(I wrote this series, because, for years, people have asked me how I got so ‘green.’ Hopefully this will provide some insight and give you ideas about how to live simply and appreciate the natural world of which you are a part. Read Part 1, The 50s, 60s & 70s, Part 2, The 80s, New Hampshire and Part 3, The 80s, Simplified by Traveling.)
The 90s – Raising a Family and Beyond
Amazingly enough, when I began to raise a family, I was in close contact with the woman I mentioned in Part 3, who had lived with no money for several years. Her lifestyle was one of the simplest I’d ever seen. She knew how to survive buying nothing, not using disposable anything, creating what she didn’t have, and growing most of her own food. I felt blessed to be in her sphere and under her tutelage.
Despite having a one year old, she gave me some of her cloth diapers to get me started. One valuable piece of information she shared was to simply rinse out pee diapers and hang them in the disinfecting New Mexico sun, then reuse. Do you know how much water this saved, as well as trips to the laundromat?
Instead of baby wipes, we had a huge stash of two different color washcloths – one color for pee, one for poop (preferably a light color to see when they needed washing). They were put under hot water and onto the baby’s butt, then rinsed out really well, and, again, hung in the NM sun. This took a little thought and planning, but I have never used a disposable wipe on either of my kids.
For my own sanity, I did use disposable diapers at night. Getting up in the night and turning lights on to change a diaper was making me crazy with sleep deprivation, so I had to do something. I called them ‘nightie diapers,’ since we just used them at night. I didn’t feel good about it, but sometimes our choices have to take into account our quality of life as well as the planet.
This woman taught me to replace rubber pants with woolen diaper covers. We made them from sweaters found at thrift stores and yard sales, then washed them in hot water to shrink them. It’s the same as that high-dollar boiled wool jacket you can buy at LLBean. Or consider it felting. It’s simply shrinking the wool, which is absorbent, keeping the baby dry and warm.
Since we were both fabric junkies, we made sunbonnets and small baby quilts out of scrap fabric. I eventually had to make gifts for pregnant friends of mine. Your own child can only use so many quilts and hats!
I had already been frequenting yard sales for clothes. There is no need to buy new baby clothes EVER! New and practically new clothes are in abundance at yard sales and thrift stores. Kids outgrow them before they can wear them out, and they pile up fast at home.
When my daughter started eating solid food, I learned to mash up what I was eating. I bought a small food mill, put a few teaspoons of soft food in it with a bit of water and cranked it for a few seconds. Instant organic baby food, without the expense and jars piling up.
A friend had returned from Hawaii, and he gifted us with a bowl and spoon he’d made of coconut shell. Talk about earth friendly! Coconut shells are almost indestructible, which you probably know, if you’ve ever tried to crack one open. It would last through many children and return to the earth when necessary. I loved that!
Obviously, that baby girl born in 1990 turned 21 this year. My mind is foggy over many details of her little green life. When my second daughter was due in 1994, I reached back into my green baby info database, and set to work.
She was born at home on the living room couch after much walking, soaking, walking, pushing and waiting. I wrapped her in a quilt made from fabric scraps.
In the name of frugality, I made her diapers from a layer each of terrycloth and flannel. It was much cheaper than buying them, and when she was done with them, they became household rags. They held up for many years!
As I raised these two beauties, my frugal/green/eco-friendly lifestyle was what they learned. As rebellious teenagers, they have told me to ‘Get off the green thing, mom!’, but I know I’ve given them a good foundation they can fall back on when they are ready. If the world keeps spinning as it is, politically and climatically, they may need that green thing I taught them.
So that’s the story of how I got so green. Part of it was innate, but as you saw, I had some influential people around me. I hope I’ve answered some questions and helped you in your quest for a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
photo flickr Lady Day Dream