Archive for the ‘seeds of change’ Category

10 Seeds of Change in 10 Minutes or Less

Posted on January 6th, 2011 in seeds of change | 1 Comment »

We all want to be greener more earth-friendly, we really do. But, in the day to day grind of being a parent, working and just getting to tomorrow, it’s easy to put off our eco-friendly decisions. Here at Dandelion, we are committed to what we call Seeds of Change, little tiny baby steps we can all do to start change. Building on these seeds is important, but it’s most important to plant a few seeds first. Here are our top 10 ideas for seeds of change this year, we welcome your ideas in the comments!

1.  Turn off your computer at night. The Daily Green estimates that this will save you $90 a year in electricity, and it’s better for your computer too.

2.  Turn off the water. It’s easy to leave the water running when you brush your teeth, or delay fixing a leaky toilet. Make a conscious effort to use the leftover water in your reusable water bottle to water a plant, or set up a rainwater collection system for your garden. Kids will enjoy seeing how much water they saved each day and deciding what plant to grace with the extra love.

3.  Buy locally. Get to know one new local business each month. You can get carried away and take the kids to visit the farm or start a challenge to buy a certain percentage of your food locally, but in 10 minutes it’s easy to add one new business to your local favorites.

4.  Reduce plastic. All those plastic bags add up. One less baggie in your child’s lunch every day makes a huge difference. One reusable water bottle makes for how many plastic ones saved? A lot. My Plastic Free Life has hundreds of tips and plenty of motivation if you need help. The story of how Beth started her plastic-free journey is inspiring — read it.

5.  Send e-cards. you want to say thank you, happy birthday or just wish someone hello, but paper cards are not very good for Mother Earth. Decide if the greeting would be just as impactful with an e-card. If you want to send paper, check out some earth-friendly recommendations from Celebrate Green.

6.  Plant something. Anything. Sure, we all probably need an organic garden, but baby steps are fine too. Grow an herb on the window sill or let the kids each pick a packet at the garden store and grow whatever they want. It’s important for our children to know what growing food looks like, to play in the dirt, and to learn how to garden. Even if it’s just a window box.

7.  Buy used. Get to know Craigslist and Freecycle. It only takes 10 minutes (or less) to see if someone is selling what you’re looking for. You’ll save money, meet cool people, and feel better about your purchase. While you’re at it, list something you need to get rid of.

8.  Take off your shoes. Leaving your shoes at the door is one of the most important steps in keeping toxins out of your home. It saves on cleaning too. Making your own cleaning products is easy and inexpensive. The kids will love pouring the ingredients together and many homemade cleaning products actually work better than store-bought.

9.  Say no to receipts. How many times can you say no to a receipt in a month? Gas pumps, ATMs and other transactions don’t require printing a receipt. Keep track on the calendar and reward yourself when you reach a milestone.

10. Bring your own mug. A world without coffee would be pretty harsh for many of us, so the next time you hit your favorite coffee shop, take your own travel mug, and keep a couple spare mugs in the car. Your coffee will stay hotter longer and you’ll feel better when you don’t have to toss the cup, lid and heat shield.

Here at Dandelion, we already have taken a lot of steps to go green. We scan all documents and save digitally and use halogen lights in our warehouse. We centralized all garbage – eliminating all the small bags everywhere and set up a recycling station in office center. All desks also have recycle bins for all paper and we have skylights in the warehouse to eliminate indoor lighting as much as possible – our electric bill has reduced over 53%! We are changing over our phone systems to VOIP to eliminate our PBX, all our calls are tracked digitally now and we replaced all bathroom hand soaps to refill units. We only order paper supplies – like laser paper, paper towels, toilet paper have high recycled content and we have centralized our necessary printing to eliminate all desk printers except essential ones – reducing toners – plus all toner cartridges are sent to be recycled. We also offset our carbon footprint for all shipping in and out through

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Holiday Aftermath — Consumerism, Life Lessons and Santa

Posted on December 29th, 2010 in seeds of change | No Comments »

There are so many expectations, and excitement is at a fever pitch leading up to the holidays, especially for kids, so it shouldn’t be shocking that the “gimme” monster rears his head this time of year. That, combined with stress from the in-laws or a lot more sugar than usual, makes the whole family a little raw this week. Dr. Jeffrey I. Dolgan, Senior Psychologist at The Children’s Hospital, Denver, has some strategies for managing your kid’s expectations and disappointment, as well as the raging consumerism when they see a toy catalog.

