Here at TMD we all try our hardest to be natural parents. That can mean different things to each and everyone of us. For most of us that means leading a pretty eco-friendly lifestyle. Now all of us would love to be able to tell you that we are living 100% sustainable 100% of the time but I know that we can’t. Between the kids, the husbands and everything in between we have all found ways to make our homes Earth happy in the best ways we know how. I can say from experience that I, personally, love learning new ways to help my family to become more eco friendly as well. We have made a list of each of the biggest ways we help out our Mother Earth:
- Cloth Diapering- Way before Harper was even a twinkle in my eye I decided that I
wantedneeded to cloth diaper. I wish that I would have chosen to cloth diaper way back when Riley was a baby. I chose this for our family for a few reasons… A. It is by far the best thing for the environment. Period. It takes hundreds upon hundreds of years for 1 disposable diaper to biodegrade, when thinking about the thousands of diapers I would be dumping into a landfill in her life time, it was a frightening fact. My water bill has seriously not really changed but a few bucks since starting cloth. We have made a conscious effort to change our water consumption in other ways to accommodate the extra water used on the diapers. B. It is cheaper. The upfront investment is no doubt higher but in the long run it will save our family tons of money. C. It is way mre convient. It may sound silly but it is such a relief never having to run out and get diapers. I stay on a washing schedule and never have to worry if we are out of diapers when she has a pooplosion.
- Bottle water- We do not buy bottles of water. We purchased a reverse osmosis system that has been installed onto our faucet that filters out our tap water. Trust me we used to spend lots of money of bottled water but even the most “green” bottle of water that you can buy is extremely detrimental to not only our eco-system but to our economy. All that filtered “spring” water you buy is really filtered tap water from the local area where that water is bottles. The average cost of a galloon of tap water is $.0015, the average cost of a gallon of water in bottles is $10. These facts don’t even include the actual bottle that the water is in… For more info on this, I found this site to be very helpful (click here)
- Energy consumption- One day I would love to have solar panels, a water less water tank, and a greenhouse but in the interim we try and do what we can. With an eight and three year old it sometimes can be a challenge to keep lights turned off and water not running. We have made it a habit that anytime any of us leave a room we double check that the light switches are turned OFF. Also, we take short, timed showers and brush our teeth without the water running. We have installed solar shades onto all of our windows which can help reduce our energy use by 25% and it has already paid for itself in less than 1 year. I also take advantage of our time-of-use program through our electric company for lower electric bills. This means that from 3 p.m – 6 p.m very little electricity is run in our house. I wish we could say we use public transportation or were able to be a one car family, but sadly that is not the case. We live too far out in the burbs to utilize the limited public transportation Arizona offers. With that being said, Logan does carpool to work and I try to drive the minimum amount of places as possible.
- Cloth diaper – it’s cute, affordable and one of my favorite ways of being green. You can cloth diaper a baby from infancy through toddlerhood for as little as $50. Naysayers of the cloth diapering movement can argue that all the washing is just a as bad for the environment, but the fact of the matter is, a standard disposable diaper takes 500 years to biodegrade while a cloth diaper can be used and reused for years. Washing the diapers can and should be done in a green way as well. Using natural detergent such as Charlie’s Soap or vinegar promotes greener living and prevents wicking of your dipes.
- Buy in bulk – if you are going to buy processed items, choose to buy in bulk. Doing so will save you money and cut down on waste since it eliminates a huge packaging component. You can find bulk items at your standard grocery store, Costco or even online through Amazon.
- Recycle – This is a big one for me. Chicago has one of the crappiest recycling programs I have ever seen. Not only is it not standard to have recycling trash cans, outside of downtown you are hard pressed to find public bins. In order to do our part I keep a separate bin for any cans or bottles we accumulate. I save the pop tops for Ronald McDonald House Charity and save the bottle lids for Aveda’s program. We are rarely able to make it to the recycling plant, so if I hear the clackity sound of a shopping cart going down the alley, I give my recyclables to the bums looking for scrap. Another way we recycle is any product that comes in a container gets reused. Cans are used for drippings and jars are used to hold everything from paper clips to Bobby Pins. Paper towel and toilet paper rolls get reused for crafts so don’t throw them out! Either save them for child crafts or donate them to a school or pre-k.
- Walk more – Want to lose those last few pounds? Walk more. Saving money, burning calories and not spending $4,50 per gallon on fuel is quite appealing. Find yourself a walking buddy if you can, but if not start off by walking to the store. You are probably thinking that’s crazy, because where are you going to put all your groceries, well this is the best part. By going to the store with baby and stroller in tow you are limited to what you van buy. Stock up on veggies, fruits and meats and skip the boxed goods aisles. You will also skip buying soda, because it will weigh you down. Chances are you won’t even miss the junk food once you see your body tone up from all that walking.
- Recycle: We recycle clothing, aluminum, and sometimes other materials as well. We do not have a recycling program in our community (we don’t even have trash service), so we have to do what we can with what is available. I feed food scraps to chickens, add newspaper to the compost, recycle a variety of building materials (we literally have a dog run made out of Walmart shopping cart corrals) and generally try not to be wasteful.
- Cloth diapering: This one is obvious, but we cloth diaper. We have already saved hundreds of dollars by minimizing our disposable diaper bill. I dry the diapers on a clothesline (I tumble dry the cloth wipes so they don’t get crunchy) and then put them on two cute baby butts. We are still on our first bottle of detergent – we use Vaska – because cloth diapers need very detergent to get clean. I have been using CDs for four and a half months.
- Growing our own: I garden. I grow a variety of vegetables and herbs and we have five laying hens who provide us with fresh eggs. I know that they were treated humanely, that there are no pesticides or herbicides in my garden, and that basically ZERO gallons of fuel went into bringing my food to the table. I do use a weedwhacker to mow my grass though, not a reel mower, but someday…
- Reduce our waste output- You can read ALL about it here!
- Cloth diaper- I’m certain that the other girls have already covered most of the points on why cloth diapering is important, so all I will add is that we have found most of our diapers used at local consignment stores or discounted with special deals online and have only had to spend maybe $200 on diapers. And we have way more than we need. We have a clothesline for drying all but the prefolds (they get too crunchy) and we use cloth wipes.
- Reduce electricity/gas usage–in the summer, we leave our windows open with box fans in them every night and during the winter, we dress in extra layers, have fires and cook all our meals inside to try and serve a dual purpose of heating and eating. We mostly started this because we have a very tight budget around the home, but it ends up being pretty green, too! We also have energy efficient light bulbs in every socket in the house and make sure to turn all of our lights off when we aren’t in the room. (Except for the fishtanks. The fishies get light all day.) We also try to bike regularly, and will be increasing this now that we have an infant bike trailer and such. We also also have an electric lawnmower. Which is rad!
- Cloth Diaper- Being green is a side effect of cloth diapering for us, not the reason for doing it. Honestly I’m super lazy and don’t want to have to remember to buy diapers at the store. Plus they are just so much cuter! I could say they have saved me money, but that’s not quite true since I have a diaper buying problem. It has certainly not web cheaper for us.
- Cleaning- Vinegar and steam! Again, being green is just a side effect. I’m cheap, vinegar is cheap and so that’s what I use. I’m also quite allergic to most things that contain heavy perfumes so some of the fancy cleaning products leave me sneezing for hours. We’ve recently bought a steam mop for the floors and it’s amazing! Leaves my floors clean without any cleaners or even vinegar.
- The toilet: my kids have really made the toilet green. There is the old adage “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”…my kids take this way to far and don’t flush ever. We’ll count it as green though 😉
What are some ways that you and your family stay Green?