My daughter fell in love with her Pedoodles Petal Jumpers the minute she pried them out of their eco-friendly box. These shoes are well-made and comfortable for young walkers. Flexible rubber soles protect delicate feet from the wet and pebbly ground. On top of all this, Pedoodles leave a small footprint (pun intended!) because they’re made from “premium leather remnants from furniture.” The soles are also made from recycled materials.
Joy’s son Roscoe, who sprints, jumps, and gallops through life, hasn’t managed to even scuff up these sturdy shoes yet. He enjoys wearing them and looks rather dapper in the Blue Bumper Cars design. We will always give you a truthful review here at The Green Baby Guide, and Joy and I both give these shoes our stamp of approval.
Not all of Pedoodles’ shoes are made from recycled materials, and at first I had trouble seeking out the eco-friendly designs on the website. Just look for the “eco-friendly” label on some of the shoes in the Next Steps Collection, which will fit children from eight months to about three years old (U.S. sizes 4-9.5). Pedoodles makes some adorable newborn shoes as well, but these aren’t made from salvaged materials.
Pedoodles are reasonably priced at around $35.00. I know several dedicated garage sale shoppers who draw the line at used shoes (and underwear!), so it’s good to know that there is the option of getting new shoes made from recycled materials. They would also make an excellent baby shower gift.
Post a comment by Tuesday and you will be entered to win a pair of these charming shoes. The winner can choose any of the eco-friendly designs in the Next Steps Collection.
Last week you read about our adventures in green birthday party planning–but that’s only half the story. Our quest for quality gifts started long before the birthday festivities when I declared that we could buy all Roscoe’s birthday presents used.
My husband was a bit skeptical, especially because we had a very specific birthday list for our son. It was short, but we knew he’d enjoy his presents and they wouldn’t crowd our small house:
After weeks of searching online for a used trike, my husband started pricing new tricycles at around $50-$100 each. My tightwad soul couldn’t bear spending that much on one gift. So with a purse full of small bills, I hit the garage sale circuit to see if we could find everything we needed.
I went to just two sales, but ended up scoring a tricycle, a Radio Flyer wagon, a train play tent, and another tricycle for friends (brand new in the box) for just $16 total.
Honestly, I am still recovering from the high.
The tricycle and wagon needed a little work, but at $5 apiece we were happy to do it. (I’ll be posting a blog on the rusty wagon makeover next week.) The materials cost about $12, which brought our total birthday bill to $28.
Since it would be tough to find a used wooden city bus at garage sales, we managed to find one that’s made here in town for $25. Oregon Wooden Toys has a whole line of handcrafted vehicles that are great quality and very reasonable.
To complete our list, my husband found a hardcover Thomas the Train board book for just $6 at our favorite used book store.
So, we could have bought this tricycle for $59 dollars, but instead we spent $59 and ended up with everything in the picture to the right–without the environmental or economic expense! The total price of all the items we bought new would have been $233.96 and come with at least four cardboard boxes and/or plastic bags!
After sharing my yard sale bliss with my siblings and my mom, we’re considering a family holiday of used gifts this year. We’ll be able to pick out nice quality toys for the kids without having cellophane and cardboard strewn all over the living room floor when the gifts are opened. Since those toys will all go in reusable gift bags, cleanup will be easy.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be searching out sales that can provide holiday presents for Roscoe, his cousins, and maybe even my resale-resistant hubby. I can’t yet say that he flings off the covers on Saturday mornings and bolts out the door to go yard sale shopping, but with deals like these, it’s only a matter of time before he’ll get hooked on my thrifty, green addiction.
If you have a simple idea that can save money and the planet, please join our Thrifty Green Thursday blog carnival. For directions on where to start, just click here. (Please make sure to follow the directions or we may have to delete your link!) Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my garage sale ecstasy!