Dolgan explains that the holidays mean different things at different ages to children. “Three or 4-year-olds don’t get the Christian meaning of Christmas, but they do get Santa Claus. They understand that they’re going to get some presents. It’s a time of imagination.” You might be teaching the giving instead of getting, but your child may just be a bit to young to grasp that at the same time as Santa’s magic toy express.

Who IS Santa Claus?

To your kiddos, Dolgan explains that Santa Claus is the giver of all good things. This is especially true if children have been to the mall and met Santa Claus and told him what they want. So, consumerism and obsession with all the good things they could receive is normal. As our kids get older they can understand more external influences (your budget!) but little kids just don’t think that way. So, managing what you might see as the “gimme” phase could start with talking about some limits Santa might have, such as bringing one simple toy.

We read an excellent article before the holidays about a mom who gets her kids something they NEED, something they WANT, something to WEAR and something to READ. It’s an excellent tradition to try next year.

Is the Santa Claus Myth Part of the Problem?

Dolgan says that it’s good for kids to have a symbol and to believe. “This is the beginning of a belief system, which we all need so we have something to hang on to later on. For little kids, it’s something to look forward to. If they disbelieve, they can become negative and they lose a kind of charm.” He adds that it’s appropriate for kids to keep believing in something about Santa forever. (Wheww!)

Understand Expectations

Dolgan explains, “Kids are precise about what they want. It’s not a video game, it’s this particular video game. It’s not an action figure, it’s this action figure.” They expect these precise things, especially if they wrote it down or visited Santa Claus. Children come to expect that all kids should have these toys, especially if the ads instruct them to, “Tell Mom and Dad” or “Make sure to mention this to Santa Claus.”

If your child didn’t get what he or she wanted, or wanted everything in the catalog, Dolgan suggest setting up a volunteering expedition to open up kids’ eyes to the fact that there are needy people. “Parents can say: “This has been a tough year and many boys and girls have mommies and daddies who lost their jobs or are having a hard time staying in their houses. We can help Santa by doing some things that he would do because he’s having a very hard time providing all the food and clothes.”

Is Disappointment OK?

Dolgan says yes. “These are the building blocks of personality. Dealing with disappointment means both managing expectations and identifying feelings. Unless you master disappointment or an upsetting event early, it will be much more difficult to deal with it later on. Children who grow up without any disappointment become entitled and narcissistic. And that’s very hard to treat. Those who are truly entitled think everything comes their way and nothing goes the other. They think they’re the center of the universe. When someone thinks that way, who can they share with?”

What Else Do Kids Learn?

According to Dolgan, the holidays are an opportunity to know some myths, work towards a belief system and reconnect outside of school. “Doing something together is very, very important. If parents reflect on the best part of the holidays, they can replicate that. And they remember the worst part of the holidays and learn not to bring that back either.”

We’d love to hear your strategies for managing consumerism, ideas for next year, or recommendations on articles about the topic! Leave us a comment!

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Teaching Gratitude

Posted on December 8th, 2010 in seeds of change | 1 Comment »

‘Tis the season when we talk about being thankful and how much better it is to give instead of receive. But our kids are bombarded with catalogs proclaiming that getting is so much more fun than anything else. Because of the economy, a desire to take the holidays back to their most important elements and just plain common sense, many parents are trying to balance happiness and presents with teaching true gratitude. But, it’s harder than it sounds when their little faces beg for the latest thing.

Here are a few suggestions, and we’d love to hear yours in the comments!

Be a Grateful Role-Model

Our kids really do see and contemplate everything we say. When we complain about the small bonus from work or make an off-handed remark about someone who gives us a gift we think is less than optimal, they catalog our behavior. To teach our kids to be truly grateful, we have to be truly grateful and express that regularly, not just at the holidays. Since being grateful can actually change your life, it’s a great thing to make a resolution to do more often.

Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a simple notebook where you write three things every night that you are thankful for. This idea was popular a few years ago, and while it sounds easy, some days are pretty challenging.  Having a family journal where each person contributes is a powerful way to focus on gratitude all year long, and the journal makes a wonderful keepsake. If you’re a crafty family, you could make the journal yourselves, but just a simple notebook will do fine.

