small changes. big affect.

In a post I did a few days ago, I chatted about things I am doing to reduce energy use and consumption in my life now that I have a kiddo. In addition to the comments on the post, I received several e mails from readers expressing enthusiasm for things they do and things they now feel inspired to do. I love it. We are all connected; everything is reciprocal. It is heartwarming and hopeful.

I think it is easy for us to feel overwhelmed by all the environmental problems and in a meandering, guilt-laden thought process, ultimately decide to do nothing because it is easier to do what we have always done.

So, I am going to create a list of small, totally doable, no excuse not to try it items on the side bar of this here blog. These are things we do at my house that are super easy. Please leave me a comment to add something to the list!
  • Be creative with wrapping paper (it is amazing what I gorgeous ribbon can do to a newspaper-wrapped package).
  • Think about the lights you use. Turn out all lights when you leave a room and while in a room, only turn on what you need.
  • Here is a post I did about yard care and research regarding chemical use and lawns.
  • Break the habit: say no to bags when checking out; I swear, 90% of the time you can carry the item(s) just fine.
  • Bring bags to the store with you. Just keep 'em in your car so you can't forget. and, cloth bags aren't just for groceries. Bring them to Target, Home Depot, Banana Republic...you get it.
  • If you forget your bag, combine items into fewer bags. You don't need to double bag a box of macaroni and cheese.
  • Keep exterior lights off at night.
  • Turn off your computer when not using and if you don't, at least turn off the monitor.
  • When driving, coast into stop signs and stop lights instead of accelerating and breaking.
  • Don't buy garbage bags! Don't preserve your trash in plastic! Use what you have laying about and reuse those if you can.
  • Use cloth napkins and don't wash them after every use; once a week works great in our house.
  • Switch your accounts to online bill pay. It is incredible how much less mail you will receive.
  • Stop junk mail. Call catalogs and ask them to take you off the mailing list. Or, according to GardenPunks, you can stop junk mail easily through GreenDimes.
  • Change the light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescents.
  • Use your own coffee mug. Buy a really fancy and expensive one you will love to drink from and you will never forget it.
  • Buy recycled paper products. Who thinks its necessary to use virgin trees on your bum?
  • Use a programmable thermostat. No reason to have your house at 70 degrees while you are at work! We have saved a ton of energy and money by installing one of these guys.
  • Use old plastic bags to pick up your dog's poo. No need to use the new, special poo bags.
  • It is not necessary to put all produce in plastic bags. Apples can roll around in the cart and be just fine.
  • Recycle everything you can.
  • Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater.
  • Use cloth diapers for your kids. Disposables never decompose. Gross.
  • Use natural cleaning products. We made the total switch a few years ago and now I can't even stand the chemical smell of Pine Sol and the like. Those fumes are seriously bad for you and the planet. Vinegar works awesome for glass and it may seem more expensive to get other biodegradable cleaners and detergents, but do the math...they are very concentrated and it is actually cheaper because you use way less.
  • Print on scrap paper. You will have an endless supply even after ridding yourself of junk mail.
  • Turn printer off unless using it.
  • Carry your own, reusable water bottle. The stats on oil use for bottled water are alarming.
  • Grow your own food. It doesn't take much space to have some containers for a few herbs or veggies and it will change your entire perspective about where your food comes from and how it is grown and harvested. You can grow nearly anything in a pot. Can't do it or don't want to? Know where your food comes from!
  • Don't ever bag yard waste! Sprinkle grass clippings and leaves in your beds or place a giveaway ad somewhere...someone will want that gold.


my first run with bug as a human

Yesterday I ran with bug and Alice. This was no small endeavor and I feel great to have done it so I can say that I have and move on to becoming better at it.

As I was readying for the Run I was tempted to leave Alice at home. I know. I didn't do it and would like to say with certainty I never will. I can say with certainty if I ever I do I will lose sleep over it.

