Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green With Goodness

I cannot quite call the Atlanta Heintz clan green crusaders, but we have tried for the past few years to really reduce our environmental "load." With the advent of the pregnancy, our focus on safe and healthy lifestyle choices has amplified. (Well, there was the 18 weeks of me barely eating more than generic brand bagels and cream cheese with lemonade.) We try to reduce our consumption of refined sugar, and make as many of our meals at home as possible. As convenient as pre-packaged food is, it is usually injected with ridiculous amounts of salt and preservatives. Additionally, I have eliminated as many artificial sweeteners as possible. It's all about moderation. From my work at CDC, I realize now that eating "real" food in moderation is much healthier than relying on a menu of diet soda, "light" yogurt and sugar free prodcuts. With the recent hoopla concerning BPA and baby bottles, we do feel more confident in our (expensive) decision to opt for the Born Free bottles and glass bottles. A price we are willing to incur, especially since we both work full time and will rely on bottles for a good portion of Linus's feedings. And then there is the Nalgene/BPA catastrophe. About a year ago Eric and I switched to using Kleen Kanteen bottles, but still had Nalgenes kicking around the house. It's amazing how much sentimental value you place on water bottles-especially when adorned with fun stickers. Apparently, Nalgene is going to phase out their BPA bottles! Same thing with Tupperware. I didn't think Eric could be attatched to plastic storage containers, but I almost saw a glint of a tear in his eye when I started to recycle some of the aged Tupperware (I think it was from his mother's time with Tupperware! Nostalgic, perhaps...but the fact that it was peeling inside did not seem so safe. Now, I am phasing out all plastic wear and trying to change to all glass for storage.)

Almost a year ago we switched to making our household cleaners with the help of a great book, "Clean House, Clean Planet," and it is far cheaper (thanks to CD for the book rec). Basically, everything is some mix of organic essential oils, baking soda, Borax and liquid soap (NOT detergent like most dish soaps are). I have to say...the lavendar/lemon scented baking soda we sprinkle on the carpet prior to vaccuming is far better smelling than anything you can buy. I am glad our cleaning product routine has been solidified prior to the baby, so that it will be second nature.

CNN had a cover story on soaring food prices eliciting more "eco friendly" practices by American moms. I hope that people realize that the importance of making some life style changes is more than price gouging. Some of their suggestions resonante with what we are trying to do: buy generic for some items that don't compromise quality, make as many of your meals at home as possible, buy LOCAL (perhaps on par with buying organic), buy organic (especially strawberries, peppers, peaches and celery), plant your own veggie and herb garden (deck prohibitive!), make your own cleaning products...etc. I'm a big loser and intend on getting the "magic bullet" kitchen appliance so that I can make our own baby food. Good advice from Nana Anne, freeze portions in ice cube trays.

I've briefly commented on the diaper dilemma. Still not sure how it will pan out. Again, being a full time working mom, cloth diapering is not really an option, so we'll try the gDiapers and 7th generation.

The safe cosmetics database is a GREAT resource for safe body care recommendations. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/. California baby appears to have some safe cleaning products for babies, as does Dr Bronner's. I am actually now using Dr B's castille soap for just about everything-including cleaning my body. I have had some belly irritation and think it is related to the Dove soap, but it appears Dr B's is a good alternative. It's neat, I can use it to clean my dishes, hair, body, baby, everything! A non-baby related note: I just tried Alima cosmetics, and highly recommend their make-up. http://alimacosmetics.com/I don't wear a ton, but knew that the stuff I put on my face has tons of terrible chemicals. Alima has a wonderful jar return policy (but you must return with recyclable packaging), and is determined to provide safe and effective make-up.

I've commented a number of times our intention on reusing as many baby clothes (and some products) that we can. And will try to make conscious choices about the new products we buy. There is that whole lead insanity, too! So, we'll try to keep with natural and fair trade toys, nuks (aka pacifiers). I had a slight panic last night, realizing that we have NOTHING for the baby in terms of furniture, but after reading a helpful post from Schlotty on the Vanguard website, the recommendation is to WAIT to buy everything. You never know what the baby will need. Panic averted.

I think this amplification in my interest in greenness is my experience with "nesting." Who knows what the status of our living situation will be in the next few months, but wherever we land for the next year, be it in this same condo, or in a home, I would like to install a clothes line and convince my husband that if we are in the condo, we can still do some mini composting. Not sure that is possible...For the past few months we have been using a turkey baster to collect the water in the bottoms of our deck plants, and then rewater everything with it. It is sort of labor intensive, but gratifying. I think our neighbors think we are crazy.

