Archives for December 2008

Happy New Year: Evaluating Last Year’s Green Resolutions and Setting New Ones

Thanks to my green resolutions from last year, I was able to make some big changes one step at a time.  Although I haven’t accomplished all of them perfectly, they did help to get me jumpstart 2008 in a much greener fashion. 

As I begin 2009 things seem even more hectic than they did a year ago.  Here’s the big news: I’m pregnant!  Our baby is due on June 15th, which is wonderful news.  It also means that I’ll be juggling a nearly full time job, growing a human being, parenting a toddler, enjoying marriage, writing this blog and starting a monthly column in Metro Parent.  It’s all great news, but already I find myself a little short of breath as I consider balancing it all.  So, this year my goals are humble, but they will still be a great fun to accomplish.

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My Green Victories of 2008

Looking back, I’m amazed at the many small changes I managed to take on over the last year.   I’ve included links–some to the Green Baby Guide articles discussing the topic, some to other sites that inspired me.

1. Stopped using disposable wrapping paper and switched to reusable gift wrap.

2. Switched to eco-friendly toilet paper.

3. Switched to eco-friendly laundry detergent, which I discovered was actually cheaper than conventional detergent!

4. Stopped using shampoo and started using baking soda, saving money and many plastic bottles.

5. Began recycling plastic lids.

6. Started turning off water to cook pasta.

7. Signed on to support renewable energy.

8. Started washing diapers in cold water.
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Affordable, BPA-Free Sippy Cup Solutions

I wanted a BPA-free sippy cup for my son, but I heard so many complaints about leaks and design flaws from other mothers, that I was hesitant to shell out the cash.   I was under the (misguided) impression that most BPA-free cups cost $15-20 dollars apiece, plus shipping, which was tough to swallow considering that I hadn’t heard great reviews.

The Tightwad Gazette offered the simple, thrifty solution of having a child drink out of a cup after turning one.  After all, what did people do before plastic was invented?

We tried instructing our child to gently sip with a straw, but a few dozen cups of spilled milk later, I felt we needed a better solution.  Just then, I read a post on Green and Clean Mom announcing the happy news: Target now carries Munchkin BPA-free sippy cups for between one and three dollars! Eureka!  In her post, Green and Clean mom apologizes for her wild enthusiasm about finding these cups, but I instantly shared her thrill. 

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The Saturday Question: Did You Cloth Diaper With Twins or Triplets?

If you did, we want to hear from you!  We are often amazed by the ingenuity and commitment of our readers and use your stories to share with other new parents.  Many families are overwhelmed by the idea of cloth diapering one child, let alone two or three.  If you’ve managed to use cloth with multiples, even part of the time, we’d love to hear your stories.     We’d love to know how many diapers you bought, how much laundry you did, and how cloth may have been unexpectedly convenient.  Please comment on this page or email us if you have some experience that might help other parents.

Merry Green Christmas and Happy Eco-Friendly Holidays!

One year ago Rebecca and I were enjoying the holiday with our families, but after all the gifts were opened and the dinner plates were washed, we were scrambling to get our website up and running before the New Year. 

Twelve months and a hundred-something posts later, we’re happy to be celebrating the long and exciting journey we’ve made over the last year.  Maybe in a few dozen living rooms across the country, our fellow bloggers and loyal readers will be opening fabric gift bags to find eco-friendly surprises or amazing garage sale finds.  We wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Fabulous Kwanzaa.  We look forward to working with you for another year of green living!

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Using Cloth Diapers during Potty Training

If you’re lucky, your child will make a seamless transition from full-time diapers to full-time underwear.  That said, it’s pretty common for most kids to phase the diapers out gradually: at first they cut down during the day, then they’re “day trained,” and then–sometimes years later (according to my sources)–they stop needing diapers for naps and overnights.

We are in one of these transitional phases now.  While my daughter does not need a diaper while she’s awake, she still wears one while she sleeps.   I’ve been using cloth diapers since she was born and never want to buy another pack of disposables again, so I’m continuing with cloth diapers even now that I have much less diaper laundry to do.  This leaves me with a diaper conundrum:
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Flailing Greenward: Balancing A Hectic Life and Green Choices

I have no time.  Seriously.  As a mother, a middle school teacher, a writer, and a wife, I often feel like each minute of my day has to be carefully attributed to a specific task.  In the time it takes to get from work to daycare I’m planning dinner, thinking of tomorrow’s social studies lesson, wondering whether I can take my son out for a walk, and remembering that the diapers need to be dried and folded by tomorrow.  Am I a wonder woman—a model mother who gracefully balances work, family and a green lifestyle?  Hardly!  I’m fumbling toward green parenthood and often failing along the way.

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The Saturday Question: Did You Use Organic Baby Food?

While most families want to feed their baby organic baby food, cost can sometimes be a barrier.  Did you splurge on organic meals for baby?  Did you find a way to offset the cost by making your own organic purees or harvesting produce from a family garden?  If you did buy prepared organic baby food, where did you find the best deals and the best quality? Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us this weekend!

Offsetting the Water Used to Wash Cloth Diapers

I often hear people say that cloth diapers are no better for the planet than disposables because of all the water used to wash them.  This argument has never made too much sense to me.  Water is a renewable resource, but the trees cut down to make disposable diapers are often harvested unsustainably.  The plastic used on each diaper is a petroleum product-definitely not a renewable resource.  Then there’s the whole landfill issue. . . .

Not to say that I don’t care about wasting water.  If you wash diapers every other day in a top loader, you’ll use a whopping 7,200 gallons water a year.  Do you use a wet pail to soak your diapers?  That’s 360 more gallons a year, for a grand total of 7,560.  The good news is, it’s not necessary to blow through that much water.  I estimate that I use under 1,200 gallons water a year washing diapers.  I have a front loader that uses 12.4 gallons per wash, and I wash diapers every four days instead of every other day.
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Baked Dough Christmas Ornaments

Brace yourself for an eco-confession: For the past several years, my husband and I have made homemade ornaments for each other out of Fimo dough, a weird plastic-ish concoction that can’t be eco-friendly.

This year it dawned on me to use a few simple recipes for dough that can be baked into homemade Christmas ornaments. They make beautiful, sentimental gifts and cost just pennies apiece! Plus their easier for my two-year-old to work with, completely non-toxic and better for the planet.

My favorite spot for salt dough ornaments was DIY Alert.com, where I found this wonderful picture and step-by-step instructions for salt dough ornaments. I’m not sure I have the craft skills to produce such lovely finished products but the simple directions give me hope.
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