What were we blogging about three years ago, in the dark ages of July, 2008? I had a two-year-old, Joy had just one baby, and we were one month away from signing a publishing contract for the Eco-nomical Baby Guide. Dipping into Green Baby Guide’s archives, I found a delightful assortment of posts (if I do say so myself), including our most popular post of all time: Flushable Diapers (gDiapers)–What Do You Think?
Some posts helped our readers settle into summer: Finding Free Organic Produce, Simple Steps to Fight Summer Heat and Limit Air Conditioning, A Thrifty Green Favorite: Cloth Swim Diapers, Disguise Vegetables in Fruity Popsicles (another one of our all-time favorites!), and Green Olympic Trials. But then, for some reason, I wrote about making Easy Oats for Two: A Cheap and Nutritious Breakfast for Mother and Child. I’m not sure I’d totally latched on to the idea of making my posts seasonally relevant!
We had our regular smattering of product reviews: Borax: A Budget Friendly, Eco-Friendly Wonder Product (alternate title: a million and one things to do with Borax);
Book Review: The Tightwad Gazette; Save Water with BPA and Phthalate-free Baby Bathtubs; and the Isabooties Product Review.
The rest of our July 2008 posts fit under a category I will describe as “eco-friendly lifestyle” posts: Easy Organic Cloth Diaper Stain Removal Techniques, Should Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Avoid Eating Nuts?, Life with a Baby . . . and No Paper Towels, Sleep vs. The Planet, Save Some Trees–Never Buy Children’s Books, and What’s Your Walk Score?
I hope you enjoyed this little stroll down memory lane. Here’s to our fourth summer of blogging!
(Drum roll, please . . . ) In fifth place, we have Bambo Nature Eco-friendly Diapers.
Tushies Diapers come in strong in fourth place.
Nature Babycare Eco-friendly Chlorine-free Diapers take the bronze medal in the chlorine-free diaper Olympics.
In second place, we have Earth’s Best Tender Care Chlorine Free Diapers.
And, in first place–not much of a surprise here–Seventh Generation Free and Clear Baby Diapers.
What an exciting countdown that was! Now, if you want to learn more about chlorine free disposables (what’s the big deal about chlorine-free diapers? Are chlorine-free diapers better for the environment than cloth? Which eco-disposables do we recommend? Which are the best deal?), you’re going to want to get your hands on The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.
Until then, happy diapering!
Any woman who has been through labor knows that this is a weak comparison at best. Childbirth is humbling, agonizing, magical and miraculous. Moving is… just horrible.
Maybe. But beyond the actual contractions and the loading of the moving trucks, both of these events are entries into huge life transitions. In both cases, there is usually time to prepare for the event and life beyond it.
We wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide because our pregnancies were riddled with pressures to stock up on supplies that claimed to make parenthood easier. We faced huge baby registries and “must have” lists and decided that we’d rather buy less and buy used in order to keep the planet and our pocketbooks in mind. Each of our families ended up saving about six thousand dollars in our tots’ first year alone by going secondhand, cloth diapering, and making homemade baby food. Far from being a hardship, we found budget-friendly, eco-friendly living to be a grand adventure and actually started this blog to share our successes (and frequent failures) on our green journey.
Now, as my family is on the brink of moving, it all feels so familiar. It’s tempting to go out and buy new furnishings to fill the empty space, using money to make the shift easier. Instead, we shall be living in our new house with lawn chairs and beanbags as furniture for awhile. We’ll patiently hit garage sales and shop craigslist until we slowly stock our house with secondhand pieces we love.
Whether we’re preparing for baby or moving into a new home, making huge changes with an eco-friendly, budget-friendly mindset requires patience, a bit of self-control, and the humility to realize that we’re not defined by our stuff. I hope that as we continue to face transition with our reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, our kids will learn those same skills for themselves. It’s a glorious way to live a rich life without consuming (or spending) nearly as much.
Green and Clean Mom Has a great post on How to Buy Organic Food Cheap. It’s great practical advice that you can put into action on your next trip to the grocery store.
Stop by later this week to check out our upcoming giveaway. It involves cloth diapers and some fabulous supplies so come back to get the details!
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?
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!)
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!
Do you have a complex system of soaking and pre-washing, or are you cloth diaper slackers like Rebecca and me? How do you handle smells and stains? Do you use hot or cold water? What’s your favorite detergent?
Cloth diapers were a total mystery to me in those early days of parenting–as was cloth diaper laundering. I didn’t have a copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, to help me with selecting and caring for cloth diapers, so I was lost! I have to confess that I even bleached our pre-folds a few times at first before a friend taught me that it’s unnecessary and also very tough on the fabric.
These days we are incredibly lax about our diaper washing system and are quite happy with the results. We use a dry pail and when it fills up, we simply toss them in the washer. We use cold water most of the time and throw in a little Bac Out to help freshen them up. We don’t hang up our diapers at this point, although summer is a different story. Our diapers are no more complex than any other load of laundry and come out smelling great!
Please feel free to share your cloth diaper laundry struggles and victories!
My pregnancy moved my thrifty, green tendencies to a whole new level, but people discover this blog at different points in their parenting journeys. Why are you considering eco-friendly, budget-friendly choices? Was is economic necessity? A newfound environmental awareness? A friend or relative who blazed the trail? (Rebecca was certainly a huge help for me since we were both pregnant at the same time and she tutored me in cloth diapering, buying used, and reducing purchases.)
Whether you’re just beginning to make frugal, green shifts, or were eco-conscious to begin with , you may want to read our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet. Request it at your local library to read it for free or pick up a copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide on Amazon for less than ten bucks. (That’s 60% off the cover price!)
Please share what helped you become a greener, more resourceful parent to inspire the rest of us. And don’t forget that today is the last day to enter our Hygeia EnJoye Professional Grade Breastpump giveaway!
In our research for The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, our favorite organic choice was Nature’s One Baby’s Only Organic Formula. And in our recent exploration of hexane, Baby’s Only again stands out as the best choice.
So what is hexane anyway? It’s a petroleum derivative that’s found in glue and gasoline and has recently been used in infant formula to help obtain the DHA and ARA fatty acids from fermented algae and fungus. Since breast milk is packed with DHA and ARA, there has been a recent drive to get these components into formula. (Don’t get us started on the advantages of breastfeeding. If you possibly can breastfeed, there are a million reasons that it will provide you with better health, your baby with better immunity, and save you heaps of cash. Since not everyone can, we want to be sure to share organic formula options. If you are breastfeeding, don’t forget to enter our Hygeia EnJoye Breastpump Giveaway!)
Similic Organic Formula and Earth’s Best Organic Formula both state that no trace of hexane is detectable in their formula and that it’s just used to process the DHA and ARA. But Nature’s One Baby’s Only is the only organic formula to derive their DHA and ARA fatty acids without hexane. They are also the only organic formula to have 100% BPA free packaging.
There’s just one problem with Baby’s Only Organic formula. In an effort to encourage breastfeeding, the company recommends their formula as a follow up to a full year of breastfeeding. However, they offer a nutritional chart comparing their formula to others on the market and recommend that you consult with your health care professional. It’s clear from viewing the chart that Baby’s Only meets or exceeds other brands with its nutritional components and would be more than adequate as an infant formula.
Baby’s Only Infant Formula isn’t even the most expensive option! It comes in at $0.88/oz. while Earth’s Best Organic Formula costs $1.15/oz. and Similac Organic is a bit cheaper at $0.73/oz. (These are my current rough estimates based on buying from Amazon in large quantities)
What’s your favorite organic infant formula? Any tips on finding the best prices on formula?