I’m going to cut straight to the point; Can we do a repeat of “Golden Twenties” but do it better than last time so we avoid a world war in the thirties? Please?
OK, thank you.
I always blog at the beginning of the year to reflect and set some goals. Last year was good. We added our forth and final family member, Baby Lau. We got to visit Yellowstone and had a few visitors from home. It was a year focused on the newcomer for sure. I am thankful.
I do have a few mini goals set for this year, 2020. (It helps to write them down and share so I am held accountable!)
Spread more kindness. My husband shared a “great things to do” write up with me, and I was doing them all (things like shop local, be eco) except this one. I am happy, I am successful, I am content, so there is no excuse for me to not spread more kindness.
W.A.I.T. I heard this acronym from Tom Hanks, talking about learning from Mr. Rogers. It means to ask yourself “Why Am I Talking?” in order to pinpoint when you are just babbling to hear yourself (a not so rare American phenomenon), vs. when you are sharing to make a conversation (or situation) better. It also teaches you to listen more, since you are not always focused on talking.
Become a household free from baby bottles! Let’s do it!
Exercise more. Since right now it’s at zero, I should be able to take one brisk walk this year to make this happen ;) Maybe even one per month?!! WHAAAT.
Donate and be active in the 2020 election so we can replace Trumpy-dumpy.
As for this decade, I hope, and will do what I can (see this post!) to get the following BANNED from existence (all countries).
For entertainment fireworks
Plastic bags at store check out + produce bags
One time use utensils, cups, plates at eateries
Sale of fossil-fuel driven vehicles
Cancer causing chemicals
Tax loop holes
New pipelines, new gas plants, new drilling
Private jets (unless you are the president or something super important. Not a business man or actor.)
I’m sure there are many more things… What are your top 15?
I guess fireworks may seem like a silly thing, but New Years Eve just reminded me of how stupid, wasteful, harmful and useless they are. UGH. Just go away.
I am heading into this new decade with renewed hope. I think we can do this. Even as fires are raging and nothing is happening to attack the climate crisis globally, hope is what drives good humans. Not despair. And as you can see, I have two beautiful boys (we are raising to become allies, strong, open minded men like their dad) whom I must stay optimistic and focused for.
Much love and cheers to this new start!
PS. Thanks for following, reading and supporting this blog :) I only wrote seven posts in 2019 (compare that to 44 in 2017) and still had almost 20,000 views. That’s cool. Lots of people search and read my post about perioral dermatitis and plant-based nutrition, which is why I shared that personal, ugly picture of me. Doing some good in the world!
Have you, like me, ever bought the most eco-friendly version of an item at the store and been super excited about your good choice, only to come home, try it, and realize that this.did.not.work.at.all.?
Let me give you an example. Soap nuts. These are plastic free, all natural nuts, used for laundry. They work ok, I guess. About as well as me hand-washing something in my sink with some regular soap. However, can they handle a sweaty t-shirt: hell no.*
Maybe I didn’t do my laundry “the right way”. Someone might say “Oh you have to first soak the clothes in baking soda and vinegar and then wash with the nuts”.
That’s all fine, but when I say I want an eco-friendly choice, what I mean is I want to go about my day in exactly the same way I was, adding no extra work in order to make a product work. If I have to, it isn’t working.
Am I crazy?
This goes for lots of cleaning products. We just switched back to big-brand-duo-something pods for our dishwasher after using an eco-friendly pod for years. I just got tired of our glassware never looking 100% clean.
When we were expecting our first kid, I also bought an ethically, locally made stroller that ended up having lots of issues. It drove horribly, was heavy, baby grew out of it super fast. It was expensive so I thought it was super well made. I was excited – only to soon be very not-excited to take baby for walks. Now we have a China-made one that works. AAGH. It’s not fun to admit these things, but they happen.
There are of course lots of items that work just as well as their chemical peers. Like lip balm – who’d ever buy something shady again when there are so many organic ones?
And there are eco-friendly things that work better than the not-so-sustainable option – like electric cars. EV’s are so much better (and not filling gas is essentially streaming vs going to the store to rent).
I would never want to encourage anyone to not go eco, but sometimes I think it leads to more waste. If you buy something that doesn’t work, you end up tossing it, or it sits in your cabinet only to create space-noise, which is not cool.
We make the most impact when we change BIG things; infrastructure, energy, food systems. So vote and get involved… and focus your efforts.
Now, I want to hear the honest truth: which eco-friendly choices have you made that made you miss the easier days of unawareness? You can leave an anonymous comment – just in case you run a green blog too ;)
*Notice how I wrote this review before we had kids (2016) and said it works for “normal loads”. LOL. All normal loads now have clothes with major stains. Thank u, next.
I just finished writing a Climate Action Policy for the company where I work. It came out great, this is my passion after all, and I completely forgot to eat lunch because I was having so much fun. That just made me realize, “slash” remember, that I LOVE WRITING.
Time to pick the blog back up. Despite being more tired than an old-folks-home. Despite being in the middle of sleep training our new 6-month-old. Despite being back at work killing it while pumping as much milk as I can squeeze in. (Ha ha, pun intended.)
Maybe some of you are wondering how this eco-mama (note: self-proclaimed) is doing planet-saving-wise with two kids and a full time job?
Well, not the best I’ve ever done, I’ll say that, but we are eating veggie-based, driving our EV, cloth diapering at home and wiping our constantly runny noses with reusable wipes.
All that probably, most likely, for sure does not, compensate for the carbon and resources used due to me giving birth to a new little human, but hell, I decided siblings are a good thing and I am super into my kids.
Planet-saving is full of hypocrisy anyway.
Doesn’t prevent me from doing my best.
