ooh, what fun...

lucy and i went to an infant massage class today at elephant pharmacy in berkeley, a great shop that, in addition to offering free classes, also sells a lot of natural & organic-type products. lucy and i learned a lot about the benefits of the baby rubdown. well, i learned. lucy slept. we tried it out when we got home and i do think she really liked it. there lots of cooing, kicking and smiling involved. how is this eco-friendly? well, um, it's not. we just had a really good time, so i thought i'd post.

here's the spin though... as a result of taking the class, we got a 10% off coupon good for any and all purchases at elephant. i took the opportunity to buy a few things to replace the personal care products that i 've just gotten rid of...

kiss my face obsessively natural ultra moisturizer (replacing countless bottles and jars of paraben-laden stuff)

kiss my face obsessively organic shampoo in green tea & lime (100% biodegradable... can't say that about garnier fructis)

alba green tea sunscreen spf 30+ (replacing my hawaiian tropic spf 4... (i now hang my head in shame for not using at least spf 15 all these years))

almost natural nail polish remover (replacing cutex... made with fruit acids instead of acetone)

tom's of maine cinnamon clove toothpaste (we ditched the crest awhile back for tom's spearmint but i wanted to try a new flavor)

alba passion fruit nectar lip balm (replacing a slew of lip gloss, most from victoria's secret... upon further inspection of the teeny tiny but oh-so-lengthy ingredient list, i was pretty horrified to learn that i've basically been slathering liquefied plastic on my lips since middle school (and it tastes so yummy, too))

a diva cup (replacing tampons... yikes)

i also got lucy a package of gdiapers for an upcoming camping trip, thinking that might not have enough cloth to see us through 4 nights. gdiapers are a disposable/cloth hybrid diaper, made without the use of plastics. i am in love with our cloth diapers, so this is not my first choice, but there's no washing machine at the river, unfortunately.

i am looking forward to trying out all of these products and reviewing them! i must say, it's an exciting (and empowering) thing to feel that i'm taking a step in the right direction as far as my own health is concerned... and therefore the health of the little girl who likes to snuggle all over me. i was in elephant for over an hour after class let out, studying labels and comparing ingredients. big thank you to the meter maid for not giving me a ticket!

p.s. tomorrow starts a no-dryer july. i have to admit i snuck in 2 loads at the last minute tonight... a load of whites because there's a shirt of mine that needed some serious shrinking and a load of darks because i had a pair of jeans with the same problem. tomorrow is diaper day -- it'll look a lil' something like this!

from left to right... kissaluvs, swaddlebees econappies, bummis whisper wrap, blueberry pockets, blueberry minkys, bg 3.0 & bg organics.


a pleasant suprise...

have you ever been to the farmer's market at the ferry building in san francisco? it's amazing. last year i went about once a month during the spring and summer. the vendors set up in front of the ferry building, and all down the rear plaza next to the bay, with beautiful offerings of organic fruits & veggies, fresh bread, eggs, jams & jellies, soaps & body care products, cheeses, flowers & plants. plus there's the inside of the ferry building itself, with all the wonderful shops, restaurants (taylors refresher & ciao bella gelato... yum!) and little individual markets. everything about the marketplace feels earthy yet sophisticated, all at once. it simply has to be one of the biggest, best farmer's markets in the united states. their website http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php says that up to 15,000 shoppers attend on saturdays (it's also held on tuesdays). every time i've gone, i've come home with a few bags of really excellent produce, a loaf or two of freshly baked artisan bread, a brick of cheese and a bottle of olive oil. but let me tell you, things are more expensive in the city and farm-fresh food is no exception! add in the price of gas to get there, plus $4 bridge toll and at least $6 to park and you've got yourself an expensive outing!

i talked myself into going to my local farmer's market yesterday. it's held in the parking lot behind a bank and the last time i'd been, (4 years ago) i found it pretty lackluster. well, things have changed! i'd estimate that there were about 15 vendors there, all selling locally grown stuff. we picked up 2 big bags of organic spring mix for $2 each, which is exactly what i'd pay at trader joes. we also got 1/2 pound of organic mushrooms, some beautiful nectarines, a bunch of green & yellow bell peppers & 2 red onions. would have gotten more produce, but we'd just gotten a bunch of things from costco and we're going camping over the weekend. there was a bread guy at our market as well! we picked up a loaf of really great multigrain bread, plus corn & flour tortillas to take with us on our trip. i also bought a few flowers to plant in our yard... the $3 i paid for them went to a fundraiser for the local high school.

