Category : Eco-Friendly/Green

BPA Free Eco-Friendly/Green Reusable Products Review

Thermos Funtainers Review

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thermos funtainer

My daughter started Kindergarten this year, and though she ate lunch at preschool 2x a week Jan-June, they served water there, so I didn’t have to send a drink.  I was looking for something re-usable and BPA free to send her to school with this year.
 

thermos funtainer

I did pretty much all of my back to school shopping at Target (love that store, but very, very dangerous for my wallet!) and found these Thermos Beverage Containers.  They have a stainless steel interior, double wall vacuum construction, silicone straw,  and non-slip base.  They hold 12 ounces of liquid, are dishwasher safe, easy to open (but also easy to open accidentally!) and will keep drinks cold for 12 hours.
 
When I bought this, I didn’t know any of that.  I knew it was BPA free and my daughter liked it!!  On the first day of school I sent her with a thermos of water and a little bit of ice.  After 8 hours, this is what I found:
 

after almost 8 hrs

Wow, it still had ice in it!  It really did keep it cold!!  This worked swimmingly for about two months.  Then one day I  went to unpack her stuff after school, and her lunch box, bookbag, and everything in it (including a library book) were soaking wet.  She claimed that she closed the top, but I wasn’t so sure.  I sent her with it again the next day and this time everything was soaked again, including the special class Tooth Fairy Bag, complete with 2 more library books!!  Thankfully, it was just water, but still.  We tried keeping it in an outside pocket of her bookbag, but then she was forgetting to take it to the lunchroom.  So, we’re still working on a new solution, and I have a different bottle to review as well.
 
thermos funtainer jarthermos

I also bought her a Funtainers Food Jar so I could send her with leftover soup, mac & cheese and so forth.  before I sent her with anything, I wanted to test to make sure the TherMax® double wall vacuum insulation really worked.
 

initial temp

I put hot water in the thermos, closed it up, and took the temperature of the water to see how it retained the heat.  I checked it after 4.5 hours:

after 4.5 hrs

 
and again after 6.5 hours:
 

after 6.5 hrs

 
It has worked really well.  When I send her with something hot, I make it just a bit hotter than I would if we were eating it right away, then close it up!
 
The regular price of both of these at my Target was $13.99 each, but I got them on sale for $12 each.  Just a few packs of juice boxes would add up to that quickly!! We’re still using the thermos at home sometimes; if I could get her to stop chewing on the straw it would be perfect!

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BPA Free Eco-Friendly/Green Review

Munchkin BPA Free Dinnerware Products Review

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bpa free munchkin

Since my kids are pretty far apart in age, all of the dishes and such we used when my daughter was little are nearly 5 years old now.  Not only did we not know about BPA then, but some of the stuff was looking a little worse for the wear.

munchkin bpa free cups bowls plates

I went hunting at the best place ever, Target, and these Munchkin products caught my eye.  I didn’t buy everything at once, but each time I looked for something new, my eyes seemed to go to Munchkin again.

snack cup

The first thing I bought was the 2-pack of snack catchers, which were $4.49 at Target.

bpa free snack catcher

They have a soft lid, which is secure and easy for little hands to reach through.  The handles make it easy to hold.  The only spills we’ve had were because my son shoved his fist in, then turned it upside down!

baby snack cup
It”s hard to see here, but there is a place on the bottom to write your child’s name!
snack catcher
It holds 9 ounces of snacks.  The first time I used it, I grossly underestimated the amount of snacks he would eat, LOL!
snack time
Next, I bought the plates, cups and bowls.
dishwasher safe
The cups and bowls were $2.99 for a pack of 5, and the plates were $3.79 for a pack of 5 (also at Target.)  They are again, BPA free and dishwasher safe.  While I’m not totally loving the pink & purple for my son, they have a gender neutral fishy pattern on them.
The curve of the bowls make it easy for little hands to hold it in place while scooping.  My son gets excited when he sees the bowls because he thinks it’s yogurt time!
thirsty baby
The cups are also perfectly shaped for little hands to hold. 
baby drinking from cup
They do leave a little red mark on his forehead though.  Tee-hee!
stainless sippy
So lastly, I was looking for a hard spout, BPA free sippy cup (preferably insulated) since until now, we’ve just been using Born Free soft spout cups.
munchkin sippy cup
I thought this Munchkin Sippy was a little spendy at $9.99 for a single 9 oz. cup, but it’s insulated, and it’s actually stainless!
9 oz sippy cup
I was a little disappointed to learn that it isn’t dishwasher safe, but the design is simple, and a quick wash in soapy water gets it clean & ready to use again.  Really, that’s good since I don’t need to have multiples to use while others are in the dishwasher.
spill proof cup
It doesn’t leak, if you remember to put the valve in (not naming names, ahem!)

