Are Glider Rockers Better than Traditional Rocking Chairs?

The glider rocker that has been dutifully serving our family for the last two years has broken into shards in the midst of a lullaby. It was the third in a series of used gliders that fell apart, one by one. On the journey to their demise, they squeaked and groaned just as our babies were falling into a deep slumber–usually between midnight and 3am.

We don’t really need a rocking chair at this point, but I have to wonder if we’d have been better off with a traditional rocking chair to begin with. I was adamant about buying a glider with a rocking ottoman. Why? My sister-in-law had one and I was sure it would be far more comfortable than the antiquated version.

But old rocking chairs become antiques simply because of their simple design and sturdy build. Why mess with a design that has worked for the last 300+ years? (Napolean actually had the above rocking chair in his bedroom way back in the 1800’s.)

Perhaps high quality glider rockers will eventually become antiques of sorts, but if you’re buying secondhand, which is both green and thrifty, it might be worth it to go for a traditional rocker. If you’re buying new, the greenest option is to purchase a piece of high quality furniture that will last for generations. Or, if you’re anything like Rebecca, you’ll skip the rocking chair altogether and opt to slow dance to lullabies for the first few years.

BPA-free Bento Lunchboxes: What’s the Top Green Choice?

When I first posted about finding the perfect BPA-free lunch box for my kindergartner, I hadn’t decided what to buy. Audrey had already chosen the Crocodile Creek Pocket Lunch Box, so that was taken care of. I knew I wanted some sort of container to put inside, and I was leaning toward the Easy Lunchboxes 3-compartment containers.

I decided against buying them after reading the product description more carefully. While I like the idea of having one divided container rather than a collection of containers to keep track of, the lid doesn’t seal each compartment. Some reviewers complained that if you packed something like strawberries in one compartment and chips in the other, everything had a chance to mingle around before lunchtime.

For years we used the Sassy Baby Bento box (read my Sassy Baby Bento review for more information) for Audrey’s daycare snack. I was really happy with this product, but there was one big problem: She couldn’t open the containers herself.

I ended up buying something I hadn’t run across in my initial search for BPA-free containers: Ziploc divided containers ($8.75 for 2—much cheaper than Laptop Lunches!). They are similar to the Easy Lunchboxes, but the lid does seal each section separately. Also, according to Ziploc’s website, their storage containers are BPA-free. My five-year-old can take the lid off and put it back on by herself. And best of all, a container does fit perfectly inside her Crocodile Creek lunch box. There is even room left over for a cloth napkin.

Monday was Audrey’s first full day of kindergarten, so we’ll give this whole system a whirl and report back in a few months!

Do Reusable Snack Bags Work?

As you may have read in my post on zero waste lunches, my son’s school has banned all single serving food items to eliminate trash. It’s time to invest in some greener food storage options!

I was excited about trying Lunchskins or other reusable snack bags, but read a comment on Monday from a user who struggled with mold on the fabric. Many parents LOVE the product, but others have also complained about stale food and not being able to dry the bags out enough before the next use.

Moldy bags and stale food reports make me hesitate on the brink of a purchase. At $7-15 dollars a bag, it’s tough to shell out so much and not know whether or not it will work. Does anyone else have feedback on reusable snack bags? Are you able to use them successfully? What’s your trick for avoiding mold on the fabric?

Packing Zero Waste Lunches

Just a few days ago I posted about my conflicted relationship with pre-packaged food. Convenience is expensive, wasteful, and sometimes really, really….convenient. Especially when it comes to packing school lunches, a chore my husband and I utterly dread.

So imagine my surprise when my son’s preschool sent home a notice asking us to exclude all single serving packaged items. What a glorious idea! Having a trash-free policy for packed lunches has a huge impact when sixty students follow it every single day. And since the kids compost and are limited to refillable drink bottles, the daily trash produced will be extremely minimal. But that means no more raisin boxes, or cheese sticks, or fruit leathers. From now on, it’s reusable containers all the way.

I’m actually glad to have the eco-pressure to take that step. It’ll require extra time, but in the long run it will save money and environmental impact. Instead of buying single serving items, we’ll buy large quantities and individually pack them up in the beginning of the week. At this point my inner lunch packing loather is horrified by the change, but like all lifestyle adjustments, I think we’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Cheese sticks will become cheese cubes.
Fruit leather will switch to frozen blueberries.
Raisin boxes will be replaced with homemade trail mix.

In terms of reusable lunch ware, we already love the small compartments in Lock & Lock containers with removable trays. They’re BPA-free, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, freezable and they nest for easy storage.

