Homemade Cloth Diapers

It never occurred to me to create my own diapers–partially due to the fact that I have a complete lack of sewing skills and also because it seemed so complicated.  Imagine my surprise when my friend Kara casually handed me a bag of home-sewn hemp diapers saying only, “I made this for you since I had some extra time and fabric.” I had to know how it was possible to whip out a batch of diapers in just a few hours so interviewed Kara to get the nitty-gritty details.

GBG: Where did you get the idea/inspiration to make your own cloth diapers?

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No Nursery for Baby

We haven’t picked out colors, or bedding, or painted a fairy mural on the wall.  In fact, our second child has no claim to any wall–or even a room for that matter.

Why have we allowed this to happen?  After all, with our first we decorated with homemade curtains, a rocking chair and a new dresser.  What we quickly found, however, is that our son was rarely in his room.  He co-slept for the first five months and during the day spent most of his time lounging in the living room with us.  He wouldn’t nap in his crib so we wore him in a sling for snoozing or plopped him down on his baby blanket.

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Thrifty Green Thursday Goes on Summer Vacation

We’ve had a great time hosting Thrifty Green Thursday for almost a whole year. Thanks to everyone who has participated, inspiring us with eco-friendly tips and advice. Because I just gave birth on Monday, I’ve decided to put our Thrifty Green blog carnival on summer vacation. While we’re gone, we hope we can sort out our issues with Mr. Linky. Have a wonderful summer break, and please return on September 3rd, when Thrifty Green Thursday will resume.

We have Mr. Linky up today (if it’s working correctly!) if you want to link to your Thrifty Green posts one last week before summer break. Read here for instructions.

Finding Free Garden Supplies

Imagine creating a kitchen garden that yields heaps of produce all summer long—for free!  Thanks to our recent family budget cutbacks and some wise neighbors, we’ve suddenly found that free gardening is quite possible.  Here are the latest tips we’ve discovered:

  1. Find free wood, recycle what you have, or just dump dirt:  When our friends replaced their cedar fencing, they saved the old boards and used them to build raised beds.  Since the boards were just one inch thick, they cross braced them so that the wood wouldn’t bulge.  On Craigslist or through your friends you can usually find people who are looking to unload wood.  If you can’t find wood, just dump dirt on cardboard in your yard and make a bed without the border.  It will work fine and still grow some lovely veggies.
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Making Homemade Non-Chlorine Bleach

Mildew is my nemesis, but I much prefer it to the fumes of chlorinated bleach. Even though chlorine is very hard on the environment and our health, it’s found in a wide variety of household cleaners—all of which I’ve now replaced with homemade versions.  The one hurdle we hadn’t quite overcome was bleach. So the last time we desperately needed to clean out the shower I asked my husband to purchase chlorine-free bleach to save the environment and my nose.

When we read the label on the container we were a bit shocked.  The ingredients were simply hydrogen peroxide and water.  Why then did we pay too much when we could have made it ourselves? 

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Economical Organic Home Gardening

Is organic gardening really all that difficult, or costly?  We turned to our experts, Caitlin Blethlen of Growing Gardens and Mara Reynolds of Portland Community Gardens to see just how easy and inexpensive it can be to grow your own food organically.

GBG: In your opinion, are organic gardens more expensive to plant and maintain than those using pesticides and herbicides? 

Caitlin: No.  The basis of organic gardening is establishing healthy soil which can take time through using cover crops, and adding compost and creating a balanced eco system in your yard.

Mara:  As far as I know, with the exception of the initial cost of seeds, organic gardening is cheaper all across the board.  With proper planting techniques, composting, and soil amendments, you should be able to successfully garden organically with very little inputs.  (To be honest I’ve never gardened with pesticides or herbicides)

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Set Up Your Kitchen Garden—and Save!

It’s spring—time to dream of ripe tomatoes and sugar snap peas.  You can grow them yourself and save hundreds on organic produce with a few tips and a bit of inspiration.  Our first post in a four part series on organic home gardening will focus on garden materials and the money you can save once you do. 

You don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars to get results.  In fact, you may be able to get started with a very modest investment that will yield you a harvest for several weeks. 

Today’s contributors, Mara Reynolds and Caitlin Blethlen are expert gardeners with plenty of tips to share.  Mara works with Portland Community Gardens to further support gardening in the city. This tremendous program allows families to rent garden plots, learn how to preserve food, and get their children involved in gardening.  Caitlin is the Youth Gardening director for Growing Gardens, a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income, urban families grow their own food.

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Saving Money and The Planet With Reused Easter Baskets

For many families celebrating the holiday, an Easter basket is a once in a lifetime purchase.  You may be picking one out for your baby this year for the first time.  Why not recycle, save some money, and splurge a bit more on the chocolate bunnies?

You just wouldn’t believe how many Easter baskets clutter the shelves of our local thrift store.  There are hoards of pastel wicker containers stacked on top of each other, all priced reasonably.  There are also decorations of all sorts including plastic eggs (not my favorite—but better recycled than new), stuffed rabbits of all sizes, and other odds and ends.  Of course, after this past Monday’s post, you can skip the plastic Easter grass and grow a real grass in your basket! 

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Make a Living Easter Basket and Avoid Plastic Easter Grass

Don’t we all hate that plastic Easter grass that ends up trailing through our living room and getting tangled into our holiday baskets?  This year you can actually grow your own grass in your baskets and get your young ones involved in the process.  I found this idea in Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. 

It’s best to start this project now since it will take a few weeks for the grass to sprout.  

You’ll need:

  • Easter baskets(check my next post for where to get great deals on these)
  • Plastic produce bags or bread bags(the ones that can’t be recycled)
  • A packet of rye grass seeds
  • Potting soil
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Fixing Lunch: Lunchsense Boxes Are A Great Solution for Eating on The Go

The financial and environmental impact of  simply preparing a homemade meal rather than submitting to prepackaged products  is astounding, but having the right tools to efficiently pack home blended baby food or work lunches is half the battle.  Our next two Thrifty Green Thursday posts are dedicated to a great product that grew out of a mom’s frustration with packing her children’s school lunches.  Mother of three, Nancy Myers, found a way to “fix lunch” by creating Lunchsense lunchboxes. 

The boxes are made of fabric and unsnap to create a clean eating surface that can be easily wiped down.  Inside are stored several locked leak-proof plastic containers that kids can easily open.  They might seem a bit pricey at first, but they’ll quickly pay themselves off if they help you skip even a handful of meals out.  Since Nancy lives right here in my hometown I had the chance to interview her myself.  Read on to find out more!

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