Grocery Outlet is one of those discount grocery stores that features deep discounts on name brands. Some of the products have been discontinued, some cans are dented, and some packages are close to their expiration date. I had never shopped in one before moving to my new neighborhood. The sign above the store advertised “Over 120 Organic Products!” Organic products at bargain basement prices? This I had to see for myself!
Wandering through the aisles, the organic products were few and far between. I found plenty of sugar cereals, chips, crackers, and cheap toys, but no organic food. Well, not at first anyway. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t in a hippie health food store or even a Whole Foods–organic items weren’t going to hit me in the face. Upon closer inspection, I did find the organic products promised by the sign: a few packages of crackers, some Amy’s brand frozen dinners and canned soups, Organic Valley milk, and various organic cheeses.
The prices were very reasonable, too. The canned soups were $.99, compared to over $2 at other stores. Natural cheese crackers (an organic version of Cheez-its) cost just $1.29 a box. I found some Mori-nu silken tofu to make the popsicles Joy raved about for just $.99. I bought some at Whole Foods a few weeks ago for $1.79. I also picked up a small Tetra package of organic potato leek soup for just $.79.
You won’t be able to do all your organic shopping at Grocery Outlet, but if you live near one, it’s worth it to stop in and take a look, especially if you’re in the market for organic convenience foods. (They have a produce section but none of it was organic when I stopped by.) Grocery Outlets are located all over California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona. Don’t live in those states? Please let us know where you’ve found some great deals on organic foods.
Eileen Spillman is a single mom who works full time as a middle school teacher, raises two children, and saves the Earth in her spare time. As you’ll see, Eileen is very humble about managing her hectic lifestyle, but she has lots of down-to-earth wisdom to share. Her online interview will be broken down into a four-part Sunday series, so stay tuned!
Ha! I don’t. Everything doesn’t get done perfectly, or even close…..I’m really fortunate to have wonderful family and friends who pitch in for me, a lot. The other thing about being a single mom is that I don’t have to expend any energy in negotiations – it’s my way or the highway. I have also realized that watching TV was a couple thing and since I’m not half of a couple, I don’t watch it at all anymore. ….Oh, and sometimes I tear my hair out and cry like a baby.
No but seriously, if you are a mom, you have already discovered that you have super-human powers you didn’t know about. You never thought you would survive labor or waking up in the middle of the night or colic, but you did. And you just do. Hey, I don’t have it so bad… I don’t have to walk 10 miles just to get water and carry it back on my head. And that is really what I do, try to focus on how lucky we are and think about what we can do to help the less fortunate. Obviously green living is a huge part of that … living simply so others may simply live.
What would you say to new moms who are overwhelmed by trying to make green choices?
Cut yourself some slack and focus on the baby. The trick is to keep it simple and your life will actually be more manageable with less stuff. You don’t need 90% of the gear Babies’R’Us wants you to have and you won’t realize that until after you are done with it.
But oh my goodness, I REMEMBER when my son just would NOT let me put him down and I got at least three baby carriers trying to find one that would be comfortable, but it didn’t work because when I needed my arms, I was doing something where it just wasn’t safe to have him in front of me. Then in about two months he started crawling and he was happy. Seriously, these “emergencies” will pass so quickly you won’t believe it. There is a billion-dollar industry built on your new-parent anxiety. You’re going to be fine!
As far as making green choices (besides not being an over-consumer), try to just implement one change at a time. If you start off with cloth diapers and breast-feeding, you’re almost there. You might find that your own mother and grandmother know a thing or two about green parenting since when we were babies, cloth diapers were all they had.
It DOES get easier. I promise you. In a few short years you will be crying as you sign your “baby” up for school like I did today. Sigh. And my four-year-old baby told me yesterday that we walk because “we love the erf”. (That would be Ian-ese for Earth.)
Before my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding for all the usual reasons: breast milk is nutritionally perfect for a newborn and helps promote bonding between mother and child. I’ve got to admit, though, that a big motivation was the idea that it was free! For that reason alone, I’m glad that breastfeeding ended up working out for us.
