Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

My New favorite Shoes

I just submitted a review of these sandals at Simpleshoes.com, and I wanted to mention here how much I love them. This a great company that makes eco-friendly shoes that are comfortable and very stylish. Definitely not frumpy hippy shoes at all! Their sale prices are spectacular too. I got some soft soled early-walker shoes for Seth, and I am planning to get a pair of their TOEst boots for thewinter months for myself. Worth checking out, for sure.

Here’s my review:

Originally submitted at Simple

I have BLC certified leather uppers. I have full grain leather linings and topsoles. I have an Ortholite footbed. I have cork and recycled EVA midsoles. My outsoles are made of natural rubber and recycled car tires. My outsole logo detail is made of recycled metal alloys. I have 100% post consumer …

These are great sandals!

By Sasmama from West Palm Beach, FL on 10/26/2009
5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size
Width: Feels true to width
Pros: Cute, Stylish, Comfortable
Describe Yourself: Casual, Stylish

I am a mom to an 8 month old, and these have become my go-to shoes for everything from playdates to walks in the park to the grocery store. They are cute and very comfortable and look great with everything.

Adventures in Cloth Thus Far

My little one is six weeks old now, and has been in cloth diapers for five. (He was only 5lb11oz and too small at first for our cloth diapers but he’s growing fast!)
We started out with the 21 day trial from jilliansdrawers.com, and a dozen unbleached Indian prefolds from Little Lions. Prefolds are the least expensive cloth diapering option. They can be folded various ways- we like the “angel fold” with a snappi (which takes the place of pins and makes the whole process much easier and safer). Then they need a cover. I like Thirsties PUL covers- PUL is basically a waterproof fabric and these covers easily velcro closed. I am just venturing into the world of wool diaper covers though, and I can tell they are going to be my favorite and the staple of my cloth diapering stash. I also have a fleece cover on it’s way to me in the mail, and they are apparently very nice as well. I plan to do another post about wool and fleece cover later when I’ve gained more experience using them. Anyway, all of the above mentioned covers can be used over a prefold, or a fitted diaper. (My new favorite diaper combo is a fitted with a wool cover.) Fitted diapers easily close with either aplix (velcro) or snaps, and are adjustable- sometimes fitting all the way from about 8 pounds to potty training. More expensive than prefolds, but somewhat easier and more absorbant. diaper inserts and doublers can be used inside fitteds to increase absorbancy as well. I don’t have too many fitteds yet, but my favorites so far are Cricketts, and Kissaluv size 0 when he was a tiny newborn.
For those who may not want a two-step diaper change (diaper, then cover), there are some other options. We have tried a few different pocket diapers, which are a PUL outer with a pocket to stuff with absorbant inserts. The ones we’ve tried haven’t fit my son particularly well yet, and we have had leaks, but I’m sure when he’s a bit bigger they will work a lot better. Both BumGenius and Blueberry make nice one-size pocket diapers.
The ultimate is cloth diapering ease of use, best for overwhelmed new dads and anyone unsure about changing cloth, are All-in-one diapers (AIO’s). The only AIO we’ve tried is made by Thirsties, and we loved them for a few weeks, so much that I bought a few more, and then they started leaking. He wets too much now for them to last very long. I keep them in the diaper bag, and still use them but I have to make sure I change him within about an hour and a half to avoid leaks. I’ve heard great reviews of many other brands of AIO diapers, but since I now love our fitted and wool I probably won’t buy many (if any) more AIO’s for our baby.
So there is the rundown on the various types of cloth we have tried. Most people I talk to ask about the washing process, so I will outline that because it is really a lot easier than many people think. In our bathroom we have a regular kitchen sized trash can with a foot pedal lid, with a diaper pail liner inside (made of PUL material). Dirty diapers are simply tossed into this (the poop of exclusively breastfed babies is so liquidy that no rinsing is required. Later we will install a diaper sprayer on our toilet.) About every other day I dump all the diapers from the pail into the washing machine and run them through a clod rinse cycle with no detergent. Then I do a long hot wash cycle with a tablespoon of Crunchy Clean cloth diaper detergent and some vinegar. If it was a particularly soiled load I might do another cold rinse after this, but usually they are then ready for the dryer, and that’s it- clean diapers!
Cloth has so many, many benefits over disposables: it is better for the environment, much less expensive, causes much fewer cases of diaper rash, avoids the chemical gels and other unnatural materials that are so bad for our babies’ skin and overall health, and, believe it or not, is a lot of fun. (This may be impossible to understand unless you start using cloth, but many of the diapers are really adorable and you kind of get sucked in!)

Full Term!

