Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloth diapers: easier than I thought

When I thought of cloth diapers, I envisioned having to fold a cloth into a triangle and use safety pins to secure them, then cover it all with rubber pants.  Not to mention hand washing every last one.  Boy has that changed!

I was lucky enough to see my sister-in-law use hers this past weekend and I was surprised at how easy it really is.  As I said in my previous post, I have only used disposable diapers because honestly, I was intimidated by the process of going the cloth route.  There are so many options these days in cloth diapers alone that it can fit anyone's lifestyle.

She uses Bum Genius cloth diapers, and even uses reusable cloth wipes.  I had a million questions for her, such as, what does she do in public, and how often does she wash them, etc.  She made it seem so simple that I felt ridiculous for not using them before!

Hers are adjustable so I would only have to buy about 15-20 and just change the size according to the baby's size as he grows.  It has a washable cover, with a cloth insert that you slide under the flap inside.  She uses a diaper sprayer (attached to her toilet) to spray off any poop that is in the diaper, and then she just throws it into a zippered lined bag.  She waits until she has 3 full bags and then throws it in the wash. She washes a load of diapers twice a week with a newborn.  Doesn't seem bad at all.

She even makes her own laundry detergent for the whole process, so she's truly an eco-mami in so many ways.  As I mentioned, she uses cloth wipes and just sprays either the wipe or the baby's bottom directly.  When she's out in public she carries a smaller zippered bag and puts the whole diaper in there, sometimes using disposable wipes and a disposable insert in the cloth diaper.  It's all very doable and I'm intrigued to see if I am up for the challenge.

She's used cloth diapers for all 3 of her kids and still leads a very active lifestyle.  Cloth diapers aren't just for hippies or homebound parents.  It's also said that cloth-diapered babies tend to potty train earlier since they feel when they're wet.  An added bonus!!

I say why not try it and see how it goes.  I'd rather not throw yet another diaper in the landfill and worry about it never decomposing.  Yes, cloth diapers require energy and water to wash, but I'd rather have that on my head than more waste.  Plus, the cost is so much cheaper when you think of how many disposable diapers I'd have to buy in the span of 2 or 3 years.

I'll post an update once the baby has come and I've tried out this method, but I'm very excited to get started!  Who knew changing diapers would be something I anticipated!

My sister-in-law is a mom extraordinaire and I'm always in awe seeing her parenting skills.  She's happy, calm, and seems to have it all together, while I'm frazzled, impatient, and hoping to make it through the day most of the time.  (Not really, but some days that's how I feel.)  Check out her blog which has some great tips on parenting, not to mention this post about cloth diapering.  Here's to you, Miche!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Diapers: An environmentalist's dilemma

I'm now 6 months pregnant and still haven't decided which route I'll go with the diapering situation.  I'm ashamed to admit I've only used disposables (and not the environmental kind) with my first two children.  However, I'm willing to try the more eco-friendly option this time around.  But which option to choose?

There are the chlorine-free diapers that are hypo-allergenic and latex-free.  They're made of renewable resources, such as corn, wheat, wood pulp and don't pollute as much as traditional disposable diapers.  The downside to these is that they end up in the landfill.

Another option is G Diapers.  There are two styles to these.  The first is one with the disposable insert that is flushable, and the cover is machine washable.  So far this is the option that is winning for me.  Their other style is the cloth insert that you have to wash.  This doesn't seem too different from a cloth diaper so I'm not sure I would go this route.

The final option I have is to use cloth diapers.  I know a few people who have recently had a baby and LOVE cloth diapers.  I have to see this process in action in order to judge better whether this will work for me.  There is a cloth diapering service around here but not in my town.  I wonder if they'd make a special trip out for me or if I'd have to drive out to them.  Washing them in my own washer seems like the better option but do I want to deal with the hassle?

I have 3 months left to choose which eco-option I will try.  Cost, hassle, and environmental impact will weigh in on my decision.

Maybe I could just start potty training from the beginning.  There is a new movement that gets kids potty trained starting at 4 months.  The thought of no diapers sounds like bliss, but running to the bathroom every time an infant needs to go sounds like anything but heaven to me.

I'll keep you posted on what option I choose.  Decisions, decisions....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Natural food dyes

Each pregnancy is different, and the longer you wait in between pregnancies, the more stuff changes.
The latest trend for expecting parents is to have a Reveal Party.  This is a get-together where the couple either knows the gender or is surprised by the revealing of the gender with cute little things like the color of a cake inside (pink or blue, obviously), or having a sales clerk wrap a onesie and unwrapping it in front of family and friends.  I recently had one of these and had my husband find out during the ultrasound, but kept it a surprise until I cut open the cake in front of my family.

