Baking Soda in the Bathroom Makes an Eco-friendly Shampoo, Deodorant, and Toothpaste!

For years I knew that baking soda had a huge variety of household applications.  We use it to make a soft scrub for the sink, we deodorize the fridge, it helps our muffins rise and can even be used as an antacid. 

But, thanks to a tip from Frugal Babe I tried baking soda as a shampoo.  When I first worked it into my hair the lack of suds and lather seemed a little strange.  Surprisingly, my hair was actually very soft and clean after the wash—as was my skin.   Since then I’ve heard that really oily hair can benefit from a quick “dry wash” with baking soda if there isn’t time for a full shampoo.  Just sprinkle the baking soda onto oily hair without wetting it, work into the roots, and brush out.

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Thrifty Green Halloween: Enjoying a Fun and Eco-Friendly Holiday

Is it possible to have a wickedly wonderful Halloween without disposable costumes, expensive candy, and ultra sugar highs? Yes! You could …

A. Move to another country
B. Hibernate
C. Join a commune

Kidding—but seriously, there are a few ways to limit the cost and eco-impact of this year.

Tricks:

Throw a Halloween party: Our friends are going to celebrate the holiday with a party, allowing them to skip late night trick-or-treating with their children and manage the sugar factor a bit. I’ll have to pass along Rebecca’s recipe for wholesome pumpkin bars so they’ll have an easy treat that the kids can enjoy.

Manage the candy: We are planning on going trick-or-treating this year, but we’re just going to a few houses and limiting my son’s candy. We haven’t yet decided whether to let him gorge for one night and then give the rest of the candy to our co-workers, or provide a piece of candy to him daily for awhile. Option number one lets him enjoy and then get back to healthy habits but option number two might entail a huge stomachache and a late bedtime. What do you do about this?

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DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids and Babies

You could spend hundreds of dollars on an organic free-trade toxin-free biodegradable Halloween costume–or you could just make one yourself.  Do-it-yourself Halloween costumes (formerly called “last-minute Halloween costumes” or “lazy parents’ Halloween costumes”) may seem like the latest thing in green parenting, but really they’ve been around for years. 

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about a lovingly handmade Halloween costume that takes hours hunkered over the sewing machine.   I’m talking about ransacking the house for interesting odds and ends, putting them all on your child, and winding up with a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume that requires no raw materials.

Here are some ideas that I may or may not have tried on myself or my child:
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Using a Pantry to Save Time, Money and the Planet

Yesterday Rebecca wrote about why she doesn’t buy in bulk and now I shall disagree with her wholeheartedly.  I LOVE filling our pantry and stocking our extra freezer with wholesome food!

When I was growing up my mom canned peaches and pears, homemade applesauce and tuna in the summertime to prepare for the long winter months.  While I’m not quite as resourceful as she was, I find that stocking my makeshift garage pantry has actually saved time, money and the planet.

Since we’re conscientiously trying to lower our grocery bill this year, we’ve been amazed by how much money we save by stockpiling.  Our used Craigslist freezer is packed with six gallon-sized Ziploc bags of organic blueberries we hand-picked  for just thirty dollars total.  We loaded up on free organic blackberries and made enough homemade blackberry jam to last us for months.  Friends of mine have ordered part of a free range cow and filled their freezers with steaks and ground beef to last all winter.   Since our nearby grocery stores are extremely expensive and charge two to three times what we pay at Grocery Outlet or directly to organic farmers, it’s worth stocking up. 

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Green Spotlight: Eileen Shares Her Environmental Pet Peeves

For our final Green Spotlight post this month, Eileen Spillman, single mother of two, full time teacher, and eco-mom extraordinaire, shares her eco-annoyances and what it means to pass green values onto your children. 

Do you have any environmental pet peeves?  

Oh yes, many. 

  1. Teeny tiny bottles of “green” cleaners but no re-fill size.  I think any environmental benefit of the cleaner was swallowed up by the packaging.
  2. Over-packaging. 
  3. When you bring your own mug to a coffee shop and they make it in a paper cup anyway, pour it into your cup and throw away the paper cup.  Kind of missed the point there.
  4. Planned obsolescence.
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Zwaggle, Freecycle, and Freepeats: Finding Freebies by Recycling Online

Often when I’m headed off to buy a whatzit, it strikes me that someone nearby is probably dying to get rid of the exact thing I want.  And when I drop off a sack full of goodies at a thrift store, I wonder if they’ll make it past the cluttered shelves and into the hands of someone who needs them.

That’s where  the Internet comes in.   For the first time in human history it’s incredibly easy to unload unwanted stuff or search for a used item—all for free! 

Zwaggle is an online resource for parents who are looking to give and get items for their children.  People receive Zwaggle points called “zoints” for giving gently used items to others and then can use then to “purchase” things for their family.  Since it all happens online, you can get things from across the nation so it’s a bit like Ebay without the expense. 

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Green Spotlight: Eileen Tackles Green Guilt and Eco-Friendly Economics

We at Green Baby Guide love to hear voices from the trenches of eco-friendly parenting.  In part three of our Green Spotlight series this month, Eileen Spillman, single mom, middle school teacher, and environmentalist, inspires us to use green guilt to our advantage. 

How do you handle “green guilt?”

I put it to good use!  Seriously, guilt is normal and healthy.  If you didn’t feel guilt, I think you’d be a sociopath.  Just don’t let it turn into anxiety and paralyze you.  I use it to fuel my creative energy.  I try to always tell myself that I can’t completely change my whole lifestyle overnight.  I make one change at a time and once I’ve got that down, I can think about the next thing. 

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End of Summer Regrets (or, Green Things I Failed to Do)

Reading about Life Domestic’s Little House on the Prairie-style adventures in canning peaches and the Lean Green Family’s overabundance of tomatoes filled me with a tinge of green regret.  After finishing Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I should have been all revved up to harvest local fruits and vegetables and preserve them all for the wintry months ahead. . . . Yet somehow it didn’t happen.

 

What did I miss out on this summer?

1. I didn’t plant a garden. We moved into our new house in late June, and after all the unpacking it was too late to get anything in the ground. Next year!
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Repairing A Rusty Wagon: A Little Red Renovation

While on a garage sale gift shopping spree, I ran across this rusty red wagon for just five dollars.  Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about getting a wagon for my son’s birthday and it did look rather damaged, but its previous owner coached me through the steps for fixing it up and ended up convincing me to buy.  I’m so glad he did!

The total time it took to fix the wagon was about three hours (including shopping time) and didn’t require much effort.  We followed  a few simple steps and found ourselves quite happy with the results.

Sand down the rust. Using steel wool, we scrubbed down the inside of the wagon with soapy water until it was as clean and smooth as we could get it.  We should have paid more attention to the corners and seams between the bottom and sides, but overall we did well.

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Green Spotlight: Eileen’s Advice for Keeping Green Choices Simple and Finding Support

If you were lucky enough to read last week’s Green Spotlight, you know that Eileen Spillman has become one of our eco-heroines.  She doesn’t weave her own homegrown linen or knit her children booties out of repurposed shoelaces.  In our opinion, raising two young children as a single parent while working full time and making green choices is just about as honorable as it gets.  Read on to see just how she started.

What green choices seem to work best for your family?  

 I try to keep it simple as I have a tendency to over-do and then get overwhelmed and give up.  Here is what I can think of:
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