Happy Fourth of July! It’s a great day to reflect on what independence means to our family. Making choices to reduce, reuse and recycle may make us feel good, but there are heaps of other benefits to consider.
This thrifty, green lifestyle leads brings financial freedom as we save by buying less and purchasing secondhand items. That allows for economic offsetting, or the ability to splurge on the things that really matter to us. Maybe for your crowd it’s organic strawberries, an Ergo carrier, or a weekend camping trip, but making conscious choices about consumption opens up options. Buying less stuff also provides us the independence of extra space (with less to trip over!) as we tend to our babies.
My ultimate independence dream would be to live off the grid. Who knows? Maybe in a few decades (or less) it will be more possible than it seems right now. What are the aspects of green living that lead to independence in your household?
A couple years ago, Joy asked our readers this question: What are the best summer slings? Toting a baby around in hot, summery weather calls for breathable, durable fabric. With that in mind, here’s what our readers recommended:
Maya wrap $67.46
They also suggested getting something in linen. I found the Snuggy Baby Linen Banded Ring Sling Baby Carrier for $85.
Two years have gone by since our last “summer sling” post, so we may be missing the latest and greatest in baby wearing fashion. What are your favorites?
As of yesterday, all new and used drop-side crib sales in the United States are banned. Crib manufacturers have already adapted, but what happens to every drop-side crib currently in use? Are they all destined for disposal?
The government ban states that no crib manufactured before July 23, 2010 can be sold or even donated. It extends to cribs sold at yard sales, resale shops, and on craigslist.
Honestly, it makes me feel ill. I know that more than 30 babies died in the past dozen years from drop side cribs, and obviously better standards needed to be enforced. Still, why can’t people use a crib immobilizer kit that will make any drop-side crib into a safe, stationary sleeping space for baby? People can buy it for ten dollars and install it in under an hour.
My solid maple Child Craft crib, with plenty of life left in it, will have to be dismantled and recycled, even though there are several families and charities in desperate need of a sturdy crib. The amount of waste that will be generated by this one act boggles my mind! Does anyone else have ideas about what to do with their used drop-side crib?
In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we talk about how we avoided buying a white, plastic monstrosity of a diaper pail by buying a classy five-gallon push-pedal garbage can in stainless steel. Not only would this work better for cloth diapers, with its removable bucket, but it would be a much greener option than the dreaded Diaper Genie. Why? Because after its diaper pail days ended, it could be reincarnated as a regular trash can.
That was the idea, anyway. I bought a no-name stainless steel trash can at a discount store, and guess what? It broke. After a couple years, the push-pedal stopped working and the top came off the hinges. Not even a trip to the workshop could restore it to its former diaper-containing glory. Now it stores scrap wood and the lid landed in the dump.
What could I have done instead? Perhaps a higher quality trash can would have lasted forever, like this Simplehuman Butterfly Step Recycler. But $159.99 for a diaper pail? In the The Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn recommends using a simple 5-gallon plastic bucket with a lid, found at any hardware store. This will set you back just $7–and you could probably recycle it if you couldn’t find a way to re-purpose it after your diaper days.
Do you have any green solutions to the diaper pail dilemma? Or is this something–like many things in life–I have put way too much time and energy thinking about?
Is there a greener way to buy a vacuum cleaner? Just as we prepare to move to a larger, carpet-filled home, our trusty old Eureka has perished. We could purchase another machine used, but it’s tricky to know whether we’ll find one that’s nearing the end of it’s life. If we do end up buying new, it’s best to buy a high quality product that won’t hit the landfill for a few decades. And we’d like a bagless vacuum so that we can dump its contents in the compost bin or garden rather than the trash.
Friends have been recommending Dyson, but it’s so tough to spend several hundred dollars on a vacuum! They swear it’s worth it and that it’s a piece of equipment we’ll be using on a daily basis. I’m really, really not that fastidious about vacuuming, but perhaps this gadget will convert me! They also swear that since vacuuming is a regular hobby of new parents, it’s wise to invest in a machine that makes it enjoyable.
Others really like the LG Kompressor vacuum for it’s three motor speeds, it’s detachable cleaning sweeper, and the sheer force of suction it exerts upon unsuspecting gunk lurking in your carpet. It does sound like the weight can be cumbersome, and we will have stairs, so I’m not sold on it yet.
Then there’s the good old Hoover Windtunnel, endorsed by Consumer Reports with a price tag significantly lower than the other two. It’s a bagless model with a retractable cord that might get the job done for a lot less.
Honestly, I know that we’re investing too much effort and research into the vacuum decision, but part of being an environmentalist is finding quality products that work well and stay out of the landfill for as long as possible. Thanks for contributing your opinion!
Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is a record of how we saved thousands of dollars by going green. In my podcast with Tanya Lieberman of Dandeliondish.com, I got to reflect on how The Eco-nomical Baby Guide can support new parents as they save money and the planet. If you’re wondering exactly what the book is about, take about fifteen minutes to listen to this interview and see if it might work for you. (And The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is still miraculously cheap right now at just under eight bucks on Amazon–it will earn several dozen times its cost in savings!)
