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Sunday, August 19, 2012

5 Green Ways Your Kids Can Construct Their Best Fort Yet

Summer is drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean that your kids are ready to come inside and start thinking about the next school year. If you have kids of the fort-making age, then you’ve probably had your living room completely dismantled of cushions all summer long and had to throw old blankets in the wash way too many times to count. But, when the kids start to make forts outside, it can become a much more complicated matter. Many parents end up buying expensive plastic play houses or building costly tree houses, neither of which are necessarily very good for the environment. But, there are actually plenty of re-purposed items your kids can use to build stellar forts in the great outdoors.

1. Leaves
You may just be looking to rake up the leaves and get them out of the yard as quickly as possible. After all, if they’re left for too long, they will begin to decompose and can turn into a big mess. But, before you toss away all your leaves, think twice. They are actually one of the coolest types of building materials for forts. Give your kids a bunch of rakes and they can spend hours building mazes, roads and pretend houses out of leaves. When they’re done, have them dispose of the leaves in a recyclable waste bag. You can also sell them or use them in your own garden as natural mulch.

2. Re-used cardboard boxes
When you find yourself with a load of cardboard boxes sitting in the basement or garage, don’t be too quick to throw them out or send them to the recycling bin. Used cardboard boxes can be of service time and time again for a wide array of outdoor play. They are excellent to use for forts, especially if they’re big. Try to find the biggest boxes you have and help your kids cut doors and windows into the sides.

3. Sticks
Sticks are yet another pesky thing that we find in our backyards. We ultimately want to clear our yards of old sticks and stones, but why not have the kids do the grunt work? Have them gather up all the sticks they can find. Then take some twine and work together to turn groups of the sticks into longer units for building. You can lean them against the side of a fence or tie them up together for a makeshift teepee.

4. Old Bricks
Old bricks are difficult to move around, and, when you find them in your yard or piled up in the driveway, it can be one of those things that just never gets done. Fortunately, they are also a great way to save money on otherwise expensive fort materials. Kids will get a kick out of building and taking down their own brick walls, so let them go for it.

5. Salvaged boards
If your kids have been begging you to build a tree house or a fort, but you just can’t afford it or don’t have the time, then maybe they would like to play with some salvaged boards and do it on their own with safe materials. It’s easy to find old boards from salvage yards. Just make sure that you take all the nails and staples out of them and make sure they are not too weak. The kids can put them up around trees or lean them on the sides of backyard fences.

About the Author
Having her fair share of construction management jobs, Kristie Lewis considers herself an expert on the subject and regularly writes about it. Send your questions and feedback to her at Kristie.lewis81@gmail.com.

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Environmental Impact of Video Games: Infographic

All of us either know, or live with a gamer (if you're not one yourself). If you're concerned about the environment, this may cause you to feel some guilt. In our recent post, "Gaming Without Guilt: Top 5 Green Games to Play," we provide the names of some games that promote environmental interest.

Some may disagree with the idea of e-games being greener than those played on a console. Check out the infographic below and let us know your thoughts.

Environmental Impact of Video Games
Source: Big Fish Games

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.