Finding your eco balance

BOCA\'s Balanced LivingI promised myself that this would be the year of composting. It’s really quite simple and it offers huge benefits to your environment and your own yard and/or garden.

But, it’s already nearly February and I have yet to get started.

Frustrated as I might be, I’ve found that living an eco-friendly lifestyle is not a static decision. It comes with highs and lows, new discoveries, changing habits, and most of all, finding balance. Sometimes that means you’re leaving a tiny carbon foot print one day. And on others, it might be bigger than you’d like to admit.

For me, living a greener lifestyle has a lot to do with state of mind.

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Save Handmade from the CPSIA – Last day to vote at Change.org

Save Handmade!If you’ve got a spare minute, please hop over to Change.org and vote for the Handmade Toy Alliance‘s proposal “Save Small Businesses from the CPSIA.” The top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration, and considering how many people this act effects, we need all the help we can get.

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CPSIA Update – Exemptions for natural materials proposed

handmade-wooden-toysIf you’ve been following the CPSIA as closely as I have been, then you’ll be super pleased to know that the CPSC proposed an exemption for certain natural materials from the lead testing requirements. According to a transcript excerpted at Upturned Earth:

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Save Handmade – Don't make February 10, 2009 Bankrupt Day

Save HandmadeRecently, Eco Child’s Play editor Jennifer Lance wrote about the CPSIA that will go into effect on February 20, 2009, thus decimating the thousands of handmade mom and pop run businesses in this country. Without the ability to sell their toys, hair accessories, clothing, and shoes (yes, it’s not just toys!), these families will be gravely affected – as will the many children and parents who have enjoyed these safe handmade toys and goods.

In response to the pending act, parents, small business owners, and online websites have joined together as a means to have their voices heard and encourage government officials to make changes to the act before it puts so many folks out of business.

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Mother's Milk: The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom (Not Just Baby)

Kristen Chase Breastfeeding DrewAs someone who breastfed her two kids a combined total of 36 months, I, like many women, am fairly informed when it comes to the benefits of breast milk for babies. But when it comes to spouting off the same statistics when it comes to the benefits of breastfeeding for moms, I have a bit of a harder time. And sometimes, when it comes to encouraging breastfeeding with a new mother who is still on the fence, it’s important to offer the pros for both she and her baby.

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Great Organic Pregnancy Essentials

Bamboo Belly BandAs I enter the middle of my third trimester in my third pregnancy (don’t come after me, environmentalists), I’m trying to do my best to not only take care of my baby but also myself. For me, that means seeking out organic products and remedies that actually work and make life a little easier and comfortable.

Like many people these days, my budget doesn’t afford me the option to purchase completely organic items for myself and my baby and I’m not the crafty type by any means, but there are several organic pregnancy essentials that I’ve found I just can’t live without.

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Top 5 Cloth Grocery Bags: It's Easy and Fashionable to Say No to Paper & Plastic

Baggu BagOne of the easiest ways to lessen your carbon foot print is to switch to cloth grocery bags. Considering the BYOB approach (Bring Your Own Bag) isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The truth of the matter is, any tote bag that you have laying around will work well and when it comes to being truly eco-friendly, using something you already have, or making a bag from existing materials is always the best way to go.

However, some smart eco-friendly designers have created bags that will make your transition super easy. As a busy mom who’s already lugging a big diaper bag and two kids around, I’m happy to purchase new bags if I know that I’m actually going to use them. Like most folks, the idea of switching to cloth bags isn’t the problem; it’s remembering to bring them with you. The beauty of the new cloth grocery bags on the market is that they actually fit more than the ones you might have hidden in your closet. So, if you’re definitely looking for the convenience factor, consider my top 5 bag choices.

At Cool Mom Picks, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out some amazing cloth grocery bags, many of which are created by small companies who are truly dedicated to green-minded living. But, like most people, I’ve got my personal favorites.

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Reusable Swim Diapers Make Pool and Beach Time Greener

Konfidence-USA Baby Swim PackThe advances in cloth diapering over the last few years, not only in availability of handy diaper services, but also the quality and simple use of the diapers themselves, have converted many a disposable diaper user to “greener” ways. But while many cloth diaper enthusiasts and flushable diaper users have strong opinions about which cloth diapers work the best, I’ve yet to see commentary on reusable swim diapers.

If you’re already a cloth diaper user, than the concept of using a resuable swim diaper is probably not a far stretch. But if you use disposables or ‘sposies, then you might be glad to know that reusable swim diapers are a fantastic budget conscious choice, particularly since disposable swim diapers are super expensive.

Truth be told, disposable swim diapers are more for easing our minds and less about containing bodily fluids and bowel movements. Basically, they just don’t contain all the chemicals that regular disposables do, therefore keeping them trim and less saggy when they hit water. But, they certainly don’t hold urine well. And, while they might hold a bowel movement for a good five minutes, you do not want your kid swimming around with a swim diaper full of poop.

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Organic Crib Mattresses: Safer Sleep Options for Baby

natural matEditor’s note: We are delighted to feature this guest post written by Kristen Chase. Kristen is the co-founder and editor of Cool Mom Picks, a shopping blog for kids and the parents who love them recently featured in Real Simple Magazine. She and her partner Liz Gumbinner seek out the best off-the-beaten path gifts and gear, many of which are eco-friendly and organic.

With our first child, we just grabbed any old crib mattress and went on our merry way. Turns out, she was a terrible horrible very bad sleeper. And while the mattress may not have had anything to do with her horrible sleep habits, we made sure that with our second, we researched better mattress and furniture choices — not just because we wanted to get some shut-eye, but also due to the laundry list of chemicals and other products that are used in crib mattresses.

Truth be told, we’re surrounded by chemicals every day, and while many parents are attempting to green up their nursery, budget is definitely a concern. But considering your baby sleeps (or *fingers crossed* will hopefully sleep) a minimum of 10-14 hours a day on the mattress, it might be best to forgo the fancy bedding and super duper changing table for something that could potentially affect their sleep patterns and their overall health.

I realize that with baby-having becoming a business of sorts and companies purporting the dire need for all parents to have a wipes warmer and a stroller that can almost walk itself, the idea of an organic, natural mattress might seem like another gimmick. But if you look carefully at the products and chemicals that are used to make and treat the bulk of crib mattresses, you might just change your mind. [Read more…]

Swapping Kid Gear is Green, Hip Fun!

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Kids outgrow toys and clothes faster than the weeds in my garden (well, maybe not that fast). Beyond hosting your own kiddie swap, there are several sites now that make exchanging kids’ gear easier for families, who may not have local connections for such trades. Reusing and reducing the amount of your children’s paraphernalia will not only lessen your carbon footprint, but it will de-clutter your home!

  • Zwaggle: Kristen Chase of Cool Mom Picks calls Zwaggle, “basically a more organized Freecycle“. Organization is good, especially since Zwaggle focuses on socially responsible parents. It is a simple concept: “You receive Zwaggle points (or Zoints) by giving your gently used things to other families, then use those Zoints to obtain “new” things for your family.” You can obtain Zoints just by signing up through Parent Bloggers Network. [Read more…]