Archives for January 2011

Nighttime Cloth Diapering Problem Solving–Using Cloth Diaper History!

If you read last week’s post on A Short History of Diapering in America, you know that I’m both a history nerd and a cloth diapering geek–which make me wonder about obscure subjects.  Like diaper rash in colonial times, Native American treatments for mastitis, and midwives in the wild west.  I’m pretty sure no one else does that!

I’ve struggled with cloth diapering at night with my children, but then wondered how all those moms dealt with it when there weren’t any other options.  My son had a massive bladder that couldn’t be stopped by even the thickest diaper.  Both he and my daughter both had recurrent yeast infections or night wakings that I attributed to cloth.  Sure enough, when we switched to disposables, the problems cleared up.  Still, I hate buying disposables and feel so sad tossing them into the trash.

What Reusable Drink Bottle Set Works Best for Kids?

We blush with happiness whenever people write to us with questions and quickly scramble to find answers. This week we’re calling on all our readers to help lend their input on the following email question.

“I have what I realize is a pretty specific question: what are some good ways to pack drinks with our lunches?

I pack a lunch for my preschooler nearly every day, and for myself at least two days a week. But I’m not happy with the drinks that go with these lunches. I either bring or buy a single-serving beverage — and it bugs me to pay almost $2 for a small bottle of milk.

How Can I Get My Picky Eater to Stop Wasting Food?

Help! How do I get my almost five-year-old to stop wasting food? I hate wasting food, but my daughter never finishes anything we give her. She might eat two pieces of toast one morning, then one bite of toast (or spoonful of oatmeal, or nibble of apple. . .) the next day.

My picky eater / food waster

What do I do with the bits and pieces of food she leaves behind? I can save them for later, but she rarely finishes up reheated scraps. I could somehow whip her leftovers into a new dish (bread pudding, perhaps?). Or I could act as a human garbage disposal, eating up after her.

A Short History of Diapering in America

I’m a history teacher and a cloth diaper geek. As such, I’ve spent far too much time wondering just how everyone diapered their babies in different eras of American history. In fact, in my research for this piece I came up with several other upcoming post ideas including the history of potty training in America and a brief explanation of how people diaper their children in other cultures. I tried to make this short, but there was too much fascinating information!

Obviously, Native Americans were the first to deal with diapering on the continent and their solutions were environmentally ideal.  In warmer climates, babies went without pants and potty trained early while in colder climates Indigenous people used a disposable diaper that was fully biodegradable—and completely free.  They packed milkweed with peat moss or grasses, or sometimes filled animal skins with similar contents.  The result? A diaper that could be easily left behind to break down into the soil in just a few weeks.

Trash Free Living: Reduce Your Garbage in 2011

Over the holidays in St. Louis, my in-laws proudly announced that they’d cut down their garbage to just one pail a week. “Oh really?” we responded with green superiority. “We toss out one can a month!” The smug feeling that we alone were saving the planet with our commitment to reducing and recycling did not last long. Before another garbage trucked passed us by, we got bested by another Oregon couple.

I’ll empty this sometime in 2012. . . .

The married Oregonians of the Green Garbage Project went an entire year without throwing anything away. I learned about Adam and Amy Korst when our local news station aired Trash Free for a Year. After a year of this waste-reduction project, the amount of garbage they sent to the landfill could fit in a shoe box.

Green Baby Guide’s Best Budget Posts

After the holidays, we’re generally stocked on fulfilling memories and stale sugar cookies–but not so much on cash. If you’re looking to slim down your January budget, we have several vintage posts with earth friendly, budget friendly tips.

You have to eat, right? If you’d love to spend just $175 per month on your groceries, while buying mostly organic food, you have to check out Rebecca’s post on Saving Money on Organic Groceries.

If your baby is on solids, you can save hundreds of dollars with DIY organic baby purees–and you won’t need fancy equipment or loads of extra time.

Laundry is another unavoidable budget item, but we do have a recommendation for the least expensive green laundry detergent.  (It happens to be quite effective too!)

Which Cloth Diapers Last The Longest?

The Chinese prefolds I’ve used are legendary for the many baby bottoms they kept dry over the years. Those very worn cotton prefolds were purchased secondhand, used by my son, passed onto another baby, and then swaddled my daughter. Finally, I gave the surviving few away to another new mom while the rest are used as kitchen rags. While the prefolds were incredibly sturdy, I didn’t have the same luck with the wraps. Although I purchased them new, the velcro is worn and pulls away from the seams a bit more with each use. (I know I could repair the cloth diaper velcro, but my daughter is just months away from potty training so I think we’ll just wait it out.)

What Didn’t You Buy for Baby?

In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide we write about how we each saved nearly six thousand dollars on baby’s first year by going green.  How is this possible?  We stuck to the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra—with an emphasis on reduce.  We didn’t buy wipes warmers or matching crib linens.  We passed on the vibrating baby beds and even bassinets.  What happened? Absolutely nothing.  Our babies are completely well adjusted and we didn’t blow a whole lot of money on something that was needed for just a few months.  What did you pass up?  Inspire those moms who are burdened with giant baby registry lists!

Green Family New Year’s Resolutions: Increments Instead of Ideals

In the coming year, I want to live my green goals, but I need to be sure I’m sane and healthy enough to find balance without being crushed by my ideals.  Because here’s the truth—I’m an idealizer. We drive fuel-efficient vehicles, use cloth diapers and homemade natural cleaners, but I dream of difficult challenges like hydroponic gardens and solar ovens.

And that’s not where the dreaming stops!  In fact, all day long I’m remembering what needs to be done.  Frames that hang empty on the wall.  A floor that hasn’t seen a mop in days.  Cupboards that need to be organized.  A tummy that could use a few sit-ups.

Do Dishwashers Save Water? Hmmm.

As 2010 drew to a close and everyone around the world celebrated with fireworks and noisemakers, I had just one thing on my mind: Did my dishwasher fulfill its green promise? As I reported last January, we welcomed our trusty Energy Star appliance to the family after an entire adulthood of hand washing dishes.

Oh how wonderful these last twelve months have been! No more hours hunched over a sink full of dirty dishes. Just stacks of sparkling clean plates, forks, pots, and pans. And the best part is–the dishwasher saves water and energy over even the thriftiest hand washer!

Or so I’d heard. After a year-long study (sample size: 1), we ran the numbers. Did we save water in our Year of the Dishwasher compared to the previous year? The answer: no. We used almost the exact same amount of water both years. How could this be? Were we thriftier than the thriftiest hand washer after all? Maybe the dishwasher couldn’t compete with that.