Soap Box

My very own cute little soap box!

Posts Tagged ‘green’

Farewell diapers

Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2014

We’ve been diaper free for about eleven months, and it has been great not having to wash diapers every other day.  The trade off of wanting to explore all of the options for using the potty while in public has been irksome (it is better now that she doesn’t like porta potties), but it still beats rinsing poop diapers by a long shot.  LB expressed interest in using the potty around 18 months, and she pooped and peed in a training potty twice then decided that she’d rather not give up diapers for about seven months, and it took an additional two months for her to completely stop using diapers.

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Victory Garden week two

Posted by eemilla on June 13, 2012

My honey is handling all of the water so that we don’t over do it, and LB and I have been watching for bugs and weeds.

 

Week two was ten days ago.

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Our kid won’t . . .

Posted by eemilla on May 30, 2011

It is possible that I could give birth to this kid any day now, and as I am officially over the forty-week mark I’m certainly ready.  In talking with experienced parents from friends to family to co-workers my husband and I have said more than once that we will not be doing this or that or allowing our kid to do this or that, so I thought that it might be interesting to post some of them here as a reference and check back over the years to see how our opinions changed.

Cloth Diapers

Before I got pregnant or really even thought seriously about having children, I always knew that I would use cloth diapers.  Most striking is the explicit cost to diaper a child; I checked with Ingles and EarthFare for the Seventh Generation brand diapers, and they run about $12 plus tax for 44 diapers in the infant size.  Based on what I’ve read a breast feed baby will go through about eight diapers a day, which means about 5.5 days for one pack of diapers (Pampers at Ingles were only a bit less at $10 plus tax of $50, and I didn’t write down Target’s prices).  An organic cotton pre-fold cloth diaper costs about $3.25 plus the $13 waterproof cover; this diaper can be used until the kid outgrows it, and then it could be used as a doubler for a pocket diaper or a cleaning rag even later.  The pocket diapers resemble disposable diapers more than the pre-folds which are what my mom thinks of as a cloth diaper, and they are a bit more expensive (about $18); however, since our kid will be in day care we’ll have to use them.  While we have spent a good bit of money on getting our stash set up, in the end we’ll come out on top.

The explicit costs are important, but the health and environmental costs should weigh even heavier.  Dioxin is a known carcinogen, but it is used in diapers, maxi pads, and tampons to bleach the cotton or paper bright white.  Then you have the polymers that are used in the soaking layer to be concerned about; how long did we use plastic before it was discovered that some plastics leach endocrine disrupters and hormone mimics?  Finally the environmental cost is staggering.  Not only will the diapers far out live their users, they require lots of water and oil to produce.  The water is a double whammy because most diapers wind up in the landfill with the poop in place rather than having the poop emptied into the toilet for sanitary processing.

Anytime I bring this up, I hear about what an onerous choir laundry is for any baby much less a baby soiling cloth diapers.  I can always safely counter with the example my mom set.  She worked full time outside the home and used cloth diapers with all three of us, and my dad was absolutely no help.  Although I could be mistaken based on our ages she most likely had two of us in diapers at all times.  My husband is an absolute foil of my father so between the two of us I know we can make it work, and really the economic incentive is just too tantalizing to forgo.

Electricity Rate Plan

About a year ago we decided to change our electricity rate plan to time of use which encourages one to use energy on off peak times.  This has easily lowered our electricity bill by about $10 a month without creating any undue hardship.  We were really concerned about adding the air conditioner, but after its first month we haven’t seen an increase, even though when it was being installed the contractors were using huge lights to see in the crawl space during peak energy time.  The challenge with the peak energy use is going to be the laundry because we only use our major appliances (aside from the air conditioner and furnace) during off peak hours, which are currently from 9pm to 10am Monday through Friday and excluding major holidays (they change from September to March to 6am-1pm and 4pm-9pm), but I am determined to at least try it for a few months.  We can continue to do the bulk of the laundry over the weekend, and as long as the weather cooperates we’ll continue to dry most of the laundry on the clothesline.

Exclusive Breast Feeding and Making our own Baby Food

We’ve decided to breast feed for many of the same reasons that we are going to cloth diaper, and although I’ll be returning to work about three months postpartum, I plan on exclusively breast feeding for at least six months then allowing self weaning as the kid expresses interest in what we eat with the expectation that I’ll still be nursing at least once a day for at least a year.  In conjunction with this resolution, we’ll be making our own baby food.  Again the explicit costs of buying baby food just don’t jive with the time savings, and being the dedicated environmentalists that we are, why should the baby eat food with more miles on it than we do?  Also all those little jars and containers would be one more thing to find new uses for or to recycle.  Of course, we will continue to limit the amount of processed foods that enter our house.  I grew up in a house free of fruit roll ups and soda, and the tradition will continue.

