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8/27/08

Urban Chickens, and the Rotten Eggs. ; )

This spring, I aspired to acquire some laying hens to provide my family with fresh, healthy eggs. We have a fenced-in back yard, and it seemed like a great project for the children as well as a big benefit to our family, especially in these times of high food prices and contamination. To my chagrin, it appears the counties and cities in our area are not chicken friendly.

Now, you all know me.
You're all thinking,
"Well, she's a bandit, what does she care?"

I shift my pose to a politician's stance.

"Friends, I fight this fight not for myself, but because I am very aware of all the families that would benefit by this being legal. There are so many recently-arrived immigrants where urban livestock has always been accepted in their countries, or native-born enthusiasts that just want to provide their children with locally raised eggs.
URBAN CHICKENS FOR ALL OF US!"
(clap clap clap clap clap! Thank you. Thank you veddy much.)

I have contacted a local environmental legal group who is interested in the issue, will keep you posted. If you would like more information on urban chickens, there are many great sites on the web including:
  • http://www.urbanchickens.org
  • http://www.pathtofreedom.com/pathproject/simpleliving/chickens.shtml
  • http://www.backyardchickens.com
In the meantime, amuse yourself by reading my correspondence with zoning! : )

----- Original Message -----

From: Copeland

To: Pat O'Bannon

Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 9:13 PM

Subject:
hens in Henrico?

Hello Mrs. O’Bannon,

I’d like to keep some (3? 4 at most hens, not roosters) chicken in my large, enclosed (6”high privacy fence) back yard. I was under the impression it had to be 400 feet away at which point I was going to apply for a variance and hopefully discuss sustainability and what Brooklyn, Seattle, and Portland are doing in their much larger cities in regards to livestock, and actually how their board of supervisors are encouraging it, but then found this: (See line 648) http://www.co.henrico.va.us/planning/minutes/bza/may04bza.pdf

So, I am reading this to mean I can have 3 chickens?
Also, nowhere can I find on the web site what the actual fines would be if I were to attempt such a transgression… do you happen to know offhand?

P.s. I plan on building a chicken tractor, which is an enclosed coop that you can move, and will just move it daily about the yard so that my garden soil is improved *while* removing the mosquitoes and ticks and weeds, and providing an educational experience and fresh eggs for our children. Curiously, I guess I could roll the chicken tractor around 400 feet at any given time… is there a law against mobile chickens? I am on very good terms with our immediate neighbors, who, like us, are avid gardeners and said they would not mind occasional free eggs. : )

Thanks for your insight!

Sincerely yours,
Copeland Casati

copeland casati
president
www.GreenModernKits.com

From: Blankinship, Benjamin [mailto:bla26@co.henrico.va.us]
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:44 PM
To: copeland
Cc: Knight, Mikki; Tuckahoe; Silber, Randy; Emerson, Ralph; O'Kelly, David
Subject: RE: hens in Henrico?

Dear Ms. Casati:

I have been asked to respond to your email on behalf of Ms. O'Bannon.

The zoning ordinance allows "poultry raising," subject to the requirement that "any buildings or yards for the enclosure or feeding of animals or poultry shall observe the distance requirements of section 24-10." (Section 24-11(c)). If you could comply with the distance requirement of 400 feet from the property line, you could keep hens on the property. Since the property measures about 100 feet wide by 150 feet deep, it is impossible to meet the distance requirements.

You mentioned applying for a variance. The Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled that boards of zoning appeals can grant variances only in circumstances where the zoning ordinance prohibits all reasonable use of the property (Cochran v Fairfax County BZA). The Henrico County Board of Zoning Appeals has taken a strict view of its powers since the _Cochran_ decision. I would be very surprised if the BZA granted a variance in these circumstances.

You asked about fines. The amounts of fines are determined by the court. I believe the following guidelines are applicable:

Any such violation shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $1,000. If the violation is uncorrected at the time of the conviction, the court shall order the violator to abate or remedy the violation in compliance with the zoning ordinance, within a time period established by the court. Failure to remove or abate a zoning violation within the specified time period shall constitute a separate misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $1,000, and any such failure during any succeeding 10-day period shall constitute a separate misdemeanor offense for each 10-day period punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,500. (Code of Virginia § 15.2-2286)

If you need anything else, please let us know.