after yesterday's success, we've committed ourselves to going to our local market as much as we can, and buying less of our produce from the grocery store. we ultimately want to eat seasonally, meaning that we'll buy what's available in our region, instead of buying food that's trucked (or flown, or floated) in from out of the state/country. my mom just told me the other day that she ate an apple with a new zealand sticker on it. new zealand? an apple from halfway around the world? how long did it take that little apple to get here? how much oil was used in its transport? how much crap was sent flying into the air as result? was the apple fresh? was it even good? what's the true cost of that apple, i wonder?

stay tuned to see if we can follow through with our plan... i do love some strawberries & cherries in the middle of winter. they help to cheer me up.


score big...

i picked up a copy of sophie ulianos's "gorgeously green" for $1 today. a steal, no doubt. i had just been thumbing though it at barnes & noble... $17.00. decided i'd get it from the library but none in the area have it. so... i was planning on going back to b&n sometime soon to purchase it, and found it today at a sample sale for a garden company.

lucy takes a break... hey, reading's no small task when the book is half as big as you are!

can't wait to learn more about the toxic substances found in products i use daily. yesterday i rummaged through my closet and bathroom, tossing anything that a) i don't use or plan on using and b) stuff with parabens in the ingredient list. i put them all in a box and sent them over to my sister-in-law. what she doesn't want, i'll post on freecycle. does that sounds mean? i kinda felt like i was saying "here, these aren't good enough for me, but you can have them..." but otherwise i'd just be tossing stuff out, lots of it completely unopened (i'm that girl who stocks up during a sale). i feel so conflicted.

for those of you that don't know, parabens are "chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally occurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer..." (taken from gorgeously green).

you'll find them in tons of beauty products, from lip gloss to shampoo to lotion. they most often come at the end of the ingredient list, and have -methyl, -ethyl, -propyl, -butyl, etc in front of the suffix 'paraben.' i was pretty much disgusted to see them in lucy's infant tylenol (she had shots done today and ran a small fever) though my understanding is that the body metabolizes parabens when ingested, but cannot do so when products are applied directly to the skin. still, i didn't feel good about giving her the tylenol.

we're so trusting. companies manufacture products and put them on store shelves. we buy without looking. we slather, puff and paint layer upon layer of product onto our skin, never giving our health a second thought. we TRUST that companies (run by PEOPLE, after all) wouldn't knowingly put a harmful product on the shelf in the first place. apparently, we are naive. and our naivety could cost us in the long run.


i look forward to reading g.g. and posting more about what i find out!


crunch confession #4...

i am so done with plastic bags.

i hesitate to actually even call this a crunch confession. in my opinion, giving up plastic is something that everyone should be doing, every day. there is simply no reason to continue to clutter up the earth with nasty plastic bags.

the environmental protection agency estimates that yearly, 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. we all know that these bags end up not only in landfills, but in trees, waterways, the bellies of animals and basically, just about everywhere in between. it costs more to recycle an old plastic bag than it does to produce a new one.... meaning most plastic bags are never recycled, no matter how well-intentioned its user may have been.

one billion bags. that's one million bags per minute. shocking, gross & saddening. if you'd like more reason on why to never use a plastic bag again, check out this link...

so what's a girl to do? well, i got those 99 cent bags at trader joes and whole foods. then i dug up a few canvas bags from my closet and the garage. then i found some vintage cloth bags at an antique fair. all of these bags were okay. got the job done. but my best purchase by far has been my envirosax.

taa daa. aren't they cute? 5 roomy bags that roll up into a small carrying pouch. the pouch fits easily into a glove box, tote bag, diaper bag, etc. a single bag is perfectly sized for a pocket.

