Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Environmental Impact of Diapers - And Why You Should Use Reusable Cloth Diapers

Before the age of disposable diapers, there was no issue about diapers filling up landfills. Diapers were washed, reused, and reused again until they wore out. Today, a diaper is made with bleached tissue using Dioxin, a harmful carcinogenic by-product of bleaching.

There are a number of other health dangers of disposable diapers, and even more consequences for the environment. We're not sure how long diapers will take to biodegrade into the environment, loosely using the word "biodegrade." Disposable diapers are actually not biodegradable. Plastic materials, gels, and stuffing all are parts of the diaper, some of which do not biodegrade. The other problem is that disposable diapers aren't safe for landfills. Last time we checked, the landfill isn't a waste treatment center. Since tens of billions of diapers are thrown away every year, that means tens of billions of pounds of untreated human waste head out into the environment every year, unchecked, untreated, and left to work their way into our groundwater. Letting diapers pile up forever and ever just doesn't make sense. Where will they go? Right now, the number of new births far outweighs the number of diapers that are biodegrading, which is zero.

The other part of disposable diapers that "stinks" is that they might be causing dermatitis, or diaper rash, on your baby. Cloth diapers let your baby's skin breathe. Owners of cloth diapers tend to also change the diapers more often, since they can be reused.

Not sold on the thought of reusable diapers? There are more eco friendly options out there for disposables. While these aren't quite as good for the environment as reusable cloth diapers, they are a good step in the right direction. They might also be good to have on hand when reusable cloth diapers might be a messy situation, like when you're on the road all day with your baby.

Reusable cloth diapers also make sense for your wallet. The cost of reusable diapers over one year if you cleaned them yourself is roughly 1/10th the cost of disposable diapers. So not only does reusing your own diapers benefit the environment and your baby, but it benefits you, too. That's thousands of dollars you could start putting away for your baby's college fund, and that isn't getting any less expensive anytime soon.

If you're thinking of getting some eco friendly baby diapers, this page will walk you through some of the most earth friendly solutions, best rated cloth diapers, and best rated chlorine free environmentally friendly disposable diapers. You can also read the how to change baby diapers tutorial (it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it!).

Monday, January 18, 2010

TakeOutWithOut - Bring Your Own Reusables Out to Dinner with You!

I came across this great new site and I had to share it with you all. The site is and focuses on a topic which is important to a lot of the readers of this blog. Being sure to reduce waste and always use reusable containers as much as possible is crucial for protecting our planet!

The focus on the site is to encourage everyone to evaluate packaging of food items. For example, if you go out to eat, are you going to likely have some leftovers? If so plan ahead and bring your own container with you to transport the food home. Or are you eating food on the road? Maybe you carry a metal or bamboo utensil set. When you go to grab napkins when you are out, do you consider how many napkins you will actually need or do you just grab a handful? Have you considered travelling with cloth napkins for you and your family? They take up very little room and eliminate the waste of the paper napkin. Are you someone that always orders a bottle of water with lunch? ELiminate the waste of the bottle and bring your own refillable container. Not only will you eliminate your BPA exposure from a plastic bottle, you will save money and reduce waste.

One great idea is to keep a spare set of reusable containers, utensils and cloth napkins in your car. This will you will have them at all times, including that time when you don't think you are stopping for a bite to eat but then hunger kicks in!

From their main page you can join the campaign through Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. They will also be posting participating restaurants on their site where you may get special offers!

Great work TakeOutWithOut!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reusable Bag Contest - Win a Free Reusable Bag!

Every year, millions of plastic bags head into landfills or are thrown into our environment causing pollution and problems for wildlife. The man-made convenience known as plastic bags didn't exist 100 years ago, but has become a giant problem for us to conquer in modern times. They pollute our waterways, and cause emissions during the production process. The solution has been around for years, and we all know what it is: reusable bags. Our ancestors used reusable bags to go the grocery store because they were sturdy, sustainable, and they made sense. At some point in history, the plastic bag came into our consciousness as an easy way to have a bag at the ready cheaply. Not thinking of the consequences, first paper, then plastic bags became more and more popular.

Today, a trend has started in the world of plastic bags. There's a reversal happening, even it's a tiny one. People are starting to bring their own bags, and other people are noticing. You're always going to have those few people that are very resistant, but change is happening, and the reusable bag is finally becoming popular again!