Munchkin makes tons of products, and I’d definitely look to them next time I’m searching for something!

FTC Compliance: All items featured in this review were self purchased at normal retail prices.  All opinions are my own.

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Eco-Friendly/Green Made in the USA Reusable Products Review

Lunchskins Reusable Cloth Sandwich Pouch Review

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lunchskins pink fruit series slices bag

In January, I reviewed two handmade snack bags I purchased on Etsy, for my daughter to take to preschool.

reusable baghandmade snack bag

The smaller, pink polka dotted snack bag I purchased from cottontopquilts, was used twice per week from January through June.  It’s still works wonderfully and we’re using it for Kindergarten as well.

smartsnackbags

Unfortunately, the Tinkerbell print bag from smartsnackbags did not fare as well.  I used the smaller bag each time she went to preschool for various snacks.  I only used the larger one when I sent fruit, or something else that wouldn’t fit in the smaller bag.  Thus, it was only used once or twice per month, and was treated with care.  Unfortunately, after 4 months of occasional use, it had fallen apart.  I typically just wiped it or shook it out, but happened to flip it inside out one day and saw what it looked like.  My daughter told me it had looked like that for a while!

I contacted the seller to let her know what had happened, wondering if she’d had other problems with them.  3 months later I still haven’t gotten a response.  Oh well!

lunchskins sanwich bag

In any case, I wanted a new, larger snack bag, and I wanted to get a few, since she’d be eating lunch at school every day at Kindergarten.

green snack bag

When I saw this lunchskins bag at our local organic market for $7.69, I had to pick it up.  My daughter loves pink!

earth-friendly snack bag

Lunchskins are made of thick cotton fabric, coated with a food safe polyurethane liner.  They are lead, BPA and phthlate free.

reusable

The bag is very sturdy and durable, and appears to be well made.  The above photo is the inside seam, I don’t think this one will fall apart!

eco-friendly

I had planned to use the sandwich size bag as a large snack bag, but it became a sandwich bag when I discovered that the plastic sandwich tote Grandma had bought wouldn’t fit in her lunch box!

lunchskins bag

It fits well and it didn’t get squished.  Since we compost, my daughter doesn’t throw anything away at school, so I’m not worried about it getting tossed.  Her crusts were still soft when I emptied her bag!

lunchskins

I was probably a little too excited when I realized Lunchskins are also dishwasher safe!!  Woo-hoo!!  Below is after it’s first ride in the dishwasher (it emerged unscathed.)

dishwasher safe sandwich bag

After using it for a week, I had to have more.  With back to school, it was slim pickings at the store, so I got the last sandwich size bag they had.

lunchskins red bud logo series sandwich bag

My store also had the sub size bags, but they didn’t have the snack size bags, which I want!  The bags come in tons of cute colors and patterns, and you can use them in pretty much any case that would have you reaching for a plastic bag!

Direct from Lunchskins, the sandwich size bag I purchased retails for $8.95.  The sub bags are $10.95 and the snack size bags are $7.85.  It may seem like a pricey investment, but they can be reused hundreds of times.  I don’t buy many plastic bags, but I remember being shocked at the price the last time I did.

P.S. Boy does the word sandwich ever look weird after typing and looking at it so many times, I had to spell-check to make sure I wasn’t spelling it wrong!

P.P.S. My spell-check wants to change smartsnackbags to stinkbugs, which I find hilarious.

FTC Compliance: All products pictured/discussed/reviewed were purchased at normal store prices by me.  All opinions are my own, based on my experience.

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Composting Eco-Friendly/Green Review

Nature Mill “Automatic Compost Bin” Review

 

nature mill composter
I have been coveting the Nature Mill composters since I heard about them a few years ago.  I was given the opportunity to purchase one at a very generous discount, but still didn’t think I could fit it into my budget.  Luckily for me, I think my husband felt guilty that I would be at home on my birthday, eating grilled cheese with my kids, while he was in Italy (on business.)  So, he told me to go ahead and order it as my birthday gift!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, the Nature Mill composter is self contained, heating and turning compost material in the upper chamber.  Then you transfer the compost to a lower chamber and add more items to the top.  A red light comes on about every two weeks, telling you to empty the lower tray.  You can compost even dairy, meat and fish (which you wouldn’t put in a normal compost pile.)

composternature mill

Initially, I was a little disappointed by how simple it seemed.  The model I purchased retails for $299.  Their specifications indicate that it is made of recycled + recyclable energy-efficient polypropylene (stamped with the “5” triangle recycling symbol.)  It has the appearance of heavy duty Styrofoam, and the overall composter just seems so simple that I felt like I had wasted my money, that there was no way I was really going to feel like this thing was worth it.  I was wrong by the way.  Perfect example of why I don’t write reviews immediately after I’ve received a product!