these bags are strong and roomy. i can easily fit a weeks worth of groceries into 3-4 bags. the strap is great for shoulder carrying, too. but best of all, these bags are well-suited for shopping trips outside of the grocery store. i've taken mine to places like target, crate & barrel, gymboree, gap, fruit stands and antique fairs, just to name a few. i honestly try my very best not to leave home without them. on a recent shopping trip (to the grocery store, target, barnes & nobles and the mall) i estimated that i saved at least 10 bags from going to a landfill. just by using my envirosax.

if i happened upon an extra $30 (and needed more bags), here's the one i'd buy: http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/pr/wf/national/4-29-08feed100bag.aspx

i need a new bag like i need a hole in the head, so i'm not getting it. but for $29.99, you get this organic cotton bag, which collapses into its zippered burlap base. (makes plastic look totally tacky...) as an added bonus, $10 of your purchase goes to provide meals for rwanda's schoolchildren.

i urge anyone reading this blog to do your part and stop accepting plastic bags. flat out. even if it means you have to carry stuff in your hands--which jer and i have have done on more than one occasion. once you get into the habit, it's not hard to remember to bring them along. any bag will do. but if you're interested in the envirosax, http://reusablebags.com/ is offering 20% off your purchase with code f70838.

lucy is 2 months old...

fastest 2 months of my life, no doubt about it.


crunch confession #03...

this cutie has a big ol' booty.

plush life... lucy in a basket of cloth dipes & wipes, 5 weeks.

yep. we're diapering our girl in cloth. don't gasp. long gone are the days of pinning a rag 'round baby's bottom and hoping for the best. today's cloth diapers are as functional as they are stylish... and that's saying a lot.

jeremy and i made the choice to use cloth for a number of reasons:

1. we think it's better for the environment.

jer and i were sickened to learn that disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to break down in a typical landfill. which means that each and every one of my diapers is still sitting there, with 472 years to go. (jer was cloth diapered... and he's a triplet!). over the course of 2 years, your average baby craps and pees its way through 8,000 diapers. god, that's a lot of changes... no wonder i can't get anything done. but i digress. just thinking about the insane number of diapers (18 billion) getting tossed away each year across the world makes my head spin.

now, opponets of cloth will say that all that washing is as detrimental to the environment as disposables. and yes, they do take water to wash. i'm currently doing 3 extra loads of laundry per week at my house. and laundering cloth diapers isn't as easy as laundering regular clothing. with the washing machine set between small and medium, i do a cold rinse and a hot wash, to get the diapers thoroughly clean. This is followed by an extra cold rinse, to get the laundry soap competely out of the diapers (residue can interfere with their absorbancy). Still, even with this agressive cleaning regimen, experts say that the amount of water used is the eqivelant to flushing the toilet 5-6 extra times per day... the same as having a potty-trained toddler in the house. we also use biodegradable soap in the laundering process. no environmental guilt there.

conversly, disposable diapers use 1.3 million tons of wood pulp — a quarter-million trees — each year, along with plastics, which are made from petroleum resources. water is used in manufacturing, and toxins and byproducts are released into the environment during this process as well. packages of diapers are wrapped in additional plastic. this is an astounding amount of resources used for something that might be on child's bottom for only a few minutes to a few hours... then tossed to sit for centuries.

2. we think it's healthier.

disposable diapers are full of nasty, water-absorbing chemicals. which is why you can stick one on a baby and not have to change said baby for a good long while. but as baby sits, warm urine begins to break down into ammonia, breeding bacteria and resulting in the perfect conditions for diaper rash. parents of cloth-diapered babies often report much lower rates of diaper rash in their children. lucy has yet to have any kind of irritation that has not cleared within a few hours of a changing, and even these have been few and far between. i also get the added relief of knowing there are no plastics or unknown chemicals near her pint-sized dainty parts.

3. we think we're saving money. kinda.

cloth is cheaper in the long run. this fact is easily "googleable," so i won't bore you with stats. lucy's diapers have cost us anywhere from $8-$35... but this is a personal choice. i'm a sucker for cute prints and soft fabrics. but i also have no qualms with buying used diapers, so long as they are in good condition. half of my newborn stash of diapers was 'gently used,' and purchased over the internet. when they arrived i washed them on hot, dried on high, set them in the sun for a day and we were good to go. as of now, i figure i've spent around $400 on diapers and diapering accessories. i have more than enough diapers (see below) and could easily be done for good. could is the key phrase here. c'mon. i already admitted i'm a sucker.