This is an exciting week for the Mayo family! My last day at work was Tuesday, and also as of Tuesday I am officially in my “safe dates”, meaning I could have the baby any time and he would be considered full term! While there are some things I still want to do, and buy, we are ready and have everything we need. I picked up an extra package of Seventh Generation chlorine-free diapers yesterday- we’ll be using those in the beginning along with the cloth diapers I have so far, while we decide which type of cloth we like best and build our collection. By the way, here’s a picture of the ones we’ve gotten- it might seem crazy but I think cloth diapers are pretty cute :)

I am filling my days with books, crafts, baking, walking, relaxing and random pampering things like the amazing prenatal massage I got yesterday and the henna I applied today (in pic). I am trying to get my mind in a good place for birth- relaxed, focused, fearless. I often feel like I have little to say, but lots of thoughts; I’m very mellow and introspective. I’ve been journaling a lot, and writing/talking to the baby a lot too. I feel every movement now- I have no idea how he’ll have any more room in there to grow! I wonder every day if it’s the one in which he’ll be born, but I am trying not to get impatient, and to really enjoy these last days or weeks before he comes.
Here’s my hennaed belly- 37weeks,3days:

The Only True Clean is Green

The dangers of chemical cleaning products:

  • First off, contrary to popular opinion, extremely dangerous products are allowed on the market. The government doesn’t regulate the ingredients companies are using in household products- these companies are not required to tell anyone exactly what is being used in their products. This goes for personal care products as well, but for today I’ll focus on home care.
  • The “secret formulas” of most conventional products, which as I mentioned before companies are not required to divulge, often contain respiratory irritants, carcinogens, hormone disruptors and neurotoxins associated with both short and long term effects. At best they are known to cause chronic wheezing and asthma in children. The rate of childhood asthma has gone up 200 percent since 1980.
  • When harmful chemicals are washed down the drain, rivers and lakes are polluted by them- harming fish and wildlife. The negative effects are not limited to the homes where these products are being used.
  • 10 percent of all calls to poison control involve toxic exposure to household cleaners, and two-thirds of those concern children. We lock the bottles away so hopefully our kids won’t get to them, and yet we wipe the same chemicals all over our homes our children live in.
  • Ammonia, commonly used in bathroom and kitchen cleaners, is a volatile organic compound (VOC), which becomes a vapor, enters our airways, and can cause respiratory problems or worse.
  • Chlorine (think bleach) is the number one household chemical involved in poisoning. On its own it is bad enough, but when mixed with many other substances the chemical reaction can form even more dangerous poisons.
  • Phosphates- in many states these water softeners have been banned from laundry detergents for their damaging effects on water systems and natural ecosystems, , but they are still found in some dishwasher and cleaning formulas.
  • Lye- used in drain and oven cleaners, detergent, pool cleaners, metal polishers and soap, irritates skin and eyes and the fumes corrodes respiratory passages.
  • Synthetic fragrances, used to mask chemical odors in cleaners, and also used in “air fresheners” and nearly anything scented that isn’t natural, can contain up to hundreds of chems, are very common triggers for allergic reaction and respiratory distress.
  • I mentioned VOCs in regards to ammonia, but the compounds are also found in plastic and polyurethane, paints, varnishes and cleaning products. If you smell something (whether it be a ‘pleasant’ “pine fresh” scent or a bad chemical smell, it is likely a VOC. These compounds have been linked to neurological and organ damage, cancer, and asthma.

While this information can be found in countless places and I have read extensively on the subject in the past, I organized this list while reading Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan, published by the national non-profit by the same name. http://www.healthychild.org