_________________________

Benjamin W. Blankinship, AICP

Zoning Division Manager


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Breathtakingly beautiful yard... 0% Grass.

A dear childhood friend is visiting Richmond from New York City and we hurried over to visit. Turns out her father's urban Museum District home has the most beautiful yard... and zero grass.

A rain barrel could easily irrigate this simple, luscious yard, especially if gray water were redistributed from the shower as well. For those that scoff at lawns without grass, here is a great example at how attractive, and amendable to entertaining and enjoyment, a zero grass yard can be.

Here, multiple herbs, perennials, and accents of splashy annuals gave their house more outdoor "rooms" in which to while away the day, perfect in its mix of sun and shade, a lovely accent to a beautiful, restored home.

We toured inside and saw beautiful examples of Barbara's stained glass work- and in their upstairs stairway they had installed a SolaTube! They said adding the SolaTube was the most dramatic impact of their dark Tudor home renovation, brightening up the house with natural light and showcasing Barbara's beautiful artisan windows.

(P.s. If you look to the right in this photo you can see Barbara's stained glass studio, where she does all of her work.)


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8/26/08

Evaluate your home for solar possibilities!

Here's a great tool I found that utilizes Google Maps to help you calculate the potential of your home for solar.

http://www.springwise.com/eco_sustainability/using_google_maps_to_calculate

RoofRay uses modeling tools, past weather data, and Google Maps to help consumers estimate how much potential their home could have for solar.

What a great way to evaluate your home's possibilities before taking the financial plunge to invest in solar energy!

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8/25/08

Free Money!

Bear with me, this will have a bigger point...
: )
I finally have the mod geometric hair cut I want. And we had the best time. The owner, Mary Lou, and stylist, Corrinne, hovered over my bangs, getting rid of fringe to form them into a blunt look. (Ok in this picture I had played with my hair so it's all messed up. In real life it looks cool.)

I go to Mary Lou's for many reasons:
They give fantastic cuts at a great price (my hair cut today plus trimming my daughter's bangs was... $27!), I like supporting another small business owner, they're super nice, work hard, and they're right down the street.

As Mary Lou guided the angle, we spoke about her trips to London to study at Vidal Sassoon. She finished her tale with, "And then we'd return, it was such a great experience, and we'd start saving for the next year's trip!"

Exactly! Her trip was *paid for* by the time it arrived, and she then pursued her next year's goal throughout the year by careful saving- what a reward at the end of a year!

We spoke about coffee, which she had recently cut back on:
"I stopped when it started costing more than $3- when it was $2 and change, I'd go in twice a day, spending $5 daily. But once it went over $5, I realized what a waste it was!"

She took it a step further. Now, when she doesn't have coffee, she pays herself. So every day she puts $5 in a pot. And suddenly, when it comes time to visit a relative in North Carolina, that gas is paid for. When she wants to purchase an unexpected item, that money is there.

Is there something we all can cut back on?
I immediately think of easy things from the grocery store or home that are regular "treats"- what if, every time I skipped over that bottle of wine, that gourmet cheese, that coffee, I threw it into a jar, used later for something bigger?
And paid for?

As we journey through our own house kit process, I take similar steps. Over the past year each time I had a bonus, I put that money directly towards the house.

Ironically, while achieving our goal of less debt, it made us much more frugal as that money did not enter our household. So, while working diligently to reduce costs we will incur as we build, we have never been more "poor", but oh, so rich in determinedly moving towards fiscally responsible, debt-free freedom.

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8/22/08

Mandatory Water Restrictions

As of today, we are under mandatory water restrictions.

Neighbors, when you see me hopping around the yard watering daily, please know it is grey water, water that is being reused for another purpose. And that's what we've been doing all along.

It's actually quite easy: Put a large pail in the shower. As the water goes from cold to hot, it collects. Take a smaller pail and transfer water into watering can. When you bathe the children at night, leave the tub full at the end, and use it to water your yard the next morning.

Your plants will thank you! : ) And you will be not only conserving but re-using a precious resource!

