debunking the myth of cloth diapering

When you think of cloth diapering, do images of a lot of leaking poop, or dreadful smelling mounds of dirty diapers pop into your head?  You’re not alone.  But cloth diapering has come a long way since the days of diaper pins and rubber pants.  Even still, it’s hard to debunk the myth that cloth diapering is much more difficult and simply more of a hassle than disposables.  So what are the real quantifiable differences between cloth and disposables?

First of all, if you decide to have a baby, you’re gonna be changing diapers every day, whether you choose cloth or disposables.  The difference is that with disposables, your dirty diaper goes straight into the trash can (perhaps wrapped in a not-so-environmentally-friendly plastic bag so it doesn’t stink up your house).  With cloth, that same dirty diaper goes straight into a washable diaper bag or pail, later to be tossed into your laundry machine.  Basically, one gets thrown into the trash, the other gets thrown into the laundry.  Considering that the average baby uses roughly 6,000 diapers from birth to potty-training, producing about 4,000 pounds of waste that ends up in landfills, by choosing cloth diapers you effectively prevent roughly 4000 pounds of waste from entering the landfills, per child.  Now that’s a lot of poop.

So now lets talk about the differences in cost.  If you choose cloth diapers, you are committing to a significant up-front investment in the diapers (usually in the $200-400 range depending on the brand you choose and how many you buy), as well as doing one extra load of diapers in your laundry machine per day (this might cost you something like $.50/load, adding up to about $182/year depending on how efficient your washer/dryer system is).  But the great thing is, once you have purchased cloth diapers, you’ll never run out.  Every day, you get a clean stash of “new” diapers back out of your dryer (or hang them to dry for more savings).  Compare this with disposables, which have no upfront costs, but are a constant drain on your finances.  At an average of $.29 per diaper, multiplied by the 6000 diapers most likely used before potty training, disposables will cost something like $1740, or more, per child.  That’s a lot of dough and it doesn’t include diaper wipes (more on that later).  Another cost benefit of cloth diapering is that you can reuse the same cloth diapers again for subsequent children, saving you even more the second or third time around.  So by choosing cloth diapers you will be doing more work with the laundry, but you will probably also save money, as well as avoid the hassle of frequently having to schlep out to buy more diapers.

Many parents turn to natural-fiber cloth diapers because their babies have reactions to the chemicals in disposables.  Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet.  A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s until it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.  Disposable diapers also contain Dioxin, a carcinogenic chemical listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals  (it is banned in most countries but not in the U.S), as well as Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.  Many babies who use disposables have no clear reactions to these substances, however this information may be helpful in deciding what is right for your family.

Lastly, one big difference between cloth and disposables it the cuteness factor.  You may not be able to resist using cloth diapers once you see your baby wearing some of the hip designs that are available these days.  One of the hardest parts of the decision to use cloth diapers is choosing which design to invest in!  There are four basic types of cloth diapers, each with their own benefits.  For more information on different types of cloth diapers you can check out this site which lays out the comparisons.

On a personal note, for my family the journey to choosing cloth diapers was a process.  When we had our first child we were living in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with no access to a laundry hookup.  That was a big deciding factor against cloth (although perhaps we could have found a diapering service to wash the diapers for us, but the cost seemed prohibitive at the time).  With our second child, we opted into cloth about half-way through the diapering process and loved the results, which included early potty training.  With our third child, we have totally embraced cloth as the right choice for us, and really love it!  We feel happy to be able to take a big step toward maintaining an environmentally friendly household and using products that are in line with our beliefs.

If you have any questions about cloth diapering, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Free Giveaway: 36 hours left! Enter now to win free natural body products

ONLY 36 HOURS LEFT TO ENTER!  Earthwise Medicinals is offering a free winter giveaway from Sunday Jan 14 through Jan 27 at 12am.  Prizes include seven wintermint lip balms, three rose hydrosol misters, and one free 1/2 hour herbal phone consultation (see below for details).  To enter, you  must do the following three steps:

1) Follow my blog by clicking on the “subscribe” button on the top right corner of this page.  You must be subscribed to be entered into the giveaway! If you are already subscribed, continue on to the following steps.

2) Share this Free Giveaway blog post on Facebook.  

3) Leave a comment here on this blog to let me know that you have entered.

To get an additional entry into this free giveaway, you can follow me on Twitter here and then Tweet this blog post with the tag #earthwise.  Leave a comment below to let me know about your Twitter entry.  You can enter a third time by posting any of my other earthwisemedicinals blog posts to Facebook or Twitter, leaving a comment here to let me know about your additional entry.  Prizes will be shipped to USA addresses only.  Ten winners will be chosen at random, and the winners will be announced on Sunday Jan, 29!

