It’s official. Lately I’ve become an environmental slacker. Yes, I still compost, recycle, cloth diaper, and shop secondhand. Yes, I get a certain thrill out of using cloth grocery bags and buying in bulk. But lately I’ve committed some eco-transgressions that I feel I must acknowledge as Earth Day looms. It isn’t quite like I’ve taken a match to the planet, (as the dramatic photo would suggest) but it doesn’t feel great to share my shortcomings. Here goes…
We remodeled our kitchen. In a way this seems like a good thing–but it also means that we ate lukewarm microwaved dinners off of paper plates for a few weeks. (Chinet, of course, because they’re 100% recycled!) We tried to salvage what we could of our old kitchen, but most of our built-in cabinets had to go to wood recycling. There are some heaps of stuff in the landfill that we recently added. (Ugh!)
Our house is a thousand square feet, which is plenty of room most of the time, but we felt cramped in our old kitchen. It hadn’t been remodeled since the house was built 51 years ago and it lacked counter space and a dishwasher. Our new kitchen is very neutral and we hope that it will last just as long. (Can you believe the average kitchen remodel happens every seven years?!) Now we have an energy star dishwasher and fridge, lots more functional space, and many more years of being able to leave a smaller carbon footprint because of the size of our home. Also, I LOVE cooking now!
Our daughter has eaten lots of jarred baby food. We chose Earth’s Best Organic, but I really wanted to blend up homemade batches.
My husband, who’s a stay-at-home Dad, is not overly excited about boiling and pureeing yams. Also, during the kitchen remodel it was all we could do to get food in her mouth while washing our dishes in the tub. The good news is that now she’s eating table food and we’re done with purees!
My children are both wearing disposable diapers at night. This is probably the most atrocious thing on my list, and it makes me feel sick that we haven’t figured out how to use cloth at night for both of them. We had some luck with Jovi in cloth, but then found she woke up more frequently. We were too desperate for sleep to continue. Roscoe struggled with horrid yeast infections that kept recurring, so we gave up with him too. In this picture he despairs that his mother hasn’t found an eco-friendly method of diapering him…
My only hope is to night-train my son soon! He has been potty trained for over a year, but we have been so tired that we haven’t made a concerted effort to get him out of diapers at night. Please send me any and all advice! Maybe I’ll try cloth again with Jovi and see if she’ll sleep through the night in them. It would make me so happy to be free of disposables altogether!
Do you have transgressions to share? Do tell! It relieves all of us to know that we’re focused on progress instead of perfection.
As a thrifty, green soul, Shift Your Habit by Elizabeth Rogers seems written just for me. How do I love it? Let me count the ways:
1. It’s infinitely practical. The tips are focused on tiny lifestyle changes that save money and the environment. Each shift is listed along with cost savings, extra positives, and planetary benefits.
2. It’s road tested. Elizabeth Rogers, who also coauthored “the green book” asked dozens of families from across the nation to participate in the shifts. Some were excited about going green, and some just wanted to save money. Everyone benefited from the changes and those stories are featured throughout the book.
3. It’s just a list. For those of us functioning on limited sleep and less time, the book really is just a bulleted list with subtitles. It’s easy to get something out of it just by reading for five minutes.
4. It includes baby. Of course, as authors of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we absolutely believe that going green with baby should save you money. Rogers writes about the positives of cloth diapering, making homemade baby food and much more. If you want a brief intro about how to go green with baby, this is a great place to start.
5. It inspires me. We all suffer green fatigue when we take on too much, too soon. This book focuses on so many small, easy changes that suddenly saving money and the planet seems rather simple. It’s a great place to start reducing your impact or to find simple ways to go a bit further.
Here’s a sample tip from the book:
Doesn’t that sound easy! And that’s the format that most of the book takes––although it’s also sprinkled with intermittent stories of volunteer “shifting” families. A great and incredibly easy read!
If money is feeling a bit tight, we recommend requesting this little gem at your local library and putting a reserve on it so that you’ll be the first one to check it out. (You can do the same with our book too!) Have you read Shift Your Habit or heard of it? It’s a one to add to your reading list!
Do you keep a worm composter in your kitchen? Or better yet—have a composting toilet? Do you power your toaster with a bicycle? Live in an ice cave all winter long with no heating to speak of? In celebration of Earth day, share your wackiest deeds that help out the planet!
Don’t forget to enter our organic crib mattress giveaway!
Rebecca likes to cruelly taunt me about the use of my blender for making homemade baby food. Honestly, I could care less. I proudly stand behind my little Osterizer and its amazing ability to whip up heaps of sweet potatoes, baby spinach, and pureed pears. (By the way, Rebecca and I are playing up the blender drama just for show. Our nearly twenty year friendship hasn’t been damaged by this small appliance duel.)
