Getting Rid of Plastic One Step at a Time

Now we’ve written about avoiding plastics in baby care products, teethers, and toys.  Parents left and right are freaking out about all the possible health risks associated with some plastics.  You may be one of them.  I try not to freak out over everything I read, but I have become more aware of the preponderance of plastic in my life.  I even have a kind of hazy goal involving eliminating plastic from my house entirely.  But where do I even start? 

Okay, so purging the house of plastic may sound overwhelming, but there are little things you can do to start replacing it with other materials.  I try to limit my plastic consumption one step at a time.  When I needed new food storage containers, for example, I opted for glass.  (Stay tuned for yet another installment in my plastic saga: Eliminating Plastic Containers.)
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Sugar-free, Whole-grain Cereal for Babies: A Natural Alternative to Cheerios

Ever since Audrey started on solid foods at six months, she’s loved oatmeal. We spoon-fed oatmeal to her for months, and now she asks for her “oats” and feeds herself. I was happy to find a cheaper, more nutritious alternative to the typical rice cereal, which many parents are now avoiding as a first food. (Read an article about how to choose baby and kid cereals here. Learn more about the oat porridge I made Audrey in the early months here.)

I had a harder time finding a dry cereal that Audrey could enjoy as finger food. Cheerios, a common baby finger food, contain both wheat and sugar–two ingredients doctors say to avoid during baby’s first year. Plus, they’re not organic. My neighborhood stores offered plenty of organic Cheerio-like cereals, but almost all of them also contained wheat and sugar (sometimes disguised as organic cane syrup). Kamut puffs are delicious!
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The Cheapest Eco-friendly Laundry Detergent

Right around when Joy wrote her post about diaper-friendly detergent I was in the process of phasing out my conventional laundry soap. I hadn’t switched over to an eco-friendly brand because I kept getting hung up on the price. Imagine my shock when I discovered that eco-friendly detergent can be cheaper than conventional detergent! I no longer have any reason to use a mainstream brand.

Laundry Detergent–from cheapest to most expensive

T.J.’s powder  / $5.49 / 40 loads / $.137 per load

Biokleen laundry powder / $13.99 / 100 loads / $.139 per load  BEST DEAL

T.J.’s liquid HE  / $8.99 / 64 loads / $.14 per load

All (not eco-friendly)  / $14.00 / 96 loads / $.145 per load
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Green Breakthrough: Save Energy by Washing Diapers in Cold Water

I’d always heard that diapers needed to be washed in the hottest water possible.  After two years of washing diapers in hot water, a post on Treehugging Family made me think about whether I could wash diapers in cold.  Peggy writes about saving 72 pounds of carbon dioxide in one month just by washing four out of five loads in cold water.  Keep that up for an entire year and you’ll save $60-100 on your energy bill. 

front-loading washing machine for cloth diapersBut doesn’t washing in hot water kill germs and bacteria?  Everything I read said no–unless your washer has a built-in heater, the hot water in your machine does not get hot enough to kill anything.  Most water heaters are set to 120 degrees.  You’d need a temperature of 160 to kill anything and 212 to actually sanitize your laundry.  Jennifer (Peggy’s co-blogger on Treehugging Family) pointed out that the dryer does get hot enough to kill bacteria.
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Baby Gear I Lived Without

Because I have a small house and harbor illusions of leading a “minimalist lifestyle,” I wanted to limit the amount of baby gear I bought. When I was pregnant, I kept wondering if I really needed all this stuff: a wipes warmer, a bouncy seat, a swing, a white noise machine, a mobile, an arsenal of how-to-raise-your-baby books, a travel crib, a baby monitor? (The list goes on, but you get the point.) How was I supposed to know? Every time I’d consider not getting something, the consumerist girl scout in me would decide that I just wouldn’t be prepared without it.
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Baby’s First Earth Day

Wow, it’s baby’s first Earth Day today!  What will your tot do to ring in the occasion?  What–you haven’t planned it yet?  Here are some last-minute Earth Day ideas to celebrate with your little one.

