Life without Plastic

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Etsy Orders

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Not much has been going on lately. I ordered two longies for UG3 for church tights from Etsy and organic cotton tights for UG1 for church on Amazon. Amazon tights were predictably in a plastic envelope, but the Etsy sellers definitely made efforts to reduce packaging. This shop used a recycled manila envelope and this shop used as little packaging as possible as seen below.

The owner included a sample of lanolin, a business card, a handwritten note explaining their efforts, and an essential oil blend for teething, earaches, and sleeping. I happen to like these items but would make an effort to request no samples or business cards in future purchases on Etsy in general.

Here's to improving on online orders' packaging,
Little Urban Greenie

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Tree: Zero-waste and (Almost) Plastic-free

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Thanksgiving was a delightful holiday, small but good with Mr. Greenie, UG1, UG3, and me for dinner. All was homemade from scratch except for the pies. We have many more meals coming from our turkey and all was eaten up otherwise.

We have already put up our reusable Christmas tree with lights from two years ago and I replaced a incandescent bulb that came with the string of lights. Batteries Plus apparently recycles incandescents among many other kinds. I'll be taking our bulbs there until we transition to LED Christmas lights. Apparently, you can't just use LED bulbs with incandescent strings.

After our tomato plant died off with a frost, I brought the cage inside and turned it upside down. It makes a great plastic free/ zero-waste tree that we can use year after year, is dual purpose and can be used for several months of the year rather than one.

We still have to string popcorn closer to Christmas to finish decorating. The lights and many of the ornaments are plastic, but all the ornaments are from my childhood and the lights will get their full use and be properly recycled. We plan on giving UG1 and UG3 their own ornaments each year from the thrift store to build their own collections for their future households.

We are currently selling some stuff in a online garage sale for those in the SLC area. I hope to sell all of the movies and replace them with their used book counterparts.

We are so blessed and are plowing right towards a great year with almost two-thirds of our Winter supplement fund ready and much work to look forward to. Though we are very happy with our little homestead, we can't help but look forward to our bigger dream homestead with room and income to support all our ideas.

Here's to a zero-waste and plastic-free Christmas season!
Little Urban Greenie

Friday, November 18, 2016

R.I.P. & Progressing in Phase 3

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This week has been fairly busy with the holidays rolling on in. Mr. Greenie has been working full-time and a half. I've started my diastasis workout over now that I was able to download the full 12 week PDF and I'm just finishing up Week 3.

UG1 and UG3 have officially gotten over their colds. UG1 is learning new kitchen skills and I've been teaching her based on a resource from Kitchen Stewardship. She might be reading soon, I'm going to start her and she if she is ready for it once Phonics Pathways and Book of Mormon Little Books curricula arrives. She's only 3 1/2, but seems to be showing signs of readiness , so here we go.

Kombucha has now become a staple in our home and I've gradually increased how much I make to see how much we really need. I started with a quart, then a half gallon, and now we're up to 3/4 of a gallon for next Kombucha Thursday, with Maté in its own quart jar and the other half gallon still raised in nettle tea. Dr. SCOBY and a root beer experiment I'm trying out should be ready this weekend.

I made some Kimchee with our tiny cabbage harvest and green onions from FNB. It wasn't much, so I'll need a much bigger harvest next year.

I made homemade sour risen pizza from scratch this week as well. We also changed our butter over to organic pastured butter, and we've started taking fermented cod liver oil as part of our small changes to a more traditional foods/Weston A. Price diet. Mr. Greenie is already working in the sun all day, and doesn't need a supplement.

We've added a 2 year old cat to our homestead for his all-natural, plastic-free, zero-waste mousing abilities and is actually becoming a beloved family pet. O will be an indoor/outdoor cat once he has adjusted to our family in another week or so. For now, he has caught two mice on his 3rd night here.

He uses a secondhand litter box, 100% wheat litter in a cardboard box, and we'll be working out bulk cat food as soon as we can. Since O is a skilled mouser, we have been keeping sugar glider E in the bathroom where he can't get her. This morning she was found to have died of some sort of health issue, not cat related.

R.I.P. sugar glider E,
Little Urban Greenie


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Zero-waste Diapers and Preschool Homeschool

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After a nice Zero-waste Halloween, frost has finally come to Utah. Many of our tomatoes got stuck as green tomatoes, so I picked them and last few peppers this week. I made some green tomato ketchup and I will be making some Salsa Verde once I get some spare time.

Made my second batch of Kombucha soda that I lovingly call Dr. SCOBY, as it tastes similar to Dr. Pepper but with a slight vinegary tang all of its own. I've now learned that my family loves kombucha enough to justify making a whole half-gallon batch. One quart becomes soda and the other is just for drinking straight. I make mine with nettle tea vs black/green tea.

Here is the link to my recipes page. 