So, let’s kick off fall with this new blog post, with a commitment to blog (write) again because it makes me feel happy and inspired. I did write a dozen drafts this summer, so I’ve got some new posts in the making…
I hope you all will hang around and read along :)
Ending with an info-graphic, for no other reason than I can… I did put this in the introduction to the policy I wrote today as well. It’s pretty relevant in climate-change-denying-Texas.
Sorry for being so gloomy lately. Al though I must say it’s warranted! Lots of things going on in the world that are “not so great”. However, today I have some cool, good news I wanted to share.
You may have read about it already; there is literally a system in the Pacific Ocean – RIGHT NOW – cleaning up some of our plastic waste that is threatening sea life!
The Ocean Cleanup. The name says it all. It’s the largest clean up attempt in history, with its first stop in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“. By using this system, we can collect (and then recycle) about half of the plastic in the area every five years.
However, being somewhat nerdy, I was curious to know more about how the technology actually works, and I found this cool animated video. Have a watch :)
I love that someone is doing something to tackle this huge problem of ours. It’s inspiring and NEEDED.
On a personal level, the most important thing we as consumers can do to not contribute to further pollution in the ocean is, drum whirl please…
To stop eating fish.
Yes, that’s right! Almost 50% of all plastic in the patch is discarded fishing nets, with the majority of the rest being other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets. Plus, if we want to save marine life, why do we eat them?
Of course, don’t be a jerk and use disposable plastic unless you absolutely have to … but you know, think about what’s on your plate. The solution to our problem isn’t always the most obvious.
In case you didn’t catch it on Instagram yet: National Geographic just rolled-out an impressive campaign called “Planet or Plastic?”. Like the name indicates, this is Nat Geo’s multiyear effort to raise awareness about our global plastic trash crisis.
Not only are they featuring enlightening articles (with amazing photos) examining all aspects of this problem that we are knee-deep in, they are also encouraging people to take a pledge to reduce personal plastic waste. Considering the fact that all of us have been an active part in causing this crisis, of course we need to be part in solving it.
I am in a situation where I do consume and buy plastic. I love chips. Our kid just got a new ball and a few sets of Duplo Legos. I don’t make my own Cheerios or soy milk (surprised?!).
Because of circumstance, plastic comes in to my life. I am actually pretty ok with that. Living responsibly is about me reducing where I can. Maybe you are in a similar situation? Here are three simple things you can do to reduce your plastic consumption! I can handle all these without stress, being a full time worker bee/blogger/toddler-mom in suburbia. PS. No guilt though y’all. Just inspiration.
Americans toss 500 million
plastic straws every day.
Focus on the big four
Zero waste blogger Kathryn of Going Zero Waste often talks about the “big four” – four items that are key to effectively reducing personal waste. They are:
1) disposable plastic bags
2) disposable plastic water (and soda) bottles
3) disposable to-go mugs
4) one-time-use straws
Start your journey towards less plastic by cutting these four, and you’ll soon discover that there’s very little cost associated with doing so. Refusing straws is as simple as saying “no straw please” and you probably have a water bottle, grocery bag and travel mug at home already, so it’s only a matter of bringing them with you (more often, if not always!)
A trillion plastic bags are used
worldwide every year.
Swap shower gel for bar soap
I love this tip because bar soap is available here, there and everywhere, so you don’t’ need to buy this “eco-friendly thing” online. (Online purchases, even if plastic-free, do come with lots of packaging and miles). Whole Foods has a selection of bulk soap even. Switching to bar soap is easy and family members won’t mind the switch. If someone is worried about “germs” (which is a myth) getting one unique bar for each person works.
Nearly a million plastic beverage
bottles are sold every minute.
Be mindful at the grocery store (and in life)
Buy nut butters, jam and pasta sauce in glass jars – recycle or reuse. Pick pasta, eggs and rice in cardboard boxes – recycle or compost (after removing the tiny plastic film). Skip the produce bags or bring your own. Go for fruits without plastic wrappers. You know, the easy swaps that don’t cost you anything. Also, use trash cans. Don’t dump things randomly outside. EASY.
9 million tons of plastic waste
end up in the ocean every year.
Now that we’re talking about plastic AGAIN (sorry not sorry!), it may be a good thing to actually share some information of what plastic is and how it’s made! Nat Geo is taking care of that with this informative video, a part of the Planet or Plastic campaign.
It is that time of year again when nature bursts out blooms, bikes start rolling, we shut off our lights for Earth Hour and gear up to celebrate Earth Day April 22nd. Let’s just say, spring is in the air and with that, it’s time to talk environmental issues.
On the agenda? Recycling plastic.
Oh no! Not again!? Yes, again.
Here’s why; as per January 1, 2018, China stopped importing recyclable plastic from the USA.
Maybe you missed the news, and maybe you are wondering why that is worth blogging about. Well, before this year, China took the majority of our plastic waste (16 million tons in 2016), recycled it, and turned it into plastic goods made in China. Even though most of those plastic items I am sure were unnecessary, this procedure meant that at least some our discarded plastic jugs, lids, boxes and wrappers got used for something.
When you add the fact that so many container ships sail half-empty back to Asia because of the huge trade deficit, filling containers with plastic scrap made even more sense from an environmental standpoint.
So, why did China decide to stop accepting “free” raw material? You probably think that sounds like a bad idea, especially since they already have the facilities and manufacturing equipment to recycle huge amounts of plastic.
The reason why China is saying “no more” is they are cleaning up their act and marketing themselves that way. That term includes more than implementing carbon taxes and reducing air pollution by shutting down coal plants; it includes looking good and clean. They are tired of drowning in plastic and having messy factories full of bins of materials; sometimes contaminated and always needing sorting. They want to buy newly made raw materials; neat, streamlined, no need for warehouses full of “stuff”.
I’d like to argue that the clean “green” thing to do would be to keep accepting discarded plastic for recycling and to use less virgin plastic materials in their manufacturing of goods. They’re helping us ALL recycle! (That’s good marketing too.) The decision to stop imports is upsetting the market and undoing decades of progress in handling scraps. That said, it’s not exactly fair to put the recycling responsibility on one country alone either.