Plant a tree.  Stick a tree in the ground this Earth Day and watch it grow with your tyke.  My sister and I both had our “own” apricot trees to admire throughout our childhoods.  If every American family planted just one tree, the existing CO2 in the atmosphere would reduced by one billion pounds annually!

Give a tree.  The Ecobaby Blog had a great idea for a baby shower present: give a tree!  Now you know what to get that special someone today.  For Roscoe’s baby shower Joy received an apple seedling along with a copy of The Giving Tree, which turned out to be her favorite gift.
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Rebecca’s Earth Day Resolutions

Remember when you asked your parents why there was Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but no Kid’s Day?  I felt pretty ripped off when they told me that “Every day is kids’ day.”  But maybe they were right.  Maybe the Earth doesn’t need a special day, either.  After all, every day should be Earth Day, right?  Well, sure, but ever since Senator Gaylord Nelson kicked off our first Earth Day in 1970, April 22 has given us an opportunity to reflect upon our relationship to our fair planet.  I’ve decided to make a few resolutions for the next year so I don’t limit all my conservational efforts to one measly day.
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Whole Wheat Pancakes from Scratch: Easy Homemade Baby Food

It takes almost no time to whip up a batch of pancakes from scratch.  Pancakes from a mix are filled with chemicals you don’t want your kids to eat, and they come in packaging you have to recycle or throw out.  For even speedier homemade pancakes, Joy explained how pre-mixing the dry ingredients can save even more time.  

Babies love pancakesThe version I use is adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s basic recipe.  I use 100% whole wheat pastry flour.  The pancake is a fairly versatile food–you can experiment with different flours and milks if your kids don’t eat wheat or dairy.  I’ve even forgotten the eggs and had them turn out all right!
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Rebecca’s Earth Day Sins, Confessed

I credit a long-ago Earth Day television special to introducing me to the fast-paced world of reusing and recycling.  Now I try hard to do what’s best for our environment, but I don’t always live up to my ideals.  Here are my top five eco-sins, confessed.

  1. I take long, hot showers.  I know, I know.  I should get a solar heater and bathe in harvested rainwater from our rooftop.  This is an especially heinous sin considering how often I’ve bragged about limiting my daughter’s bath time fun.
  2. I don’t always buy organic produce.  I’m cheap.  I’m trying to get over it.
  3. I don’t always buy local produce.  Buying local produce as a “green” action was something I hadn’t even considered until a couple years ago.  But even after educating myself a bit on the subject and reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I’m still not a locavore.
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Green Babies, Sage Moms: Book Review

Green Babies, Sage Moms will appeal to eco-curious types living on the Upper East Side in their Jimmy Choos rather than the canning-mung beans-in-their-Birks set.  Author Lynda Fassa takes readers through pregnancy, the baby’s arrival, and the subsequent years with baby, identifying harmful toxins and replacing them with organic products.  So while there isn’t much on reducing your baby’s carbon footprint, there are many great product recommendations for getting started on your household detox mission.

Fassa looks at pregnancy and early motherhood as times when we have a heightened awareness about our bodies and the world around us.  We all know we should watch what we eat when pregnant.  But what about the toxins lurking everywhere, ready to taint the very world we live in?  Page after page we learn about the toxins in everything around us.  Toxins in cigarettes, soft cheeses, sushi.  Nail polish, nail polish remover, hair products, pesticides, milk, fruit, vegetables, grains, wine, blush, mascara, foundation, lipstick, hair dye, perfume, drain cleaners, air fresheners, antibacterial soap, oven cleaners, furniture polish, rubber duckies, plastic toys, teethers, baby wipes, lotions, creams, crib mattresses, disposable diapers, conventional cotton, fertilizers, ground water, fish, deodorant, vaccines, drawer pulls, paint, floors, school buses, park benches, and playground equipment.
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