For your little ones — who are the best most beautifully exhausting part of your life.
It’s summer and I’m daydreaming about the beach, so I put together a little ethical shopping guide for those upcoming beach days. Growing up my landlocked self always daydreamed about vacationing at the sea. Now I live close to the ocean and can technically visit the beach year round, but it’s in the summer that the pull of the waves is the strongest. There’s just something extra magical about the shore in the summertime don’t you think?
We recently took Lewie to the beach and spent the whole afternoon building a massive sandcastle then eating fresh fish for dinner. It was such a classic summer day. Growing up near the ocean is truly a luxury and I want to take Lewie more often. So below are some ethical beach essentials I’m grabbing next time!
Sand Bucket // You simply can’t have a child and go to the beach without a bucket. It can seriously provide hours of entertainment. This indestructible sand bucket is perfect for tiny hands, will last for years to come and is made in Germany.
Kite // One of Lewie’s favorite books right now is this Weather First Discovery Book. For the summer page he loves talking about the kites on the beach. Now a good kite is one my summer list. This one is made in the USA!
Turkish Towel // Turkish towels are simply the best and unlike regular towels they get softer with time. These are perfect to use as blanket, a quick-absorbing towel, or a light throw when it gets chilly. I especially love this fun rainbow one which is fair-trade certified and made by artisans in Ethiopia.
Tote // I have a couple beach totes that I love, both bought second-hand. Shopping second is great way to shop ethically on a budget. Try searching your local thrift store first or Etsy. I adore handwoven totes because they’re lovely enough to use everyday as a market or diaper bag.
TIP: Etsy can be pretty overwhelming, so see what’s near you first. Just enter you location in the left sidebar. Often the seller will let you coordinate a pick-up to save on shipping.
Easy Dress // I always throw a simple dress in my bag to wear over my swimsuit. I love this Cotton Striped Tee Dress by Everlane. Everlane works only with ethical factories and has transparent pricing.
Psst: Looking for ethical swimwear options? Check out this blog about conscious swimwear.
What about you, what’s on your summer wish list?
Birthdays. Baby showers. Holidays. No matter what time of year, there’s always an event that require a kid’s gift. But the next time you need a kid’s gift, try thinking outside the box with your gift giving and gift wrapping. These simple and sustainable kid’s gifts are just are fun, thoughtful and guaranteed to please parents too.
// Forget the Toy //
Instead of buying a toy, gift an experience. Experiences are by far my favorite gift to give and receive. Do some research and find out what’s close to you. Kid’s museums are a great bet or annual passes to a local garden are perfect for the whole family. If you have a local theater, giving tickets to see a show would be super sweet and you can’t lose with movie vouchers for a fun family outing. My absolute favorite birthday gift for Lewie was tickets to Disneyland.
// Make or Bake //
If you can sew, make your own sustainable kid’s gift. There are so many cute ideas that can be made out upcycled fabric. If you can’t sew, or simply don’t have the patience for that (like me), there are still options, like this adorable lego set made with a thrifted lunch tin or naturally-dyed play dough. Think about the child’s favorite activities and get creative.
Or you can always bake something. Chances are someone was going to make cake for that birthday party so it might as well be you. Coordinate with the host and bring something delicious. This is great option especially if the invite says no gifts, but you still want to do something nice.
If the above options are not your thing, no worries, go ahead and buy the kid a toy. Kids love toys and there is no guilt in buying a gift. But there a couple simple ways to make buying a toy a more sustainable and eco-friendly affair.
// Shop Secondhand //
Here’s the thing, kids, especially younger kids, do not care if their toy is new. Lewie reacts the same if he sees a train in a thrift store or in target. Buying secondhand is great if you’re on a strict budget, because you’re going to get more for your money. Try thrift stores, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. One of my absolute favorite baby gifts was a friend’s selection of her own kids favorite baby books handed down to me.
// Support Small Business //
If you do want to buy new, search your local kids store first and try to buy something that will last a long time. If you don’t have a local kid’s store, here some of my favorite online kid’s stores for unique gifts:
Shop Merci Milo // If you live in LA, this adorable store has a brick-and-mortar in Eagle Rock.