(Of course noting restrictions on gray water use on edible plants...)

P.s. Pictures taken by 5 year old. Thank goodness for digital cameras, otherwise it would have been 293 pictures worth of film that day.

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8/21/08

Akemi Tanaka Modern Furniture Kit for Green Modern Kits!

I am beside myself, laughing! Because the talented industrial designer / mod furniture queen Akemi Tanaka just sent me her furniture kits for Green Modern Kits.

It fits all the Green Modern Kits requirements:
  • gorgeous design
  • but practical, does multiple things
  • and affordable
Makes me all crafty-feelin' and ready to whip out a saw and hammer and get to work!
We will be offering our furniture as a flat-pack kit... more on that later...

Why furniture? Everyone knows I'm the thrift store/reuse/recycle queen!
But the reality is that with smaller footprints, we need our furniture to do multiple things.
Just like our house kits, this furniture *works.* And looks amazing. And is expected to last.

In the meantime here are some pics of Akemi Tanaka furniture (note: this is custom work NOT her furniture kits!):

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8/20/08

Green Tweets


Wow, Jetson Green, we're honored!

And all this time I thought I was driving people crazy with my twitter on twitter. But no, Jetson Green goes and lists my blather as one of their "Must Follow Green Twitter Feeds" so now I'm gonna have to straighten up and not be so silly.... ; ) is that possible?

So, a warning if you look me up on twitter: It is not the professional Green Modern Kits voice, it is I, a renegade housewife losin' her mind while running three companies and trying to create a better life for her family, and community, while being flat-out crazy. : )

Think of it as thus: my blog and articles are for deeper musings; twitter is when I need a giggle- and I need a giggle often.

So look us up- www.twitter.com/greenmodernkits and don't worry, if you block me, I understand! I can't believe people still follow me! : )

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8/18/08

Architectural Salvage: Reuse, Respect. No Perfect Prefab Affordably Touches The Unique Elements of Salvage.

There are elements in our modern casa ti SIP house kit that I envision like the old bridal tradition:
"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue."

As much as I appreciate turnkey prefab, there's something in my farming Virginia soul that insists upon reusing items from the past, within our architectual structure.

Using the latest green building technology, merged with timeless passive solar design, I now begin to focus on the interior. In my mind, I meld industrial modern elements with nostalgic reused materials:

  • the sophisticated strength of a poured, polished concrete floor (which also collects thermal mass, and with fly ash, reuses local byproducts!)
  • juxtaposed with the natural embrace of sustainable pine walls
  • deft, no nonsense modern lines of built-ins
  • the faded tales told by old wooden doors through whom how many hands and lives passed through?
  • And if we're lucky, a special, plain, reused farmhouse or commercial sink.
Strolling through research, I came across CoolStuffIsCoolStuff.com and other neat architectural salvage sites. I will be sticking closer to home and shopping locally at Caravati's, but did want to mention a special site, Second Chance. There, not only do they repurpose materials and give old buildings new life, but they also give people another shot at opportunity and learning valuable skills.

From their web site, here's what they say:

"Job Training
Second Chance is working with low-income residents of Baltimore to train them in a wide variety of skill sets, ranging from carpentry to craftsmanship. Our goal is to create skilled workers making a living wage with benefits for themselves and their families.

Through the use of public and private funds, we teach our workers to safely deconstruct a building without damaging its historic elements. They become self-supporting members of the community with new skill sets.

At Second Chance, we believe that second chances are not just for buildings, they are for people, too. "

Like the bridal saying, sometimes "something borrowed" might mean borrowing on the strength of community and pooled skills, and recognition that when community comes together to help others succeed, we all benefit.

Whether it be good friends helping out for a few weekend hours as we work on a house kit project together, helping my family but where the structure and land will be a benefit to all our friends, or craftsmen investing their time in training someone new to later help them on future projects and rely on them as part of their paid, skilled team.

Sometimes, pushing ahead with the advances of cutting-edge green building technology, what we also need is a good ole fashioned barn-raising.

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8/17/08

Sorry for the inconvenience- We changed hosts!

Apparently our host company did not understand that the internet is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so, as they apparently do not work on the weekends nor do they have 24 hour customer service, I assume they are not yet aware that their company and all of their customers are down.

