Over the past few years Tim and I have made some lifestyle changes so that we could tread more lightly on the earth, and therefore leave less of a negative impact for future generations to deal with. Here’s what we do, and we’re always looking for new ideas!
CLOTH DIAPERS: Before we had Eden we knew that we were going to use cloth. We scoured kijiji for deals on used ones and found someone selling a whole bunch for an excellent deal. There are MANY different kinds of diapers and we have quite a few different brands. I hope to do a blog post on them soon, I’ll attach a link when I do, in the mean time my sister has a few posts on cloth diapering you should check out, here and here. There has been a lot of debate about whether cloth diapers are in fact more eco-friendly than disposable (because of the water usage when washing and all that goes into manufacturing…), and I’m sure you can find things to support your argument either way. In short these are the reasons we use cloth: better for baby (no chemicals against baby’s sensitive parts all day), human waste is not meant to go in landfills (cannot be treated appropriately), it is estimated that disposables take 250-500 years to decompose in a landfill, they’re much cheaper in the long run (we probably spent about $300), they will last for all of our babies, and they’re cute.
SOAPNUTS: We’ve been using soapnuts for almost 5 years to wash all of our clothes and diapers. We also make a liquid soap with them for cleaning. This is a great website if you want more info, we’ve bought them from here and here. We’ll probably write a blog post about them someday too.
CHEMICAL-FREE CLEANING: Besides soapnuts we use baking soda, diluted vinegar, and Borax for all of our household cleaning. Diluted vinegar is a great all purpose cleaner, baking soda and Borax are both scouring agents but borax is stronger (we use it for the tub, toilet and sinks). You can also sprinkle Borax in with your laundry for some extra power. If you’ve never heard of it just look for it in the laundry detergent section of your department or grocery store, it’s a light green box and it has lots of information on it.
DIVA CUP AND CLOTH PADS: Like soapnuts I’ve been using a diva cup for almost 5 years instead of disposable feminine products. What a fantastic invention it is! I did A LOT of research on it before I bought one to make sure it was for me and I was willing to be more “in touch” with my cycle. After I figured out the best way to insert it I fell in love with it and told many other girls about it. I think it’s a good idea for us to be more aware of our cycles and this is an excellent way to do that. It’s cheaper – about $40 – than disposable products (how much do you spend per year on disposable feminine products?) and you only have to empty it twice a day (in the morning and in the evening). I often forget that I’m menstruating during the day because I don’t even have to think about it. That said, since having a baby things have changed…I bought the size 2 (for post-natal women) and I’m still getting used to how it fits. It takes time to get back in shape down there!
Cloth pads were wonderful after Eden was born (and I obviously couldn’t use the cup). They were soft on my stitches and didn’t pull like disposable pads (I used cloth after I got home from the hospital). I would definitely recommend getting some even if it was just for this purpose. I still use them occasionally!
EAT LOCAL: We’re fortunate to live in a city where local produce and meat is easy to get. We go to the farmers market almost every Saturday where we get our eggs, some produce and some meat. We’re actually getting a CSA box from Sunshine Miles farm this summer so our veggies will be taken care of. We’re also growing a small garden so we’ll have some veggies in our back yard to enjoy!
PACKAGING: It’s important to notice the packaging that your food comes in. Is it recyclable? Is it reusable? Better yet, is it both? Being aware of what you’re purchasing is half the battle. Also, buying large bags of dried goods (like beans) is much more economical and healthy than meal sized cans. A 1lb bag of dried beans makes approximently5 cans worth of beans, for about the price of one!
SECOND-HAND STORES: This is an easy way to tread lightly! You can get pretty-much anything second hand and it saves money as well as has a smaller impact than buying new.
REUSING ZIPLOC BAGS: This is exactly what it sounds like, we wash out our bags after using them. You only have to by them once and they actually last quite some time (especially if you buy Ziploc, not generic).