Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

If you are like me and have a fruit tree in your backyard, reaping the harvest can be both exciting, and well… a major pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love waking up every morning to fresh tree-ripened plums, but the 85% of the harvest that I can’t eat or give away fast enough is quickly becoming a nuisance. Trying to keep Liam from eating the worm-infested, rotten ones is a challenge all on its own. After an afternoon spent trying to pick up and salvage as many as I can, it was time to call the “gleaners”. What’s exactly is a gleaner you ask? Well, from the content in this paragraph, I am pretty sure you figured it out. While the more traditional definition of a gleaner is someone who goes in after the harvest and picks what’s left, a more modern definition describes humanitarian organizations that pick fruit and veggies that would otherwise go unused, and donate it to food banks and other organizations getting food out to those who need it.

P8152039

As people become more aware of thier connection to food in thier local communities, small scale gleaning projects are popping up all over the country. One such organization in Seattle is Solid-Ground.  While the scope of this organization is much larger than an annual tree harvest, it is just one of the services they provide that helps meet their larger goal to provide shelter, food, home care, transportation and other basic services to families and individuals in need throughout King County. By asking people to simply donate thier fruit that would otherwise go unused, they are able to help out a lot of families in the area who can’t afford local, organic produce. Being on the giving end, you end up with a much cleaner yard and on the recieving, a much healthier life. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and the community as a whole.

Another similar project in Los Angeles had taken gleaning to whole new level. Fallen Fruit, a lovalvore-activist art project, has taken on the large task of mapping out all the city’s public fruit trees. They believe that “fruit is a resource that should be commonly shared, like shells from the beach or mushrooms from the forest.” If you live in the area, you can simply log on to their website, check out where the local trees are, grab your basket, and start picking. Fallen Fruit is also involved in many other guerrilla-gardening projects and urge residents to plant food in as many public spaces as they can.

If you are sitting home right now with a fruit tree bursting at the seams with its bounty, find a local organization to help! If you find that you don’t have one, you can always pick the fruit yourself and drop it off at your local food bank. Even if you can only pick a bag full, if it will help one less person in your city go hungry, its worth it.

Read Full Post »

Summer solstice is here and I couldn’t be happier. Those baby ducklings are getting bigger, clover is in full bloom, and days to spend in the park seem endless. While I will surely miss the lovely spring we had here in Seattle, I am looking forward to many sunny days at Greenlake and refreshing ICED beverages like the rhubarb soda my friend M brought over a few weeks ago. The summer will also give me numerous opportunities to play with my new Nikon D2oo. Hope you enjoy the pictures.  

Liam

And aren’t those purple bottlebrush flowers just beautiful? Liam thinks so!

Purple Flowers

Although they are getting bigger, those ducklings are still clinging to their mama! Ducklings

Taking a break under the redwoods as we look for some goodies for L’s nature box.

DSC_1156

And boy does he love playing outstide with him mama.DSC_1146

 And after a long afternoon in the park, this is the face that sends us home and in the tub. Ahhh, a solstice well spent 🙂 DSC_1186

Read Full Post »

So, being a research fanatic is hard work. Fortunately, I often times will come across really great organizations that do all the work for me, and this is exactly what I found when it was time to purchase a new car seat for Liam. Yes, he has already outgrown his old one, can you believe it??? I know, I know, he may not be super-sized like some of my friend’s (yes, plural) 30 lb. 8 month olds who grew out of their infant seats at 3 months, but he’s big to me 🙂

When I started researching car seats a while back, I learned that (surprise, surprise) not only are they putting toxics in our food supply, but apparently they are putting them in our children’s car seats as well. (Hmm..what are we going to do with “them”?) You may be reading this thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t have children, so I am not concerned.” However, what you may not know, is that chances are, they are in your car seats as well. What kind of chemicals are in these seats you ask? Well, only bromine, PVC’s, phtalates, and lead (to name a few)!! Here is an excerpt from their site

“Plastics used in vehicle interiors and child car seats contain many chemicals that are added during the production processes to impart specific properties such as rigidity, durability or flame resistance. Many of these chemicals are not chemically bound to the parts and are consequently released into the environment during the life of the product. One of the common ways chemicals are released is referred to as “off-gassing,” and evidence of this is sometimes present as a window film or “fogging” that develops on the inside of the windshield. Heat can accelerate this process and UV exposure may also cause chemicals to break down into even more toxic compounds. The mix of chemicals released from materials used inside the car can be inhaled or ingested by drivers and passengers through dust and air, potentially causing allergic or other acute reactions. These chemicals have also been linked in animal studies to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. The concern with the commercial use of these chemicals is that consumers are exposed to them from many sources in addition to auto interiors, and the combination of these many exposures may lead to harm.”

