Red Tent Project

“So ladies….think about the last time you were on your period. Which newspaper did you use as a tampon? Did you dig through your garage or trash to find a rag to use as a pad?” – Jill C.

A wonderful online friend, Angie, has started a new project to provide reusable sanitary pads for girls in Ethiopia. She is starting with girls at her agency’s transition home first, 30 girls, and would like to send them June 15 with a traveling family. After that she wants to work with her agencies sponsorship program and provide them to even more girls. You can read all about it here and here.

If you are interested in the info please email me.

Cloth Diapering

Cute bums courtesy of Noah and Ezra

I have been using cloth diapers ever since we came home with the boys and I have to say I love it.  It isn’t hard at all and the diapers are super cute.  I promised Tegan a review of cloth diapers months ago, so in honor of her (and Greg’s) recent referral I am finally going to do it!

I could go into detail about all the different types of cloth diapers, but I personally think Tara wrote a darn good post about it so why would I bother?  I will instead focus on the four types of diapers I personally own.

KCK One Pocket diaper (one size).  These are my least favorite diapers for two reasons, not the most absorbent (means you have to change more frequently and when you are changing two bums that is a downer)  and they do not fit as nicely as other diapers underneath clothing.  These are velcro (snap is better) but the way the velcro is done on these is great and it is holding up very well.  I purchased these because I could get cute designs on the bums (like Pittsburg Penguins for Matt).  The etsy seller I purchased them from is fast and willing to do special requests.  I still use them every day and they work just fine, I just don’t put them on right before a bottle.

Swaddlebees All-In-One (sized diaper).  These are again not some of my favorites.  The fit is great and they work wonderfully under clothes, but they are not super absorbent, so I have been doubling them ever since the boys came home.  Not a huge deal but I refuse to fish the doubler out of these before I wash (tight squeeze for your hand) and they never come out in the wash, so the doublers don’t always get thoroughly washed.  These all-in-ones also take a ridiculous amount of time to dry even over the other all-in ones I own.

bumGenius One Size Pocket Diaper.  I like these diapers a lot.  The fit is great, the absorbency is great, and they are easy to use.  My one complaint, they only come in velcro and the velcro does not seem to be holding up that well, plus I have caught a couple little boys getting very close to getting them undone.

bumGenius Organic All-In-One (one size).  These are my favorites.  They are ridiculously easy, come in snaps, absorbency is good, and the fit is great.  They are also the most expensive, we just have a few and we use them mostly for going out and about.  They do take a long time to dry, but overall they are worth it.

bumGenius does have a new product out, Flip Diapers, and they have washable inserts, similar to the G Diaper system, but washable.  These come in snap and are more affordable then their all-in-ones.  I would give them a try if I needed any more.

A couple of accesories that you would most like want:

Diaper Pail Liner.  I have two of these because I throw them in the wash every time I wash diapers, you could get away with one if you wanted to, but it is easier having two.

Wet Bags.  Useful whether you cloth diaper or not, you can use them if your baby has an accident and you don’t want to throw the yucky clothes in the diaper bag.  I again have two, you can get by with one, but again I like to wash frequently.

The two things that scare people away from cloth diapering seem to be the washing and the initial investment.  I will say that washing diapers every other day is not among my favorite things to do, but it isn’t that bad (hey I line dry and I can say that!).  I use the No Soak method from, yes this does require two washes, but I have a high efficiency washer and soaking my diapers wasn’t going to happen.

Now let’s talk cost.  We are going to pretend I actually counted my diapers and kept track of how much they were.  I think we have 40 diapers and I am going to say the average cost per diaper is $22, so $880 in diapers (remember I have twins, if you have one baby you won’t need so many).  Accessories (doublers, cloth wipes, wet bags) let’s say I spent $250 on miscellaneous stuff to go with the diapers some of which you might not need (probably an over estimate).  I use cloth wipes, I think they are easy, but you might choose not to and that’s okay.  So that is $1,130 total.  I will say we did not spend that much, we received some as gifts.  Now let’s pretend I didn’t purchase cloth and I was purchasing disposable.  Let’s say it was these disposables, I estimate at least 8 diapers a day per baby so that is 36.5 packs per year.  In one year that is $1,387.  Obviously we will need diapers longer than a year so the savings will continue to add up.  Of course, I am not factoring in the cost of washing the cloth diapers, I have no idea how much it costs to run my washer per load (it can’t be too much the amount of laundry we do has increased exponentially since the boys, but our water bill is pretty much the same and electric bill is just up a little).  I am going to say overall we are still saving money and a whole lot of landfill space.  At least 5,840 diapers worth of space in one year!

