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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Saving Money and Emissions with a “Staycation”

Ever return from holiday travel only to find yourself more exhausted than when you left? When we felt stressed out just contemplating a vacation with a two-year-old, we knew we needed other options.  Suddenly, my husband blurted out, “Let’s have a staycation!”  Immediately our heart rates leveled out and we began breathing more deeply.  

You might assume that my husband and I have a tiny comfort zone—or a case of agoraphobia.  Actually, we’ve lived and traveled in several countries, but at this point in our lives we have no desire to leave town.  Our son sleeps horribly even on short trips, hates being immobile in the car seat, and often seems out of sorts while we’re away.  It ends up being rather grueling for all of us—so we were excited about the option of staying home for a week and purposely relaxing.

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Join our Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival!


Although babies, gas, food of any kind, and air travel are becoming ridiculously expensive, we here at greenbabyguide.com believe it’s possible to save the planet and a wad of cash with a few creative ideas.

Do we have these ideas completely outlined for you? Well, no. Although we have to humbly admit that Green Baby Guide posts some fabulous suggestions, many talented bloggers can add to our collection of eco-friendly, frugal ideas.

So, it’s time for a carnival! Starting on July 24th, any blogger can get a piece of the action by joining our “Thrifty Green Thursday” blog carnival. Just write a post on a simple way that families (or individuals for that matter) can save money while going green on your blog. Then just follow the simple steps below:

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The Freedom of Frugality

Growing up, frugality was more of a lifestyle than a choice. Even though my parents didn’t necessarily practice penny pinching with the environment in mind, many of their cost-saving practices were eco-friendly as well.  My sister and I thought that showering consisted of getting wet, turning off the water to “soap up” and then following with a quick rinse.  We flattened aluminum cans for the recycling bin and took the compost out without any realization that we were helping the environment.  However, through the practice of penny pinching we did learn that our resources are precious.

baby-beach-walk.jpgAlthough it may sound like I lived a horribly deprived childhood, the truth is that many of our thrifty practices were quite adventurous. Instead of going to Maui, my family spent our vacations camping in Oregon rainforests or visiting relatives, where we often set up sleeping bags on the living room floor.  On car trips we had picnics at rest areas rather than swinging through fast food restaurants.  No one in my family ever belonged to a gym, but we enjoyed nightly moonlit family beach walks near my home to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors. 

Roscoe Goes Beachwalking 

Now that I’m in my mid thirties, I’ve learned to appreciate my quirky saving skills and all the benefits they’ve brought to me over the years. Having the ability to prioritize my values and then differentiate between wants and needs has been an extremely helpful skill.  I was able to pay off huge graduate school loans in four years on a starting teacher’s salary because of extreme (and sometimes neurotic) tightwaddery. Most of the time, all that penny pinching had huge advantages for the environment as well.  I biked for transportation whenever possible and bought most of my clothing at thrift shops.  To cut grocery costs, I ate very little meat and rarely purchased convenience foods.

As a parent, I find that all that self-restraint ends up providing personal freedom in more ways than one. Financially, it has allowed us the freedom to take more time with our son and relax about the costs of having a child.  We want to model thriftiness and living simply right from the start with Roscoe.

With that in mind, we outfitted most of Roscoe’s nursery with used furniture, dress him in quality hand-me-downs and use cloth diapers.  Roscoe doesn’t eye his crib with disdain and will never care that another soul has worn his clothes before him, but the cost savings are phenomenal.

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Even though as a teenager I swore I would live a more luxurious life someday, I now have a great appreciation for my frugal roots.  When Roscoe grows up a bit and resents the simple life, I’ll remind myself that in the long run, we’re giving him the gift of self-reliance, self-restraint, and an environment that’s just a little bit cleaner.

Roscoe Enjoys Cost-Free Fun on The Playground Slide