But we’re also thinking of buying something like Lunchskins so that we can squeeze more in lunchboxes. People also seem to really like the Itsy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bag. Do you have a snack bag solution that helps you pack a zero waste lunch?

I guess the easiest solution would be to wash out zip-lock bags on a daily basis. Are any of you managing on that system?

Green Toys Tea Set Review

My son, who helped to inspire our book The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, just turned five. Did he request reclaimed wood toys or organic cotton garments for his birthday? Nope. He’s in the midst of a feverish obsession with monster trucks, which are just about as ungreen as you can possibly be.

On the other end of the gender spectrum is my two-year-old daughter Jovi who must wear the finest dresses available (purchased at thrift stores), jewels, and purses on a daily basis. For her brother’s fifth birthday party (which included “pin the wheels on the monster truck”), Jovi received one special gift: A Green Toys Tea Set.

My thrift shopping habit has wildly skewed my price perception, so spending over twenty bucks on a plastic tea set was slightly painful, but I was happily surprised with the quality of the product. And when I did some research on the company, I was glad that I shelled out a bit more. All Green Toys are made in the U.S. from recycled milk containers. The whole process happens in California which saves the carbon cost of having raw materials shipped into the factory from overseas. They’re BPA free and meet the strict toy safety and environmental laws for the state of California.

I love the practical heft of the plastic, the colors, the simple design, and the fact that all lids are completely interchangeable. Since she got the set two weeks ago, we have had dozens of tea parties, and I think there are hundreds more to come. With a quality product like Green Toys, you get an heirloom toy that is made of recycled materials and costs just a bit more cheap plastic sets made in China. I’d definitely recommend it!

Do you own any Green Toys? Have you been satisfied with their quality?

Trading Babysitting or Creating Babysitting Co-Ops

Babysitting trades have been one of the biggest discovery of my mothering career. My kids are thrilled to play with their friends, my husband and I dash off to the theater with a bag of homemade popcorn, and everyone enjoys a change in the routine! When we’re hosting the swap, we enjoy seeing the budding friendships between our children and their peers.

Before the days of babysitting trades, there were no parenting breaks for me except when my husband arrived home. By then, I was so desperate for company (or privacy) that I’d either talk his ear off or lock myself in the bedroom just to experience a tiny slice of silence. (I don’t own a Snuggie, but the glowing smile in the picture captures how I felt when I crept into my bedroom. “Tee-Hee…no one is currently climbing, spitting up on, or peeing on me! Glorious!” )

Eventually I started to schedule our weeks at home around play dates, which were a welcome diversion for an extravert like myself. But when things evolved into babysitting trade status, life truly eased up–and not just for me! The families I swap babysitting with are just as grateful for the chance to host a play date or to get a sliver of freedom every so often.

Babysitting cooperatives take swaps to a whole new level. In a co-op, parents take on a few more children, but also get more opportunities for free babysitting. The Smart Mom’s Baby-Sitting Co-op Handbook:How We Solved the Baby-Sitter Puzzle can help you create one yourself. It’s gotten rave reviews on Amazon and thoughtfully lays out plans in careful detail for how to put together a community that works for you. It’s so popular that even though it was published over a decade ago, it’s currently sold out! (But should be available again very soon.)

I know with infants cooperatives or exchanges may be more of a challenge, but if you have at least two parents on duty it’s pretty amazing what you can handle. Does anyone else enjoy babysitting swaps? Do any of you have family who volunteer to watch your tot on a regular basis? I plan on doing that once my children get a bit older!

Twist 100% Biodegradable Sponges

This is a quick drive-by post to recommend Twist biodegradable sponges. I picked up the Twist loofah scrubby on a whim at Whole Foods and used it until it fell apart after about eight months. (I realize this may sound extremely gross to some people . . . but it dried out completely between dish-washings and never seemed to smell or look bad.) When I was done, I put it into my compost bin. I recommend it!

I see Twist makes other biodegradable sponges and rags, too. Check them out!

Twist European Sponge Cloths


Twist Naked Sponge


Twist dish dumpling scrub pad


Twist natural kit


Twist naked kit

Make Shopping Easier With The Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar

Have you ever longed for a personalized shopping assistant? Someone who can brief you on which products are best so that you can make quick decisions before the baby wakes up/your children start flinging legos at each other/the casserole burns in the oven? What if that assistant (let’s call her Betty) could also help you select goods that dovetail with your values, leaving you with a green afterglow following 15 minutes of online shopping?

She’s here! She’s free! She’s not actually human, but she’s more thorough than any person could ever be.


The Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar
(you may still call it Betty if you like) provides you with detailed product information for online shopping. You’ll be able to quickly bypass green claims, using the Transparency Toolbar’s data to choose items that are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and socially responsible.