And there’s more where that came from. So when read the site, I learned that Sunshine Kids makes the only toxic-free children’s car seat on the market. There are many companies that make low-toxic seats, but Sunshine Kids is the only non-toxic one in the “convertible” car seat selection for 2008. When I started researching company, I found out that they were based locally in Kent, WA. Even better I thought! However, come to find out, like so many other American companies, even though they are based here, the seats are manufactured in China. So now I am faced with a dillemma. Should I poison my child or contribute money to human rights abuses? (decisions, decisions!) But seriously, it’s a tough call. I consciously avoid buying everything else from human rights abusers, but when it comes to exposing my child to toxic chemicals, I think I can make an exception. ANd that is exaclty what I did. So now Liam is cruising around in his super cool Radian 65! To see how healthy your car seats are, click here.

Read Full Post »

Cloth diapers seem to be growing in popularity these days, and there are a lot of good reasons why. Even before I was pregnant, I knew that if I had a baby one day, I would be looking into a alternative for disposables. However, when I actually found out I was pregnant, thinking about the whole cloth diapering thing was a little gross. What do you do with all the poopy diapers??? It didn’t sound fun, not that changing any kind of diaper sounds fun, but you know what I mean. So when I initially went to buy my first set of cloth diapers, I didn’t go crazy. I bought a few fitted diapers and a few pocket diapers and decided to just try the whole thing out before I committed 100%. And, How did it turn out youask? Well, they ended up being so incredibly easy that I have continued to buy more and more of them, and am now soley cloth diapering (and wiping) my son. I figured, I am doing laundry anyways, why not throw in some wipes? 🙂

Six months later, looking back at the whole process, the most daunting task has not been washing diapers, but the initial research that when into “uncovering” all of the cloth diapering jargon (and believe me, its overwhelming). Not only are there a plethora of companies that make cloth diapers, there are many different kinds, colors, materials, etc. It’s enough to send those on the fence about cloth straight back to disposables. In these next few paragraphs, I will attempt to simplify some of the craziness that is cloth diapers.

So, what with all the different types?

Pocket diapers: These work like disposables except that the absorbent inner layer can be removed. This makes for easier drying time, and a custom amount of absorption. You can stuff the diaper with various different liners (also called doublers or soakers, depending on the thickness) depending on how much of a wetter your child is, or if you are using them for overnight. Most pocket diapers come with at least one liner, some with two. You can also buy liners individually if you find more absorbent ones than the ones that come with your pocket diaper. These are the type that I use the most. I like that the layer that touches my baby’s skin is made of fleece so the moisture is pulled away, or wicked, from my baby’s skin. They are also a lot slimmer compared to some of the other types of cloth diapers I have seen. The most popular brands of these are Happy Heinys, Bum Genius, and Fuzzi Bunz.  

Fitteds: These are a 2 part dipering system. The first part is the actual cloth diaper. The cloth can made out of hemp, bamboo, or cotton, depending on the brand.  I have even seen blends (cotton/hemp, hemp/bamboo, etc.) . Like the pocket diapers, they can be closed using either snaps or velcro. SO, you put it on your baby like you would a regular diaper, then you put a diaper cover over the fitted diaper to make it waterproof. I use a lot of these diapers as well. They are a little bulkier than the pockets, but super absorbent.  Personally, I love Kissaluvs. They work perfect with a Bummis Whisper Wrap (the cover I use). What’s great about these is that even if anything leaks out of the fitted diaper (which it rarely does) the cover catches it!. I even use it with some fleece liners that I made, so the wetness wicks away from his body. Some other brands I have heard great reviews about are Bamboozle and Motherease. These do take a little longer to dry.