Screen Time

Neither of us were allowed to spend all day inside watching TV or playing video games, and we plan on continuing that tradition with our little one.  We don’t want to ever use the TV or computer or iPod as a babysitter, and we would like to limit daily exposure to the less than two hours a day recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  We both realize what a challenge this might become, especially on long road trips and as the kid spends more and more time outside of the home.

Daily Reading

By reading each and every day to the little one, we hope to make it easier to limit the screen time as well as foster imagination and diction.  Reading and books were so important to me growing up, and I still love them (although I don’t prioritize reading as much as I should).

Wretched Excess

We are both relatively frugal when it comes to material purchases, although we make up for it with our epicurean expenditures, and this is something we want to continue with the kid.  Again we recognize that we won’t be able to completely stop family and friends, but there are strategies around the excesses of others.  In the line of regifting, I’ve heard of parents going through gifts sent by family who refuse to stop going overboard and culling the keepers and donating the rest.  Of the keepers, some go into storage to be gifted at a later time.  We’ll try to give experiences over stuff, and with the stuff we’ll try to be pragmatic with some and fun with others (here’s a great idea to help).  Besides our tiny little house is almost busting at the seams already with baby stuff, dog stuff, cat stuff, and our stuff.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!

 

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Earth Day Rant

Posted by eemilla on April 22, 2011

In honor of Earth Day, I’m hopping on my soapbox and giving my Earth Day Rant about three things that drive me crazy.

My largest pet peeve related to shopping is when my husband buys a beer or a box of beer that comes with a convenient handle, and he has to literally argue with the cashier that he doesn’t need a bag; many cashiers claim it is illegal to allow him to carry the beer outside of the store without a bag (I’ve worked as a cashier in a few different stores, and I was never required to do this).  I also get irked at the assumption that regardless of the number of groceries or items one might have a bag is requisite; nevermind that I walked through the store carrying everything I am buying without the assistance of a bag or a basket or a cart.

Earth Fare both irritated and cheered me for changing their bag donation policy; for the longest time, if you brought your own bag OR didn’t use a bag, Earth Fare would either donate $0.10 to the charity of the month or give you a $0.10 discount.  I believe it was around a year ago, they reduced the donation to $0.05, and it is only applicable if you have a reusable grocery bag (not your purse or backpack).  I don’t mind losing the discount as I always donated it, but I do hate that Earth Fare won’t give up the donation unless I put my half pound of mozzarella in a reusable bag.  They cheered me when they began requiring a donation for paper bags and eliminated plastic bags altogether (thewebsite says the donation is voluntary, but it also says if you chose not to donate the $0.05 then they give you a cardboard box not a bag).  They also sell reusable bags near the check out and at most of the checkout lines at the South Asheville location.

Along with the annoyances I have to also applaud Target for giving a $0.05 discount for reusing a bag as well as selling cheap $0.99 bags at the front of the store and at every checkout lane.  My favorite grocery store, the French Broad Food Co-op, charges for the plastic containers in the bulk room as well as selling heavy duty cotton bags and more light weight less expensive bags like those at Target.

I wish all stores would encourage customers to bring their own bags and containers either by giving a discount or by charging a fee for the bag; I also want the Coop and Earth Fare to stop providing the really thin plastic containers that are not dishwasher safe.  One of my resolutions was to stop using to-go containers for leftovers at restaurants, but unfortunately, I have failed miserably.  On the upside, we are not using new bags in the produce or bulk department when we go shopping.  Following the example set my mother and my step mother in law, we are washing out sandwich bags and  the green bags we use for produce (which purportedly keep produce fresher longer, but I like because they are strong enough to be washed unlike the freebies in the produce isle).

Secondly, I don’t want to hear one more word about how much gas costs.  I, too, hate paying almost fifty dollars to fill up the gas tank; however, we pay much lower gas rates than the rest of the world, and we generally have a choice in which vehicle we drive.  There are also many well published tips to reduce your fuel consumption (combine trips, drive less aggressively, fill up after the sun is down, carpool, or don’t drive).

