Going green. What does it mean to you? Living a ‘green’ lifestyle can mean so many different things. It can mean buying less, reusing more or being mindful when choosing products. (Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a package of baby wipes…yes baby wipes! There’s an ingredients list, and it’s terrifying.) It can also mean spending a lot more money, because eco-friendly, sustainable products tend to be on the pricey side. It’s why plastic has become such a problem. It’s cheap. But it’s destroying our world, and if we don’t start to change our habits, our children are going to be the ones who suffer.
“Having children is the most destructive thing a person can do to the environment.”
Thank you research. As if I didn’t already feel inadequate about my parenting skills. But I want kids, preferably more than one. So not having children is not an option, not if I have any control over it anyway. So, what do we do?
I’ve always tried to live a fairly ‘green’ lifestyle. I recycle everything, to the point of being s-u-p-e-r annoying about it (just ask my parents or coworkers). I don’t litter. I always use a reusable bag at the grocery store. I make a lot of my own cleaning products and scour the ingredients list on most of the things I buy at the grocery store. So when my husband brought up the findings from this study as a joke one day when we were talking about ways we could be more environmentally friendly, it really got me thinking. How could I make adding more humans to the world a little less detrimental to Mother Earth? Which companies make products that are safe for my family? What could I do to reduce our carbon footprint, so my children have a clean place to grow up in? It’s not a simple or straightforward task. And it seriously conflicts with my innate thrifty, money-savvy nature.
We’re trying. We are a long way from perfect. But we’re trying.
Here are a few of the products we’ve been using and things we’ve been doing on this new venture into eco-friendly, toxin-free, sustainable living. The bonus…a lot of them of are actually saving us money.
We ran out of paper towels more than 6 months ago, and I decided I wasn’t buying any more. Guess what? We have managed to survive without them – with a toddler on the loose. I’ve replaced them with reusable alternatives, like these Wet-It Cloths and now I’ll never go back to disposable paper towels. I use them everywhere – dishes, counters, windows, mirrors, sinks, in the bathroom, on the highchair tray – I haven’t found a job that they can’t handle. This includes my toddler’s incessantly sticky hands and face. They are streak-free, don’t hold smells and are easily cleaned in the dishwasher or washing machine. For a quick fix, you can even pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to disinfect. These cloths are SUPER absorbent – they hold up to 15 times their weight in water. They’re reusable (obviously, or I wouldn’t be talking about them here) and they’re designed to last for at least 6 months. When you are ready to toss them, in true green living fashion, they’re 100% decomposable. There are more than 120 designs to choose from and they retail for just $5.95 each, which is around the cost of 3 rolls of paper towels. I bet you go through waaaay more than 3 rolls of paper towels in 6 moths.These cloths definitely get two thumbs up from this thrifty, wanna-be green mom.
Want to give them a try? You can use IHM20 for 20% off your order of $20 or more on the Wet-It Cloths website.
Sage Spoonfuls Squeezies
We own a lot of Sage Spoonfuls products, but my favorite are the reusable food pouches – the Squeezie. Huffington Post shared an article last year about why we need to stop feeding our children from ‘trendy little food pouches’. It was right around the time my daughter was beginning solids and we were introducing all of the foods that came in pouch form. I have to admit, I was kinda looking forward to them. I had tried a few from other people’s kids, that banana-mango-peach puree is not half bad. And it’s organic! But when I found out they couldn’t be recycled because of the way they’re made, it was a hard no for me. These pouches are not only piling up in landfills, they’re ending up in the oceans, too.
But they’re SO convenient. That’s the reason in 2015, sales from baby food pouches reached $45 million, up from $8 million in 2010. I knew there had to be a reusable pouch out there somewhere and after a quick Google search, Sage Spoonfuls Squeezie pouches came to my rescue. They’re refillable pouches that provide the same convenience as single-serve pouches but without the waste and high cost. Some of those pouches can cost more than $2 for one 4-ounce serving! Yeah…no…I’m not spending more per ounce on your pureed beets than I do my wine, mmmkay? I can buy yogurt, applesauce, pudding in bulk and fill my own pouches for a fraction of the cost. Cleaning them is really easy. I prefer to hand wash but they’re also dishwasher safe. Another win-win for this mom.
Ecozoi Stainless Steel Popsicle Molds
If you know toddlers, you know that popsicles are like crack to those little people. If my daughter could be sustained by popsicles alone, she would gladly accept that challenge. But I had a hard time finding these delicious summer treats sans high fructose corn syrup and a bunch of artificial ingredients. And I don’t even want to start on those plastic wrappers.
