The very first green parenting community I joined consisted of two people: Rebecca and me–and it’s a group you’re now a part of! The Green Baby Guide started over two years ago when I began frantically calling Rebecca about cloth diapers, homemade baby food, and Craigslist cribs. Although we had been friends for fifteen years and had always kept up with postcards and emails, the overlap in our pregnancies and our green ideals suddenly made regular communication seem vastly more important.
Rebecca was several months ahead of me in her pregnancy, so she learned a great deal by herself and then shared her crash course information with me. When people questioned my plans for using cloth diapers, I could confidently tell them that I knew people (i.e., Rebecca) who were doing just fine with cloth. When I was overwhelmed by the variety and complexity of cloth diapers on the market, Rebecca took me to a consignment shop and helped me buy used diaper covers for a paltry $7.00 investment.
In the weeks after we returned home with baby, my husband and I found ourselves utterly humbled with the task at hand, but with Rebecca’s coaching, and the help of other families, we found a community of new parents who were going green.
Now our circle has widened to include our readers, fellow bloggers, and an increasingly large section of the American population. We wish we could share hand-me-downs with all of you, but since we don’t live in most of your neighborhoods, recipes, tips and anecdotes will have to suffice. Thanks for joining our community of green parents!
I never thought I’d be singing the praises of a disposable plate company on the Green Baby Guide, but I am about to do so. Here’s how it happened: first, I wrote about Greening My Family Reunion. I noted that with over forty people in my extended family, we used as many real dishes as possible and supplemented with paper plates and cups, which racked me with eco-guilt. Next year, I vowed, we could reduce our impact by choosing recycled paper products. I then checked out the paper plate selection at my local grocery store and noticed that Chinet’s plates were made from “recycled materials.”
Chinet contacted the Green Baby Guide, sending along some interesting facts about their company. After reading about their plates, I couldn’t believe they didn’t advertise their eco-friendly practices more conspicuously. “Made from recycled materials” could mean anything–but it turns out that Chinet’s Classic White and Chinet Casual plates are made from 100% recycled materials and they’re biodegradable. They don’t contain chlorine bleach, so you can toss those used plates in your compost bin, where they will break down in about sixty days.
I’ve got to say that I used to be annoyed by Chinet’s television ads for the same reason I hated paper towel commercials. I am someone who has hosted parties for twenty people and washed all the dishes by hand afterwards, so it’s not as if I am a big paper plate advocate. That said, I am really impressed by Chinet’s environmental efforts. Because Huhtamaki American, Inc. (the makers of Chinet products) uses recycled materials, they save almost three million trees, one billion gallons of water, and 65 million gallons of oil each year. It’s great to see a mainstream company offer more sustainable products that can be found at most of our everyday grocery stores.
Would you like to try some of Chinet’s products for your next gathering? Just post a comment by Tuesday and you’ll be entered to win two sets of Chinet’s eco-friendly paper plates and some biodegradable napkins. You’ll get special consideration if you promise to compost them when you’re done!
Read more about Chinet’s environmental efforts here.
Ever return from holiday travel only to find yourself more exhausted than when you left? When we felt stressed out just contemplating a vacation with a two-year-old, we knew we needed other options. Suddenly, my husband blurted out, “Let’s have a staycation!” Immediately our heart rates leveled out and we began breathing more deeply.
You might assume that my husband and I have a tiny comfort zone—or a case of agoraphobia. Actually, we’ve lived and traveled in several countries, but at this point in our lives we have no desire to leave town. Our son sleeps horribly even on short trips, hates being immobile in the car seat, and often seems out of sorts while we’re away. It ends up being rather grueling for all of us—so we were excited about the option of staying home for a week and purposely relaxing.
So why did we choose to staycation?
1. We greatly reduced carbon emissions. We didn’t have to log airplane or car miles that eat up fossil fuels—plus we avoided hours of trying to entertain a toddler in the backseat.
2. Our vacation budget was HUGE. Without having to pay for gas or lodging, we were able to go out on a few dates, pay for babysitting—and still save loads of money. I really wanted to splurge for a massage, but ran out of time.
3. We had fun in our backyard. Since camping with our toddler still seems a little beyond us, we set up the tent in the backyard during the day as a pre-camping experiment. We could lie under the giant cedars and watch the clouds float by without having to pack up the gear.
4. It was fun to view our area like tourists. We went hiking, took a day trip to the zoo, and rode the city bus all over town. While I get to do some of this in the summer with Roscoe, we hardly ever get time to do it all as a family.
5. There was no packing or unpacking required. What a luxury! We didn’t have to scramble around the house trying to remember every last thing—only to find that we’d forgetten a few items anyway.
