Category Archives: planet parenthood

Eco-healthy Child Care

Before becoming a working Mama, I would have never imagined forking over half my salary for quality child care. Yet, for us child care is an investment in my career and our children that I’m not willing to scrimp on. Obviously with this type of expense, you want to make sure that you are “investing” in your values.

Fortunately, when I started searching for child care I had a wonderful resource. The Oregon Environmental Council had just started a program certifying eco-healthy child care centers. The program has gone national, and become a powerful resource for parents and care givers .

I would agree with the critique that some of the voluntary measures aren’t ambitious enough, but it at least sets a bar for caregivers to aspire to and the resources to learn how their business practices impact the children they serve. I’m certain that no caregiver would ever want to harm a child, but with all the toxins in the world today some education is required, not just good intentions.

How do you make sure your kids are in a healthy environment?

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

Baby Biking

I took a baby step toward reducing our carbon footprint while enjoying some family time by finally mounting a baby seat to my bike for the Sunday Parkways event. When Girly began waving her hands as the wind blew her curls, I instantly wished that I would have broke down and got a seat years ago…here’s my saga.

For whatever reason, I always felt like I needed to get some expensive trailer to hit the bike lane with a child. Then when we were thinking of number two, I suddenly “needed” a double bike trailer. Then when our BigGuy got truly bigger, I thought to myself that we could only manage with a tag-along bike. Then a sales guy almost had me sold on buying a xtracycle, which is terrific for cargo commuting, but no necessary for green recreation.

Yet, I wasn’t quite ready to lay down a ton of cash just for a cruise with the kiddos. I also kept assuming that somehow I’d come across the perfect kid-bike gear at a yard sale, or Craigslist or as a hand-me-down. Yet, nothing seemed to give.

So, I finally checked out how much a simple new baby bike seat would cost me, turns out they are $28! I have no knowledge about the story of how it was created. Yes, it is plastic and made in China, but I hope it will have a long happy life as a baby bike seat! But I finally decided that I couldn’t stay stuck in my effort for a sustainable life.

Do you have a good family bicycle option?
Do you get stuck trying to “sustainable” purchases?

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

Earth Opposites

I happened to be home for Earth Day, since our Girly was still sick with a stomach bug. Overall she was in good spirits, so I couldn’t begrudge this minor bout of ill health. A big part of living in abundance is being grateful. Plus, I got to work in the garden for a little while.

After a long day of toddler chasing, I took a rare break. Oprah had an Earth Day special with an eye opening comparison of two families, one family was recycle-energy crazed and the other was careless about their eco-footprint. You need to watch the segment to really see the extremes, but it was a stark contrast. The shocker was that the wasteful family had an electricity bill of $400-600 per month ! The family from Portland spent an average of $33, our family spends $44 (so we have some room for improvement.) There were several key moments where you could see the families learning and changing, and the best was to hear from the kids. The Portland mom also did a great job of explaining why it matters and why she cares.

I saw several similarities between us and the Portland family. We also use the same shower timer, although we do not ration showers to two per week! I’m sure their water/sewer bill must be lower than ours. The Portland family was also much better about riding bikes as a family, that’s one area where I feel like I’ve been slacking a bit. We are great about taking the bus, but I haven’t quite gotten the kids geared up for bicycle trips yet (surfing Craigslist for a ride-along and baby seat if you have any leads…)

On a final note, I don’t want to sound “greener-than-thou,” but I have to say that while I find Oprah inspirational in many ways, I’ve been frustrated a few times by her previous lack of interest in environmental issues, especially climate change back in the Gore days. Knowing her influence on people, I’ve secretly hoped for years that she would see the “green” light. And even though I don’t watch with any regularity, I have seen progress in her mindset and awareness of issues. Oprah is a mainstream barometer, and after today’s show, I think more families are going to look to green solutions to save money and the environment.

Did you watch the show or check out the Web page?
How can you relate to the families?

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

Healthy Child Healthy World

I wake up every day feeling blessed by my family, and I couldn’t imagine ever facing the impact of environmental threats in our home. While the video below is indeed a wake up call, I find it to be a vivid reminder of why I’m moved to act and why I care so much.

A Wake-Up Story from Healthy Child Healthy World on Vimeo .

For more information, check out  Collete’s story .

For more resources, buy the comprehensive resource:  Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
Do environmental health concerns move you to action?

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

Transit w/ Kids

I find that the best choices for the planet and your wallet are made on a daily basis. True green decisions become so routine that you don’t even think about how much you’re saving or reducing your carbon footprint.

Taking the bus together is our daily testament to trying to be a  sustainable family Whether rain, snow or sweat, we head out the door to catch the bus together. For us that means a three block walk with 2 parents, 1 preschooler, 1 toddler (still in a front carrier), 2 work bags, 1 cloth diaper bag, clean/dirty sheets on Mondays and Fridays. It is a decent schlepp, and we get quite a few double takes en route. It’s truly worth the effort though, and we experience social, economic and environmental benefits every day.

Taking the bus does save us money too. We save on a monthly parking pass, which would run around $150. We also save on gas, wear/tear, tickets, etc. It’s hard to put a real price on the savings. But since we both have employer subsidized bus passes, paying $60 together, it’s certainly a bargain.

By taking the bus, we save at least 1500 miles per year. This save roughly 1,275 pounds of carbon annually, which is the equivalent of planting 25 trees. Occasionally we also ride the lightrail MAX, which gives us a 15 minute walk.

Typically in the morning we’re all still a little sleepy, so we mostly people watch. This involves Girly flirting with other passengers. When BigGuy was a baby we called the women on the bus his harem and now Girly has her court. We also have our fare share of “transit friends,” who we chat with when we wait or ride together. I find that people are much more outgoing when I have kids in tow, and I truly enjoy the social interactions and friendly atmosphere. The bus drivers are usually very friendly too, and last week one had me laughing to tears with a flashback of a Cheech and Chong impersonation. 
After school/work is a different mood, as we are all a bit tired and ready to be home. As a veteran transit family, we are usually come prepared:
  • Hand puppets, board books
  • Lots of healthy snacks and water (not bottled!)
  • Lots of smiles, songs, and smooches
The real long term social benefit is among our family, as riding the bus together we have plenty of adventures, memories, and life lessons. Beyond humor and entertainment value, riding the bus as a family also shows us the full spectrum of humanity and humility.

Does your family ride the transit, daily or occasionally?

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