Weekend Links

I think we've all accepted this cannot be a weekly series for me.  But I like to do it when I get the chance because I read a lot of great stuff during the week.

A new study examined the amount and type of flame retardants chemicals in baby products, such as car seats and nursing pillows.  Great coverage of this study by Enviroblog (EWG's blog) and Healthy Child Healthy World.  Question #1 for me is: why do we need flame retardants in car seats and nursing pillows?

Just in time for summer, the ever-helpful Environmental Working Group just released their latest Sunscreen Guide.  Here is their own blog post explaining the highlights.

The store MightyNest (for which I am an affiliate) just rolled out a new kitchen section for their store.  Read this great post about 12 ways to avoid toxins in your kitchen from their blog.  I'll be posting my review of their stainless steel cup on Monday.  Use the code Friend10 for 10% off your entire order!

You might want to enter this Dream Green Giveaway from Lullaby Organics with 3 prizes worth $750 to $2,250. If you win, please include me in your living will.

My post on artificial sweeteners featured in Healthy Child Healthy World's Blog of the Week series.  I guess I'm glad someone likes my posts.

On a personal note, fellow blogger, mastermind behind the riveting Green Holidays series, and young mom Kelly Smith is having a brain tumor removed soon.  If you read Kelly's blog miskellany, you might be interested in learning more and pitching in to get her a little gift.

Washing Cloth Diapers

Most of the time my washing routine looks like this:
  1. Toss dirty diaper in the diaper pail. I use a dry pail, no soaking diapers.  Covers only get washed if they smell horrendous or have poop on them.
  2. After 3-4 days, or when I notice we are down to one or two prefolds, dump diapers into washing machine.  This is the most unpleasant part of the entire routine.  Since I have a front loader, I can't just "dump" the diapers in really, so I use a latex glove to help them along into the washer.
  3. Usually, no rinse, because I usually have little to no poop on my diapers thanks to infant potty training.  If there is a lot of poop in a particular load, I might do a cold rinse first.  For more on how to handle poop with cloth diapers, read this post.
  4. Wash on normal cycle: wash warm, rinse cold.  I use Charlie's Soap Powder.  I used to wash in hot, but Green Baby Guide inspired me to switch to warm (they wash in cold, but I haven't made it there yet, for psychological reasons).
  5. Usually, no extra rinse either.  No pre-rinse, no post-rinse, just a normal wash cycle.
  6. Dry in the dryer or line dry.  I always line dry covers and synthetic inserts.

  • I make zero attempt to remove stains.
  • When the diapers seem really stinky, sometimes I add baking soda to the wash (with detergent) and vinegar to the rinse (put it in the "fabric softener" dispenser), and then do an extra rinse afterwards.  I also occasionally wash with no detergent on super hot to try to get out any residue.  When I say occasionally, I mean every 2 to 6 months. 

Additional Resources

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Photo credit: Kurt Thomas Hunt

I Survived a Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infection

About seven years ago, I had a procedure in the hospital to look into some recurrent infections.  The procedure showed that everything was fine and normal, and soon after my recurrent infections stopped.  But while in the hospital, I picked up Clostridium difficile, a drug-resistant strain of bacteria.  Since I had recently taken antibiotics for the infections, my body was primed to be taken over by c-diff (as doctors call it).  It struck about a week later, while I was on vacation, and left me needing to assess the locations of all the bathrooms in every museum, restaurant, friend's home, and store that we visited.  The plane ride home was also super fun.  When I got home, lab results confirmed what the advice nurse and my doctor had suspected.

Nothing But Soap: Review and Giveaway

I am pleased to introduce you to Nothing But Soap: all-natural, vegan, naturally scented, and handmade products by Amber Perks.  Amber makes

Goodbye, Junk Mail: Series Reprise and Final Tips

The complete Goodbye, Junk Mail Series:
Step 1: Save Your Junk
It may be a few more weeks before you see dramatic decreases in your junk mail.  I'm still getting the grocery circular.  Everything left you can do to decrease your amount of unsolicited mail is more arduous. You basically have to contact individual organizations (charities, your alma mater) and ask them to stop sending you stuff.

Here is a sample letter:
Please remove my name and address from your mailing list.  I want to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail I receive.  (Be sure to include all variations of your name.)
Full mailing address
Signature and date

Here are some parting words of advice:
  • Any time you give out your address, ask that it not be shared (if you can).  Simply state: "Do not sell or share my name/information." Also ask that you not be sent any of their material by snail mail.  Ask them to send you information and solicitations by email instead.
  • Two things that don't work: refusing junk mail (by writing "refusal" or "return to sender" on the envelope) since 3rd class mail is not forwarded;  sending junk mail back postage due.  Both of these simply result in the mail carrier tossing your junk mail for you.
  • Contact your service providers such as insurance, bank, and wireless provider, and ask them not to send you promotional material.
  • Go to DMAChoice.org, register, and opt out of everything (catalogs, magazines, other mail).  Note that I did not find this site useful for opting out of individual catalogs and things (not one of the catalogs I wanted to stop receiving is in their catalog list).  Catalogchoice.org has a much more extensive list.  But hopefully registering with DMAChoice.org will prevent you from randomly getting added to someone's mailing list.
  • In a month or so (when most of cancellations should have kicked in), begin saving the mailing label from your junk mail again, keep it somewhere visible on your desk, and take a little time once a month or so to cancel those mailings.

