Lifestyle Magic - how to live green.

This page will be devoted to tips on how to make small (or less small) adjustments to your daily life to reduce environmental impact.

Please let me know any daily green lifestyle tips you have by a comment or by e-mail at

02 March 2015: Moisturizing with olive oil
I just started using olive oil as a moisturizer and it works a treat. Googling its use as a moisturizer, I find that its one of the oldest tricks in the book. No more bad chemicals for my skin! Also, you can buy it in glass bottles instead of plastic - bonus! I add a couple of drops of essential oil to make it smell lovely too

10 July 2013: Rubbing alcohol for cleaning shower curtains
I have a PVC shower curtain. At least, I think its PVC. Clear plastic with yellow rubber duck images on it. You can laugh or go Awwwww. Anyway, lately its been getting to an embarrassing state of scumminess. This morning, just for giggles, I thought may be rubbing alcohol could do the job that cider vinegar and sodium bicarbonate had failed at. And low and behold, it worked. I'd show pictures but I'm too embarrassed by the before picture. Suffice it to say that the grey film that marred the bright yellow of the duckies and the crystal clarity of the clear plastic, is now Phhhht, gone!  Its not like a TV ad; a little wipe and you are done, some mild elbow grease helps. So before you go and buy a new shower curtain and send your old one to the landfill, treat it like an anti-Baldwin and apply a little rubbing alcohol. 

06 May 2013: Cloth versus single use diapers
Click here for link to this photo
I admit, I have no of my own children but I like to think that if I did have a cherub or two of my own, I would follow in the footsteps of my mother and my friends who are new (or newish) mothers and embrace cloth diapers. The Real Diaper Association gives several interesting facts about the subject" "In 1988, over 18 billion diapers were sold and consumed in the United States that year. Based on our calculations (...), we estimate that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are consumed every year in the USA." and "No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone." AND "Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste."

Ok, we should be using cloth diapers but in our modern busy world, what does this mean? How can you fit in the rounds of washing and drying? What do you do with the poop? 

Would you use cloth diapers? Please leave your comments!  Below are a few real world experiences and if you want to know more, Lori (see below) recommends this website: All About Cloth Diapers.

Kelly (Massachusetts) who has a boy of 16 months: 
"We got almost all of our diapers and diaper supplies at diaper lab in Davis Sq. (Somerville, MA).  Basically we do prefolds (link to what a prefold is) when we're at home, Fuzzibunz pocket diapers when we're out and pocket diapers with additional hemp or fleece inserts for overnight.  We spent about $300 initially and that lasted for about 9 months, then we had to buy a bigger size for some of the diapers and we spent maybe another $150.  This includes detergent and cloth wipes, and four wet bags.  We also got some hand me downs from a friend.  Cons are that having a washer and dryer in-unit is a must, and many daycares don't do cloth.  The pros are the huge cost savings, the environmental impact and the cuteness factor (E.g. Handmade wool covers from etsy are adorable.).   Cloth diapering is EASY.   Put soiled (but scraped clean) diapers in a wet cloth bag, inside a breathable garage bin.  Every few days, empty contents (including bag) into the washer; wash (one cycle cold, one cycle hot with a little diaper-safe detergent), dry (in dryer or line) and fold!
All my diapers are going to a friend who is expecting her first baby in a couple of months - another pro of cloth diapering--sharing diapers!
Oh, and I've heard it's easier to potty train with cloth -- I'm not there yet though, so can't speak to this."

Andrea (New York): Founder of My Birth, My Baby and City Births
"My son is now 5. When he was small I tried many different types of diapers from the conventional pampers straight on through to cloth. In the end I found it easiest to use a combination of cloth and conventional pampers. When I first started exploring cloth options I tried several brands before I found Softbums, the ease and simplicity of Softbums was great, it was as simple as using pampers. What I found to be most effective with Softbums is that they went on like regular diapers, were not over bulkly and could go through the night dry. They also are one size fits all, so only need to buy once, they will expanded as your child grows. I used pampers when we would travel or were not in an easy situation to carry around used cloth diapers. I found Softbums to be an excellent alternative to conventional landfill clogging diapers. I even used my diaper genie to hold used cloth diapers until wash day. It was not that much more effort and for the tiny bit of extra effort the benefit of fewer diapers in a landfill was totally worth it to me."

Rory (California):

"Cloth diapering was an easy choice for my husband and I—we had planned on using them from the start.  The cost savings, in addition to the positive environmental impact we would make, just made it a no brainer.  What was difficult, though, was deciding which type of cloth diaper to use, and how to go about the mechanics of their care.  Thankfully, research on parenting forums and on cloth diaper websites helped us out a ton!  We ended up going with a pocket diaper system; this allowed caretakers who weren’t familiar with cloth diapers—and perhaps even hesitant to use them—to treat them as they would a disposable.  I’d pair up inserts and covers and then store them on a shelf ready to use.  They work great, and are easy to care for, so long as you are prepared.  Here are a couple of tools and tips that I recommend:

·        Purchase a diaper pail and keep it next to the toilet.  Get one that can accommodate about 20 cloth diapers (you really don’t need more than this for one child).  I’d also recommend two, reusable, antibacterial diaper pail liners.  These are great because you simply pick up the liner and dump it into the wash, cleaning it at the same time that you do the diapers.  You should be doing a wash load every two days or so.  We wash diapers every second night, dry the inserts, and hang the covers on a collapsible drying rack to dry overnight.  By morning they are ready to assemble.
·        Install a portable bidet, or diaper sprayer, on your toilet.  For about $50.00 and maybe 30 minutes of your time, this device gives you the power to quickly and effectively dispose of poop.  It’s not messy, and, let’s face it, poop comes with the job of being a parent.  Then store the rinsed diapers in the same pail as the pee ones, which don’t have to be rinsed before a wash.
·        Double up on liners at night, so that baby stays dry.  As our baby hit the 18-month old mark, we also started doubling up on liners in the daytime.  Each diaper came with two liners (a newborn and a regular) and we had purchased one set of extra liners, so this wasn’t a problem. 

