Every time I place a prefold on my daughter, I am steeped in satisfaction. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m enthralled with all things vintage--Lucy has a substantial wardrobe of decades-old gowns, bloomers, caps and delightfully frilly frocks--but my satisfaction stems from more than just the classic appearance of my cloth-clad baby. There’s something to be said for the act of wrapping her snugly in a simple, soft piece of cotton, a diapering system without gel-packed insides, generic cartoon characters or papery edges to irritate her skin. Just as a single hand-written letter is vastly superior to an abundance of abbreviated text messages, cloth diapers have an authenticity about them that cannot be overlooked.
After all, centuries of women have diapered their babies in nothing but cloth. I have wedged my way firmly into this assemblage, and my life is forever changed because of it. Cloth diapers mark the starting point of my own eco-educational journey--I can no longer ignore the weight of my presence upon this planet. The choices that I make, whether large or seemingly insubstantial, have genuine impact, as I am raising a member of the next generation. When it comes to encouraging her to shuffle in with the masses or traipse along her along own little path, I’ll kindly choose the latter, leading by example.
In this era of “throw-and-go” and “take-and-toss,” what are we teaching our children? I believe that I’m teaching Lucy the importance of perpetuity, quality over convenience, and personal responsibility. The diapers that Lucy has already outgrown have been carefully packed away for the children we hope to have in coming years. Besides the very few diapers that were used on Lucy in the hospital following her birth and during her first three days at home, she’ll have no contribution to the astounding 18 billion diapers tossed into the landfill each year. This is more than I can say for myself--now at a ripe 28 years old, my diapers are still sitting fully formed in a landfill not far from my current home. And they will, without a doubt, outlive me--each has an average of 472 years left.
Have I mentioned how far cloth diapers have come? As it is with all things, technology certainly has its place. From silken bamboo to uber-thirsty microfiber to the glorious invention that is polyurethane laminate (PUL), cloth diapering has made significant strides--some diapers are downright drool-worthy. And while I dabble in all genres of cloth, from pockets to fitteds to all-in-ones, I often return to the simplicity of the plain ol’ prefold, if not just to get my head on straight. In our constantly buzzing world, this “back-to-basics” break can be entirely refreshing.
Lucy has yet to babble out any real words, but I’m placing my bet on "Look, I'm fluffy!” to get that elusive spot in the baby book. Any takers?
for a toothbrush, we are using some piece of plastic crest baby brush that the dentist gave me last time i was in for my own dental cleaning. i did pick up a preserve jr. brush for lucy when the one she is currently using gets all worn out. preserve is a great company that crafts toothbrushes from recycled yogurt containers. if you've read my blog for awhile you'll recall that, while i think this is a fantastic idea, the adult preserve brush (which i got at trader joe's), was a bit too soft for my liking. i am hopeful that the baby brush will work out fine, as baby brushes are supposed to be super soft on those tender gums anyway. spent brushes can be returned to the company using a free postage-paid mailer, where they are turned into plastic lumber. click here to read more about this great program!
1 box organic, free-range chicken broth (trader joe's)
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed (trader joes)
lots of fresh, organic spinach (approx. the amount of 2 big bags, or whatever will fit in your pot)
1 head of chopped garlic (less if you're not a garlic lover)
1/2 c. olive oil
cracked pepper to taste
brown the chopped garlic in the bottom of a soup/stock pot. toss in the freshly washed spinach, drizzle with the olive oil, and cover. uncover and stir often, until spinach is good & wilted. add the 2 cans of rinsed beans and broth. let simmer for about 1/2 hour so the beans get nice and soft.
serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked pepper. and bread. lots of nice, toasty bread.
we've been eating lots of this soup lately, even though the weather here in california has been unseasonably warm. it's simple, cheap, can easily be made with all organic ingredients (i have substituted the cannelinni beans for organic kidney beans with success), and our littlest eater chows down on it like nobody's business. yum!
she wins a set of dryer balls that have been sitting on my kitchen table for the past week just dying to get shipped off to their new home. i promise they don't have any food on them, becky! look for an email from me today!
thank you all for your lovely comments--it was so fun to get them in my inbox and learn what other people are doing to live a little more eco-friendly. growing your own salad mix, trying to get by with only one car, discovering new laundry detergents (or making your own), eating less meat, joining an organic farm share--all of these and more are fabulous, inspiring ideas! thanks for sharing.
this was so fun! let's do it again next month--what should i make to give away?
bittman stated in his interview that 18% of greenhouse gasses arise from raising livestock--a sizeable amount, i actually thought it was much higher but i guess that doesn't matter. anyway, he also stated that the average non-vegetarian/vegan american eats 1/2 pounds of meat per day, along with 1 1/2 pounds of animal products (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.). that equates to 2 pounds of food daily, which doesn't leave much room for fruits, veggies, grains and beans.
bittman advocates changing this "over-consumption" of animal products, but not by cutting them out altogether. rather, he advises breaking the day into segments, stating that he often eats a vegan breakfast and lunch, and then a normal (carnivorous) dinner.
