Archives for May 2008

Earth-friendly Beverages for Baby: Organic Milk from Local Dairies

As soon as my daughter turned one, I wanted to introduce her to whole milk.  Like many other parents, I wanted her to have hormone-free milk, so that meant paying more and buying organic.  Right?  I like to save money, but organic milk costs a lot more than conventional milk–sometimes up to twice as much.  There was also something else I wondered about: all the organic milk I found on the shelves came from other states–some as far as Ohio!  Part of the reason I tried to buy organic foods was that I wanted to help the environment, but buying something that needed to be ultra-pasteurized and taken on a thousand-mile road trip wouldn’t be any better for planet Earth than buying conventional milk from a local dairy.  In fact, it would probably be worse.
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Green Resolution Grades

Having a blog with thousands of loyal readers is a great way to feel accountable for those Earth Day Resolutions that sometimes fall by the wayside in the midst of raising a family.  I’m happy to report that we’ve made some progress toward accomplishing our green goals for the coming year in just a few months.

Green groceries:  B+    

We struggled with finding reasonably priced organic produce without driving all over town.  Thank goodness for our CSA!  I have to admit that some pieces of random produce have perished in our fridge but it has provided a wonderful variety of veggies and fruits that usually make it into our menus.

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Homemade, Non-toxic Play-dough Recipe

Store-bought Play-doh, which consists of a mystery list of ingredients and comes in individual little plastic containers, is more expensive than homemade. It’s easy to make a non-toxic version with a few common pantry items. I like to leave it white instead of coloring it, but below you’ll find how to use natural ingredients to color your play dough. If you roll it out, cut it into shapes, and bake them like cookies, you can even paint your creations. Try a batch today and see what your youngster thinks.

 

Edible Play-dough

 

Two Play-dough recipes

I found these recipes here.

Rubbery Play-dough

2 cups baking soda
1 1/2 cups water
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Join the Anti-Toe Clip Federation!

It’s almost summer and with gas prices skyrocketing, global warming in full swing, and a toddler who loves to be outside, I’m longing to climb on my bike and pedal off into the sunset. But NOT WITH TOE CLIPS!!  You may think my fervor is a bit intense for the rather benign little stirrup that holds a cyclist’s shoe to the pedal, but you won’t after you read this post on my toe-clip trauma. 

Here is the synopsis:

On a family bike ride, my husband stopped short right in front of me.

As I careened toward the pavement, the toe clip trapped my foot.

I dislocated my arm and broke off a few bits as well.

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Throw a Simple Green Baby Shower

Sheryl Crow had one. Parents magazine raved about them in last March’s issue.  An eco-conscious expecting mother in your life may be hinting for one.  But what is a green baby shower?  It may seem like a ploy to get you to “buy” your way into the green movement.  Are we just trading piles of Pampers and mounds of plastic toys for $50 organic onesies and free-trade rattles?  Maybe.  But it’s also possible to throw an old-fashioned, down-to-earth baby shower that’s simple and eco-friendly.  Here are just a few ideas to celebrate the arrival of a new baby.

Throw a book baby shower.  Don’t forget the Green Baby Guide’s article touting the merits of giving the gift of imagination.  Attendants bring a book or two the child can treasure well after she’s outgrown her bouncy seat.

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Finding Economical, Earth-Friendly Family Vehicles

If you’ve read my Earth Day resolution post, you know that I’m trying to lose two hundred and fifty pounds.  The Toyota Four Runner that we’ve been graciously allowed to borrow for the last seven years needs to be sold and we want to replace it with a more earth-friendly vehicle. 

Our challenge is to find a safe, reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle for between six and eight thousand dollars.  We’d like to have something that we can pile miles on for trips around town so that we keep our other car, a newer Toyota Camry, stowed away in the garage for most of the year.  Unfortunately we don’t all fit in the very NmG electric car pictured to the right. 

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Eco-Recipe for Babies and Adults Alike: Cooking Dried Black Beans

My daughter has loved black beans since we started her on solid foods.  First we blended them up and added them to her oatmeal porridge (Mm-m, doesn’t that sound scrumptious?).  Later, she was able to pick individual beans up with her hands and gum them.  Once she was about eighteen months or so, she enjoyed eating black beans in salsa or chili.  We make three pounds of dried beans at a time, use most of them in Andy’s frozen burritos (we make twenty burritos at a time), and enjoy the rest in other recipes.

Using dried beans instead of canned has a few advantages.  First of all, it’s cheaper.  I estimate that we save a whopping $2.80 every time we cook our own beans.  We also avoid the toxins lurking in cans.  (Holly on the Ecobaby Blog wrote about her concerns with canned beans here.)  Last but not least, we’re keeping more than seven fifteen-ounce cans out of the recycling bin every time we cook a vat of tasty legumes. 
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Building Raised Beds For an Organic Garden

A few years ago when I was pregnant with Roscoe, I had a sudden Saturday urge to grow zucchini and hustled off to the hardware store to buy the wares for a small raised bed.  I sat in our driveway with the drill and awkwardly put together a rather pathetic little garden box that has nonetheless yielded some beautiful basil and tomatoes over the last few summers.  In this photo Roscoe is trying to prevent the weed-filled bed from being captured on film. 

This year with the help of my neighbors, I plan on putting together a more respectable raised bed.  Although I could just plop the plants in the dirt, raised beds provide excellent drainage for plants and also allow you to heap in all your own rich new soil. 

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What’s in Your Diaper Bag?

One thing I wondered when I was pregnant was what everyone was carrying around in those huge diaper bags.  I observed moms and dads dragging around overstuffed bags bigger than the carry-on luggage I’d use for a weekend trip.  What the heck did they have in there–fully cooked meals, extra outfits, an entire package of diapers?  I didn’t get it.  And I must admit, I still don’t.  I’ve been a mother for over two years now and have never carried around a diaper bag. 

During my daughter’s first six months or so, I didn’t bring anything with me on outings I knew would last just an hour or two.  I mean, I seriously didn’t bring anything for the baby: not a diaper, a book, a toy.  If I was planning on being gone for longer, I would tuck a Zip-loc bag into my purse. The Zip-loc would contain one extra diaper, another Zip-loc for the wet diaper, and a little baggie with two or three wipes.
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Is Staying At Home Greener than Working?

If both parents have demanding careers and multiple children, how do they manage things like washing cloth diapers, composting, making healthy dinners and spending time with baby? There are also some single parents out there who are handling full-time schedules and parenting while keeping the planet in mind. How do they do it?  I am utterly in awe of people who can juggle so much without feeling overwhelmed. 

My husband and I both work thirty-some hours per week and yet we find the balance of a two career family rather precarious at times. Over the last few weeks illness and injury has made the daily challenge of laundry and homemade dinners seem ever greater.   I often long for take-out, or look lustfully at the frozen entrees in the grocery store,  knowing that those convenience items are designed for the hectic, dual income family.  Even though I’m often overwhelmed,  I don’t want to give into the urge to buy disposable, convenience items, saving time while potentially harming the planet.  At this point it seems we should be able to handle some extra time for green choices since we have just one child, we both work equally hard on domestic tasks, and neither of us are working full time.

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