green
Lower Tray
nature mill
Upper Chamber
The composter comes with sawdust pellets and baking soda that you add 1 cup/1 tablespoon to every 5 cups of food waste you add to the composter.

nature mill

Initially, I had hoped to keep this in my kitchen, beside my trash and recycling bins.  They actually make cabinet kits for the composter, but I don’t have an outlet I could plug it into.  Also, there is nothing latching the top closed (from curious fingers) and they warn that the inside can get quite hot. 

nature millnature mill
The composter can be used in temperatures from 0-120 degrees, as long as it has an outlet that is protected from water while plugged in.  I have one of these handy dandy outlets on my covered porch, so I thought I’d put it there.  It’s just a few steps from my trash can after all.
nature millnature mill
The dead plants really add to the look, don’t you think?  OK, maybe not.  I just couldn’t manage to make it not look weird!
nature mill
So, I put it in the garage!
Here is a quick video to demonstrate the noise the Nature Mill Composter makes when it is plugged in.

I started using it right away.  You can put all kinds of food waste in it.  The box included easy to reference guides on what you can and can’t put in it.  The big no-nos are hard or fibrous items (corn husks, peach pits) and paper or artificial items (plastic, dryer lint, compostable plates etc.)  I was worried about keeping track of when to add the sawdust pellets and baking soda, but I didn’t have any trouble.  I added some every few days and I had no trash odors at all.  Just an earthy smell.

I don’t want to gross you out with pictures of icky food waste, but here is a photo of the compost along the process.
nature mill
The black pieces are all that remains of banana peels within hours of adding them.  The internal heat, combined with the automatic turning every 4 hours, breaks the material down insanely fast.

My videos are very dark, my apologies.  The next time I take video in my garage I’ll open the door!  This next video shows the composter while it’s turning, so you can hear what it sounds like.  Keep in mind that I’m right on top of it during filming, and it’s much quieter if you are just walking by.

So, I’ve been using my composter now for about 3 1/2 weeks.  It can handle up to 120 lbs of food waste per month, and produces a batch of compost about every two weeks.  I haven’t gotten to use any yet, because after you transfer the compost the first time, you let it continue to compost in the lower tray.  Next time I’m ready to transfer, I’ll be ready to use some as well!

So, transfer…it’s a super easy, 15-minute process that you start by pushing a button.

nature mill

That starts the process of the composter turning the compost, and dropping it through the trap door, to the tray below.

Here is another clip toward the end of the transfer cycle.

and a shot of the trap door opening (and the noise it makes)

There will be a small bit of compost remaining in the upper chamber after transfer, that’s not a problem, it helps the next batch!

nature mill


You’re left with lovely compost that will continue to break down and compact until your red light comes on!

nature mill


You can see I may have rushed it a little bit since there are still bits of banana peel visible. I was anxious, what can I say!

Nature mill also has pricier models with colored accents, foot pedals and lifetime filters.

So, why I love the Nature Mill Automatic Compost bin:

  • I love a gadget.  I do, I can’t help it.
  • It’s all self contained.  No piles of food waste on my counter and trekking to the backyard to add it to the pile.
  • No worries about our skunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, deer, cows, groundhogs or bats getting into it.  We’ve had animals get a bag from the bottom of our garbage can and spread it all over the yard.
  • No trash smell!  My kitchen smells better having all the food waste out of it!
  • We’re only producing 1/2-1/4 bag of trash per week (we’re fortunate enough to have a county-wide recycling program as well!)
  • Nitrogen rich compost!
  • It’s fast!  No turning by hand and compost is ready in 2 weeks.
  • It’s attractive.  It’s about the size of an old school CPU case and is much better looking than a pile of waste outside.
  • It’s so easy.
  • You can even put dairy, meat and fish in it!
  • Other things I am probably forgetting right now.

We have so much food waste around here between banana peels, other fruit skins, sandwich crusts and all the confetti that signals a toddler is finished with his meal, hee hee.  It’s fantastic to not be putting that in the trash!

The composter uses about 5 kWh of power per month (about the same as a night light.)

Who knew trash could be “fun?!”  There is even more to say about the Nature Mill Automatic Compost Bin, but I don’t want to make this post a mile long!  Read more about how it works and “earth facts” on Nature Mill’s website!

Thank you to Nature Mill for allowing me to purchase this composter at a discount.  The discount in no way affected my review, and all opinions are my own.