The west coast is now drowning in the plastic that China used to pick up. We don’t have the facilities to deal with it and let’s not forget, the biggest pushers for consuming virgin plastic are American chemical companies working against local recycling infrastructure (laughing all the way to the bank when they heard China’s big news).
It should also be noted that China is one of the top polluters when it comes to plastic in our oceans. Turns out, they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with plastic either. So what’s worse? Our “recycled yoghurt cup” being shipped to China, maybe falling into the river and flowing into the ocean or it being buried alive in an American landfill, spewing methane?
Can we all just agree as a society in whole we SUCK at taking responsibility for used plastic? (Yes.)
Now we are at the “So what can we do?” part of this blog post!
Whooop! My favorite part.
1. We must STOP thinking that throwing plastic in the recycling bin is an eco-friendly thing to do. Our goal should always be to look down our recycling bin and see mostly carton, metal and glass (if accepted in your area or you might have to drive to a station to recycle) in a half-empty bin. We should leave as much packaging in the store as possible. Now, I love chips just as much as the next person, but I am not pretending that the bag will end up anywhere but landfill. I know that is where it’s going and I have to decide how much I want quinoa puffs today based on that fact. Let’s no longer pretend that an item that doesn’t get recycled, magically does (“wishcycling”). Knowing what really happens, helps us make better choices. Studies have shown that people who believe items are recycled, consume MORE. Read about plastic and its recyclability here.
2. We must purchase and support local makers who use recycled material. You can read more about recycling and get ideas for brands in this post. If you are buying Chinese, or other imported goods, look for recycled content! Our goal is to let the market know that we care about where the raw materials used in a product comes from.
3. Even though we live in a plastic polluted world, companies who use recycled plastic still have an issue getting enough of it for their production lines. Like I said, we don’t have the infrastructure in place. We can help by asking specific companies what they need and provide it directly to them. For example US based, eco-company Preserve accepts number 5 plastics (yogurt cups, hummus jars) back via their Gimme 5 program (bins available at certain Whole Foods). American Oka-B and Canadian Kamik footwear companies accept and recycle worn-out styles as well.
4. Write to your favorite politicians and informactive members in your community about this issue. Volunteer in a recycling and waste handling committee where you live if you have time :)
Those are my ideas for doing something about this issue! What are some of yours?
I am definitely not the “perfect plastic free citizen” but every action to reduce matters. Do you think about plastic when you go about your day? Have you made progress in reducing your plastic consumption this year so far? Let me know :)
I was brought up eating meat like most children are.
The first time I went fishing with my dad, a friend of his and my sister, I started crying when we caught the first fish. I couldn’t believe we were going to kill it and that I had contributed to its death. It broke my heart. The little mermaid was my favorite movie after all. I was told I was a party-pooper.
The first time I fried bacon at my mom’s house I almost fainted. The memory is so vivid. What was puttering in the pan looked incredibly gross to me. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t and that no one else faints when frying bacon! I did eat bacon when someone else cooked it. I got through it, resting on a chair during the frying and of course was later told I was being ridiculous. “It’s bacon.”
So I toughened up.
10 years later I had learned to distance myself from what I was cooking and dealing with enough to even roll meatballs. I became a pretty good cook.
Most people eat meat because most people eat meat. I don’t judge my parents (or any other parents) for raising omnivore kids; society shapes us and our actions. Nevertheless, now a mom myself I’ve given this a lot of thought and come to the conclusion that I’m not really okey with us serving flesh to children.
A child’s natural instinct is to love animals. To play with them and cuddle them. Young children, who hasn’t been taught differently yet, don’t differentiate between a dog and a pig – who’s the friend and who’s dinner – they’re both worthy of the same love. Who wants Babe to be eaten anyway? Raise you hand!
I never thought I’d “go vegan”. I quit (most) meat due to environmental reasons but had never before “Cowspiracy”, seen any reason to do that or to be vegetarian either; the vegetarians I knew did not appear healthy with diets based on sugar, carbs, dairy and popcorn. I finally went 100% plant based due to health reasons and now as an adult knowing it was the right thing to do with the information I had at hand. Honestly though, I still struggle with truly finding empathy for the billions of animals that are being killed every year and understanding the actual horror of slaughter. Society has shaped me to be a hypocrite, no doubt. Maybe you feel the same way.
However, when I ask myself the hard questions and really take the time to consider them, the only answer I can come up with is the ethical one. Would I be okey with killing a pig myself to eat it? No. Is it fair to take baby cows away from their mothers at birth so I can consume dairy? No. Should beings of earth be tortured for profit? No. Do I support an ocean depleted of sea creatures? No. Yet, there is a brain-heart-disconnect. I wish to not give my child the same.
When he is old enough to understand that chicken nuggets are fluffy 7 week old chicks with breading, he can make the decision if he want to eat them. Babies don’t understand what meat is and if they did they’d say “What the fuck mom!? Are we eating Nemo/Babe/Sebastian/Donald!? Why??” Parents don’t have an answer. Anyone looking forward to explaining where sausage comes from?
Because most people eat meat and society has taught us that protein, calcium and iron must come from animals, some publications and folks believe that a plant based kid is malnourished. I don’t believe that at all; in fact it I know it is not true.
I am not an expert or a nutritionist (though in this day and age that doesn’t guarantee anything either!) but I’ve read a good book on optimizing baby’s nutrition and I follow several blogs on plant based family living. Common sense tells me that the “regular” American kid who is brought up on Mac and cheese, nuggets, pb&j, hot dogs and the occasional fruit and carrot is not a well-nourished kid. Yet, society appears to be fine with that diet!?! Ever read the kids menu at a restaurant? Nothing but fat, animal protein and white bread.
