Eco gifts Feed

8 creative & eco kids gifts for under $20

8 creative and eco kids gifts ideas for under $20 by Little eco footprints[This post is sponsored by Ecotoys.]

I've been searching for sustainable and ethical gifts for kids that encourage creativity and cost less than $20. I thought I'd share my favourite. 

1. Playdough

Playdough - My favourite frugal birthday gift.

Home made playdough birthday gift

Homemade playdough is my favourite gift for kids. Little Eco and I often frantically whip up a batch on the morning of a birthday party. I make three or more colours and put it in recycled containers decorated by Little Eco. 

2. Makedo kits

Recycling trash to make flowers using makedo flower making kit 2 by little eco footprints

Recycling trash to make flowers using makedo flower making kit 1 by little eco footprints

I love Makedo kits. They help kids create all sorts of amazing things from recycled materials like old bottles and cardboard. Little Eco recently tried the Makedo find & make flower kit. She now wants to make a 'forest of flowers'. 

3. Paints

 I particularly like natural non-toxic paints like the natural plant based Glob Botanical Paints. This would be a great idea for gifts that need to be mailed because the paint comes as small satchels of powder. You simply put some powder in an old glass jar and mix with water. 

4. Recycled paper bead kit

Recycled paper beads by little eco footprints

Cutting magazines to create recycled paper beads by little eco footprints

Here's another kit that encourages creative up-cycling - the Green Creativity Recycled Paper Beads kit. This tool makes paper beads from recycled paper. Little Eco is making her way though a pile of old magazines and we'll be gifting her friends paper beaded bracelets for christmas.

5. Paper dolls


Paper dolls are another gift idea that would be easy to post. We've made them in the past from free printables, but you can also buy paper doll kits

6. A crafternoon voucher

Gift an IOU voucher for a crafternoon - an afternoon spent creating and crafting. I know a number of kids who would love to be promised help with an afternoon of crafting. 

7. A packet or two of seeds

Gift a packet of flower or vegetable seeds and include a card suggesting you'll help them plant the seeds and nurture the plants. 

8. Colouring or activity book

I like that colouring and activity books are clutter-free. They get used and enjoyed and then recycled. They don't need a permanent home in already crowded book shelves. 

Do you have any ideas for creative, frugal and eco kids gifts?

[This post was sponsored by Ecotoys. As mentioned, I don't accept cash for sponsorship. Instead I barter for things I need. In this case I bartered gifts for my nieces and nephew. In addition Little Eco was gifted the Green Creativity Recycled Paper Beads kit and the Makedo find & make flower kit]. 

Stop buying stuff and donate instead: Charity Christmas gifts

Creating our leaf advent calendar.

We're giving charity gifts this Christmas.

I love that by giving charity Christmas gifts we're distancing ourselves from the commercialisation of Christmas. I also love that charity giving is super green, because the resources involved include little more than some paper, printing and postage.

And let's not forget that charity Christmas gifts are tax deductible.

I hope that giving charity gifts becomes a new Christmas tradition for our family. It's not like anyone in our family truly needs anything.

Our natural free foraged christmas tree

I finished our Christmas shopping only moments ago and have a lovely warm and fuzzy feel-good feeling. I don't recall shopping ever making me feel this good.

I didn't have to fight the Christmas crowds. Instead I sat at my computer and a few hours later had bought 15 Christmas presents.

Each recipient will receive a card that reveals the charity gift we purchased on their behalf. We're having the cards sent here so that we can write in the cards ourselves and wrap them in some of Little Eco's artwork.

Our natural free foraged christmas tree

Spoiler alert. If you're family, please stop reading now, because I don't want you guessing which gift is yours...

Our natural free foraged christmas tree and leaf advent calendar

I mean it!...That means you too mum ;-)

There are literally hundreds of different charity gifts available, making it easy to individualise gifts. We had fun choosing gifts based on the recipients interests, personality, or sense of humour.