A couple days ago I became aware of something I’d never thought about before: the hidden costs of breastfeeding. Now, breastfeeding is generally much cheaper than formula, which can set parents back $1000 to $2300 in baby’s first year–but it isn’t exactly free. Working mothers may need to pay for a breast pump and bottles out of pocket if insurance doesn’t cover it, which can cost hundreds of dollars. My hospital had lactation consultants that were paid for by the county, but some women spend upwards of $1000 for lactation consultants if they’re having trouble with their supply or the baby’s latch.
Then there’s the food. A breastfeeding woman needs to add 500 calories to her diet to keep up a good supply. How much do 500 calories cost? Well, a huge five-ounce serving of plain pasta costs $.31. At about $1 a pound, that’s one of the cheapest foods around. If you supplement your diet with 500 calories of pasta every day for a year, you’ll pay $114 more on food that year. Not bad–except who wants to eat that much pasta? (Me. Maybe.) Adding 500 calories of lean proteins and organic vegetables to your diet will end up costing much more.
I know exactly how I got those extra calories while I was breastfeeding: lattes and pastries. Practically every day I would stroll on down to the coffee shop for a coffee drink made with whole milk and some little treat to tide me over. While I should have been eating salads and whole grains, I craved carbs, sugar, and butter! Moreover, I craved the little bit of social interaction my coffee shop jaunts provided. Okay, so let’s say I spent an average of $3 a day on coffee and pastries–that’s $1095 on food I needed to nurse my baby. The amount is staggering, especially considering how proud I was to spend under $800 on baby gear, including diapering costs!
So what are some ways to defray the hidden costs of breastfeeding? Here are some ideas:
1. Check with your insurance company to see what kinds of benefits you may be eligible for as a nursing mother. Also, look around for free breastfeeding resources. Kelly Mom has great information online, and La Leche League holds meetings all over the world.
2. Ask your hospital or birthing center if they rent breast pumps, which may be cheaper than buying one yourself. Joy borrowed an electric pump from family members and bought her own tubing.
3. As for the added calories you’ll need as a nursing mother, just being mindful of the extra expense can help you budget for the food and nutrients you need. I could have easily baked my own treats and limited my coffee shop expenditures. Even better, I could have tried to keep more cheap and nutritious snacks around (like wholegrain toast, carrot sticks, or homemade muffins) so I didn’t resort to pastries in the first place.
Now that I’m aware of the hidden costs of breastfeeding, I feel fortunate for the nursing support I received as a new mom. Also, I can’t really complain about needing to eat an extra 500 calories a day. Ah, how I miss the days of lattes and pastries!
This year I found myself apathetic about throwing a traditional party for my two year old. While I could have selected coordinating décor and unique party favors, I was determined to keep it simple. Am I an unfit mother? I hope not. The truth is that throwing a big birthday shindig often ends up being expensive, exhausting and very disposable.
Luckily I knew my son would be thrilled to run through a park with his friends and receive a few presents. We added blueberry muffins to the mix and he was in utter bliss.
Plus, I had to wonder, would I be doing all that extra stuff for him and his friends, or for the other adults? Before I got wrapped up in other people’s potential judgments of his very simple celebration, I realized that the people in Roscoe’s life are unpretentious, kind and very connected to him. They forgave me for my un-Martha Stewart festivities.
So, here are a few ideas for your own simple, green birthday bash:
People are the gifts: Instead of focusing on the decorations, the party favors or the presents, we made a big deal out of having all the people who love Roscoe together in one place. It took the stress of perfection off of us, (which was good, considering that we were five minutes late to our own party!) and freed us up to connect with the friends and family who came.
Simple party decor: Roscoe had a birthday crown that he made at daycare and that was about it. Older children might feel neglected without the decorations, but party streamers can be reused by rolling them up from year to year. We actually still have Roscoe’s streamers from his baby shower saved up for eventual use! Another option is to hit thrift stores for pre-owned party decor. There are always several rolls of streamers and a few bags of leftover balloons at our local thrift shop.
