Green Your Period with The DivaCup

by Tiffany in Beauty

Green Your Period with The DivaCupEver come across a product that you may have hesitated to buy at first and then it ends up changing your life and you cannot imagine life without it? The Diva Cup is one of those for me. I think I first wrote about this wonderful product about 7 or 8 years now. The concept of reusables came into my life via cloth diapers and then cloth pads for moms. While I have lots of love for those too it was the Diva Cup that ended up being the real game changer. After the second month using it I knew that I would be using a menstrual cup until I no longer needed them anymore (menopause). Also being the big fan that I am, I will happily introduce these to my daughter from the get-go. I only have a few more years until I am likely to do that. Yikes! Where does the time go?

My motivation in trying the cup was to reduce waste and eliminate the need to buy disposable pads and tampons. I also HATED both of these products with a passion. They are more like modern day torture devices and I can see why so many women refer to that time of month as a curse when those are the standard options. Who wants to deal with adult diaper rash from pads and the dryness and possible Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from tampons? Not me, thank you. Cloth pads I found, were infinitely more comfortable but they also required more work. Storing them until wash day and then actually washing them was not going to make my top ten favorite things to do list. Then I came across a mention of menstrual cups on a cloth diapering message board and I ordered one. We have been likes peas and carrots ever since.

If you are not familiar with The Diva Cup, it is a cup that is inserted just like a tampon is. The “cup” catches your monthly flow and when it is full you simply empty it, wash with soapy water, and reinsert. It is made of soft medical grade silicone, which is latex-free, 100% hypoallergenic and odorless. It comes with a lovely carrying case so that you can keep it clean between uses and hidden away so kids won’t be inclined to steal it and play with it in the tub like it some kind of toy. Not saying that has ever happened but it could…hypothetically. I will say that it is really fun to explain to any male child that happens to be handling the cup, what it is and what it does. ;) This may be why I recently had to replace mine though. After one such conversation it mysteriously disappeared after bathroom cleaning duty. I think it disappeared into the trash. I wasted no time buying a new one and if you need one in a hurry you can find them at Whole Foods usually.

Reusable menstrual products are healthier to use and infinitely more comfortable.  They may take some adjustment as some women/girls may be uncomfortable dealing with menstrual blood because of years of using disposable, traditional products. I will admit that I am not squeamish in that regard. Caring for them is pretty easy too.

Have you tried a menstrual cup yet? What are you waiting for?

Related: Alternative Menstrual Products – Ditch the Disposables


How to Clean Stinky Towels – Without Harsh Chemicals

by Tiffany in A Green Home

One of the things I miss about living in the Southwest is the fact that we never, ever had to deal with things like mildew and stinky towels. As a child, bathing suits and towels could be tossed on the carpet all willy nilly and only an hour or two later they would be crunchy and bone dry. Mildew didn’t stand a chance. Later when I was cloth diapering my babes I had the luxury of being able to let the diapers sit in the diaper pail for a week or longer with no smell and no mildew. The first time I tried that after moving to Ohio…well let’s just say it didn’t end well. There was a noxious smell, there was mildew, and there were bugs. Argh!

We also learned that you don’t leave wet bathing suits and towels lay around and every so often your towels start to smell mildewy no matter if you wash and dry them on hot repeatedly. The first time this happened we ended up throwing them out because I thought it was hopeless without the use of something harsh like bleach. Well, we started to notice the same issue with our towels recently and since so many are organic and/or a super luxurious bamboo I did not want to throw them out. Didn’t want to bleach them either. Time to get creative!

With some tips from Facebook friends I had a game plan, and it worked! Yay for clean smelling towels!! But why in the heck do they get stinky in the first place?? We do let our towels sit wet in the bathroom between showers/baths so that doesn’t help, even though they are on a hanging rack. I also think that they have a tendency to get stinky for the same reason cloth diapers do…a detergent buildup. Cloth diapers need to be “stripped” every so often to get rid of detergent scum/buildup and so do towels.

How to Get Rid of the Mildew Smell in Bath Towels

  • Wash with hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 10 drops tea tree oil
  • Rinse with 1 cup vinegar
  • Repeat wash/rinse (tea tree oil optional for the 2nd go round)
  • Dry on hottest setting or dry outside in direct sunlight

This method worked wonders for me! Even after using the same towel over several days, no mildew smell. Now I just need to use this method every time I wash towels over the next 1-2 weeks to make sure I got them all.

Do you ever have this issue? How do you handle it?

How to Clean Stinky Towels


Minimalist Parenting and the New Baby

by Guest in Birth & Baby

Minimalist Parenting and the New BabyThis is a guest post from Carrie…a fabulous minimalist mama with a large family.