We're starting to get to the end of some of our diapers, and we don't have much in our budget to buy more. While we are also using Natural Infant Hygiene, we still use plenty of diapers. So I'm planning on buying a treadle sewing machine as soon as we have saved up enough and using old cotton clothing to attempt to sew my own zero-waste and plastic-free diapers.

Here's what the "end" of a cloth diaper's life looks like:
And here's what we do with it:
Composting in the worm bin and the diaper gets new life as black gold to feed our family garden.

Mainly I've been taking care of UG1 and UG3 with their colds and homeschooling UG1. We changed up her preschool a bit this week and switched her phonics work for a free LDS preschool curriculum. I print off one printable a day on the backside of old one-sided paper. She seems to be enjoying school more and is quite good with learning handwriting skills.

Here's to a healthier pantry, zero-waste diapering, and happier zero-waste preschool!
Little Urban Greenie

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Zero-waste, Plastic-free Healthy Halloween

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This year we tried having a Harvest Feast to celebrate Halloween, instead of the more recent traditional commercial holiday. We skipped the heavily packaged and bad for us candy, cheap plastic (polyester) costumes, and the plastic decorations. It turned out fairly great, but it was very hard with two little girls.

UG1, UG3, and me spent the day cooking and watching Halloween movies. We saw Berserk and The Blob on our antenna onetime "cable" purchase and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; Hocus Pocus; and Ghostbusters we own.  We made Butterbeer with Kombucha Cream soda, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin with butter, a barely meat-loaf with leftover lentils and rice, and pumpkin mini-muffins. See Recipes for more ideas and these. I used my first batch of Kombucha that I made from a SCOBY a FNB acquaintance gave me!

Overall, everything was delicious and I seem to have won Mr. Greenie over to skipping the trick-or-treating. It helps that no one seems interested in trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. I will definitely cook more ahead next year though, as it was incredibly hard to cook everything with UG1 and UG3. Pumpkin pie, whipped cream, and muffins could all be made the day before, with the pie crust started two days earlier for proper soaking.

Just having uncut pumpkins on the porch to smash open on Halloween day, homemade egg carton bats (Tightwad Gazette), and a Venus flytrap for indoors worked great for Halloween decorations. We spent very little on the food, about $10 extra including one pumpkin we got at a pumpkin patch. Big budget saving this holiday!

Here's to a zero-waste, plastic-free, healthy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Phase 3

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Baby Kombucha SCOBY I got from a FNB acquaintance, raised on herbal Hibiscus tea

Entering into Phase 3 in our last month of debt reduction, before starting to save for Winter becomes our top priority.

As I've learning more about the Weston A. Price/ Traditional Foods diet, I've been trying to start making changes to how we prepare the foods we already eat. I found a great resource on how to implement small changes, called Kitchen Stewardship that goes along with our homesteading goals.

For this phase of our homesteading journey, the focus will be on more self-sufficient and traditional foods. Without further ado:
  • Making homemade pizza from scratch with soaked whole wheat flour crust (Mr. Greenie is a fan of this idea.)
  • Making and learning how to make homemade cottage cheese to reduce our use of packaging and learn basic cheese making skills
  • Making lacto-fermented mustard from scratch (bulk seeds to add more probiotics)
  • Making kombucha to replace any occasional soda and add more probiotics
  • Make homemade kimchee from scratch for yet another tasty strain of probiotics
    Here's to baby stepping our way to healthier guts (and bodies), the zero-waste and plastic-free homesteading way! 

    Phase 4

    Tuesday, October 11, 2016

    Inbox Dollars & Swagbucks

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    The last week or so has been both busy and yet not much to write about. The clover cover crop is still growing well. We've has enough rain that I haven't needed to water. The chickens seem happy are producing great orange-yolked eggs. This means that the birds are healthy and are producing pastured eggs which are very healthy for us.

    I've been earning inbox dollars rewards and was able to cash out last week, so there's an extra $27 dollars. Also able to order my Amazon gift card I earned from Swagbucks. Thanks be to internet searches, surveys,and watching videos.

    I've kept up my Diastasis Recti healing workout and I just completed Week 6 of 12.

    Read some interesting books on Fertility and Breastfeeding health. One was The Whole Life Fertility Plan and the other was Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis. The first book has many suggestions that come automatically to me as I follow the precepts of my Mormon faith, and other suggestions that come naturally to me as I try to implement a plastic-free/ zero-waste lifestyle.

    The second book focuses more on the Weston A. Price traditional foods diet, which I don't currently follow. As we are trying to get out of debt, taking a break to save for Winter, and then living through the slower work weeks of Winter; I will be implementing dietary changes very slowly and only as our budget allows.

