Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: 5 Changes for a Better Earth

Today is Earth Day so I wanted to cover some Earth friendly changes I have made in the past year.  Since starting cloth diapering a little over a year ago, I have definitely become more aware of other areas in our life where we can reduce the waste, and reuse what we have.  As Earth Day approached I was reflecting on the different ways that our family has made changes in the past year that are Earth friendly.  We have done a good job of focusing on the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle principles and have seen a significant reduction in the amount of garbage we produce and sometimes we even skip garbage collection day!  Here are 5 changes that we have made in the past year:

1. Cloth Diapers and Cloth Wipes
I guess this one is pretty obvious one since a lot of my personal time and blogging time is devoted to cloth diapers now.  I estimate that using cloth diaper and cloth wipes on two kids for the past year has kept over 5000 diapers and approximately 6500 wipes out of landfills!!!  I was amazed when I did the math especially because this is just one year.  I of course love using my cloth diapers and wipes for a lot of different reasons, but reduction in waste is a big one.
2. Unpaper Towels
I did a pretty tutorial review on unpaper towels when I made a set for a friend but in reality, for myself, I just use cheap dish towels (approximately 9 for $3 at Wal-Mart).  I keep them folded in a drawer and normally just use them once before laundering.  They are great for wiping up spills, cleaning my girl's faces and hands after meals and just cleaning up any mess.  I have noticed the paper towel consumption decrease drastically in our house and I don't even remember the last time that I bought paper towels (we do keep some on hand for grease spills or other things that you don't want to put in your washer).  If you wanted to make your own it would be easy to just finish the edges (serge or turn and stitch) of some terry cloth, approximately 9x11 inches.
3. Reusable Sandwich Bags
This is a recent change for us but I really love it.  After trying out my sandwich bags for the tutorial I made a bunch and now we use them for everything.  The only thing I use zippered plastic bags for now is if something is really messy (e.g. peaches), things that need to be air tight or things that will go in the freezer.
4. Recycle
While recycling is not new to my family, this year I have spent more time checking to see if something is recyclable.  In the past I knew my spaghetti sauce jar and newspaper were recyclable but now I am looking up items to see if they are recyclable, so we have drastically increased the amount of items that we recycle (its a good thing we have a new big recycle bin).
5.  Reusable Shopping Bags
This is a new one for me and its the one I struggle with the most.  Its not that have an objection to using these shopping bags, it's purely a matter of remembering to bring them to the store.  This is definitely one area that I will be working on between now and next Earth Day.
To get your Earth Day started off right I am doing a give away for an Earth Day Starter Pack (not a real thing, I just made it up) that includes 2 cloth wipes, 2 serged "unpaper towels" and 1 reusable sandwich bag. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Makes a Cloth Diaper Trim (or Bulky)?

When I started cloth diapering over a year ago I was obsessed with finding a trim diaper.  I had used disposables on my first daughter for 18 months and I didn’t want a huge bulky diaper on my very petite little girl.  In all of my diaper trials I have assessed the bulkiness of each diaper but what really makes a diaper bulky?  In my experience the two main factors are: crotch width and thickness of the insert used.
Crotch Width
One of the biggest contributors to trimness is the width of the crotch for the diaper.  Having a more narrow crotch makes it so that extra material is not bunched up between you baby's legs and therefore there is no extra bulk.  Not only does the extra material from the width contribute to the bulk but the bunching of the insert also adds to that bulkiness.  Some of the trimmest diapers that I have have very narrow crotches: Peachy Greens and Bottom Bumpers.  Of course the narrower the crotch, the less absorbent material you will have and therefore these diapers might be less absorbent.  I would not recommend Peachy Green or Bottom Bumpers (even with a booster) for overnight, but they are perfect for leggings, jeans and are just nice trim diapers.  I have compiled a listing of the crotch measurements (based on my own measurements from edge to edge) for the diaper brands that I have so that you can get an idea of how they vary.
The type of material used for your inserts and the number of layers of that material vastly contribute to the trimness of the diaper.  In general I would say that minky, hemp, cotton and bamboo are the trimmest materials but of course this will depend upon the the number of layers used for each insert.  I have found that my microfiber diapers are more bulky than my natural fiber diapers.  I love the Peachy Green inserts, they are 6 layers of bamboo and I think for being so trim they are also really absorbent. 
What Other Factors Contributes to Diaper Trimness?
Other than the crotch width and the insert type used some other things that contribute to how trim a diaper looks is how the fabric lays, sized v.s. one size and front snapping v.s. side snapping.

Sometimes how the elastic is put into a diaper (in a casing, free, etc.), the thickness of the PUL and just the general construction of the diaper will affect how trim it look.  For example Bottom Bumpers have a very narrow crotch and a trim insert but their diapers look slightly more bulky than some other diapers (e.g. Peach Green) because of how the elastic is done and because of how the PUL lays.

Another factor is buying a sized diaper (S, M, L) verses a one size diaper.  Generally a sized diaper will be trimmer than a one size diaper unless the one size diaper is on the largest setting.  This is because the extra fabric that allows the one size diaper to extend has to go somewhere and ends up making the diaper look bulkier than the sized diaper that doesn't have any extra fabric.

The placement of the snaps can also contribute to the trim/bulky factor.  I know a lot of people find side snapping diaper to be awkward, but I love them.  I love that they have a really smooth front compared to a more bunched up look of a front snapping diaper.  While the side snapping diaper may not actually be any more trim than its front snapping counterpart, the smoothness under clothes gives the illusion that it is.
Of course there are many factors to consider when purchasing diapers for your baby and trimness may or may not be a factor for you.  I, of course, love having a variety of diapers for different "occasions" and some of my favorite diapers are also very trim.  What are some of your favorite trim diapers?
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Enough with the Lists!!!

I know this post isn't about my normal natural parenting or crafting but writing about this has been eating away at me for a month so I finally decided to share my thoughts.
I love FaceBook as a tool to keep up with friends and family as well as my favorite cloth diaper resources but I am over the lists!  Every day I see a new one: 10 things not to say to a mom of multiples, 35 things not to say to a nursing mother, 64 things not to say to a parent of a specials needs child, 1, 574 things not to say to a pregnant woman.  While I understand that the purpose of these lists is to inform people that there might be a nicer way to formulate their questions what I really get out of it is that we have turned into a nation of Easily Offended Mothers.  The over prevalence of these lists, instead of encouraging a change in the way we ask questions, discourages mom's from asking each other questions, learning from our differences and communicating with each other. 
I 100% recognize that some people are just rude and inconsiderate and in that case you should just ignore what they have to say, but most people are just asking questions or making statements to their fellow moms to support them or learn from them.  Mom's need to recognize the intent behind the questions instead of focusing so much on how it is worded (its the thought that counts right?).  It makes me sad to think that we would let these lists break down the lines of communication between moms because we are too afraid to talk to each other out of fear of saying the wrong thing.  These lists are really just an extension of the mommy wars, instead of supporting each other we are correcting each other's approach on every possible subject.
So...Enough with the Lists!!!  Let's get back to being a community of moms that focus on lifting each other up, learning from ether other and celebrating our differences.  We need to stop being so easily offended and instead be the strong moms that we are! 
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