Which, in the internet world, as I assume it went down Friday night, means it will have been three days before they became aware of the issue, sometime Monday morning.

We did not have that time to waste; so we transferred our website to a more reliable provider. If there are any loose ends you notice, please let us know!
We apologize for being offline.

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8/13/08

Ohanahaus: Pullin' Outta Vegas!

Just spoke with the Ohanahaus family and they were literally pulling out of their driveway, saying goodbye to Vegas, on the road to their new, more simple life in Oklahoma.

If you like, you may follow them on their journey here:
http://www.greenmodernkits.com/ohana.html

Which has already been *quite* the journey.
But I'll let them tell you their story... it's worth the wait.

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8/12/08

Urban Gardening: An Oasis In The Middle Of D.C.

As we journeyed to D.C., I tried to prepare our children for their first Big City Adventure.

I had spent a lot of time in D.C. when I worked in New York, and, with fun memories of Adams Morgan in mind, described the HUGE buildings, the PEOPLE, the bustle, the restaurants, the museums, the zoo!

We crossed the Memorial Bridge, and the "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" began. We slid down Rock Creek Parkway, past the Kennedy Center, and onto Connecticut. They took it all in: the joggers, cafes full of brunch crowds reading their newspapers or laughing, groups in the park practicing karate, playing volleyball! Look at those city children- for them, their "every day" is this!

At this point a chorus of "Momma, I want to live HERE!" erupted from the back seat, and honestly... I agreed!

Wow, what would we do with our friends first?!? Walk a few blocks amidst the crowds? Head over to a favorite restaurant where I would happily surprise them by picking up the check? (My friend D. always sneaks the check & pays- it's an ongoing battle.) Visit a museum? The Mall? The Lincoln Memorial where Marian Anderson proudly sang?

Little did I know we would be spending the day in a quiet, lush secret garden in the middle of the city.
Here, the audobon society comes to count songbirds, foxes visit, and wayward tomato-eating squirrels are chased off by a mad woman with long curly hair and a snow shovel. ; )
Sometimes, pictures say more than words. Enjoy.

Ok here's some tour items of interest (by now, you know I never stop talking, don't you?): Note the hammock in the shady corner behind the bench, the great use of deep shade but then full sun. Charles Gillette could not have done a nicer job of taking a shared space and creating many pockets and "rooms" out of greenery.

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8/9/08

I Was An Ikea Virgin

So... on our way back from a delicious day in DC (urban gardening post coming next!), we went to Ikea.

The feeling I got was... the same feeling I get as I pull into LaGuardia or Dulles. That nervy rushed feeling, exhausted even before the long trip overseas begins.

I felt like I was in a dream: In my Ikea dream, I would be in a crowd, in low florescent-lit grocery aisles where everyone was snatching cans off the shelf. In this dream I was grabbing, grabbing at food, piling it into overloaded, bursting carts, yet I wasn't even hungry.

There was nothing I wanted to eat.

Two trips in two weeks have made me keenly aware of the consumerism, the massive national waste in a road journey.

The bags, the plastic lids of *every* soda cup, *every* straw, just thrown away at the next gas station stop, the next rest area. It was repeated at Ikea, despite the 5 cent bag: plastic rulers and paper takeaway maps at the entrance- to be discarded, discarded, discarded...

We've vowed to resume packing our "road trip picnics"- grapes, cheeses, a thermos, yummy sandwiches made by my husband out of his handmade bread wrapped with care in cloth napkins. And for cents on the dollar of what we would spend, ill-prepared, on... junk.

To sum it up? We are no longer tempted by cheap, "easy"... STUFF.

Like our road trip food, I found that at Ikea, comparing it to other methods of acquiring good design, packing that picnic might take more time, but I'd rather have a smorgasboard of care, craftmanship, and good design that lasts.

Ironically, I do not have ill feelings towards the Ikea brand.
I just don't desire it.
I achieve affordability, easily, while enjoying the leisurely, ongoing hunt through thrift stores.

That and online shopping- online one can directly winnow down great finds, not have to "rush", have endless options available where you can carefully read about each product you consider, to see whether it is made of materials of which you approve.