Contours: These are also a 2-part system. YOu need an inside diaper and a cover. They are similiar to the fitteds except the inside part is contoured to your babies bottom, not fitted. So basically, there are no elastic legs, no snaps, no velcro. You just wrap it around your baby and put the cover over it so it stays in place. These are cheaper than the fitteds, but you probably have to go through more covers, since they don’t contain everything as well. Imsevimse and Kissaluvs are two brands I know of.

All-in-Ones: These are most like a disposable. The name says it all. No stuffing, no covering. You just put the diaper on, and throw it in the diaper hamper when you’re done. The one down side to these is that they take FOREVER to dry! Many of the companies I listed previously make these, but here’s a picture of one.

Prefolds: These are the diapers out great-grandparents used. You all have seen one at sme point in your life. They look like this. As you see in the picture, there are a few different sizes, and colors. They are also made with various thicknesses and various materials (cotton, hemp, etc). These are the cheapest option to cloth diapering. I have heard that some people use Snappis to keep them in place, some use good old-fashioned pins, and some just use a really good cover that keeps them in place. I don’t have any experience using these, but they are definitely the most economical option!

But what about the price?

All diapers are expensive, and whether you are buying disposables or cloth, it’s simply the last thing you want to spend your money on. I cringe when I think about all of the money we’ve spent on diapers, and it’s only been 6 months! Anywho, the bottom line is that cloth diapers are cheaper. A combo of pockets and fitteds will cost you anywhere from $400-$600 depending on the brands and types. If you choose the contour/ pre-fold route, you’re looking at anywhere from $200-$400. (200 being the bare-bones minumum). A friend of mine recently bought an entire lot of all-in-ones sized newborn to toddler for 100 bucks, so the range is definitely vast. In comparison, disposables will cost you $30-40 a month. When you multiply that by 36 months (the average kid is potty-trained around 3), that’s over $1000! Even if yor child is potty trained by 2, its still $750 at the least. A great way to save even more with the cloth diapers is to find a company that makes a one-size diaper. (Bum Genius, Mother ease, and Bella Bottoms are a few that I know).

How do you wash and care for these things?

Easy. Since I use pockets and fitteds, I have two diaper hampers: one for the liners and fitteds, one for the covers. (You are not supposed to store them together). One of my diaper hampers is a bag that hangs on a doorhandle and can be thrown in with the diapers to clean. Very cool. So every 3 days, I dump all the diapers in the bag, bring it to the washer, and dump everything in (including the bag). I never have to clean or rinse out anything. I prewash with cold, wash with hot and a tablespoon of Charlies Soap (the best detergent ever!!), and rinse. Done. On sunny days, I sunbleach them to dry, but most of the time I just throw everything in the dryer for 40 minutes and fold. The pocket diapers actually dry a lot faster (like 15 min) but some of the liners and fitteds take longer.

How do I travel with them?

On day trips, I stuff a few in my diaper bag and go. You can either buy a wet bag to hold the dirty diapers, or you can use a plastic bag. On extended trips, you can do the same, with a much bigger wet bag and more diapers OR you can use the Aussie-invented G diapers, which is what I do. I will admit that the first few trips I went on, I just used disposables; a friend of mine had a super-fast grower and grew out of diapers before she could use them all, so I used those. G diapers are a cross between cloth and disposable. They have a cloth outside and a disposable inside that you can either flush or dispose of as you would a regular diaper. I choose to toss them because most places don’t have that great of plumbing. The great thing is though that they 100% biodegradable! The only thing you have to wash are the covers and you dont have to carry around dirty diapers!!!  I have 4 of them and that seems to get me through any extended trip I’ve taken. Those smart AUstralians!

Whew!!! I know that’s a lot of info to digest, but there’s more out there if you are interested. If you want to know more, check out cloth diapering 101 in my links. That resource really helped me out. If you live in the Seattle area, one of my favorite stores for babies, Birth and Beyond, hold classes about once a month.  They are super-helpful if you need help getting started. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond. Good luck and have fun 🙂

Read Full Post »