    Signed this petition-

    Here's to a healthier zero-waste, plastic-free future!
    Little Urban Greenie

    Inbox Dollars & Swagbucks

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

    The last week or so has been both busy and yet not much to write about. The clover cover crop is still growing well. We've has enough rain that I haven't needed to water. The chickens seem happy are producing great orange-yolked eggs. This means that the birds are healthy and are producing pastured eggs which are very healthy for us.

    I've been earning inbox dollars rewards and was able to cash out last week, so there's an extra $27 dollars. Also able to order my Amazon gift card I earned from Swagbucks. Thanks be to internet searches, surveys,and watching videos.

    I've kept up my Diastasis Recti healing workout and I just completed Week 6 of 12.

    Read some interesting books on Fertility and Breastfeeding health. One was The Whole Life Fertility Plan and the other was Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis. The first book has many suggestions that come automatically to me as I follow the precepts of my Mormon faith, and other suggestions that come naturally to me as I try to implement a plastic-free/ zero-waste lifestyle.

    The second book focuses more on the Weston A. Price traditional foods diet, which I don't currently follow. As we are trying to get out of debt, taking a break to save for Winter, and then living through the slower work weeks of Winter; I will be implementing dietary changes very slowly and only as our budget allows.

    Signed this petition-

    Here's to a healthier zero-waste, plastic-free future!
    Little Urban Greenie

    Saturday, September 24, 2016

    Chili beans and Rooster wings

    Continued my diastasis recovery workout over the past week and a half. I'm on Week 4 now and started to see some improvement during Week 3. I've always hated to exercise, but I've been loving seeing the progression of what I can accomplish, how I'm already healing, how much better I feel, and taking the time to do something for me. I'm liking exercising!

    Signed a petition to Organic Standards groups to eliminate all plastic packaging and metal bits. You can sign it too!

    Butchered our rooster finally and enjoyed both a nice crock pot roasted chicken and some chicken curry over brown rice. Quieter mornings, happier neighbors, gorgeous feathers for projects and bedding, and two meals. Gotta love the homesteading life!

    Our red clover cover crop is starting to sprout and we'll look forward to healthy garden beds next year.

    Best of all? I canned some less gassy chili and plain beans. Here's the method adapted from here. Total process will take about 2 days, so plan accordingly.

    1.Mix up a batch of seasoning mix- 1/3 cup of mix for every 5 pints/ 1/2 L of beans.

    2 TB crushed dried Adobo peppers, seeds removed
    2 tsp ground cumin
    2 TB paprika
    1 tsp ground black pepper
    1 TB dill seeds
    1 tsp Tajin© with Lime mix
    1 TB garlic powder
    1 TB dried rosemary

    Mix all together and store in an airtight glass container until use.

    2. Place 1 lb of dry beans (for every 4 pints/ 1/2 L of chili beans desired) in a large glass, stainless or ceramic container. I used my crock pots.
    3. Cover with water, at least half again as deep as the level of the beans.
    4. Add a raw potato or a TB of baking soda to reduce gas.
    5. Allow to soak for a few hours, rinse and drain at earliest convenience.
    6. Cover with water as before and add another TB of baking soda.
    7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, you should be on your third soak.
    8. After a total of 24 hours of soaking, rinse well and place in a crock pot for each 2 lbs of beans.
    9. Cover with water, and put on crockpot warm setting for a few hours until you have time to can.
    10. Set up your canning station with jar lifter, lids/seals, bands/clips, jars, pressure canner with 3 inches of water, start boiling water in a pot for lids/seals to soften, tongs to grab lids/seals, towels to set processed hot jars on, and seasoning mix.
    11. Drain and rinse beans for the final time. Cover with clean water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that floats to the top.
    12. Fill jars 3/4 full, and add 3 tsp of seasoning mix to each jar and a 1/2 tsp of non-iodized salt. Top off with cooking liquid, leaving an 1 inch headspace.
    13. Place lids, bands, etc and process for 75 minutes at 11 psi (adjust for altitude).

    Here's to happy, less-gassy, plastic-free beans!- Little Urban Greenie

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    We're canning, can-in'

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    Made it through the weekend and all went well. We got our car fixed and our emergency fund refilled to the top.

    The bedbugs are still alive, and we've seen seen a few here and there as they die. Our next round of spraying is on Monday. We're still camping out in the living room and probably won't go back into our bedrooms until after the third treatment. We're still having some bites, but overall feeling better.

    The mouse is still alive as well, and I'm trying a new killing method where you combine equal parts of baking soda, sugar, and flour and let the mouse eat it. Supposedly, mice can't handle having any gas and this basically blows up their insides. The old-fashioned traps haven't done anything yet.

    The Green Urban Lunchbox harvested our grapes and gave us our third, as well as our large tax deduction. I've canned three jars of grape juice and three 1/2 liters of bread and butter pickles with two unwieldy cucumbers. I'll have to buy more lids and can the rest of the picked grapes this weekend.

