Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green (3) - Diapering Dilemma

This is quite possibly the biggest debate in the realm of green parenting: Cloth or Single-Use Diapers? And it's not easy. Are cloth diapers really that much greener, once you factor in all the washing and chemicals used to keep them clean? Do you really want to put enough plastic, sewage, and chemicals into the landfill to take you to the moon and back? For my money, the reality is that using single-use diapers is equivalent to this scene from Mad Men (they won't allow it to be embedded). No one today would dream of leaving that much trash at a picnic site, and if they did, they would be roundly criticized. And yet, the alternatives for diapering are so time consuming (and messy), right?

There is a learning curve, but the use of the hybrid diaper has been the best thing since, well, since the last time we were diapering a child. We use gDiapers. They look like this:

There is a cloth outer pant, and inside plastic liner, and a cloth or compostable soaker. We've opted for the disposable inserts, as they can be composted, or simply flushed. Even if they do wind up in the landfill - let's face it, we will be out and about and not always able to get to a potty - they will biodegrade leaving no plastic or chemicals in the earth. We do find we have a fair amount of laundry with them, but as anyone who has ever lived with a baby can attest, that comes with the territory, with or without cloth diapers.

As I said, this has been an easy decision for us. They are convenient enough for us to use regularly and simple enough to launder that it doesn't take more time than doing the regular wash (you can even put the plastic liner in the washer). I'd recommend this hybrid system to anyone wanting to get away from the single-use system. It's brilliant.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green (2) - Greenest Shipping Methods

I've noticed when ordering from (who is currently having a sale on their green products!) that they offer a green shipping method. So it begs the question, what is that? I did a bit of research and here's what I discovered.

One of the best ways to help the environment stay “green” and become “greener” is to reduce our carbon footprint. As many families know, it is now possible to buy green foods, green cleaning supplies, and even green vehicles. Green shipping, however, is not something we hear much about.

There are several ways in which you can choose greener shipping options. First of all, you can try to reuse packing material whenever possible. If you need to send a package and do not have packing material that you can recycle, try to buy materials made from recycled products. Consider popping popcorn and using it in place of packing peanuts or newspaper wads. In addition, when you need to send a gift that you've ordered online, choose to have the gift wrapped and sent directly to the recipient rather than having it shipped to you first. It is much better for the environment if the package is shipped only once. Finally, you should choose ground shipping whenever possible. Sending packages via an aircraft is harder on the environment than sending them via ground shipping.

After taking all the measures you can to lessen the environmental impact of shipping, you should consider which carrier you should use. The two major shipping contenders in the United States are UPS and FedEx. So which one is greener? Well, according to UPS, its services are greener than those of FedEx. UPS claims that it operates more alternative fuel vehicles than does FedEx. UPS also states that its airline fleet is at least 30% more efficient than that of FedEx. In addition, UPS has set company goals to decrease its carbon footprint including emissions reduction and community outreach.

On the other hand, FedEx claims that its services are greener. In fact, in April 2010, FedEx launched a new program entitled EarthSmart, which was designed to minimize the company's impact on the environment. Since then, FedEx has been working to increase vehicle efficiency, decrease aircraft emissions, and add to its ability to produce and utilize solar energy. EarthSmart can be divided into three separate focus areas: workplace culture, business solutions, and community outreach.

It is not yet known for sure which of these two companies is the greenest. However, it is inspiring to know that both FedEx and UPS are setting goals for reducing their impact on the environment. Each company is attempting to improve the efficiency of their vehicles and aircrafts. They are also both attempting to utilize more alternative sources of fuel and energy.

It should also be noted that many of the smaller shipping entities, including DHL, are implementing greener shipping methods as well. If you choose to use one of these companies instead, simply search its website for information on the environmental impact of the company's practices. Choosing to work only with companies that care about the environment will entice other companies to follow suit.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green (1)

I'm the sort of girl who's committed to a greener, healthier, less polluted, more peaceful earth. Our family tries to do what we can to make a difference in reducing waste, reducing the amount of chemicals emitted into the environment, and promoting growth and education within our small realm of influence. Sometimes it's easy, other times, not so much. Let's face it, if it's not convenient, we probably won't do it. In light of all of this, I'm beginning an occasional series of posts entitled "It's Not Easy Being Green." The goal is to share with you the ways our family is attempting to be kinder to the planet, and to ourselves, and perhaps to inspire you to consider being a bit greener too. If you have ways that your family is being green, I'd love to share them here on the blog. Please let me know about them!

Additionally, my summer reading theme this year (and it's been a while since I've been inspired to select a summer reading theme) is Being Green. Big surprise, no? Here are some of the titles I've already purchased. (Yes, I realize it would be greener to use the library, or audio books I can just download. Perhaps I will give myself that goal this year.) If you have suggestions, I'd be happy to add them to my list.