B12 is the only vitamin a vegan truly must add to their diet. Animals get it added to their food or they absorb it while consuming bacteria (dirt) if they roam free. So we basically need to do the same: supplement in food or eat dirt! (That’s a joke, we supplement.) Baby will take vitamin D and B12 (after he quits formula all together, which has it) and he just started loving our unsweetened, organic, fortified soy milk with calcium and B12.
As with all Utopian scenarios or ideals, our kid’s diet won’t be perfect. I won’t be that parent who denies my child birthday cake or pizza at a party because it has milk in/on it. He will eat the occasional pancake made with eggs and ice cream I’m sure. (Meat might happen on some occasion as well. I don’t know.) I do think that animal products like dairy and eggs are easier to explain to a child. I know there is A LOT of killing and suffering in these industries as well (maybe more) and it’s not healthy foods, but if people ate cheese only a few times a year we wouldn’t have the money to fund an industry of abuse and exploitation. We’d get the cheese from a local farmer who had a few grazing cows to maintain open landscape. (That’s land meant to be open not former rain forest mind you.) Idealistic and Utopian – I know – but explainable to my kid and makes life SO MUCH EASIER.
Daycare has worked with us and knows “He doesn’t get the meat”. In fact it was recently reveled that some of the teachers had had a taste of baby’s lunch box because it looks so delicious every day! They told my husband “he eats such good food!”
I don’t judge anyone’s eating habits (except the constant use of straws in people’s drinks, but that’s another subject) and I don’t blame myself or my parents for eating the way I did for 34 years.
Read this post with an open mind and remember:
Most people eat meat because most people eat meat.
Aside from culture and society’s dietary norms: Did Anna just drink the vegan kool-aid or what do you really think about it?
A final note. I am aware of rural communities and tribes who raise and consume animals for survival, who teach children respect and the circle of life. I love the Alaska homestead shows and “Naked and Afraid” where hunting equals survival; an only source for protein and fat. Just like I know there are Americans living in “food deserts” with only McDonald’s and gas station food available; they can’t go get the lentils and the multivitamins. I’m writing about me and the BILLIONS of other people who shop at the grocery store every week. What do we really think?
[Picture from Veganstreet.com – go support them in their efforts to educate!]
Super storms Harvey and Irma have shook the nation. And with that, no one active on social media has been able to avoid articles about how climate change (in other words we) may have caused these storms.
Though we haven’t exactly caused them, the warmer water in the ocean – a result of man-made climate change – has made these storms stronger and bigger.
Some people pretend money is what is holding them back from living a greener life, however eco-bloggers have again and again proven that that is not a valid excuse. Others claim they “don’t have the time to make an effort”. (I think what is really holding people back is they don’t want to make an effort, also known as laziness.)
A wise man once said it’s not about having time, it’s about taking time. And these resent storms may have changed people’s attitude a little, making this the time to start thinking about taking the time to kick start some new habits which prevent further climate change. We can’t take back the warming that’s already been done, but we can slow down. Hopefully setting our children up for a better starting point when they are ready to come up with awesome ways to carbon capture and make salt water into fresh water without using too much energy.
Now, without further ado,
Here are my 30 SUPER SIMPLE budget-friendly and time-friendly green habits!
1. Buy organic food when it’s sitting right in front of you at the grocery store.
30. Switch your make-up remover and body lotion (plastic bottles) to coconut oil (glass).
There are more things you can do, like go vegan, go zero waste, buy an electric car, stop travelling, bike more, get solar panels, yada, yada, yada. But today I am not asking you to change anything major in your life for the eco-cause. My goal is not to scare you off. That’s why I love that this list is about simplicity.
Doing (some of) these super simple, minimal effort things, actually mean you care about plastic free oceans, clean air, climate change and preventing future EVEN BIGGER storms.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or hard! And you’ll feel great getting started :)
If you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.
I read this statement the other day, and it stuck with me because it’s so true (and people forget).
Recycling is an energy consuming process. It is not the solution to our waste issues, our plastic oceans and high consumption of resources, but a last resort that can minimize the carbon footprint of our modern, on-the-go, lives. IF we use the materials that come out of recycling, that is.
Here’s the twist; most of USA’s plastic “recyclables” are exported to China. There, they are used to make everything from fleece jackets to stadium seats. China imports around 40% of the world’s plastic scrap, so if you buy “recycled plastic products” from China, chances are the material came from your curb. It’s a crazy world (and sadly, China is drowning in western trash).
Another twist to the plastic recycling business is that many processing centers actually don’t have the funds to recycle low grade plastics anymore, like plastic bags and produce containers (think cherry tomatoes and strawberries) so they end up in landfill or being incinerated (dioxin pollution!) anyway.
Why? Because there is NO DEMAND for the products that can be made from low grade plastic.
So yes, we must stop consuming plastic like it is “recyclable”. We need to avoid it like the plague! Plus, whenever possible, we must choose recycled products.
In a perfect world we should not be shipping off our “trash” to other countries but recycle it locally, so in an effort to get there, we should buy locally manufactured products made from recycled materials.
Of course not just plastic, the other recyclables too; paper, glass, metals, clothes.
Need ideas? Ok!
Reusable water bottles
Liberty BottleWorks make lightweight and durable bottles from recycled aluminum in Washington State. In fact, it’s the only US-made 100% recycled metal bottle in the market.
Liberty BottleWorks take pride in having a zero waste factory and allocating a portion of their sales to environmental organizations and community services.
Did you know that recycling aluminum saves a lot of waste? While 2.2 lbs of aluminum extracted from the earth creates almost 200 lbs of waste in the process, 2.2 lbs of recycled aluminum creates only 7.5.
Can an environmentalist live without using “disposable batteries”? Almost. Smoke detectors, wireless keyboards and baby gear use them though.
