Category Archives: sustainable lifestyle

Cloth Diapering System…3rd Time’s a Charm!

Cloth diapers are not as difficult as our society makes it out to be. Sure, disposable diapers can be convenient, and I use them myself about 10-15% of the time. But once you’ve set up a convenient system, using cloth only really adds a load of laundry every 5-7 days. With all the laundry my family requires, I hardly notice the extra effort.

There is a bit of a learning curve to get a system that works for you. Using cloth diapers has become a lost art and parents need to find resources in order to demystify things. 


I was actually talked out of using cloth with my Big Guy, by a friend who works in the environmental field. I ended up using G-Diapers as a middle ground, but had mixed results. Here’s my Diaper Duty story for #1 and #2. 


Now that Miel has recently had her first child in June, I’ve been asked to reflect once again on my diapering experience.


Here are the three steps to setting up a diapering system:

  1. Start cloth diapers at about 12 pounds (which obviously depends on baby’s size)
  2. Buy a mix of “all-in-one” diapers for mostly night time and wraps for the days
  3. You need a few more supplies to set up your system (see list below)

1. This third time around using cloth diapers has felt like second nature. I started when Sweetie had grown out of of size 1 disposables, at about 12 pounds. Almost all of my diapers are made to grow with her and can expand with snaps. Starting at just after the newborn stage will save you money on diapers that you would only use for a month. Plus, it also gives you a chance to settle into parenthood with the new little person you’ve just created. 

2. In an effort find the “right diaper” I ended up buying several different brands. This made it more complicated than necessary, since each diaper has it’s own nuances. Take my advice, and just buy the one brand that works, I really like the
Thirsties Duo Wrap and BumGenius works great too. 

3. You’ll need more than just cloth diapers. The good news is that some of the items you can repurpose once you are done diapering. Here’s my list:

  • Air tight 5 Gallon Eco Bucket with a lid
  • Two smaller Airtight Containers With a Handle (I used these to transport diapers to/from daycare, but at home they are handy to have for changing diapers on different floors)
  • Flushable BioLiners diaper liners make dumping poop much easier. You don’t need to start using until you introduce solids and their poop firms up. These were a game changer for cloth diapering! (It is doable to go without, but it sure is messier…)
  • Oxygen bleach and essential oils to add to wash loads
  • A dedicated laundry basket for fresh diapers

Once you have your supplies set up, the system is really easy…catching your toddler for a diaper change is the real challenge! 

What does your diaper system consist of?

Darcy

Family Friendly Farmer’s Markets

Despite the fact that I froze this morning when daring to wear a skirt, I am determined to believe that spring is finally here. For me that means the return of my ritual visits to the Portland Farmer’s Markets! 


I mark dates on my calendar, and try to make at least one a week. This year I plan on buying much more produce, since we no longer have organic home delivery.


Not surprisingly, Portland made the Apartment Therapy’s Top 10 List of Farmer’s Market. But they don’t share that the PSU Saturday market is really one mostly for visitors, and locals visit the others all across the city on different days of the week. Here are my favorites:

Here are some tips for saving money at Farmer’s Markets:

  • Buy in season – pretty simple, but you’ll pay more if you get impatient
  • Bring a list, but be flexible – it’s obviously harder to predict availability and sales, so flexibility is key
  • Buy in bulk – freezing fresh produce is a great way to save and eat healthy out of season. But there’s a caveat…
  • Don’t buy more than you have time to eat/store – nothing worse than wasting food!
  • Shop at the end of the day – no vendor wants to schlep home wares, so deals are to be made…and don’t be afraid to negotiate, but remember market etiquette 

While it won’t likely reduce your grocery bill, I think bringing kids to farmer’s markets encourages lifelong healthy eating habits. We’re lucky that our kids go to the market almost every week with their childcare classes. The kids pick out veggies that the cook uses on healthy pizzas, and as you would guess the kids come up with some really creative combos. Portland Farmer’s Markets even offers cooking lessons for kids, which reminds me of my niece, Kid Foodie 🙂 


Do you frequent farmer’s markets with your family?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Earth Day Every Day

I love Earth Day. 


Earth Day reminds me of the history of social change, and how mainstream society is finally starting to take social responsibility for environmental issues. Read more in my post about the history of Earth Day.


I’m writing all the time about our efforts to reduce our environmental impact, while saving our money and creating family values. But sustainable living” is always a work in progress, and I don’t every want to come across like our efforts complete.


Here are my favorite family actions:

How does your family celebrate Earth Day?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Get Around Beta Group

This is the week we were planning to sell our car, and attempt to go carless for at least a few months


In the American right of passage, Big Guy is excited about joining a t-ball league this spring. We had researched transportation, and since one field is on the bus line and the other is just around the corner in walking distance, we thought we were covered for this season. Alas, Hubby has volunteered to coach his new t-ball team and part of that responsibility is to schlep the team’s gear to games…although we are still crossing our fingers that the co-coach can take on this duty! Even as urban bus-riding parents, we knew that mandatory carpooling would come someday soon…we were just hoping to use Flexcar…it turns out there could be another alternative. 


I recently found out about an innovative new transportation service of sorts – person to person car lending called Get Around. When first thinking about how much our car was costing us while parked at the curb I actually thought of this idea – why not put your car up for temporary loan to a friend or neighbor? It could be a win-win and enable more people who don’t use their car (or second car) all the time, want to keep it handy, but could manage lending it out from time to time. The Beta pilot is about to be tested in Portland, but the website explains how every transaction is covered by insurance and you set your own price and time limits for your own car. Other renters just have to find one that works for them. 


I’ll let you know my experience once I have a chance to test it.


You may wonder how not owning a car, but still driving around town could help the environment. Here’s a great article about how peer-to-peer sharing is the consumer wave of the future that will help reducing our collective carbon footprint.


Have you tried Get Around? 
I’d love to hear your experience.


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Considering Carless

As I shared yesterday, on my “sugar mama” post, we are planning to sell our car very soon…so, if you are in the market for a well-loved 2008 Subaru Forester with less than $25k miles, you know where to find me 😉 


The biggest reason we are selling our car is because we don’t use it enough to justify the expense…when we bought our car we were using it on a daily basis, our commute wasn’t long, but we were using it regularly. But in the past 2 1/2 years our average use is twice a week. So each time we get in the car is costs us more than $50 a trip! Obviously this is too much.


We are also seriously considering going carless. At a minimum we will do a one month challenge, but if we can at all manage, we’ll stay carless until the fall. We have plenty of other options for getting around that are much cheaper.


Instead of driving, we’ll ride the bus/max or bicycle together. When we decide we do want to use a car for an excursion, we’ll rent a Zipcar. Within a 10 minute walk we have several vehicle options, including a few mini-vans. We also anticipate that we’ll rent a car for camping trips during the summer, but we typically plan these out far in advance and the extra cost will still be less than a car payment. For the occasional festivity, we’ll plan on taking a cab, which will be make the designated driver choice pretty easy. 


So, yes, this is a big experiment, and maybe we’ll fail miserably and decide that we need a car to get around as a family…but I figure now is the best time to try it out…


Is your family carless? 
Could you manage without a car?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.