If you have a baby on the way or your little bundle is already here then no doubt you want to ensure you have a green friendly and non-toxic nursery—read on! In these days of eco consciousness, for us to keep our children’s world as safe as we can, we need to start in our home and what better place than your baby’s first environment (after the womb of course)? Perhaps you don’t have a separate nursery because you co-sleep. That great! We just need to make sure all of baby’s hangouts are safe as possible. Experts abound to tell you all about making sure you have outlet covers and no stuffed animals in the crib. Few tell you about the potential toxins that could be lurking in the paint you used on the walls or the new mattress you bought for their crib or bassinet. Even fewer will tell you that you don’t need a fraction of the baby stuff being marketed to new moms.
This is serious business but it is actually getting very easy to outfit a nursery or sleep/play space with safe and green materials. When you also acknowledge that babies actually NEED very little by way of stuff then your job is even easier. You don’t have to go broke buying all the stuff in a baby catalog. Be honest…that stuff is more for you than for baby. They don’t care if their nursery is the perfect color combination of celery and aquamarine. All they care about is the touch, smell, and sound of their mom and dad. They are probably never going to care about how cute you decorated that nursery so your energy AND money is better spent elsewhere. Here are…
10 Tips For a Safe and Minimalist Nursery
1. If you are painting for baby use zero VOC paints or natural paints such as milk paints. Your color options may be slightly reduced but wall color is not as important as the potential for you and your baby to be breathing in noxious chemicals.
2. Avoid new carpeting. Carpet harbors all sorts of nasties like, mold, mildew, dust, dirt, and allergens. If at all possible go with hard wood flooring and wool rugs.
3. Use natural baby care products and avoid the conventional top sellers. You actually don’t need all the baby powder, baby oil, and lotion that the magazines and TV ads tell you that you do. If you must purchase some of these items stick with natural brands such as Earth Mama Angel Baby but in all honesty you can usually eschew most of these products.
4. Choose to use cloth diapers. They really aren’t that much more work (just a few loads of laundry) and they are way cuter than throwaway diapers. They are better for your baby’s skin/health and they are the planet friendly option as well.
5. Select an organic and/or natural mattress wherever your baby will be sleeping. Conventional mattresses are doused with nasty chemicals and flame retardants. Baby mattresses are often covered in plastic which tends to off-gas for a long time. Organic cotton or wool mattresses for cribs and bassinets are available.
6. Spring for organic sheets too. Your little one will be in close contact with all the chemical nasties in conventional options, as will you, for many hours each night. In the beginning they also spend a great deal of time napping. Their sleep environment should be as safe as possible.
7. Everyone’s clothing should be washed in safe, natural detergents but especially that of babies. Soap nuts are a good option…they are fruit with natural soap in them and they can be used repeatedly in the wash to clean clothing naturally.
8. Buy essentials ONLY. Wear your baby and you don’t need a pack-n-play. Change your baby on the bed and you don’t need a changing table. Grab a reusable tote when you leave the house (the kind you use for groceries) and you don’t need a diaper bag. Ask yourself how much you REALLY need for your new baby. The answer is…not much.
9. Use an air purifier in the baby’s room to clean the indoor air and remove allergens and other air born contaminants that are lurking there. Living plants are another great choice.
10. Buy a baby sling or wrap. Bouncy seats, baby walkers, strollers…you don’t really need them. Just get a nice quality, organic baby wrap and you and your partner can wear your baby. Both of you will relish the close contact.
When tackling the nursery and getting ready for your new baby just remember that the more “stuff” you buy or bring into the house the more you have to worry about potentially as far as chemical nasties and pollutants are concerned. It is best to go minimal and be on the safe side and to be more conscious about the few things that you do buy. The best part is that you can afford to be choosier because you aren’t throwing money after useless stuff that baby doesn’t need. Everyone wins.
What conventional and popular baby items have YOU found to be a waste of time and money?
A couple weeks ago I discovered the eBook Bundle of the Week much to my delight. It is essentially a new bundle of high quality ebooks for one super low price ($7.40), usually less than the price of one book individually. I scooped up some ebooks about blogging and productivity a couple weeks ago and almost got last week’s bundle about home organization but I already owned three of them! They are usually books I have already had my eye on but this week’s bundle is full of new-to-me stuff and I am super excited about it.
