gingham Tear-Off Napkins ($28 for a roll of 20 napkins that are machine-washable up to six times or so; buymydrap.com). Or try eco-friendly one-of-a-kind vintage cloth napkins, handmade from beautiful up-cycled fabrics (from $2; etsy.com/shop/chowwithme).

  • Jarvis Oxley

    The New Eco Hero

    Meet Benjamin Barlowe, the imaginary inventor and mascot of my top fun shop, BeginAgain toys. Its gorgeous wooden and plant-based toys for the artist, writer, inventor, sportster, and hero in your child will inspire him to draw, build, explore, tell stories, play games, and ultimately save the day. In the world according to Ben, kids are the noisemakers (no batteries or electronics necessary) and the toy box is the child's first toolbox. Another simple, creative find that begs to be drawn on is Melissa & Doug's tabletop paper roll dispenser ($17; melissaanddoug.com). Use it with the adorable and one-of-a-kind Wizard at Work recycled crayons ($4 to $8; etsy.com/shop/wizardatwork).

  • Jarvis Oxley

    E-Ticket Ride

    The moment I test-drove a Chevy Volt (starting at $31,645, or lease it from $329 a month), I knew that an electric car was finally ready to take America by storm. The backup gas engine that produces electricity makes it easier to take the plunge, and owners are going to the gas station only about once a month, on average, to fill the 9.3-gallon tank. The EPA mpg equivalent is 101 mpg, city. It was a 2012 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety—a major plus for parents and their precious cargo. Plus: 85 percent of this vehicle is recyclable!

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Eating Vocal

    It takes only 30 seconds to tell the FDA you want to know which foods on store shelves have been genetically engineered (GE)—tweaked in a lab, usually to be more disease- or pesticide-resistant. There are many unanswered questions about the long-term effects of GE crops on health and the environment. Go to justlabelit.org and demand that the FDA change its ingredient-labeling policy. Here's more food for thought:

    3 CROPS make up the majority of the GE acres planted around the world: corn, soybeans, and cotton.

    90% of GE crops are produced in five countries: the United States, Canada, India, Argentina, and Brazil.

    92% of Americans want GE foods labeled.

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Silent Might

    Close your eyes and imagine the noise of a lawn mower up close. Now you know one reason I love my Neuton rechargeable electric mower. But it's about more than just noise pollution. A typical gas lawn mower, weed trimmer, or leaf blower can produce as much pollution in seven hours as a car driven over 100,000 miles. That's a lot of smog! Neuton makes other electric yard tools as well, but better yet, ditch the leaf blower and opt for a bamboo rake. No pollution, and it's a great upper-body workout! ($500; neutonpower.com)

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Sharing 2.0

    Last year we featured websites dedicated to lending, swapping, and reselling kid gear. Planet Reuse takes that to the next level: It's a national online network of reclaimed and surplus household items and building supplies. Need a washing machine? Stove? Chandelier? Sofa? Wood flooring? Check planetreuse.com first.

  • Jarvis Oxley

    The New "Sandwich Generation"

    More families and schools are taking a stand against waste with the Green My Lunchbox (greenmylunch box.com) campaign. If at least 15,000 families pledge to pack waste-free lunches, together they'd save 1 million pounds of trash per year, and there's some great gear to help. Reusable, food-safe, dishwasher-friendly LunchSkins($9; reuseit.com) have so far saved more than 120 million plastic baggies from landfills. I take my own lunch in the To-Go Ware 3-Tier Tiffin & Carrier Bag ($40; wayfair.com) with RePEaT bamboo fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks that clip on with a carabiner ($13; to-goware.com). Or try PlanetBox, shown at left ($40; planetbox.com). The right-sized compartments make it easy to pack, and fun to eat, a well-balanced meal. And the foods don't touch!

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Candy Sane

    Kids (and parents) deserve an occasional sweet treat, and Unreal Candy can help absolve your guilt. A 13-year-old child dreamed up the idea of “candy unjunked” after he read the ingredient list on his favorite peanut-butter cups and thought there must be a greener way. Luckily, his dad is a successful entrepreneur, and together they reimagined popular candies without artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, GMOs, corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated oils, and 40 percent less sugar. Key ingredients used to make the candy are responsibly sourced, support farming communities, and prevent rain-forest destruction.

    Unreal Chocolate Caramel Nougat Candy Bar

    Calories 170
    Sugar 19 g
    Total fat 7g
    Carbs 28 g
    Fiber 5 g
    Protein 4 g

    VS

    Traditional Chocolate Caramel Nougat Candy Bar

    Calories 270
    Sugar 35 g
    Total fat 11 g
    Carbs 41 g
    Fiber 1 g
    Protein 2 g

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Build Glass Houses

    Where do your leftovers live? Mine are in Wean Green glass cubes, bowls, and tubs with fun, colorful snap-on lids (sets from $11; amazon.com). The tempered glass these containers are made from is five times stronger than regular glass and has no plastic chemicals to migrate into the food. Plus, they make leftovers look appetizing and keep cereal from spilling all over your diaper bag!

  • Jarvis Oxley

    Get on the Same Page

    Rana DiOrio's whimsical book teaches kids What Does It Mean to Be Green? (Hint: It doesn't mean “looking like a frog, or a pickle, or an alien.”) Kids have fun learning to see how their everyday life makes a difference. Save paper and download the e-version for $3. I also love the latest release from author Chris Gall: Awesome Dawson ($17 hardcover). Gall inspires kids to repurpose in this inventive adventure about a superhero boy whose motto is “Everything can be used again!”

  • Jarvis Oxley

    The New "Sandwich Generation"

    More families and schools are taking a stand against waste with the Green My Lunchbox (greenmylunchbox.com) campaign. If at least 15,000 families pledge to pack waste-free lunches, together they'd save 1 million pounds of trash per year, and there's some great gear to help. Reusable, food-safe, dishwasher-friendly LunchSkins ($9; reuseit.com), shown at left, have so far saved more than 120 million plastic baggies from landfills. I take my own lunch in the To-Go Ware 3-Tier Tiffin & Carrier Bag ($40; wayfair.com) with RePEaT bamboo fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks that clip on with a carabiner ($13; to-goware.com). Or try PlanetBox ($40; planetbox.com). Its right-sized compartments make it easy to pack, and fun to eat, a well-balanced meal. And the foods don't touch!

  • Jarvis Oxley

    My Eco Hero

    Meet Benjamin Barlowe, the imaginary inventor and mascot of my top fun shop, BeginAgain toys. Its gorgeous wooden and plant-based toys for the artist, writer, inventor, sportster, and hero in your child will inspire him to draw, build, explore, tell stories, play games, and ultimately save the day. In the world according to Ben, kids are the noisemakers (no batteries or electronics necessary) and the toy box is the child's first toolbox. Another simple, creative find that begs to be drawn on is Melissa & Doug's tabletop paper roll dispenser, shown at left ($17; melissaanddoug.com). Use it with these one-of-a-kind Wizard at Work recycled crayons ($4 to $8; etsy.com/shop/wizardatwork).

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