Going Green, while saving Green

Too often these days, living “greener” seems like it has to cost us extra “green.” However, this certainly doesn’t have to be true! This is the first in a series of articles discussing ways to go green on the cheap.

When you think about it, the original Environmental Mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” could also be a Mantra for frugal living. It’s true! Living cheaply and living light on the planet go hand in hand. Read on to learn more!

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce. Reducing your use of resources is the best way to cut back on expenses, as well as on waste. As you go through your day, ask yourself at every opportunity, “How can I reduce my use of this product?” For example, do you use hairspray as you get ready in the morning? Perhaps you could use less spray but still achieve the same effect. Or maybe you’re willing to try a new hairstyle that would not require styling products.

As another example, do you use the amount of laundry detergent recommended on the bottle? Manufacturers who create those recommendations have an ulterior motive – to keep you buying their products! Try cutting back to half of the recommended amount, and then keep cutting back little by little until you start to notice a difference in the cleanliness of your clothes.

The Reduce idea can be carried through to less tangible items, as well. How can you reduce your use of electricity? Water? Gasoline?

Reuse. Before you throw something away, ask yourself if the item can be re-used in any way. An old T-shirt could make a great rag. A cereal box could provide cardboard for any number of uses. Junk mail envelopes make great places to write out a grocery list. If you can’t reuse it, can someone else? A friend used to collect junk paper for her sister’s homeschooled kids to use for art projects. Church, daycare, and after-school programs will usually happily take donations of empty cardboard tubes, juice cans, and other craft-project items.

Recycle. Though recycling is what most people think of first, it should actually be the third thing you consider, after reduce and reuse. If you can’t reduce your use of an item, and it can’t be reused when you’re finished with it, try to recycle it if you can. Our local area offers limited recycling pickup with the garbage pickup, but citizens can take other recyclables to area drop-offs. There’s nothing particularly money-saving about recycling, except remembering that it’s the LAST step, not the first!

In the next article, we'll discuss the first step – Reduce – in a bit more detail!

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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: www.icaniowa.com or http://www.ican-online.org/

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 http://www.consumerreports.org/mg/free-highlights/manage-your-health/needless_surgeries.htm

Birthday

Today, my little boy turned two years old! Wow. I can't really believe that it's been two years since our lives changed forever with Wally's peaceful birth. I'm sure everyone reading this can relate!!

It's almost difficult to remember who I used to be before I was a mama. I have changed so incredibly much in the past two years. I've become much more crunchy, that's for certain. I'm more motivated to make healthy choices for my family. I have so little time to do things that are just for me. I also have more struggles with controlling my moods and emotions under the stress and almost constant tiredness that seem to accompany motherhood. I'm growing, changing, and – hopefully – maturing right along with my little man.

At any rate. We had a nice get-together with mostly family. Seven children, all told. It was pretty crazy, but Wally held up well. We mostly let him wander and do whatever he wanted. He opened some presents because they struck his fancy, then the gift opening ground to a halt when he decided to have some more to eat. Hey, opening presents is supposed to be fun, right? It's not fun if you're being forced to do it!

In other news…

  • I restocked both Large and Medium Pockets. The 16 mediums sold out within two days. I hope to be able to restock small and medium pockets before the end of the month, but I have a large stack of custom orders to complete first!
  • I have added more ring slings, including some made from solarveil, which is great for summer!
  • I have four colors of solarveil in stock, available for wraps, ring slings, or Asian carriers. White, Khaki, Blue, and Black. Just let me know if you want something from that fabric – and move quick before it's gone!!

Book Review: Why Boys are Different by Bonnie MacMillan

I checked this book out from the Clive Library, as the particular challenges in raising boys has been of interest to me since, well, giving birth to one two years ago! However, despite its title, the book would also make good reading for those who are raising girls. Its focus is not solely on boys, but rather the differences between the sexes and how differences in brain structure and functioning might cause those differences. It also delves somewhat into general parenting, and gives research-based advice that leans very heavily towards attachment parenting ideals – breastfeeding, responding quickly to a baby’s cries, etc.

 

Here are a few highlights from the book – some of my favorite passages – for your enjoyment.

 

In a section discussing how the five senses are different in boys and girls, Ms. MacMillan writes, “But why are little boys fascinated with objects that dive and zoom – with toy cars, planes, trains, balls, and anything that can be turned into a projectile? This, too, may come down to an interesting difference in the order in which visual abilities develop. In a study that measured the brain waves of children from two months of age to sixteen years, it was discovered that boys’ brains really go to town between tow months and six years in developing the neural networks for visually tracking objects. Astonishingly, girls’ brains do not spear to make a serious start on these networks until the age of eight!”

 

In a chapter discussing the importance of nutrition in maintaining optimal health and optimal brain development, she writes, “When children with ADHD (the majority were boys) were put on a multiple-item elimination diet, 73 percent responded favorably. When various high-allergen foods (dairy products, wheat, corn, yeast, soya, beans, citrus, eggs, chocolate, peanuts) and foods containing artificial colors or preservatives were reintroduced, children behaved markedly worse.”

 

When discussing motor skills, Ms. MacMillan lists some recent study findings, including this one: “Babies brought up in certain traditional cultures (African, Indian, and Latin American) tend to develop motor skills more rapidly than those brought up in westernized societies. It is thought this is cause parents in industrialized countries rely more on equipment to carry or contain their babies while they do daily chores. Mothers in traditional cultures, however, often carry their babies in slings for most of the day, forcing their babies’ brains to work harder to maintain balance and support their heads, stimulating both motor and vestibular development.

 

The book does have one big disappointment – Ms. MacMillan summarizes research studies like it’s going out of style. Almost everything she says in the book is backed up by research. Except she doesn’t provide the actual citations, so the reader can’t go read the research for themselves. In particular, I was interested in looking up the actual study that suggests that sling-wearing helps with motor skill development!!

 

I do highly recommend this book. It’s an easy read, and gives a lot of good information on brain development and general child development in a very consumable format. It’s a fantastic book for parents of boys, but would also be interesting to parents of girls.

First Annual Natural Living Expo In Review

The final stats are not yet in, but early estimates are that nearly 500 people (not counting children) visited the first annual Natural Living Expo hosted by ICAN and Drake University Women’s Studies Department. We didn’t know what to expect, but I personally think that 500 people is pretty good for the first year!

The vendors were pretty interesting, and a nice mix. There were of course many vendors dealing with childbirth – Amy Murphy’s new venture Before and After the Birth, the Birth Center, Cosette Boone of Willowsong Midwifery, Diane Tinker of Birth Companions, and more. And several parenting-related vendors such as Wallypop and The Stork Wearhouse, both cloth diaper and baby sling stores in town; NINO; the Cloth Diaper Crowd; Holistic Moms Network; API; etc. But it was great to see so many non-parenting resources there, as well. One Step At A Time Gardens, a CSA, was there. Iowa Health Freedom Coalition. Several Chiropractors. An Herbalist – Natural Choices from Eastern Iowa. An orchard.

I was busy running my own booth, but did escape for a few minutes to run around and visit other booths quick. I wish I’d had more time to chat with all the vendors! It seems that visitors were generally pleased with the event, and I know that for me personally, it was nice to be in a room full of people who see things the way I do. And to see so many babies being worn! What a great sight that was!! It was a long, tiring day, but very exciting as well. Here’s to a great time planning next year’s event!

PS – here are a few of the pictures I took of the day.