Night time diapering can be a bit of a challenge.  We were managing to cloth diaper the boys and they were making it through the night without leaking (very fat diapers though!), but we had a persistent diaper rash, so we switched to disposables at night.  The diaper rash cleared up and all is well.  So we do use two disposables a day.

no 'pooing

I have been no ‘pooing for well over a year now and I love it. It is so nice to not have to buy shampoo or conditioner anymore and my hair is perfectly healthy and has not build-up. I use the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method described in the link above and wash my hair every other day. I did have a problem with tangles when I had long hair, but it wasn’t anything that stopped me from doing it.

(not the planned post for the day, but Matt broke the blog and I can’t upload photos, we will see if Photo Friday happens!)

blog action day

We have done the whole blog action day a few times, and normally we think and write it out way in advance. but then came two super cute little monsters that run our lives it seems.

So a little late in the day, but here we go. I’ll try and keep them light and easy, but I may toss in a few hard core hippie tips.

  • Shut off the lights. Really. We hardly ever turn on lights in our offices. Natural light is the best!
  • Print only if you absolutely have to. Check out Evernote to save items important, but dont need printed. I LOOOVE evernote.
  • Let your computers and printers sleep when not in use. They use a ton less power. And no screen savers either. a sleeping LCD is super quick to wake up.
  • Shut down your computer at night. I swear I know people who leave their towers on for weeks at a time. for no reason.
  • Clean. seriously. dust bunnies on the back of your computer make it run hotter. This will keep your computer lasting longer too.
  • Recycle. Seriously. Factor1 shares office space with a realtor who thinks recycling papers is hard. i dont understand how.

Some Super hippy tips:

  • Ride your bike to work. I do this probably 95% of the year, and love it.
  • Compost. its really easy these days. You generate less trash at the curb, plus you get nice dirt for your garden. I promise it doesnt smell much either.
  • Garden. Fresh veggies are the best. Organic, pesticide free, and as close to local as you can get.
  • Shower every other day. Unless you get all sweaty, every other day is perfectly acceptable in my book. And no one has to know. Well i guess now you know i skip a few showers a week.
  • Dr Bronners Bar soap can replace your shampoo, and body wash. 100x less packaging, no plastic, and eco friendly.
  • Eat less meat. Not a vegan / vegetarian my self, I enjoy a well balanced diet of natural foods with as little processing as possible. To grow, and process meat of all kinds is an amazing waste of water, oil, land, and other resources. Tons of stats on this, but most research shows our bodies were NOT meant to consume meat 7 days a week. We probably have meat once or twice a week in our home, and its usually local, grass fed, free range, organic stuff.

I could go on and on, but i wont.

So go, change the world, cut back on the resources you use.

Buy Nothing Challenge *Edited

Buy Nothing Challenge - August 2009

Matt and I have decided to participate in Crunchy Chickens Buy Nothing Challenge for the month of August.  Recently we realized our spending had gotten a little out of hand (I am blaming it on the exhaustion, I give in more easily when tired) and had a discussion of reeling it in , and this challenged popped up in my google reader the very next day. Basically we will be buying nothing but the essentials for the month of August.

*Quick disclaimer. Matt’s parents are here next week and we are hoping to sneak out on a date night just the two of us. More than likely we will go out to dinner which is not technically essential, but free baby sitters are free baby sitters. 😉

Earth Day

I am going to be honest, I don’t really do anything for Earth Day. I looked I didn’t even do a post last year. It’s not that I don’t care, but that to me every day is Earth Day. I strive each and every day to take care and be a good steward of the resources I am blessed with. I don’t always succeed but I do try. I thought I would take the time to just share a few quick things with you.

