Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eco Baby

Ok - now for the fun stuff - nesting!

~ As mentioned, I have been saving baby links for years. It is fun now to gather gear unabashedly, and not just bring stuff home and hide it secretively in a storage bin (sorry, Babe, if you are just finding out about that). But, my environmental conscience has been speaking loudly during this time as well. Namely, I am worried about being consumed by the "necessities" recommended by retailers like Babies R Us that either a) might not end up getting used at all or,
as I am finding out b) a near new version of the same thing is located nearby for a fraction of the price.

So, my new hobby is scouring craigslist for baby gear. I look at the retail sites, consumer reports, etc. to get the types and brands I want, and then do a search on craigslist every couple of days. I only go after exactly what I would have bought new, and it has to be in near perfect condition.

(In case you were wondering, the mobile is not battery powered. The playard - with bassinet and changing table - will be used for the first few months next to the bed, eliminating the need for a bassinet or co-sleeper. It will, of course, also be used for travel.)

I have had some incredible success - a $300 unused stroller for less than $100, an electric swing (more about my no battery plan below), and the playard shown above for $50. This one has a funny story, as the original ad I replied to ended up doing a bait and switch (my only "negative" experience thus far - everybody else has been really honest and nice). To be fair, I don't think she was very computer savvy, and this seemed to her to be the closest one she could find to her circa 1986 jenky playard, and she was able to snag the picture from a website versus having to figure out how to upload pictures from her camera. In any case, I met BT that day for lunch. In the shopping center the restaurant was located in there was a used kid's store, and out front was - the very same playard I thought I was going to buy off of craigslist that day! I couldn't believe it!

This adds a whole new (and I think fun) dimension to shopping. You have to be patient, and then act fast when the ads are posted. I've noticed things going more quickly in the last month or so - perhaps a reflection of our dumpy economy. I've also tried to get things close to home or incorporate their pickup with another trip so I don't negate my positive environmental efforts driving all over hell. We still have plans to buy a used crib (don't worry - we will get a new mattress) and changing table/dresser once we get in our new place.

(These things scare me a little bit. Plus the fact that this would take up a whole room in our new pad.)

~ We are also evaluating what we think is really needed. Again, I am relying on research online, and experience with numerous friends and family members who had very extensive registries, yet don't really end up using a lot of things they receive. I found this list online. I agree with most of what she has listed, though I did already buy a swing with the expectation that towards the end of the day, Baby will be bored of being held or just lying around (and mama will need a break). Oh, and though I was opposed to buying a monitor for the same reasoning as the writer (you can hear a fly landing on the roof of a tiny house), I have gasp! taken the advice of my pals the advice givers and will be using an Angelcare monitor. I may not even have the ambient noise part turned up - just relying on the sound it makes if there is no movement in the crib after a certain amount of time. We know somebody whose baby was saved from SIDS only due to motherly intuition. Not trusting mine yet fully, this will hopefully give us some peace of mind.

~ Though we are not registry people, it seemed worthwhile in this instance to gently guide folks in the direction we are going. The risk of not registering is for people to assume we don't know what to buy, being newbs and all, and all of the sudden we have 5 exersaucers (sorry to pick on the exersaucer today - I know some of you are die hard fans). Our choice for where to register? Walmart, surprisingly. They seem to be the most on the ball to offer and highlight
environmentally friendly gear (I know Target has some stuff, too, mostly clothes and kinda pricely - but they don't really make a point to focus on the environmental attributes of all of their gear online. Babies R Us offers even less guidance.) Not to say the offerings are perfect, but it seems Walmart is giving it their best shot.

~ One of our more "out there" ideas is to try to reduce gear and toys that use batteries until the baby is three-years-old. I even have a slogan worked up. You ready? "Battery Free Until I'm Three." Items like the monitor may be the exception, but in contrast that was why it was important for me to find a swing that plugged in. I don't know if somebody has done a tally of battery usage for young children's equipment, but I can see how the number would add up. Not just alkaline batteries, but toys and the like that come with specialized batteries included. In California, we must dispose of all batteries specially as Household Hazardous Waste. We have already tried to reduce our usage of non-rechargeable batteries in our home. Besides the fact that some of the battery powered toys seem to us to be a little - overwhelming. We have seen the aftermath of Christmases where 10 different light and noise emitting toys are fired up simultaneously for our nieces and nephews. The result is usually crying and fighting, and not just the kids either. By the end of the evening, everyone has settled down on the couch with some little quiet toy they received. I'm not saying after a week or two we won't go out and buy every battery powered thing we can get our hands with the belief that something has to work to soothe our little beast. I'm also not sure how successful we will be with our campaign with well-meaning friends and family giving gifts over the years. But, it is a goal to strive for.

~ Cloth diapers was surprisingly not as controversial of a topic in our household as I thought they would be. BT's caveat - so long as we use a kind that has a flushable insert. I don't have a problem with the waste side of things, as sewage waste is handled much more effectively than landfilled waste. Also, the amount of waste is smaller than a disposable diaper.
So, even if the insert is thrown away, it has a smaller *footprint.* I've been told that except for the dreaded blow out, the all-in-ones can be used throughout the day, and so washing them is just like washing any other piece of clothing baby would wear (i.e. we won't be wasting water and landfill space). Like many others, we are crushing on the cuteness of g diapers. It seems, as with most reusable diapers, people either really really love them or really really hate them. Surprisingly, after reading over 100 reviews one night, nobody really focused on the ick factor involved with disassembling the insert before flushing (you have to somehow remove the absorbent core from the liner before flushing both pieces). I imagine getting covered in sh*t in the process, but apparently this isn't the paramount issue in dealing with the diapers. We have a starter kit, and will give them a go (after a couple weeks of chlorine free disposables - just so we can get in the swing of things).

