“Take Good Care of My Babies”

Tweenie’s Greenies:  Tuesday Edition

The greening continues over here.  Little by little we chip away at our once very toxic and wasteful home.  Granted, at times we swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Going from one green extreme at one moment to total wastefulness the other, all to satisfy our whims of convenience.  Overall, we aim for a healthy balance somewhere in the middle.

In looking through our bathroom routines, I have noticed several little items that could easily be “greened”.  It will also save us some more money which is great seeing as how back to school needs are looming.   For some reason, I have concentrated on greening my daily hygeine regimen and not my childrens.  Kind of backwards if you ask me.  Children’s skin is so unadulterated and sensitive.  You would think this would be my first bathroom priority instead of my leathery abused skin.

First place to start:  A thorough wipe does not have to include a whole roll of toilet paper or oodles of premade butt wipes.  Seriously, when did adults get so sissified?  There must be some kind of butt sensitivity evolving in humans.  Suddenly, no one can handle the discomfort of squeezably soft charmin or have forgotten basic wiping with TP 101.  I have never gotten TP burn for normal wiping or had uncontrollabe TP left overs on my underside before now.  These premoistened butt wipes made by Charmin or Scott or any other manufacturer may feel nice and help to avoid “lint build up”.  But couldn’t you just keep a spray bottle of mild natural soap diluted in water nearby to accomplish the same thing?  Try it and see.  Make up a spray bottle of diluted mild soap (just as you would for cleaning diaper butts), lightly spray it directly on your “privates”/bum.  Then wipe.  Or spray it on the TP, then wipe.  You pick.  I will humbly admit that I bought a couple packages of adult/child butt wipes since Anson was potty training but they have made little to no difference in the cleanliness department. Never again! You will be consuming less plastic from wrappers and packaging as well as using less overall petroleum products in your daily habits.  Another wiping suggestion: teach your kiddos to use less TP.  Seriously, you can spare a square.  Anson thinks that you need to use mountains of TP.  He would use half a roll if we let him, but we are saving money and trees by teaching him to only count out a certain number of squares per duty done.

Next, I looked into their bathing habits.  Hmmm…I have quite a few plastic bottles hanging out to possibly be used on the little ones.  There’s shampoos, body washes, lotions,  and powder.  First of all, the powder is not recommended by most pediatricians, even those with cornstarch (avoid talc at all costs due to contamination with asbestos concerns).  Powders can promote bacterial growth and can irritate the lungs when inhaled.  Give those little bums some air time to dry out instead. 

Take a look at that baby wash container.  Do we really need to soap up our babies in oodles of body wash that comes in fancy wasteful plastic packaging?  A mild bar soap and a soft washcloth does the job just as nicely.  “The Green Book” says that if you use bar soap on your baby that the plastic packaging saved would weigh more than two hundred thousand pounds-enough to make a baby bathtub that would cover more than 4 acres.  If you are saying to yourself, “But I recycle the plastic. It’s okay.”  Remember producing the plastic container uses a lot of energy and resources and plastic can only be “down-cycled”.  It will never be able to be recycled at the same quality it is for it’s original use.  Plus, plastic is expensive to recycle.

Baby lotion.  Honestly, I have had the same bottle for 2 years.  I could probably just get rid of it.  My kids have pretty balanced skin and don’t like lotion.  If they get a dry spot here or there, I could simply rub some good old natural aloe vera gel on it instead.  If your baby has really dry skin and lotion is a must have, buy it in a larger container.  It’s less wasteful to buy the lotion in larger quantities.  Try to purchase natural lotions in recycled containers free of parabens, petroleum products and artificial fragrances. 

Finally, in their actual bath, skip the bubble bath.  It’s fun, but the fragrances that often go along with it are often irritating to the little ones.  Plus, you will avoid another plastic bottle purchase.  Cha-ching!!  My other suggestion is to bath as many little ones in one bath as possible.  My kids are all small enough that they can bath together without being traumatized.  Only one tub of water is used for all 3.  We also only use one towel to dry off all 3.  It’s like an assembly line.  This saves me some laundry.  Goodness knows that I don’t need any more laundry!

