May 30, 2011
Anyone who has had children knows that when it comes to looking after a new baby, everything goes out of the window with the exception of the quest for sleep and the endless cycle of feeding, changing and rocking, for the first month. Good intentions about eating well, being responsible and ethical in the choices we make, and the various things we can do to help the environment can easily slip by the wayside in favor of convenience and cost cutting.
However, when it comes to bringing up your kids in an environmentally-responsible way, there are a few things we can do that make a real difference without making life harder for ourselves in the first few critical years. A recent trend looks set to enhance the way we plow through resources at such a rate, and even looks set to improve life a little along the way – welcome to the latest craze in green parenting – the reusable baby wipe.
Young children get through baby wipes at a rate reaching in to the hundreds every week. From changing diapers right through to mopping up spills, it seems that these little cleaning gems are the unsung heroes of childcare. Milk being thrown up? Reach for the baby wipe. Hiccup with a bottle? A baby wipe will sort it. While they are indispensable for all of life’s little accidents, the humble baby wipe can also take a huge toll on the environment, ending up in landfill and needlessly clogging up our bins.
The good news is, reusable wipes are not only great for the environment, they are also much more cost-effective than their disposable counterparts. Why bother spending money on something that will be used once and then thrown away, when you can make reusable cloth baby wipes for next to nothing? Using home-made wipers is not difficult to do, and they can be easily washed along with diapers to cut down on laundry and make sure you always have a steady supply to hand when you need one.
There are two ways to benefit from the new trend in eco-parenting – either make your own wipes, or buy them online from a cloth diaper retail store. Kind on your baby’s skin, they are also great news for people who like to keep things super sensitive. If you simply don’t have time right now to make your own wipes, head online and get them delivered along with your next batch of diapers.
Making your own baby wipes
To make your own supply of reusable cloth baby wipes, all you need to do is pick out an economical absorbent fabric. One hundred percent cotton is the best for this, or you could opt for a blend of both cotton and bamboo. Cut your fabric in to even sized squares and hem them with a zig zag stitch. Second-hand fabric works just as well – pop along to a thrift store for a ready supply, which will reduce your costs even more.
An eight inch square will work best, but experiment with different sizes for different needs. Once you’re washed and dried your cloths, you can prepare a spray to assist with cleaning, made up of warm water and add in some olive oil and a mild liquid soap such as baby shampoo. This will smell great, and also moisturize the skin and keep it clean. If you like, try out different types of oil including avocado, jojoba or almond for different scents. Popping a couple of drops of your favorite child-safe essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree, will also assist the antiseptic properties of the spray and add in a scent to your wipes, but use these sparingly as they can irritate your baby’s skin if they are added in with too much of a concentration.
August 16, 2010
Remember 100 Ways To Save The Planet? Well we’ve made it 33% better with making 133 Ways To Save The Planet now available as a free download.
Updated and redesigned, the eBook yours free by entering your email address and signing up to our weekly mailing list. It contains tips and ideas of how to start making small steps to becoming more environmentally friendly. There’s nothing too taxing in there, being eco-conscious is easy.
133 Ways is also focused on saving money so we home you find the tips both useful and frugal. A couple of sample tips are below, so you can try before you buy, even if it is free!
“Buy used nappies for your baby. Clean, reusable ones anyway. www.usednappies.co.uk is an auction site that specialises in, you’ve guessed it, nappies. Buying previously used nappies is better for the environment and I would have thought, cheaper too.”
“Use a drain sieve. Keeping food and other bits out of your drains will mean they won’t become blocked and lead you to pour chemicals down it to unblock it. Also never pour grease or fat down there as it will solidify and block your drains and the main sewage system.”
“Be gentle with your boiling. A pan gently boiling and a raging cauldron will actually be the same temperature, so turn down the heat a bit and save some energy. You can actually turn the heat off after boiling with vegetables and pasta. Just keep the lid on the pan and check after a few minutes to see if it’s done as you like.”