Muffins instead of cupcakes. Having a morning birthday party was a good way to bypass loads of sugar and the time usually works better for toddlers anyway. We picked heaps of organic blueberries this year and made huge batches of muffins to feed all his friends—it’s was my sneaky way of substituting semi-healthy food for birthday cake.
Sidewalk chalk. A giant tub of this was given to us by our neighbors and it helped lure the kids away from the swings when it was time for the birthday song. You can make your own using this recipe. Having the chalk at the party was easy, fun and required no set up.
Cloth gift bags. Roscoe’s gifts from us were simply tossed in homemade cloth family gift bags and tied with the attached ribbon. We’ll use them again at holidays and future birthdays. They make gift wrapping infinitely easier, cheaper, and eco-friendlier.
Sheets for tablecloths. We got away with just having a table cloth (which was actually a printed sheet) for all of Roscoe’s decor. It actually looked quite nice and we just washed it after the party.
Recycled Paper products. We used recycled paper plates thanks to Rebecca’s discovery about Chinet using 100% recycled material. We encouraged our guests to dispose of used plates, napkins and cups in our paper grocery sack. After a bit of sorting and rinsing, the whole sack then went directly into our compost bin!
A gift plan. Roscoe has plenty of toys already and our house is relatively small, so the invitation stated that presents weren’t needed, but people’s presence was most welcome. People did bring some gifts, but it was nice that they didn’t feel obligated and that the focus of his party wasn’t on what he received. Rebecca shared that she’s asking family members for experience-based gifts like museum or zoo memberships, rather than material things for her daughter.
Do you have any ideas for thrifty, green birthday parties? I hope that I can add them to my list for next year’s festivities!
Please feel free to add your frugal, eco-friendly wisdom to our Thrifty Green Thursday blog carnival. There are step by step directions for using Mr. Linky here. We can’t wait to learn more from our fellow green bloggers this week!
Today I walked into a children’s resale shop with a bag of Audrey’s clothing to trade. I had carefully organized her outgrown garments, culled out the ragged, stained, and not-so-cute pieces, and waited until everything was seasonally appropriate. I thought that my bag of clothes would earn me enough store credit to come home with something new for Audrey. They took one item and gave me $2.00 in store credit. That and $4.00 got me a pair of pants. Not great.
This store, as it turns out, does not donate the clothes they cannot sell, so I almost had to carry them all back home. At the last moment, the store owner remembered that someone from “an orphanage” was going to stop by later in the day, so I didn’t have to lug the bag home after all.
I’ve had some troubles with other consignment stores, too. Another shop in my new neighborhood has a very strict buying schedule, so one week they’re taking only boys’ clothes in sizes 6-10, another week they’re buying something else. Because of this, I go into that store to buy clothes but have never managed to sell anything there.
The consignment shop in my old neighborhood, The Children’s Exchange, was excellent. They buy and sell clothes, toys, books, and baby gear, and they usually accepted most of the stuff I tried to sell them. Because they weren’t so picky (or shall I say snobbish?) about designer brands, I also found the selection to be better than most of the other shops I’ve tried. When Joy visited me while she was pregnant with Roscoe, I marched her right over to the Children’s Exchange, where she stocked up on diaper covers for just a dollar each.
I’ve had such varied experiences with resale shops, and I know consigning my child’s outgrown clothing isn’t the most efficient money-making method–but what is? Craigslist, eBay, garage sales? Or do you just donate the clothes you aren’t keeping to charity? Today is an opposite Works for Me Wednesday, which means we can ask our readers what works for them. So, what works for you? Do you try to sell your child’s old gear at consignment shops, or is there a better way?
Don’t forget to join us starting tomorrow evening for Thrifty Green Thursday!
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!