Hmmm…I can’t think of anything more at the moment.  I will keep you posted if I think of any more “tips” to green the little ones in the bathroom.

 

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Go to fullsize imageWell, well, well….I am back from my 4th of July hiatus only to see that blog stats/visits have dropped 3 fold over the holiday.  I hope that’s a temporary thing and not a sign that the bloggy world has suffered some strange alien capture. 

Our vacation was great!  It’s always nice to reconnect with each as a family and see new sites.  I didn’t tell anybody in the bloggy world that we were leaving because I get a little weird about mass numbers of people knowing that my house was empty for any certain length of time.  So, Suprise!  I went on vacation and now I am back!  Ready to rock your world.  I was ready to write a novel last night but a huge power surge ripped through our neighborhood and started the power lines on fire.  Which in turn snapped and started lawns on fire.  Nice toxic smoke filled our ‘hood.  I think we almost died.  Okay, that’s exaggerating but still there’s nothing like some dramatic acts of nature to bring the neighborhood together.  It was a regular block party out on the street.

Speaking of toxic smoke…..if you didn’t catch it, this is my handy intro line to my official post topic.  How often don’t we use that word “toxic”?  Seriously, this word drives Tomas and me crazy.  The media uses it nonstop.  Marketing agencies have clung to it like stink on poop.  It’s used to describe everything from chemicals, to medicines, to chidren’s toys, to band names,  and don’t forget the almighty toxic relationship.  Say it 15 times and see if it makes any sense anymore.  “Toxic, Toxic, Toxic, etc”.  If you say it with the Jan Brady “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” twang it’s more fun. 

The word “toxic” has been so used and misused, that it’s confusing to much of the general population.  If something says “non-toxic”, can we eat it?  If you read something that’s not labelled  “non-toxic”, should you avoid all contact and purchase hazmat gear if you come in a 15 mile radius of it?  Let’s think about this for just a minute.  Come along and join one of the weekly debates at my house. Yes, we are nerds.  But I have always been taught that,  “Nerds will always win in the end.  Nerds rule the world”.

Our trusted resource Mirriam Webster says that the word toxic means: 

1. containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste> <a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds> 2 : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later> 3 : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm>

If you go by the first definition anything could be toxic.  Crystal clear spring water could be toxic if consumed in large amounts.  Even to the point of causing death.  If you take into consideration the number of people that die every year from drowning, water is very toxic.  Food is toxic.  Especially any food containing additives or artificial ingredients.  People get cancer, bowel obstructions, and die from choking all the time.  Would we avoid all these the same way we would toys from China covered with lead paint?  Granted that’s an extreme argument, but you get the point. 

So what does it mean for an item to be “non-toxic”?  Since the lead in toy scare this past holiday, mothers especially are desparately concerned with labels and anything indicating that a child’s item could be toxic.  It may come as a surprise to you that many items are labelled non-toxic simply because there is no negative information or safety testing completed for it at the time.  No data could mean “non-toxic”.

What you really need to consider is, that it’s all in the amount of toxic material present in the item.  For example, there is no way to avoid lead completely in your life.  It’s everywhere in small amounts and the same is true for many of the toxic chemicals/minerals that we come into contact with every day.  However, it’s only at a certain level that it becomes dangerous to human health (or the length and frequency of exposure).

And thus we are back to the study of labels that I have talked about previously.  Be warned that just because something is labelled as “non-toxic”, doesn’t mean it is completely safe.  It’s probably safer  than other some other alternatives but you’re not free and clear to bathe in it or eat it in entirety.  From my very limited studies on this, it simply means that if used according to instructions, it is not known to cause any harmful effects on humans or the environment at that exposure/amount.  However, don’t be suckered into thinking that just because going green is the next best thing to sliced bread right now that testing and labelling requirements have tightened.  They have not and probably will not any time soon.  It’s still a fuzzy gray toxic crazy world out there.

Remember, common sense is key.  Moderation and appropriate use and limited exposure to anything is crucial to your overall health.   Also, be sure to read.  Read those labels.  Become familiar with buzz words that are covering up actual ingredients.  Look for short lists of ingredients and avoid the long sonnets of additives.  Research companies and stick with those that have proven non-toxic track records. 