    Our chickens are laying super well, anywhere from 2-5 eggs a day. We have yet to execute the rooster, but his time will come. Our yogurt making goes well again, using a yogurt we got at Food Not Bombs. I stopped for awhile when we weren't eating it. This time, I froze part of the batch for starting the next batch without it going sour.
    Got my ovulation microscope in the mail and I'm going to see how it works. I'm on week two of my free mommy tummy reducing workout. So far, so good.
    Happy homesteading,
    Little Urban Greenie

    Friday, September 2, 2016

    Bedbugs, Mice, and Cars, Oh My!

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    Been a crazy week trying to clean for company visit this weekend. To make things incredibly more interesting, we have been trying to kill a mouse that knows how to eat off traps.

    Then, we found bedbugs last weekend. I threw out all of my natural, ecofriendly, zero-waste, plastic-free ways out of the window and called the exterminator. Why? Well, they weren't just biting my poor husband and I. They took up residence in UG3's cosleeper as well as UG1's bed. This means war, nuclear war. So, they sprayed for the first of four treatments. My husband and I have been camping out in the living room on the air mattress with UG3 and UG1 took the couch. I have been wading in extra laundry to double wash and dry on high heat. Not a great way to keep me on task to get prepared for company.

    Final excitement to frustrate our preparations? Our car broke down and needs the radiator replaced. So, we're sleeping on the floor and couch all in the same room and can't go to Food Not Bombs to prepare for said company.

    Blessings of our situation? We have the emergency fund for the extermination process and car repairs that aren't covered by our repairs and maintenance savings. So, nothing is going on the credit cards and we can keep paying off debt. We are still on the debt elimination plan and will pay off our 3rd debt in 2 months!

    Dave Ramsey

    I have also been researching how to heal my diastasis recti (mommy tummy). My abs are still weak from my first pregnancy (UG1) and I want to take better care of myself and look/feel better too. I've started a free workout program and feel much better already! Here is the link for Week 1. 

    Here's to a bug-free and debt-free journey,
    Little Urban Greenie

    Thursday, August 18, 2016

    And then There Were Nine...

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    Made a couple rounds of yogurt in the yogurt maker. So far, so good. This last round was a little runny, but I'll drain the whey to thicken it.

    Started harvesting grapes and canned 7 quarts. Pickled a half liter of banana peppers in one of my Weck jars. I fermented our big cucumber into a half liter of dill pickles.

    I purchased my first Weck jars with a Swagbucks Amazon giftcard and it worked great. I'm super excited to use them. If you would like to sign up for Swagbucks and earn free gift cards for stuff you do online (search, shop, etc.), feel free to support this blog and use my link.

    I baked three loaves of whole wheat bread and two loaves of pumpkin bread with our own eggs. Mr. Greenie butchered and I assisted in plucking one of our bantams. This leaves us with 9 chickens, one of which is a rooster. We roasted the bantam with some vegetables from Food Not Bombs and then used the leftovers into chicken noodle soup. We ate the soup for two dinners so about $10 for raising the chicken and it made three meals.

    Here's to more homemade, homegrown, and plastic-free harvest.
    Little Urban Greenie

    Thursday, August 11, 2016

    Homemade and Breaking Free of Debt

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    Made sauerkraut with jam in a mason jar and olive oil on top to keep it submerged.

    One of my canned raspberries and one of my canned strawberries has mold inside but is still sealed somehow. Not sure exactly how that happened, maybe I didn't wash them well enough or at all?

    Cucumbers are starting to form and the plant is growing huge. A few green beans are starting as well. Another ward member has plums ready to pick and the Green Urban Lunchbox will be starting to harvest peaches next week. Looking forward to fermented dill pickles, canned bread and butter pickles, canned peaches, canned plums, and canned green beans for Winter.

    Bit the bullet and sold our hybrid this week. We bought a car for $1000 on the local Classifieds and have now reduced our debt by just shy of half! We are actually pretty happy with the car, it's the same make as Mr. Greenie's first car, manual transmission (which we love), no frills but works great, and has a decent radio. It was sold for half the Blue Book value, so it's quite a deal.

    (See my post here about our debt reduction start)

    Our chickens are just starting to lay about two eggs a day. This gives us some more wiggle room in our budget. We seem to have a rooster crowing now, so we'll be butchering soon. Started baking bread again, so there's some plastic reduction! We've really missed it, but it sure is hard to find time with a baby.

    I've gotten pretty far behind in housework, but Mr. Greenie and I tidied up quite a bit tonight so hopefully I'll be back on track soon. UG1 is doing well with our classical home education preschool, so that's been a fairly consistent distraction. We do school year round and take breaks periodically when things get crazy. I've been using The Well-Trained Mind method and it works well for us so far.

    Just got a free yogurt maker from someone at Food Not Bombs and I'm trying out tonight.

    Here's to life less debt and more of it homemade,

    Little Urban Greenie

    Wednesday, August 3, 2016

    Desperate Times...