It was an effort. For starters, I need more stuff--something to which I am adverse--the needing of more stuff when it comes to running. I like running for its purity and simplicity. No fees, equipment, racks for carrying equipment, passes or needing to learn to do it. Anyone can run anywhere at any time.

Items needed for run with dog pictured above.

Items needed for a run with bug and dog pictured above.

It is different with a bug and I feel like I need my maternity leave just to master the nuances to a jogging stroller that pulls to the right and a dog that pulls to the left.

I yanked the stroller out, suited bug up and readied myself, all with Alice shaking her booty in anticipation. It would be cool if the giant boob thing would settle down. Seriously, two sports bras that require tugging and compressing my milk-laden girls to get in and an apprehensive peeling off the flesh to get out. In addition to an extra bra, I needed an absorbent product in case I had a relapse of the squirts, I needed to map my route considering the proximity to construction sites (porta pottys) and my cell phone in case something terrible happened (the worry of a terrible occurrence has seemed to grow exponentially since I birthed a human).

And we were off, heading east on 10th Street, the brilliant and deceptively unwarming sun to my back. Within six minutes I was thankful to see the first porta potty option approaching. I realize I will need to get used to hitting the pause button on my watch and to not caring what rogue construction workers think of my circus. I hooked Alice to the stroller, unhooked bug from the stroller and entered the plastic unit. Holding bug and hovering over the frozen hole while Alice incessantly whined was...new to me.

The run went well. I wasn't expecting to be able to say that. The stroller actually boxes Alice in a bit and prohibits her from the tireless I must sniff that dog's butt pulling that nearly lifts me off the ground with frustration. We ran for 40 minutes and not even that slowly. It was a good run.

I am running the Portland Marathon in October. I need a goal like that. I want to run with bug in her stroller but I am worried about the extra obstacle. Maybe once I get my groove on it will be fine. Maybe I will run the first half with her or the last few miles or something. I imagine that she is comforted by running. It was, in fact, a big part of her very early existence.


I want my kid to have polar bears.

I know I sound kinda preachy in this post, but this is something I feel strongly about. I hope to offer my research and thoughts as a resource for those interested and to hear additional ideas too as I am always interested in other approaches.

I got pregnant in March. As with anything that finds its way into my microcosm, I became a dork in learning all things about pregnancy, my body and parenthood. There is a thread present in all my research: consumption. It is something we have to consider as procreators. What kind of world are we preparing for our new little primates? And, how can I be a thoughtful, conscientious and proactive mom?

After watching An Inconvenient Truth a while back, Andy and I made some decisions to cut back. One change we made was to keep our front porch light off at night. Andy said, I want my kid to have polar bears.

I have always been interested in and, according to many, overly concerned with, what I use and how I move about in my environment. I think recycling is a civic duty and people who don't should be fined. Seriously, it is SO easy and if you took one trip to the land fill, you would be appalled with all the detergent bottles, aluminum cans and white paper that is wrongfully churned into a scar in the earth. We use cloth napkins in my house and only wash them once a week or so. I like running because it doesn't require gear (save for shoes and a rockin' sports bra) and driving somewhere. I grow my own food as much as I can. I say no to early every bag in favor of making two (gasp) trips to and from my car or carrying my own tote. And since July 7, 2007, have turned down 52 plastic bags. We never wrap any trash in plastic. Blah blah--I am hooked on treading lightly. And I am always thinking of new ways I could do more and be better. Maybe I am a bit obsessed but now I have a bug and there is a whole new importance to all of this.

Today, I talk specifically about how I am approaching this new world of energy use and garbage production, how it amplifies when having a kid and my thoughts on decreasing my contribution to the dump and energy use.

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Scary stuff about diapers

The average person goes through about 6000 diapers for one kid. Disposable diapers NEVER EVER decompose. Or 500 years some say. But still. Diapers by volume constitute 2% of all garbage from residential areas and are the third-largest source of solid waste. Eighteen billion diapers are thrown away per year according to the EPA. Because cornstarch and absorbent acrylic gels are added to disposables, they are un-recyclable.

