Ultra-Green Transportation: The Bike Trailer/Jogging Stroller

We are outdoors people, and therefore took plenty of walks with Roscoe tucked into his sling in our early parenting days. Even so, I always watched the bikes and their toddler trailers with a certain excitement as they zoomed by. 

When Roscoe was just eight months old, I couldn’t take it anymore and bought a used bike trailer. Our Instep Schwinn bike trailer was $100 on Craigslist and had only been used twice.  It isn’t a fantastically great deal, considering that many of them go on sale for that much new at the end of the season and cost $160 full price, but we’ve been quite happy with it.  It also seats two children so we may eventually use it as a double stroller in the years to come.

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Unfortunately, when my safety-oriented hubby checked all regulations on our trailer, I found that baby shouldn’t be riding in it until one year of age.  Since Roscoe’s birthday is in September, we’d have another summer of envying family bike caravans before we got our chance.  Some parents work their way around this rule by putting a child car seat into the bike trailer, but our instructions specifically stated that it was not a safe option.  So, we waited impatiently for Roscoe’s September birthday and then headed out for our first rides.

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We were happily surprised by how much we used the bike trailer in the fall. I hooked up the trailer to take Roscoe for wading pool play dates and afternoons in leaf-strewn playgrounds.  There’s enough room for a diaper bag, a raincoat, and a bag of groceries in the back, so I found the trailer/stroller to be ideal for running errands on my bike or by foot.

Besides converting to a running stroller, the trailer has a weather-proof flap that makes it perfect for rainy day walks.  (In Oregon, that’s almost every winter day). We even managed our first family bike caravan on Christmas.  Roscoe was happily impervious to the rain pelting us as we biked at full speed to make it home before the hail hit.  We laughed and sang “Old McRoscoe” as we skedaddled our damp and bundled selves homeward.  It’s a bike trailer memory that will last far beyond Roscoe’s years in it.

Biking with Roscoe is the ultimate environmental solution because it creates benefits that extend well beyond planetary health.  Every time we opt to bike we’re getting exercise, saving loads of gas money, and enjoying the trip just as much as the destination. 

How to Recycle Your Clutter

My basement is a level of hell where all my failings as an environmentalist are revealed.  Up above this musty, dank repository of castaway boxes, Christmas decorations, charity donations, and mismatched pots and pans lies a perfectly ordered house.  In fact, the first thing most people do upon entering my humble abode is marvel at the sheer emptiness of it.  “Where’s your stuff?” they ask.  I just offer a smug smile in return, affecting an air of effortless minimalism. 

Where’s my stuff?  It’s in the basement.

Sorting through the contents of my basements was akin to doing an archeological dig, uncovering remnants of my wedding and my baby’s first year.  I’d thought a lot about the environmental impact of bringing a baby into the world.  I limited the baby gear that entered our home and bought much of what we did want at secondhand stores. 
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The Best (and Worst) Products for Making Baby Food

I’ve always wanted to be one of those minimalist cooks who owns nothing more than a good knife and one skillet.  After years of acquiring every kitchen gadget and appliance under the sun (including, but not limited to, a crepe maker, stand mixer, hand mixer, waffle iron, and panini press), I finally had to admit that I’m actually a kitchen maximalist.  The upside of this is that I didn’t have to run out and buy anything for my baby-food making needs. 

Below you’ll find my review of every conceivable food-masher known to home cooks.  Needless to say, it makes the most sense to start with what you already own and purchase something only if what you have doesn’t work.  I’d also recommend buying something that you’ll use in the kitchen for years, even after baby’s palate has matured.
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The Homemade Nursery: Eco-friendly Decorations for Baby’s Room

According to Denise and Alan Field’s Baby Bargains, the average American spends $1800 outfitting a nursery—that includes a crib, mattress, dresser, rocker, bedding, and décor.  I managed to spend just $245.  How did I do it?  Well, I did get a lot of stuff for free, thanks to the generosity of friends and family.  I also simply avoided buying all of the nursery “must-haves” on the market, such as a rocker.  My daughter’s room may not look like something you’d find in the pages of Architectural Digest, but it has a certain cozy appeal to it.

Homemade Nursery

Much of the eclectic charm comes from homemade creations.  My daughter received beautiful quilts and blankets from her grandmothers and great-grandmother.  They make great nursery decorations—I hung the quilt my cousin Lindsay made on the wall for all to admire.  My daughter will treasure all of these hand-sewn blankets as she grows up.  After all these years, I still have the baby blanket my grandma made for me when I was born.  Homemade items become keepsakes, making them greener than store-bought goods.
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Product Review: Danish Wool Nursing Pads

As a notorious cheapskate, it may seem out of character for me to consider wool nursing pads that cost almost $20 a pair. While I was pregnant, I obsessed over this purchase. Nursing pads were something I’d never thought about at all pre-pregnancy. I hadn’t even considered their existence. After doing some reading, I came to the startling realization that lactating women leak. This frightened me.

I learned that there was a simple way to prevent soaking all my shirts in breast milk: wear nursing pads. I didn’t want to buy disposable nursing pads, and I heard cotton nursing pads soaked through too easily and resulted in a cold and clammy chest. Somehow I found www.danishwool.com, a website promoting wool nursing pads. Intriguingly, the website claimed you only really needed one or two pair, because wool has the magical ability to feel dry even when wet. According to the website, the lanolin in the wool “has an antibacterial effect and removes odors.” It goes on to say that “even if wool is wet with sweat, urine or breast-milk, the lanolin goes to work cleansing the wool—it need only be washed when the lanolin needs replenishing.”

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Baby Rules I Violate in order to Save the Planet

There are some mothers who are up-to-date on all the latest recommendations in pregnancy and child development. These women avoid caffeine and soft cheeses during pregnancy and compliment their child in five different languages when he reaches a new milestone (five months ahead of his peers, no doubt). On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find the parents who, through lack of education and resources, remain ignorant of all the expert opinions in child-minding.

And then there are the parents like me. Parents who know all about the baby rules and regulations touted by medical and safety authorities and blatantly disregard them! Why do I do it? I guess I’m just a renegade, a rebel, a rule-breaker in general. Or . . . maybe I am just lazy. Or . . . I am doing it to save the world! Here are just some of the rules I break out of eco-consciousness:
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