Does anyone out there like to challenge themselves as the years go by? Take oneself to a new level? I feel that now that I am a parent, I am tending to do this more and more. I think it's healthy and makes life more enjoyable when you don't always know what will come next. Blogging for instance has been my recent challenge to myself. I have enjoyed writing and editing for so long, but I have been fearful to follow through. Now with the popularity of blogging, I feel that it's not as scary to me any longer. I need to flex my writing muscles, AKA my poorly manicured fingernails, and just write down whatever pours out of me. No, it won't always be in absolutely perfect grammar, or be a subject that everyone and their dog care about, but it's something I need and want to do. NEXT CHALLENGE! My husband and I have used paper towels for years. Who hasn’t, right? Just recently we ran out of them, and my only choice was to use a microfiber towel that I had sitting in a drawer. Oh, my word, you guys, I cannot tell you how much I now love microfiber towels! I should have known they would be the best thing for cleaning, since the inside of my son’s diaper is made up of this amazing material. It soaks up an exorbitant amount of liquid, and it is a master scrubber. I don't know if it's the tiny fibers all working together in magical harmony, but they're amazing. My husband and I have now challenged ourselves to go paper towel-free for one month and see if we can survive. When we originally ran out we noticed that we weren't freaking out and acting like the world was going to end. This really did surprise me, I have to say. Especially with an infant, I always wanted them on hand. But now I see that I really don't have to have them. I know for a fact my grandparents didn't have paper towels to use, and they seemed to get along just fine. Another plus to microfiber towels is that they are very affordable. I recently went to Home Goods and purchased four 16” x 24” towels for $5.00. I am going to be able to make four smaller towels/rags out of each one. Score! So, imagine paying around $10.00 for 40 microfiber towels that you can use for a very long time, versus the $15.00 or more you pay over and over again when you purchase the large packs of paper towels. Here is a list of all the other perks of microfiber:
Traps More Dirt and Dust Used Wet or Dry Absorbs up to Seven Times Its Weight Non-Abrasive Lint Free (I HATE the lint paper towels leave behind!) Light Weight Perfect for Any Surface Hypoallergenic Non-Electrostatic Easy Maintenance Cleans without the use of Chemicals Environmentally Friendly
I mean, how can you go wrong?! I also mop with a different set of microfiber towels. They really seem to get the grit up so much better than those nasty sponge mops. All you need is water, white vinegar, and a microfiber towel. And I can toss the towel in the washer and use it over and over. I hope if anything, this gives you a little more info about other options for your household. It's so easy to just do what everyone else is doing—do something different, something new, challenge yourselves! 🙂
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I have a beautiful bouncing baby boy, who is now six months old. At one of the baby showers we were given for him, a sweet woman gave me a beautiful knitted blanket and a roll of what looked like mini-paper towels. I didn't understand what they were, and I almost didn't say anything to the woman. She spoke up and told me that she wasn't sure if I was using cloth diapers or not, but that these were a lifesaver for her. Cloth diapers? How dare she assume that I was going to be using those things! Yes, I was a tad emotional at the time. These diaper liners will come back into the story later. One of my friends invited me over to her home one evening, to hang out with her and her infant daughter. She wanted to show me something that she was using on her daughter—you guessed it—cloth diapers. I politely accepted the invitation to simply observe her new way of life. To my surprise however, my eyes were opened to a new way of thinking. When most people think of cloth diapering, the first image that comes to their head is huge safety pins and plastic underwear. It's almost a scary thought. You would be amazed at how much this product, and the businesses that sell them, have changed over the years. My friend showed me her "stash" of diapers and how easy the process really is. She even let me borrow a few of them, and I was instantly hooked. When I later ordered my diapers, I was scrambling for those liners the sweet woman bought me so long ago. I sure was eating my words/feelings/hormones! The first major plus to cloth diapers is the cost. If you buy disposable diapers, this can cost around $2,600.00 or more, for one child, according to the website Diaper Decisions. I personally bought 24 brand new, one-size cloth diapers for only $400.00! I didn't even buy the cheapest ones out there! The average child will probably use 7,500 disposable diapers until he/she is fully potty trained. So, you’re saving the landfills of all of that extra trash coming from one little human being. If you can believe it, some companies are making compostable cloth diaper shells! Those 24 diapers I have will take my child from infancy all the way to potty training. What is even better, is that I can use these same diapers on our next one or two children. Another major plus for most moms, even some dads, is how adorable these diapers are. They truly look very similar to disposables, but with buttons or Velcro. There