Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reducing our footprint

I am really getting in to the groove lately of finding ways to reduce our waste. Like most people, I started small. Here's some examples of what I've done to greenify our home (and our planet!):

  • Use re-usable canvas bags at the grocery store
  • Make earth-friendly all-purpose surface cleaners
  • Use earth-friendly laundry detergent and dishwashing soap
  • Use cloth toilet paper
  • Turn off/un-plug electronics when not in use
  • Use cloth diapers
  • Wash and re-use ziploc baggies and pack lunches in re-usable containers
  • Use cloth wipes to clean up messes (as opposed to paper towels)
  • Breastfeed!

Things I want to do better at or find a more earth-friendly solution for. Please provide suggestions on any of them if you have some!:

  • Purchase/use cotton produce bags
  • Use cloth menstrual pads or re-usable cups
  • Find a more earth-friendly alternative to the wet Swiffer
  • Find a good alternative to all of the trash bags we go through
  • Try to totally eliminate the use of plastic baggies
  • Find a better solution for putting a drink in Iris's lunch that isn't a toss-away juice box or smoothie/milk container
  • Get some cloth napkins
  • "Greener" light bulbs
  • Re-chargable batteries

So, as you can see, we have a long way to go, but we're getting there. I find that the baby steps are a great way to make these changes because it isn't one total shock of trying to live differently. I would love to make bigger changes in our dependance on the car but it's so hard with two small children in a town that apparently doesn't give a shit about quality mass transit. As it is we only have one car and Matt takes the bus to work almost every single day. Not by choice, but he is doing a world of good for the environment by using the bus (kudos, honey bunny!).


  1. About the swiffer - you can use terry cloth type floor wipes that go over the floor thingie. You can just get them wet and use some of your homemade cleaner.

    Have you thought of a sigg or kleen kanteen for Iris' drinks? They're crazy expensive but you can put all kinds of drinks in them and it probably won't take too long before you save what you're paying for boxed drinks (assuming she doesn't lose it!)

    You can buy wax paper bags at WF.

    Rechargeable batteries are great. You don't need that many and you can get quick chargers (15-20 minutes for 4 AAs).

  2. For the swiffer, I use hand-knit cotton covers and a spray bottle with water and vinegar to clean my floors with. I have about a half-dozen of them and just soak them in dish soap for a bit before tossing them in the wash.

  3. Have you tried the keeper? It's a little rubber cup you insert like a tampon, but it's totally reusable and you can keep it in for 12 hours. You just wash it with soap and water between uses. I boil mine every so often to sterilize it. It's 35 bucks, but think of the savings over time! Plus, you never have to run out to buy tampons at the last minute. I bought mine at whole foods, I think, but you can also look online - just google "the keeper." (This is Amy from Seattle - now LA - by the way).

  4. If you have a latex sensitivity, the Moon Cup (by the makers of the Keeper, not the UK Mooncup) is one that I can personally recommend. I purchased one for my partner and I through a coop on MDC, and we LOVE them. Every time we go to the grocery store, I get all excited about the fact that we don't have to buy tampons.

    And I also got some cloth mama pads through MDC, from a company called Mother and Maiden. I only ordered panty liners (to use as backup with the cup and before/after), but I am extremely impressed with the quality and workmanship. If I get pregnant again, I will definitely purchase postpartum pads from her.

  5. Thank you for all of the fantastic ideas!

  6. What a great example you are setting for your girls! I am also trying to reduce our footprint with baby steps. I'm getting some good ideas from your list.

    Since you mentioned wanting to find an alternative to disposable menstrual products, I would suggest considering a Diva Cup. They have a 12 month money-back guarantee so you can use it and then decide whether or not to keep it. It was hard for me to spend the initial $35 but I have been using only that for years so the investment was a good one. I really think it's a great product, I'm only sad I didn't know about it sooner.


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