Some argue that the production and cleaning of cloth diapers consume more energy and that diaper delivery trucks consume gas, therefore making a pro-disposable argument. I disagree: Cloth are reusable and if the user doesn't care about stains, a mild detergent and a little water go a long way. And one delivery vehicle making the rounds to twenty houses versus twenty individual cars trekking to Costco and Target dissolves that arguement. And, without disposable diapers, I wonder how many fewer garbage trucks and landfill vehicles we would need.

We use cloth diapers with diaper covers. And those who claim that disposables are so much easier with a newborn I cry bullshit. We used cloth right away and like anything, such as having a kid, it just takes some getting your groove on. It is so easy and we found the covers we like so leaking isn't an issue and if they leak, big freakin' deal. We just hose her little hiney off in the sink.

And, for the inventors of the diaper genie and those who use them, please consider what is worse: a trash can that is a bit smelly (breastfed poo hardly smells at all) only when you open the lid or your great grandkids not having a planet to live on? Perhaps that is hyper thing to say but I just cannot imagine how one could justify placing a plastic diaper in a plastic bag in another plastic bag. And tossing it all in a plastic trash can to be picked up by a huge, gas-guzzling truck and hauled to a canker in the earth.

And, I recently discovered we can be more efficient with the cloth diapers. Bug enjoys peeing when being changed, so we keep the dirty dipe in place and let her go on it while we ready the new so we don't dirty another. This saves at least 10-15 diapers a week. Also, the covers we use (these too--and they are made in Canada) can be rinsed and dried if dirty. They rarely, if ever, need to be washed in a machine. And, wipes can be used so sparingly. Hey, we have to wash our hands anyway. I haven't done it yet, but it is easy and way cheaper to make your own disposable wipes.

I have been planning to make my own, reusable wipes and will let my declaration here serve as my accountability.

There are a lot of different methods for storing and saturating cloths, I will use a spray bottle filled with this:

3/4 cup distilled water, boiled and then cooled
1/4 cup aloe vera juice
3 drops tea tree oil (anti-microbial)
1 drop of lavender essential oil or orange essential oil (optional)

And then, spray the solution on small, cotton rags (either a cut up receiving blanket or t-shirts) that have a zig zag stitch around the edge. Or, if you have an ancient sewing machine like mine, stitched twice around the edge.

C'est tous. When you need a wipe, spray the rag and use.

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A shorter word on clothes, toys, car seat, stroller, crib, changing table and other crap you need

I wonder why is this stuff even made anymore? There is so much floating around and it is so easy (and cheap!) to get it from friends or Craig's list or wherever. People want their stuff to be reused. The only new baby stuff we bought includes a sling, pack and diaper bag. Everything else from furniture, clothes and car seat to diaper covers, toys and stroller were bought at yard sales or given to us by friends. And it was so easy and satisfying.

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I know this is super controversial for many people. I am thankful I can breastfeed. It is unquestionably the best for my bug and there is no waste associated with packaging and warming on the stove. And, breastfed babes are sick way less and therefore need less medications and doctor visits.

We are also using glass bottles and glass storage jars (I am pumping and storing milk). Plastics are freaking me out more and more. "Safe" plastics are inevitably unsafe soon thereafter and it just isn't worth it. And, it takes a lot of oil to produce plastic bottles.

So, OK. Have other ideas? Throw 'em my tree-huggin way.


first post-bug run

I ran today. I ran regularly for the first five months of pregnancy and then about once or twice a week until about seven months. When I set out on this snowy Sunday afternoon, I was a little nervous. And super excited. But not as excited as Alice.

I opened my cedar chest to access my running clothes and Alice was in my bedroom within seconds. She was cautious at first because my ski clothes are also stored in the chest so I could still be not taking her with me. But, when I grabbed my shoes, her measured enthusiasm burst. She could hardly breathe she was so psyched.