As much as we enjoyed our staycation, we did fall into the trap of accomplishing a “few” household projects during the week. It ended up eating a big chunk of our time. If we had it to do over again, we would totally avoid work and try to plan our fun more carefully.
Next year a family vacation might seem more manageable, but we’re glad that this year we took the opportunity to save a little money, help the planet and simplify our vacation.
You’re sure to find loads of budget-friendly green tips below from our Thrifty Green Thursday blogging crew. Bloggers are welcome to jump in and join anytime––just go to this page and carefully follow the steps. Thanks for enriching our Thursday with your creative ideas!
A couple weeks ago I saw a brightly-painted truck driving around my Portland neighborhood with the word “SCRAP” scrawled on the side. I later learned this was a part of Portland’s School and Community Resource Action Project. They collect everything from buttons, wrapping paper, yarn, and paper towel tubes and distribute it to schools to use as art supplies. I wrote a post about recycling the contents of my basement many months ago. Some of the things we went to great lengths to recycle (such as CD jewel cases) could have been donated to this organization–and reusing is always better than recycling.
Even if your community doesn’t have a program like SCRAP, you could collect some items destined to the trashcan and donate them to a local school. I remember hoarding toilet paper tubes and egg cartons after my third grade teacher specifically requested them as art project donations.
Collecting your clean, “art-project worthy” garbage to donate to a school can be especially eco-friendly if you don’t have much of a recycling program in your town. I know that some parts of the country still don’t recycle magazines or other paper products, let alone ribbons, rubber bands, or useless CDs. Here’s just a brief list of some of the items SCRAP collects, to give you an idea of what you might reserve from your trash pile:
Portlanders can check out SCRAP’s website to see which items are in demand and what they have too much of. Non-Portlanders could try calling schools and leaving a message about the trash-I mean “art supplies” and “science experiment materials”-you’re willing to donate. If you’re really ambitious, you could even try organizing a SCRAP-like program for your own local schools.
Giving away the contents of my garbage pail instead of sending it to a landfill always works for me. Have you successfully recycled household detritus by donating it to schools? Please post a comment and let us know how it worked for you.
After a little summer break, Rocks in My Dryer is back with the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival. All bloggers are welcome to jump into Green Baby Guide’s Thrifty Green Thursday blog carnival, which starts every Wednesday evening at 8 o’clock. Please join us!
We had so many deserving entries in our giveaway that I found myself wanting to buy everyone a Dirty Duds bag or sew a dozen by hand. Since I’m not remotely wealthy, or skilled in sewing, I wrote Bumkins instead and begged for more prizes. They awarded us with something all our readers can use!
Just enter the coupon code 5off08 and get $5.00 off any purchase with a $50.00 minimum when ordering online at www.bumkins.com. The coupon is good on all merchandise so you can use it buy diapers, bibs and other baby gear as well.
And here is our winning entry from April at Enchanted Dandelions.
“In May of 2007, my younger brother graduated from Marine boot camp. The ceremony was to be held in South Carolina at Parris Island, about an 8 hour drive from our home in Virginia. Since I wanted to be there for this special moment in my brother’s life, I made arrangements to drive down there with my little ones and spend the weekend in a hotel.
As the kids were only 10 months old and just-turned-2 years old at the time, I had a lot of packing to do. Plenty of snacks and toys for the car ride? Check. Blankies, loveys, and dollies? Check. Matching patriotic outfits? Check. Diapers? Hmm, I had a decision to make. I could spend $20 and buy a couple packs of disposables for the trip. That would have been easiest. However, I’m stubborn, and decided to stick with our usual bumwear of prefolds and covers.
I packed our entire diaper stash into a collapsible laundry basket. I also took along a couple heavy-duty trash bags for dirty diapers, a box of baking soda and a bunch of grocery bags to keep in my diaper bag.
The weekend was absolutely amazing! Kids did great on the long car ride down. Touring the base was very interesting, as it was my first time on one. And of course, the reason for the trip, seeing my brother in his uniform was just awe-inspiring. I was SO proud of him!
Diaper-wise, things went smoothly as well. When we were out and about, I would put the dirty diapers in a grocery bag and shove it in the bottom of the stroller. At night, in the hotel, I rinsed out the poopy ones and left them to drip dry over the edge of the toilet. The next morning everything went into the trash bag with a liberal sprinkling of baking soda. (I made sure to put a note on the bag, just in case, so the housekeeper wouldn’t toss it away while we were gone).
Yes, it was a bit more work. But in the end, I am glad that I stuck to it. My brother was doing his part to protect our country… and I am doing my part in protecting the environment.”
Honorable mention goes to Kathleen at Katydid and Kid and Dorothy at Gabriel, Dorothy and William for their fabulous descriptions of those dirty diaper moments. Thanks to everyone who participated and, as always, we’d love to hear more cloth diaper victory stories!