4. we think it's totally fashionable.

i've actually started buying lucy clothes that show off her diapers. things like babylegs, knee-high socks, and regular shirts instead of croch-snapping onesies. we like hot, diaper-only days. and most of what we own are just your run-of-the mill workhouse diapers. there are diapers out there that are over-the-top, to-die-for gorgeous (thegoodmama.com). but i have to remind myself that diapers are for poopy pants. it's not a fashion show... i don't think. sigh.

on to my stash.

we started cloth diapering with 25 kissaluv newborn fitteds:

lucy in a kissaluv fitted (no cover), age 2 weeks

fitteds are an all-cloth dipe with no waterproof layer, therefore needing a cover.

for covers, we had:

6 prowrap covers, a bummis super whisper wrap, and 4 dappi pants.

all in newborn size. we had way too many covers for what we needed, as the kissaluvs are great at containing mess... covers only need to be washed when they get poo on them, and that really only happened maybe once or twice a day... usually accidentally as we were changing her and not a direct result of her actually pooping. at over 12 lbs, lucy still fits well into her kissaluvs, but she had to go a size up in covers. i purchased 2 bummis super whisper wraps in size medium, and that will see us through until she is about 25 lbs.


likes: super soft. come in cute colors. have snap-down to promote umbilical cord stump healing. easy to wash (all one piece). fairly easy to find used, and in good condition. snap closure. line dry very well. contains poo very well.

dislikes: require cover. soak through fairly easily (need to change every 1-2 hours). take a bit long to dry in the dryer. have to buy more as baby grows.

we also had some prefolds. prefolds are the "old-school" cloth diaper. a flat piece of layered cotton, with extra layers in the middle. these are the ones that make great burp cloths, dusting rags, etc. i don't happen to have any pics of lucy in a prefold, which is hard to believe b/c i have nearly 1,000 pictures of this 8 week old child. anyway, prefolds look like this:

that wacky looking thing holding the diaper together is called a snappi. we did not use snappis. i have no idea how they work, either, so don't ask. ... we just folded the diaper into thirds, laid it inside of the diaper cover, and closed the cover (all but the dappi pants have velcro tab closures, very secure).


likes: easy wash. easy dry. kinda retro... feels like a rite of passage. multipe uses. very inexpensive. great to have on hand for backup.

dislikes: require cover. soak through like kissaluvs. need frequent changing. no elastic on the legs, therefore runny poo is not all that well contained.

when lucy reached 10 lbs at about 3-4 weeks, she was ready to enter the exciting world of big girl diapers.

we have 15 bumgenius 3.0's

lucy in a bg 3.0, age 4 weeks.

bg 3.0's are super popular, affordable and do an amazing job at containing mess and keeping baby dry. they're a pocket diaper, meaning that the diaper is comprised of a waterproof outer layer, a bottom fleece-type layer and a top fleece-type layer. an absorbant 'stuffer' insert goes in between the fleecy layers, pulling moisture away from baby's skin. bg's come with 2 inserts, a newborn insert and a larger, thicker insert that absorbs more liquid. inserts can be used together or separatley, depending on the absorabancy desired. there are many brands of pocket diapers, but they all work in this similar way. this particular diaper is a "one size" diaper, meaning that it grows with baby from about 7-35 pounds. snaps on the front make this possible. the diaper closes with "hook & loop" which is a fancy way of saying "velcro."

bg 3.0's:

likes: grows w/ baby (saving money). cute colors. soft. works really well. pocket-style lets user control the absorbancy. great for overnights. come very clean in the wash. drys quickly in the dryer b/c it is in pieces.

dislikes: stuffing & unstuffing diapers is not my favorite activity. not available in prints. not availiable in snap closure. pocket diapers are more prone to repelling issues if not properly laundered.

we have 2 bumgenius organic one size all in ones (that's a freaking mouthful).