At the moment I’m 25 weeks pregnant. So far, my husband and I have purchased the following items for our new little one: a bassinet, a small box of gender neutral newborn clothing, and cloth diapers (all purchased secondhand). Why haven’t we gone all out with a baby registry and/or spending a good portion of the budget on new baby gear? It’s not because this is our 7th child and we already have tons of baby stuff left over from the other kids. We actually got rid of nearly everything after our last baby. And it’s not because we can’t afford to buy baby things.

So why are we acquiring so little? Mostly it’s because we prefer a simple, uncluttered home – and we’ve discovered that babies need so very little by way of material goods. A lot of gadgets sold for babies are in the “marginally helpful but not truly needed” category. What babies really need: warm soft clothing and cotton diapers, food from mom, a safe place to sleep, and the arms of a loving caretaker. (And, an infant car seat for safe travel.) Even diapers are somewhat negotiable if you’re practicing elimination communication.

We’ve found that many things we already have substitute quite nicely for a multitude of expenditures. Here are a few examples:

Babies and toddlers can sleep with mom and dad. You may need to make a few changes to ensure the sleep environment is safe for a baby, but this rarely involves making a purchase. Instead of a crib and play yard/play pen, a soft cloth carrier such as a baby sling can keep baby safe and close (and therefore happy!) during the day. If baby is fussy or colicky due to health problems such as reflux, a sling to keep baby near mom and upright is preferable to many gadgets sold for this purpose.

The only food baby needs for its first 6 months or so is breastmilk. If mom is going back to work full time she will likely need to invest in a high quality pump and BPA free bottles, but some moms are able to arrange their work and caregiver arrangements so as to feed baby straight from the breast.

Once baby is eating, it’s not necessary to buy special bowls and cutlery or food grinders and other “baby food” gear. Most babies will do just fine and may even prefer the texture of simple food mashed with a fork. Babies can start eating banana, avocado, soft cooked carrots, potatoes (and other well cooked mashed vegetables), egg yolks, homemade bone broths and even well cooked meats in their first year of life.

Tons of baby toys are sold each year but many parents have noticed that babies prefer to play with ordinary household objects. Good children’s picture books are a better investment, since they will be loved for years and not quickly “outgrown”. Once you do begin accumulating toys, keep things simple. Classic, open-ended toys like wooden blocks are great for a wide range of ages and are durable and safe.

Having a baby doesn’t have to mean cluttering up your home with tons of stuff. Most parents find that only a small percentage of that stuff is actually useful to them. If this is your first baby and you’re not sure what to buy, ask friends whose values are similar to your own about the things they really needed for their new little one. Resist the siren song of the big box baby stores and buy what you’ll need on Craigslist and eBay, and be vocal about the fact that you’ll accept hand me downs. This way you’ll save money and keep good stuff out of the landfill.

Carrie is a homeschooling mom of 6 (soon to be 7) who writes about frugality, minimalism, good books, feeding a family and productivity at: http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com. Be sure to check out her free podcast episodes for informative experts on natural family living. 


Green Baby Shower Tips and Ideas

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

Green Baby Shower Tips and IdeasAre you a green mom to be or do you know one? Having a planet friendly baby shower will you get you or the natural mama friend and baby you are throwing one for, off to a great start. Forget the pink and blue, the color to be is green! Here are some party ideas that are low impact and helpful to the growing family.

The Invitations – In this digital age it is easier than ever to avoid paper invites if you want to. You can send online invites through a variety of places. Paperless Post is a good free one. You can also set up a Facebook group and invite people that way. For paper invites go recycled. InvitationBox offers products made using recycled, FSC or SFI certified paper. Also a portion of revenues are donated to the Conservation Fund.

Baby Registry – It is common to register for gifts but instead of doing so at a big box store why not try a local place that specializes in green and natural baby gear. Most major cities now have some of these unique stores and they offer cloth diapers, green toys, and glass baby bottles. If you have time for online shopping try The Ultimate Green Store and their gift registry where you can register for gifts and also find the registries of your friends.

Shower Decorations – One of my favorite ways to decorate for a shower is to hang a clothesline to hang baby goodies from. You could use wood clips to hang cloth diapers, a baby carrier, organic baby clothing and bibs, and natural rubber pacifiers. Once the party is over the mom can take the clothesline props home for her own greener laundry use. You could also decorate with live plants and potted herbs which can double as party favors. Beeswax or soy candles can be put inside mason jars to add a natural glow to the party. Couple those with vintage linens from the local antique store and you will have the perfect table setting.

Refreshments – For a baby shower the easiest route to go is simple and refreshing. Instead of a big store bought cake you could make nourishing, organic coconut cupcakes made with coconut flour and sprinkled with shredded coconut courtesy of Tropical Traditions. Some other ideas include raw fudge brownies, a salad bar, yogurt parfaits, and green smoothies. The color of the smoothies are perfect for the venue! Another idea might be to break out the soda stream and make some homemade sparkling juices with fresh fruit and raw honey.