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    Canned two quarts of raspberries from the farmer's market and 6 quarts of blueberries from Food Not Bombs.

    Made Greek yogurt twice from a free culture starter I got at Food Not Bombs. I used the tutorial for making it in a insulted lunch pail from Food in Jars. Now the yogurt plastic habit can be broken!

    Canned 3 quarts of tomatoes from the Farmer's market and dehydrated the cores and skins for vegetable powder. Took all night before UG3 was down and everything was ready. Tomatoes take the longest to process with a 95 minute processing time for my altitude. Also watered the garden with the waterbath water. No waste, yay!

    Garden is doing well, my surviving cucumber plant is flowering like crazy, so pickling season will soon be upon us. Another two fall cucumbers are coming up and some green beans as well. So, hoping for an abundant harvest from those before Winter.

    With the heat wave we've had, no tomatoes are ripe yet, so they'll all come ripe when it cools at the same time. Most likely I'll be flooded with free tomatoes soon, which means spaghetti sauce, diced, whole, Rotel style, salsas, pizza sauce, ketchup, and tomato soup concentrate will be in abundance this winter.

    Discovered that two of the blueberry jars didn't seal and were inappropriately fermenting on the shelf. Had to compost those. I also got a real deal on my beloved Weck jars. A local classified ad sold us 32 jars for $30, and normally they are about $5 a jar. Real win for us.

    Now for the sad decision. We have been aggressively been attacking our debt and have realized that we can't afford our hybrid car with our more realistic budget, even with just paying the minimums of what we have left. We have paid off two of our smallest debts and have three more to go without the car which doubles our debt. (Mortgage is separate.) Yay for our progress!

    So, with heavy hearts, we will be selling our car back to Carmax, cutting our losses, and buying a beater under $3K. We don't travel or drive far from home, so getting stranded won't be an issue. Eventually we will upgrade slowly back to a used hybrid, after saving up and trading up for slightly better cars along the way.

    To a debt-free, plastic-free, and zero-waste future,
    Little Urban Greenie

    Saturday, July 23, 2016

    Smoothies Without a Blender and Preserving like a Boss

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    This week has flown by! I've been experimenting with making smoothies with a potato masher as our blender broke, and I've been craving one like a pregnant lady. I'm not sure if I'll replace it with a crank blender, as it is all plastic, like all blenders you'll run into, so this may be a permanent solution. 

    Here's how I potato mash a smoothie (photos coming): 

    1. Cut all greens (for green smoothies) and fruits, etc. as small as you can.
    2. Mash all greens in a big bowl (for a green smoothie) first, as mushy as you can.
    3. Then mash fruits next, mushy as you can.
    4. Add in yogurt or other liquids at this point and mix well. I like to use frozen yogurt I chopped up in small pieces for more of an ice cream texture.
    5. Enjoy your lumpy, plastic-free and nonelectric smoothie! (I still like it, but may not be for everyone.)

    Back up to dehydrating apricots 24/7 from two ladies in my ward.
    Also canned a jar of blackberries from our yard, and a quart and a pint jar of blueberries from the farmer's market.
    Visited my grandma while UG1 played with my much younger cousins. She sent me home with a bag of 12 or so yellow crookneck squash from Grandpa's garden. I got one of our pressure canners fixed. I canned the squash with the help of Mr. Greenie who took turns with UG3 that night. Here are the six beautiful sealed jars from my first pressure canning session and the first vegetables for winter! 
    The girls and I also had lunch with one of my aunts this week. 

    Last night I made pizza from scratch with no cheese (we're out) and cooked beans as a partial substitute for flour in the crust, and baked snickerdoodles with more beans as a partial flour substitute and applesauce as a partial oil substitute since we're low on coconut oil. To finish the house heating session off, we oven canned the dried cantaloupe and apricots while Mr. Greenie and I budgeted for the week. 

    We're really plowing through our debt, and are already almost halfway done with paying off our second debt. Our emergency fund is still untouched and full. Not bad for starting Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps a month ago!

    We don't have our swamp cooler working (needs full replacement since we bought the house a year ago, so we've been enjoying the weather all summer long), so it was in the lower nineties inside on the main floor! 

    Next time your spouse or kids complains that you keep your thermostat too high, just tell them that Little Urban Greenie has it in the upper eighties and low nineties and hides down in her basement to keep cool.

    Here's to more plastic-free, nonelectric food preparation and less plastic, local food-
    Little Urban Greenie

    Monday, July 18, 2016

    Planting and Pottying Babies

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    I finally found a break in dehydrating after the raisins, excess organic bananas, the last of the currants, and a few mushy raspberries and strawberries finished drying. Then we baked some brownies using pinto beans instead of flour, then oven canned the dried fruit in jars, while making honey blueberry jam from a local farm; what a crazy preserving session!