Diaper services are a great option for people who want to use cloth diapers without washing them themselves. The company will plunk sets of nice clean diapers outside your door and whisk away your bag of soiled ones on a regular basis. They’ll usually allow you to specify the size of prefolds you need, and you’ll buy the covers yourself. While prices vary across the nation, diaper services generally end up being cheaper than disposables but more expensive than home-laundered cloth diapers.
Are they better for the environment, too? With a diaper service, you’ll throw away far less garbage than disposable-users will. There is the added environmental cost of the water used to wash the diapers and the fuel used to transport the diapers to your house–but keep in mind that there are fuel costs associated with driving packs of disposables from the factories to the stores as well.
We’re hoping some of our readers have used a diaper service so we can learn a bit more about them. Please post a comment with your experiences! How much did your service cost? How convenient (or inconvenient) was this diapering method? Would you recommend a diaper service to our readers? Why or why not? Thanks for your input!
As a child, I remember being thrilled to escape school in mid June—but by August, I was bored to tears. Now as a mom I realize how tough it is to find quality entertainment for kids without spending money or driving all over town. This week we’ll revisit a few of our best posts on entertaining your brood for less.
For older children:
What else do you do to inspire entertainment that doesn’t have to be plugged in? We’d love to hear your Thrifty Green ideas.
Remember that you’ll find a whole slew of frugal, eco-friendly tips below with links back to some fabulous blogs. This week we’ve finally added Mr. Linky. Please jump into Thrifty Green Thursday whenever you’d like. For directions on how to start, just click here. Thanks for visiting!
Has anyone else spawned a water-waster? If I give Audrey a little watering can and ask her to water the flowers, she’ll dump the whole thing on the pavement. She enjoys flushing the toilet. If she washes her hands, she turns the water on full blast and splashes water everywhere. Then she cries when I won’t let her wash her hands every five minutes. One day I wondered why it was eerily silent in the bathroom, and I found that Audrey had taken all the towels out of the cabinet and soaked each one in the sink!
How have you talked to your kids about conserving resources–at a two-year-old level? Audrey will beg to water the plants or wash her hands, which seem like innocuous enough activities for a youngster–but how do I encourage her to do those things with the proper respect for Mother Earth? Or do I just need to put up with the waterworks for a few years, then sit her down as a teen for a comprehensive lecture on ecology?
If anyone has any brilliant tips or suggestions for me, please post a comment.
Green parenting requires thought, innovation, and courage—none of which come easy on limited sleep. Having a community of like-minded parents is wonderful, but it can be challenging depending on a person’s geographic location or work schedule. Still, if you hook up with a few families who are at least willing to try green living, it can be tremendously helpful.
Here are a few places where you could start finding eco-friendly buddies:
Parenting groups: Usually by joining a parenting group you can find a few families who are interested in eco-friendly tips. We loved our experience with Birth to Three here in Eugene and have made friendships that will last all through Roscoe’s childhood.
Community events: Story time at the local library, Earth Day Celebrations or free concerts in the park can be a great way to connect with other parents.
Green groups: These are available in the Portland Metro area through one of our favorite local blogs, Enviromom. Portland parents in different pockets of the city have free-form meetings to discuss the everyday challenges and victories of green living.
Start your own: Post a free ad in Craigslist asking moms to meet up weekly at a city park or even in your own home. Hold “swap-meets” with local families to share toys and clothes. You’re welcome to post a comment on this post asking if any Green Baby Guide readers live in your area.
The good news is that you’re already part of a group of like-minded people: us! Please remember to email us with any questions or tips you might want to share online. We’d love to hear your voices as we continue to make Green Baby Guide a welcoming place for new parents.
Here at the Green Baby Guide, we’re all about making simple lifestyle changes that will make a big difference, one step at a time. But what about the big things? Have you made any huge strides on your quest towards greenness?
So what do I mean by a “big thing” and a “little thing”? Years ago, I read in the Tightwad Gazette about boiling just the amount of water you need to make a cup of tea. Now, instead of filling the kettle with a bunch of water and heating more than I use for my drink, I fill it with exactly a cup’s worth. That small thing saves a bit of water and energy and was easy for me to do. Barbara Kingsolver writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about moving from arid Tucson, Arizona, to Virginia just so she can grow all of her own food in a fertile climate. Now, that’s a big thing, at least in my book!
Has anyone here traded a Hummer in for a bicycle? Limited family size for the sake of the planet? Gone vegan? Stopped using electricity? Installed a composting toilet? Moved into a teeny-tiny house or apartment? What are the biggest leaps you’ve made towards greenness or your proudest green accomplishments?