Ikea simply presents affordable design for the masses, and has a great business model.
It's just that I would wearily push the cart down the cavernous aisle to look at a dresser, or a desk... I kept thinking,
"Oh, but that dresser I picked up for A. at the thrift store for $15 is 1. original mid-century 2. SOOOOO much better made, no veneer, completely out of wood, and 3. will last another 100 years!" or "Ah. Nice affordable knock-off lamp. But the lamps I've found for $5 in XYZ thriftstores have soooooooo much character!"

Maybe more will start thinking "What will I need, down the road?" and enjoy scouting it carefully over time so they won't feel compelled to numbly purchase massive amounts of... *stuff* in a day.

Later Note: Reading this post, my husband has an excellent point. He points at the lamp in my post, and talks about quality:
"Thirty years from now thrift stores will be empty because there will be no products that will have made it through another cycle of use."

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8/8/08

More School Supplies...

YES those are flowers from my garden, I try to always have several things blooming despite the season (my favorite plant is mahonia, which blooms in February- lovely on a winter walk and you catch the scent in some hidden garden wafting out- smells like fruitloops!) and yes I love to pick them & have flowers sitting all over the house...

Any-hoo, our excitement was compounded yesterday when a SECOND package arrived (and we were already having a blast with the eco-friendly nap mat!) and in it... The bento box! The WrapMats! The thermos!

As you can see, it is possible for a 5 year old to navigate the opening and closing of the Bento box. And he is SO excited. He won't stop playing with his new items for kindergarten, and his sister is also quite impressed.

I also ordered enough MagiGlue so that if the teachers complain about my not providing Elmer's as requested I can remind them that Elmer's is made of fossil fuels and that I've provided a better alternative for the entire classroom.

Greening of your child's school supplies may take research and time, and even a tad more money. But the many, many lessons you can share throughout the process are lifelong.

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8/7/08

Our Eco-Friendly Nap Mat From Baby Momo Has Arrived!

Remember when I was moaning about greening my soon-to-be-in-kindergarten child's school supply list?

Well look what came in the mail!
Our Baby Momo Nap Mat! Our alternative to the vinyl nap mats schools ask you to get for naptime! Nope, ours is not only eco-friendly, easy to handle, and affordable, but check out the supa-cool Japanese Dragon print!

Take that, Kindermat! Hiiiiiii-ya!

Both children think it is super neat-o, and I love the fact that I won't be contributing to a landfill full of a nation-wide school's use of vinyl mats. (Really: Think about how many schools and daycares require them, and how many get thrown away a year. EWWW.)

Thank you, Baby Momo!!!!

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Radiant Heat Loop Design Complete!

Ahhhhh, a nice little email to wake up to from my handsome husband, sent last night:
"I have finished the drawing for the radiant heat tubing.

We have 2 zones (North and South) each with 3 loops. We have 3 loops each to keep the length of the loop at an efficient level i.e. if you pumped hot water into a single loop per zone it would heat the house unevenly since the water would cool down as it heats up the slab.

In addition the loops are designed according to whether the area of the loop has exterior walls, in which case the loop stays close to the exterior wall as much as possible.

We now need to order the supplies.

Good night!"

What a nice way to start the day!
So today I'll order the foam (for under & around the foundation), double check on other system products that I need to order (like the tubing) or have ordered, and continue to add that information to our list of costs (you can find our cost list here).

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8/6/08

Skirt! Profile

Normally I don't talk about press stuff, maybe I should, but just wanted to share that there is the CUTEST picture of my dog in the latest issue of Skirt!

I'm going to run out and scan the picture because he really does look soooooooooo cute...

Note: The only really bad thing was that in the end of the photoshoot I broke an egg and now my dog has a taste for raw eggs... VERY BAD... but he's a blockhead and quite agreeable to my instructions to
"Stay Away From Mah Coop!"

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8/3/08

Ohanahaus

I founded this company when I, on the same quest, tried to find affordable, gorgeous, passive solar / green design in a house kit. In my mind, everything was over-engineered *and* not affordable.

