Any Eco-friendly Halloween Decor Ideas?

How do we gear up for Halloween here at the Green Baby Guide? Normally we just stick a baby in a pumpkin and leave it at that. (See my niece sporting her compostable pumpkin diaper below.)

Do you have any green Halloween decorating tips and tricks? Let us know!

Katherine Heigl loves BornFree bottles . . . and so do we (Giveaway!)

You may be surprised to hear that we at the Green Baby Guide have a lot in common with the actress Katherine Heigl. You know her for her stint as a doctor on Gray’s Anatomy and her numerous film roles. She is a glamorous movie star, and we are glamorous authors of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. You can see how we feel a special kinship to her. This bond was reinforced when we learned that she is a green mom, too! Check out this picture of her along with her husband and daughter, Naleigh:

Note that Naleigh is drinking from a BornFree bottle. BornFree offers a BPA-free plastic bottle that is safe for your baby and better for the environment, as it is recyclable. (Check out their recycling facts for more information.)

Do you want to be just like Katherine, too? Here is your chance to win a BornFree Twist’n’Pop straw cup–a 14 oz. toddler cup with a pop-up silicone straw. (Next step, stardom!) It’s  It’s BPA-free and dishwasher safe.

You can enter up to three times! Just post a comment for each entry by Monday, October 18th.

Three Ways to Enter the BornFree Straw Cup Giveaway:

1. Simply post a comment

2. Like us on Facebook (then tell us you did it in the comments)

3. Spread the news about the giveaway! Email someone, post it on Facebook, tweet it, blog it, or send someone a message about it via carrier pigeon. (And again, don’t forget to tell us all about it in the comments!)

Good luck!

Embracing Green Fallibility as a New Parent

We are all perfect before our babies arrive. We do the newborn rearing research and survey our fellow moms. Before the shock of sleep loss, before the hormones surge, and before the poopy diapers pile up, we have it all figured out.

If you read our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, you know that we try to prepare you with our humble input, but also assure you that progress is far more important than perfection. We are so hard on ourselves as new parents when exhaustion seems to exacerbate our insecurities.  (Example of ridiculous self-judement:  I once cut my baby’s finger instead of his nail.  A full teaspoon of crimson blood leaked out of his tiny wound. I wept heartily and earnestly questioned my ability to parent.  No joke.)

With stakes this high, going green as parents can become one more area where we can fall short.  A woman in my friend’s yoga class cried hysterically because she felt bad about using bleach on her cloth diapers.  Her logic? Since chlorine is toxic to the environment, she had killed some penguins while giving her child cancer.  Again, it’s bizarre logic but the cocktail of fatigue and perfectionism (green or otherwise)  never turns out well.

In that stack of books that sit next to your nightstand, we hope The Eco-nomical Baby Guide can bring you some solace and sanity. To be a good green parent you don’t need thousands of dollars of high-end organic baby gear or a complete commitment to home blended baby food made from homegrown kale.

You just need to trust that you can do this.  That secondhand gear is just as green.  That less is more.  That you will fail, and that afterwards, you will keep working on it.  Progress, not perfection.  It’s not a bad saying for going green, for being a parent, and for using on that baby someday.

The Easiest Halloween Craft in the World: A DIY Paper Jack-o-Lantern

1. Cut a pumpkin out of orange paper. (Go directly to How to Make a Paper Jack-o-Lantern if this step seems too daunting!)

2. Have your child draw a face on the pumpkin.

For more advanced Halloween crafts, check out some of our vintage posts:

How to Make a Paper Spider in Its Web (I’ll have a new version of this coming up soon!)
How to Make a Cardboard School Bus Costume out of a Wagon
How to Make Your Own Compostable Diaper out of a Pumpkin
How to Make a Paper Jack-o-Lantern

Green Halloween’s National Costume Swap Day: A Hand-Me-Down Costume Tradition

Imagine inheriting gently used Halloween costumes for your children every year.  No shopping, no sewing, and no innovating with tinfoil and cardboard boxes.  That was the vision of the people over at Green Halloween, a fabulous little site packed with all sorts of eco-friendly resources for your celebration this year.  They came up with National Costume Swap Day, a free event where people can bring their old Halloween costumes and swap them for new ones without paying a dime.  Since the official date is October 9, 2010, you probably missed the local Halloween costume swap in your area this year, but you will still be able to participate in the online Halloween costume swap for a few more weeks.

Check the state listings for costume swaps and make sure you visit Green Halloween for ideas on all aspects of an eco-friendly holiday.  Did you go to the National Costume Swap Day in your state?  Have you ever participated in the online swap?  I had never even heard of this event until this year and I’d love  to know that some of you have experienced it!

What are your favorite zucchini recipes?

It’s October—and now my garden has decided to go crazy with zucchini? I have just one zucchini plant, but I’ve been harvesting one to three zucchini a day for the past few days. What are your favorite zucchini recipes? Have you had success grating and freezing summer squash? (And then how do you make use of your frozen zucchini during the year?)

To make this post somewhat more relevant to the Green Baby Guide, I will share my tip for turning zucchini into baby food: simply grate it and cook it up with ground-up oats or some other baby cereal. My daughter loved this as a baby. Unfortunately her love of vegetables has turned to hate over the years . . . but that’s another post for another day.

