Archives for August 2008

Using Economic Offsetting to Afford Green Products

Thrifty Green Thursday is the perfect place to consider a whole new version of sustainability that involves both your wallet and your green values.  If cost wasn’t an issue, many Americans would love to eat organic food and use expensive eco-friendly cleaning products.

Since our economy is struggling and prices are soaring, it sometimes feels as though green products will only reach those that can afford them. That’s where economic offsetting can come in very handy. 

Here’s how it works: make frugal choices to reduce your household costs and then apply that extra money to spendier eco-friendly items.  For example, using hand-me-downs for baby can provide hundreds of dollars for organic strawberries and eco-friendly detergent.  (Hint: Rebecca discovered that eco-friendly detergent is actually cheaper than mainstream brands!)  Switching from prepared green cleaning products to homemade versions can possibly even offset the cost of a high quality wooden toy—especially when you find that toy used at a consignment shop.


Greening Your Family Reunion

Every year, over forty members of my extended family–ages negative one month to 94 years–meet up at Lake Tahoe for a week of swimming, kayaking, hiking, and eating.  Little Audrey had a wonderful time splashing in the lake and digging in the sand with her cousins, and everyone enjoyed catching up over mounds of appetizers, cold drinks, and gigantic home-cooked dinners and breakfasts.  

One of the problems with cooking for such a large crowd is all the clean-up afterwards, and my green sensibilities were shocked upon witnessing bag after bag of bottles, cups, and paper plates pile up after each group dinner and breakfast.  That got me thinking: How could we “green” our family reunion?

Enter the Cloth Diaper Bravery Contest to Win a Bumkins Dirty Duds Bag!

When I first used cloth diapers with my tiny infant, I would switch to disposables every time we went to the grocery store or even on a walk down the street.  For some reason I couldn’t imagine handling a cloth diaper change in a public bathroom.

Then my yoga instructor told our class a story about using cloth diapers on a cross-continental flight with her young son and during her three-week family jaunt through Italy.  All of a sudden, going to the grocery store in cloth didn’t seem all that challenging. 

Since then, I’ve managed to do several cloth diaper changes on the grass at the park, in our car trunk, and on various living room floors. My most challenging cloth diaper adventure actually happened in a restroom when I was driving my six-month-old home from a trip to visit relatives.


Line Drying Trouble-shooting

Yesterday, Joy wrote  about saving money and reducing carbon emissions by line drying clothes.  I lived without a dryer for three years, which forced me to hang all my clothes on a big indoor rack, over the radiator, or out on the balcony.  Later, I lived in an apartment with coin-operated dryers, but I was so used to line-drying that I continued doing it.  Then, after about five solid years of dryer abstinence,  I started using the dryer again.  I felt guilty about it, but it was just so much easier, especially in during those nine rainy months of the year.

So why do people give up on line-drying?  Here are some of the biggest line-drying problems you may encounter–and how to solve them.

Using a Drying Rack to Fight Global Warming

Do you own a solar powered dryer? If not, they’re available for under twenty bucks and can save loads of emissions in their lifetime. Yes, I am talking about the humble drying rack.

Whether you live in an urban apartment or sprawling acreage, anyone can handle erecting a drying rack and letting nature do the rest. You won’t need dozens of clothespins to hang each sock, baby t-shirt, or undergarment.  Just flop the clothing on the rack in the morning and take it off later in the day.

In the summer I bask in the glory of sun dried clothing.  I hang the sheets, towels and adult clothing on the line while my toddler helps (somewhat sloppily) by arranging dishtowels and diaper covers on our drying rack.  


National Breastfeeding Week–and Another Bumkins Giveaway!

We’re right in the middle of National Breastfeeding Week, and Bumkins is celebrating by giving away some cloth diapers!  We don’t usually advertise other people’s giveaways, but in this case, we’re making an exception.  It’s our chance to support two time-tested green ideas at once: breast feeding and cloth diapering.  Here are the details:

Bumkins is sponsoring a giveaway in honor of World Breast Feeding Week (August 1st-7th). In celebration of this wonderful cause, we will be giving away an All-in-One Cloth Diaper Bundle 3 pack, retail valued at $72.95, to one lucky winner. To enter all contestants have to do is sign up for an informative, educational cloth diapering newsletter.


Tightwad Tips for Raising Baby from Frugal Zealot, Amy Dacyczyn

Last week we reviewed Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette, the ultimate guide to creative frugality.  We could ooze on for hours about her innovative outlook on reusing and reducing, but instead we’ll give you some concrete examples of how she made budget friendly, eco-friendly choices with her twin babies. 

Since Dacyczyn thought her fourth child would be her last, she had given away all of her baby things, only to find out that she was having a surprise set of twins.  She spent less than $100 on their first year of life by employing some zany acts of simplicity.  These are just some of the items she skipped with her babies:


Bumkin’s Review–and Giveaway!

Recently we’ve had the opportunity to try some Bumkin’s products, including the pull-on nighttime training pants.  The great thing is that Bumkin’s products are all PVC-, phthalate-, BPA-, and vinyl-free. Before we ever received samples Joy used hand-me-down Bumkins bibs and loved them.  She later bought a Bumkin’s Dirty Duds bag and reviewed it here.  We’re pleased to report that they’ve fixed the issue with the bag’s drawstring closure.

Bumkin’s waterproof baby items come in several bright prints that kids will adore.  My daughter begged to wear the pull-on training pants to bed.  She’s potty training now but is never totally dry when she wakes up, so these worked well for her.  The only complaint I had is that they are just HUGE.  We had the medium size, which is the smallest size available for these pants.  They’re supposed to fit toddlers from 20-30 pounds.  Audrey weighs 23 pounds and was swimming in them.  Roscoe got a large and it’s gigantic for his 30-pound frame.   Bumkin’s website advertises “generous sizing,” but I think they went a little overboard.