Have you ever pulled supposedly clean diapers out of the washer only to find that they’re nearly as stinky as when they went in? What’s the problem? It could be a variety of factors including the iron content in your water, the laundry soap you’re using, or synthetic fabrics.
For the wash: Add a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide to each washload or a bit more for very full or dirty loads.
For stains: douse them with peroxide and then spot wash with detergent. It’s best not to let the peroxide sit on the fabric for a long period of time.
For household use: Just add 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of water and use on kitchen sink, tile, bathroom, shower, toilet and bathtub.
You can toss this mixture into a load of dirty diapers and find that it will make a big difference in smell.
While chlorinated bleach hurts the environment, breaks down your diapers, and is potentially toxic, hydrogen peroxide is perfectly safe to use on cloth diapers. In fact, the manufacturer of Bummi’s recommends using hydrogen peroxide to battle smells in stinky diapers. It neutralizes the acidity, which is the cause of the smell. While some people have found that vinegar works, it can exacerbate the problem since it’s also highly acidic.
Thanks for joining us for Thrifty Green Thursday. If you’d like to join us this week, click here to learn how to jump right in. If you had your link deleted last week, it’s because you forgot to link back to this post. We’d love to have you join us again this week! We hope you can share some frugal, eco-friendly tips with our readers and benefit from all the wisdom of our ingenious contributors.
This idea is so simple, but it has changed my life! Okay, not my whole life, but that tiny part of my life that was dedicated to rooting through the freezer in search of a stray tortilla or wondering what mysterious sauce I’d frozen in a jar five years ago.
After digging through the freezer and finding four bags full of bread heels, a half-empty jar of graham cracker crumbs, and a three-year-old tub of ice-encrusted raspberries, I knew I had to do something to keep more organized. I simply made a list of everything in the freezer by category (sauces, vegetables, and bready things seemed to fill the bulk of it). If I add something new, I simply write it down on the list, along with the date. (Nothing in my freezer is labeled.) If I take something out, I cross it off the list.
I’ve been doing this for just a few weeks and already I have reaped the benefits. It means I’ll stop buying tortillas (already have three different kinds in the freezer) or I’ll take out some frozen rice to use in a stir-fry rather than make a new batch. I’ll end up using food I already have, which means less will go to waste.
How do you keep your freezer stash organized? Has anyone kept a freezer inventory for longer than just a few weeks? I plan to keep this up, but you never know. . . .
Keeping a freezer inventory works for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to We are THAT Family.
Here’s my confession: we’re not buying an organic crib mattress for my second child. It might not seem all that shocking unless you read my long-ago post on organic crib mattresses. I lamented not buying organic with my first child and declared that I would do differently with my second.
Why then haven’t I bought a new organic crib mattress for my daughter who will be arriving in just a few months? Honestly, I have been wrestling it for months and finally ended up with a compromise.
The thought of spending nearly three hundred dollars on an item that my child would use for a little over a year was tough to swallow. Our first son slept in our bed with us until he was nearly six months old and then was in his toddler bed before the age of two. Since we now have two children, I can imagine that our little one will co-sleep with us longer just for convenience and because we haven’t yet figured out where to put her in our small house.
We also considered the that non-toxic choices aren’t always earth friendly. It might be less toxic to rip the carpeting out of our baby’s room, install bamboo flooring and repaint the walls with soy based paints, but it wouldn’t be as good for the planet as living with what we have. The thought of throwing out our perfectly functional crib mattress made my chest ache. We could give it to a thrift store, but we’ll do that anyway once our daughter is finished using it.
So, I’m planning on buying a wool soaker pad, or making one from a full sized wool blanket we rarely use. It will provide a natural barrier from the mattress surface and also soak up liquids that sometimes flow onto those crib sheets.
Does this mean I now recommend used crib mattresses? Hardly! I still wish I would have purchased a new organic mattress for my first child. Then I would have had the chance to use it for several years with both children and it would have easily paid for itself. What have you done to accommodate your desire for non-toxic products on a budget?
Cutting back on meat even one day a week can have tremendous economic and environmental benefits. For more details, check out Rebecca’s post on this very topic. Many American dishes are meat-free, but we’d love to hear your family’s favorites. Do they love bean burritos, spaghetti and marinara or something as sophisticated as eggplant parmesan? Help inspire us with your meat-free favorites—and feel free to list recipes as well!
What could be more natural or beautiful than breastfeeding your new baby? Well, it may be natural, but it’s not always easy. Erika Jones of Organic Baby Resource shares her experience with breastfeeding for our second green mom spotlight.