It is perfect for valentine’s month and also for my personal goals. If you recall it is one my NewYear’s resolutions to make my husband/marriage a priority. Having some ebooks on the topic of marriage and relationships to read in bed each evening will be helpful for me no doubt. Having lots of ebooks to read also makes it less likely I will spend my evenings watching mindless television. For that reason, I am loving the ebook bundle of the week concept.
This week you get: 15-Minute Marriage Makeover, A Simple Marriage, Stripped Down, Entangled, and The Husband’s Guide to Getting Lucky.
A couple of these seemed at first to be a little religiously oriented which isn’t my thing but the information is still good. Everyone wants their marriage to rock right? If you want some love and relationship reading this month, these are sure to please. Enjoy!
I joined a second gym this week. Sounds kind of crazy but I badly wanted to try CrossFit and you typically need to find a specialized CrossFit gym or “box” for that. My other gym is pretty darn awesome and I still plan to go there three times a week but they are pretty vanilla and just don’t have kettlebells, rings, jump boxes, or medicine balls. I toyed with the idea of buying some kettlebells but heck good ones can cost $85 a pop. Plus I know myself well enough to know that I will not work out at home. It’s just not gonna happen.
So I joined a CrossFit box and today was my first workout. Facebook folks had me pretty darn scared about how tough it would be. In fact I was shaking as I drove there. I almost had a coronary when I discovered I would have to drive through a roundabout to get there. Those things terrify me! Anyway the roundabout was the worst part by far because the workout was awesome. No tears, I swear. :)
I am in better shape than I gave myself credit for and when I said those exact words to hubby he said “Duh!” I swim about 6 miles per week and lift weights 3 times a week. I also run whenever I get the urge so I am not exactly an exercise newbie but still I was worried because it’s CrossFit, notorious for being extremely tough. I have no doubt I will be a little sore tomorrow but I kept up and think I was probably one of the best in the class are far as strength and times.
The actual gym was a blast too. It was was very… er, rough with chunks of missing drywall, bars and rings hanging everywhere, uneven flooring with astro turf for carpet, and graffiti all over the walls of this big warehouse building. The atmosphere was very ghetto but for CrossFit it just kind of works. Plus they played AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells really loud and that equates to automatic approval for me.
I came, I lived, and I plan to go back two times a week. Booyah!
Have you tried CrossFit yet?
It is that time of year so I have been posting regularly about greening the upcoming school year. I have been doing this for a couple years so it is habit now but yet even I need reminders and motivation sometimes. Going to Walmart and tossing the cheapest stuff in the cart as fast as you possibly can is certainly tempting when your to-do and your to-buy list is super long. If it were easy all the time then it wouldn’t be called “making an impact” would it? Even green parents can start to run low on steam and that is why I am loving the Green Your School Year challenge from Recyclebank.
Recyclebank is a community I first discovered a year of so ago. It is a place where a community of 2 million members keep track of their goals and successes while keeping it green. This is facilitated by great information and pledges to do just a little more. For this school year they kicked off a challenge to help parents keep the school experience green. In the first phase you walk through a nifty tutorial for shopping for greener school supplies. Right off the bat they recommended carpooling with another parent or family so you are conserving resources just making the trip to your local store. This was a step that escaped my mind for sure. Pledge to carpool and you get your first 10 points in the challenge!
Next up… pledge to buy green, recyclable, or recycled school supplies for another 10 points. As an added bonus they also have a download for you with a checklist of items to check/consider when researching companies and brands that you may purchase from. I love, love, love that they encourage people to research the ethics, certifications, and integrity of the companies and products you want to purchase.
The next screen had two quiz questions.. which I got right. Ding, ding! No doubt this feature is designed to help educate us on what to look for in these products and also make us aware of trends in family spending. They should turn this into a video game. ;) A link follows this page and and it provides a resource for you to recycle qualifying electronics and they offer up to 200 bonus points in return. I saved this info for future use.
