eco-friendly


Ok – it’s not really freedom, but to me I feel free with my new purchase/new found love.  THE DIVA CUP!  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about here’s the skinny (and if any of my readers are men – well you might want to skip this post – or if you are open minded you may want to read on and tell your lady friends about this)….  ok here we go…..

No more buying tampons or pads, this is a silicone cup that is inserted, during your period, that collects your “flow” and you empty.  No more worrying about toxic shock, having the right absorbancy,or what kind of chemicals have been used in making your tampons, or did you forget your tampons (which I was always doing – my kids had their lunches, but I didn’t have my tampons – priorities right!). 

Some of you may be thinking “OMG – that’s gross, you have to dump it and rinse it and then reinsert” BUT what is grosser than pulling out a bloody cotton wad and wrapping it in toilet paper and tossing it in the garbage!  (sorry for the graphic image) but seriously – to me that’s pretty rank.

This is the easiest, most convenient, most environmentally friendly choice out there.  It comes in two sizes – for those of us who have given birth and those who haven’t (I think for most of us who have given birth our cervix rides low during our cycle so they have designed the cup to fit).  There are some other brands/versions out there but I have not tried those.  There is a website someone created analyzing all the different “cups” out there – she really gets in depth which is nice.  The Diva Cup is the most readily available in stores  – I bought mine at Whole Foods and I didn’t see any other brand on the shelf. 

After I bought mine, opened it and inserted it, I then read the packaging in detail and saw it states “not to be used with an iud”.  As luck would have it, I have an iud, and I thought, crap – just when I found something I like and I just shelled out $35 and can’t return the thing ($35 is cheap when you think about all the money you spend on pads and tampons a month till you hit menopause).  So I immediately started to google it and put a call in to my doctor.  Everything I read online, as well as my doctor agreeing, it’s fine to use with an iud – just be sure when you pull it out – nothing else comes along with it!  But I was also told that about wearing tampons with an iud.  So just be cautious.  My doctors main concern was hygiene and cleaning.  You are to clean with soap and water after each “emptying”.  Well this can’t always be done, such as in a public restroom, so they suggest doing it once you get home or at the next “emptying” at home.  I find that I rarely need to empty while I’m out and about or at work, it really holds a lot, as well as, you don’t really “bleed” all that much during your cycle.  So I carry some wipes with me for clean up when I’m out and about.  Otherwise it’s easy to clean at home with soap and water. And then at the end of your cycle you boil it for 30 minutes.  Simple, simple, simple! 

I have only had a little spotting (which was on my heaviest day) so I wear a liner or just change more often. 

It truly is a freeing feeling – no longer buying all those tampons, worrying if I forgot them or not, worrying if they will leak, etc. 

Free yourself and get yourself a “cup”!  You won’t regret it 🙂

In my quest to try to rid our lives of plastic (at least starting with plastic bags) I have started to crochet produce bags. 

Now I won’t say this is the quickest thing – but I am enjoying making these.  We have s0 many cloth bags for shopping but I always end up with plastic bags from our produce and it drives me crazy.  I was inspired by Farmama and her one small change.  She sewed up a bunch of bags for their bulk foods (this is my next step). 

You don’t even need to know how to sew, I just saw some produce bags for sale at Whole Foods the other day (for not that much) but of course that would be too easy for me 😉  But seriously, you can buy cloth bags and produce bags for a nominal fee and have them for ever.

Luckily summer is coming and I hope to be harvesting most of our produce from our yard, but of course you can’t pass up the farmers market to see what goodies they’ve got.  So my little bags will come in handy.

I’ve been buying in bulk much more (grains, nuts, dried fruit, etc), but now I have to work on reducing the other plastic packaging.   It’s everywhere, the bag of pretzels you purchase, the block of cheese, etc.   It’s crazy! 

Well, this is my next step I’m taking.  We’ll see where this leads us (what will be our next step)? 

What will your small step be?  Do you keep your cloth bag supply in all your vehicles so you always have them?  If not, make that your small step.  Keep a few cloth bags in each car and a couple in your house, so you always have them available. 

Keep stepping …..

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This weekend was the annual Harmany Festival in Santa Rosa – one of my favorite festivals.  We went Saturday to see Michael Franti and Spearhead and a bonus was the Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars (who were incredible and have an incredible story).   The Refugee All Stars actually met in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone where they were “living” after they had to flee their homes due to the rebels.  They met some of their members in other camps – the one member was an orphan, two of the members had limbs amputated by the rebels and they were given some old instruments by a Canadian aid organization.  Yet through these horrific events, an absolutely incredible and uplifting group of musicians was born.  The music is the kind that gets you up off your tired bum and gets you groovin’ and smiling!  And it’s a good reminder of how good life is.  And of course, Michael Franti is the epitome of feeling good music and getting up and groovin’ ( “How ya’ll feelin’!?”)  He always has a message and is all about Peace and Love and you can feel it through his music.  Two groups I highly recommend if they are in your area.