Green Baby Guide: What were the challenges you faced as a breastfeeding mother?
Erika: I’d put the challenges into two categories: mental and physical.
The women I had relied on for support all my life (mom, sister, friends) could provide me with no support or even encouragement in this area. Listening to their stories had me prepared for rather nightmarish outcomes when it came to breastfeeding. I’d tell them I dreamt of breastfeeding and it was a glorious experience and they found it laughable. They meant well; they just hadn’t experienced it that way.
The physical challenges were two-fold. Number one I had larger than average breasts and getting the hang of the positions took a little extra maneuvering at first. After the first week this wasn’t as much of an issue. The other challenge was that my daughter was born with jaundice and was dehydrated in the beginning so she didn’t have time for us to get the hang of things naturally and wait for my milk to come in. We had to supplement right away. In order to prevent nipple confusion, we let her dad squirt formula in her mouth with little syringes after she was nursed. This lasted for about four or five days after she was born.
Green Baby Guide: Did you manage to stick with it despite those challenges? If so, how?
Erika: We did and are still breastfeeding at 19 months. I think the key to success was giving birth in an environment where breastfeeding was encouraged. The doctors nurses and lactation consultants all were willing to suggest different ways to meet our child’s needs while preserving our desire to breastfeed. Once I got home, I also had a friend who had successfully breastfed three children to encourage me and assure me it would get better after a short while. Finally, I didn’t allow myself to believe I couldn’t do it.
Mildew is my nemesis, but I much prefer it to the fumes of chlorinated bleach. Even though chlorine is very hard on the environment and our health, it’s found in a wide variety of household cleaners—all of which I’ve now replaced with homemade versions. The one hurdle we hadn’t quite overcome was bleach. So the last time we desperately needed to clean out the shower I asked my husband to purchase chlorine-free bleach to save the environment and my nose.
If you’d like to skip our expensive mistake, just follow the simple directions below.
This mixture isn’t officially considered a disinfectant, but it will clean wonderfully. Enjoy!
If you have a simple budget-friendly, eco-friendly tip we hope you’ll join us this week. Read here to learn how to jump right in and add a link to your themed blog post. Also, please read each other’s blogs and comment. It makes it more fun for everyone!
How can you have your cake and beet it, too? (That should win an award for worst pun ever. It doesn’t even make sense.) Well, I had a surplus of beets and figured I’d try to sneak them into a chocolate confection. I’ve got to say I was pretty shocked when it actually turned out. I found a recipe online but modified it so much that I can now claim that this is my own original creation. (Read my Cooks Illustrated-style account of my little experiment after the recipe if you’re into that kind of thing.) The result? A moist, chocolatey, delicious cake that my beet-hating husband and child devoured.
Beet Chocolate Cake Recipe
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup cocoa
1 lb beets, peeled, steamed, and pureed (yields 2 cups puree)*
¾ cups sugar
½ cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares chocolate
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Mix the flour, soda, salt, and cocoa in a bowl and set aside.
2. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl along with the oil. Let cool while preparing step 3.
3. Mix beet puree, sugar, apple sauce, and eggs until well blended.
4. Fold chocolate into beet mixture.
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir well.
6. Spread into a 9″ by 13″ pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. The batter will look disturbingly reddish at this point.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cool completely before eating.
*Note on the beets: I prefer to peel beets before steaming them, but you can also steam them, let them cool, and then slip the skins off before pureeing them. You may need to use a little of the steaming liquid to create your puree. I used a ¼ cup of beet liquid. You can make the puree a day or two in advance and store it in the fridge.
Detailed notes on the creation of this recipe (The part where I pretend I work in the Cooks Illustrated test kitchen): Beet Chocolate cake recipes abound on the Internet. Even Oprah has one, courtesy Jessica Seinfeld of Deceptively Delicious fame. Back in my spinach popsicle post, I mentioned the controversy surrounding the idea of “sneaking” vegetables into foods to make kids eat them. I personally don’t have a problem with it, especially since I am the only one in my household who likes beets. I needed a new way to prepare them!
Jessica Seinfeld’s recipe called for just a ½ cup of beet puree and 1 ¾ cups sugar for a 9 x 9 inch cake. My recipe uses two full cups of beet puree and just ¾ cups of sugar for a 9 x 13 inch cake. The recipe I ended up using and modifying came from about.com and called for a cup of vegetable oil and 1 ½ cups sugar. I slashed both of these amounts in half and added some apple sauce.