Are you interested in Going Green Gradually? Sign up for my free email subscription to get each of my posts delivered to your inbox (I usually post two or three times a week). You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or with your favorite RSS Reader. I hope to see you again soon!

Which is Worse: Aspartame or High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Is the artificial sweetener aspartame bad for you?  The FDA and food industry think it is A-OK.  But some researchers have linked aspartme to cancer, neurological problems, and preterm delivery.  For me, it's really a non-issue whether government regulatory bodies and researchers ever reach a consensus on the safety of artificial sweeteners like aspartame.  As a general rule, I try to eat only food, not substances never found in nature that were synthesized in a laboratory (a.k.a. food additives).  This is surprisingly difficult if you shop in an American supermarket.  Lots of ingredients in processed foods fall into this food additives category: artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners.  I avoid them all.


Eczema is a pretty common skin disorder, especially among babies and children.  Children usually outgrow their eczema, but it can be extremely frustrating for parents and uncomfortable for children while it lasts.  My husband has suffered from eczema, particularly on his hands, throughout his life.  After several years of "going green gradually," switching to more natural cleaning and personal products, my husband announced that his eczema seemed to be gone for good.  Then recently we stayed with some friends, who use conventional cleaning and personal products.  In less than a week, my husband's hands were dry and beginning to peel again.  When we returned home, the eczema cleared up again.  We'll probably never know what the exact trigger was, but it was a dramatic illustration of how the environment could affect his condition.

Kids and Nature

Hiking near our home.

Particularly if you live in an urban setting, keeping kids (and yourself) connected to nature can be a real challenge.  I recently read an article about how this generation of children is the first ever that will spend more time playing inside than outside.  Although I didn't spend my childhood wandering through forests or wild meadows, I did spend a whole lot of time outside playing tag, climbing trees, wandering through empty lots, and looking under rocks for bugs.

Plastic-free and BPA-free Feeding Gear for Babies and Kids

We use stoneware, glass, stainless steel and plastic feeding gear for our kids.  Almost all the plastic dining ware is polypropylene (#5) plastic.

Born Free - 9 oz Wide Neck Glass Bottle 2 Pack

Bottles:  Born Free Glass Bottles
I got tired of hand washing the plastic bottles we had (I try not to put plastic in my dishwasher), so I bought a couple Born-free glass baby bottles instead.  Several small parts that attach the nipple to the glass bottom (valve, ring) are plastic, but the bottle is mostly glass.  The nipple, like most bottle nipples, is silicone.  We like the Born Free bottles, but, honestly, have hardly used bottles at all (one or two feedings a week tops in the first few months).  I'm not sure how it would be using them a much larger percentage of the time. You can buy silicone sleeves for them so they aren't so breakable.  Several other brands make glass bottles now too.  I did pump my breast milk into Medela's BPA-free plastic bottles, but stored and reheated the milk only in glass, and hand washed the plastic bottles.  It's really tough to get around plastic when you bottle feed.

Weekend Links


How many weeks have I missed now?  Two?  Three?  So I'm just including a very few choice links in this post.  If you want to check out more posts and articles I find interesting, you can consult the gadget in my right sidebar called "Best of Eco-novice's Google Reader" or just click HERE.

Eco-novice around the Web

Art Books for Kids
My guest post on megwrites.

School Lunches Need a Food Revolution
Eco-novice is Blog of the Week on Healthy Child Healthy World.

How to Cancel Catalogs (Goodbye, Junk Mail - Step 4)

If you missed Step 1: Save Your Junk, click HERE.
If you missed Step 3: Cancel Your Weekly Shopping Flyer, click HERE.

If you have been participating in my Goodbye, Junk Mail Series, you have been saving your junk mailcanceled credit card offers and canceled your weekly grocery circular.  Now it's time to cancel your catalogs.  Sometimes you get a catalog because you once ordered something from a company.  Sometimes you get a catalog because you ordered from a company or organization that sold your name to another company.  Sometimes you have no idea why you are receiving a catalog.  If you are receiving unwanted catalogs, there is a simple way to cancel them: CatalogChoice.org.

Creating a Zero-Waste Lunch via Kids Konserve

This post is by my friend Megan.  Megan writes about reading and writing books for kids and teens on her blog megwrites.  I love her recent posts about finding time to write and read, as well as this recent post on building your child's library on a budget (which could also have been titled: how to build an eco-friendly child's library).  She also posts original short stories and book recommendations.  She will one day be a famous YA author, so be sure and check out her blog so you can say you knew her way back before she was published.

10 Inexpensive Kitchen Gadgets to Give Your Favorite Cook

{Post updated December 2015}

Kitchen gadgets have been some of my favorite gifts because they make the green practice of home cooking more enjoyable. These gadgets range from $6 to $40.  I bought (or dropped hints and received as a gift) most of these in my early married life when I had lots of time to research the best gadgets on Cook's Illustrated.  These are tried-and-true kitchen tools that have been used daily or weekly for years, have never been relegated to a difficult-to-access drawer, and have survived several pre-move purges.

10 Wonderful Kitchen Gadgets to Give Your Favorite Cook


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