Energizer now has batteries made from 4% recycled batteries. I know that sounds low, but it’s a start! By voting with our dollars and buying these instead of regular batteries, hopefully that percentage will go up, up, up. (Always check where batteries are made. There is absolutely no reason to buy made in Asia, when made in USA costs the same.)
Toilet paper, kitchen towels, trash bags
We actually really like Seventh Generation’s paper products and I encourage everyone to make the switch to 100% recycled paper. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use less paper, by opting for cloth napkins and cotton towels 99% of the time. We keep paper kitchen towels around for picking up the occasional dead cockroach or wiping greasy pans (then compost).
Did you know that if every household in the USA switched just one packet of eight kitchen towels to recycled paper we’d collectively save 3,400,000 trees in a year?
Seventh Generation’s large trash bags is a better choice as well, as they are made from 65% post-consumer recycled plastic. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use fewer bags by creating less trash. Avoid one-time-use items and start a compost for food scraps.
Did you know that if every household in the USA replaced just one package of 14 count trash bags made from virgin plastic with 65% recycled ones, we could save 221,000 barrels of oil?
Plastic bottles (when/if we must)
If you’re buying shampoo or drinks in plastic bottles, look for the symbol that tells you part of the bottle was made from recycled plastic. Every bit of fossil fuel saving helps.
For the kids
Green Toys Inc. have a bunch of different products likes buckets, water toys, kitchen play sets, cars, airplanes and an awesome green recycling truck. All their toys are non-toxic, safe, BPA- and phalate-free, and made in USA from curbside collected recyclables.
Re-Play make their products using only recycled milk jugs. While Green Toys focus on play, Re-Play has all the essentials for baby dinner time. Eco-friendly and made in USA.
Did you know that for every pound of recycled milk jugs used to make products, enough energy is saved to power a TV for three weeks straight?
SCANPAN utilizes 100% recycled aluminum – aluminum that might previously have served as beer cans, bicycle frames or something else. These pans are made in Denmark though (from aluminum consumed over there naturally!).
Did you know that 75% of the world’s produced aluminum is still being used, over and over, thanks to recycling efforts?
There are countless products using recycled materials! We just need to make it a habit to read labels so we can pick them out from the rest. Remember, if you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.
Got a favorite “recycling” brand? Please share it in the comments! :)
For all the moms and dads who successfully cloth diapered, the ones that might with future kiddos and all the others who decided not to, I hope this will be an interesting post!
When you decide to use cloth or reusable diapers for your baby, the first thing people will say to you is how hard it is going to be. How much work you’ll have washing them. How they’d never do it. How brave you are. Most of the folks telling you this have either never attempted to cloth diaper their kids OR are the kind of people that think bringing bags to the grocery store is lots of work. I took it with a grain of salt.
The eco-community, on the other hand, sang a different tune and was a great inspiration to me before I even had my cloth diaper baby. Blogger Meredith simply said “You need to find a way to use them, wash them and dry them”. Great advice as it turned out. (Read her take on diapering here.)
There are many reasons to go with reusable diapers such as saving money, that they’re so darn cute and the fact that they’re easier on the environment than disposables are. As an environmentalist you may think the third reason was my biggest motivator to do this (and more on why it is eco-better later in the post!), but the truth is, it was “all of the above” as well as the “do to others what you’d want done to yourself” thing. I cannot, I swear to god, think of anything worse than for two (or more) years straight wear petroluem-based, toxic, sweaty, itchy, disposable undergarments.
Now, we went with all made in USA diapers and wipes for eco-baby (more brands here) because made right here is my thing!
We’ve been using Thirstes’ all-in-one natural diapers (easy, organic and stylish) and Blueberry Simplex (super absorbent) all-in-one. I’ve gotten pretty much everything I needed at Nicki’s Diapers, but there are plenty of websites.
PRO TIP: Buy a few diapers you believe in, in advance, try them on baby when she gets here and then order more of the brand/style that works for you. (We needed the newborn sizing for our baby, because he was small, not all babies do.)
I knew I wasn’t comfortable buying diapers second hand for my son, but I did feel comfortable accepting hand-me-dows from a friend who’s daughter had used cloth for about a year. It might be silly, but it felt different when I knew who’d been washing and using the diapers. So, I have a stash of BumGenius pocket diapers (made in USA of imported parts) in a larger size for later.
You’ll need about 22-25 diapers to comfortably maintain a routine of washing every other day. An organic, made in USA diaper costs about $20, though there are sales, bundles and tons of other, imported, cheaper options out there.
PRO TIP: If your budget requires you to later sell your diapers, to get some of that cash back, know that baby poo can stain natural materials like cotton and hemp (even though diaper is clean!) whereas synthetics wash completely clean and white again (without bleach).
How to use diapers might seem self-explanatory to some, but it’s not for a new parent looking into cloth. Here’s the deal; there are lots of options for diaper styles. All-in-one, pocket diapers, wraps. I read this blog post from Homegrown Heaven and found it helpful.
You’ll need wipes and inserts too. Inserts, or boosters, help with absorbency and you’ll need them for night time. Again, organic cotton works great.
PRO TIP: For a simple wipes-solution, use 1.5 cups filtered water, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (liquid) and a splash of organic baby soap for scent. Moisten wipes and keep in an airtight container. Keep coconut oil around for dry skin and rashes too.
You’ll also need a wet bag or some sort of container for keeping wet diapers until your next laundry day. For us, two large wet bags from Planet Wise work great. We fill one, empty it into the washer (no touch!) and fill the other while the first one is drying.
PRO TIP: Cloth diapers add inches to the length of your baby’s torso (fluffy butt!) meaning she’ll grow out of those onesies faster than her buddies in disposables will. Look for long and lean instead of short and wide clothes.
Before I started doing this, I read a lot online about washing diapers. Everyone seemed to make it a big deal; you need to “strip them”, have them out in the sun to dry, yada yada yada. No, it’s simple. First, cold rinse cycle to get all the junk out. Second, hot wash with detergent and an extra rinse (to make sure all suds from detergent is gone!). Third, throw them in the dryer on low heat or hang try. DONE!