I know I probably mushed your brain if you made it this far.  Nothing in the labelling world is clear cut or straight forward when it comes to this.  If you have suffered an electrical short in the firing of your neurons from taking in this post, have fallen off of your chair, hit your head on the wall and fell into your waiting bubble bath made with all natual, non-toxic soap, only to wake up on the other side, remember this my friend…everything can be toxic.  Even this post.  It’s just how much you absorb that makes the difference. 

“My Home Sweet Home”

Tweenie’s Greenie’s: Monday Edition

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I dare you, oh pesky mosquito, to try and bite me!  I double dare you to bite my children!

How I hate that blasted mosquito!  Forget the hornets, forget earwigs, and forget those little ants that seem to sneak into my house this time of year.  They can go about their business in relative peace.  But, those mosquitoes need to die!  Yes, I said it…die.  And I mean it too.  I would squish every one of those skinny little devils if I could.

Today was the first day that I really noticed that the mosquitos were out.  I fear that this year is going to be a horrible mosquito season for us.  The reason I think this is that the house next door has a literal West Nile breeding ground.  The house is in foreclosure.  Yes, I was so excited at first because the twenty something boys who bought it were a raucous bunch.  But now, they have left and they have left a huge mess for the world to see. 

To start with, the grass has not been trimmed/mowed all spring/summer.  I called the city but nothing has happened so far.  The front lawn is about 1foot high and the back areas are about 2feet right now.  There are weeds everywhere!  Tomas sprayed weed killer on part of it but to no avail.  The weeds…are….much…too…powerful. 

Then there is the pile of trash (yes, literal trash) that they left on the front driveway.  They were nice enough to cover it with a bright blue tarp.  How thoughtful.  So nice of them to think of covering that trash heap because they left a huge pile of crap on the side of the house too.  That is all uncovered and includes an unused giant hot tub that is filled with water. 

If the piles of trash and the mile high weeds weren’t enough to attract thousands of mosquitos, the uncovered algae ridden inground pool and hot tub in the back should do it.  This pool is so green and disgusting that even a family of ducks left it in a couple days for better pondage.  There is just a film of slime everywhere.  You can’t even see through it.

Anyway, you can see why this will be the mosquito season to beat all mosquito seasons over here.  Normally, I would just smear on a little “Off” Mosquito Repellent and call it good.  But every since I have had kids, I have been leary about covering them with bug repellents, even if they say they’re for the family.  It just seems a little wrong to be giving little absorbant bodies a chemical sponge bath. 

So, I set about to find some “natural” bug repellents.  Here’s what I found.

To help make your body or your little one’s body less attractive to those @#%$#@ mosquitos try the following:

  1. Wear loose clothing.  Mosquitos can easily bite through tight clothing, so forget the hip huggers and tube top.
  2. Avoid sugar and caffeine.  What!???  I think this is a conspiracy against me to nix my vices.  I guess that mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide release and lactic acid build up.  That’s how they find their targets.  Sugar and caffeine will make your body produce more of both of these.  I think I will still eat my donuts and coffee but just breathe less instead.  I’ll let you know how that works.
  3. Remove standing water around your yard/home.  Exactly!!  I am going to call the city and tell them the neighbors home is affecting the health and well being of my children.  I am sure they will love another call. 
  4. Avoid perfumes and scented lotions.  Mosquitos will just think you smell prettier and much more attractive.
  5. Use mint.  Crush up some fresh mint and rub it on your skin.  Uugh!  I just pulled out all of my mint from my garden because it was growing everywhere.  Maybe I can just roll in the compost pile where I tossed it.
  6. Burn something.  Either a campfire or candles.  If you have a little fire pit or something you could burn lavendar (I guess?) to ward off the bugs.  If you use a candle made to repel the bugs, they usually only work if you are within 3 feet of them.  Maybe I could put a candelabra on my head, walk around and wave burning lavendar sprigs around the edge of my yard.
  7. Turn on a fan.  Mosquitos can only fly about 8 miles an hour, so wind will keep them away.  Great! One gigantic yard sized fan should be easy to find.