The next runner up is the Kushies brand, namely because the diaper itself is more economical than its counterparts, and the pads can be bought at Walmart. I don't like that the flannel liners are attached, making it necessary to change the entire diaper with each use, which it seems would result in increased water usage and waste production.

~ A little more controversial is the use of reusable wipes. I figure using the cloth diapers you will end up with a little pile that needs to be washed. Why not just include the wipes, too? For some reason this is just beyond BT's comfort level. The best I could come up with for myself, and BT if he is willing, is to have some dry flannel cloths on hand and then squirt a homemade baby wipe solution on them as they are used. A non-toxic disposable alternative will be made available as well {sniff} as I don't want to end up the only diaper changer in the house. I'm not giving up hope yet! Sidenote - I originally ordered the kit to make baby wipes off of eco-me. I guess I missed in the description that the wipes used were not reusable. Also, the jar is so small, I don't see how you could stuff the towels back into it once the liquid is included. The site has some really cute kits for other baby and household usages, though, so I encourage you to check it out - it was just the wipes I wasn't sure about.

Tomorrow - baby chic!


Shanna said...

those battery operated toys get really annoying! we had one that would go off by itself in the middle of the night! we ended up taking the batteries out of all of them eventually. i say go without!

a swing (jerrett loved his and it really helped for those fussy nights) is so helpful! jerrett also liked those little play gyms that he would play with on his back on lying on his stomach.

as far as diapers go there's no way to avoid poo! and since you're having a boy you're going to get whizzed on. i promise. i used disposable diapers with jerrett but when he have the next one i plan on using the G diapers. i too, heard great reviews.

Sarah and Jack said...

When I made my own baby wipes (a few yards of $1 flannel lasted 3+ years), I just cut squares of flannel, wet a handful at a time and plopped them into a diaper wipe warmer. Put a drop of tea tree oil on the pad inside the warmer to cut down on bacteria (be sure to only wet as many as you need for two days), and you are good to go. No wierd gadgets needed.

As you use them, just throw them in a seperate trash can (nothing fancy, just an office trash can), and wash them as needed.

I am so NOT a cloth diaperer, and you can tell BT that the cloth wipes are a lot less scary than cloth diapers, LOL.

(I did try cloth diapers though, but Jack's skin is way too sensitive. Of course he also could not wear name brand diapers either. You never really know what you will end up using in the end I suppose.)

Jane said...

I am so with you and the battery thing. My mother *tried* shopping last year for a toys for tots esq program at her church. There was a she was depressed to find that most baby toys..require batteries these days. Too bad too. Shouldn't...wouldn't kids enjoy making the "grr" of a bear toy or the "beep beep" of a car themselves?

We have been doing quite a bit of craigslisting ourselves lately and it's so much fun. Oh sure if you go to the store you will find what you want. Craigslist is a bit like hunting. So, happy hunting to you!

Carrie said...

Good for you! A word about wipes -- our cloth wipes are ten times better than the disposable kind. I do carry those for outings and it takes more of them, they're messier and just don't clean up as well. A cloth wipe can often get everything in one fell swoop! We love them so much we now have a stack in the bathroom for our potty trained three year old. I bought some and then made some out of old flannel pajamas and terrycloth. The kind with loops is more effective because it grabs up bits. They're just so much more effective -- and environmentally friendly :)

Oh and gDiapers -- those are my "backup" diapers. Usually the mess goes one direction or the other so there's nearly always a clean area to remove the liner. What I find frustrating is changing the baby in one room and having to go to the bathroom to do the other part.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for linking to the Green Baby Guide!

We also avoided battery-operated gizmos, and I'm sure we've saved a lot of money. We bought the same plug-in swing (which as you know, we later returned because our baby hated it). What I really wanted was one of the old-fashioned wind-up swings, but I could not find one anywhere--no electricity or battery power required! Of course, it did not end up mattering since we had a swing-hater.

I made a set of cloth wipes out of my husband's old t-shirts. I just wet them with water from a little squeeze bottle right before using. You can tell your husband that this method is actually recommended by pediatricians. You aren't supposed to use anything but water on the baby's bottom for the first six weeks. I am sure I read that somewhere. As long as you are washing cloth diapers, you may as well use cloth wipes, too.

Anyway, I think you sound very prepared for your new arrival. Congratulations!

Emy said...

I've seen a lot of cloth diapers on craigslist. Of course it was like $800 for the whole lot, but I suppose it was a ton of them. You can make them as well. I have a link somewhere if you are interested. I also have a link for slings, etc.
I bought most of Mabel's stuff used. We skipped the high chair and use a booster seat. I buy most of her clothes used as well. And we buy as much at garage sales as possible. I just feel better about reusing stuff.

Lara said...

We use liners made of microfleece. The wee goes right through, and the baby stays dry. And now that he has started solids, the poo rolls right off into the loo - just as easy as the flushable liners, but reusable :)

Also, the cloth wipes (we use cotton terry face washers and plain water) are soooo much better at cleanups than baby wipes - and it easier to keep your hands clean too.

The other thing that is highly recommended is a good wetbag for putting your dirty bits in when you are out. We used far too many plastic bags on trips away from home until we worked this out.

Good luck!

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sarahgreen said...

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