lucy (with best bud bugsy) in a bg os organic aio, age 6 weeks

these are super similar to the bg 3.0's, except that insead of a pocket, the absorbant layer is sewn into the diaper. in this case, the absorbant layer is organic cotton. nice and soft. they look identical to the 3.0's from the outside, and grow with baby in the same way.

bg organic os aio's:

likes: organic. grows with baby. comes really clean in the wash. cute. colors. drys VERY quickly for an all-in-one diaper. pretty much all the same benefits as the 3.0.

dislikes: does not wick moisture away from baby's skin like the 3.0 pocket. absorbant layer is cotton which "feels" damp. not availiable in prints or with snap closure.

we have 2 blueberry minky one size pocket diapers

lucy in a blueberry minky one size pocket, 8 weeks old

a one-size pocket diaper in soft, minky fabric. i don't find the inserts to be as absorbant as the bg inserts, so often i stuff them with a bg insert instead. these diapers are meant to be seen & patted often!

likes: so soft. so cute. grows with baby. good absorbancy.

dislikes: have to be stuffed/unstuffed. more likely to repel than non-pocket diaper. insert not as absorbant as bg 3.0. spendy.

we have 4 blueberry snap diapers

lucy in a medium blueberry front snap pocket, age 6 weeks (duh).

i bought these before lucy was born. blueberry was having a 2 for 1 sale, so i splurged even though i had no idea how they'd fit her. glad i did. these are quickly becoming my favorite daytime diaper. they are a pocket, though a microfiber insert is already sewn inside. i sometimes stuff them with an additional bg insert, sometimes not. but these diapers are extremely well made, and are bought by size, so they are noticiably trimmer than their one-size counterparts.

blueberry snap diapers:

likes: well made. adorable. trim. stuffing optional.

dislikes: have to buy as baby grows. not exceptionally absorbant. more likely to repel than non-pocket diaper.

we have 3 swaddlebees one size econappies.

your basic one-size pocket diaper. very similar to the bg 3.0, though not nearly as effective. the insert is not very absorbant at all. still, when stuffed with a bg insert, this is a good diaper. top layer is velour, so nice & soft against baby's skin. we've had a few leaks here and there with this dipe, but as of now i'm chalking it up to the fact that they're a bit big in the thigh.

swaddlebees os econappis:

likes: cute prints. grows with baby. trimmer fit than bg 3.0. soft inner material. snap closure.

dislikes: crappy insert. stuffing & unstuffing sucks. feels somehow cheaper than other diapers... but isn't cheaper. leaks, at least a few for now.

there you have it. i do wash every other day, though i could easily go 3 days in between washings. dirties go into a plastic pail with a PUL liner. when it's time to wash, i throw the whole thing into the machine, liner included. cold rinse, hot wash with ~1/4 c. seventh generation gentle care liquid detergent, and additional cold rinse. line dry. i most often stuff the pockets when i take them down from the line, so that they're ready to go when i need them. sometimes jeremy helps. :)

the only real downside to cloth that i have found (outside of shortcomings of individual diapers), are that they take up a lot of room in the diaper bag. you have to tote the dirties when you're out and about... this is not icky, as dirties are contained in a waterproof, leakproof, stinkproof bag. it's just so... bulky all of the time. i feel like my diaper bag is constantly overflowing, either with clean diapers or dirty ones. maybe i just need a bigger bag, though. but cloth diapers certainly take up a LOT more room than disposables do.

oh, and they do add a bit of bulk to the booty. we think it's cute, lucy thinks it's comfy. whatever you do, don't call her fat. she much prefers the term 'fluffy.'


crunch confession #02...

these are not my clothes.
we are not the family of funky jammie pants.

i'm going dryer-less.
for july, anyway. i recently read a great idea about giving up the clothes dryer for a month. and since jeremy JUST hung our clothesline up, and we're in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, AND i'm off work, what better reason to try?

i have to admit that while i love the smell of line-dried laundry, it can get a little, um, stiff. i was talking to my grandmother today (who's line dried her laundry every friday for probably 50 years) and she swears by tossing the laundry into the dryer for 5 minutes with a fabric softener sheet BEFORE hanging the clothes. she says it gets the wrinkles out and keeps everything nice and soft. but since we've given up fabric softener in place of vinegar (more on this change some other day) i'm not sure a pre-dry would be all that effective. a post tumble, maybe, but for the sake of diving in headfirst, i'm going to give up the dryer entirely. besides, a pre-dry or post-dry is an added step in the whole laundry process. i have a seven week old baby. i do NOT need any extra steps.
so here goes. all family laundry, including diapers. every pair of panties. every nursing pad.

