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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Going Green: Napkins, Swiffering, Baby food and Diaper wipes!

So often it seems that making the green or environmental choice also means making the more expensive choice or the choice that requires a lot more work on your part or the choice that is a lot messier on your part. Composting? Messy. Recycling (at least in my town) is not done curbside.  The energy efficient appliances often cost more up front, and my things always need replaced when we have the least amount of disposable cash.

With our recent move our budget has been restructured in such a way that I've been looking for ways to cut unavoidable costs. With two kids in diapers it is a given that we have to buy diaper and wipes. I could certainly go all cloth, and perhaps  that would end up cheaper or greener, but I am not willing to do that.  I did discover that for the baby at least, that flannel squares will work much better at wiping her little tush than store bought wipes of the cheaper variety. (For the Bug we still buy store bought ones.) I mixed a little baby soap, a little squirt of baby oil, and some water in a plastic wipes box, and I quick hemmed some flannel and now we have reusable wipes. I toss them in a little plastic basket in the laundry room after each use and when I'm down to one or two I do a small load of laundry, just the wipes,  on hot water with some bleach and that's it. And if you want to know the real details, the flannel was a couple old receiving blankets we no longer use, in a distinctive print so no one accidentally wipes their nose with one.

Baby food has been  more expensive with each child and I'm much more confident and relaxed with my third child, so we plan to make a small bit of food, and then mostly feed her what we're eating. I have a stick blender and I'm not afraid to use it! Plus, no more little jars into the garbage and landfill!

I hemmed a bunch of blue receiving blankets into Swiffer sized squares and bought floor cleaner of the spray and wipe variety instead of buying pre-moistened disposable Swiffer cloths. Works just as well and the Bug gets to help me with the spray, which he loves. He knows the blue rags are for the floor and often does it all on his own (minus the Swiffer itself.)

We've been using cloth napkins for years now and I don't buy paper towels for general use. We do keep a roll or two around for specific things like cat puke and cleaning toilets, but they aren't kept in a location that tempts you into drying your hands on them or wiping up milk with them. The cloth napkins are make from regular cotton fabric that I hemmed with my serger. We have little kid sized ones and adult sized ones. The Pirate even takes a Pirate printed one in his lunch.

Since I know that I can't afford the big environmental changes, it makes me feel good to know that I'm keeping stuff out of the landfill and saving myself money all in one go. I know there is some debate about washing all that extra stuff and the water usage,  but since the financial considerations are just as important to us right now, this is working. I admit I feel a bit crunchy when my in-laws come to dinner and I hand them a cloth napkin or pull out one of little miss's Christmas tree print wipes, but I also feel incredibly frugal to be reusing things in new ways, instead of just looking at them on the closet shelf. What things do you do that both saves your family money and helps the environment? What else could I be using those blankets for?

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  1. Good for you!! We recycle and re-use as much as possible. I use canvas bags when I go shopping and drive a hybrid car.

  2. I love this. I had big plans to go as green as possible when Greyson was born--cloth diapers, all our own baby food, etc. I have to say, I've fallen very short in many ways, but I am a firm believer in small changes. Not sure Chuck would go for reusable wipes, but I know some other places we can cut out unnecessaries. I DEFINITELY want to get rid of paper towels. Grrr! Loathe them.

  3. This is a great post! I made my own baby food and did the reusable baby wipes trick as well. I noticed her bum stayed rash free this way. It is the little things you can do each day that make the real difference-changing your lifestyle bit by bit. I love that you have kid-sized cloth napkins!

  4. For baby food you can use an ice cube tray to freeze the foods.

    I use vinegar for cleaning. My husband hates it. I can't use it when he's home, even though I add mint essential oils now.

  5. This is something that is really hard for our family even though we try. We are lucky enough to have curbside recycling which helps out a lot!!! But there is still a lot that I could be doing...and I think that trying to be more green is such a good lesson for the kiddos. Sounds like your doing a great job!

  6. Great post, Lisa!
    I breast fed both my girls exclusively and made all of their baby food. I never bought a jar of baby food in my life. I pureed cooked fruits and veggies and then before you know it, I was just mashing stuff with a fork in a bowl without even making it super smooth. That was a long time ago... *sigh*

    I also compost. It's not really that messy and I've never had a problem with it being smelly either. It smells earthy like a forest floor. :)

    We recycle a lot.. thankfully we have curbside pick up every other week.

    I love that you made your own Swifter cloths. I should do that, too!

  7. It's not easy being green. LOL.

    We try to make small changes here and there but some of our attempts failed miserably. I got rid of paper towels and purchased these reusable cloths. Well, they absorbed great but SMELLED even after just one use. The amt of detergent I used to wash them negated any positive effect gained from getting rid of the paper towels, so I went back to paper.

    I think it's much easier to just feed babies what we normally eat, but cut up or pureed. It's easier for everyone.

  8. I need to be better about these kinds of things.

  9. I don't know what I'd do without our curbside recycling. I think our recylcing bin is usually more full than our regular trash bin (though, this may say more about how much soda my lovey drinks?).

    I've switched to canvas grocery bags but have heard that they're more likely to harbor bad germs and I'm not sure how (or too lazy) to wash them.

    Guilty of the papertowels. Incredibly guilty. And not sure I could do washable wipes--freaks me out as much as figuring out what to do with the poop in a diaper does. ;)

    I would LOVE to make baby's food, but as I'll be working full-time--gone 11 hours a day--I'm not sure that is really a viable option unless I do all the making on the weekend.

    Though--you can't win the lotto if you don't play...


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