So obviously typical cleaning products are worse than awful, but we are then faced with the big question of what to use instead. Our culture is full of brand loyalty- some people will only clean with Lysol or bleach everything because they’re convinced that it’s the only way to kill germs. In fact, over-sanitizing can lead to more problems than ever, weakening our bodies’ defenses and creating “super-germs” that are even more harmful and more difficult to get rid of- this is the same effect of overuse of antibiotics and anti-bacterial products. Commercials are meant to sell you a product, not to give you real information about health ar science. We need to first let go of the idea that chemicals are needed to clean our home environments- in fact, let go of the mindset that putting chemicals on a surface actually cleans it at all. A little bit of grime is much less dangerous than most of the poisons.
I understand though, we want our homes to be clean. Luckily there is an abundance of readily-available alternatives these days, and more all the time as people become aware of the toxicity of common products for our families and the earth. Brands such as Seventh Generation, Ecover, Biokleen, Method and Shaklee are creating some wonderful toxin-free products that truly work. But we can really take a lesson from our grandmothers here- vinegar, baking soda, lemons, hydrogen peroxide and castile soap make wonderful (and wonderfully inexpensive!) cleaners for most areas in the home, and they are of course totally harmless to us, our kids, pets and the planet. I personally use a combination of branded natural products and home-made ones: Seventh Generation for the dishwasher and toilet, Shaklee dish liquid and all-purpose cleaner, Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile on the floors, baking soda and vinegar for tub and sinks, peroxide or lemon in place of bleach, vinegar to make metal fixtures shiny. Shaklee or Allen’s for laundry, and vinegar can be used as a natural softener (doesn’t make the clothes smell I promise!). Baking soda can remove odor from nearly anything (sprinkle on carpet before vacuuming, and I plan on using it in the diaper pail once our little one is here).
For those who love fragrance- I am definitely one of them, and used to love buying scented anything- essential oils are your best friend. I’m kind of a lavender addict lately. I have had the same tiny (0.5 oz) bottle of lavender essential oil for well over a year because it is so potent. You can add oils to home-made cleaners, burn them in a diffuser, add them to water in a spray bottle to mist onto linens and into the air… some, like tea tree and eucalyptus, even have powerful antibacterial properties and can aid in cleaning (add tea tree to floor cleaning water). What’s more, the same oils have healing and therapeutic properties. Lavender is calming and relaxing and good for burns and sunburn, tea tree is an antiseptic and great for first aid, acne, bug bites and many other things, sandalwood is good for sore throats, frankincense for infection. I am gradually building a collection of essential of oils to use in our home, for both cleaning and health.
I began using natural cleaning products before I even knew exactly how harmful the conventional kind are. Pregnancy has brought many things like this to my awareness because I want to much to create a safe and healthy home for my son (which starts with what he is exposed to before birth as well). I have now phased out every chemical cleaner from my home, and I am confident that it is a much healthier place now than it was before. Whether you have young ch
ildren or not, I encourage you to be aware of how each and every item you buy and use had direct impact on your health and that of the environment. Be a conscious consumer.

When bed bugs and nightmares aren't the biggest concerns

Reading this book recently, I was kind of surprised to find information about dangerous chemicals being used in mattresses- including crib mattresses. Some of these include polyvinyl chloride, phthalates, and chemical flame retardants. It is even suspected there is a link between these poisonous substances and SIDS. Considering how much time a baby is likely to spend in his or her crib, and how much more susceptible their tiny bodies are to toxins, I find myself once again really upset by the lack of regulation of dangerous chemicals in consumer products in the U.S.- especially those marketed for babies and children.
Thankfully, a few companies are offering organic mattresses- my favorite so far is Naturepedic. We’re planning to buy one for our little guy’s crib.
Here are a few articles about the dangers of chemicals in crib mattresses:

http://www.healthychild.com/toxic-chemicals-baby-mattress.htm

http://www.articlesbase.com/home-improvement-articles/an-organic-crib-mattress-a-key-part-of-a-healthy-nursery-environment-648212.html

https://www.amazines.com/article_detail.cfm?articleid=711682

Green is simple- my frustrations

It really irks me that going green has become another marketing gimmick in many ways. I myself am often guilty of feeling like all my efforts towards eco-friendliness must be product-oriented. It is definitely a huge step to replace purchases of toxic and harmful items with green choices, but buying things is not the only way to be earth friendly- in fact at times all the “green choices” can be just as wasteful. It seems in our culture we do not really know how do something unless it somehow requires spending more money. Because of this, I think, a misconception has formed that it is expensive to go green, and therefore people who cannot afford organic produce and a solar energy system do not even bother.
But the people who are truly living earth-friendly “dark-green” lives- the ones creating the least amount of waste on a daily basis- often find they are also spending less. Growing your own vegetables or buying from a local farmer, using and reusing cloths instead of paper towels, making and reusing items rather than buying new as often as possible, and limiting or discontinuing use of disposables such as paper and Styrofoam plates, cups and napkins can all make a really significant difference. There is an email newsletter I receive on a regular basis that highlights greener options for various aspects of life, but it is almost always about something else to buy- from organic cotton clothing to greener dog bones to shampoo. In these economically trying times, I want to look for ways to be earth-friendly and also spend less money. It isn’t always easy to ignore the consumerism that has been ingrained in me by my culture, but I would like to begin to make my household one that wastes less and is resourceful and simpler. Out with the constant onslaught of stuff, and in with a completely new mindset concerning what it means to be green and to live within (or even below) our means. Simplicity may be pretty un-American, but it is necessary for the sake of our planet and our finances.