The Harmony Fest has been going on for 31 years.  It is a festival about healthy living, alternative living, eco-conscious living, peaceful living and just good living in general.  They have some of the most amazing speakers (Starhawk and Julia Butterfly Hill – two of my faves), classes/workshops/lectures, yoga, dance, meditation, body work, etc.  You can camp the entire weekend under the redwoods.  One year I am going to do that so I can attend some of the workshops and lectures and just get completely lost in “Harmony”.  We just went for the day – and there is no way to cover 1/4 of the Festival, but with the kids and $ (and Milo and Mo) we just enjoyed a wonderful day of Utopia!

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I’m still on a high from being there.  It will take a couple days to come down from my Utopian high.  I get so energized from being at an event such as this.  You see all the incredible ideas for eco living, healthy living, wonderful artists and a lot of “conscious” individuals in one location – yes it’s inspiring.

Have you been inspired lately?  What has gotten you inspired?

Just a couple more pictures from our Earth Day project

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just finished mulching this a.m.  Still have a couple more plants to put in – but once these get growing it will fill in really nice (and only one bit the dust – somehow a drip line never made it to the plant -oops!)

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Here’s the entrance to the veggie garden – we built the two long beds on the far left and right.  I went this week and finished up the planting.  The kids were so into it – it was so great to see their enthusiasm.  The little ones needed a bit of guidance (they were a bit rough with the plants ) but my opinion is “we can always replant”.  It’s more about getting them interested and in the dirt.  If we lose a few plants along the way, no big deal.  As an adult sometimes it’s hard to let go of control and let your kids help out (it doesn’t always turn out the way you intended or it may take a little longer) but you just have to relinquish that control and let them be a part (especially if they are showing interest).  I have my moments that I have trouble relinquishing that control but I try to be conscious of that when we are working on projects.

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In keeping with Earth Day and reusing items, we made bird feeders out of 1/2 gallon milk and juice cartons.  They were so easy to make and there is nothing better than inviting our feathered friends into your environment.  We just love to watch the birds feed on our feeders.  I think the kids will get a big kick out of seeing the birds come to feed as well as enjoy filling the feeders. 

We’re going to make some for our house too – you can never have too many bird feeders.

If you want to make one of your own follow this link  – have fun!

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So I was thinking about different ways everyone can make Earth Day everyday and these are all very simple and easy ideas that don’t take much effort but are very beneficial to our environment.

REDUCE

First and foremost we all must start REDUCING our consumption.  It’s insane how “throw away” our society is.  Just keep buying and using and buying again.  With no thought about where these products come from, how the production of these products are affecting our enviornment and what’s going to happen to this product once it’s lifecycle ends.

So the first thing to remember is you need to reduce your consumption.  Some ways to reduce your consumption ….

turn off the water while brushing teeth

turn off the lights when you are not in the room

when you can walk or ride a bike

instead of using paper products (paper towels, napkins, paper plates) use cloth napkins and cloth rags and regular plates

instead of buying new, buy used – there are great consignment stores, thrift stores, antique stores and garage sales.  Also now with ebay and craigslist – it makes it even easier to buy used.  Especially with kids – why buy new?  it’s just going to get thrashed anyways or they will grow out of it before they even wear it more than once.  By buying used you are keeping that item out of a landfill and also you are preventing more natural resources to be used to create another item. 

REUSE

As I mentioned above – buy used- this is the best way to go for Mother Earth and your pocket book

instead of plastic baggies for your kids lunches use reusable containers (BPA free). 

don’t buy bottled water- purchase a reusable water container (Sigg, Klean Kanteen, etc) and get the water out of your faucet (which has more stringent regulations than bottled water).  Plus they have super cute designs for kids – it makes them more apt to use them.

bring cloth bags when shopping.  Keep a couple in each of your vehicles so they are always there. 

do clothing swaps with other parents in your community

RECYCLE

most garbage companies offer curbside recycling – take advantage.  If your service makes you separate- keep a couple small containers in your house to make it easier.  If you can combine all recyclables – well, there’s no excuse not to be recycling.  Get the kids involved.  My 4 1/2 year old loves to differentiate what goes in the garbage and what goes in the recycling.

These are all just a few easy things that we do and that are easy for you to incorporate into your daily lives.  It’s simple and it feels good to know you are doing something to help keep our planet green and it is a great lesson to teach our children.  Our children are going to be born knowing the 3 R’s.  It will just be a part of their life – there will be no question about whether they should or shouldn’t, it will be a given. 