Due to limited storage in my kitchen, I have to limit my gadgets. Nothing earns the right to live in my cupboards unless it can prove that it has many functions on a regular basis. My blender is a standby for summer smoothies, popsicles, and, of course, baby food. I simply steam or boil the food, dump it in, and add some of the liquid used to cook it. Then I whirl it up and dump it in ice cube trays for storage. When it’s frozen, the cubes go into labeled freezer bags where they wait to be microwaved for dinner. If you’re looking for some elegant and healthy recipes, along with cloth diapering tips and heaps of ways to save money on raising baby, check out our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.
Do I find the blender difficult to use? Hardly! I will say that when I’m making a big batch I occasionally have to turn the blender off and stir the contents a bit with a wooden spoon before I start pureeing again. I can’t really say that it’s any hardship… And, to validate my choice of appliance, there is actually a book entitled Blender Baby Food!” I haven’t read it and can’t comment on whether it’s worth a purchase, but it certainly goes to show that I’m not the only one putting my Osterizer to good use!
Do you use a blender for baby food? What is your appliance of choice? Let’s get this debate going!
For the last six days, I, Joy Hatch, co-author of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, swaddled my babe in plastic and petroleum instead of cotton.
What can possibly be my defense for this environmental atrocity? Honestly, it’s a little flimsy. We’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel so I fled to my mom’s house with the kids. Since she was having several groups of company during our stay including a whole flock of grandchildren, it seemed more helpful to just bring disposables.
The weird thing was that there was a microscopically thin slice of me that was excited about not having to wash cloth diapers—like that inner glutton that occasionally thinks it might be fun to eat an entire bag of Cheetos rather than virtuously dining on sautéed kale.
But the disposable diaper experience left me a bit sick and guilty—much like those junk food moments. And the bad feelings weren’t nearly as shocking as the fact that I think cloth diapering is actually easier! With cloth I would have had to dunk a couple of diapers and do a load or two of laundry. I resented disposables from the moment that I had to shlep my baby to the store to buy them. After that, I had to constantly deal with the trash they generated. Plus the expense of the diapers was an utter waste! At the end of all that money and garbage, Jovi and I had nothing to show for it except a bright red diaper rash.
In short, my environmental slip led to a renewed belief that cloth is such a better option—not just for the planet but for you and your child! Still, cloth diapering can seem really formidable at first in the same way that disposables seem convenient. Wouldn’t it be great if every parent got the chance to cloth diaper just for six days to see how it works? After we achieve that, we’ll get right to work on world peace.
Have you had a chance to try cloth? Did it work for you? Do you use cloth while traveling? If you’re going on an extended visit to a friends’ house that may not be enthusiastic about laundering dirty cloth diapers, what do you do? Do you buy a special stash of G-diapers, or opt to go to the Laundromat just to stick to your diapering ethics?
We’re ending our series of giveaways with a bang! You could win a Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic Cotton crib mattress in this week’s giveaway. That’s a $359 value! You’ll also get a copy of our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet. (Although it’s far less expensive, we think you’ll find it just as helpful.)
Since most mainstream crib mattresses contain vinyl and polyurethane foam which off-gas some nasty chemicals, buying organic is a comforting option. Naturepedic’s No Compromise Organic Cotton crib mattress has a waterproof surface and is certified to meet GREENGUARD’s high standards for child safety. The mattress also happens to be hypoallergenic and is covered with a non-toxic fire protection system. How reassuring to lay your sleeping babe down on this gem and know that she’s safe and comfortable!
This is our very last in the series of large giveaways, and we hope that you are our winner. See below to find out all the ways you can enter!
Nine Ways to Enter the Giveaway
How do you enter? Guess what? You can enter more than once! Each way listed below gets you one entry. All comments have to be posted BEFORE Tuesday the 18th of April to win.
Remember, leave a separate comment on this post for each entry you want. If applicable, please leave the link to your Facebook/Twitter/Blog in the comment you leave here.
***The contest ends on Monday, April 19th, 2010***
Winner will be randomly selected.
We will notify the winner via email and will get you in touch with these companies who will ship your products directly to you. Please Note: This contest is open only to U.S. readers.
Have fun everyone!
I’m experiencing temporary insanity. The culprit is a twenty pound tyrant who has been hounding me for three straight nights. Have I dealt constructively with the challenge?
I’ve consumed approximately one pound of cookie dough and a third of a chocolate bar. She’s been crying off and on for forty five minutes and I’m trying to block it out while typing this. Despite diaper changes, temperature adjustments, teething tablets, soothing songs and her total lack of sleep over the past two days, she seems to be up for the challenge of a good wail for hours to come.
On top of that, my three year old didn’t nap today and was having constant meltdowns all afternoon that coincided perfectly with the baby’s hysteria. Did they concoct this torture plan ahead of time?
No—the truth is it’s all my fault. I wanted a dishwasher. For the last two miserable nights we’ve been visiting my mother because our kitchen is being torn apart and remodeled. My baby, who normally slumbers in her crib pretty well, reminds me at regular hourly intervals that she’s not happy with the transition. On top of that my three year old isn’t napping well, nor is he coping with being away from home. Neither am I.