    There has been a bit of a break since then, but now the blackberries are ripening, so it's going to be another canning session soon!

    I also found out that two families in my ward (church) are desperately trying to get their apricots picked, so I will be trying to help them out and dehydrate again this week. I will also bring extras to Food Not Bombs. I guess my preserving break is over this next week.

    Planted a half row of seeds with the last of my green beans, some peas, some cabbage, and some cucumbers for a later harvest. I hope they all make it and provide beautiful canned green beans, dried peas, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles respectively.

    In parenting news, I've been working on Natural Infant Hygiene with our now 1 month old and she's doing well. She now uses my signal to tell me when she has to go numero dos and I've been learning her signal for numero uno. We're starting off part time and keeping it relaxed, but I'm excited to see her not have to spend so much time in a dirty diaper.

    We paid off our smallest debt this last week and have been selling off things we don't use on our local classifieds to help with this. One of the things we sold was a bunch of VHS and DVDs, which I hope to continue paring down and replace with used books for a more wholesome, plastic-free, and nonelectric source of entertainment. We'll see as Mr. Greenie is not a fan of the idea of not owning movies.

    Here's to a more local, debt-free, plastic-free, and nonelectric life!
    Little Urban Greenie

    Saturday, July 9, 2016

    Zero Waste/Plastic Free Family Planning

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    I only endorse natural methods of prevention and conception, so I won't cover all of the options available in detail. I stick with natural options and using creating less waste and plastic. I am aware of:

    1. the diaphragm and cervical cap with spermicide (spermicide creates packaging waste and is toxic)
    2. hysterectomy/vasectomy/tubal ligation (surgeries that affect hormones and aren't always reversible)
    3.  hormonal birth control (blood clots, messing with hormones, and lots of packaging waste)
    4. withdrawal (ineffective and mean)
    5. Herbs (some to prevent/abort, some to conceive, but even bulk herbs come in plastic unless you grow yourself from paper seed packets)

    Tools to Naturally Plan Your Family with Less Plastic and Waste:
    • All natural lubricant: Coconut oil seems to be the go to for most naturally minded people, just buy it in a large glass jar (if you use it a lot for multiple purposes, totally worth it) or a plastic one that's recyclable in your area. I would recommend using other food oils such as canola oil if you are allergic to coconut. Oils aren't recommended for latex condom use, but not a problem if you are actively trying to conceive. (You will end up with those ridiculous and non-recyclable foil/paper wrappings if you choose coconut oil or no plastic if you refill glass bottles of other kinds of oil in the bulk section of your store. No bulk refill option for coconut oil currently.)
    • Diet: Read this wonderful article by Wellness Mama for a very detailed post about fertility preparation
    • Fertility Awareness Method: Covered in detail in "Taking Charge of Your Fertility", but you can take your temperature on a glass non-mercury basal thermometer (plastic free and no batteries to replace) and/or chart cervical mucus and other signs to see ideal times to conceive, prevent, understand your menopause, and be more aware of overall gynecological health. 
    • Ovulation Microscope: Fertile Focus has a small microscope for testing saliva for signs of impending ovulation. You will be able to detect ovulation with about five days notice, so you can know when to actively try or prevent. I would recommend using this method in conjunction with Fertility Awareness methods throughout non-pregnancy cycles for optimal gynecological health understanding and lower chances of prevention/conception failure. (Update 10/25/16- this microscope is almost completely made of plastic, but the packaging isn't. Great zero-waste & reusable option, but not plastic-free.)

    • Paraguard IUD/Copper Coil: This option is hormone-free and lasts up to 12 years. The only waste generated would be from the packaging and sterile gloves from the removal and insertation process. Good for those not planning a family for a long period of time, or those who are done having children. Apparently, adjustment to insertion/removal is painful, so think long-term with this option.
    • Condoms: Not a zero-waste or plastic-free option, but necessary in preventing STDs. There are sustainable, natural latex options out there that you can compost after use. The packaging is still unrecyclable and the product is a one-time use though.
    You may also enjoy Zero Waste Plastic Free Pregnancy Detection and "Baking" as a Couple with Less Waste

    Here's to a zero-waste and plastic-free family planning experience!

    Little Urban Greenie

    Monday, July 4, 2016

    Confessions of a Recovering Plastic User and Catching up

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure

    The last three weeks have been a bit of a blur, to say the least! My husband took a week off of work when UG3 was born and I just rested. Then I went right back to trying to manage the yard and can. Our garden took a hit from Mr. Greenie trying to take over while I was down, poor man. My cucumber seedlings died.

    I'm halfway to earning a $25 Amazon gift card for more Weck jars through Swagbucks. Can't wait to get more 1/2 liter tulip jars, I'm almost out of pints! If you're interested in joining Swagbucks to earn gift cards for your online time too, check out my referral link!