Before my pregnancy we were a one car household even though we both work full time jobs with different hours.  We were able to make this work because neither of us mind walking along a busy road without sidewalks or even much of a shoulder; we live about a 1.25 walk from the bus line; and my work commute is a less than two mile walk.  Sadly, the bus runs every 1.5 hours between about 6:30a (1st run out of downtown) and 5:30p (last run out of downtown), which means we couldn’t even use it for an early night out much less a night shift commute.  I should note that there is a night route but the closest stop is about five miles from the bus stop that is 1.25 miles from our house, but again most of the five mile walk is along a five lane road with several hundred feet of sidewalks interspersed with parking lots and grassy stretches (some of which are steep banks that are difficult to traverse).  While I could walk the almost two miles from my work to my home, much of the walk is along the same five lane heavily travelled road, but this stretch contains not one sidewalk.  Fortunately much of that stretch is through parking lots, but there is a stretch that is like a goat trail which leads to a vacant lot.  Neither are generally cut so the weeds can and do hide broken bottles and various other trash (I never encountered any used condoms!)  Please note that both stretches of road mentioned above have been a part of the city for years, but sidewalk construction hasn’t been anywhere near a priority for this part of the city.

We decided that having a little one and not moving precluded us from remaining a one car household.  In the two and half years of being a one car household I can only recall a handful of times the bus was critically late, and at a cost of $0.75 per ride (if you buy the ticket book, but only $1 per ride if you pay singly), it is certainly cheaper than gas or parking.  Maybe one day we’ll return to being regular bus riders, but I cannot imagine hauling a stroller and all those baby accoutrements to the bus stop then on the bus then off the bus then all around town then repeat for the return ride.  Then again we never thought we could make do with one car for as long as we did.  Unfortunately, this will be the first Strive Not to Drive that I will not join in the past few years because it coincides with my 38th week of pregnancy.  I can only hope that you might decide to participate.

Rather than subsidize multi national companies that don’t even pay taxes on their billions in annual profits to begin with, we need a New Deal type program that gets the unemployed constructing sidewalks, repairing bridges, and building rail.  Public transit eases congestion, and for those of us that like to go out and knock a few back, it provides a much cheaper alternative to a taxi (which allows us to spend more money knocking a few back and eating a good meal).  Transit jobs cannot be outsourced, and public transit encourages private investment along its corridors much like roads.

Happy Earth Day.

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Green Cleaners – Change the World Challenge

Posted by eemilla on January 30, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a Change the World Challenge from Reduce Footprints, but I’m going to give it a go this week.

For the most part we aren’t using green cleaners aside from the vinegar and water that my mom always used on windows and mirrors, which by the way is really cheap and works well.  I tried using borax in the bathroom for almost a year, but I could never get the toilet really clean even with soaking overnight and scrubbing so we’re back to using a non-green cleaner with bleach alternative.  I hate to say it, but I love how much easier it is to clean the toilet with the non-green cleaner.  The shower liner remains a constant struggle to keep from molding, even with weekly soaking then washing with vinegar and detergent and line drying; however, I have decided not to resort to bleach because it wasn’t that much better anyway.

For hand washing dishes we use Ecover, and the dishwasher gets Palmolive phosphate free.  I use the Dr Bronner’s to scrub the counters before rolling dough, and my husband used some less nasty than expected oven cleaner.  For the floors, we’ve used hot water and either the dish soap or Dr Bronner’s.  When we camp (mostly only at festivals), Dr. Bronner’s get used for all soap needs, including washing dishes (although of course not the cast iron!)

Writing this post, I decided to Good Guide what we use, and after this bottle we will no longer pay the premium for Ecover Dishwashing liquid.  Much to my surprise, Clorox’s Green Works scores much better than the Ecover although I cannot purchase the Green Works at FBFC.  Our automatic dishwasher liquid also scored poorly on the health side of the equation so we’ll be looking for an alternative there too.

For the laundry, we use Ultra Purex, but I think again we might try Green Works because it has a better health rating.  My husband adds washing soda to his work laundry to help make it smell better (because as anyone who has worked in food service knows even after washing those clothes still have a smell), and of course we dry as much outside as possible (which really works to freshen up his work clothes).

I will be interested to get some more ideas on homemade green cleaners from everyone else participating.