I hope you and your families can find a way to make every day Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!  Today is the one day a year EVERYONE thinks about Mother Earth.  In our house “everyday is earth day”.  I know that sounds so cheesy but it’s the truth.  Everything we do, everything we eat, everything we buy, every decision we make we think about how that will affect our environment.  It’s not forced, it’s just who and how we are. 

So for this earth day I wanted to share our passion about the Grand Dame herself,  and we decided to spearhead Earth Day at Ryder’s school.  We had been wanting to put in a drip system for the garden and for their flower area – the teachers have so much on their minds with caring for our children that we figured if they didn’t have to worry about watering the plants everyday it would be helpful and it would help the plants survive.  I think it’s such a wonderful experience for children to have gardens in their environment.  It is so important for them to see where their food comes from.  Ryder learns about gardening at our house, but I really like the idea of him having this at his school as well and I wanted the other children to learn about the benefits of growing your own food and the sense of accomplishment.  This is a great way to teach healthy eating habits – without forcing it down their throats (literally).  

So we sent out an email asking for volunteers and we had such a wonderful response from the other families.  It was a lot of hard work but it was all worth it.  A couple of the parents said they were very grateful to be learning about running drip irrigation and about the different plants and techniques that we were using.  This made me so happy to know that they would be bringing this knowledge home to their families.  THIS is what it’s about. 

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Lots of weeding and working the soil before we could have fun with the plants.

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We planted a lot of California Native Plants – to teach about using native plants and drought tolerant plants.  We are trying upside down tomatoes.  This is my first time doing it – so we’ll see how it goes – I have read a lot of great things about growing tomatoes this way and I thought the kids would get a kick out of this as well. 

It was a scorching hot day, but we all pulled together and worked hard and had fun.  The kids were really into helping too. 

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Earth Day isn’t only about doing things for the earth – it’s about coming together as a community and building a better community.  If you care about the community and feel like a part of the community you will be more apt to keeping that community clean and really care about it. 

It was such a wonderful day – I can’t wait for next year – I have sooooo many ideas! 

What are you doing to honor Mother Earth?  What kind of community activities where you and your family involved in?  I would love to hear about other Earth Day festivities.

So now that I have you intrigued let’s move on to the different types of cloth diapers.   I am going to stick to the handful of diapers that I use.  There are tons of choices out there and you’ll have to see what works best for you and your baby.  These are the ones that have worked for our family.

The Prefolds

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These are your basic cloth diapers- what you think of when you hear the word cloth diaper.  As you can see they come in multiple sizes.  I have  2 different sizes, the first size is the newborn- which we used past 4 months.  The second size is the Large.   It was a bit big in the beginning – but you can fold it over and it just adds extra absorbency.  If you want you can buy each size – you’ll just end up trading them out sooner and not getting as much use out of them.  We purchased about 24 newborns (this provided 2 days worth of diapers- at a diaper change per 2 hours which is usually how often our children ate).  Obviously some days we went through more.  And it’s good to wash every couple days- you don’t want them sitting around for too long.  We bought about the same with the large- but we don’t use as many per day so we end up washing every 3rd day or so. 

The prefolds are used in conjunction with a diaper cover.  Instead of using the pins (which was one of the biggest complaints from the past- worrying about stabbing your child), you fold these and insert them into a diaper cover which basically serves as the pin and it’s a protective layer between diaper and clothes.

Diaper covers

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This is the Litewrap, which is our favorite.  It’s pretty basic- no bells and whistles.  It has a snap on each side by the leg and then it clothes with velcro.  How easy is that?  Fold the prefold in thirds, lay inside the cover, close two snaps and slap down the velcro flaps and you are done!  Pretty much like a disposable.  The nice thing about these are that you can get a couple uses out of them (as long as it’s just pee you are changing and that you are making regular changes).  If it’s a poopy diaper- sometimes it’ll get on the cover, not always, but regardless, it’s nice to change out a diaper cover with a poopy diaper no matter what.  But if it’s just a wet diaper, for the most part, the diaper cover will be dry so all you have to do is remove the prefold and replace with a new one. 

The other good thing is these are roomy. Saige is still in the small diaper cover which says 10 -15lbs and she is over 20lbs.  So you will get a lot of use out of these.  I think they hold up great (and I am hard on the diapers) and they have all been through Ryder as well.  I only had to discard 2 due to tearing (mind you they went through Ryder and a couple wears with Saige).  I’d say that’s a pretty good life cycle. 

They are breathable and soft.  They are not those 1960’s/70’s plastic non breathable covers – they have really come a long way.

There is also a Cot’n Wrap which are the same except they are 100% cotton.  I found these to not be as protective as the lite wrap.  They are ok- just not one of my faves.