Being green isn’t more expensive, most people think it is, but it isn’t. Yes I do spend more on my food than the average person, local and organic is not cheap. But I spend considerably less on my electricity, less on my water, and overall less on consumables. We hardly use anything disposable so we don’t have the recurring cost that comes with those items (think paper towels, napkins). I make most of my cleaning supplies, vinegar is a cheap basic ingredient for this.

Earth Day is not about marketing.

According to this guy biking isn’t an answer to global warming, but I disagree. Anytime you are not using a fossil fuel to do something you are making a difference. I thought as an ode to the bike I would share some cool biking stickers from peace supplies.

Yes they are 😉

The perfect sticker for Matt

Always a plus

will green hippies judge us?

If we drive an SUV?

I know, I know, we are all about being green, environmentally friendly, bike ridding, organic garden growing, line drying hippies. But in a sad reality, most cars dont fit twins with rear facing car seats, and 6′ 3″ drivers.

Nope, no station wagon, mid size car, cross over SUV works. Its down to a bigger Minivan, or full size SUV. Sure we would love to rock the prius, but its just not a reality. 

I will say I have a new understanding for families of twins or more, and families with 3+ kids. There really are not many real options for cars out there that get over 23mpg. Sure, some newer SUVs and vans can get 25+mpg, and still seat 7. But Who has $34k to go out and buy a new car. We do not. 

So please dont judge us for having to rock the big SUV. In our defense, we are still trying to get the most fuel efficient SUV possible, and we will drive it like old people, with 40psi in the tires.

25 days and a little glitch

Only 25 days until court!  I am getting more excited and anxious every day.  We are trying to get everything prepared and it is keeping us pretty busy.  We went to the doctor this morning to get the last of our travel vaccinations and I am sick (nasty cold) so she said I should wait :(, but Matt is all done with his shots and is ready to go!  We received our car-seats on Friday as a gift from my parents.  We decided to see how well they fit in the car.

That would be Matt completely crammed into the dash, he could only operate the clutch with his hand.  Needless to say that just won’t work.  Since, we have two rear-facing seats, we can’t just put them behind the passenger seat, we need to be able to put them behind both of us.  🙁  We went to a couple of dealerships on Saturday night to get a feel for what fits, NOT a lot fits Matt and two car-seats (Pathfinder, Camry, Pilot, Rav4, Forester, just to name a few, basically all mid-sized cars and small SUVs).  One salesman even joked that I should have just married a shorter guy.  The only vehicles that fit in our price range get around 20 mpg :(, makes my environmental heart sad, but safety and family first.  Right now we are trying to decide between a Forerunner and a Sienna, used of course, the newer models now get 25 mpg, but too expensive for me.  The hybrid Highlander would also work, but that one was way out of our price range.  Matt really, really likes the Forerunner, so that is probably what we will end up with, but we will see what we find.

Boxed Water is cool

Check this post out. Found it on Gizmodo – my favorite dude blog (No… not that kind of blog)

Boxed milk and juices are a supermarket staple, but one company is now selling boxed water.

Boxed Water Is Better sells water in cartons, ditching the plastic bottles while reducing the overall carbon footprint of packing and distribution by 80%.

20% of the company’s profits are passed along to reforestation (10%) and water relief (10%) while you sip on the sweet hydrogen/oxygen nectar of Minnesota and a few parts per billion of paper pulp.

But while Boxed Water is undoubtedly more sustainable than bottled water, I can’t help but think the product’s absurdity does less to open a new market than close an old one. In other words, Boxed Water is a ridiculous solution to an even more ridiculous problem—that we’d rather buy packaged water than drink it for nearly free out of the tap. [gizmodo]


boxed water’s website

Great video on our environment.

I really enjoyed this video. In 3 minutes it entertained me, while being very informative, and not at all negative. I think those are all keys to a well made film about out environment.

Defining Waste

No Impact Man wrote a post today about prioritizing resource use to improve lives. In his article he defines waste:

I’ve thought a lot about the definition of waste. The way I figure out, a good way of defining waste is the use of planetary resources that don’t improve quality of life.