    I have picked apricots from a church member's yard and received a bunch of grapes from my parents who came to visit this weekend. So, I have been dehydrating apricots, red currants, and raisins, and canned apricots, apricot jam, grapes, and a pineapple from Food Not Bombs. All free! Winter looks better and better every day.

    Here's our canned goods so far:
    And our dehydrated foods waiting for a big enough load to be oven canned (probably after the grapes are raisins):
    Confession time: We have recently read Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" and have decided to reduce our budget to get out of debt completely. Our food budget took a hit and the plastic-free options from Phase One have gone to the wayside. We are now buying eggs from the grocery store again and milk in a plastic jug. Luckily our chickens should start laying within about month and a half, so no more egg cartons at that point.

    We've been getting a lot of stuff from Food Not Bombs which is heavily packaged. Is it hypocritical to benefit from this organization and increase our amount of recycling? We reduce waste by eating food that would otherwise be thrown away, recycle the packaging, and since we aren't buying the food, we aren't contributing to the demand of more packaged food, right? Or am I justifying just to save on our food bill?

    Here's to a fruitful harvest and becoming debt-free!

    Little Urban Greenie

    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    Zero Waste/Plastic-free Birth of UG3

    Health and Safety Warning: I'm not a doctor, midwife, homeopath, herbalist, or other credentialed/licensed medical/health expert. All of the choices we made, including choosing an unassisted birth were based on my own personal research for my family's needs and should not be taken as medical advice. Anyone who follows our example is doing so at their own personal risk and I cannot be held liable for any outcome, either negative or positive.

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure

    Our birth experience went wonderful and we ended up using very few of our supplies. We opted to have an unassisted birth with just my husband, myself, and UG1 attending. My labor was very short, 4 hours from start to finish, 2 active, and a 10 min push.

    We had some issues with our midwife and changed her role to just providing prenatal and postnatal care up to 37 weeks. UG3 (a girl!) was born at 38 weeks, so we tried to have the midwife come within the agreed 24-36 hour window for postnatal care. She was just barely willing to come within 48 hours, but we were just going to take what we could get to keep UG3 home. Interestingly enough, she was born in the evening, so UG1 was up and watching a movie and came in to check on me. She saw UG3 just after she came out and still commented that "She's really cute."

    UG3 had something come up the evening before midwife was scheduled to come and since she hasn't been involved in the birth, she didn't feel she could diagnose anything. So, we canceled our appointment with her for the following morning and headed to the ER at the children's hospital to see what was going on. Turned out to be nothing, but they weren't willing to do the newborn screening either, so they referred us to a pediatrician to have it done in the 48 hour window (yep, same as midwife).

    Went to pediatrician and got a lecture about our decisions to refuse some procedures and finally got the 1st newborn screening done. We'll return to the pediatrician for the 2nd newborn screening and just take our girls for well child visits after that appointment.

    Because we went to the hospital, every test was done with plenty of plastic which was non-avoidable, but not zero-waste or plastic-free.

    We didn't end up using all of our supplies, but here is we did use:

      1. 1 unlanolized lightweight wool swaddling blanket postpartum to protect our sheets from lochia
      2. 1 wool Reusable/washable underpad and lanolized, used postpartum under swaddling blanket to protect our sheets from lochia and changing diapers
      3. 2 Stainless steel cord clamps, sterilized were used successfully to cut the cord with boiled kitchen scissors, after being scared off from cord burning by a pop that didn't even touch UG3
      4. Homemade cloth Postpartum pads from old towels, my repurposed baby blanket, and cotton layer for softness worked great for the first week and now I don't really need such heavy duty care
      5. Bubzi Co. Nasal Aspirator-Part Silicone, Washable, Reusable, Works better than bulb and can clean better to prevent mold build-up..worked great for clearing out a little extra fluid from UG3's nose and mouth, along with a couple of good wacks to the back and feet flicks 
      6. Twin Pack Newborn Metabolic Screen from the Utah Department of Health (Formerly the PKU screening, a necessary and life saving test and so we aren't going to alter this item.)  Update on June 3rd, 2016: It's all paper, even the mailer (excepting the adhesive! So already plastic-free.) We took this to the pediatrician's office, so they did use a band-aid, plastic heat packs, and alcohol wipes to perform the screening. I'm going to try to refuse the band-aid for the second screening.
      7. Birthing in the tub and cleaning with soap and water like any other day worked great and Mr. Greenie was a champion at removing all traces of our birth mess!
      8. Washing everything normally thrown away and using a large hand-me-down wet bag to put washables in also worked well. 