all of this really struck home for me, as i have had food on my mind a lot lately. if you read yesterday's post, then you are aware that i have challenged myself to get by on $100/week for groceries and gas--not an easy accomplishment for someone who is also trying to eat as organically as possible. in addition to all of this, i have also been thinking a lot about how to raise a new little eating machine. part of me really wants to try raising lucy as a vegetarian, while part of me believes that humans (especially those of us who are rapidly developing) are intended to eat meat. i really felt that my dilemma was an all-or-nothing issue, and wasn't quite sure how to proceed.
bittman's argument falls perfectly in place on the how-to-eat spectrum, without being extreme at either endpoint. i understand that our little family (lucy included) can change how we approach our consumption habits. we've never been meat-every-night people, but milk, eggs and cheese certainly pass through our fridge door quite freely. and, for the record, i'm not saying that i want to cut these things out altogether, or even cut back on them drastically. what i want is to start really taking note of the animal products that we consume, and figure if that amount really seems right in the bigger picture.
my budget has me taking more care about what i buy--each dollar that i spend seems like a small message to the food industry, as well as a marker for who i am and what i believe in--cage free eggs, hormone-free meats, beer from local breweries instead of stuff trucked in from other countries.
bittman recommends "whittling down" the consumption of animal products by eating vegan once per day. this is not unlike the pb&j pledge that i posted about a while back. for me, i think it's time to revisit that idea, and make a commitment to giving it a go. at this point, i think lunch would be the easiest meal to implement a change.
i'll try it for a week and get back to ya.
the cell phone crackdown is, in my opinion, another great move by french government. it was only a few months ago that they banned all television programming aimed at children under 3, citing extensive research that television exposure actually negatively impacts the rapidly developing brains of babies and toddlers, instead of boosting IQ's as intended.
any chance that bans such these as could happen here? or am i destined to have to explain to my pre-schooler that just because her classmates have a firefly, doesn't mean that she can have one too?
"items with lead parts that a child cannot access, clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as cotton and wood; and electronics that are impossible to make without lead."
the rest of this very short article can be read here.
what do you think? can we celebrate yet? i've got my eye here and here.
by the way, all of my well-intentioned phone calls (to senators and cpsc chairperson nancy nord) dead-ended at full voicemailboxes and endless busy signals. my take = serious frustration, but also serious optimism that there are other people out there such as myself taking this issue very seriously. they just happened to leave messages before i did, i suppose.
i've read about using dryer balls--they apparently not only help cut down on static and work as a softener, but also help speed up drying time by promoting airflow between fabrics. they can be bought in stores, though of course handmade is always better, and come in different materials, including plastic (yuck). from all my research, though, wool dryer balls are best. and by far the most eco-friendly.
i found a wonderful do-it-yourself tutorial here and made a set of my own in no time flat. i tried them out for the first time a couple of days ago, and was thrilled when the dryer shut off in just under 60 minutes--half the time that it had typically been running. i look forward to using them with the cloth diapers next to see if there's improvement there as well. this lovely set, handmade by your loyal blogger, is up for my january giveaway! to enter, leave your name and email address in the comment section, along with a quick statement on something "green" you've done recently. hopefully your comments will inspire me, along with other readers!
i'll be using a random number generator to decide the winner on wednesday morning (the 14th). good luck to all who enter!
1. take books back to library
2. take lucy and doggie somewhere to "get the wiggles out"
3. write and mail thank-you notes
4. go grocery shopping
5. drop off/mail belated christmas gifts
6. get political
you might remember about a month ago i posted about the threat facing the world of handmade toys. well, that threat, due to what many are calling "overlegistation," still exists. in just over a month, laws will go into effect that will require extensive testing on products intended for babies and children, including (but certainly not limited to) toys. the problem here is that independent toymakers, work-at-home crafters, and small toy manufacturers of reputably "safe" products (in america, europe, australia, etc.) will quite literally be forced out of business due to lack of funds for expensive required testing. larger companies--many of whom earned the public's distrust in the first place by farming out production to china, a country with an obvious less-than-perfect track record when it comes to "safe" production--will have less of a problem financially in meeting these new legislation. the end result will supposedly be safer products overall. the actual cost of this newfound safety? a slew of lost jobs, along with drastically lowered alternatives for the conscious consumer when it comes to children's playthings. a sea of delightful, creative, imaginative toys now have the all-to-real possibility of becoming extinct--and replaced with hunks of brightly colored, battery operated hunks of cheap (lead free!) plastic.
the whole idea is enough to make me want to vomit. swear.
"With this act going into effect February 10 2009 so many people we love will be affected: Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their goods. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single toxic chemical in them still don't have a single toxic chemical in them."
all of the aforementioned is why, at some point tomorrow, i'll be making some phone calls. i'm using this list from zrecommends.com--there are about 5 calls to make. hopefully i'll get through to somebody. hopefully other people will take the time to make calls of their own. hopefully there's a way to amend this law to exempt toymakers who don't produce their products in mass quantities.
clicking on the "save handmade" button on the sidebar of this page will take you to a wealth of information about current legislation, proposed amendments, and ways to (hopefully) make a difference. february 10th is on its way--let's try to make a difference!