You do need a detergent without any type of softener in it. Softeners will make the diapers less absorbent, which we don’t want. I have been using Allen’s Naturally in my Samsung, front loaded, HE washer, and occasionally I add their special “Stink Out” liquid to make sure the diapers don’t smell. Apparently, regular, powder Tide works great for diapers too (a good choice if you don’t obsess about biodegradable detergents). Don’t go cheap on the amount of detergent, use plenty, get them clean, extra rinse.
PRO TIP: Don’t wait to start cloth diapering. The washing routine will NEVER be simpler than when baby only eats milk and poo is water-soluble and doesn’t need flushing in the toilet.
All-in-one diapers have lots of layers and fabric, so they do need an hour at least in my dryer. We have a few (less eco-friendly) synthetic ones that dry super fast.
Diapers and the environment
Some parents may feel judged because they didn’t do the eco-thing and use reusables but they shouldn’t. Our society promotes a use and toss lifestyle so don’t feel bad about using disposables if your kids are done with diapers already. Some other parents may feel defensive and tell you that the water used in the wash is WORSE for Mother Earth than filling landfill with their kids’ poopy diapers. This is simply not true.
When it comes to water, my HE (High Efficiency) front loaded washer from Samsung uses 13 gallons of water for a FULL load (two days worth of diapers are not exactly that but I do add a rinse cycle). If you wash diapers every other day for a year, that adds up to about 2,400 gallons of water. Basically the same amount of water is takes to produce cotton for one pair of jeans or produce one pound of steak. The water use with today’s washers is negligible in our water intensive society. A baby will go thru about 6000-8000 disposable diapers before he is potty trained, while 30-50 reusables will do the same job. How much water is used to produce 8000 disposable diapers? I have no idea, but I know the amount is nowhere near zero.
Some might argue that there are eco-friendly disposables (oxymoron!) now like Honest, Babyganics and Seventh Generation on the market and I agree they are a better choice than the leading big-box brands. However, even if these “eco-friendly diapers” use FSC stamped cellulose as the base material, they still contain oil basedpolypropylene, glues, polyester, polyurethane, ink and are packed in plastic wrap. Diapers are not recyclable because of their mix of materials and will always be landfilled.
Landfills are already full of diapers that won’t biodegrade (500+ years) and their contents (poo!) contaminates our lands and rivers. (Landfills are responsible for about 20% of our country’s methane emissions.)
When our baby starts childcare at six months, we will have to provide disposables for him to wear, simply because care centers in Texas won’t accept reusables. I will go with something plant-based, and I’m sure it will be just fine.
At that time, baby will also start eating solid foods, meaning poop will change (ugh!) and I’ll have to figure that situation out and write an update to this post! We do already have a (second hand) sprayer for getting contents into the toilet (oh my, this is getting serious!) we just haven’t used it yet.
Finally, let me say that any routine that involves reusables is a good routine. No time to wash that one day that got crazy? Use a disposable. Traveling and no washers at the hotel? Use a disposable. (This happened to us!) The world will not end, and we are not failures just because we can’t be 100% cloth. Every saved diaper counts!
Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention and helpful hands during these strange times (leaving the Paris Climate Agreement? Come on! Is he for real?) – what better day to provide just that than Earth Day?
And, yes, this is a repost from last year’s Earth Day post; I have a newborn in the house and reusing is a good thing ;)
Now, here are five earth-friendly ideas for Earth Day, that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits!
1. Do a “Zero Waste” day
Create awareness about our dependency on single-use-plastic and packaging by attempting to do a “zero waste” day! (That means you shouldn’t create any trash all day.)
Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, a fabric towel and a set of utensils everywhere you go. Say no to the receipt, buy in bulk and bring your own shopping bags, produce bags and containers to the store if you need to go grocery shopping. No need for anything fancy, as long as it’s all reusable!
(If you must buy something packaged, pick metal or cardboard containers which you, of course, must recycle. Plastic is strictly forbidden. More tips here)
2. Go Vegan
That’s no dairy, no eggs and no meat for the day. Discover how nutritious and great plant-based foods taste and make you feel!
Keep in mind that butter and milk are in a lot of processed or cooked foods so read all the tags, ask questions at restaurants and dare to be “difficult” if you need to be. Indian, Thai and Mediterranean restaurants often offer good vegan choices.
(Yes, thank goodness wine is vegan, so go ahead and have that glass!)
3. Share transport, bike or walk
Leave your car at home and take a ride with a colleague, friend or the local bus. Or better yet; walk or bike if distance and bike lanes allow.
4. Skip the shower
Save some water and lots of chemicals from going down the drain by skipping the shower. I’m sure you can “make it” another day without… You might end up getting a new creative hairdo out of it! ;)
5. Plant a Tree
If you’re feeling lazy and the four above are daunting – start with something simple like supporting a non-profit that benefits the planet! My favorite is Stand for Trees. For every 10 dollars you spend, you compensate 1 tonne of CO2, support a forest community and they won’t offer a tacky gift or ask for your home address – no risk for spammy snail mail. (The average American emits 20 tonnes of CO2 per year.)
If we all did these thing everyday, imagine the cooling effect it would have on our climate! But for now, I am just challenging you to attempt them all, as well as you can, on Saturday – I know y’all like small steps.
Ever found yourself at the grocery store or market completely unprepared?
“It’s just so hard to remember the reusable bags when I go to the store! And sometimes I have them in my car but leave them out there and don’t remember until I’m almost done!”
I’ve heard this statement a few times. I am not really sure why it’s a big deal to go get the bags in the car, but apparently it is. Probably because the kids are DONE with shopping at that point, and the freezer section items are already in cart (do enlighten me, lazy bunch!)
