[This post was updated September 2015.] Not so long ago, several of my favorite pieces of cookware had a nonstick coating. But most nonstick coatings contain Teflon, and Teflon is associated with "smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation, and weaker immune defense against disease," according to the Environmental Working Group. Some folks think as long as you don't heat an empty or damaged Teflon pan, you are doing all right.
I personally have a general avoidance policy regarding plastic and food, but I try especially hard to avoid heating food in plastic. Although I decided early in my journey to green that I didn't want to cook or bake with plastic, it took me years to phase out all my nonstick stuff. It's been hard to say goodbye to Mr. Teflon. Today I am proud to say that I no longer use any nonstick cookware or bakeware.
from the farmer's market looks like on a rainy day.
I always love shopping at my local farmer's market. But I especially love shopping at the farmer's market on a rainy day. I try to never miss the chance. I feel bad for the farmers, I really do. But boy am I happy to take that fresh produce off their hands for a few bucks. And at least all of my money is going directly to the farmer.
This post is a bit of shameless self-promotion from someone who spends too much time blogging and not enough time making money.
Lisa of Retro Housewife Goes Green told me about the site GoodBlogs, where anyone can write a post and earn $20 if his or her post gets voted to the front page. All you have to do to vote is create an account using an email address and password. Lisa has been reading and writing for a little while on GoodBlogs and says she is impressed with the quality of the content.
This post is advice I recently gave a friend of mine with small children. She asked me what I thought she should change first as she was trying to go green and expose her kids to fewer chemicals. My advice includes 10 simple strategies for protecting your family from toxic chemicals.
If you join in and write posts for GoodBlogs, let me know below in the comments so I can you to "My Bloggers." Here is a link to my profile page.
For many people, having a child is the impetus for trying to live an eco-friendlier life. A new mother might feel an urgent desire to reduce her child’s exposure to toxins; a new father might feel a strong obligation to leave a healthy earth to future generations. But parenthood also usually means a sharp downturn in the amount of time, energy and money you have at your discretion to invest in researching and making major lifestyle changes. While parenthood can motivate us to go green, it leaves us with little means to do so.
If you have been watching the news the past few weeks, you have probably learned a lot of new terminology and information about nuclear energy. Since I live on the west coast, I have been paying especially close attention to information about the radiation plume that has already arrived on U.S. soil and about the additional radiation that could potentially be heading our way. My initial gut reaction to this disaster: nuclear energy is a huge mistake! And during the last week I've read and listened to manyfolks who do share that sentiment.
Because almost everyone finds out the gender of their unborn child these days, it actually does require a very slight amount of effort to keep it a surprise. If you really want it to be a surprise and you have an ultrasound, you should remind the ultrasound technician approximately 20 times during your ultrasound. And then hopefully your health care provider will be smart enough (like my midwives were) not to put it in your file so that you won't have to remind her 100 times not to tell you.
10 Reasons to Keep Your Baby's Sex a Surprise
1. It gives mom a little extra motivation to push. My sister told me this was one of her reasons for not finding out ahead of time with any of her children.
2. It makes the birth of your child even more amazing. I know, I know, the birth of a child is pretty amazing regardless. But imagine your midwife or husband announcing "It's a girl!" (and that actually being a surprise) and then handing you a beautiful baby girl. I've noticed that the nurses and other birth attendants get more excited about your birth too. I just don't think it's the same when the ultrasound tech has that wand on your greased belly and says "Yes, I think I see something. Wait, let me get a better shot between the legs here. That might be the umbilical cord, or. . . OK, it's a boy."
3. Sometimes, the ultrasound technician is wrong. It's true! It happened to my sister's friend. My Internet sources tell me it happens about 5% of the time. Imagine what a shock that would be! If you have already painted the nursery pink and purple with "OLIVIA" in beautiful letters just above a trim at eye level, well, that's going to be a big bummer if you are, in fact, bringing home a baby boy from the hospital.
4. You won't spend as much money before your baby is born. I'm not sure where I read this, but it absolutely makes sense. Parents who don't know the gender of the baby are less likely to go nutsos decking out the nursery and stocking up on adorable baby clothes that are "on sale." Since first-time parents especially tend to buy all kinds of things they don't need and eventually won't want before a baby is born, anything you can do to curb spending is a good idea.