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A Quick One While He’s Away

Posted by eemilla on September 16, 2010

So by the time anyone reads this it will likely be past the deadline (22 September 2010), but here goes.  My favorite cause is to whine about the lack of mass transit and multi modal infrastructure so if you too enjoy doing so (and if you don’t you really should), please take a moment to peruse the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization‘s Long Term Transportation Plan then take the survey.  Come on, at the very least browse the projects then take the survey!

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Strive Not to Drive 2010

Posted by eemilla on May 17, 2010

Although I don’t recall if last year’s Strive Not to Drive challenge began on a Saturday, I was perplexed by the decision to begin on a Saturday considering Sunday is the one day of the week that Asheville Transit does not run.  Are the organizers trying to encourage participants to think about options other than transit, or is their goal to highlight the absurdity of thinking of our transit as a viable alternative to a vehicle when its coverage (both in time and territory) is severely limited?  Regardless, I joined the pledge.

Sadly, I repeated last year’s mistake by oversleeping (Sunday nights at the Hanger rock!)  My plans are to walk to work tomorrow and Thursday; for Wednesday, I’ll forgo the car for both the morning and evening commutes, and on both Friday and Saturday, we will both forgo the car.  Last’s year event pushed me into more morning bus commutes; even though I feel ridiculous riding the bus for all of a mile, it saves me much sweat and allows me enough time to change into work attire before the office opens.

Wednesday night is our main issue; the last run from downtown to our bus stop is at 5:30.   Route 36 runs much later, but it stops about five miles short of our stop (I think I may have mentioned a few times about the lack of sidewalks especially south of I40).  While it is true we could bike it, my fitness level would render me a bit unsafe.  I understand that bus fares do not provide a significant source of revenue, but our household would be more than happy to pay more money for evening rides to help fund expanding service.

Get on the bus!

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What’s in your trash?

Posted by eemilla on November 24, 2009

This time of year is the perfect time of year to think about how much trash you produce considering most Americans are gearing up for their annual end of year spend and waste orgy.  The Change the World Challenge from Reduce Footprints this week asked to keep your trash in site; rather than carry the bag around with me I dutifully logged my trash for the week.  Although I ate out more than I typically do, I ended up using and throwing away items that have simple, reusable alternatives like tissues, napkins, paper towels, and to-go containers.  I’ve finally gotten into the habit of taking cloth bags everywhere so now I just need to remember to bring my own to go containers, napkins, and handkerchiefs.

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How Many Light Bulbs Do You Need?

Posted by eemilla on November 14, 2009

For this week’s Change the World challenge please remove a light bulb from a fixture with multiple bulbs.  For example, in our ceiling fans we have one out of three sockets filled (with compact fluorescents of course).  At work I am fortunate enough to have a south facing window, so on sunny days I don’t use my overhead light.  If you’re up to it, join the challenge and spread the word; for more ideas check out the honor roll.

 

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Weekly Green Challenge (triple dose)

Posted by eemilla on November 4, 2009

Last week’s challenge was to give your car some loving, and below I’ve given couple of simple and obvious suggestions.  Check out the honor roll for more ideas.

With the time change and checking your smoke detectors’ batteries, you should also think about getting the car a tune up.  In addition to saving gas money, routine maintenance will either help you over the 200,000 mile threshold or help you get a better trade-in credit.  Of course keeping the air filter and oil changed is important, but also be sure to have the tires rotated and their pressure checked.  Proper tire inflation helps with their wear and your gas mileage.

Our household is into our sixty-second week of being a one car household!  With our one year milestone and our return from walking hilly San Francisco, we decided to park the car one day a week.  If you have public transit, use it!  Not only will it reduce your footprint, but you are also providing a good job to someone in your community and decreasing the congestion for someone else.

This week’s challenge to have zero food waste is second nature for me, thanks to my mom’s super frugal habits.  Dinners’ leftovers became either lunch or a late night snack, and I carry on the tradition in our home.  If I don’t eat it, my husband will most likely throw it in a burrito wrapper with cheese to finish it off.  My biggest problem with food waste are those ingredients I buy to make special recipes then fail to incorporate into our weekly meal plans.  This week I have a portion of cream cheese left over from the super awesome peanut butter chocolate cake I made for our wedding anniversary, but other recipes include my favorite golden sesame tofu that leaves me with pineapple juice or the plethora of recipes that call for just egg whites or egg yolks.

Regarding the reclaimed or recycled challenge, I did go for Marcal’s Small Steps because it was half the cost of the Seventh Generation pack, and I don’t mind it (and my honey hasn’t complained yet either).  Thanks for your thoughts!

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