...so in case you had not noticed...i am sort of a hippie/flower child...whatever you want to call me...

I have always loved to "be green." I love to recycle, I rarely throw things away and I was thrilled to buy a Honda Civic Hybrid a couple of years ago. I believe in personal responsibility and with that in mind I feel that is my job and my responsibility to be a good steward of the earth God has created for me to live in. If I can play a role in slowing global warming down...I want to do that. If I can keep my home and our community healthier, with less chemicals and waste- I want to do that. And honestly it saves me and my family a TON of money to "go green." There are some things i am not willing to give up (like my showers- I would never attach a low-flow shower head- I just like my showers too much)...but many of the things we do around here are just a part of my life and really easy. My grandma has always been "earth friendly" and had compost piles and those sorts of things way before it was trendy. My mom carried some of that on and she always used cloth napkins and taught us to give things to charity rather than throwing them out...don't be surprised if you ever see me dumpster diving!

I could go on and on and on...but even though this is my soap box...please know that these things work for our family and for myself. I do not look down on those who don't do them. Some of my friends have jokingly apologized to me for using disposable diapers and I say hey...it's my thing...I don't care what you do (although I do try to encourage people that they will save a TON of money on diapers if they switch to cloth...and they are not your mothers cloth diapers from the 70's...they are awesome...but that is another story for another day)!

So in light of Earth Day here are a few things that we do to "save the planet" (as well as "save our money, create a healthier environment for our baby and take care of the resources we have been given")...let me know if there is something you do that I could learn from! Also check out my links under greenVALENTINE for more information (I keep adding to it all the time)!

We usually use:

  • cloth napkins (just throw them in the laundry with your dish towels)
  • cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels (we only use about one roll of paper towels a month)
  • cloth diapers (Bumgenius are my favorite...you will initially pay about $400 for 20 diapers that are will grow with your child...one size fits all...so once you buy them you are done paying for diapers- how great is that)
  • cloth wipes (i just stick them in a wipes warmer and throw them in the wash with the diapers)
  • when i do use disposable diapers & wipes i try to buy biodegradable ones like seventh generation
  • charlies soap laundry detergent (i cannot say enough good things about this stuff...it gets your laundry so clean that you don't need softeners or other detergents. one small scoop is all you need and it lasts forever. you do not need bleach or dryer sheets and it is safe for the cloth diapers as well as being biodegradable. no need for Dreft or other baby detergent- this is gentle enough for baby cloths to undergarments...can you tell i love it)
  • Trader Joe's- lavender laundry bags (they are small bags of dried lavender you can throw in the dryer. i prefer these over the harsh scents and residue of dryer sheets...plus i have sensitive skin that sometimes breaks out from the residue left behind)
  • compost (just get a bin and go for it)
  • use baking soda for many cleaning needs (including bathing my baby- most of the time we just put a teaspoon or so in her bath and then every few nights we use a gentle cleanser on her hair - such as Arbonne or Burt's bees baby brands)
  • use method soaps, cleaners and air fresheners (i am slowly getting rid of all my traditional cleaning products- when they run out I buy a product that has less chemicals and is biodegradable)
  • Trader Joe's- dish washing detergent
  • Trader Joe's or method- all purpose cleaner (called "cleanliness is next to godliness")
  • hang dry items in the summer (this saves us money on our pg&e bill- also bleach is very toxic...you can hang things to dry and the sun will naturally bleach them...this works great for our cloth diapers)
  • energy efficient light bulbs (i am replacing mine one at a time and while they cost more money the last longer and save you money on your energy bill)
  • recycle, recycle, recycle- it takes two seconds to throw something into the recycle bin instead of the trash (check your area to find out more about recycling)

We try to:

  • use our own bags at the grocery store and recycle the regular ones
  • use our own water bottles instead of buying them (the aluminum and stainless steel seem to be the best to avoid problems with plastics- we currently use the plastic Nalgene bottles)
  • buy energy star appliances
  • be aware of vampire energy (check out this link and unplug items you are not using...especially when you go out of town)
  • wrap gifts in containers that can be reused (get creative- it can be fun- my friend Laura is the best at this)
  • drive our hybrid vehicle most of the time (it saves us so much money at the pump)
  • go on walks to the store if i just need a few things
  • use the library (so great, almost always free and even in walking distance)
  • have house plants (about 15 house plants will help clean the air (in an the average home) of the chemicals used in an average household
  • reuse scraps of paper for shopping lists or notes (i often cut up paper into flash card sizes and use them for my lists. also, in my scrapbooking i rarely throw out a scrap...you never know how you can use something in a different project)
When we are getting rid of stuff:

  • always donate old clothes, furniture, toys and other things in good condition to charities such as goodwill, the salvation army or a church (if we are not sure if it is in good condition we just ask when we give it to them...you never know)
  • or have a garage sale, post items on craigs list or freecycle

P.S. Some people in my life think that i am crazy- but i am okay with that!!!!


Flo said...

you are right ON, girl!!!!

Mandy said...

I love this post, Laura! I especially appreciate the cleaning supplies- because I've been looking for better ones- I'll have to try that laundry soap.
We just switched to bumgenius diapers recently & I'm hooked. Although the other day Leta had a record 3 poopy diapers in a day & I was not loving being green by the end of that day :)
I also wanted to warn you about the nalgenes- you've probably already heard that they just found that same harmful bp chemical in them, so I think they'll probably come out with new ones, but they're recalling all their old hard plastic waterbottles.
Anyways, thanks again- I appreciate the list!

Heather said...

Hi Laura, I saw your blog link on Flo's blog... we emailed back and forth a bit (about cloth diapers when you were pregnant)... LOVE your post- so true!!! Glad cloth is working out for you, to bad you don't live out this way, Flo, you and I could hang out and be "crunch" together! :)
Heather Lettus

Ryan and Emma said...

Great post and great ideas!!

I would add one thing. If you have a weed issue in the yard....put on a pot of water on the stove and get it up to boiling. Use that on weeds and it works just fine! No chemicals!

Keep up the great blogging!!

the PANFILIO family said...

thanks everyone for your comments and additional ideas.

mandy- you read my mind. aaron and i were just talking about the water bottle thing the other day. in fact, i found a website that sells sippy cups made out of stainless that i am going to purchase for paige. hang in there with the cloth diapers- eventually the poopy diapers get easier- still gross- but easier to deal with when they are solid and can be flushed down the toilet.
heather- thanks for all of your cloth diaper advice. it is so overwhelming to find the right ones and to even know where to start when you are looking. you and flo are some of the only moms i know who use cloth...so thanks.
emma- thanks for the weed tip. i will try that. i know that along those lines my grandma always recommends spraying aphids with water...you have to keep it up...but eventually they go away. i think lady bugs help with this too.