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Eco-Friendly/Green Giveaway Made in the USA Reusable Products Review Wet Bags & Pail Liners

Planet Wise Diaper/Swim Wet/Dry Bag Review & Giveaway CLOSED

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Is there a company that you love?  One that makes great products, has great service and great company practices?  Do you get excited when you find out they’re coming out with a new product?  Do you tell everyone you know about them?  For me, that’s Planet Wise Inc.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love my small, medium and large wet bags, wet/dry bag and wipes pouch.  Planet Wise are the only wet bags I’ve ever bought; I never felt the need to look for any others because they are so great. 
In case you’re wondering, I bought all of my wet bags myself.  I haven’t been paid to endorse Planet Wise.  I’m having no luck coming up with a clever joke about how I’m cheap and can be easily bribed.  Hmm…
In any case, I had the opportunity to review a brand new item from Planet Wise, the Swim/Diaper Bag.  I also have one to give away, so that’s your carrot to see this through to the end (or just scroll down, but I know you would never do that, would you?)  By the way, who would seriously be enticed by a carrot?  How about a cupcake or something at least.  Jeez.  If you’re gonna bribe me, it’s going to have to be better than rabbit food.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on Planet Wise, but I accidentally brought my interrogation lamp instead of my spotlight.  Hee hee.
Planet Wise is owned and operated by Nicki Maynard and her husband Jesse.  Their products replace their disposable counterparts and can be used for so much more than just diapers.  Their prints and colors are fantastic and are a departure from the usual “baby” prints.  Wet bags are great for travel, to keep toiletries, shoes or dirty clothes separate.  Wash and reuse instead of putting another plastic bag in the landfill!  Their packaging is also printed on recycled/recyclable paper using soy based ink!
I wish I could work for Planet Wise; employees are allowed to work flexible schedules to work around family time and school schedules and employees are welcome to bring their young children to work with them!  Alas, Planet Wise is based out of Wisconsin.
Planet Wise chooses as many USA-made materials as possible, and all products are manufactured in a locally women-owned facility.
So why do I like the wet bags so much?  Not only do they look pretty with their beautiful prints and hidden seams, they have sealed seams that will not leak, and a locking, lead free zipper.  The bags do not wick and hold in smells like nobody’s business.  They’re both versatile and durable.  They’re not going to wear out before your kids are out of diapers, but you won’t be passing them along either because you’ll be using them for a dozen other things.  Mine have been washed nearly daily since I got them, and still look new.
So clearly, it’s no secret how much I love Planet Wise.  I was like a kid on Christmas Eve when I found out the company was sending me one of their brand new swim/diaper bags to review.
I chose the spring green color which is pretty, but still neutral, and not too girly for my hubby to carry.
The swim/diaper bag has the same great features as their other wet/dry bags.  It measures about 19″ x 15″ by 8″. 
It has a large, waterproof, PVC-free inner section.
Plus a generously sized “dry” zippered section.
They say it can hold two large swim towels, plus clothes and accessories.  I of course put that to the test.  The bag looked like the perfect thing to use for a long or overnight trip. 
13 diapers, plus my Planet Wise wipes pouch stuffed with wipes and a spray bottle of wipes solution.
Yep, it all fit!
No trouble zipping it, and the structure of the bag made it stand up nicely, it didn’t topple over.
So how about 4 large beach towels, my swimsuit, my hubby’s swimsuit, my daughter’s swimsuit and my son’s swim diaper?
It all fit, zipped with no problem, and I could have fit a few snacks/toys in as well!
For swim lessons I put in: a towel, a blanket for my son to sit on, water wings and toys and snacks.  There was tons of room left!
This is a spankin’ new product, so your favorite retailer may not have them yet, but you can win one!
Planet Wise is sending one of my blog readers their own swim/diaper bag in their choice of color (subject to availability, substitutions may be made.) 

Here’s how to enter:  The first entry is mandatory, you may do as many or as few of the rest as you like.  Leave a comment for each entry  and be sure to leave your email address in at least one comment.  If I can’t contact you, I will choose another winner.

1. Visit Planet Wise and tell me what your favorite print is.  Since the swim/diaper bag is a new product, the prints aren’t yet listed on it’s page, but it should be available in all the usual colors and prints.
2. Follow my blog.
5. Tweet about this giveaway linking back to this post.  One tweet per day please.  You may use this tweet if you like: @chgdiapers has a Planet Wise swim or #clothdiapers bag #giveaway for #summer #swimming! http://bit.ly/datbg3
6. Blog about Planet Wise, the new swim/diaper bag, this giveaway or this blog.  Please be sure to link back to this post and leave me a link to your blog post.

This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.  I will accept entries until Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 9 P.M., Eastern.  I will select a winner using random.org’s true random number generator, and contact the winner by email.  S/he will have 48 hours to respond before the prize is forfeited and another winner chosen.
Planet Wise provided the review product to me at no cost, and is providing the winner’s item as well.  I was not given any monetary compensation.  I wasn’t requested or required to write a positive review, Planet Wise is a great company that I personally support.
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