A casa ti is being built in Oklahoma. And just as all the great people I've met through email have touched my life, reading this family's insight and decisions and evaluation of community... well... with their permission, I thought I'd share.

Their journey? Read it *slowly* here: http://www.ohanahaus.com
But they have sooooo much more to tell- which will come out in longer prose.

I'll let them tell you, and am setting up a blog for them... let's just say, um, they started a quest that had unexpected turns and surprises.

But that's their story to share... soon.

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8/2/08

The Greening Of My School Supplies

Sigh...
This fall (sniffle) I will have a child in kindergarten. (Eep!)
With the arrival of August, suddenly I realize "I'd better get on it!" and research exactly what it is we are supposed to send on with a child entering school. My husband is German, so we will have a proper "send off" on the first day with school supplies and candy packed in a Schultüte. (Fear not, as much of a dork as I am, I won't send him to school with it and therefore brand him as a complete weirdo in the USA, much less the south. I know better.)

Fortunately, Grist and other green bloggers have walked this road before- I am not the first mom to attempt the "greening" of the school supply list; thankfully I do not have to re-invent the wheel. So if you are on a similar quest, just Google "eco-friendly backpack" or "eco-friendly school supplies." But finding affordable green alternatives to the school supply list can be daunting. Really, anything you can reuse that you already own is economical and eco-friendly.

This year, I learned my lesson with the 4 year old: Annually I would shop 80% off sales to stock up for clothes economically a year ahead. But I did not consider the young'un's adamant, individual taste in fashion. Who knew practical, striped dresses with nice, comfortable leggings would be ignored for a ribbon-bedecked frilly hand-me-down "princess dress"? That she wore over, and over, and over? (And often wore ALL her favorite dresses at the same time, thickly layered, always to her teacher's amusement?)

Fortunately we pass on all of the clothes that survive the first wearing to others, so it was not wasteful, but I really could have saved time and money if I had known...

So, this time, wiser, I sat the future kindergarten-er down to allow him the choice of picking out his backpack, his lunch box, for his own personal style of responsible gear.

This is what we had for our school supply list, and then, in blue, what we chose:
(Items with an asterisk are supposedly required to purchase that brand)

1 standard-size backpack without wheels Easy enough to find eco-friendly options. But affordable? Maybe I'll just head over to the thrift store. But finding a non-vinyl backpack? Hmmmm. Back to research.

I did run into stylish, recycled English Retreads, but er, um, not for a boy in kindergarten. ; ) But I finally found this interesting post, and from there ended up on SierraClub.org- who is, for a limited time, having a great offer of a rucksack as part of their membership drive! What better way & opportunity to explain this organization to your child?

1 marble composition book Regarding paper, what you need to remember is to look for high content recycled paper (PCW) and processed chlorine free (PCF) , which avoids the dioxin and mercury used in bleaching the paper.
1 box large *Crayola washable markers
1 *Fiskar scissors-blunt, metal blades Looking for higher recycled-content scissors.
1 box 16 crayons
1 plastic supply box (8 1/2" x 2 1/2") I Googled the dimensions and added "eco-friendly" to the query and discovered recycledproducts.org. From there I was able to purchase the scissors, crayons, glue, and much more... except, sigh, a supply box.
Plastic Mat-*Kindermat, plastic, quad fold, blue/red about 1" thick (available at Wal-Mart, Ben Franklin, etc) Although I could easily find a way to purchase Kindermats, I surprisingly could not find a manufacturer link. The only descriptions of the product was on retail sites, and then they used words like "vinyl" and "plastic"... er, I will not be sending Kindermats with my child. (And think how many Kindermats end up in landfills a year?!?) Not to mention avoiding any PVC, whether it be in mats, backpacks, shoes, or clothes. From Grist:
"...soft vinyl contains plasticizers called phthalates, many of which affect reproductive health and sexual development, according to animal experiments. And di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, which is widely added to soft vinyl products, is considered a probable carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. In some studies, phthalates have been shown to migrate out of soft PVC products, so they can be inhaled or ingested. Tests by Greenpeace have also found the toxic heavy metals lead and cadmium in vinyl backpacks and raincoats. Clearly, PVC deserves not only a failing grade but expulsion from the planet."
So an eco-friendly version? That took me awhile...
In fact, it took me *more* than awhile, and I was surprised and irritated by the lack of immediate options to Kindermat. Ironically I found children's yoga mats and
lots of pet mats but no practical, simple, cheap eco rest mats (a nice organic cotton yoga mat I thought might work turned out to be $200!).

