Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Being "Green" & Cloth Diapering

"Green" is a term that is used so loosely these days many think they are being "green" by changing one aspect of their lives to a more eco-friendly solution, but I have come to learn it takes many changes before you even have the slightest impact.

We made most of the important switches not long before the birth of our sons. I was thinking about how all these chemicals and substances can't be good for a growing fetus. So we made changes.

Here's a simple sample list of what you can do to help the environment:

1) Switch all of your cleaning products to more safe and eco-friendly alternatives.
  • This one seems like it would cost a fortune, but we actually save money this way. We purchase concentrated versions of cleaning products and laundry detergents, making shopping trips for them much less often. Less packaging, We buy many Method, Seventh Generation, and Biokleen products, which are easily available in most retail stores, for a competitive price. Baking soda has become a staple in this house, for deodorizing the diaper pail and cleaning. At about 50 cents a box, you really can't go wrong. We also no longer use aerosol room freshening sprays. Bad for your lungs (we have allergies and asthma in the house) and bad for the environment. There is a wonderful product called "Breathin' Easy" by BabyGanics that smells amazing and has a non-aerosol pump. Lavender and Vanilla scented, this one's You can find it here: http://www.babyganics.com/Air_Freshener_Lavender_Breathin_Easy
2) Eat less meat, buy organically, and locally whenever possible.
  • Meat production uses valuable resources such as grains and vegetables. Producing meat causes greenhouse gasses simply from the fuel used to kill them, transport them, etc. Buy locally and organically when possible, and try to make a few meatless meals per week. Beans are an excellent source of protein.
3) Recycle, recycle, recycle!
  • Every bit of paper, cardboard, glass, and metal you separate and recycle in a proper facility is one less thing in the landfills. Recycled materials also cut costs on the production of new materials, and trees cut down for the production of paper. Many cities and towns have recycling facilities that have a low yearly cost or even free! You'll be buying less trash bags, putting less trash in the landfills, and possibly save money on garbage pickup!
4) Cloth diapering your children, and cutting down other waste
  • After having issues with a current popular name brand of disposable diapers, and reading about the environmental damage (landfills) disposable diapers cause, the sheer cost- we decided to make the switch to cloth. We've been going "green" for the past year and a half now, which can be an utterly confusing nightmare- but cloth diapers seemed like it would cut down our garbage put in the landfills immensely, especially with twins!
  • Before switching from disposables, I did a lot of research on cloth diapering. When I was pregnant, I thought "Yuck!". I have a very weak stomach and even the smell of poop will send me into an all out vomit fest. But cloth diapering has changed drastically in the past 15-20 years. While some still do, it's no longer necessary to dunk, scrape and spray your poop diapers in the toilet. They make very thin biodegradable (read: flushable) liners you place on top of the diaper that catches most if not all of the poop, so you don't have it on the diaper. The days of pull on jumbo plastic covers and pins are also a thing of the past (unless you choose that method). They make super cute all in one diapers which go on and come off like a disposable, covers that fasten like a disposable, and cloth diapers that don't require pins to be used. There is a device called a Snappi that can fasten prefold diapers, no pins involved! They are also not difficult to wash, as long as you have your own washer and dryer. Disposable diapers can take 200-500 years to break down, in normal conditions. A landfill makes breaking down nearly impossible. With nearly all babies in disposables, that is a lot of diapers not breaking down in our landfills!
  • Breastfeeding. I know it's a heated issue, and not always possible. Even breastfeeding a little while saves money, and cuts down on formula use, which also takes a toll on the environment to produce.
  • If you are formula feeding though, there are several products designed to make it oh-so-convenient and easy. Products like these include disposable nipples, one time ready to feed formula bottles, disposable bibs- all of these are wasteful packaging, and tossing them just adds to the landfills. If you plan ahead, and organize, you can have ready to go reusable bottles, clean bibs, and water with you. It's not always super easy, but it will save you a lot of money, and you'll be doing something positive for the environment.
  • Filter your baby's (and your own) drinking water. Easy to accomplish- a filter that attaches to your faucet or a pitcher with a filter are wonderful. Clean water, with out the waste of packaging.
5) Buy organic- Google the "Clean 15" and the "Dirty Dozen"
  • Besides yucky pesticides, organic produce is shown to have higher nutritional content.
6) Turn off the lights! (Conserve electricity)
  • Conserve electricity whenever possible. Open the blinds, open the curtains. Let natural sunlight brighten your house. Saves you money, and saves energy!
  • Shut off the tv/ computer and go for a walk, or play a board game with family. Multiple benefits!
  • Don't leave lights on in a room you're not in.
7) Take "Navy showers"
  • I remember as a kid growing up with 2 siblings that we had to take "Navy showers". Get a water saving shower head (less flow, with a shut off pin). When you get in the shower, get wet and shut the water off. Shampoo, soap up, and turn the water back on to rinse. You can do this a few times to wash your face, condition your hair, etc. You'll be saving electricity (heating water) and water. You still get just as clean, and it's much better for the earth.
8) Buy recycled furniture. Saves $ and helps the environment (trees, waste, etc)

9) If you are a regular Starbucks drinker like myself, bring in your own reusable mug or
iced coffee tumbler. You save money, and another cup stays out of the landfill- win win!

10) Get all your bills electronically- most utilities provide this service. Cut down on paper waste!

11) Reusable shopping bags. Some retailers offer money off a purchase per bag, some don't.
Either way, you're saving some plastic bags from ending up in the landfill, and reusable bags
are much stronger.

These are just a hand full of ways to be "green" but also save some "green". We have found these to be ways we can live with, and don't feel "cheated". I hope this post in some way helps people be a little more conscious of the environmental impact of their decisions. Knowledge is power!

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