Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Diaper Decision

When I became a mom, I had to answer the age old question: cloth or disposable diapers? At first glance some eco-moms may say to use the reusable cloth diapers (of course), but they aren’t as eco-friendly as you might think. While disposable diapers ultimately end up as landfill, cloth diapers require a lot of energy and water to clean them. It ends up, that the environmental impact of your diaper choice depends on how launder your diapers. Here are some of the basic facts about diaper use, according to the Sierra Club:

  • The average child will use over 6,000 diapers during diaper wearing years
  • 28 billion disposable diapers are trucked to U.S. landfills each year
  • Washing cloth diapers in a full load with water at or below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, line drying the diapers, and reusing them for a second child would reduce your global warming impact by 40%, as compared to using disposable diapers.
  • BUT using a dryer for the diapers and using water above 140 degrees, your impact could be 75% worse than using just disposable diapers.
  • In the 2.5 years a child might be using a diaper, reusables would cost between $400 and $1,700, including diapers, laundry detergents, water, and electricity while using disposables would cost about $2,500.

How to choose? Let me sum up the pros and cons of each option, and then you can make the best decision for yourself.

Reusable Cloth diapers (photo by simplyla):

  • Less landfill for the Earth
  • Cost efficient
  • Significantly less chemicals released into the environment and exposed to your baby through skin contact
  • You need to take time to clean them well or you have to pay for a service to clean them for you (which also adds to the overall energy used for you diapers)
  • Cleaning process uses energy and water
  • It takes more skill to put one on so it won’t leak

Disposable diapers:
  • Easy and convenient
  • Very leak proof
  • There are eco-friendly options (chlorine-free, recycled, biodegradable, etc.)
  • Expensive over time
  • Add to landfill and to chemicals released into the environment
  • Energy intensive in production
  • Contain harsh chemicals and plastics that aren’t good for your baby (unless you use eco-diapers)

What do I use? I use reusable cloth diapers because although they are less convenient, I feel that overall they are much better for the environment. I make sure I wash my cloth diapers in an energy efficient washing machine, in a full load with warm, not hot, water. I also use eco-friendly detergent (see my blog post on eco-friendly detergent for more info), and I hang my diapers on a clothes line to dry (inside in the winter, outside in the summer). I also have a HUGE stash of cloth diapers so I don’t have to constantly do laundry. With cloth diapers I am not contributing to landfill where typical disposable diapers can sit and leak chemicals into the environment. I am also saving the energy it takes to produce a disposable diaper and transport it to your local grocery store. And in time, I will have saved a lot of money too!

*When buying reusable diapers, the best green options are made from organic, natural fibers.

Sometimes when we travel or have to leave home for a while (trips to Grandma’s, day adventures in the National Park) I bring along eco-friendly disposable diapers. Although I think reusable diapers are the best option for the planet, sometimes you need the convenience of disposable ones. When I buy disposable diapers, I make sure to get chlorine-free, eco-diapers. Here’s a new one I came across that you can flush (not such a good option in my opinion) or compost (better yet!):

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

IN THE NEWS: legistation to regulate toxic chemicals

Like many of you eco-minded parents out there, chemical exposure is one of reasons why I strive to have an eco-friendly household. Well here's some good news! Last Thursday, new federal legislation was introduced that aims to update our country’s law governing toxic chemicals. This new bill will provide more thorough regulations and safety requirements for toxic chemicals. Although the bill is not perfect, it is a big step towards protecting families and children from health hazards. (Check out the article I read.)

Most surprising is that our country’s chemical policy has not been changed since 1976, when the Toxic Substances Control Act was created. Technology and chemical use has changed immensely since the 70s and our families and kids are surely exposed to different hazards today. I am especially concerned about our kids because they are born into a world full of exposure to toxins. According to Maureen Swanson, of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, “Kids are more exposed to chemicals because they’re on the ground and put things in their mouths. “ And most of us aren’t even aware of what toxic chemicals we are exposed to, let alone what effects they may have on our health. One part of the new 2010 chemical legislation that I like is that chemical companies will be required to provide the public with health and safety information for all chemicals. Whether or not people pay attention to this information is a different story, but I think this kind of disclosure is a step in the right direction.