Having read about the effects of food dyes, especially on pregnant women, I thought I would go for a naturally-dyed cake.  Sounds simple enough.  Either use strawberry for pink or blueberry for blue.  Not so simple.  I tried all of the different grocery store bakeries, and none of them made their batter from scratch, nor did they dye their batter at all.  The frostings they used weren't natural dyes, nor could they use them.  I finally found a place nearby which sells organic and natural food, who were willing to use natural food dyes but were going to charge me $5/person.  Are you kidding me?!!! It would've been more than $100---for a simple CAKE!  

So I ended up just buying the cake from the grocery store with the blue icing in the middle and just didn't eat any of it.  

I'm very disappointed that the only organic bakery around here would try to highjack the prices so much that it wasn't even an option.  I find that a lot of eco-friendly products and services are much more expensive than the regular variety that it turns a lot of people off from even considering purchasing them.  It's a shame that this fad has turned into a money-making scheme for some people and companies.  

I understand that some of the artifical and toxically made things are cheaper to mass produce, but shouldn't they be mass producing the good stuff too?

There are ways to offset these costs by using coupons for other things, but for the average Joe this just won't be an option.  Sure, the benefits to the environment and overall health of people and animals should outweigh the costs of the products, but in this economy, with money so tight, people will buy what they can afford.  These companies need to start being a little more cost competitive or the fad will disappear, instead of turning into a legitimate lifestyle.  

Some food for thought.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fresh produce

What's better than buying fresh, local produce that's in season?  It's tastier, cheaper, and better for the environment, especially if it's grown organically.  This is the first year I've tried joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at my local farm.  I split the share with a neighbor friend and get just enough produce to feed my family of 4 for the week.  It's delivered right to our doorstep once a week so it's convenient.

I love to cook, so finding the goodies in my box each week is a fun challenge for me to come up with recipes to make throughout the week.  Some things I've never cooked before, or even eaten before, but so far my kids have been game for what I've made.  Well, except for the asparagus.  There's no disguising it's unique taste, not even covered in cheese & bacon.  Oh well, more for me and my husband.

Last week for my first delivery, I received kale, and a lot of it.  I had no idea what to do with it so I came up with this recipe that my kids devoured.  They even asked for seconds!  I sauteed it with onions, chorizo, and tomatoes and then served it all over rice.  Delicious!

If you've never tried a CSA before then I highly recommend it.  You also have the option of going to pick up the produce directly at the farm, or in some areas you can pick it yourself.  The vegetables/fruit are delivered with dirt on them because they pick it and put it directly in your box.  What a great way to show your kids where your food comes from.  And more incentive to protect our environment.

If you don't have a participating CSA near you or are too late (or too scared) to commit this season, try going to the farmer's market instead.  This way you can pick which vegetables or fruit you will eat and there's no waste, especially if your family members aren't very adventurous in what they eat.

Buon appetit! :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vacation: can it be eco-friendly?

Last week, my husband and I finally went on a vacation without kids after 8 years since our last one.  We went to the Bahamas and had a very relaxing time.  However, being the obsessed, eco-conscious person that I am, I couldn't help but notice a few things that could use some improving.

The Sandals resort we went to was on an island that wasn't very populated (about 3500 people) and tourism is the main economy these people rely on.  So I understand that some things aren't easy to incorporate in the way they conduct business, but there are simple things they could do to make things a little more eco-friendly.

As most hotels do, this resort had a card from housekeeping that said if you want to reuse your towel to just hang it up and it won't be washed.  I hung it up but it was still taken to be washed.  Strike 1.
There was no recycling on the facility, anywhere.  Strike 2.
Fortunately, there was no Strike 3 so I will just kindly suggest that some of these things be changed for our next trip out there.

They used little golf carts to get around everywhere.
They didn't keep their lights on all night in places that weren't in use.
Their water sports weren't gas-powered.  Only kayaks, sailboats, and beach bikes.
The AC wouldn't come on unless the patio door was completely shut, which prevented wasting energy.  I LOVED this.
The seafood was local, fresh, and delicious.

The highlight of my trip, environmentally speaking anyway, was on our flight back home.  The flight attendants were actually collecting the trash and recycling separately.  I thanked them probably too enthusiastically, to my husband's embarrassment, but I was beaming all the way home.  So to American Airlines, I say THANK YOU!!

The Sandals website says that they recycle and have a green initiative, but I didn't see it in practice. I hope to say that on my next vacation there will be some changes made in their recycling and towel reuse program, or maybe I'll just have to get a job there and make the changes myself.  Wouldn't that be nice? :)