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The Bummis Super Whisper Wrap is my next favorite.  I found this one when Saige was born.  I was drawn to it because of the adorable print, but I found out that it is a great cover.  It is very similar to the Litewrap, it’s generously sized, it’s breathable, soft and you can get multiple uses out of it.  One difference is it doesn’t have the snaps, and I do like the snaps on the Litewraps because it helps keep a nice close fit by the leg.  This cover (like the Litewrap) can be washed with the diapers and come out just fine (it is not recommended but they will be fine).  Like anything when you become a parent and you are trying to juggle everything, you need things to be streamlined and convenient.  So who wants to run another load just for the covers?  This is why I have chosen the diapers and covers I have – they can all be washed and soaked together, dried together and they will last. 

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The Bummis Super Brite is another good one.  It’s a slimmer fit than the Litewrap and Bummis Super Whisper Wrap and has a slimmer fit in the legs- which helps prevent leakage.  Again, this diaper I found after Saige was born (obviously I was drawn to the fun colors) and I like to try out new diaper covers.  This one runs true to size, if not a smidge smaller.

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The Thirsties are also a new find for me.  It’s a lot like the Bummis Superbrites but just a slightly different fit.  The biggest difference than the Superbrites is it has a more generous fit.  So if you like the thinner cover but want a more generous fit this is the one for you.

Pocket Diapers

Now on to the pocket diapers.  Pocket diapers consist of an outer layer of waterproof material and an inner layer of microfleece or suedecloth, which helps to wick away moisture, keeping your baby dry and helps prevent diaper rash.  In between those layers is a “pocket” that you can stuff whatever material you wish, to customize the level of absorbency you need.  In our house we don’t use pocket diapers daily (Doug isn’t a big fan of the pocket diaper,because you only get one use out of them- which I tend to agree).  We use the pocket diapers when we do day trips (they are great for trips in the car and being out and about- because they wick away the moisture you can get a little more time between changes).  The pocket diapers are great as the overnight diaper.  They can hold a lot withouut leaking and they help keep your baby dry.  So these are our faves.

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Fuzzi Bunz are the first pocket diaper I ever tried and I have been a repeat customer.  They are soft, they have multiple snaps on the front to customize the size and allow for growth.  They have a soft microfleece layer that is next to your baby’s skin and I love the fit.  You can use prefolds for extra absorbency inside, or use the special inserts created for pocket diapers.  We do both.

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Happy Heinys are a new addition to our collection.  I like these because of the one size – they grow with your baby.  They tend to be more pricey but you don’t need to buy multiple sizes, so it actually is very cost effective.  These have snaps on the front for adjusting size and close with velcro.  These too can be inserted with prefolds or special inserts.  The inside layer is extremely soft (even after multiple washings)

Now for the All in Ones. 

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These are the easiest ever to use.  If you are uncertain about cloth diapering this is the perfect diaper to use as a trial run.  There is no folding or stuffing involved.  It is just like using a disposable except it’s reusable.  It’s pretty much a waterproof outer layer with multiple layers of cotton flannel attached to the inside with velcro closure.  The two types I use are the Kushies and The Bumkins.  They are both pretty much the same, I don’t have a preference.  These are perfect for keeping in your diaper bag or when you need to run out the door and grab a diaper to throw in your purse for the “just in case”.  I definitely recommend having a couple of these on hand if you cloth diaper.

Accessories

Now there are so many additions to cloth diapers, the two that I use are the flushable liners and the fleece liners.  

 The liners are great if you have a child that has consistent poops.  Ryder was like clockwork.  He would eat and shortly after he would poop, so these came in handy because all you have to do is remove the liner (which has the poop on it) and plop it into the toilet.  It keeps the poop from getting on the prefold or pocket diaper which means no swooshing in the toilet or soaking.  Also, these liners are washable, so if your child doesn’t poop you can throw it in the wash with the rest of your diapers.  I will say I don’t use these all the time.  I have actually not used them yet with Saige because she’s not consistent at all. 

Now the fleece liners are great, especially with the prefolds.  They’re great for wicking away the moisture and are super soft.  You can even make your own, just buy some fleece and cut to size (it’s basically a rectangle).  I do use these a lot with Saige- she has very sensitive skin so this is just another added measure to keep the moisture off her bum. 

I hope the info above has made you even more interested in cloth diapering.  How can you pass up some of those adorable, colorful diaper covers!?  Also, if you weren’t crazy about the prefold diapers, there are the pocket diapers or even the all in ones (and countless others that I didn’t mention above).  There is something for everyone.   Some of my friends use the pocket diapers exclusively, others only use the prefolds, then there’s me who uses both and the all in ones.  I am always on the look out for what’s new in the cloth diaper world (even though I always go back to my old standbys). 

Have fun with it and try a couple different ones out and see what works for you. 

See you back for part 3, The Process, what works for us, what we use for cleaning the diapers, how we store the dirty diapers, how often we wash and more.

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