I also improved their directions for adding melted chocolate to the batter. Following the original recipe’s directions, I melted the chocolate in the microwave and tried to incorporate it into the batter. Half of the chocolate adhered to my spatula, and much of it hardened into little clumps as I stirred it. By melting the chocolate along with the oil and waiting a few minutes, I was able to add the liquid chocolate to the beet mixture without a hitch.
I served up my first attempt of the cake for Audrey’s birthday, and no one guessed the secret ingredient. I am usually not even much of a chocolate cake fan, but this recipe can’t be beet. (Second worst pun ever?)
This post is a part of We are THAT Family’s Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival.
For those with newborns and young toddlers, we apologize. It’s tough to involve tiny ones without having them consume handfuls of dirt or pull new plants out of the ground. But they can be plunked into a sling or onto a blanket and admire your handiwork as you cultivate a table garden. And your older children will benefit from all the ideas in today’s post.
Caitlin Blethlen, works with the Youth Gardening division of Growing Gardens, an innovative non-profit that supports urban gardening for low income families. She has all sorts of tricks and tips for involving children in your backyard farming efforts.
GBG: Do you have any tips on how to get children involved in the gardening process?
Caitlin: Get your child(ren) involved in dreaming and planning the garden too. One fun activity is to look through a seed catalog together and cut out pictures of what you would like to grow. Consider growing both what you and your child like to eat, and what you haven’t tried yet. Sometimes it is fun to plan a themed garden such as a pizza, salsa or salad garden by growing the main ingredients. Draw an outline of your garden space and glue the photos or draw pictures of where your plants will grow. Remember children are more likely to eat vegetables they participate in growing!
For a quick and exciting project, have your child(ren) plant radish seeds in the garden beginning in early March through June. Radishes grow quickly and are very satisfying. Also, if you have very young children larger seeds such as peas, cucumbers, beans, sunflowers and nasturtiums will be easier for them to handle than the smaller seeds like lettuce or carrots.
Another exciting project is to use a plastic bottle (such as a soda bottle) to grow a micro-garden. Cut off the neck of the bottle and fill it with planting compost. Then have your child plant several different types of seeds in the soil, making sure to plant some near the outside of the bottle. Next water the soil and set in a sunny window sill. Watch the roots begin to form and seeds to unfurl.
Bean teepees and sunflower arches are a fun way to make inviting living forts for your children. These structures can be constructed out of bamboo poles, sticks or PVC pipe. Have your child plant climbing pole beans like scarlet runners and/or tall sunflowers at the base of the trellis.
Most children LOVE worms, consider creating a worm bin to turn your kitchen scraps into wonderful compost for your garden. If you live in the Portland, Oregon, area, attend a Growing Garden’s Parent/Child workshop for more ideas.
There’s something magical about those holiday rituals we celebrate annually and now’s the best time to start establishing them for your growing children. Are there special things you’re planning for Earth Day this year?
Earth Day falls on Wednesday, April 22nd, which isn’t terribly convenient for my family’s schedule, but we’re planning a family hike and picnic for the following weekend. Perhaps, if I can still remember by next year, we will make this an official event. It’s always been a bit special to my husband and me since we met while volunteering together on Earth Day of 1999. Maybe we’ll bring some chocolate along to add a romantic flair to our excursion! Are you planning anything special? Do you know of any community events in which your children can participate?
We interviewed Erika Jones of Organic Baby Resource for this Green Mom Spotlight. (Check out our last Green Mom Spotlight posts, in which Eileen Spillman provides a planet-saving pep talk, tackles green guilt, and shares her eco-pet peeves.)
Green Baby Guide: Have you been able to save money with eco-friendly choices? If so, how?
Erika: We saved a ton of money by breastfeeding exclusively, making our own baby food and using food-based skin care such as olive oil to moisturize our skin. We also stopped buying expensive cleaners and detergents. We went back to the basics of vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.
Green Baby Guide: Would you do anything differently if you had a larger budget?
The only thing I would have done differently is invest in more types of cloth diapers to see if I could find a style that really worked for us. I tried one type and got frustrated with the amount of money I spent for it not to work. There are so many kinds to try that I got overwhelmed. I know a lot more now and I’ll try again for baby number two.
Green Baby Guide: What are the benefits of going green without a lot of money?
Erika: I think you don’t fall into a lot of the consumer traps that are out there. By that I mean products with a catchy label that aren’t truly “green” , “eco-friendly” or “natural”. You take the time to become more informed because you don’t have the discretionary income to waste on false claims. Also by making more products at home you can more closely guard what goes into your family’s food, cosmetic products and consumer goods.