As our daughter nears the 20-month old mark, we are pleased to see that she has begun to let us know when she needs a diaper change.  We’ve read that cloth diapering makes for early potty training, and, while we will miss the cute cloth diapers, we can’t wait for this next stage!"

Lori (New York)
"I researched cloth diapers obsessively when I was pregnant with my daughter (now 3) and settled on SoftBums. There are so many out there, but my choice rested on their adjustability from newborn to toddler (didn’t need different sizes along the way), the bamboo inserts (which are super absorbent, much better than the fleece, I found), and the fact that they didn’t need to be stuffed and unstuffed but were about as easy to put on as a regular disposable. My husband was amazed about their ease of use since he had been pretty skeptical to start. I almost never had leaks. We had cloth wipes in a stack in a basket with a squirt bottle filled with water. Spray top wipe with water, wipe baby, change diaper and throw all in a zippered plastic bag called a wet bag. We had a washer and dryer in the apartment and I had close to forty inserts. When I got down to five clean ones, I threw in all the dirty ones along with the bag in the washer (often in the evening), double washed them and then would hang the outer covers up and start the dryer before we went to sleep. By the time we woke up, all the diapers would be ready. I always had a few disposables on hand if we ran out before laundry was done or for trips.
      The first six months before solids was easy, it all went in the washer. Then I brought a sprayer for the toilet and would easily do a quick spray on the poop before throwing in the wet bag. I still use this to spray out the toddler potty daily, and keep the toilet looking good.
Our biggest blocker was daycare. Nannies, sitters and grandparents never had any problem with the cloth diapers, and often commented on how much easier they were than the ones they used to wrap us in 30+ years ago. The daycare we chose for my daughter when she was 18 months would not allow them, and I lobbied for quite a while to change their policy since washing at night was already part of my routine. No luck. I feel like that was the real difficulty for me as a working mom. But when we had our son, I used the same diapers again until he ultimately ended up in daycare as well. Now we use the wipes for everything around the house instead of paper towels, wash and reuse.
      If you are considering cloth, there are so many blogs out there full of reviews of diapers, tips, tricks, and support. I happened upon All About Cloth Diapers from an online search and used it as my go-to resource for questions along the way. I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend cloth, even as a working mom who was the only person to ever wash the diapers. I only wish there was a wider acceptance in facilities that would allow it. For more info about my experience or with question, feel free to contact me."

Jeremy (California):
"I wanted to use cloth diapers but then twins happened. My Mother bought us about 6 that we could rotate in. Once they were on schedule with their bathroom habits, I would rotate in a cloth diaper after they made a dirty diaper and then I was just washing wet diapers. but twins made cloth diapers pretty hard to stick with."


 April, 2013   How to turn a broken umbrella into a reusable tote.
This comes from the Sierra club and directions can be found here


  1. Hi Ida! I just found your blog from you Facebook post and will have to look around at your other posts! A friend and I were just discussing this recently, as cloth diapering seems to be coming back "in style" these days. I saw a graphic recently (in ??? magazine) that compared the solid waste impact of disposables versus the water/energy waste of cloth. It seemed to be a toss up in my mind...thoughts on that?

  2. Trisha, I think this is really complex to analyse scientifically and depends on many factors and I don't have a water tight answer for you. I have written to the Real Diaper Association for some facts and here is a website with some good comments:
    I also think its about more than just which uses less energy. You already have everything in place to wash cloth. Your toilet is there for disposal of fecal matter. But if you need to extract more oil to make plastic for your disposable diaper, then that oil needs to be drilled for - disrupting much more than just making green house gas. Now I know electricity for your washer usually comes from petroleum but if we can lessen dependency on plastic products, and also move towards green energy for electricity (like air drying for wet clothes!) then it changes the whole dynamic of what we expect. I have a picture of my mother standing amid lines of cloth diapers drying in the sun. According to the Real Diaper Association, there are also trace chemicals in disposables that are harmful to the environment; go for an ecofriendly laundry detergent in a compostable container (Seventh Generation makes them) and you can cut out that too. And then pass the diapers to your friends!

    1. Also this is rather good:

  3. Elizabeth FairleyMay 8, 2013 at 5:24 AM

    We used cloth nappies for both our kids and it worked really well. We felt quite strongly about not adding to the landfills and didn't have the use of a tumble dryer. We found that we had to change them more often and believe that it helped with potty training as they didn't like being wet. Top tips would be to have a few of them if you can and use a fleece liner as this helps to make them last longer. There were a few occasions that used Moltex Eco nappies which were good and are more eco-friendly than conventional disposables.