So I started looking into reusable molds. Not only would it be less expensive and less wasteful, but I could control what I put in them. My kid is pretty easy to please, half of the time she’s satisfied with a plain old ice cube. Making my own popsicles would be a piece of cake. Finding an acceptable popsicle mold however, that was the challenge.
I was overloaded with plastic options, but knew I wanted to avoid them. I stumbled upon the Ecozoi Instagram page and found exactly what I was looking for – an eco-friendly, stainless steel popsicle mold. The sticks are reusable bamboo. The packaging was 100% recyclable. This company has my heart.
Another bonus – stainless steel freezes those popsicles a LOT faster than plastic, which is an important feature when you’re dealing with tiny dictators…I mean toddlers. I pour in some organic yogurt, mix in a little frozen fruit and she thinks we’re having dessert. She has no idea that they’re actually healthy. The only problem is she has to compete with my husband for them!
We went ahead and got the ice cube tray and just ordered the leak proof lunch boxes as well. Everything can be purchased directly from the Ecozoi website or on Amazon. Ecozoi, my daughter (and my husband) thank you. As do I, because I earned some serious brownie points from both of them after this purchase.
(If anyone has a stainless steel straw that they recommend, please comment below! That’s next on our list.)
90% of my daughter’s wardrobe is second-hand. We ventured into parenthood a little later than most of our friends and family, and the benefit to that was a lot hand-me-downs. At first I was simply glad because it saved us SO much money. Then I started reading about textile waste, and I was horrified. For example, did you know that it takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton shirt? 7-0-0. That’s enough to keep a person hydrated for 900 DAYS! Or that the average American is responsible for 82 pounds of textile waste per year? The kicker for me was that shoes can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Kicker. See what I did there?
So when we I do need something for my daughter, I always start by looking at second-hand stores, like Kid To Kid. They buy gently used clothing, shoes, toys, books, gear and more and resell everything for a lot less than what you’d pay for brand new items in a store. There are stores all across the US and Canada and they also have locations in Portugal and Spain. With special discount days and flash sales, you can really save big on everything you need for your kids.
And don’t forget about your local thrift stores! I just got a pair of like-new kids Converse sneakers for $1.50 at the Salvation Army. After tossing them in the washing machine, they could pass for brand new. Those hidden treasures are worth the little bit of scouring required.
When I do buy new, I try to purchase from small shops that take vintage or pre-loved material and turn it into something new. A couple of my favorite shops are Maizy Sue (she creates beautiful dresses out of old pillowcases) and Sweet as April (the famous bonnet maker).
Bets & Emy Wipes
I took for granted as a rookie mom that products made for babies would be safe. Don’t we pay a lot for organizations to monitor this stuff? I know better now. But Emily Frazer knew better a few years ago when she developed Bets & Emy wipes for her red-headed little boy with sensitive skin.
If you have a package of Huggies or Pampers wipes laying around, flip them over and read the ingredients list. Yes, ingredients. For baby wipes. Even the ‘natural’, ‘fragrance-free’, ‘pure & gentle’ varieties are loaded with a bunch of junk. Not Bets & Emy. 2 ingredients. Water (99.9%) and grapefruit extract (0.1%). That’s it.
Yes, they’re disposable, but I’m including them in this list because there’s more to being green than recycling and reusing. Using products that are TRULY natural is important, too. One of the things I wished I knew more about before becoming a parent is cloth diapers. I legit pictured little square pieces of fabric and safety pins. That was not for me. So we opted for disposable, and it’s one of my biggest regrets. But cloth diapers have come a loooong way. When I think about how many disposable diapers we’ve used in the last 2 years, well forget it, I don’t want to think about it. And when you factor in 1-3 wipes per diaper change (or 6 if you’re my husband)? That’s a lot of exposure to chemicals on a baby’s sensitive skin. It’s why we’ve made the switch to Bets & Emy.
I must admit, I’m a little biased. Bets & Emy wipes were created right here in my hometown, and I love to support local businesses. #BuffaLOVE
To find Bets & Emy wipes at a store near you, you can use their store locator.
My biggest worry with choosing to be more eco-friendly was the cost. But the more I search, the more I find that being green actually SAVES me some green most of the time. By purchasing reusable products, we spend a lot less than we would on the single-serve or one-time use alternatives. And my hope with making the switch to more natural, non-toxic household items is that we’ll all be healthier. Better health means fewer sick days and time off from work or school, less time wasted because someone doesn’t feel well, fewer trips to the doctor, less medication to buy, all of which can definitely result in savings over time.
So be green. Save green. Your kids will thank you. And if they don’t, send them to me and I’ll see if I can’t persuade them with a popsicle.
Disclosure: Some of the links included here are affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Also, some of the products listed were provided free in exchange for review. I always give my honest opinion and findings. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger’s own’.