5. You can reuse all your gender-neutral stuff with your next child. You won't need to redecorate the nursery, buy new toys, or buy a new set of 0 to 6 month onesies, socks, pants, and hats. Although some folks probably enjoy buying all new stuff for their second child, it isn't exactly the most frugal or eco-friendly thing to do.
6. You won't get as much girly/ boyish junk at your baby shower. What I've discovered in my years attending baby showers is that people go crazy buying clothes, accessories, receiving blankets, and clothed stuffed animals for baby boys and baby girls. These same folks are the ones who tend to feel extremely annoyed that they are expected to buy you a gift without knowing your baby's gender. They might actually resort to buying you something truly useful, like a stroller, wood blocks, or board books.
7. It's a step towards gender equality. I believe that boys and girls are innately different, but a lot of differences we unnecessarily push through socialization. I want to encourage my daughter to be spatially aware and my son to be nurturing. When you don't find out the gender of your child, you start out buying gender-neutral things, or seeing how all kinds of things (toys, books, clothes) can be appropriate for either gender. I think it helps shape a less sexist mentality.
8. It gives your friends and family one more thing to speculate about. With my first child, I heard all kinds of great methods of predicting. My neighbor told me I was having a boy because I was carrying the baby so far out front. Another friend said she could tell from my aura that I was having a girl. Strangers on the bus and in the grocery store all had a prediction. I told them all they had a 50-50 chance of being right.
9. Twice the fun with names. I think it's fun to brainstorm names with your spouse, to try to come up with names that reflect your heritage, values, and sense of aesthetics. If you don't think it's that fun, at least you'll have a name all ready for your next child, assuming he or she is the other gender.
10. What do you think? Are there any other advantages for keeping your baby's gender a surprise? Also feel free to comment on your total disagreement with waiting to find out.
If you just can't stand not finding out, try to keep it a secret between you and your spouse. This seems like it would be nearly impossible, but it's worth a shot!
I've been test-driving a variety of reusable food baggies for a few months now. Which is my favorite? I personally have found it useful to own a variety of food bags. Different designs have different advantages. Horizontal Velcro is more secure but more difficult for little (and big) fingers to open. Plastic-free bags keep your food away from plastic, but synthetically-lined bags keep food fresher (especially in the fridge or freezer) and use less water/energy/time to clean. Sometimes you want a bag, and other times a wrap that turns into a placement is best. You might want a kid-friendly fabric as a gift for your nephew but a vintage fabric for your stylish co-worker. All of the products I reviewed are well-designed and expertly crafted. I would be proud to own or give any as a gift.
What features are you looking for in a reusable food bag?
This is my first attempt at a Weekend Links post. I'll be sharing some of the best posts and articles I came across this week. Some of these posts/articles are rather old, but they are new to me, and hopefully will be new and of interest to you too. Also, this list is a little long, because I've been accumulating links for about a month. We'll see if I can keep this up weekly in the future.
Keep a set of "outdoor clothes" for each child. Put these clothes on your child before they play in the mud outside, remove them when they come inside, and keep them by the door for the next outdoor adventure. My kids have outdoor pants and outdoor jackets (when it's cold). Wash the clothes when absolutely necessary.
If I buy organic cream-top milk in plastic at Trader Joe's, I generate 4 half-gallon plastic containers of waste (double what is pictured above, recyclable). If I buy my milk in glass jars instead, my waste (also recyclable) is 4 plastic lids.
Are you trying to reduce your grocery bill? We're always looking for new ways to do this, without skimping on quality and healthiness. I came across this fabulous resource this week describing "healthy and delicious food bargains." These are very inexpensive foods that are also nutrient-powerhouses. Try building your meal plan around these ingredients, and see what happens to your food bill. Below are the suggested foods by nutrient:
Not one, but two plastic toys have broken in the last week at my house: a small car and an electronic phonics toy. They weren't brand new (we did have a few plastic toys break within days of Christmas), but still!
Plastic-Free February [a.k.a. Plastic Awareness Month] has come to an end. I think the main takeaway from the challenge is how very saturated our lives are with plastic. I ended up getting to about half of the post ideas I had planned, so you'll be seeing more Plastic-Free and Plastic Awareness Posts in the coming weeks. If you haven't yet, be sure to enter the 2 giveaways (reusable sandwich bags and wood toys) mentioned below.