Archives for May 2009

The Saturday Question: How Did You Green Baby’s Nursery?

Some parents go all out by installing bamboo flooring, using eco-friendly paint, and buying only organic cotton bedding.  Others tend to think that the lightest carbon footprint involves keeping the room as simple as possible by buying less or investing in used gear.  What route did you take?  How did you maintain your green values and your budget?  

Green By Any Other Name (Eco-burnout?)

As we mentioned in this post, our publisher wanted us to think of a new name for our book, which was previously titled the Green Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet. The reason? Green fatigue. In just a few years, “green” got played out. What does this mean for the “green movement” in general? Are people sick of the entire concept–not just the word? Will we stop recycling and start driving our Hummers again? Will we run around flipping ON the light switches?

I don’t think so.  Sure, there are always going to be people who won’t care about the planet. And then there will be those who jumped on the green bandwagon a little too enthusiastically and got burnt out. But global warming isn’t a trend–it’s here to stay, and it’s getting worse. So we might as well do something about it, whether we call it “green” or just “common sense.”

Finding Free Garden Supplies

Imagine creating a kitchen garden that yields heaps of produce all summer long—for free!  Thanks to our recent family budget cutbacks and some wise neighbors, we’ve suddenly found that free gardening is quite possible.  Here are the latest tips we’ve discovered:

  1. Find free wood, recycle what you have, or just dump dirt:  When our friends replaced their cedar fencing, they saved the old boards and used them to build raised beds.  Since the boards were just one inch thick, they cross braced them so that the wood wouldn’t bulge.  On Craigslist or through your friends you can usually find people who are looking to unload wood.  If you can’t find wood, just dump dirt on cardboard in your yard and make a bed without the border.  It will work fine and still grow some lovely veggies.
  2. (more…)

Avoid Wasting Food and Save One Hundred Dollars a Month!

We can compost. We can make a freezer inventory. We can force everyone in the family to become members of the “clean plate club.” (This should go over well with a six-month-old.) I read somewhere that 25% of the food we buy ends up getting tossed. If the average three-person family (two adults and a toddler) spends just over $400 on the U.S.D.A.’s “thrifty plan,” that means they’re tossing one hundred dollars’ worth of food away each month!

So how else can we avoid wasting food? Here are some ideas:

Use portion control. If you make your own baby food, freeze it in small portions and dole it out slowly.


A Potty Training Solution for Public Restrooms

Ahh the glory of potty training–no diaper pail, no wet wipes, and the freedom to leave the house without the dreaded diaper bag.  Besides its convenience, early potty training is also tremendously earth friendly since you no longer have to deal with diaper laundry.  All is sunny and happy until your child declares a desperate urge to pee while you’re parked at a dingy gas station. 

Do you pack your toilet seat with you wherever you go?  Do you line the toilet seat with several layers of toilet paper and try to balance your toddler on the edge? 

Here is our family’s shocking solution that may just horrify some of our readers: We bring a small plastic yogurt container with us wherever we go.  When our son needs to urinate, we just pull down his pants and let him go in the cup.  Then we dump out its contents in the toilet and rinse it in the sink before we leave the restroom. Urine is sterile so it’s not a horrible health hazard and it’s quick and easy to rinse. I used to worry that people might look at us weird for cleaning out our container at the sink but really no one seems to notice.  If we’re far from a sink, we just place the lid on the cup and clean it out when we get home.  (Sorry if this sounds totally gross.  We are meticulous about making sure we clean it out ASAP so it hasn’t ever been a problem.)


The Saturday Question: What Are Your Favorite Free Crafts?

Although it’s impossible for a newborn to assemble a mobile out of recycled egg cartons, I’m frequently amazed by what creative parents do with a bit of artistic ability and household recyclables.  Do you save any containers or boxes for creative play?  If so, what are the free crafts and art projects your children enjoy?  Please clue us in on your creative recycling endeavors!  

Inspirational Nature Name Ideas for Joy’s New Baby

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to name Joy’s new baby, due June 15th! Wouldn’t it be a good idea if her new child had an “eco” name to go along with her mother’s passion for saving the planet? Jennifer over on Treehugging Family has a son named Cedar. She wrote a post on nature-inspired names here. Now it’s my turn! Here are some of my brilliant suggestions:

Real Nature Names:

Iris, Violet, Rose, etc.

Hippie Nature Names:


Bird Nature Names:


Thanks to this site for the great ideas. I’m really liking Caraway, Galaxy, and Briny as well.

I hope this helps Joy out as she attempts to name her daughter. Hurry up and get your ideas in–just a few weeks to go!

Budget-Friendly Solutions for Family Leave With Baby

Skip this post if you live in Canada, Denmark, Australia, France, or any one of 163 countries worldwide with paid maternity leave.  We’ll try not to think about the fact that in those nations mothers and fathers get months and sometimes even years of paid time to raise their children.  Here in the U.S., it’s tricky to be able to maneuver our maternity leave, but there are always ways to creatively find more time to spend with your baby.

Why try to take as much time as possible?  It’s not only critical to your sanity, but it often ends up being far more eco-friendly as well. My husband and I found that when we were both working we ended up using more jarred baby food, eating take-out more often, and generally spending more money on convenience items just to survive. Staying home means you’ll have the time to experiment with washing and drying cloth diapers.  Plus you’ll end up buying less and just enjoying this phase of baby’s life.


My Shopping Lists: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

If you’ve been reading along, you know my tricks for spending just $175 a month on organic food and how I plan my meals.  I kept track of all my grocery expenses for six weeks and calculated that I spend an average of $175 a month on groceries.  What, exactly, do I get for that amount?

Here’s what I bought in one month:

$66.00  (Veggie delivery every other week at $33.00 each)

$ 3.94 (Fred Meyer: flour)

$ 9.97 (Fred Meyer: peppers, frozen spinach, tortillas)

$24.30 (Trader Joe’s: beans, olive oil, dried fruit, frozen beans, jam, shells and cheese, peanuts)

$17.59 (Fred Meyer: oil, spices, beans, popcorn, lime, lentils, cilantro)

Car Free Travel with a Toddler

After a long weekend trip to San Francisco, I truly understand just how liberating the car-free concept is with kids.  We flew—which honestly isn’t the greenest option,(see Rebecca’s post about it here) but then traveled by subway, bus, streetcar and trolley all through the city. 

For my two-and-a-half-year-old, riding public transport was as much of a thrill as any of our destinations.  He could fall asleep on our shoulders, look out the window and even wander the aisles without having to worry about being strapped into a carseat.  It cost just $18 for each of us to have a three day Muni Passport, which covered almost every form of transportation available to us in the city.  That’s far less than a rental car, gas and parking!  The picture below of our son on a vespa in his Aunt Pauli’s garage was the closest he ever got to car travel.