Go outside and play, the sustainable way
Make the most of your summertime season and head outdoors with these items that encourage fun in a sustainable way.
SUMMER OFFICIALLY begins this week, and let's hope the weather decides to agree with the calendar. Make the most of your summertime season and head outdoors with these items that encourage fun in a sustainable way:
Planning that first backyard barbecue or a party at the beach? If you need to use disposable dishes and utensils, consider products made from alternatives to plastic or paper. StalkMarket, based in Portland, makes cups, bowls and plates from sugarcane fiber, a byproduct of the sugar-refining process. The material, called bagasse, comes from crushed sugarcane stalks that are converted into paperboard. The dishes are biodegradable and recyclable, and can be composted in your backyard bin. Find them at various grocery stores or online at amazon.com. Visit www.stalkmarketproducts.com for more information.
Stock the picnic basket with durable dishware that's not made from plastic. Zoë b Organic makes plates, cups and bowls from a corn-based material that is durable and dishwasher-safe. Corn used for making the dishes comes from the United States, and the pieces are designed to last as long as traditional plasticware. The material fully biodegrades after two to three years when buried in soil or composted. Purchase in sets of three ranging from $12 to $18. Entire place settings are available for about $16. Online at www.zoeborganic.com.
Kids — and most adults — love running through the sprinkler on a scorching summer day. Conserve resources by turning on a sprinkler that uses up to 30 percent less water than the others. GardenSuperMart makes an eco-friendly lawn sprinkler that uses less water through a design that disperses water drops as a fine mist. The sprinklers are made of recycled plastics. Purchase at www.gardensupermart.com for between $17 and $22. Click on "lawn sprinklers" under green-living products.
Sip your favorite beverage while relaxing on a chair made from salvaged white oak wine barrels discarded from California wineries. The sturdy chairs are foldable and finished with linseed oil. Each one bears the name of the winery it came from under the seat. Gaiam has priced a set of two chairs at $349, or you can buy them individually for about $200. Visit www.gaiam.com and search for "wine barrel furniture."
Dress up your yard or porch with stylish outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic, sourced mostly from milk-jug containers. Loll Designs makes chairs of all shapes, tables, benches and other outdoor accessories. The company explains in great detail its commitment to sustainable practices, which can be found at www.lolldesigns.com. Chairs range in price from about $200 to more than $1,000, depending on the model.
Encourage the young people in your neighborhood to collect cool insects and observe them in a wooden nature box that won't harm the critters. Down to Earth Toys makes a container that has chew-proof screening on one side for ventilation and clear, break-resistant plastic on the other. The box is 5 ½ inches long by 4 ½ wide by 5 ¾ tall. It's available for about $12 at www.downtoearthtoys.com. Click on "outdoor toys."
Hit the beach or the backyard sandbox with a set of toys made from recycled plastic milk cartons. The jugs are reprocessed into clean plastic, which contains no traceable amounts of Bisphenol-A (BPA) or lead. The company Green Toys prides itself on creating its products entirely in California. Green Toys makes a variety of toys for children, including a sand play set that will have your kids building elaborate castles and moats. Play sets cost about $22 at www.greentoys.com.
Michelle Ma is a Seattle-based freelance writer.