      9. Wide-Mouth Half-gallon canning jar worked great for encapsulating my placenta. The encapsulation specialist was amazing and had her own jar to send capsules home in. She put everything in a paper gift bag as well, so it looked really nice.
      10. Medium/Large mixing bowl to carry placenta until in jar worked fine.
      11. Staying over the bathtub as birthing area worked fairly well. We ended up using the plastic drop cloths that came with our house for cutting the cord on our bed. We're going to be able to reuse another time.
      12. Thermometer, we reused UG1's, no new plastic. We'll eventually replace with a glass one when the batteries go out. This will be reused for awhile of growing up.
      13. Gender neutral hand-me-down clothing and PUL newborn diapers/skin to skin contact and diaper free baby, (no new plastic and we'll eventually sell the diaper covers to get wool covers, no budget for it now.) We stayed naked for awhile and used our stainless steel dog bowl baby potty until we went to sleep.
      14. Towels (already cotton, not plastic) worked fine for drying off baby and after I showered off.
      15. Washcloths (already cotton, not plastic) weren't used.
      16. Cloth washcloths and wipes weren't necessary either. Mr. Greenie did use our cloth cleaning rags for tub clean-up.
      17. Receiving blankets (hand me downs from UG1 and skin to skin contact), didn't use for a couple of days as UG3 slept with us.
      18. Homemade postpartum pads (See above) and granny panties, mostly cotton with exception of plastic elastic waistbands. So amazingly better than disposables! Laundry was a load a day with newborn diapers and pads, but so much better comfort-wise.
      19. Frozen cloth maxipads, see Padsicles tutorial) Also amazing, I didn't feel any need for Tylenol, etc.
      20. Custom glass bended straws (For drinking in even the prone position) Fairly good, but one broke after one use. I would recommend 2 custom heavily bent and 2 regular bent ones.
      21. Coconut water in glass bottles (and grapefruit juice as a treat) Worked great in labor and recovery. Mr. Greenie also enjoyed, so that will be an occasional treat in our house.
      22. Foods easily digested (All in plastic-free packaging already) I did great with a yogurt and didn't even throw up this labor. My labor was again, super short though.
      23. Arnica Montana homeopathic 30 C (Only in plastic, but prevents bruising and decreases "pain" in labor, which I prefer to call discomfort. I would use a Arnica extract in a glass bottle in the future.) Seemed to work fine.
      24. Snacks for birth team (plenty of plastic-free options). Labor went so fast that Mr. Greenie didn't really need a snack or do anything but prepare the birthing area and tidy up.
      25. Car seat installed & ready to go for emergency transport (No plastic-free options exist for driving with baby in the car, we just went with the least toxic and will be recycling all our car seats. If you solely ride public transportation, then you could just hold baby or wear in a sling.) I installed it in early labor with my water leaking into a postpartum pad.
      26. Postpartum Sitz Bath Herbs (Already purchased before going plastic-free so there is tape closing box and a plastic bag holding the cloth herb packets, but you could make your own with homegrown herbs or buy from sellers on Etsy.) These have worked great for soothing ice packs and making padsicles.
      27. Comfy clothing and nudity for skin to skin (Both plastic-free, but clothing seems more like a relaxation thing to me, rather than being an invalid in bed.) I totally stayed naked whenever I could for the first week on my husband's vacation. The clothes helped to feel more healthy though.
      • Bonus:Shephard's Purse for Hemorrhage care, 15ml 3 times a day (Breastfeeding also helps) I used this once, but we didn't have a real heavy hemorrhage problem.
      • Bonus: Raspberry Leaf/Nettle Infusion (Hemorrhage care and reduces blood loss, & boosts iron/Vitamin K levels) Worked great and seems to help.
      • Bonus: Cottonwood Bark Extract, 20 drops 2-3 times a day postpartum for afterpains (cleansing rushes, I prefer.) This was phenomenal, I didn't feel tempted to use painkillers between this and the Padsicles. I would recommend this for every delivery!
      • Bonus: Bengkung Belly Binding Kit (Helps to heal and support rectus abdominus, along with appropriate exercise) This also seems to be working. I already had a diastasis from my first pregnancy.
      • Bonus: Olive oil in glass bottle (on baby's bottom to prevent meconium from sticking) Didn't really use this as we used EC from day one and didn't worry about getting our flats and prefolds stained.
      • Bonus: Tape measure (already owned plastic, to measure baby after birth) Actually forgot to measure UG3 until later. It's not required on birth certificate luckily.
      • Bonus: Candles for Cord Burning vs cutting (We already have the candles, otherwise we would choose beeswax candles. Burning actually cauterizes the cord, so cord remainder can be clamped, tied in a knot, tied off, etc.) Ended up sterilizing kitchen scissors and cutting after a candle popped, but not on UG3 or me.
      • Bonus: Clean sheets for the bed after birth is over and nap is needed for baby, mother, and father.) This worked fine.
      Overall, a great experience and fairly zero-waste and very little plastic! Super happy to have this little one out and about with us now. 

      Here's to less plastic, less waste, and more joy!

      Little Urban Greenie

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