Monday, December 22, 2008

So Much to Learn

My perspective on so many things has changed during this pregnancy. Thoughts about religion, family, community, country, the environment, and politics have all been swirling inside my mind even more than usual as I grow this baby. It's amazing how aware you become of your environment when you are pregnant.

One of the very first things I found myself becoming more concerned about is the chemical environment in which we all live. Our days are full of chemicals: from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the materials in our homes, to the beauty products we as women slather ourselves with every morning and evening. As soon as I knew I was pregnant I started taking a very hard look at the products in my "beauty regimen", and was frankly shocked by what I found. This is a great website that allows you to enter the name of a product and it will rate it on a "hazard scale", based on the ingredients within that product. Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database (

It's easy to get bogged down in the research and details of all of this. But I think the best advise I've heard on this idea is that if you can eat a product that you put on your skin or hair, it's probably not that harmful. Not that I'd want to start taking shots of my shampoo, but if I did, I'd be fine, as would my baby. I've been thrilled with the shampoo and facial care products I've been using from Goddess Garden, a Colorado small business. ( I love knowing that I'm not passing on any harmful chemicals to my baby while I wash my hair and face, and that I'm treating my own body more gently by using all natural and organic ingredients.

As I examined my daily and weekly rituals and started thinking more carefully about what effect products may have on my health, I also took a hard look at the cleaning supplies I use in my home. It's been so much fun for me to start using non-toxic cleaning products. I used the guidelines on this website ( to make my own cleaning kit. The only ingredients in my cleaning supplies now include: baking soda, mild soap, washing soda, white vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. Making your own cleaning supplies in reuseable bottles is so much more affordable than buying bottle after bottle of the 409 and Windex I used to use.

As I've made these small changes, and realized how easy they have been to make, I'm committed to continuing to reduce my impact through the products I use, as well as to make my home a healthier place for myself and my family. Along those lines, Brian and I have decided to cloth diaper Baby Peterson when she arrives in February.

We've conducted a lot of research and even taken some classes about the benefits of cloth diapering, and after acquiring all the available information, it was a very easy decision for us to make. Information that we considered while making this choice:

  • 18 billion disposables end up in American landfills each year

  • those billions of disposable diapers use 3.5 billion gallons of oil to produce

  • by making the choice to use cotton diapers we will help to prevent one ton of non-biodegradable waste from ever reaching a landfill

  • a single disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose

  • disposable diapers contain gel beads which absorb the urine. These gel beds are made of sodium polyacryslate which is the same material banned from women's tampons in 1985 because it caused toxic shock syndrome

  • disposable diapers will cost us around $2,500 between birth and potty training. Cloth diapers will cost us between $600-$1,200 from birth to potty training, and we can use them for subsequent children!

And they're cute!!! Cloth diapers have come a long way. We'll no longer have to struggle with folding flat diapers and use sharp safety pins with a squiggling baby.

Thirsties ( is a Colorado company that makes the cloth diapers we plan to use. I can't wait to get started!

I've also been trying very hard to be aware of what we're bringing into our baby's environment as I register for and buy toys, clothes, and bedding. This has proved to be quite an undertaking, and has taken a lot of my time, but I feel like it's time worth spending. Brian and I recognize that we have some personal decisions to make and research to do about the toys and other products we want in our baby's life from a consumption/commercialism standpoint, from an environmental standpoint, from a health standpoint, and in terms of what message the toys send.

We love the idea of having wooden and natural fiber toys, as long as those are entertaining to her. These are some great sites I've found for more "natural" toy choices:

I know that the production and transport of commercial plastic toys has a significant environmental impact.

I worry about the messages that will be sent to our daughter by commercial culture, and aim to limit her exposure to commercialism through the choices we make about what toys she plays with and by limiting her exposure to television as long as possible.

I've learned that in the past several decades, production of plastic toys has changed as manufacturing of these toys has been outsourced to overseas locations. In 2007, for instance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued 90 recalls affecting more than 14 million children's products containing lead.

So, it can all be rather scary, but I also recognize that we cannot overthink every single purchase we, and others, make for Baby Peterson. However, I feel that by doing some research and being aware of some of these issues, we will automatically be more inclined to make smarter, more responsible choices as parenting consumers.

1 comment:

angela kearney said...

well, I'll be darned!! I'd say you and Brian are ready to be super-duper great parents - thanks for sharing your process :)