every little baby sock and bootie.

what can i say? cute feet deserve cute footwear.

i confess that i have a nasty habit of using my dryer as an iron. when something's a little wrinkled, i'd much prefer to toss it in the dryer for 20 minutes than to haul out the ironing board from the closet, heat up the iron, IRON the piece of clothing, and put everything back. because half the time i've ironed something, i put it on and decide that i didn't really want to wear it anyway. that it wasn't the wrinkles that made me look crappy, it was the clothes themselves. then i shove it back in my closet, cursing the fact that i wasted time ironing.

i also throw things into the dryer to shrink back up after wearing them for awhile, especially jeans. giving up this habit shouldn't be nearly as hard, since i still have 10 extra baby pounds on me and i don't certainly don't need to be wearing anything skintight. not yet, anyway.

i wonder if going dryer-less (do you like this new word i've coined?) will be like giving up carbs or chocolate. you know, after you've done it for awhile you don't even miss it? we'll see. i hung dry a load of mine and lucy's clothes today and i swear it took like 15 minutes to get everything hung. i stubbed my toe in the process. later, it took another few minutes to get everything down. and now it's sitting in the living room, looking all forlorn cause nobody will fold it. sigh.

giving up the dryer. with grandma on my side, i can't go wrong, right?


crunch confession #01

i am reusing ziplocks.

i thought this was something only little ol' grannies did. i should preface by saying that over the last few months, jer and i have seriously cut down on the number of baggies we use. most everything goes into a container of some sort... glass or the last few plastic tupperware-type things that we still have around. but here and there, i find that some things do warrant the use of a ziplock. for convenience, of course. i'm sure we could go totally without. but i bought in bulk at costco about 6 months ago and we've still got some laying around... what can i say? tossing them would be silly, right? right.

so when we have, say, a huge loaf of fresh bread that comes in a paper sack, i put it in the ziplock labeled "bread." then, when the bread is gone, i rinse, dry, and put the baggie back into the drawer. next time we have bread, i pull out the same baggie. and really, bread is all we're using ziplocks for at the moment. i guess they'd come in handy for the big, costco-sized blocks of cheese, too.

what else will i be using these final ziplocks for? well, they're great for keeping stuff dry in the cooler when we go camping. i also use them to hold dry dog food on camping trips, but i've been planning to make a "feed bag" sometime soon. they come in handy on airplane flights, but we don't fly much... and you could certainly reuse a toiletries bag, since the worst that could happen would be for it to get a little soap spilled in it. when i pack lunches, i tend to put everything into tupperware storage... a little bulky, yes, but easy enough. i've also seen these reusable sandwich bags... http://tinyurl.com/4k3ht3 and reusable snack bags are easy enough to make even for a non-sewer like myself. i've already made lucy one (complete with paci pocket) and she's a long way off from needing any kind of snack that doesn't come from my boobie.

so the real question is this: with all the simple & eco-friendly alternatives out there, what the hell are we using all these ziplocks for, anyway?

here we go...

i can't believe i'm starting a green blog.

first of all, there's like tons of them out there already. i'm way late for the trend.
second, what the hell do i know about going green? i've done my fair share of dirtying up the planet... mostly out of ignorance. and up until this point, it's been pretty convenient to keep my head buried comfortably in the sand. and to tell you the complete truth, i've often felt that one person, doing all the right things, doesn't really make a difference. so why not keep life simple & easy? grab n' go? perfectly packaged?

sounds good to me. except for the fact that, since little lucy arrived in the world, i've been totally consumed with making her immediate environment (i.e. me and jer, lucy's daddy) and the worldwide environment (i.e. what lies beyond our backyard) as safe as possible. i swear. great things come in teeny packages, and lucy is the perfect example of that. her health & happiness is of utmost importance to me. there's simply no better reason to green up.

luciana june. worth all the trouble in the world,

and then some.