Every month, EcoGreenBags holds a contest to win a free reusable bag. This month is no different! This month, the winner will receive the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle tote bag. A beautiful double sided print bag, this is perfect to carry your groceries, and it's even machine washable (so you can use it for meat and raw foods). To win this bag, head over to the official contest page for details on how to enter. The winner will be announced on January 31! Entering is simple. Good luck to all of those that enter, and keep using your reusable bags!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ten Easy Green New Year's Resolutions

So New Year's has come and gone and its time to start thinking about the resolutions that we made for the year. An easy way to select a resolution that you can stick to is to select something to implement in your everyday life. They say it takes 21 days to start a habit or break a habit so in 3 weeks your resolution should be firmly in place! Below are a list of Ten Easy Green Resolutions to help you in your green journey and in keeping your resolutions. I promise, they are easy!

1. Shut off the lights when you leave a room This is a very easy to implement green New Year's resolution. How many times have you walked out of a room and left the lights on and the TV going, not to return for an hour or more? Whether you are on the phone or making dinner, if you keep the lights on only in the rooms that you are in, you will become a more energy conscious household. You will also see a reduction in your electricty bill in the months to follow your efforts.

2. Use electricity during non-peak hours When possible, use electricty during non-peak hours. You can check in with yor service provider to get the definition as all companies set their own off-peak hours. If you can reduce your energy use during the peak hours (typically during the day), and run your larger appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. during off peak hours (typically at night) you will see a large reduction in your energy bill. You will also be putting less pressure on the energy system as not as many people consciously use electricty during non-peak hours.

3. Shut off the water when brushing your teeth This again is a very simple and easy step. There is no need to leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth. Rinse your brush at the beginning, then turn off the water until you have finished brushing your teeth and turn the water on again to rinse off your brush. The amount of water will add up to gallons and gallons saved by the end of the month!

4. Reduce your shower time by 3 minutes-you will be surprised at the amount of water you will save! Now 3 minutes may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up. Think about the gallons of water coming out of the shower head and going right down the drain. 3 minutes less of running water saves gallons of water! This is something that is easily accomplished by using a wind up timer which you leave in the bathroom and start when you step into the shower.

5. Eliminate the use of paper towels in your house Paper towels are a big source of paper waste in many households. Instead of using paper towels consider some alternatives, such as paperless towels, old clothes or rags you have around the house, or even towels which you can wash and reuse time and time again. Not only will this cut down on your paper use it will also save money!

6. Reusable bags! Use them every time you go shopping Reusable bags have to be one of the easiest way to cut down on your waste. The average family goes grocery shopping at least once a week. Think about all of the plastic and paper you would eliminate by taking your own bags to the store instead of using the paper and plastic bags which will only be thrown away when you get home. Always leave the bags in your car so that you won't forget to bring them in with you. They also have reusable produce bags now! Why use a product created by petroleum, when you can reuse a fabric bag over and over-cleaning in by a simple run through the washing machine.

7. Turn down the heat by 3 degrees in the winter and the air conditioner up 3 degrees in the summer This is one similiar to the shower, and you may think how much of a difference will 3 degrees make-again you will be surprised! Try it out for a few months and then compare your utility bills to last year during the same months and you should see the savings. For the 3 degrees it is easy to dress a bit warmer (or cooler in the summer). In the winter this may mean having a sweatshirt on in the house instead of just a long sleeve shirt. An easy sacrfice to cut down on your energy use and save money!

8. Buy local-road side stands, farmers markets, farms etc during the months that they are open Now this part of your resolution may have to wait for warmer weather, but it is something to consider now. Maybe you want to think about joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where for a set price you can receive fresh fruits and vegetables (some even offer meats, flowers, eggs, etc) that you would pick up once a week. Or maybe a better approach for you in to find out when your local farm stands will be running and make it a point to go once a week to pick up everything you will need. Not only will you sometimes find better prices, but the food is fresher and grown locally. You will be supporting some of the local farmers instead of a farmer 1/2 way across the country, where the fruit and vegetables have been covered with pollution and dirt from their travels in the back of a truck to you.

9. Check your house for drafts especially around doors and windows Not only can you get tax credits for some of these improvements, you will see a decrease in your heating bill/cooling bill every month. Every place there is a draft in your house, whether it be from a door or window, there is cold or hot air coming into you house depending on the season. Not to mention the spiders and other small insects which may squeeze themselves through these gaps. The best way to check this is to feel around the doors and windows, especially on a windy day and see if you can feel air coming through. If so, you may want to consider chaulking the windows and replacing the weatherstripping around your doors.

