Plastic Free Love

As stay-at-home-Papa I am the one in charge of keeping the home running smoothly and beautifully within a budget. See! The gay lifestyle is no different than yours.

One thing we have been focused on a lot lately is plastic. In fact I can get a little obsessive about it. The other day when Edie and I were shopping I knew that I was driving home a point as she was checking pieces of items that we were thinking of purchasing

Edie helping clean up

and saying, “metal, metal, glass, ok Papa are you happy? No plastic?”

Plastic is something pretty gross and it’s everywhere and in fact poisons our food, air, and water. Plastic is made using nasty chemicals and once it’s here it’s here for a long time. One thing that drives me nuts is the amount of unnecessary plastic that food is packaged in, particularly fruits and vegetables. We try and buy as many things from bulk bins and avoid having our broccoli with a side of petroleum whenever possible. Not only is plastic gross and avoiding plastic can actually make your home less toxic, it can also be cheaper!

Here are some things we do around the house to avoid plastic and excess packaging.

1. We love making our own laundry detergent. Choose any bar soap scent that you like (right now we are using cinnamon) and add a few other ingredients that all come in cardboard and you’ve saved your purse and the planet. Here is our recipe. Totally non toxic so kids can help grate and mix as age appropriate too.

-one part grated bar soap -two part borax -two part washing soda -mix and keep in cute glass ginger jar. -use 1/2 teaspoon for wash

2. Stop buying cleaning products! Not only are they harsh but they are expensive. We bought glass spray bottles and fill them mostly with vinegar and it cleans almost everything. Add your favorite essential oil if you don’t love the vinegar smell like I do. Why am I craving sauerkraut? Add some baking soda for toilets and tubs. Make a separate bottle with a little olive oil and vinegar for furniture polish. Again, all kid friendly so your whole family can clean together!

3. We discovered this store a few years back and they are amazing: Package Free. Love them! We buy our compostable toothbrushes here as well as deodorant, floss, and plastic free food wrap! It all comes without packaging and the quality is fabulous.

4. I know it sounds a bit pretentious to say you get your toilet paper delivered and I’m ok with that. For serious though, if you aren’t using Who Gives A Crap then give them a try. No plastic!! The wrapping is all compostable and they donate money to building toilets in underserved areas. PLUS, you don’t have to lug toilet paper around!

5. No plastic cups or straws. This one is tough when kids are super little and I would definitely recommend silicone then. Metal tumblers and plates are also great options. Teaching kids to wash their own plates and cups also helps them mimic grown up activities and become productive household members. Oh, and speaking of washing up we love the zero waste dish soap from Beehive Alchemy. Fun to use, pretty, and toxic free.

I’m curious to hear other simple ways you would suggest to make our home a little less toxic and plastic free? Edie and I are happy to share more ideas too!

How Not To Be Too Gross At Christmas

Halloween is over and our little Edie’s strawberry costume has been packed away and put in the cellar with the skeleton, witches, ghosts, and other decor.  So now our parental sites seem to automatically turn toward Christmas. This post is not about lamenting the fact that the stores are putting up Holiday items and some even playing music. I guess that’s just to be expected a bit at this point. I mean I have to admit I get a little excited when I start seeing some of it. I do think that this early jump start on Christmas is of course hyper-capitalism inspired  consumerism at it’s worst reminding us to spend spend spend in order to be happy and have the perfect Christmas and perfect life. A trap most of us fall for. Myself included.

Plus, poor Thanksgiving. We really love Thanksgiving in this house. My husband is basically the best non-professional cook ever. This is his favorite day of the year. He creates lists, flow charts, and plans weeks in advance. We enjoy having some of our besties over and eating until it hurts and being lazy for a few days as we begin to ease into winter in New England. And we never eat turkey! We also think gratitude is pretty important. And don’t get me wrong, I have been known to put the lights up the very day after Thanksgiving and even sometimes the live tree, which usually ends up dry as a bone by the second week of Advent and in our yard promptly by December 26th.

What I really want to talk about though is something we were recently asked by a dear friend: How do you avoid going overboard at Christmas? How do you not fall into the trap and buy way too much stuff? How do you keep it real? So, here is a list of ways to do just that. I call it:

THE HOW TO NOT BE TOO GROSS AT CHRISTMAS LIST:

1. Wait for it.

It is easy to fall into the trap of buying early. Edie has had a Crate and Kids catalogue for well over a month that has things circled with the letter “E” written next to them.  I find that the earlier I start, the more I buy, and let’s be honest most of our kids really do not need that much more stuff. This is something I have not always been great at and sometimes am still not. I was raised by very generous people and had very doting maternal grandparents. I never knew what it was like to not get everything on my list and then some. So try and wait until December! Heck, wait until the middle of December. There is something nice about participating in the old tradition of Advent. This is literally a time of waiting. It helps you to slow down and not rush to Christmas until Christmas. Then, you get 12 days of it! Obviously this practice can be applied in a secular way as well. So, wait!! This year we have vowed to wait for our tree until it is a bit closer to the 25th.

2. Be like Santa, make a list. 

I find that when I go to Whole Foods with Edie on a Monday without a list, I spend approximately $8,000. I buy candles, plants, soaps, cut flowers, 8 kinds of crackers and popcicles and many other items I don’t really need. The same is true with Christmas. If you go into it blindly with no real plan you overdo it. Decide how much you can really afford or want to spend then prioritize and stick with it. We like to get Edie one or two big things. This year it’ll be a crib, stroller, and high chair for her baby dolls as this is her favorite thing to do right now: “take care of her girls”, as she calls it, including her well loved-baby named Baby that is now completely legless and still fully loved. Because of this we will also be adding a new baby to her collection. This is the one we are excited to gift her this year from Hazel Village. We are always on the lookout for good dolls of color and there are simply not enough. If you do not know Hazel Village you should check them out as the stuff is amazing. We were introduced to them by our awesome friend and blogger over at Simply On Eden. To round out our list we then find something that keeps her connected to being outside (obsessed with this), something related to art and making things, and several new books.  That’s our list and we are sticking to it (my husband is reading this and will certainly hold me to it).

3. Be Green and Buy Vintage!

I mean Etsy  makes it so easy to buy vintage and handmade things. My search for baby doll furniture has lead me to look there and I will be narrowing it down soon. If you have any recommendations please let me know. For the same price you get something much more sturdy, typically made of  wood and without the packaging, and much better quality. Other things that can be bought second hand include books, board games, and fun stuff like porcelain tea sets and dollhouse furniture. Facebook market place is also a fantastic place to shop locally for used items. For clothing I sometimes use Thredup. They are great for cleaning out the closet as well and send you a big bag to send back to them. You can even get shop credit when they sell your items which means more Edie’s clothes! A great task to take care of right before or after the Holidays.

The last thing I will say is that we have learned over the few years we have been doing this that less is more. Kids really can’t play with more than about 10 toys, in total. We do have more than that still but we are constantly trying to downsize. Toys that are open ended also tend to go over better and provide longer entertainment and inspiration. So, when you get new stuff get rid of the same amount or more! This also helps with clutter and mess.

Edie will be happy to get a new dolly and a few things to go with those dollies. There are lots of kids that have far less. This is an important lesson to start teaching at a young age as well in an age appropriate way. This year we hope to give back as a family and serve a meal here or there to those in need. We also will go shopping for someone in need together. These experiences help to ensure you are raising a nice person and helps us all to battle that Christmas Gross feeling. These are just some ideas that I had. I would love to hear from you. Let us know how you can make Christmas less gross! Now, on to Thanksgiving! Oh, and a cute picture of Edie from last Christmas, of course.