So how do you use the Transparency Toolbar anyway? Simply install it as a web browser extension and it will pop up only while you are shopping online. You customize what date is important to you out of fourteen different categories including climate change, controversial ingredients, energy efficiency, organic, and nutritious. The Transparency Toolbar will then rate the product you’re viewing according to the criteria you’ve selected, as well as listing similar products that might meet your needs more completely. Isn’t Betty incredibly resourceful for being free?

To quickly get a sense of how the Transparency Toolbar works, simply invest four minutes of your life viewing Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar Video . It walks you through how to download the application and use it while shopping—showing you just how empowering it is for consumers.

For those of you who are currently gearing up for a new baby, the Transparency Toolbar can help you quickly decide which baby products you’d like to purchase or register for without having to spend hours researching companies or possible toxins.

Now honestly, I don’t do a lot of shopping online, but I’m thrilled to know that Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar will soon be available as a mobile app! Imagine rolling through the grocery store and being able to challenge a label’s green claims on the spot with Betty’s capable assistance!

We love The Good Guide, not just because it’s so consumer-friendly, but because one of its authors, Josh Dorfman, is a green hero of ours. He wrote The Lazy Environmentalist and also penned the forward to our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. In his television series on the Sundance Channel and his SiriusXM Radio show, he embraces the “progress not perfection” spirit that we promote in all our green endeavors. In addition to all those accolades, he’s currently in the trenches of early green parenthood.

So thanks to Josh Dorfman and his colleagues for The Good Guide’s Transparency Toolbar! It isn’t just about keeping our families safe and helping the environment. It’s about holding companies to a higher standard. Because The Good Guide makes information so easily accessible, companies are bound to start watching their ratings and realize that consumers are choosing products with superior records. If each of our dollars is a vote, then the Transparency Toolbar is the key to electing better businesses!

Check out Baby Eco Trends for the Latest in Green Cribs, Toys, Mattresses, and More

You may have noticed the little Baby Eco Trends ad in our sidebar. If you visit Babyecotrends.com, you’ll find hundreds of eco-friendly products for your baby. If I had an unlimited budget (and a baby), I’d get the Oops crib made from reclaimed wood.

One great thing about ordering a crib–and other baby furniture–from the Baby Eco Trends site is that they explain the origins of the products, materials used, labor practices, packaging materials–everything you need to know to make your decision.

In addition to furniture, the site carries unique wooden toys, including toy kitchens and art supplies. Find an eco-friendly rocking chair or glider, organic mattresses and bedding, and even nursery art.

We’re pleased to have Baby Eco Trends as one of our sponsors on the Green Baby Guide. If you love their eco-friendly products as much as we do (and you actually have a baby to spoil, unlike me!), start a baby registry!

 

BPA-free Lunchboxes for Waste-free School Lunches

I can hardly believe that my little “green baby” will be entering kindergarten in a month! I thought I’d take a quick break from the cloth diapers and homemade baby food and talk about the latest in eco-friendly lunch boxes. While many of the options below are made from plastic, they are all BPA-free. I’m going to strive for waste-free school lunches, which means I’m looking for reusable containers to avoid buying juice boxes, individual tubs of applesauce, and other products with disposable packaging.

Now, Audrey is lucky enough to have a grandmother who bought her a Crocodile Creek Pocket Lunchbox ($13.66). These lunch boxes come in several adorable designs; my future kindergartner chose the princess.

Her lunchbox does not come with containers inside, but I’m thinking of getting the EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers. A set of four costs $13.95. I like that there are fewer pieces than other bento sets. This should make things easier for Audrey and for us.

LunchSkins Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags Set ($25) look like a good choice if you want to avoid buying disposable sandwich bags.

The Kids Konserve Go Wild Waste-Free Lunch Kit costs $38.07, but it does come with everything your child could possibly need in a lunch set!

I know that Laptop Lunches Bento Kits are very popular here in Portland. The outer lunch box comes in different patterns, and the inner bento sets are available in a variety of colors. The components of the kit are often separately, or for $40.00 you could get a complete kit with a recipe book.

This Collapsible Lunchbox ($20.00) looks like a novel invention!

Finally, the Eco Lunch Box three-in-one set ($20.95) is your choice if you’re looking for a stainless steel lunch box. Once upon a time I looked all over the place for a stainless steel bento box, and I ended up getting something very similar to this. It’s a great option if you’re opposed to all plastics.

We’ve yet to try out our lunch box system, so I can’t give it a personal endorsement. If you have experience with any of these products–or if we’ve left out a great lunch box–let us know in the comments!