At times like these, when my very bones ache with exhaustion, I’m not so chipper about hanging out the laundry or blending up homemade baby food. ( or EVER traveling ANYWHERE again!) So—honestly, I have to say that for me sleep is an essential part of being a good parent and a greener parent.
Did you end up traveling anywhere with baby for spring break? Did you experience the same nocturnal misery? I sincerely hope you didn’t!
If you’re looking for a way to green your celebration this year, you’re in the right place. We have an archive packed with tips on how to make your Easter holiday eco-friendly and budget friendly as well!
An electric egg cooker will boil up those Easter beauties in minutes using only a few tablespoons of water. It certainly isn’t worth investing in one just for the holiday, but if you have boiled eggs on a regular basis, this inexpensive gadget quickly pays off.
Do you want to color those perfectly boiled eggs using plant dyes? We have spent far, far too much time at Greenbabyguide.com researching natural egg dyes—and failing miserably. Check here for a better listing of which natural dyes really work and maybe you’ll have more success.
If you’d like to get creative with your egg coloring efforts, try your hand at making natural silloutte eggs. They’re simple stunners and if you take the time to blow the egg out from the shell, you can even keep them as centerpiece decorations year after year.
What about the basket that will hold all the Easter loot? Try buying one used from a thrift shop and growing your own Easter grass in the bottom as an alternative to that plastic grass that gets strewn all over your home!
May your eggs be delicious, vividly colored, and easy to find. May your day be sunny and may your children keep the chocolate off of their pastel clothing. Also, today (Monday) is the last day to enter our massive green baby giveaway!
Were you worried about environmental toxins lurking in the Lysol, baby’s dirty diapers filing local landfills, or blinking plastic toys threatening to take over your household? Were you motivated by family and friends or did they challenge your attempts to be an eco-conscious parent?
We’re very interested in what makes expectant families go green because the lure of mainstream baby rearing with its hoards of innovative gadgets and convenient products can be hard to evade when you’re nervous about the transition to parenthood. When did you decide that you’d like to be a conscientious consumer or even less of a consumer?
When we were both pregnant at the same time, Rebecca and I typed flurries of frantic emails to each other trying to figure out how to use cloth diapers and make our own baby food. Everyone else thought our cutting edge environmental parenting was a bit kooky, but with the support of each other (a two person green parenting community that has now been joined by all of you!) we took the plunge. It was far less adventurous and much more fun that we ever expected to be eco-friendly parents.
What is your motivation? Do you face resistance or enjoy support? Please share so that other new parents can be a part of the online green community! (And remember that our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, is packed with everything we have learned in our journey as green moms!)
All-in-one diapers? Pocket diapers? Chinese prefolds? Even if you desperately want to cloth diaper your child, the vocabulary challenges our earnest efforts. How do all these “diapering systems” work? Is it worth choosing just one? How do you launder them and what about the smell?
Fear not! Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet, features detailed, easy-to-read information on cloth diapering your child that even slackers like ourselves can manage. We’ll highlight what you’ll find inside by sharing our favorite tips today:
1. Money saving tip: Don’t stock up on every size you think you’ll need before your baby arrives in this world. Some extra chunky tots (like both of Joy’s nine pound newborns) never need the extra small sizes. Others are preemies that stay in newborn sizes for months. Get a few diapers and designate a family member or friend to run out and get more when baby arrives. What else will you find in the book? Tips on buying secondhand cloth diapers for up to eighty percent less than new, tips on which diapers transition for babies between 7 and 35 pounds, and which diapers offer the best overall value.
2. Laundering tip: Though you may be tempted, do not use bleach! People are shocked when we share this advice, but bleach will eat through your diaper fabric quickly, isn’t environmentally friendly, and can irritate baby’s skin. Instead use baking soda, vinegar, non-chlorine bleach, or enzyme based stain fighters like Bac-out. Other tips in the book include the all-time easiest method of diaper washing, tips for storing dirty diapers, ideas on how many loads per week you might have, and natural stain fighting tips that are free and eco-friendly.
3. Diapering tip: This may be obvious, but there are NO PINS REQUIRED! It’s amazing how many people are still shocked when we share that fact. We also found that neither of us needed Snappis or any other product to hold our chinese prefold diapers in their covers. In our book you’ll find charts that help you understand what each type of diaper looks like, a cost comparison of different diapers, and options for eco-friendlier disposable diapers.
We remember how totally overwhelmed we felt entering the world of cloth diapers as new moms. Now we have an outlet for our obsession in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, where we ooh and ah over all the options! Once you start cloth diapering, you may find that you fall in love with the whole adventure yourself.
Are you using cloth? How did you find out what to use and how to diaper baby? Do you have lots of support for your cloth diapering efforts in your local area?