I have listed some of my favorite blogs on the left, and there are a handful of green parenting ones if you are interested.

I found more "things that make you go awww!" They are called Animalz (not sure on the spelling, seen it a number of ways). Apparently they are a "safe" toy, and get really good accolades from the youngins. I read about these wooden figures in one of the blogs. Not infant friendly, but come on! They are wicked stupid cute. (Like that phrase?)

-Another easy one: THE DECK DEVIL HAS BEEN CAUGHT! Yes, I watched early yesterday morning as the Desantis squirrel trap captured the lil bugger heading straight for our bird feeder. My joy was soon deflated when I realized that I would have to hear the thing hiss and frantically try to get out of the trap all day until my husband came home after 8pm to drive him far away to release him. I threw bird seed in the cage and with a glove, and put him under the table for shade. It is strange-I kind of felt bad for him! Upon his release at a high school past the interstate (that thing better not cross 1-85 and find his way back to our home), Eric told me, "I could never be a hunter." Well, good! I was hoping that wasn't a new hobby to replace marathon training.

Nixed Names: Liam, Calvin, Robert (Sorry Dads! This was the hardest cut, yet). Sebastian, Samuel, Marcus, Carter, Elliott, Henry, Max, Charles, Oscar, Noah, Isaac, Braxton, Hicks, Evan, Owen, Abe, Josef, Dylan, Griffin, Jens, Jan, Nevin, Emil, Milo, Luke, Lucas, Simon.


  1. oh boy...you are so right on with that nalgene comment. I am phasing my collection out one at a time and it has been rough. :)

    How do you make the carpet sprinkle? We don't have any carpet, but i would like to try it on some rugs!

  2. You are so good with all this, Alison (and Eric). We have a long way to go and life long habit to break, but we are making baby steps. My Nalgene bottle went into the trash (not recycable in our town). I am not yet able to give up our Tupperware/Rubbermaid, but we microwave only in glass. It's exhausting to make such comprehensive changes - but baby steps...

  3. Right on! I'll have to check out that book. I switched to cleaning my bathroom with vinegar. My shower doors and mirrors never got so clean so fast.

    Also, I switched to using microfiber clothes to clean almost everything. They replaced scott towels in the kitchen and bathroom (except for the toliet, can't get a way from that). I dust with them, clean, wipe up, mop floors. They work awesome, then toss them in the wash and reuse.

    Isn't it fun to save all that money and have a clean house that doesn't smell like it's going to burn your lungs out!?

    Great post...thanks for sharing :)

  4. Great recommendation with the Born Free bottles Ali...I've put the newborn starter kit on my registry!

  5. Vinegar and old newspapers have always been good for windows ;)
    Other things I do: witch hazel is a good skin toner; a vinegar rinse is good for getting rid of hair product build-up; lemon juice rinse can bring out the shine in your hair, and a mayo plus egg yolk combo is good as a deep conditioner for hair...
    i've got a lot to learn though about other things like cosmetics, house cleaner stuff -- wow!

  6. ditto on the witch hazel - it's super cheap too!

    I also have tried two new moisturizers that I love (and i have extremely dry skin):

    Kiss my Face Green Tea & Gingko Oil Free Moisturizer and Weleda Skin Food.

    Both are available at whole foods, and the Weleda is also available at Target.

  7. (this is under Eric's account, but it is Ali) Thanks for the other suggestions! I need a good facial moisturizer. I use oil of olay for sensitive skin right now, but it is still has some questionable chemicals. I know Kiss My Face is supposed to be a good line! I'll have to try. And also get some witch hazel.

  8. Adam's sis-in-law has experienced the history of 7th generation diapers - she says they've come a long way and that is what they use - don't rule out cloth for the weekends when you'll be home to clean them asap - and well, there's always the "elimination communication" theory (ha ha).

  9. Ali,
    You are tops in this stuff - I was actually motivated to buy an actual rubbermaid water bottle instead of reusing regular bottles the water comes in (about a billion times)...and I don't nuke things in tupperware any more, I use a glass dish. Baby steps, yes, I know LOL ;)

  10. Hey! For Nalgene users like myself I was really upset to hear I shouldn't use mine any longer... it has traveled SO far with me (across the world and back! Wierd.

    BUT I did find that you can take them to REI and exchange it for a BPA free one, or store credit. I did this yesterday and received $17.50 for two bottles.

    I think I am going Kleen Kanteen now!