If those don’t do the trick or you miss smothering your body in something to keep the bugs away, try this essential oil mixture:

These ingredients can be easily found at your local health store. Be sure you get Essential Oils and not simply fragrance oil. You will not get the benefits Essential Oils will give you.

What you will need:

A 4 ounce dark bottle

A carrier oil such as: olive, avocado, or sweet almond oil.

Lavender essential oil

Geranium essential oil

Cedar wood essential oil

Vitamin E oil

Fill the 4 ounce bottle to ¾ full with the carrier oil of your choice.

Add 5 drops each of the lavender and geranium essential oils and 3 drops of cedar wood and vitamin E oil. Top off the 4 ounce bottle with carrier oil, shake the bottle to blend and you’re set.

If you use the heavier olive oil as your carrier this blend will be better suited to a bath oil. If you use a lighter carrier, after your shower but before you towel off, massage into your wet skin. Lightly pat dry with a towel.

Always keep your Essential Oils covered. Essential Oils lose potency when exposed to air.

And finally, if you do get a bug bite from those little unbuzzworthy bugs, dab essential lavendar oil or peppermint oil on them.  Or use our old stand by, baking soda (3 parts mixed with 1 part water).  That will help to neutralize the bite.  I have used this remedy before and it really works.  However, I warn you that if you have a bunch of bites, you will look a little strange walking around with white baking soda polka dots all over your body.

 

I found the essential oil recipe here.  So don’t come banging on my door expecting me to fix it if you turn purple.  Even though I love to use essential oils,  I just follow essential oil recipes and hope for the best myself 🙂

 

“Tons of Change Thursday”

Tweenie’s Greenies: Thursday Edition

Look at that title in beautiful green “heading 2” font!  I am using it again.  Well, at least for today.  It’s that schedule that I set up for blogging that I think I ditched after a couple weeks.  Things came up, my fingers were gnawed off…whatever other excuse I could come up with at the time.

Well, I just remembered this lovely idea to save money on your water bill this summer.  If you live in a potentially high humidity area, such as Michigan in the summer, you probably have a dehumidifier.  Ours is running at full tilt since Noah floated by last week.  Sidenote: taking all the old musty carpet out of our basement last year and replacing it with hard flooring, was one of the best ideas we ever had.  My mold allergies are basically non-existent now. 

Anyway, if you have a dehumidifier you know that you have to empty that collection tank of all the condensated water every so often.  Why not put that water to good use?  Heck, you burned all that fossil fuel running it, might as well make it worth something!  I have been using that water to water my flower gardens, my potted plants, anything that needs some nice condensated water gets a little treat from my humidifier tank.  The nice part is, my tank also has a wonderful little spout for pouring out the water, so “no muss, no fuss”!

Here’s another idea for saving water in the summer.  Fill up your little kids swimming pool in the morning with water so that it warms in the afternoon sun.  They can play in it, do what ever, a little grass in there only makes this grand idea a little greener.  When they are finished in there for the day, you can either use that water to water any gardens OR you can take some eco-friendly soap, bath/wash your children in it, and then use that graywater to water your plants.  The eco-friendly soap won’t harm your grass or plants (or children for that matter).  Now you just accomplished three things and recycled your water for 3 important uses:  entertaining the children all day outside of your house, bathing your children, and watering your organic gardens.  You should hear trumpets as you complete this task.

I can’t get more savings to come out of my head at the moment.  Except for this thought of somehow collecting the condensation off of my families cups/glasses.  That’s another untapped water resource (get it..untapped…as in not from the tap!  Ha!).  Maybe I can design a little collection tray that attaches to the glasses.  You could collect the condensation from several cups throughout the day and use it for all of the before mentioned activities as well.  I will get back to you on that.  I have to work on the design of this little gem of an invention.  I think it will be a HUGE hit because of the “green” buzz everybody has going right now.  I could probably sell it for $50 a pop in water restricted areas.  Off to my research lab!!