We tried to spread our love around as much as possible by purchasing from a range of charities. I was having trouble deciding between all the great charity gifts available so I also bought gifts for Daddy Eco, Little Eco and myself, despite not intending to.

Through the gifts we bought we supported:

After all that shopping I felt like we still had a little more love to share, so supported World Vision by gifting Little Eco's childcare centre and pre-school a duck for a poor family and support for early learning for indigenous children. Saves me baking the biscuits I'd initially planned as teacher gifts.

Our natural free foraged christmas tree and leaf advent calendar

Have you given or received charity Christmas gifts? Would receiving a charity gift make you feel robbed of a gift?

The pictures accompanying this post are of Little Eco creating our leaf advent calendar and decorating our free foraged natural Christmas tree. 

Welcoming summer: Planet Boab ethical and eco t-shirt giveaway

Planet Boab Australian handprinted organic cotton T-shirt

I can smell Summer. Long days. Ocean swims. Sunshine. The sound of Cicadas.

To welcome Summer i'm offering readers a chance to win a Planet Boab t-shirt.

Planet Boab Australian handprinted organic cotton T-shirt

I shared my love for Planet Boab t-shirts earlier in the year. Planet Boab t-shirts are made here in Australia in a sweatshop free factory from 100% certified organic cotton and are hand printed using water based inks. Whats not to love!

I treat myself to one new Planet Boab t-shirt each summer. I'm onto my third and my first is still going strong despite being worn literally over 100 times. It was one of my six for the six item or less challenge earlier this year and I still love it. 

Planet Boab Australian handprinted organic cotton T-shirt

Daddy Eco is now sharing in the Planet Boab love. Here he is in his new Cycle Path t-shirt.

Want your very own Planet Boab t-shirt? 

The Giveaway

You can win a short sleeved Planet Boab t-shirt of your choice*.

The winner is comment number 80: Nicole with her t-shirt design suggestion of a 'brass instrument like a trombone or trumpet, or a bat hanging upsidedown from a branch'.

I LOVE the bat idea Nicole! Congratulations. I've just sent you an email.

Thank you all for your entries.

To enter head on over to Planet Boab, check out their range, and pop back here and leave a comment sharing which of their hand printed designs is your favourite. Those of you reading this by email will need to head on over to the blog (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.

Want a bonus entry? Leave an extra comment sharing a design idea for a new Planet Boab t-shirt. If Lisa from Planet Boab spots an idea she likes she's suggested she might make it a limited edition print and offer it first to Little Eco Footprint readers. That would be fun!

Entries close midnight (Australian EDST) Monday 28th November 2011.

The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced here in this post on the Tuesday morning. I'll contact the winner directly by email.

Good luck!

*The prize is a gift voucher for $57AUD  which covers the cost of a short sleeve t-shirt plus postage within Australia. International entries are welcome, although an international winner will need to pay the balance (above $57AUD) to cover international postage.

More kids dress-up wings made from recycled t-shirts

Megan from The Byron Life recently featured the dress-up wings I made for Little Eco from old t-shirts (using this tutorial).

She's motivated me to share some pictures of the wings I've subsequently made for birthday gifts.....

wings{image by Madeline}

Upcycled t shirts kids dress up wings 2

Dress up wings made from recycled t_shirts 4

Dress up wings kids repurposed t-shirts 4b

Kids dress up wings made from old t-shirts 6

There were three more sets, all for boys. In black & red, browns and blues. But I made these three the night before they all needed to gifted (on the same day!) so I barely finished them let alone had time to take a photo. I haven't been able to motivate myself to make a pair since that epic night.

I've managed to get my creating time down to an hour and a half by making the feathers wider so that I need less, and by not being too concerned with the 'rustic' look.

Dress p wings made from recycled t shirts 1b

In contrast, the pair I made for Little Eco took hours and hours because it had so many feathers.

I think an hour and a half to make a birthday gift isn't too bad. It can sometimes take that long to simply go shopping for a gift.