Let’s leave the car-bags scenario off the table for now and consider if you’ve come to the grocery store completely unprepared: no reusable (shopping and produce) bags to be seen. Maybe you just stopped on your way home from work or an outing. How annoying!
But, are there ways you can reduce your waste output anyway?
Here’s my quick guide to bringing home less packaging, waste and fewer plastic bags, even when you are completely unprepared.
1. Most produce don’t need a bag!
Pineapple, melon, kiwi, carrots, potatoes, oranges, onions, avocados, eggplant; anything protected by a peel does not need a bag, so skip the produce bag altogether. Tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers (most veggies) actually have a protective layer and the dirt you bring upon them from riding the cart is minimal compared to what they’ve already been through before you picked them up. However, I get that it can seem strange to let them go bare. Start with produce with peels and work up the courage to never bag anything – except tiny things like mushrooms and berries that could literally fall through the bottom of the cart if you don’t. (Reuse any bags you do take!)
While you are in the produce department, ask if you can have the lid of a banana box – you’ll use this to pack in later.
2. Go for paper cartons, glass containers or metal cans
Rice, beans, eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda and other items will provide you with the choice between paper cartons and plastic packaging like bags or styrofoam (yuck!). Always go for carton, it’s recyclable (and/or compostable).
So is glass and metal, which makes these two materials good choices as well when selecting items like sauces, oils, PB and jams. Of course, you have to remember to recycle them!
3. Place the things you don’t absolutely need on hold
I’m sure you’ve got a few items on your list (or on your mind) that you planned on buying this time, which you could actually do without another couple of days. Leave them at the store until your next shopping trip, one when you hopefully remember your reusable produce, bread, bulkbin and check out bags.
4. If all else fails – Skip the dairy
If your cart is filling up with plastic anyway, maybe you need some pre-made foods to get you through the week ( NO judging here!) you might feel bad about all the waste you’re creating. Lessen the blow by skipping the dairy aisle! Yes, dairy is a waste nightmare: a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. There are many good alternatives to diary, just a browse away (in the dairy section).
5. Be alert at check out
No time to snooze! Tell the crew to not use any plastic bags, you have a banana box in your cart! Big, bulky items like juice jugs, six packs of beer, paper towels and such, can go straight in the cart since you’ll be driving the cart to your car.
In order to encourage stores to stop printing receipts remember to say “no thank you” to receipts and printed coupons too.Did you know that the material that makes receipts “shiny” to the touch is actually BPA – a dangerous plastic coating PROVEN to be hormone disrupting? Knowing that, you don’t want to touch that receipt anyway, on a waste saving mission or not.
(If your favorite foods in the whole world come in plastic or simply has too much packing, email the maker. Tell them to rethink their packaging: reduce or switch. If we all reach out when we see bad eco-habits, we can make a change!)
Do you have any other tips and tricks for the unprepared when it comes to avoiding waste at the grocery store? Let me know!
A couple of weeks ago in reference to our compost bin, I told you that 20% of human methane emissions come from waste decomposition. I know, I know, you have probably been thinking a lot about that, maybe even stayed awake at night, and wondered, what about the other 80%?
Wonder no more. Here’s the breakdown.
Why is methane an important greenhouse gas?
Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted from human activities. In 2014, it accounted for about 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but it is much more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2 is. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.
The government has an important role to play in reducing our methane emissions, especially when it comes to the fossil fuel piece of the pie (42%). The majority of these emissions are leakages from fracking and processing of oil and natural gas. Fracking is a nasty technology, and no one has exact numbers on how much methane is released every year, as the fossil fuel companies conveniently hide that information from the authorities. Remember the Aliso Canyon leak in California last year? It spewed enough methane into the atmosphere to equal the greenhouse gases emitted by more than 440,000 cars in a year. Scary stuff.
Driving an electrical vehicle, reducing plastic consumption and installing solar panels are actions consumers can take to help reduce emissions from fossil fuel.
Speaking of consumers, I don’t think I need to tell you how to reduce the methane emissions (30%) from ruminants, do I?
Ruminants are the farm animals who eat and digest grass (called enteric fermentation), mainly cows raised for beef or dairy, but also buffalo, sheep and goats. So hey, just to be clear; CUT BACK your consumption. Choose chicken over beef if you insist on meat and replace dairy with plant-based options. (Cattle also contributes large amounts of CO2, through transports, processing and the clearing of forests to make room for more livestock.)
The easiest way to reduce methane emissions from landfill (20%), is to lower your total trash production! Yes, we humans produce trash like never before. Start a compost and stop using one time use items. Like what? Like plastic bags, straws, cutlery, paper plates, napkins, disposable diapers, Starbucks cups, wrapping paper. You know, all the things you only use ONCE but last in landfills forever.
In the “other” piece of the pie we find all the natural sources of methane (6%). Wetlands are the biggest emitter, but also volcanoes, wildfires and sediment play a part. Our wonderful planet is designed for handling the gases from these sources, and we don’t have to do anything about them. Phew!
I read somewhere that a reduction of global emissions by just 22 Million tons per year would result in stabilization of methane concentrations in the atmosphere. I don’t know if that’s still true (the article was several years old), however, such a reduction represents just about 5% of total methane emissions; a small reduction which should be more than doable. The problem is, with the world’s hunger for beef, corrupt governments who favor fossil fuel, and cheap coal becoming available to burn in areas of the developing world (hoping they won’t use it!), we could easily be moving the trend in the opposite (wrong) direction.
Finally, we should all be aware that this beef-loving, fracking-addicted nation, plays a HUGE part in the world’s total methane emissions. There are no exact numbers but it’s estimated that up to 60% of all methane emissions are because of the USA’s activities alone.
It’s HERE that change must take place.
At least we, you and I, can do our part. If we all take small measures to reduce our impact, a significant reduction will be in the bag.