10. Grow your own spices in the warmer months In the spring and summer months we get spoiled by using fresh spices. Whether you buy them at the farmer's market or you grow them at home. Carry this through the winter by growing your own spices indoors. This may seem like a challenge to some but how much space do a few pots need? And it is definitely worth it to have fresh spices!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Filtered Tap Water Quality vs. Bottled Water

I've been drinking filtered tap water for about two years now, and beyond the initial research on finding a good tap water filter, I haven't thought much about the quality of the water coming out of the tap. I also haven't heard much news in the bottled water world, so I thought I'd provide some statistics to what's going on in that front. With the economy, bottled water must have taken a hit.

* In 2009, approximately 86% of water bottles were thrown away, leaving 14% recycled.

* More than 17 million barrels of oil -- enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year-- are needed to produce the plastic water bottles sold in the United States annually.

* Nestle's food and beverage group to post a decline in global sales during the first half of the year, down 2.9 percent because of weakness in the United States and Western Europe.

(Source: Washington Post.)

This is great news for environmentalists who have been lobbying for change in the bottled water market for years, and it's finally happening. Whether it's that people are making changes because tap water is essentially free (and we're in an economic downturn) or because they feel bad about throwing away plastic... well, it's probably more because of the free factor. Nevertheless, it's a great stride towards less plastic ending up in landfills.

While in most towns the tap water quality is just fine for drinking, there are some places that haven't fared so well. The New York Times recently published an article on the bogus water quality in towns near Los Angeles, as well as other major cities. From what the article states, "...the rate at which companies and other workplaces have dumped pollutants into lakes and rivers has significantly accelerated, according to an earlier analysis by The Times of the Clean Water Act." While some headway was made by the EPA to get stronger regulations on clean tap water, the movement has slowed, while pollutants have risen. In particular, arsenic and perchlorate, two very dangerous chemicals scientists have linked to cancer, are present in many water supplies. While the EPA has been fighting for change to have these chemicals regulated, the government has fought back because of high costs.

The real question is, who is to blame, the people putting the contaminants there in the first place, or the people who are supposed to be filtering our water? In any case, water quality isn't changing overnight, and bottled water simply isn't held to the standards that tap water is for disinfection and bacteria testing.

The next logical thing to do is to start filtering your own tap water. Some of the most recent water filters to receive good reviews from Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and The Green Guide are the PUR CR-6000 Pitcher, PUR FM 9400 Faucet Filter, and the Culligan US EZ 4 Under Sink Filter. Installing any of these water filters will remove 99.9% of microbial cysts in the case of PUR, reduce lead, mercury, chlorine, and overall just taste better than water straight from the tap. You'll also still be saving loads of money compared with bottled water. One of the things I like about using filtered water now is that I don't have to lug around huge jugs of water in the grocery cart (you can go through bottled water amazingly fast in the heat of summer!).

I use the PUR DS-1800Z 2-Stage Water Dispenser, which fits in the fridge nicely, and doesn't take up too much room. We also don't have to fill it up as often as the pitcher. If you have a really thirsty family, two of these will fit in your fridge on each side. I've been really happy with this filter, and it seems to filter the water better than BRITA. We order replacement filters on Amazon every six months or so, which is very convenient. One tip: be sure to soak the filters in some water before use to rinse off some of the filtration matter. All in all, I'm happy with these and I'm not going back to bottled water anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Greening Your Baby Nursery

babyWhen you're having a baby, you'll want only the best for them. If you could avoid the chemicals if you knew it harmed your child, wouldn't you avoid them? It turns out, pound for pound, that babies are much vulnerable to chemicals than we are as adults. If you're saying "nah, that bleach doesn't hurt me, why would it hurt the baby?" Everything from an increase in allergies and asthma to increased sexual reproduction organ failures can be blamed partially on an overuse of chemicals.

When you're setting up your baby's nursery, going green and organic is more than just about the environment, it's about the health of your baby. Think of the things that your baby will be in the most contact with - the bedding, their toys, and their bottles. Buying chemical-free with these nursery staples is a great service to your baby.