Finally, in frustration I turned to Etsy.com, thinking, "Well heck if I can't find it maybe someone there can *make* it." (I am not crafty with a needle & thread)
I found one gal who had a bunch of creative, fun prints and emailed her. Another gal, who I will call Gal #2, also replied to my inquiry:
Good afternoon and thank you so much for your question. The covers for the nap mats are made out of 100% cotton with velcro. I use the Vinyl Kindermat that the schools require due to health regulations. That is the only style I offer. Thanks again for your question.
(Obviously gal #2 doesn't read Grist! I sent her information on the bad health effects of vinyl.)

Gal #1 responded favorably, we discussed the issue, and she's agreed to offer a trial product of rest mats. I chose mine in a tattoo fabric, kinda boyish but not baby-boy or too stereotypical.

So if you're looking for something similar, hurry and visit to purchase the mat now!!!! The bonus is we can also offer our mat later to friends' children when camping on our land / spending the night in our zero energy house, so it will be used for years to come.

6 #2 standard sharpened pencils: Recycled content pencils are easy to find at Office Max / Office Depot / Staples.
16 glue sticks
1 *Elmer's School Glue, 7.6 oz. bottle Hmmmm. Just for kicks I researched "vegetarian glue" since most glue is made out of animal by-products (no I am not vegetarian so don't call me a hypocrite when I talk about my meat!). I found this, which I found fascinating, debating whether Elmer's is environmentally friendly, which compelled me to seek a non oil by-product glue... and I stumbled across MagiGlue. If you have time, visit the manufacturers page, whose story is interesting, as well as the product's site.
(white glue only)
1 family-size box of anti-viral tissues
1 container of baby wipes--new
1 bottle instant hand sanitizer Pretty easy to find eco-friendly options, I liked All Terrain's mission statement.

Girls:
1 box Ziploc baggies (snack size)
1 box Ziploc baggies (quart size)
Boys:
1 box Ziploc bags (gallon size)
1 pkg. brown lunch bags
First of all, I'm curious as to why they separate it out by gender.
Secondly, hellz no I'm not sending plastic bags to class! (Snort!) Who do ya think I am?!? I don't see why sending a few recycled tote bags can't hold any crafts & stuff to bring home daily... and for smaller stuff? How about folding it neatly into a cloth napkin? That's what we did with towels & our bathing suits/goggles/etc. at camp!

Oh, Geez Louise: Fine, here's how ya do it:
Lie napkin on table. Put whatever in it (picture a bead necklace or whatever it is they make in kindergarden) in the middle. Fold the left side over, covering 2/3... fold the right side over, covering 2/3... kinda like a burrito... and then roll, from top to bottom, or bottom to top, whatever floats yer boat. Place in recycled tote bag. Taaaa daaaa! Now that didn't hurt, did it?

So, sitting down wit my chile',
we picked out a lunchbox at ReusableBags.com:

He chose the plain bento box, with a stainless steel thermos, because he "wanted to look like an adult." We also picked up some Wrap-n-Mats for sandwiches, which also then turn into a "plate" for his lunch.

Wrap-N-Mat®


  • Replaces wasteful plastic sandwich and snack bags
  • Pays for itself over time
  • Only reusable sandwich wrap and place mat in one
  • Lightweight
  • Made with Fair Labor/Fair Wages
  • Food safe, PEVA liner that wipes clean
  • Eco-Print design printed with vegetable based dyes
  • Available in Blue, Green, Red Check and Eco-Print
  • Click here to see swatches of each style.
  • Approximately 13 x 13 when open.

  • I eyed the cute reusable bamboo utensils but opted to reuse flatware from home.
    And of course we'll be packing cloth napkins for his use; this household certainly does not have paper napkins or towels!

    If you have any good, affordable links for kindergarten supplies, I'd love to hear more! Just comment below, people will appreciate them.

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