Green Gifts – So what does a green mama need? Actually not that much in truth so you may want to see what you can gift from your own home or from a thrift store. This is why I love the idea of using a Facebook group to organize a shower because you can make it private and post a list of what the mom-to-be wants and needs there. Then guests can comment with what they have bought or discovered second hand and the list can be altered accordingly. Some gift ideas that you may want to buy “new” include newborn cloth diapers, glass bottles, (if the mom will bottle feed or pump), safe teethers and pacifiers, natural toys, and baby carriers or slings. Wrap gifts in recycled paper, newspaper, or even cloth. A bamboo baby blanket can make an excellent “wrapper”.

Green moms might also appreciate a weekly box from the local CSA or organic grocer, gift certificates to Whole Foods or a local green spa, and organic meals made and delivered by their mom friends. An offer to come watch the baby once every two weeks while the new moms naps might be just about the best gift ever, so get creative. If for instance, this is not a first child and the mom already has everything she needs, maybe the guests could bring a blessing to read instead of a gift.

It is important not to forget the purpose of a shower, which is to show the mom and baby all our love and support. That support doesn’t need to mean showering them with useless junk, even if it is cute.

Do you have any green baby shower ideas to share?



The Benefits of Cloth Diapers for Mom and Baby

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

This week the question posed to Green Moms Weekly is “What do you say to people who can’t wrap their head around the cloth diapering phenomena? Give some simple and positive examples of how cloth diapering can benefit both mom and baby.”

I decided to cloth diaper my second baby in late 2003, before she was even born. I spent 4 months researching cloth like crazy and putting together my newborn stash. When I told friends and family of my intentions all I got were incredulous looks or an eye roll as if to say they didn’t believe I would stick with it for more than a day. You would have thought I told them I was planning on taking the dirty diapers to a nearby river and beating them against rocks. It was just an insane idea to them but I did not let them deter me from my decision. When I brought my daughter home from the hospital I immediately put her in a Kissaluvs fitted diaper and a wool diaper cover. I have since tried dozens upon dozens of different cloth diapers but I still think Kissaluvs and wool covers would be my go to diapering system for the newborn months. After a couple months we had fun playing with designer diapers, all-in-ones, pockets, and all manner of custom diapers sewn by wahm seamstresses. I also started making my own diapers right after she was born. Let’s just say that she had more than enough diapers in every color, design, and fabric known to man I think. Want to see some that I made? Check out my flickr set here.

And what did the naysayers think? I think they were green with jealousy at how much fun I seemed to be having and how adorable my two youngest babes looked in their diapers.

Here are a few of the benefits of cloth diapering for mom and baby:

Cloth is Healthy – Disposable diapers are loaded with chemicals that can irritate baby’s skin and cause rashes. It also doesn’t help that the baby’s bum is wrapped in plastic either. While I cannot say that we never experienced rashes in cloth diapers I can say that I think we experienced less of them. Cloth allows the skin to breathe and you aren’t exposing it to petro chemicals, perfumes, and all the other nasties in disposables.

Cloth is Fun – I had sooooo much fun making and buying diapers as well as putting them on my babies. My kiddos usually wore no pants because who wants to cover up that gorgeousness? Perhaps this is why my youngest still can stand to wear pants? LOL. Regardless, most moms find it fun to dress their little ones up in cute clothing and using cloth diapers ups the fun factor ten times. Can moms who use disposables claim to have as much changing diapers as us cloth diaper moms? I think not.

Cloth is Affordable – Disposable diaper purchases usually total 2 to 3 thousand dollars from birth to the potty learning. Cloth diapers done on the cheap can cost $300-$400 for the same period of time. Designer diapers may cost around $800 or more but still, much cheaper than disposables. Cheaper diapers include prefolds, fitteds, and covers made of recycled wool sweaters. Fitted diapers and prefold diapers can even be made using old t-shirts and blankets if you really want to keep it cheap. This would of course be a very green way to go as well.

Slightly more expensive would be all-in-one diapers, pockets, and various designer diapers. It is not unusual to pay $15-$20 or more per diaper but these can last years, for more than one child, and they usually can be sized to fit newborns and older babes alike. Some scoff at the price of cloth diapers but do you want to pay for a reusable diaper that can be passed on to subsequent babies or even resold used … or do you want to spend thousands of dollars on something that is used once and then thrown in the garbage? The answer seems like a no brainer to me.

Cloth is Green – Reusable products are greener than disposables. Period. Whenever you see an industry funded study
that proclaims there is no ecological difference between cloth and disposable remember what they are actually trying to sell. Well, yes they are trying to sell disposable diapers but they are also trying to sell a ludicrous idea. If someone told you that it would be greener if we all wear disposable panties and underwear instead of washing what we have and reusing them we would think they were nuts. Cloth diapers are underwear for babies. Washing and reusing diapers makes good sense and it is greener by far.

I could keep going but I think I have hit the major benefits. Do you have any to add?

Also be sure to check out what Carrie and Rachel had to say on the topic.

Related: The Green Diaper Smackdown