Other Thankful Crafts

A found tree branch can be hung with simple construction paper leaves that each hold a message of thanks from the family, making a gratitude tree. The tree also makes a great holiday table centerpiece. Your family could hang the leaves in a special ceremony once a week or once a month after collecting them daily, reading the notes aloud. Making a gratitude garland might be fun for larger groups and younger children.

Hardship Experiment

Have you ever tried to go without something for a whole day or week? Pare down the toys, special food or something else meaningful to simulate in a small way what some families are faced with and give your kids something to think about. Kids are naturally very empathetic and thinking of others going without is a powerful way to help them think of their own ideas to both help others and be grateful for what you have. Older kids who are particularly challenged with wanting big ticket items might go without a different item each day for a week, and you can talk about what is really important as a family.


Volunteering as a family is something you should do all year — not just at the holidays — but it’s even more sobering this time of year. Realizing how truly blessed we all are is a natural result of helping others. It’s really true that it is better to give than receive but until you demonstrate that, kids can’t conceive of the concept. Giving of your time is the most precious gift (as a parent and as a volunteer) and it makes a nice break from the commercial mayhem of the holiday season. Volunteer Match has opportunities categorized by family friendliness, and your kids might have a friend or two to invite along.

What does your family do to teach gratitude? Please tell us in your comments!

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Plant the Seed for Change

Posted on November 29th, 2010 in seeds of change | No Comments »

Welcome to our new blog!

We started a blog because seeds of change are really important to us at Dandelion. We founded this company not only to grow our own seeds of change, but because everyone can plant the seeds for change. The tiniest change when multiplied by hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands can create real change!

All of us here at Dandelion look at change on a daily basis…whether its some small thing in our offices, like scanning and saving digital images instead of using paper, or looking at a new material like recycled PET fill for toys.

But change is also about changing the world around us. As a company, we offset our carbon footprint with This is an easy step for any company or individual, there’s even a handy calculator on the site to help you figure out just what your carbon footprint is!

One of the first items on our mission statement for Dandelion was that we would give back to our community in efforts that would support change for the people and world around us. This important mission is one that usually suffers greatly with our economy — people just stop donating to the food bank,  supporting environmental causes and simply don’t give to the poor homeless man on the street.  As a family-owned and operated company, we made the decision to give without regard to the economic impact to our company.

That giving back starts with our commitment for ALL Dandelion products to support 1% for the Planet. We set aside 1% of all gross sales to donate for global earth-saving causes. This year we have used those dollars to support The Nature Conservancy and the Ocean Conservancy. 1% for the Planet is a great way for any company to start, but for us that’s just what it was — a start. We also support many other great organizations and fund raising efforts.

Feeding America is one such great organization. When we created our bioplastic corn products we wanted them to not only be a healthy alternative to plastic but also another way to be able to give to our community. The dollars we donate feed thousands of people in our local community who need our help.

The PINK line is our way of helping to fund Breast Cancer Research. Breast cancer is so widespread that anyone you talk to has been affected in some way. We have also been touched by childhood cancer. A dear friend suffers from Neuroblastoma – and so our new Toddler Dolls will allow us to donate to Childhood Cancer Research.

And, we have planted thousands of trees in hopes that our efforts would enable reforestation.

Welcome to our blog, where we want to share other opportunities for you to sow the seeds of change in our own life. All of this is just the beginning of what we hope will be a future full of spreading seeds of hope and change.

Amy Shumway, owner and co-founder

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Green Gift Ideas for Baby’s First Holiday

Posted on November 16th, 2010 in seeds of change | No Comments »

There’s something especially magical about that first holiday season with a baby. If you’re still pregnant, the season is filled with special anticipation, and baby’s first holiday appearance keeps Kodak in business for at least a year. This might also be the start of your families doing something “extra” when it comes to holiday shopping. Grandparents who were especially frugal as parents are even vulnerable.

But, especially in today’s economic climate, it’s important to be respectful of all our resources, including our money. And, teaching our children that the simple gifts are really better takes a good role model or two. Without taking any of the joy from the gift giver, or muting the celebration, here are five ideas for gifts that honor your green values:

Grow Your Garden Green

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Gift Tree program helps you give ready-to-plant trees to everyone on your list. In a gift that keeps on giving sorta way, plant the tree in a pot for the winter and have a special celebration when you move it to its permanent home in the spring.

