Planting Garden Starts in an Egg Carton

For the past five years, I have admired people who coax seeds into lush vegetable gardens but have never felt I had the gardening skills to take the leap. Instead we spent around $50 each year on starts. Then, at an organic seed sale, it occurred to me that with an investment of less than five bucks and one used egg carton, my kids would enjoy the experience of trying to start our vegetable garden from scratch. If any of the seedlings survived, perhaps it would help my kids to bond with vegetables more deeply and actually embrace sauteed zucchini sometime this summer.
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Teflon-Free Frying Pan Options

Pregnancy and breastfeeding motivated me to find safer, and often greener methods for cooking and storing food. But the recycler in me had a very hard time tossing the high quality Circulon skillet we’d received for our wedding. We’re still using it, but I’m finally ready to invest some money in a healthier option. And I’d love to hear your input!

Stainless Steel Skillets seem entirely safe, but I’m so used to having a non-stick surface that the transition may be tricky. I also worry that I’d be using lots more oil in my cooking just to avoid burning food while sautéing.
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Do You Have a Midwifery Clinic to Recommend?

When I was ten weeks pregnant, we excitedly stepped through the hospital’s revolving door to see our OB/GYN doctor. After a thirty minute wait, we met with a stressed out physician for ten minutes who asked us some routine questions. We were shuffled off to the front desk where we received a plastic bag full of brochures. When I imagined giving birth in that environment and it me nauseous (although it could have also been the morning sickness….) Luckily a friend told me about the Peacehealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center.

This time we walked across the front porch of a beautiful old home, through a cut class door and into a completely different experience. We met with the midwife for about forty five minutes, most of which she spent listening to our questions. I was so thrilled to have found a clinic that didn’t treat me as though I had an illness, but embraced our excitement about having a child.
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The Eco-nomical Baby Guide Turns Two!

After two years of research, editing, and writing (with spit-up on our shoulders and cloth diapers in the dryer) The Eco-nomical Baby Guide hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2010. We packed the book with practical tips to help families save thousands of dollars by going green. The insider secrets we’d learned in the trenches of early motherhood and from hundreds of Green Baby Guide readers were finally organized into the book that we wished we’d had as new parents.

Since then thousands of copies of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide have ended up at baby showers and green boutiques across the nation––and even the world! In December my cousin wrote me from Seoul where he and his wife are on a temporary teaching contract. Their South Korean birth coach had a copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide prominently displayed on her shelf. I have no idea how it made it that far, but it’s a thrill to know that our down-to-earth message is resonating with readers.
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What Cloth Diapering Advice Would You Give?

Have you used cloth diapers? What would you tell a pregnant, overwhelmed friend who doesn’t know a pocket diaper from a prefold?

If you have tips on buying diapers, laundering diapers or dealing with other challenges, please share! Today is the last of our posts this mont on cloth diapering and our favorite insider ideas always come from our readers. (Oh… and our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide!)

Save Money by Buying Secondhand Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering saves a heap of cash (and garbage) over the years, but the up-front cost of using cloth is a barrier for some families. If you are willing to buy preowned diapers for your tot, you’ll save packaging, shipping, and about half the cost of a new cloth diaper layette.

How much did I spend on used diapers? Rebecca took me to her favorite consignment shop with her baby in tow when I was six months pregnant. I bought about eight diaper covers for a dollar each. Then I paid 30 dollars for 45 used prefolds at a local diaper service. Total cost: $38. Not bad! I did spend money later on as my son grew into a different size, but my overall diapering cost was well under 300 dollars. With my second baby I had virtually no cloth diapering costs as we just reused what we already had.
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How Minimalist Did You Make Your Baby’s Nursery?

Did your baby sleep in a drawer or a cardboard crib? (The latter item really does exist and is pictured below.) Did you even have a nursery or did you simply pull baby into bed with you? Did you manage to outfit your baby’s nursery entirely with hand-me-downs or gear from Freecycle?

Of course having a minimalist nursery (or none at all) isn’t the only way to go green, but there’s so much pressure to gear up that it’s nice to know how people manage to creatively raise their babies without all the newest gadgetry. In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we try to share a variety of money-saving options for going green with baby, but our favorite is to buy less and buy used.
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Sustainable Wooden Baby Gear at Affordable Prices

While we haven’t yet discovered a ceramic crib, we are happy to report that there are some unexpectedly eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable pieces of green baby gear. Rebecca and I both focused on minimizing with our babies to avoid being swallowed in a sea of plastic doodads. But the Growing Up Green product line would have also been a great alternative considering that it carries sustainable, simply designed products at reasonable prices.

My favorite is the Growing Up Green Wood Step Stool. It’s currently half off at just over twenty bucks and is both sturdy and beautiful. Made from pesticide-free, sustainably raised bamboo, you can also feel good about its sources. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to share that it’s made in China. Sigh..) My kids are now five and nearly three, and the step stool is probably their most frequently used piece of furniture. I would love to replace the blue plastic garage sale number with one of these!
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Are You Handing Down Baby Gear or Receiving Secondhand Baby Goods-or Both?

This month we’ll be exploring how to outfit a green nursery with high quality baby gear on a budget. Of course, our favorite green strategies involve those old school R’s: reduce, recycle and reuse. But it can be tough to score all secondhand baby gear if you are the first one of your friends and family to have a child. You may end up being showered with so much loot that it’s hard to find your way out from under the pile of ribbons. If that’s the case, heading off to the consignment shop is a bit futile until your child grows out of all those gifts.
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Things I Obsessed Over during Pregnancy that Seem Silly in Retrospect

During my pregnancy, I had some real concerns about giving birth and breastfeeding. But I also enjoyed obsessing over other issues that—six years later—no longer feel quite so urgent. Here were my particular bugaboos:

Nursing pads. What are nursing pads? Do I need nursing pads? How do I choose nursing pads? What if I choose the wrong nursing pads? Who knows why I cared so much about nursing pads. Read my nursing pads reviews. Or buy some LANAcare nursing pads and be done with it.

Cloth diapering. Prefolds? Diaper covers? Pocket diapers? All-in-ones? How will I ever decide? How will I wash them? If only I could have gone into the future and written the Eco-nomical Baby Guide, then brought it back to 2006 so I could read it and learn everything I needed to know about cloth diapering.
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