Eco-Friendly Summer Camp Essentials

Don't Let Them Leave Without These Must-Haves

Eco-Friendly Summer Camp Essentials

Eco-Friendly Summer Camp Essentials

School is finally out and for many kids, this means summer camp is right around the corner. If you're like me, you want to send them off with the best supplies possible, with most, if not all of them being eco-friendly. So whether they’ll be going to day camp, sleep-away camp, or even if you are going away for a family camping vacation, these safe, eco-friendly camp items are must-haves.

Sun Protection

Outdoor Research Rambler Sombrero ($24.99) - I love this hat from Mountain Equipment Co-op. It features a wide brim to fully protect the head from the sun. Its tight stitching gives it a UPF factor of 30+ and the brim contains foam which means that if it were to fall into the water, it will float so it can be easily recovered. It also contains a breakaway drawstring cord and a moisture wicking inner headband.

Badger Organic Tangerine & Vanilla Sunscreen ($19.99) – Kids love it because of the great scent, parents love it because it is natural (it only contains six simple ingredients!). Once applied, protection is immediate because it is a physical block and not a chemical block like most mainstream sunscreens. If the tangerine and vanilla scent is not appealing to you, then check out these other organic and natural sunscreens (and don't forget sun protection for the lips!)

UV Blocking Sunglasses ($8 - $22) – Even if your child has a hat that provides excellent sun protection, sunglasses are still a must. Mountain Equipment Co-op carries a full line-up of UV blocking sunglasses for kids of all ages.

Click for more sun safety tips.

Reusable Lunch and Snack Containers

LunchBot Stainless Steel Food Containers ($17.99 - $21.99) - LunchBot stainless steel, plastic-free containers are reusable, so they will last for many years to come. My eldest has been using hers for about four years now and it’s still in great condition. LunchBots come in many different configurations and colours and when summer camp has ended, they carry over as the perfect school lunch container.

Otter Stainless Steel Water Bottles ($14.99 - $18.99) - Otter bottles are a favourite of mine because they are so simple. They come in several different prints the kids will love, and bonus, they come in adult designs and sizes too!

Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bags ($12.99) - These reusable snack bags are the perfect size (7" x 7") for a sandwich or snacks. Cleaning is simple—turn them inside out and wipe clean. You'll also have peace of mind having your kids use them because they are BPA, PVC, phthalate, and lead free.

Safe Outdoor Protection

DEET-Free Outdoor protection ($11.99 - $19.99) - Most mainstream bug repellants contain the chemical DEET which is considered an "unclassified carcinogen" by the World Health Organization and can be absorbed into the skin. It is also a chemical plasticizer ingredient used in rubber, plastic cement, and paint remover. Not something you really want to put on your family’s skin, right? Check out these natural and DEET-free outdoor protection products.

Eco-Friendly Stationary

Ecojot Journals and Note Cards ($10 - $13) - Ecojot products are another favourite of mine for two reasons: their fun designs and of course, because they are eco-friendly. Picking up some Ecojot journals is a great idea because your kids will be able to record all of their summertime adventures. If your kids are going to sleep-away camp, send them off with some note cards and stamps so they can send you sweet notes updating you on all the daily camp happenings.


Vegan, Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Better for you than their traditional counterpart

Vegan, Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Whether it’s solving a tricky website coding problem, teaching myself how to use my DSLR camera in manual mode (the pics in this post are pretty good, right?), or even making a lotion that is healthier than store-bought, I’ll stick with the challenge until I’ve won. I’m stubborn that way.

So when I decided to change the way I eat a few years ago, I was presented with a new and complex challenge: changing all of my favourite recipes so they are better for me. This means that everything has to be mostly plant-based and because of a slight wheat sensitivity, everything also has to be wheat-free. Obviously, I'm your dream dinner-party guest.