Get it for free below.
July 30, 2010
These days, more and more products are available to apparently make our lives easier, do laundry quicker, faster and better. The problem is, convenience is great but the chemicals we use are not good for the environment.
Our previous generations used only a handful of products to do all the jobs we do today, but there’s value in looking back at what used to be done, and learning from the past. In tougher times of old, people sought out products that were cheap, effective and harmless.
So, here are a few green tips taken from my grandmother’s handbook on cheap, world-friendly ways to get things done…
Instead of using washing-up liquid, why not try using a tablespoon of Borax in a sinkful of water– for very greasy dishes; maybe add a little washing-up liquid as well. Use a tablespoon of Borax in the rinsing water for glassware to prevent water streaks.
Borax was discovered over 4000 years ago, and is usually found deep within the ground, although it has been mined near the surface in Death Valley, California since the 1800s. Although it has numerous industrial uses, in the home borax is used as a natural laundry booster, multipurpose cleaner, fungicide, preservative, insecticide, herbicide, disinfectant and dessicant.
One of the beauties of Borax is that it can happily mix in with other household cleaning agents, and is really effective.
A strong solution of soda crystals is very effective for removing burnt-on grease and food from pans, dishes and grill pans. Soak stubborn debris overnight. Soda crystals are not suitable for aluminum pans, so it’s best to revert back to Borax for tough stains on this kind of metal. Sprinkle Borax on pots and pans and rub with a damp dishcloth – and don’t worry about scratching because Borax is not abrasive. Rinse items thoroughly.
Make your own automatic dishwasher powder by mixing a tablespoon each of Borax and bicarbonate of soda. Some people suggest it’s a good idea to use white vinegar in place of rinse aid, although this should only be done now and again. To clean the dishwasher, remove the filter and clean with liquid soda crystals, then clean the machine inside with white vinegar.
Cookers and worktops
Grease and burnt on food are easily ‘dissolved’ by liquid soda crystals – leave to soak for a few minutes on stubborn marks and dirt.
Cups and teapots
Tannin stains can be easily removed by leaving a regular solution of soda crystals to soak for one hour, or overnight. Then simply wipe away the film with a cloth and rinse with clean water. An alternative quick, effective method of removing stubborn stains from tea and coffee cups is to apply equal parts of white vinegar and salt into a paste and wipe around the cup with a cloth, and then rinse thoroughly.
July 9, 2010
Have you heard that saying, which goes ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? All over the world, people are looking for items which you may have in your garage or store room, gathering dust. When the urge to have a good clear out hits, have you considered the brilliant schemes for recycling we have out there, instead of simply dumping your stuff in the trash?
Recycling has become cool
Over the past few years, there has been a sociological shift in the way we recycle goods. Whereas once taking secondhand goods from thrift stores was considered to be a little trashy, now even the glossy high-fashion magazines are featuring vintage and retro items with reverence! It’s as if we’re starting to appreciate the practical beauty of recycling, and pausing to think before we throw things away.
I recently got in to gardening for the first time, and was looking online for things to buy to help me along. My neighbours helped out by giving me plant pots that had been lying around in their back yard, and I soon built up a stash of goods to use. I realised that by putting a bit of effort in and sharing my crops and seedlings, I was able to set up a kind of feudal system in my back garden just by swapping things around.
The internet has caught on to this craze for sharing rather than trashing, in a big way. Sites like eBay make it easy for us to hunt out the things we need, and procure them at a low cost. It’s now easy for us to find second-hand items at a fraction of the price they would be originally, and feel a bit smug as we realise we’re not only saving cash, but helping the environment.
The online craze for recycling
Initiatives like www.freecycle.org provide a global network of sites which are dedicated to providing lists of second-hand items that people no longer need, and giving them away or swapping them for something else. In times of economic crisis and recession, this is a superb idea for saving money while reducing environmental impact.
www.Earth911.com is another great site which promotes recycling initiatives, offering a range of goods which people no longer need, and are looking to give away to a good home.