I like this view a lot. Instead of environmental effectiveness being based on the restrictive view that we should simply “use less,” we should instead “use well.” This offers the intersection of environmentalism and human aspiration.

I like that he puts a more positive spin on thoughts about waste than most environmentalist. Most environmentalist just tell you to reduce, but he encourages prioritize what makes life worth living.

To what extent do we–as individuals and as a culture–prioritize what really makes life worth living?

How much time do we not spend with our kids or friends, for example, because we’re trying to get rich so that we can later, um, have the leisure time to spend with our kids and our friends? How much time–and resources–do we spend on big houses or better cars when really we just want to watch the sunrise?

On a cultural level, then, how much effort is spent on economic throughput when what we want is strong communities full of people that have the time and inclination to support each other? How much effort do we expend on making sure we can all have a third TV when what we really want is a great education for our kids or great theaters for our adults?

Which brings me back to my originally definition of waste. How many resources are we wasting–both as individuals and as a culture–on things that don’t even improve our lives? If we made a rule of targeting resources only at things that delivered quality of life, we would end up automatically saving the planet.

Matt and I have worked over the last couple of years at reducing, we still spend on stuff we don’t need every now and then, but overall we have begun to focus on what really matters to us and we are happier because of those choices. We are both more content then we have ever been.

I wanted to share this definition of waste, because a lot of environmentalist are a little extreme and that can turn off the majority of the population to environmentalism. I just wanted to remind people, myself included, that it is better to focus on what makes you truly happy. For most people that is not acquiring more stuff, but rather time with family and friends.

Valentine's Day

Matt and I were recently discussing Valentine’s Day and I was saying I didn’t need a gift. In fact neither of us remembered if we exchanged gifts last year, so clearly it is a very sentimental day around here. Matt and I are more the types to just give gifts randomly at any time to show our love and thoughtfulness. So I said no gift, no card, nothing. Well honey I have changed my mind! Angel Mission and Charity Water have ways to show your love by providing clean water to people who currently do not have clean water. With Charity Water your recipient receives an e-card and is able to choose the country the clean water is going to. Angel Mission let’s you give as little as $5 to show your love, which means you can share love with more people if you are on a tight budget.

Food Waste Reduction Challenge

More than 40 percent of all food produced in America is not eaten, according to research by former University of Arizona anthropologist Timothy Jones. That amounts to more than 29 million tons of food waste each year, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Nationwide, food scraps make up 17 percent of what we send to landfills.

The above excerpt was taken from the article, “The Food not Eaten – Food Waste: Out of Site, Out of Mind.”  Food waste is and has been one of my biggest focuses over the last couple years.  When I have to throw food out, I feel extremely guilty.  I think about all the energy and effort that went into the production and transport of that food, and it is all such a waste.  I also think of the money I spent on that item, a dollar here and there does add up!  If you are throwing out just 14% of what you bought think about that in comparison to your monthly food bill!  (The 14% is from the study linked in the quote above from the University of Arizona and includes just food thrown in the trash, not food composted, put in the garbage disposal, or given to the family pet.)  We have made marked improvements in the area of food waste, we compost significantly less than we did last year at this time and we hardly have to ever throw out items in the pantry or freezer any more, but we still do :(.  My goal is to throw nothing out, this seems like a very difficult and challenging goal right now.  Sometimes you forget about items, they get shoved to the back of the fridge or pantry, and sometimes you just can’t take another night of leftovers!

If you are interested in wasting less food and less money please join Food Waste Reduction Challenge.  Green Bean also offers some great tips on her blog.  

In truth, stretching meals and reducing food waste is not much of a sacrifice. It only requires a pinch of organization and a teaspoonful of effort.

Reducing food waste also makes a positive impact on the environment.

There’s also a large environmental impact as well if your food waste gets sent to a landfill. Food waste is the largest landfill contributor to methane gas production, so unless your municipality has a landfill-to-gas capture, your rotten bananas and forgotten pickles are contributing to global climate change.

There you have it, you can save the earth and some money by simply reducing your food waste.  Anyone interested in joining in?  Please feel free to share any of your recipes that use up leftovers or any other tricks you may have.