are so many colors and designs, that you'll never get bored. It's really fun to know that even if my child isn't wearing pants, he will still look adorable! Children who wear cloth diapers also tend to potty train earlier than children who wear disposables. This is due to the fact that children feel wet/dirty quicker than they do wearing disposables. Cloth is also better for your child’s skin. Think about all the chemicals they put into the material of disposables. True, there are some natural diapers out there, but you’re still going to eventually throw them in the trash. Lastly, cleaning your baby’s diapers is super easy. If your child is exclusively breastfed, you can throw the entire diaper and its contents into the washer. If you use formula, there is just a little extra work that needs to be done so that your washer doesn’t hold any unwanted substances of those #2 diapers—hence the name of this story. Any washing machine will work, but top loaders and HE (high efficiency) machines are going to get your diapers the cleanest. As you can see by the picture, I dry all the diapers “shells” on a cute octopus hanging dryer I purchased from Ikea. It hangs directly next to my washing machine. They easily dry overnight. All of the “pads” that the diapers are stuffed with go directly in the dryer. Line drying outside is always an option, and saves you money on energy. So easy!!! I do understand that $400.00 is a large upfront cost to most new parents, but there are many ways to save even more money. Your first option is to buy used. There is a fantastic site where you can swap, buy, and/or sell diapers called Diaper Swappers. Initially this may sound a little odd or unsanitary, but I promise that this is not the case. There is a process called "stripping a diaper" that rids you of that thought. Ebay and Craigslist are great resources as well. The sellers are all usually very helpful in giving advice and information on what they are selling, and beyond. You can also register for cloth diapers on your baby registry. Major baby stores do carry some brands. There are even sites that allow you to try diapers for 30 days and return them if you are unsatisfied, for a store credit (ex: Kelly’s Closet and Diaper Junction). I hope that I have shined a positive light on cloth diapers. I really do enjoy them, and I hope you will find that you do as well. DING! You’re now free to go green, go cloth!
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Imagine this—you’re outside, the sun is just starting to rise, and you’re gazing at all of the beautiful plants you are growing in your garden. You are able to start your day out in the cool air, working the soil, and even see Southwest planes take off right in front of you. No, you’re not at home, you’re at work! Did you know that we have a community garden at Southwest Headquarters? I didn’t up until about three weeks ago. I’ve often seen this lucky group working out in the garden and wondered why I couldn’t be a part of it. I finally decided to ask the head of our Headquarters Green Ambassadors, Ron Gates, about it. He gladly put me in touch with Jaime Ibarra, the head of the community garden volunteer group and member of the Green Team, and shortly after, I was in the garden, starting my morning off right. I don’t have a green thumb whatsoever, but I have always wanted to learn how to produce a beautiful garden. We are so lucky that we have this amazing, passionate group of volunteers to work the Southwest community garden—they are FULL of information and know-how. Their main goal is to create a thriving ecosystem without chemicals. They also wish to donate as much food as possible to local food banks. At the moment, when a harvest is done, food is donated to a local food bank. The Community Garden group also wants to educate others on how to create their own garden successfully. They have created a Garden Topics Education Series that the Dallas Master Gardeners have generously agreed to help with. On April 25, for instance, Southwest and the Dallas County Master Gardeners are hosting a Lunch ‘n Learn composting class, from 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at Southwest Airlines Headquarters. If you happen to be in Dallas, come join us and receive a free composting bin from the City of Dallas if you are one of the first 200 people! The class will teach us how to take our garbage and turn it into a garden. I strongly encourage all of you to start a garden, whether it’s at home, in your community, or even at your workplace. You would be surprised how easy it is to start a garden and how many resources are available to make it a success. There is a very helpful website that will guide you, step-by-step; go to http://www.smartgardener.com/. This site will give you a personalized garden plan; tell you plants that grow in your specific area; and provide a customized to-do list, automated tracking journal, and sample signature gardens. You can’t go wrong! So get out there, soak in some Vitamin D, and make a difference in your community. It is so important that we continue to teach current generations, and ones to come, this valuable knowledge. If you already have a community garden in your area, you can always help by donating soil, flowers, vegetables, and fruit—anything that can be planted this summer. The ladybugs are joining the garden, and they need more food to protect. Do you have a community garden in your neighborhood? Let us know by commenting below! DING! You are now free to be Green.
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