Please help me out with your favorite ways to use zucchini!

Eco-friendly Halloween Baby Gear, Diapers, and Accoutrements

Everyone in the green parenting community has been wondering how to dress and accessorize those babies this October. You will be thrilled to know that I have found the latest and greatest in Halloween baby gear:

Bummis Tots Bots Easy Fit Pocket Diaper, Orange (8-35 pounds) $23.95

Blueberry Minky One Size Pocket Diapers, Black $24.99

gDiapers Great Value Diaper Covers Bundle, Orange/ Vanilla $89.99

Bella Infant 100% Cotton 5.8 oz T-Shirt $5.99

Yellow Label Kids Halloween Treat Bag – Eco Friendly Cloth Loot Bag – Orange With Black Pumpkin $5.99 (ethically made!)

Happy accessorizing!

Low-Cost Green Crib Mattress Options: The Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress Update

Last week we reviewed the Sealy Naturalis crib mattress with organic cotton but somehow accidentally merged it with the  Sealy Soybean Foam-Core crib mattress.  After some thoughtful readers clarified our error, we emailed the company to get more information and are now back to you with the answers.

The Sealy Soybean foam core crib mattress (from $131) doesn’t claim to be organic in any way, but does use soybeans in the mattress core.  You’ll save 32% at Amazon on this mattress, which adds up to nearly sixty bucks!  Since the soybeans only contribute partially to the foam, it isn’t a perfectly green solution but it is trying to utilize a renewable resource instead of depending on crude oil for a completely polyurethane mattress.  The cover is vinyl but is tested for phthalates, lead and other chemicals.

The Sealy Naturalis crib mattress with organic cotton is currently twenty percent off at Amazon, making just under a hundred dollars. The cover is a vinyl laminate  which is again tested for phthlates and other toxins.  Since it’s nearly impossible to find even a partially organic crib mattress for that price, it’s currently our top pick.

As for the flame retardants, the company wasn’t able to disclose the details, but explained that they are naturally-derived and have been tested for safe use with infants.  (They apparently don’t want to disclose them so that their competitors don’t know either.)  But when I spoke on the phone with the customer service representative, she shared that the fire proofing components were made from a salt-based material. My guess is that they use boric acid—which seems to be one of the preferable fire proofing options available.

It’s wise to be concerned about potential toxins, but I’d be worried if my child’s mattress wasn’t fire resistant. Surely flames would be more dangerous to her than anything else if there ever was a fire. The other route is to buy something like the Organic Wool and Cotton Crib Coil Mattress, which is a whopping $350.00.  The wool is naturally fire retardant, and the product has gotten excellent reviews, but the cost will most likely keep many families from being able to buy green.

Did you go organic with your baby’s crib mattress?  Was price an obstacle?  Both Rebecca and I used mainstream mattresses with both our kids, but I think I would have bought organic way back when if lower cost options had been available.

Organic and Eco-friendly Halloween Treats

My search for organic or otherwise “green” Halloween treats did not get me far. Everything I found seemed to cost much more than your $2.50 bag of candy dripping in corn syrup. And, to make matters worse, some of organic candy I found came with too much plastic packaging. Still, there are a few options out there if you want a break from the regular Halloween fare:

YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Assorted Flavors, 5-Pound Bag $26.92

EnviroKidz Organic Crispy Rice Bars Peanut Choco Drizzle Treat Size, 9-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12) $55.29

This is a gluten-free Halloween treat

Tasty Brand Organic Fruit Snacks, Mixed Fruit Flavors, 2.75-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12) $27.38

Wikki Stix Trick or Treat Pak $21.50

These little crafts are an alternative to candy

Does anyone have any bright ideas for trick-or-treaters? If you’re against candy altogether, you could give out stickers, coins, or even toothbrushes. What are you giving trick-or-treaters this Halloween?

Family Themed Halloween Costume Ideas

If it seems far too difficult to come up with individual costumes for everyone this year, why not just choose a Halloween costume family theme? You can buy your Halloween gear at a thrift store or maybe even use the contents of your closet to create Halloween costumes. And why not involve grandparents and cousins as well? You can form a huge matching trick-or-treating team!

Band of 1960’s hippies: This works well for the green and groovy among us. Dress your family up in fringy vests, headbands, and tall boots. Throw in a few peace sign accessories and you’ll be set!

Family of geeks: Pocket protectors, mismatched clothing, argyle socks and odd hairstyles is all you’ll need for this classic look. There’s nothing more irresistible than a nerd baby or a pregnant geek!

Vampire clan: Black sheets from the thrift store can easily be fashioned into matching capes for all. If you’re even more creatively skilled, you can go for the classic Adam’s family theme.

Fairy Tale Family: Why not have Snow White married to Shrek?  You can mix and match characters for various fairy tales or stick with one particular story as seen in the picture above.

Random superheroes: Of course there are the traditional superheroes (my costume would definitely be Wonder Woman!) but why not invent your own superhero personas?  My son would be “The Rocket” with a cape, mask, and possibly some spandex.  It’s ambiguous enough that he can invent his own super powers.  His sister could be “Green Girl” if I can find enough garments in the right shade….

Are you planning your costumes already? Will you be creating a getup from your own closet, borrowing, or heading off to the thrift shop this year? There are millions more family costume ideas out there. Please share your ideas!