This is a challenge I am happy to say I am totally winning. I love taking a regular recipe, making a few changes and substitutions, and ending up with something that is healthier for me and tastes just as good as the not-so-healthy-for-me version (like these pancakes). There have been some learning-moment fails along the way, but most of them have been successes—like these cookies.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that these are healthy for you—is there even such a thing as a healthy cookie? But what I will say is that they are better for you than their traditional counterpart and taste just as delicious—maybe even better.


3/4 cup coconut sugar or sucanat
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

  Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  In large bowl, whisk sugar, coconut oil, salt, water, and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, rolled oats, coconut, baking soda, and chocolate chips until combined.

  Using a tablespoon, scoop onto baking sheet, spacing evenly apart and gently press to about 3/4-inch thick.

  Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. Cool on pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.


  • If you prefer raisins, substitute the chocolate chips with 3/4 cup of raisins.
  • If you don’t have a problem with wheat, use 1 cup of regular flour instead of the gluten-free flour and omit the xanthan gum. You can also use oats not marked as gluten-free.

Makes 24 medium-sized cookies

Adapted from Serious Eats


The Importance of Taking Care of a Bicycle

Why this matters in Ghana

The Importance of Taking Care of a Bicycle

For most children in rural Ghana, Africa, a bicycle received through the The Cadbury Bicycle Factory is something to be treasured, and in most cases, the chance to own one is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is why it is so important that they learn how to maintain and care for the bicycle—to make it sustainable. This is where the Village Bicycle Project team comes in.

Village Bicycle Project was founded in 1999 by its director David Peckham. In 2009, Village Bicycle Project partnered with The Cadbury Bicycle Factory when they realized they had a mutual interest in helping the people of rural Ghana through the distribution of bicycles. This partnership allowed Peckham and his team to come up with a program to help deliver the bicycles and train the recipients in sustainability, bike repair, and maintenance. The sustainability program is of great importance to The Cadbury Bicycle Factory’s success because it helps to make sure the bikes last a long time and don’t unnecessarily end up damaged, beyond repair, and discarded.

For the past five years, through The Cadbury Bicycle Factory, more than 18,000 bicycles have been delivered to cocoa-growing communities in Ghana. Before a recipient can take ownership of their new bike, Peckham and his team ensure they attend a mandatory training session to learn as much as they can about caring for their new bike.

“Our aim is to be able to teach the users how to identify a small problem before it turns into a big problem,” says Peckham. “Rider education is key to sustainability.”

The free bike repair and maintenance classes are kept small to make certain everyone has the chance to ask questions and get hands on training so each student can walk away with a full understanding about how to recognize when there is a problem and how/where to get the help they need. The teachers’ are fully trained in all areas before taking on classes and the training curriculum is always evolving so all bases are covered.  

“Our teachers are very well-trained and skilled when it comes to educating about bike repair,” says Peckham.

To round out the program, Peckham’s team also works with local Ghanaian bike mechanics to ensure they have easy access to obtain bike parts when needed and are able to get into contact with the correct bike part suppliers. In case a bike recipient encounters an issue with his/her bike, the plan is to make it easy for them to get their bicycle taken care of in a timely fashion.

What I find so admirable about Peckham and his team is the great sincerity and determination to help the people of rural Ghana. Village Bicycle Project was started with just a mere $5,000 and a dream—and it has paid off. On average, one bicycle will provides 25 extra school days and for young women in particular, education means empowerment which, in turn, leads to healthier, richer lives for both them and their children.

The Cadbury Bicycle Factory put together this video with Peckham speaking about the sustainability side of The Cadbury Bicycle Factory program. My favourite quote?

"We don’t want to do mediocre work in a lot of places; we would rather do excellent work in a few places. That’s very important to us.” —David Peckham, founder of Village Bicycle Project

For more info, visit The Cadbury Bicycle Factory Facebook Page.

The Cadbury Bicycle Factory program helps children in rural Ghana by providing them with bikes. 
YMC members helped The Cadbury Bicycle Factory build 5,000 bikes in a mere 70 Days. That is an incredible accomplishment!
Visit The Cadbury Bicycle Factory's Facebook page for updates, details, and to see the children’s lives you’re helping to change.