I didn't attempt the jog stroller yet. Bug hung with her papa. Best take it one step at a time. I am, after all, a faller. After about 11 steps, I felt something familiar: the squirts. I had the squirts when running while pregnant but they are worse post-delivery of a bug. So, I had been running for three minutes and was nearing Amy's house thinking I best take a potty break when I realized the issue was much larger than that.

I returned home and squeezed every last drop from my bladder, promised myself I would add "kegel exercises" to my list of Resolutions and set back out. The second time was much more successful. It was snowing and I really love running while it is precipitating. It is my favorite because not very many people are out on the trails and I feel so alive pushing through cold, bright flakes or thick, soupy rain.

I had grabbed a poop bag and secured it in the waist of my spandex. While trotting along singing my running song (Click on that link. It is worth your time. I sing this song nearly every time I run.), I realized I had lost the bag. I felt bad for littering but kept on running.

I have never taken three and a half months off from running in my entire life.

It went surprisingly well. I felt fab cardiovascularly. My body is different. My hips are narrower. My boobs weigh approximately 19 pounds each. My belly is doughy. I was stiff. I haven't practiced yoga or even stretched since bug's birth. Another item for the Resolution list: take care of my muscles. My knees ached and I wondered if it is because I have to refamiliarize myself to the pounding or if it is because my body needs to get used to its new self.

I ran with Alice. I was slow but I don't think she cared. When I got home I laughed out loud when I realized I had not littered and that the poop bag had made its way to my groin area. Yup. I had been running all about town looking like I had an enviable package.

We ran for 36 minutes and 47 seconds. I am glad the first run is over.



Resolutions have become this nasty little virus that sneaks into people's brains and convinces them that if they don't complete any certain nearly impossible task, then they have failed miserably and cannot attempt said task again until the next New Year.

I am reclaiming the Resolution. It is basically just a little goal. Something to strive towards and hopefully accomplish or, if not, learn from it. And get off yer lazy ass and try again.

I turn 30 this year. 30 seems so round and sexy. I figure, I deserve some Resolutions.

My eight Resolutions for 2008:
  1. Learn to sew. I mean, really sew. I just fake it and limp along coveting what Lera can do in like .7 seconds. So, I am taking a class.
  2. Grow garlic. It is completely ridiculous that I have not done this. I simply cannot find the time to stick cloves in the ground in the fall. Unacceptable. 2008 is the year.
  3. Run a marathon in the fall. I plan to run for the first time in three and a half months tomorrow. I'll be writing about that one for sure.
  4. Never ever lie. As a general rule, I am always honest but have caught myself telling tiny white ones. I always get busted like the time I wanted the woman who I taught ski school with when I was in college to shut her yap. When she asked what elementary school I went to in Missoula (I did not go to elementary school in Missoula) I lied and said the Clarke Fork School. I just really wanted her to stop talking. It just so happened that she sat on the freaking board of the Clarke Fork School and proceeded to ask me what years I attended because she was just sure that I wasn't on the alumni list because she would for sure remember and boy, she was super glad she ran into me because having a current list of alumni is critical. I eventually just walked away because I would have had to lie again to get out of it or tell the truth which was entirely too painful by that point. It did get her to stop talking though. I am sure she discovered my lie and that is why she avoided me for the rest of the season. So, it kinda worked. But still. It was a bad bad idea.
  5. Keep chickens! The City of Missoula just passed the Chicken Ordinance on bug's birthday! I have been wanting chickens for years. When I told Andy I was getting chickens this spring, he asked if we get to talk about it to which I replied no.
  6. Write thank you notes promptly. Argh. I am so bad at this. Ask anyone who gave us an amazing gift for bug. They are coming. I promise.
  7. Take dance classes. I love to dance and danced my entire childhood. There isn't much else I'd rather do than shake my bod. I want to learn partner dancing. The thing is that I married a man who would rather squeeze a lemon in his eyeball. So, I am finding a partner and taking a class.
  8. Be an inspiring mom to my kid. This is more abstract but I hope to keep up on it. I'll start by working on items 1-7.
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