I never used to think of myself as green until a friend shared her appreciation for my “environmentally friendly lifestyle”. I looked behind me and asked, “Who me?” I wasn’t consciously being green that’s for sure. Not that I don’t appreciate all the documentaries about reducing your carbon footprint and the thought of saving the world for our children’s sake blah blah blah. I mean, I always forget to bring in my reusable bags to the grocery store and I hate…i repeat…HATE composting with a passion. So what was she talking about? I started to think about my lifestyle and realized that being practical and thrifty, which I readily admit to, goes hand-in-hand with being green. So I made a list of the things I originally began doing for practicality or to save money that happen to be considered Eco-friendly, and I soon realized how easy it is to do your part to save the environment. In fact, it didn’t take long for me to feel a sense of pride in my green accomplishments and become educated about the current issues at hand. Now I find myself spotting new opportunities to be kind to the earth for that reason alone.
Even though I suck at composting and don’t have enough brain cells to remember the reusable grocery bags, every little bit helps and you do what you can to fit with your lifestyle.
Check out my green-mama list below.
1) Cloth diapering – I know this sounds like a lot of work, and I will admit, it’s not as easy as disposable but it’s a lot less work than I expected it to be. Keep an open mind, cloth diapering is *so* not what it used to be with diapers that go on and come off as easy as a disposable would. No more pins or wet pants required. I love being part of the community of cloth diapering mama’s who provide awesome support. I originally began to save money…we’re talking wads of cash here. The cost to diaper a child from newborn to potty training runs around $3000, not including little swimmers or pull ups which go for just under $1 a piece. An investment in high-end cloth diapers with all the bells in whistles would run you around $500. Also keep in mind, the savings continue if you have a second child and cloth diapers have an excellent re-sale value. After overcoming some initial obstacles and settling into our cloth diapering routine, I shudder at the thought of paper on my baby’s bum. Organic cotton is just so much more comfortable and natural against his skin, not to mention the thought of chemicals in the diapers nowadays required to make color changing strips and gels to hold incredible amounts of liquid. We did use disposable in the first few weeks before he fit into his cloth diapers and I was astonished at the amount of waste that came out of his nursery… and that was for just one bum! There is no question, if you are willing to make the commitment, cloth diapers are an excellent way to save money and save the world.
2) Cloth wipes – Well, if I’m going to be washing cloth diapers, there is no real added work to wash wipes in the same load and I can yet again save money! I stocked up on small terry cloth wash clothes at the dollar store and made a solution that I put in a squirt bottle next to the change table. It is super easy to grab a cloth, squirt the solution on the cloth as needed and wipe away! I actually find the terry cloth squares to be much more efficient at cleaning a dirty bottom compared to disposable wipes and the solution I use has tea tree oil and lavender which provides anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, perfect for keeping the diaper area clean and healthy.
3) Reusable diaper waste bags – Before I planned to do cloth diapers I was looking at diaper trash cans that didn’t require refills or inserts in order to save money. There were a few products that functioned the way a diaper genie would but allowed you to use regular bags versus buying expensive cartridges with extra packaging. After choosing to cloth diaper, I invested in two reusable wet bags. One of which I place in a regular step trashcan, the other to be available when the first one goes in the wash. Used cloth diapers go into the bag and when it’s time to wash them, I empty the diapers into the wash and throw the bag right in with them.
4) Plastic bottles VS liners – Prior to my son being born, I was unsure if I would be successful at breastfeeding so I wanted to have a bottle feeding system available. To save money and eliminate waste, I chose to invest in reusable bottles instead of bottles that required a disposable insert. I used the same idea for storing my pumped breast milk as well.
5) Reusable breast pads – My original plan was to use cotton washable breast pads to save money and waste. After trying the cloth pads I went back to disposable very quickly for many reasons…until I came across a product called, Lily padz. They are silicone cups that actually prevent you from leaking. They are washable, reusable and extremely comfortable. They were a little pricey but work out to about 3 boxes of disposable pads and at the time I had already gone through 2 and a half boxes so I decided they would be worth the investment. Link to Lily Padz website
6) Second hand shopping – Reduce your carbon footprint and support your community by shopping at consignment and second-hand shops. I cannot begin to tell you all the great finds I have made by shopping at Frenchy’s and used baby shops. Cha-ching!
7) Make your own laundry detergent – This is something I did for about 3 years prior to cloth diapering and will probably do again once lo is potty trained. I used to make a 5 gallon batch in the primary fermenter that I used for wine-making. Once set, I would pour it into empty laundry detergent containers. One batch would last about 4-6 months and literally cost pennies to make.
8) Re-gifting – Receive a wall plaque from great-aunt Agnes that doesn’t quite fit in with your decor? Maybe you received two copies of the same book? There is no harm in re-gifting. It saves you money, eliminates unusable clutter and reduces waste. Don’t feel guilty… just do it!
9) Reusable coffee cups and water canteens – My husband especially, has saved money by brewing his java at home and bringing it to work in a ceramic coffee cup. If he needs a refill through the day, he saves waste by bringing his ceramic coffee cup to the drive through. I use a reusable water canteen instead of buying bottled water.
10) Reduce, re-use and recycle – An essential for every “green” list. My husband always looks forward to the mini payday when he brings in our deposit recyclables.4