Ingenious Ideas for Thrifty Organic Gardening

If you haven’t joined the grassroots home garden movement, it’s nice to know you still can–and without spending a load of cash.  

Advocating for Family Leave Time

It was heart-wrenching to go back to my career after my baby arrived, but luckily I had worked out a solution that gave me as much time off as possible over the course of his first year.  It required some creative thinking, some begging, and some negotiation, but it was worth it!

As you may have read in my last post, I found that the time I spent at home increased the quality of our lives and the quality of the environment. We were able to prepare homemade meals, hang cloth diapers out to dry, and generally spend less money. 

So how do you ask your supervisor for the best solution for your family?  Here are a few tips that worked for me.

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Suddenly Frugal By Necessity, Not By Choice

Upon hearing that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago, both of us found ourselves surprised by our own relief.  Obviously for many families losing a job can be tremendously stressful—especially with young children involved.  In fact, if my husband would have been laid off a few months later we would have been in serious trouble.  By that point I would have signed a half time teaching contract for next year which wouldn’t have been enough income to support our family.  Thank goodness I still have the option to teach full time next year and we have enough of an emergency fund to ease us through the summer. 

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A Simple, Eco-Friendly Solution for Stinky Diapers: Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Place of Chlorine Bleach

Have you ever pulled supposedly clean diapers out of the washer only to find that they’re nearly as stinky as when they went in?  What’s the problem?  It could be a variety of factors including the iron content in your water, the laundry soap you’re using, or synthetic fabrics. 

The other day I stumbled across an amazing solution: hydrogen peroxide!  It turns out that plain old hydrogen peroxide will provide you with your own homemade version of non-chlorine bleach. 

For the wash: Add a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide to each           washload or a bit more for very full or dirty loads.  

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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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Buying Oversized Clothing

Want an eco-friendly, budget friendly solution to keeping your child’s clothing costs in check?  Buy big!  I’ve found that buying clothes a size or two (or four!) bigger for my son works in a myriad of ways. 

  • Bigger pants accommodate cloth diapers. When he was smaller, we just rolled up the cuffs a bit.  Now that he’s potty training, they will be able to fit him for at least another six months with plenty of room around the waist!  Check out Rebecca’s post on managing cloth diaper bulk for more ideas.  
  • Used clothing has often shrunk after several washings.  Now when I search for secondhand duds at thrift stores, I’ll often buy 4T-6T shirts.  They fit him fine after I roll up the sleeves a bit.  They’ll last him at least a year and I won’t have to worry about shrinkage since they’ve already been washed several times.
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Repairing Diaper Covers

Want to repair your tired diaper covers for just a few bucks and an hour of your time?  I learned how recently from my good friend Valerie Perrot.  As she began to cloth diaper her second child, she noticed the covers she had used with her first weren’t fastening correctly.  Upon closer inspection, Valerie found that the soft part of the Velcro closures wasn’t as deep as it should be.   Considering that she had purchased the covers used, she wasn’t surprised that they were worn–but she wasn’t about to go out and buy a whole new set for her second child.

After getting advice from a seamstress, Valerie decided to take matters into her own skilled hands.  She found an outdoor gear website called thegreenpepper.com that offered soft Velcro and heavy duty sewing needles for just under ten dollars. The Green Pepper has loads of patterns for making your own backpacks, fleece jackets and other notions, as well as fabric and materials. Honestly, the website is a bit difficult to negotiate, but they are very helpful if you call or email. 

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Saving Money with Store Brand Organics

Although I’m always trying to shift my grocery selections to organic products, sometimes my inner tightwad cannot handle the sticker shock—especially with the recent rise in food prices.  Buying our produce through a Commmunity Supported Agriculture subscription and having our own raised bed garden has helped, but as a working mom, I depend on having some packaged products to feed my family. 

Store brand organics have come to my rescue with quality, eco-friendly products at reasonable prices.  I have found organic applesauce, crackers, and beans made by Western Family (a generic brand popular in the Pacific Northwest) at my local grocery store.  Even chain stores such as Safeway and Fred Meyer also offer their own organic selections, including baby food.

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A Moving Costume: Easy Trick-or-Treating Transportation

Because our trick-or-treating journey will be a bit long this year, my husband decided to make Roscoe’s wagon part of the costume.  My son received it for his birthday this year after we did some rust-removal and repainting. It’s now one of his most prized possessions and we love its versatility and usefulness. 

My hubby found some old cardboard in our attic and a few wooden sign posts.  He cut them out, decorated them with some of our old paint (the red was left over from the wagon) and made an easy add-on to the wagon. 

It cost just under $4.00 total for this fabulous moving costume and the objects we reused have been granted a second (more glamorous) life too!  It’s more adorable and natural than those large plastic vehicles for sale at big-box stores and it’s  provided just as much fun.

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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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