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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrating Earth Day by doing some "Green" Cleaning

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I did everything I could to give him a healthy place to grow and develop. That meant caffeine and soft cheeses were out, vitamins and eggs were in. This might have felt like a sacrifice, but there really wasn't more to it than that.

But he only stayed in utero for nine months, and I found that my drive to provide him with a non-toxic living environment didn't end at birth. Suddenly the world seemed full of danger - our water, our air, our food. Everywhere I looked, I was bombarded with it. The bottles I used had BPA, the formula I used had BPA, the shampoo and soap I used had cancer-causing chemicals, his birthday presents were coated in lead paint, and don't even get me started on the cleaning supplies used to "clean" the house.

I got overwhelmed by all of it - sure, I could by organic produce but that just felt like a bandaid. If I solved one problem, countless more would present themselves. I started out feeling angry but ended up just feeling lost.

I wish I was writing to tell you that I've figured it all out, that I'm celebrating Earth Day as a Green and Free Mommy. I haven't, and I'm not.

But I have decided that taking one step at a time is better than not moving at all. I've been happy to discover that our society is moving with me, slowly, one step at a time. We have more chemical-free choices now than we had even a year ago. And one area that has seen a lot of progress is natural cleaning and hygiene supplies. I started out trying to find recipes for vinegar and lemon juice concoctions, but suddenly there are options - affordable options - available right at the store.

My most recent find has been Ecostore USA. Based out of New Zealand, they have just landed in the American market. They specialize in household, baby, and personal care products - in other words, a line of products that will allow you to clean your toilet and your toddler without introducing your family to cancer-causing chemicals. It should be no surprise that the first items I grabbed were the multi-purpose cleaner and the baby shampoo and soap.

This excites me. The more eco-friendly products on the market, the more competition, the better the eco-friendly products - and the happier and healthier the Mommy and her tots.

Its no coincidence that I'm talking about this on Earth Day, of course. And to celebrate we're giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to Ecostore USA. To enter, leave a comment telling us what green or healthy tips you have to share with Dupage Mamas. If you just can't think of one, you can say that too. Be sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you win!

If you'd like a second entry, blog about Dupage Mamas and this giveaway. Or subscribe to our feed. Or tell your friends through Facebook or twitter or e-mail and let us know you did. We'll enter you a second time. The contest is open until April 29th and the winner will be announced here after that. And we still have lots of contests open, so be sure to enter those as well!

Happy Earth Day, everyone. Here's to leaving this place cleaner than we found it.

15 comments:

Heather April 22, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Eco cleaning! Hurrah!

Green tip...let's see you can make your own inexpensive multipurpose cleaner with vinegar, water and castille soap. I'd say about 2/3 water, 1/3 vinegar and 1/3 castille soap. Put in a spray bottle and there you go! You can add essentials oils if you want for nice fragrance. However, it's just not good for mirrors or windows--too streaky.

Miss Kita April 22, 2009 at 7:50 PM  

You know, I know it's all in vogue to be a Green Momma these days...but I think a lot of times people forget that there are valid reasons to use mass-produced items. In a world where kids still go hungry at night, producing less food because you don't use fertilizers and pesticides seems counterproductive. I shopped at Whole Foods and saw they had disposable bamboo "paper" plates...10 for $8. Really? That's a good use of our resources?

I think we need to remember that we can be responsible without being extreme...and not feeling guilty for using the innovations that made our country one of the the safest, healthiest with a high standard of living.

No, don't treat the world as a disposable place, but as with most things, there's no black-and-white answer. Cloth diapers take less landfill space, but the water reclamation and detergents take their tolls as well. Plastic bottles pose risks, but there's a reason we moved away from glass -- weight and breakage! Broken glass and a baby have a lot more immediate issues than the potential, fractional risk from BPA.

Don't beat yourself up. Make the switches you can, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

melanie April 22, 2009 at 7:58 PM  

we shop at the thrift store for a lot of things--that way we are getting stuff that other people have already used. plus, we can walk there so it saves gas, etc.

i was surprised to hear the librarian say today that using the library is good for the environment--using books that lots of people can read (too bad for the authors not making more money). sometimes the best way to be environmental isn't always clear.

melanie April 22, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

i subscribed to dupage mamas through google reader.


melanie(dot)myatt(at)gmail(dot)com

nuddpenney April 22, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

I guess my "tip" is to find a few tips you can really get behind, and stick to them! In my office we have the water cooler service, and the water guy always offers us disposable cups, but I won't take them, because I know if we have them we'll get used to using them. Instead we just use regular cups, and washing them isn't a big deal. It's a tiny office, so it's only a few cups a day, but it does add up!