Perhaps another step to take is to also educate families on the toxins they are exposed to. If didn’t have an interest in eco-living, I probably wouldn’t have such a strong desire to avoid chemical exposure. But not all families have the time or interest to invest in researching toxins and green living. This is one of the reasons why I’m blogging: to easily share knowledge with other mom’s and parents out there! And I'll be sure to share with you any future news of interest when I find it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You'll Be Surprised By This Chocolate Beet Cake

I love healthy eating, but I have to admit I have a big sweet tooth too. Here’s a great recipe for a chocolate beet cake that I found from a book called, Cook Yourself Thin. This is a fun, low calorie cake to make. Try bringing it to a party or potluck- it really surprises people when you tell them it is made with beets! And this recipe is even better if you’re like me, and you grow beets in your garden!

(Recipe and Photo

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake:

For the Cake
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 ounces beets, peeled and finely grated
4 ounces low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons strong black coffee
3 large eggs
3/4 sugar

For the Icing

1/2 cup dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons strong black coffee
2 tablespoons honey/ agave

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Grease an 8 inch springform baking pan (I just used regular cake pan)

3. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, ground almonds, salt and baking soda, set aside.

4. Using a mixer at medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar for 4 full minutes until pale and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the grated beets, followed by the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and coffee, beat until the batter is smooth.

5. Pour into cake pan, bake for 30 minutes or until done. (mine took longer)

6. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then unmold Cool on wire rack until cold.

7. For the icing, prepare a double boiler.

8. Combine all the icing ingredients and melt until the chocolate is smooth. Stir until the mixture thickens.

9. Pour the icing liberally over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides.

Total Calories per serving: 222

You can also make different substitutions if you want an even lower calorie cake. For example, I used almond milk and yogurt instead of buttermilk. It turned out well! Or try using only Agave instead of sugar. Of course I also try to use all organic ingredients!

I’ve tried this cake a couple of times now, and the strength of the beet flavor has varied between cakes. One cake I made had absolutely no beet flavor or aftertaste, while another one had a subtle beet taste. Depending on your beet variety and how well you measure will determine the overall beet flavor. If you have picky eaters at home, be sure not to tell the kids that beets are a main ingredient. They'll be sure to say "YUCK!" I personally kind of enjoy a slight hint-o-beet! My husband loves it too!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Do Your Laundry the Green Way!

As all of you moms already know, having a baby means a lot of dirty laundry! I personally have sensitive skin, and although typical laundry detergents may smell nice, they can really irritate my skin. The chemicals, sulfates, and dyes that are used in mainstream laundry detergent contribute to skin irritation and they are also not environmentally friendly . I’m an eco-mom, so I am consciously trying to minimize my baby’s daily exposure to chemicals and toxins, like the ones used in laundry detergent.

My new favorite laundry detergent to use is Free & Clear Natural 2x Concentrated Laundry Liquid from Seventh Generation. I love that this laundry detergent uses bio-degradable, plant-derived cleaning agents and enzymes because it means it is safe for the environment, safe for my sensitive skin, and safe for my baby! Not to mention that is it super concentrated, so I spend less money buying laundry detergent.

This laundry detergent is fragrance free, so some of you moms out there may be a bit hesitant to use it for that REALLY dirty laundry. But don’t be afraid to try it! I find that although my clean laundry has no specific strong scent, it still smells clean and fresh. This is definitely one easy step you can take to have a greener household and family! (Photo:

*Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions. I independently use Seventh Generation Products. I am not receiving any form of compensation from Seventh Generation for my views expressed in this blog. Just one mom recommending a great product to another!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Mom Making a Difference a Blog at a Time...

I'm so excited to have set up my first blog! I've spent 29 years educating myself about nutrition, healthy food, the environment and everything in between. Now that I have a daughter and I spend more time at home, I'm happy to have an opportunity to spread the wealth online with the mommy community. My sweet, amazing husband has been pushing me to get started, so here I am!