If you give a tree to your own family, talk to your kids about what the tree signifies (maybe a special memory, the new baby or a loved one who is no longer with you) and use the opportunity to learn all year. Hang crafts from the tree all winter (it works, I promise) and decorate the tree to every celebration you can think of.

Eye of the Beholder

Grandparents and aunts and uncles will cherish something handmade and useful. Take a string and mini-clothespins (you can even decorate the clothespins) and package them with a selection of art work from your family. Kids can draw their own, moms and dads can print pictures or do something more grand. As the year goes on, send regular packets of new art to clip and keep the collage fresh.

Conversation Starter

If you need a budget-friendly green gift for several families, consider doing a holiday conversation starter. Find or make a box and print questions on small slips of paper that fit in the box. This can be a simple project or you can go all out and design your own paper and decorate the box. Sample questions could be, “What’s the best gift you ever got, and why?” and “What’s your favorite part of the holiday?” or make up your own. The idea is that as you share your holiday meal with family and friends, the conversation starter box ensures that everyone gets a chance to share something meaningful. The boxes can become a family tradition, and you might print updated questions each year for a follow up. If you haven’t announced your pregnancy yet, you can have fun leading the family to the new arrival with the theme of the questions.

Family Library

Offer to take some books (or toys) that your kids have grown tired of, and swap once every month or two with the families on your gift list. The books can go in a circle, and aunts and uncles can add extra favorites or just swap out what their family no longer reads. Since books are so expensive, it’s a fun way to stretch your investment and share something about your family. Grandparents will enjoy reading together via Skype or video and your kids will love their favorite stories with the reader’s own spin. Books can be sent media mail, which is very affordable, and every month all the families will get something new without a big price tag.

Family Craft Night

Instead of expensive presents and Martha Stewart workload, let the family decorate your home for the holidays – together. Provide craft supplies, and if you wish, set up tables for things you want made. A wreath station, tree decorating area, snacks or cookie baking, or a family-wide holiday card circle are all possible ideas. It really is about the time spent laughing and recalling holidays past, as well as looking forward to what’s in your future. Older kids will have fun recycling items all year for craft night, and some advance prep allows you to buy supplies on sale.

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Responsible Manufacturing

Posted on November 7th, 2010 in seeds of change | No Comments »

One of the coolest changes that occurred in the business world in recent years, is the drive to be more open; more “transparent” is the buzz word.  This is particularly important in the Green business arena.   Customers want to know more about what companies are doing.   So companies are taking steps to improving their processes, be better employers…and basically doing more good things for customers, workers, communities, and for the planet.  It’s a more socially responsible world.

Positive change, for a change!

We actually launched Dandelion with this concept in mind; doing better, for families and for our planet.  And responsible manufacturing is an integral part of our “going Green, doing things better” plan.

Dandelion, and our parent company Re-Think It Inc, have had a long successful history with factories in China.  We produce safe, high quality products through factory site visits and company representatives on the ground.  Our working relationships with our primary representatives go back almost 20 years; they know what Dandelion wants and expects!  In fact, when we first launched in 2008, our soft toy factory rep informed us that he would not be shipping one of our toys on schedule because he found the stitching work to be less than perfect.  Even though it was not a safety issue, he knew what we expected and worked directly with this new factory to educate them and ensure they would meet our high quality standard.  That’s what we want, and we know it’s what our customers want!  Safety and Quality.

But today’s savvy customers expect even more than a safe, quality product.  They look for social responsibility and companies who employ responsible manufacturing processes.  Dandelion has established a Manufacturer Code of Conduct, which our factories must sign and adhere to, providing factory workers with important rights such as appropriate wages and safe working conditions, and prohibiting child labor.  We post this code in the Learn section of our website.

Here at home, we operate a family focused business where employees have great flexibility in hours and generous holiday schedules.  We strive to be green in our office practices and are carbon-free as a partner in CarbonFund which plants trees and purchases carbon offset credits for our shipping, commuting and facility usage.

Its all about balance…creating innovative products, employing innovative business practices.  Making positive changes.

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