Go to fullsize imageI have waited on pins and needles to get this beauty pictured here.  Yes, it is an umbrella clothesdryer for outside.  I looked high.  I looked low.  I finally found it and saved big money at Menards.  It was originally $39.99 but was on sale and then there was a rebate.  The final sale was about $24.99.  It’s so exciting!  I can hardly stand it!  This will definitely assist with helping me maintain my commitment to dry 90% of my laundry without the use of a dryer.  See Gift of Green’s Clothesline Challenge.

I wondered just how much money I could save by switching all the laundry to air-drying/line drying.  The average dryer costs about $80-$85 to use annually.  (That’s not as much money as I would have expected but, anyway, I will move on to my point.) So, if I continue to line dry my clothes, I will have made my $24 that I spent on the umbrella line back in no time!  Plus, I will be cutting back on my carbon footprint.  Next to the refrigerator, the dryer is the most costly appliance in your home to run due to the amount of energy it consumes.

Therefore, can there be a more logical choice??  I think not.  Go save some big money at Menards and buy your umbrella line.

Go to fullsize imageBig Binder asked in a comment what washing soda was.  It’s made by Arm and Hammer and is all natural.  Here is a link with further explanation and how to use it besides in the recipe I provided in my last post.  I am still working on a local source for here in Michigan.  Does anybody have a big chain that carries it?

I do not like to watch the news lately.  Everytime I turn it on, there is more news about how the economy is getting worse and worse.  It’s depressing I tell you!  It’s a good thing we don’t have to buy so many of those pricey cleaners.  Yep, that’s right.  Remember that the greenest method of cleaning your home isn’t with an expensive natural formulated cleaner that you would buy at the store.  If you really want to be green (in your home and in your wallet), make your own cleaners.  I have gone over this before but was so excited to find some new “recipes” and facts to spur my little MEEPs onward and upward.

Here’s my next challenge for MEEPs and anybody else who wants to try.  Do not purchase any of the new “green cleaning” products from the store.  Make your own using some simple ingredients.  You will not be contributing to the energy costs and wastes created throught the processing of store bought cleaners.  You will not be supporting the production and use of yet another plastic container.  You can reuse one that you already have. 

More importantly to most of you, you will save on your grocery/home budget in a HUGE way!  For example:  A typical bathroom cleaner would cost $3.19 and the homemade version costs $.15.  That’s a 95% savings.  Window cleaner costs about the save.  That would be another 95% savings.  How’s that for a start?  You can use the savings that you get from making your own cleaners to buy increasingly costly food and gas.

A “Less Streaky” Window Cleaner:  1/3 Cup White Vinegar, 1/4 Cup Rubbing Alcohol (aids in evaporation to prevent streaking), 3 1/2 Cups Water, 1 Clean Plastic Spray Bottle (reuse an empty one).  Mix all ingredients in the spray bottle.  Shake well.  Spray on glass surface.  Wipe with a crumpled already read newspaper. (when done, throw the damp newspaper out in the recycle bin to dry) 

Citrus Disinfectant:  Comparable to those commercial orange cleaners.  Peel from 1 orange, lemon, grapefruit, or lime.  3 cups White Vinegar.  1 clean quart jar with lid (such as a ball canning jar).  1 clean 32oz spray bottle (reuse an empty one).  Combine the citrus peel and vinegar in the quart jar.  Place lid on jar and store in a cupboard for 2 weeks (yes, you will need to plan in advance.  Convenience really does cost a little in some situations)  Shake occasionally.  Remove the peel from the jar and strain the vinegar.  Put the vinegar back into the jar.  To use as a spray cleaner, put 1 cup of vinegar into spray bottle and add water to fill.  To clean linoleum floors:  add 1 cup of the vinegar mixture to 2 gallons of water.

Fresh Smelling Multipurpose Cleaner:  Nice clean smell and inexpensive.  3 1/2 cups water.  1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar.  1 teaspoon Borax (in supermarket detergent section).  1 teaspoon washing soda (in supermarket detergent section).  1 teaspoon liquid castile soap (at health food stores).  1 clean 32 oz spray bottle (reuse an empty one).  Fill spray bottle with hot water.  Then add the other ingredients.  Shake well.  Spray on countertops, appliances or fixtures, and tile or painted surfaces.  Wipe with a clean cloth (I like to use old burp cloths) or a damp sponge.