Bella Luna Toys // I adore their arts and crafts section, perfect for inspiring creativity in elementary aged kids.
The Little Market // For babies, The Little Market has the sweetest selection of fair-trade animals and rattles.
Etsy // Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful handcrafted toys. You can also shop based on a custom location. I love putting in my state to see what’s made close to me.
TIP: Most online shops will have a notes for seller section. I always ask (nicely) to please use as little plastic and packaging as possible. And speaking of packaging…
// Pick Frustration Free Packaging //
And if you’re running late and need to use trusty Amazon Prime (we’ve all been there) search toys with Frustration Free Packaging. Frustration Free Packaging just means way less packaging is used and what is used is recyclable. Just a quick search gave me lots of great toy options. A few favorites:
Green Toys Dump Truck // Green Toys are a favorite in our house. They’re durable, great for indoor, outdoor and water play, plus made with 100% recycled plastic. Below Lewie is playing with his Green Toys Firetruck.
Plan Toys Tea Set // A tea set is a childhood staple. I love how sturdy and unisex this one is!
Wooden Croquet Set // I grew up playing croquet ever summer so this toy is super nostalgic for me.
Bead Coaster // I’ve never met a toddler who doesn’t love these things. It’s one of the very few toys Lewie will play with basically everyday for whole minutes at a time.
// Forgo the Wrapping //
And lastly, find a creative way to wrap your gift. For baby showers, I love wrapping my gifts in swaddles or baby blankets. Or just sort through the recycling to find something to wrap your gift in. Chances are you’ll find a box or paper that will work. And if you have kids of your own, let them help decorate. Or stick the gift in a reusable bag. And if all else fails, just forget the wrapping all together and gift it with a smile. In the end, the kid won’t care.
What about you? What are some of your favorite tips to making gift-giving more sustainable?
In my ideal world, I buy everything in breezy outdoor markets and quaint mom-and-pop shops. But the truth is that most of my shopping is actually done on Amazon while sitting in my unmade bed. And while this reality of shopping is unromantic, the selection is pretty incomparable, including fair trade and sustainable toys. So until I move to my fantasy French countryside village, I’m making the most of my Amazon subscription. Below are a few of my favorite brands.
// UNDER THE NILE // For the softest organic onesies and toys.
“Under the Nile makes timeless and pure organic Egyptian cotton collections for baby and toddler. Our toys are unique, imaginative and organic inside and out. We are committed to providing the highest quality organic cotton baby products in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.”
// Finn + Emma // For fun and quirky clothes and wooden toys.
“Only the finest 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and all natural wood will do for your little munchkin, and we’ve got plenty. And on top of that, our garments and accessories are produced in fair trade settings that focus on social and economic independence for local people, women especially, working to provide for their families in a safe and fair environment.
// GREEN TOYS // For the best trucks made of 100% recycled materials.
“At its core, Green Toys Inc. has always been an eco-friendly toy company. In fact, we say that to us, ‘every day is Earth Day.’ Our commitment to sustainability and playfulness is part of our DNA. From our 100% recycled materials to our US-based manufacturing, we’re raising awareness about sustainability while delivering unquestionably safe products.”
// UNCLE GOOSE // For classic wooden building blocks.
“Uncle Goose makes wooden blocks. We handcraft every set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, using choice materials from around the Great Lakes. And yes, we are 100% made in the USA. While we’re a playful lot, we’re also socially and environmentally considerate. We source our products using fast-growing sustainable basswood. And Uncle Goose uses non-toxic, child-safe inks on all our blocks.”
// TEGU // For magnetic blocks & tiles that inspire imaginative play.
“By paying our employees a living wage and prioritizing long-term career growth and development rather than simple task-based jobs, Tegu is bringing world-class employment standards to Central America. When harvested responsibly, wood is the most sustainable material available. That’s why we work with local Honduran cooperatives who individually hand pick each mature tree for use.”