Further on there more polls and informative links for keeping school supplies sustainable, including the wardrobe. It was a VERY fun tutorial and I enjoyed participating. I think I got all the available points could, minus the extra credit recycling points but I may end up finding some stuff to recycle and claim some of those too. When the challenge concludes they will be awarding some great prizes to some lucky winners including Bodhi Electric Bicycles (Yowza!), a solar backpack, gift certificates to department stores and grocers, lunch kits, vitamins, etc.
The next phase, which starts in a couple days is all about the first day of school. So after you join up and claim your points for greening the school shopping experience, make sure to check back with Recyclebank for the first day challenge. Good luck!
This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Recyclebank.
A grand summer vacation or spring break may not be in the cards for every family. The costs for family travel seems to go up every year and you may not live close enough to an amusement park, so what do you do? Well, if you are like me I plan lots of small day trips instead and most of them revolves around free or low cost activities that take us outside to explore. This is all part of our family simplicity project. We work as little as we can, taking the lower pay with it, so that we can spend more time together. When we want to do special things that means we have to get a bit creative. A Disney Cruise is not in the cards for us, it may never be, but we can still have a lot of fun while staying close to home. Just think outside the box!
Explore Local Waterfalls – Finding local waterfalls and swimming holes is the BEST! When I lived in Arizona there was no shortage of stuff like this to find so imagine my surprise when I checked out the Go Waterfalling site and found there was a waterfall about 20 minutes away from me. It was a blast and the kids loved it. Plus we now know there are some more about 1-2 hours north of us. Sounds like a nice day trip to me!
National Parks - Most Americans live within a day’s drive of a national park. Ranger tours, hiking trails, campfire talks… sounds pretty nice to me and you don’t even have to sleep in the park if camping is not your thing, you can find a cheap motel nearby instead. Make it an educational event by identifying local plant life, trees, and wildlife, discussing survivalism, etc. Mom and Dad can bring a camera and work on their photography skills so they can make a National Park scrapbook when they get home. Check out your local library for guidebooks specific to any park you want to go to.
Look for Covered Bridges – My mother and I LOVE to go driving around Ohio and scope out the covered bridges. No doubt when I take the kids up to spend time with her this summer we will make several of these trips. The photo above was taken on one such occasion. We ran into our first Ohio rattlesnake on a covered bridge so the kids are always excited to see if we can find more.
Historical Site Exploration – Do a Google search and see if you can find local battlefields, Indian ruins, or other places of historical interest. Visit homes that were part of the underground railroad or check out famous grave sites. We are very fortunate to live close to an outdoor amphitheater to witness the epic life story of the legendary Shawnee leader, Tecumseh as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700’s. When I was a kid we used to drive to it in a motorhome and camp there overnight during the summer. In Arizona we would make day trips to Tombstone… good times.
Explore Caves and Caverns – Does your state have caverns and caves to explore. It probably does. Do some searching and see what you can find. You can usually go on tours and learn all about the history of the cave and what it was used for in centuries past. We have been wanting go to visit Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (5 hours away) but there are also several that are closer.
Scavenger Hunt! - A nearby city puts on a scavenger hunt each year where you have to drive to all sorts of local cemeteries, landmarks, and historic places and get a unique stamp in your adventure passport. It is a lot of fun and can be recreated easily. Spend a few evenings outlining an adventure tour in your local area, the kids will love it.
Check Out a Day Trips Book – Most major cities have published books with fun things to do in your area or within a days drive. It was by perusing books like this that we discovered that there are honest to goodness Castles in Ohio. We had fun visiting a few of them and want to hit up more this summer.
Go to Local Festivals – The availability of festivals and fairs will really depend on your state. In Ohio we have TONS of counties so their is a county fair practically every week in the nicer months it seems. We also have a Bratwurst Festival, a Strawberry Festival, a Popcorn Festival, a Tomato Festival, the Country Music Festival… it goes on and on. They provide funs ways to get outside, explore local communities, and eat some tasty food.
Harvest Some Food - Summer to us means raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and sweet corn. We like to visit You-Pick farms in the area and pick our own food. The kids have a blast harvesting it and they are super excited to get home and eat, bake, freeze, or can our treasures.
Visit the Animals – Take a trip to the zoo, a wildlife sanctuary or preserve, local stables, anywhere where you can interact with the local wildlife.
What are your favorite family vacation day trips?