The chances are, if you’re looking for something, someone else has a spare one! Goods ranging from plant pots, clothes, computers, kitchen items, electrical appliances and furniture are all available to a good home if you know where to look. The days of the thrift shop being regarded as trashy are long gone, and it’s now considered hip to share what you have with other people, to reduce manufacturing costs and chemicals.
How can you get in on the action?
Check out your local area for ideas about what you can recycle, and how to do it. Anyone who has done a garage sale understands that there is a good home for absolutely anything you can sell, so it’s worth taking a look at what you have and seeing if you can find it a good home, before popping it in the garbage. Similarly, if you’re looking for a specific item, check out your local recycling centres, thrift stores, charity shops and online resources to see if you can hunt it down second-hand. Have fun!
April 26, 2010
I saw this on Springwise the other week and had to share it. I’m not sure whether I’m doing it to be eco-friendly or I’m just lazy but I often don’t dry my hands properly after washing them in public toilets. You have to spend 15 minutes under the warm air dryer or use about 10 pathetic paper towels. So often the back pockets of my jeans come in handy.
So imagine my delight in reading about eco-friendly, reusable hand towels. California-based PeopleTowels is trying to encourage people to carry their own hand towels with them.
The pocket-sized towels are quick drying, made from 100% fair trade cotton, made with environmentally friendly dyes and have handy hang tags to attach to your bag.
They cost US$8 for a single towel or US$21 for a three-towel set and 1% of PeopleTowels’ sales profits go to 1% for The Planet. It’s said that by: “switching to its towels for one year, each consumer can save one-quarter of a tree, reduce landfill waste by 23lbs and conserve 250 gallons of water.”
March 22, 2010
Not only is it easy to folde up and store in the cupboard or the car, it’s also made from recycled cardboard. Melbourne-based company Belkiz has made the Feedaway, a cardboard portable feeding chair that can be used for temporary situations or where space is at a premium.
It can accomodate toddlers up to 20 months old and up to 20kg. While parents can use it a home, the fact it folds up flat makes it useful for the car or maybe at grandparents’ houses where they only need a high chair once in a while.
The Feedaway is made from recycled Visy cardboard, and comes with its own 3 point safety harness and recycled cardboard carry box and can be recycled after use.
It retails for AUD$39.95 and is currently only available in Australia.
Spotted via: Springwise
December 7, 2009
We’ve previously talked about Neogreene and it being a green alternative to neoprene. That “Neoprene smell?” is actually off-gassing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde, lead, chlorine and toluene are frequently in there and many people are sensitive to these chemicals, so it’s not uncommon for people using wetsuits to have a skin reaction to the material.
A company called GreenSmart were determined to find a cleaner, greener alternative. They have expanded to lunch bags and wine bottle carriers, taking the stink out of lunch and giving a stylish way to carry and keep wine chilled during the holidays. The water bottle sleeves have now gotten refined in their design and come in a range of colors.
They have three designs of lunch bag, called Sifaka, Margay, and Javan, that expand on the often staid concept of what a lunch bag can look like.
Wine bottles get a non toxic, stylish home as well, with models called Finback (holds one bottle) and Bowhead (two bottles).
As you may have noticed, all the products have animal names. These are endangered species, a reminder that GreenSmart now donates 10% of net profits to the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental organizations.
Neogreene is a result of a long, careful collaboration with GreenSmart’s supplier, and is a vast improvement:
- All water based adhesives
- No Chlorine
- PVC & Lead Free
- No Formaldehyde
- No VOCs
- 25% less petroleum than neoprene
- 25% less energy (compared to producing neoprene)
- Even the green coloring of the Neogreene is a water based dye (neoprene cannot be dyed)
Check them out at GreenSmart