It’s the season for giving to non-profit organizations. To trustworthy human rights advocates and local community initiatives, but more importantly to the groups and organizations fighting for our planet.
This year, maybe more so than ever, we have to step up and vote with our dollars. With the political climate and the uncertainties 2017 brings, this is the time to look at how and where you can find a few dollars per month to give to non-government organizations fighting for YOUR cause. Be creative; skipping just two take-out lattes per month equals 10 dollars for donations.
Now, how can one incorporate a charity gift into an actual Christmas present?
Below are just a few ideas I have on how to do it. All ways are grand when it comes to supporting a greener planet (or other cause) and giving meaningful gifts.
1. Make an agreement with your family
Instead of purchasing physical gifts to each other, make a pledge that all adults donate for example 100 dollars to an environmental organization of their choice. Don’t know any? Here are some I like.
Stand for Trees
This organization’s focus is to plant, restore and protect forests and forest communities in areas subject to deforestation and big money interests. The cool thing about their site is that you know the amount of carbon you prevent per donation, and you don’t have to give them personal details, like your address. I donate to them every year to offset my carbon footprint. (Link)
Rainforest Action Network
They fight for all types of environmental justice, such as saving rain forests, campaigning against fracking, standing up to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They recently took part in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Before The Flood (which I recommend you see if you haven’t). They run a lot of petitions too, where all you donate is your name. Yes, free impact! I suggest you follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss any. (Link)
National Park Foundation
Is there anything more amazing about America than her National Parks? I think not. America without them would be a disaster. Speaking of which, make a plan to go visit some next year, and while there, support the park by shopping for merchandise at the park shops. We like to bring home a refrigerator magnet from each park; made in USA and package free. (Link)
If anyone can fight Trump it’s them. These guys stand up to corruption, take on big oil, and produce some kick-butt informative videos. They’re the most influential environmental organization we have. (Recently they actually sued the EPA for having too lax regulations in the Ohio valley, causing air pollution in Washington State.) Sierra Club is the organization that all environmental thugs hate (and fear) the most. That’s why we love them. (Link)
2. Make a personal gift card
Did out that paper, that glue stick and those old stickers you never used. Make a little card of your own and inform the recipient that you’ve donated X amount of dollars to an organization in their name (include the emailed tax receipt of the donation if you feel the need). Pick an organization you feel strongly about and encourage the recipient to make monthly donations to the same. (Monthly, steady donations make the most impact even if low.)
3. Pick something from a gift shop
Now this is my least favorite since it’s bordering on “unnecessary consumption”, but I realize some people prefer to give an actual item (especially to the young Christmas guests). If so, you might as well support a cause with your purchase!
World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)
Adopt a species and get an information kit, or build a bucket of fluffy, endangered animals for a little one. Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats. (Link)
Wolf Conservation Center (WCC)
Wolves are cool! Kids think wolves are cool, right? Adopt a wolf and pick something in the gift shop to wrap. WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. (Link)
Standing Rock T-shirt (#NoDAPL)
Get THE statement t-shirt of the season: supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock! The initiative is started by actress Shailene Woodley and all proceeds benefit the people protesting and fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tees are made by Bella and Canvas (known for fair and ethical production) and 100% cotton (eco-friendly!). Bernie already got his. Watch out for t-shirt scams on Amazon. (Link)
Not so hard to pick something, is it?! If for some reason, you’re not keen on any of these, search and you shall find!
‘Tis the season to make good choices. Fa la la la la, la la la la.
** Share this post tomorrow on the Global day of Giving 11/29/16 using hashtag GivingTuesday. **
I had prepared a completely different blog post for this week. It was about hand me down items for eco-baby since I figured I wouldn’t feel the need to post anything about the election. Hillary would win, all the polls and predictions said so, we’d all be ok. There wouldn’t be anything to write about on an eco-blog like mine.
I was wrong.
And you know I don’t like being wrong.
Around nine pm on Tuesday I had a sudden, uncomforting feeling that she wouldn’t win. I had struggled all day not to cry (maybe pregnancy hormones made it worse) and at that point there was no holding it back anymore. The entire evening became a blur.
Frustrated with the reporting, I went to bed, but woke up in the middle of the night. Someone was honking and screaming “Woooooo!” outside. Living in Texas, I knew what that meant.
The anger and sadness I felt at that moment is hard to describe. I didn’t know it would hit me so hard. Like a punch to the gut. Like an overwhelming wave of grief and loss. He had made America hate again.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary’s. Sure, she’d get the job done, and I agreed with her on most issues but she didn’t have my heart like Bernie did. But this election, for me and for many others, especially women, was never about her. It was about defeating the person who threatened our democracy. The person who offended pretty much everyone (except white middle-aged men). The person who said he doesn’t believe in climate change and that he’d defund the EPA. This person, who so clearly knew that the only people stupid enough to vote for him were the Republicans, that went on to win the election.
As friends, family and the eco community have posted, tweeted, texted and supported each other throughout this horrible day of 11/9, I am somewhat uplifted by their love and comforted by the fact that Hillary did win the majority of the population’s votes. Yet I am, like so many of us, left wondering; where do we go from here?
I’ve always known the answer to that. I knew it already at nine pm last night.
We keep fighting. We hope and work our hardest to elect a progressive democrat as president in 2020. We support and protect our friends who represent the minorities of this country. We embody equality. And we keep focusing on making the world a better place.
We keep reading up on climate issues. We vote for plastic bag bans. We support the Native Americans standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We sort our trash. We recycle. We eat vegan food. We drive our hybrids and electric cars. We shop small.
No matter how hateful he is, he cannot take our passion away from us. Our passion will not only inspire change, but it is and will fuel the entire economy of this country. We are the future.
Thank you to all who voted against him. Thank you Bernie Sanders – You’re the classiest.
Ending with a quote from Hillary today.
“This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”