Mommy of Wonder Twins,  April 22, 2009 at 8:58 PM  

I try to be as eco conscious as possible, while still trying to not break the bank =-) . Part of this is being educated, ie. knowing the dirty dozen and the not so dirty dozen when food shopping. Having the necessary knowledge helps me make informed decisions. Also, actions that may seem forced or odd at first, eventually become second nature, ie. bringing your own bags to the store, bringing your own cup to Starbucks. And oftentimes these actions are rewarded monetarily - Whole Foods gives 10 cents off for each grocery bag brought in, Starbucks gives 10 cents off for a cup brought in. Remember, no action is too small!

Farrah April 22, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

What great conversation and some really great eco-friendly ideas too! I love that we are all sharing our ideas and thoughts with each other! Thanks so much ladies!

I totally agree that people take this "going green" thing too far sometimes. It is hard to know what things are legitimately important and what things are part of this ban wagon and are not that crucial. Like, re-usable grocery bags seem like a easy, good step. but there are other things out there that seem a bit excessive. Anything that causes more guilt and check-book strain than benefit needs to be re-examined in my opinion.

Thanks MissKita for your excellent comment. I think you are right on. And everyone else had some great thoughts too. I benefit SO MUCH from hearing from fellow moms. It keeps me grounded and on the right track! Thanks y'all for joining in the community. We are so glad to get to know all of you!

Farrah

Rebecca,  April 22, 2009 at 11:24 PM  

My approach has been narrowed down to this: Reuse what I can (bags, glass jars, thrift store shopping etc). Buy locally grown when I can, which sometimes means stocking up and freezing veggies for the winter (love the Food Saver). Make my own cleaners for the house using only products that are "safe" for kids and pets, and lastly purchasing organics for only the foods we use ALL the time (ie milk, yogurt, eggs, etc). I figure that is what is going into our bodies the most and that should be the cleanest. Do I really NEED organic ketchup? No, I use ketchup maybe once a month. Do I really NEED organic milk? Yes,my daughter drinks 16 oz of milk a day.

Life is making choices, and we all stuggle with trying to make the right choices with the information and the resources we have.

Kristee B,  April 23, 2009 at 7:39 AM  

I can totally relate to your original post about protecting them before they are born, but once they leave the womb the stress really begins. My husband wants to recarpet our house, and I have been on the fence. Although our carpet is 20+ years old, I've read that new carpeting emits so many toxins. Granted I remember my parents getting new carpet when I was about kindergarten age and nothing terrible happened to me, but I also don't know how things have changed since then. So here I am, buying organic fruits, veggies, and dairy for my 2 1/2 year old, as well as trying to use natural cleaners and debating the carpeting issue. My parents and in-laws think I'm crazy but ultimately I'm responsible for the health of my daughter and soon to be baby. I'm not sure what that means for my floors though ;)

Jessica April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM  

I love all these great posts on here, I know I am not the only one struggling with this very issue. It is so hard to know what is right to do for our kids when we are bombarded every day in the media about go green, go green. I do what I can with buying organic but unfortunately the grocery stores around here just don't do enough to get more affordable organic products. I will keep doing it as much as I can without breaking the bank and not stress too much over it.

Atwood-Family of 4 April 23, 2009 at 4:06 PM  

I have lots of things I do to be "green"-less about saving the enviornment and more about saving money but I wind up killing 2 birds with one stone. I clean my kitchen w/ a mixture of 4 parts water to one part vinegar. I use newspaper to clean my mirrors instead of paper towel (that way the newspaper gets 2 uses). For my kids, about 90% of my children's clothes are used or hand me downs. I cloth diapered my daughter exclusively a year and breastfed her exclusively for 6 months. My son is 2 months old and he's exclusively breastfed and about 50% cloth diapered. I have a loooong way to go, but there are definitely a few things I do that are helping Mother Earth.

Lindsay April 23, 2009 at 4:35 PM  

i've so enjoyed reading everyone's comments. we TALK a lot in our home about how to be more conscientious and are making some strides, i think. we just recently began our journey into cloth-diapering. and when i say, i just began, i mean, i just got a few in the mail a day or two to try out. we'll see how that goes. we are also looking into supporting more locally grown products and might "purchase" a cow with others from a local farm, to ensure it's free of hormones, etc. we'll see. it's nice to be encouraged not to over-stress about it. thanks everyone.

Catherine April 25, 2009 at 2:58 PM  

Thanks everyone, for weighing in. Your tips are great, and even more appreciated is your support and encouragement. I'm hoping this site can be a place where we can express our thoughts and challenges and get exactly this kind of help and community!!

Lisa Blyth Gertz April 25, 2009 at 6:05 PM  

Like some others have already said, I re-use grocery bags by lining my bathroom trashcan with them. At the store, I don't even use bags (if possible) -- I put groceries in a backpack, wheeled cart, or the bottom of my stroller (and I WALK to the store!!) We also keep our house a bit cool in the winter and try to walk whenever we can (currently we don't have a car, so that means EVERYwhere!)

Lisa Blyth Gertz April 25, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

I posted a link to this entry on my FB page. Interesting discussion!

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