I mostly buy my second-hand t-shirts for  $1 each or $5 a bag, so each set of wings cost less than $3. I also save time and money by not buying wrapping paper or a card. We simply wrap gifts in one of Little Eco's old artworks and write on the paper itself, or make a quick gift tag from an old card.

These wings are definitely my favourite handmade frugal gift for kids. Do you have a favourite handmade or frugal gift?

When it comes to toys, plastic ain’t always bad (& a giveaway}


I wrote a post a few months back titled ‘Here's one of the reasons why I don't like plastic toys’.

In response to that post, Frances wisely commented:

'There's plastic and there's plastic, though, isn't there? We buy most of our toys second hand (often like new and they come with NO packaging), and we sell or donate what we've outgrown.’

While I agree the world needs less cheap crap in general, not every plastic toy is cheap, or crap. Not handcrafted, ok, but there are well designed, open-ended toys out there in every material. I refuse to feel bad about our lego collection. Also refuse to buy meals with play-with-once toys in them.

Rather than asking whether a purchase will biodegrade when we dispose of it, we ask whether it will last well enough for someone else to use it, and hopefully someone after that, and after that. Just 'cause I'm done with it doesn't mean it's garbage.'

Well said Frances. You had me thinking, and reflecting on my narrow-mindedness.

Plastic isn’t always bad, the problem is when we treat it like a disposable product, or when it’s laden with BPA and other nasties.

I’m sure there’s a lot of lego that has been played with by multiple generations.


I'm also sure there's more than a few smurfs that have lasted decades. On a trip to Melbourne a few months ago, we bribed let Little Eco choose a second-hand toy each day (as a way of giving Daddy Eco and I time to browse all those unreal Melbourne op shops). She came home with a few little pre-loved plastic smurfs and a plastic smurf house. They're probably over 30 years old and she absolutely loves playing with them. There's not a lot to dislike about these toys (although, as new, when they were sold cheaply at petrol stations, it's a whole other matter).

Timber toys aren't always ethical or sustainable

Soon after I wrote about why I didn’t like plastic toys, I noticed a whole heap of cheap mass-produced timber toys for sale in Aldi. What’s the difference between those mass-produced cheap timber toys and cheap plastic toys?  Not a lot really, given that I doubt the timber was sustainably harvested or recycled.

So I’ve decided to lighten up on plastic toys, as long as they're good quality and non-toxic. Which brings me to the giveaway...

Green Toys giveaway from an Eco Dream

Louisa of An Eco Dream* has kindly offered to giveaway a Green Toys Chef Set to one Little Eco Footprints reader.


Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastic milk containers, and are phthalate and BPA-free.

Louisa also gifted Little Eco her very own chef set so that we could test it. We made a matching stove, from the box that the set came packaged in, and Little Eco has been 'cooking' up a storm ever since. 


I love that the set is child sized. I’ve given Little Eco old spoons and pots to play with in the past, but being able to play with something her own size is great.


The plastic is also very strong and presumably durable. Yesterday, I caught Little Eco enthusiastically 'cooking' scrambled eggs with Emu's first eggs. Thankfully the pots are easy to clean and are even dishwasher proof.

To enter the giveaway, simply head on over to an Eco Dream, browse their stock, and head back here and leave a comment revealing which product tempts you the most and why (I'll share my mine - the eco.kid: Lice Bomb. You can probably guess why. Little Eco has managed to get through almost four years of childcare and preschool without catching Nits, until recently..).

Those of you reading this by email will need to head on over to the blog (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.

One entry per person, please. Sorry, entries only open to those with Australian addresses.

Entries close midnight (Australian EST) Monday 26th September. The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced here in this post on the Tuesday morning. I'll contact the winner directly by email.

The winner was comment number 50 by Jen. Congtratulations Jen! I've just emailed you to request your postal details.

Thank you everyone for your entries.

*An Eco Dream was previously know as Modern Little Munchkins. The name change is in response to the store increasing it's range to include products for all ages.