Green Lifestyle

simlu-posted at Natural Living Des Moines.

There was an environmental rally in Des Moines on Saturday. I wasn’t there. But I’m disappointed. I can’t tell if it’s disappointment at the event or, more likely, at the media coverage. “Green Lifestyle” in the media seems to equal carpooling, walking, or riding the bus.

Which is certainly important. Carpooling is impractical for me (even carpooling with one friend at this point usually means at least three carseats and two adults, which means a bigger vehicle is needed, thereby cancelling out any environmental benefits of carpooling), but we do combine errands whenever possible, and cut our driving down as much as we can.

But there is so much more to a green lifestyle than just your chosen mode of transportation!

There’s the choices you make when it comes to what food you eat. How you care for your family’s health. The way you clean your house. The way you build your house. The clothes you wear. The diapers you choose. The activities you participate in. Even your job, or the way you carry your groceries home.

I have an article in the works about easy steps to take towards a greener lifestyle, because I think this is a major stumbling block for many people. They want to do something to live a bit greener, but they can’t afford to buy a new car and riding their bike everywere seems a bit out of reach. So they give up, but carry that helpless, hopeless feeling around with them. That’s not a good thing!


Going Green, Part 4 – Household Cleaning

Household Cleaning

Household cleaning is one area that offers a lot of opportunities to save money while also living a little greener. Our society has grown accustomed to using harsh household chemicals, but these expensive – not to mention dangerous – cleaners are not the only choice.


In the Bathroom

Let’s start with the room that receives the harshest cleaning chemicals, the bathroom. Most American households use caustic cleaners in the toilet, bleach-based cleaners on the sink and shower, and still more chemicals on the floor and mirrors. Yikes!


Instead of using expensive harsh chemicals in your toilet, try mixing ¼ cup of baking soda with 1 cup of white vinegar. Pour into the toilet, let sit for a few minutes, then scrub. (Vinegar is antibacterial in nature.) Additionally, consider swishing the toilet with a toilet brush as part of your morning or evening routine. You’ll find that a quick swish every day keeps the toilet from getting too disgusting.


For the sink and shower, apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar) does a fine job of removing soap scum and hard-water deposits, as well as killing the bacteria that thrives in the humid environment of the bathroom.


If scrubbing is needed, try using baking soda. It’s mildly abrasive, but won’t scratch. If more abrasion is needed, a good scouring stone (pumice, available at hardware stores) will usually do the trick. Keep the stone wet and gently rub.)


For mold, spray on a solution of diluted hydrogen peroxide (available at pharmacies). Let sit for several minutes (15 or so) before scrubbing or rinsing.

In the Kitchen

Many families these days prefer to wash their produce with a special fruit and veggie wash meant to safely clean the produce better than simply rinsing them with water. A homemade alternative is to soak the produce in diluted vinegar – try ¼ cup of vinegar for a sinkful of water. Soak the produce for 15 minutes, then rinse and dry.


For oven cleaning, use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle, if it has one. Not only does this save labor, but there are no chemicals involved! If your oven is not self-cleaning, or if you have baked-on spills that need special attention, try dampening the interior of the oven with plain water (using a spray bottle), then sprinkling on a few layers of baking soda. Let the whole thing sit for a few hours, then scrub with a rag. Use steel wool for really tough spots.


For clogged sinks, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow with a cup of vinegar. The chemical reaction that follows will help break down greasy clogs. Let this sit for a few minutes before pouring a panful of boiling water down the drain to help clear the clog.

The Whole House

For general cleaning – de-smudging, polishing, dusting, and wiping – consider purchasing some microfiber cleaning cloths. These cloths make clean-up a snap, and do a fine job of cleaning up without any chemicals at all. You can use them dry, or with plain water.


For hard-surface floors, you can’t beat the old-fashioned broom and dustpan, or the more modern Swiffer. (For an economical, nondisposable alternative to swiffer cloths, consider Sweet Sweepers.) Follow up with a mop and some hot, soapy water – just use plain old dish soap, no need for speciality floor cleaners.


There are a lot of good resources out there for economical, environmentally-friendly household cleaning. My favorite is a book called Clean House, Clean Planet.

Fabric Gift Wrapping

Fabric Wrapping

Thinking about all the packaging and wrapping paper that is thrown out each year during the Christmas season makes me a little ill. Our family can easily fill two garbage bags full of packaging and paper. Ugh!!

Here is our solution – reusable fabric gift bags. If they don’t get reused for Christmas presents, they can be used for other things! We have made it clear to friends and family that they may not throw the bags away – they can either use them themselves, or they can give them back to us! Seems to work fairly well.

Of course, if you’d like your own fabric gift bags, you may purchase them at Wallypop.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

April is Cesarean Section Awareness Month.  Last year, over 1 million c-sections were performed in the United States.  The c-section is now, sadly, the most common surgery performed in the U.S. 

The hundreds of thousands of unnecessary c-sections have been shown to have no benefit on maternal-child outcomes, while putting an additional strain on our already overburdened medical and insurance industries. 

To help fight the growing casual attitude toward the cesarean, we ask you please consider forwarding this bulletin to your friends, neighbors and relatives.  A big thank you to ICAN member Sara Gammel for creating and sharing this email with us. 

A cesarean is now the most common major operation performed in America.

April is…

CAM Ribbon




The CDC reports:

  • The National Cesarean rate for 2004 is 29.1%
  • The rate is up from 27.6% in 2003
  • Iowa's 2004 Cesarean rate is 26.8%, up 3.75% from 2003
  • U.S. cesareans have risen 40% since 1996
  • First-time cesareans are at an historical high of 20.6%
  • VBAC rates fell to 9.2%, even though studies show that over 70% of mothers can give birth vaginally after a cesarean
  • Since 1996, the VBAC rate in the U.S. has plummeted 67%.

More than 300 hospitals across the country, including over 30 hospitals in Iowa, have banned vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) based on cost concerns & fears over liability. 

The United States lags far behind other industrialized countries in maternal-child health outcomes.  A new report by the World Health Organization published in the Lancet identifies complications from cesarean surgery and anesthesia as the leading causes of maternal death in developed countries, including the United States.

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary  cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

For more information contact: or

Consumer Reports Questions Cesarean Frequency

Consumer Reports has named cesarean section number three on its list of “12 Surgeries You May Be Better Off Without.” The recommendation, based on research at the non-profit Rand Corporation, encourages consumers to “check out safer alternatives” before having any of the 12 listed “invasive procedures.” See