Read more about greening your baby nursery on this guide which features recommended products, what to avoid, and what items are must-haves for your little one that's on the way.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

10 Reasons to Buy the Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is one of the most popular products available on the web today. If you're someone that likes to read anything from the morning newspaper to an in-flight paperback that you purchased at the airport, the Kindle can help you save money and save paper from being printed on. Here are ten reasons to buy the Amazon Kindle, for eco reasons, and for the amazing options offered on this wireless device.

1. Save newspapers from being printed, recycled, and thrown away. Easily download the morning paper, or read the latest issue of your favorite magazine a click. Less trips to the recycle center, less paper thrown away, and less money out of your pocket. It's a win-win situation for both you and the planet.

2. Save money with the New York Times bestsellers list. With new releases and best sellers at $9.99 and less, you'll be saving a lot of money just by downloading these books. Think about every time a new release came out that was exclusively available on hardcover. You had the choice of buying the hardcover for $29.95, or waiting until the paperback came out a few months later. Now with the Kindle, you may not run into that as much.

3. It's easy to carry around with you. If you already are carrying a book or carrying case, this will be no problem to carry. The Kindle is the width of a pencil, about 1/3". That's tiny. It's also lightweight, so you won't have to worry about it bogging down your purse, messenger bag, briefcase, school bag, or carry-on.

4. Long lasting charge. The Kindle can be used for a very long time without having to be recharged. That means no mid-flight burn out, and no charging every day. The Kindle battery lasts roughly one week with wireless on, two weeks with wireless off. It also has a convenient USB cord so you can charge almost anywhere.

5. Less trips to the book store. With the Kindle, you can have books downloaded to your device in just 60 seconds! That's gas savings, transport savings, and not to mention less emissions into the atmosphere - so it's a clear green choice.

6. Less books to carry with you. On a normal trip out, you might have several paperbacks, magazines, and newspapers to keep you occupied. With the Kindle, you can fit 1500 releases, more than any man can possibly read during a long flight across the Atlantic.

7. Less stress on your eyes. When reading on laptop or computer screen, you'll notice a definite toll on your eyes after time. The Kindle utilizes ink screen technology, using real ink to make the screen appear more vivid and lifelike, just like an actual book. You can also read in sunlight with no glare. If you're someone that reads ebook downloads on your computer, the Kindle will be much easier on the eyes.

8. Increase your vocabulary with the built-in dictionary. If you've ever come across a word in a book that you didn't know the meaning of, chances are you aren't going to have the Webster's Dictionary by your side to look it up, or take the time to do it. With the Kindle, you can use the built-in New Oxford American Dictionary to place the cursor over the word you want the definition for. The definition will appear at the bottom of the page instead of clicking.

9. Kindle has a built in basic web browser. Great for text websites, you can read up on research websites, take notes, or spend all day on Wikipedia (or maybe our blog!).

10. Free wireless connection. The Kindle doesn't charge you to use their wireless connection, which is practically unheard of with most technology. A cellphone, laptop, BlackBerry, those all charge for their wireless connection.

Buy the Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation) and have it shipped to your door to start saving paper, trees, and money. With nearly 10,000 customer reviews, the Kindle is also adding more titles to their already gigantic library. Go ahead, give it a try!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Organic Crib Sheets and Bedding for Your Baby - Is it Worth It?

It seems like everything for your baby today is available in an organic variety, from organic towels to organic mattresses, to organic crib sheets. Along with being certified organic usually comes a higher price for the product, which makes many of us have to budget for only the most important things to buy organic for your baby. Are organic crib sheets on that list?

First, let's think about how often your infant will use crib sheets. Babies sleep more than adults, around 16-18 hours per day for newborns. This means that they'll be spending a substantial amount of time in the crib, right on the crib sheets.

If you're curious about exactly what cotton is being sprayed with in terms of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, and other toxic substances, this article will be an eye-opener for you. In 1992, 400 different pesticides were used on cotton without being registered to see what harmful effects they had on the human body. It's no wonder more and more manufacturers are offering a line of organic cotton beddng (as well as clothing). With all of these harmful chemicals being possibly present, as well as who knows what else, making the switch to certified organic crib sheets is a wise choice. While being a bit more expensive than traditional sheets, it's one product your infant will be in constant contact with. So yes - it is worth it to buy organic crib sheets. Another good choice for your baby is organic crib mattresses. These too, are more expensive than traditional mattresses, but haven't been exposed to the amount of chemicals found on regular mattresses.