Mom’s Healthy Market is an online resource for high quality, eco-friendly products for children from companies such as Bebe au Lait, Green Toys, Apple Park Toys, Guidecraft, Tegu, Seventh Generation, E-cloth, Pure Rest Organics, and Eco Baby. Everything on the site is organized by room for easy reference. Check out the “baby room” for some great diapering products or the “kid’s room” for an extensive organic bedding selection, as just two examples.
Our favorite thing about Mom’s Healthy Market? They’re hosting a giveaway! The winner will receive a Safe2Go Kids’ Harness Backpack, worth $27. Choose from three cute designs: The butterfly, puppy, or teddy. Your child can use it as a backpack, and it doubles as a safety harness in crowded areas.
Four ways to enter the Safe2Go Backpack giveaway:
The contest ends on Thursday, June 23 and is open only to U.S. residents.
Tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars on disposables and lugging soiled diapers out to the trash? It’s time to make the switch to cloth! If you’re like most of us, cloth can seem overwhelming. Here is a short list of questions and answers that many new parents have about cloth.
What type of cloth diaper should I use?
In our book, the Eco-nomical Baby Guide (now on sale for less than $8 on Amazon!), we give you diagrams and advantages of each type of diaper out there. If you can’t get your hands on the book, be sure to get your hands on some actual cloth diapers. Go to a local diapering shop or ask around to see if you can find a family that uses cloth. Remember, you don’t have to settle on one type of cloth diaper. At our house we use a mix of pocket diapers, prefold diapers, and all-in-one diapers. If you can’t actually find any of those locally, check out this YouTube video. (One note–the video says that you need pins for prefold diapers, which is absolutely untrue. We never used pins or snappies with our prefolds. We simply tucked our diaper into a cover and placed it on our babies.)
How do I wash cloth diapers?
Eliminate the bad odors that disposables produce by dumping solid waste into the toilet. (If you’re baby’s waste isn’t quite solid yet, you may want to buy a diaper sprayer or make one yourself.) Then store them in a dry diaper pail and wash them in a heavy load. We both have great success with cold water, but some parents prefer to use hot. You don’t need bleach but might want to add an enzyme based stain and odor fighter like Bac Out. Then line dry or toss them in the dryer. Done!
Is it worth switching to cloth diapers now that my child is older?
Yep. If you buy used cloth diapers or new pre-folds, the cost that you invest will still be less than disposables. Plus, cloth-diapered children tend to potty train earlier since they have a better sense of what it feels like to be wet. And if you’re going to have more children, remember that you’ll have those cloth diapers when your next child reaches that age.
Why are cloth diapers so expensive?
Some types, like one size all-in-one diapers and one size pocket diapers, cost more but convert to fit baby from birth to potty training, so you won’t need to buy diapers for different sizes. Also remember that you can get any cloth diaper used. Check out websites like My Used Diapers or Jullian’s Drawers for preowned cloth diapers. You can also check at your local consignment shop or craigslist. Prefold diapers will be your least expensive option in new diapers, especially if you buy used covers. If you do decide to invest a few hundred dollars in new cloth diapers, remember that you’ll never need to buy diapers again! You’ll be all set for future children, or be able to resell them once your baby is done. (Which just can’t happen with disposables!)
What if I try cloth diapers and I just can’t make the switch?
If everyone in your family gets the flu or your washer stops working, you can always use disposables for a few days. The point is, once you do make the change, you’ll see that cloth diapering really is simple and fun. And you’ll save hundreds of dollars and dozens of trips to the grocery store for more diapers. (Plus you’ll keep one ton of waste out of the landfill for each child that you cloth diaper!)
If you’re anything like Rebecca and me, you may actually come to the point where you become a cloth diaper nerd. You start up random conversations with people using Fuzzibunz or inquire about the latest Bum Genius innovations. It’s tough to start hobbies as a new parent, but cloth diapering really does become one for many of us!
Remember today is the last day to enter the Monkey Foot Designs wet bag giveaway!
I often fantasize about Rebecca and me flying to New York as featured guests of a daytime talk show. We’d be given a $300 budget to outfit a baby’s nursery with secondhand goods. With Rebecca’s sense of style and my garage sale savvy, we’d do an incredible job!
Just the other day I went to a school garage sale where I saw the following items:
An oak changing table: $25
A beautiful maple rocking chair: $25
A sturdy wooden high chair: $15
Baby clothes: A giant paper bag’s worth for just $5
It’s just mind-boggling what you can find for a new baby at a fraction of the price of retail. (Which is why we wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. It’s such a thrill to reduce, reuse and recycle–while saving thousands and ending up with beautiful stuff!) While you’re pocketing all that saved money, you’re saving the environmental load of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping new products. And your baby will be just as content in her secondhand nursery. Attention daytime T.V.producers, we’re standing by for your phone call!
I remember sitting in the filing room in the middle school where I teach and frantically eyeing the clock as my ten allocated minutes for pumping ticked away. The more I worried about letdown, the less I was able to produce. Eventually I brought photos of my kids and a tiny bouquet of lavender to help that file room feel more comfortable for pumping. Now pumps like Hygeia’s EnJoye Breastpump (pictured above) actually record your children’s cries or coos so that you can play the sounds while pumping. Brilliant! I suppose you could do a quick video on your Ipod of your baby and get the same results. What do you do while you pump to help you relax enough to letdown quickly and maximize your time? Other moms will greatly appreciate your tricks!