26 weeks


So this is the last week of my 2nd trimester. I can’t believe how fast it seems to be going by. I’ve had several people comment recently that my belly has grown a lot on the last couple of weeks, and I guess it kind of feels bigger, if that is possible.
I have still sort of been rounding out the registry lists, and sometime soon Manny and I are going to go to Babies “r” Us and add things in the store. I try to go by lists of recommendations and what other people tell me, but the fact is it is hard to know exactly what we will want and need when he is actually here. Looking at all the stuff can be fun, but I think there is a lot of commercial hype about baby stuff and they market to neurotic new parents- really babies’ needs are pretty simple and I’m not too worried about not having everything.
I have been doing lots of reading and research on cloth diapers and I’m really convinced that I can handle it and that it is better than disposables in many ways. People tend to look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them that’s what we’re planning to do, but I think they are mostly unaware of the new cloth diapers that make it really easy and basically as clean as disposables. This blog by a mom I found online explains why they are so great, and she wrote this one about the process she uses with them and which kinds she likes, which I found super helpful. We’re going to start out by renting a newborn size package from sunshinediapers.com, so all we will really need to by right away is covers for those. When he is big enough (about 10lbs) I want to try the all-in-one kind, which are really easy because they go on just like a disposable and expand to fit from 10lbs to potty training.
Anyway… it is time to get ready for a nice long 10 hour workday now. Possibly another 26 week picture coming later- one that includes my face :)

Toward a Better Pregnancy

I will start this blog with some of the ways I have attempted to have a more natural and balanced pregnancy over the last several months.
One of the first books I purchased back in June when I found I was going to be a mother was The Complete Organic Pregnancy. I knew that I wanted to give my baby the best start possible in life, and that I could start by making sure my own lifestyle was safe and natural. While we couldn’t afford to replace everything toxic in our home right away, once I learned about the dangers of PVC and other common substances (especially plastics!), I started to phase them out as much as possible. I did replace my PVC yoga mat with this mat, since I was doing yoga several times a week, stopped using water bottles containing BPA, and avoided putting any type of plastic in the microwave.
For the last several years, I have been sort of an “on-and-off” vegetarian- sometimes not eating any meat for over a year, and never eating it on a very regular basis. I feel better when my diet is plant-based, but moreover, it can have a huge impact on the earth in general. I wanted to maintain a vegetarian diet throughout my pregnancy, but found that I was struggling to get even close to the recommended amount of protein, so I have begun eating small amounts of hormone-free chicken on occasion. As much as our budget will allow, I eat organic foods, and try to include a lot of fresh produce. Eating well is probably the most important step a woman can take to ensure a healthy baby.
Another big area I have gone earth-friendly in is personal care products. I have been using at least some natural products for years, but since I’ve been pregnant I have pretty much cut out all “drugstore” type items. There are countless harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in everything from skin care to shampoo, lotion to hand soap. Many of these ingredients have not been properly tested to ensure that they are safe for human use, and yet there they are on the shelves in the stores we shop in. Some excellent all-natural brands I’ve found are Avalon, Burt’s Bees, Weleda, Nature’s Gate, Tom’s of Maine and Desert Essence. If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods or other well-stocked natural foods store nearby, they carry many wonderful products that work beautifully. I love Burt’s Bee’s Mama Bee Belly Butter and Leg and Foot Cream. My skin care is currently from Weleda, and my toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine. I’m always looking for new products to try, so I’ll attempt to review what I use on this blog in the future.
I could keep going on and on, but for now I’ll end with a word on cleaning products. Many people do not realize how very important this issue is. Traditional cleaners may seem to make things clean, but what we don’t see are the dangerous toxins they leave behind in our homes. They are not safe for the person cleaning, or those who will come in cantact with the “cleaned” surfaces. Marketing from large companies has fostered the mindset that you need all these chemicals to kill germs and make everything sanitary, but these products are doing much more harn than good. Thanks to green being so popular, there are now tons of alternative options from brands such as Seventh Generation, and they really do work! I have used many different natural cleaners, but have recently started with Shaklee products sold by a friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. Shaklee has been around for a lot longer than I have, and their products are absultely wonderful and completely safe and eco-friendly. I use them for all my cleaning, including laundry and dishes, and I’m anything but disappointed. They are also extremely cost-effective.
Well, this became a post about green living, not just pregnancy, but I guess the point is that just about anything eco-friendly and natural is better when you’re pregnant. The less exposure you have to toxins, the less your baby is being exposed to them.
A few more quick natural pregnancy tips: yoga is amazing and I believe it has really made a difference in how I’ve felt physically and mentally; herbal pregnancy teas are nice alternatives to coffee and can have tremendous benefits; relaxation is so very important- take time for yourself no matter what because your mental state effects your baby, and it is so important to take the time to enjoy pregnancy.