Seven winners will receive a free wintermint lip balm, handmade with love.

Two 2nd place winners will receive a free lip balm, plus a blue cobalt bottle of rose hydrosol.

And one first-prize winner will win a wintermint lip balm, a bottle of rose hydrosol, and a free 1/2 hour herbal phone consultation with yours truly.  You can check out the prizes here:

wintermint lip balm

rose hydrosol

Good luck, and please, be sure to leave a comment here on the blog so I know that you entered! 

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments

medicinal teas and spices: how to harvest and dry herbs for maximum potency

One thing I have come to look forward to every winter is when I get around to pulling out all the medicinal and culinary herbs that I have gathered and dried in the summer, removing them one by one from their paper bags and processing them into teas and spices.  I mean, if you can’t go smell the flowers outside in January, might as well enjoy a fragrant dried bouquet, or add some pretty summer blossoms to your tea, right?  One of the main goals when harvesting medicinal and culinary herbs for drying is to preserve as much of their potency, flavor, and color as humanly possible. You want that bunch of dried herbs to look, smell, and taste as much like it did 6 months ago when you picked it.

So here are a few tips and considerations to keep in mind when you harvest and dry your herbs for ensuring maximum potency:

1) Weather Conditions: First of all, you want to make sure that weather conditions are right for harvesting your herbs. The best conditions for harvesting herbs are dry and warm weather. Moisture can spell out disaster for your drying plant material, causing mold and spoilage. So, wait for a few consecutive sunny dry days before you set out to harvest your medicinal herbs.

2) Harvest Quality: Harvest only healthy, vibrant looking plant material. Trim and discard leaves and plant parts that are discolored or sun-bleached. Also make sure to use care when harvesting herbs to incur the least amount of damage to the remaining plants a as possible.

3) Storage: This is very important. You want to protect your freshly harvested plant material from developing mold and also protect it from household dust and light. One great technique I use for this is to divide up the plant material in small, loosely gathered bunches and then to place the fresh herbs directly into brown paper lunch bags to dry. Be sure to label the bags with the name of the herbs and the date and location it was harvested
(trust me, you won’t remember what the heck is in that bag a few months later).  Place the bags in a dry, well ventilated environment, such as on a shelf in your pantry. Keeping the herbs in paper bags for drying will ensure that your herbs will not be exposed to light, moisture, and dust, which will in turn protect the color, freshness, and quality of your drying plant material.

Heres a bunch of lavender that we picked last summer:

And here’s what I pulled out of the bag yesterday:

Ok the lighting is bad, but c’mon, that’s pretty good, right? 🙂

Now for the final step of drying your herbs: having fun using them!  When you pull the herbs out of the bags a few months later, that is a good time to process them into spices and tea.  This will ensure that you will actually use and enjoy your herbs, as opposed to letting them sit on the back of your shelf collecting dust until next spring.  You can place the bulk plant material into a bowl and gently crush it into small pieces, discarding the stems.  This will shrink down the storage space needed for your dried herbs considerably and prepare them for immediate household use.  You can then place the freshly crushed herbs into new or recycled jars in your kitchen, and enjoy the fragrant and delicious addition of fresh medicinal teas and culinary herbs in your diet all winter long.

Posted in Herbal Recipes and How To Make Your Own Herbal Medicines | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

how to make your own green cleaning products at home

A few months ago when my 3rd child was born I decided that it was probably a good idea to have someone help me clean my house occasionally in order to avoid sheer insanity.  At least temporarily.  Well, after some research I found a wonderful family that has a local business called Inner Spaces Eco Services, and not only are they wonderful people who have become my friends, but they also make all of their own freshly-scented cleaning products.  This got me inspired to follow suit, as I had been thinking about it for a while, and now I had someone to show me how.  It’s a lot easier than I imagined, and I love the natural smell and sparkling clean that these natural, chemical-free cleaning products provide.  Here’s what you’ll need:

8oz white distilled vinegar
8oz water
2 Tbsp liquid castile soap (optional)
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drop tea tree oil
1 spray bottle (you can reuse one you already have)

Simply mix all the ingredients in your spray bottle and clean away! You can change up the essential oils if you prefer a rosemary or lemon scent for example instead of the tea tree or lavender. If you’re interested in making your own products at home, here’s some exciting news. Mountain rose herbs is offering a free give-away for an abundant supply of these natural cleaning supplies, as well as some great recipes for cleaning products. You can enter the giveaway here on their blog.  You can enter this giveaway until Monday Jan 9, so act now to enter!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

this body is not me

This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled
with stars, manifestations from my
wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors
through which we pass, sacred
thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-
and seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say goodbye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every
moment.
We will meet each other in all forms of
life.

-Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

sweet potato scallion latkes

Today is the last day of Hanukkah, so we gotta go out with a bang! If you’re tired of regular potato latkes by now, give this yummy sweet potato version a try. This once-a-year treat disappeared too quickly to take pictures! Making them is definitely a patchke (Yiddish for pain-in-the-butt) but totally worth it!  Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 large white potato, peeled and grated
1 onion, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup white spelt flour
2 scallions, sliced
olive oil for frying

So, start with the patchke part- grating up the potatoes and onions. I do this by hand because I like the texture, but if you’re just not up for it, you could try grating the potatoes and onion in a food processor. Then mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Coat your frying pan in oil and while the oil heats up, form the potato mix into 2 inch balls, gently squeezing out excess moisture. Place the balls into the hot oil and press them flat with a spatula. Let them brown on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then flip and do the same for the other side. Serve them hot with apple sauce and sour cream, the traditional Hanukkah accoutrements.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

how to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies: making a rainbow platter

The current recommendation for children and adults is to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Yup, you read it right, 5-9 servings, every day, in order to provide your family with all the health benefits from the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other components that plant foods contain. Eating 5-9 servings every day will give your family maximum protection against disease. So how on earth do you get your kids to eat their vegetables, and to even to like them? Here are 5 tips that have worked in my home, as well as a fun project to do with your kids- make a rainbow platter!   I’ll start with the rainbow platter. 

Start simply and tell your children that it’s important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day to stay happy and healthy. Then provide all the colors of the rainbow in fruit and vegetable form, such as apples and strawberries for the red, carrots and oranges for the orange, bananas and corn for yellow, avocado, celery, and lettuce for green, blueberries for the blue, and beets, grapes, and purple cabbage for the purple.  Chop up all the ingredients you choose to use for the colors, and let them get creative assembling their rainbow.   Eat as you chop.

We also used sprouted almonds to make clouds for our rainbow.  I think it was a hit!  (I admit the adults helped eat it too…)

Wondering how you’ll get organic fruits and veggies without spending a fortune?  First off- you only need a small amount of each item, such as one carrot, one apple, one celery stick etc, so whatever you buy should last all week long.  When possible you can save money on organic produce by buying in season, as well as buying in bulk (think bags of apples instead of loose).  I hope this rainbow project will improve your children’s motivation and enjoyment of fruits and veggies as much as it does mine!

Now, heres 5 extra tips for encouraging young children to like fruits and veggies that I have used with success in my home:

1.) Start early developing your baby’s palette by offering your baby only pure, fresh, fruits and vegetables. There really is no need to feed babies out of a jar when fresh food can be prepared very simply and easily. Early foods to try at 6 months onward are: mashed banana, baked sweet potato and winter squash, grated or steamed apples and pears, avocado, and halved blueberries.

2.) Limit sugar consumption, and remove all hydrogenated oils from your family’s diet. This means reading labels and making things fresh at home.

3.) Keep trying! If your child doesn’t like certain fruits or vegetables, simply continue to make them available during meals. It can take a very long time for a child to accept a new food, so don’t give up! Just keep offering healthy foods, and they will learn to recognize the flavors and slowly start to enjoy them (or at least tolerate them). Sometimes I tell my kids they have to try one bite of everything I make, just to taste it. And that they don’t have to love every single thing they eat.  Over time my kids have acquired a taste for many vegetables that they didn’t initially love at first sight.

4.) Model the behavior you want to see. When your child sees you truly enjoying your fruits and vegetables at meals, they will probably follow suit. Eventually.

5.) Experiment! Your child might like plain peppers and sliced purple cabbage, but prefer their broccoli stir fried with tamari. Maybe they will eat raw carrot sticks when dipped in hummus, or prefer cooked carrot from a soup. Maybe they’ll eat their potatoes only when dipped in ketchup, or avocado only when sprinkled with salt.  Maybe they’ll like celery if served with peanut butter. Try cooked versus raw, and different condiments and flavors to see what your child likes best. Go with whatever works!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

sauteed spinach and sundried tomaotes over pasta: Gluten Free

Here’s a really yummy recipe that is distinctly Mediterranean in flavor and can be easily made gluten-free. There’s something I really love about spinach and sun-dried tomatoes together! Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large bunch fresh spinach
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (see how to make your own below)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olives, with liquid
1 Tbsp marjoram or oregano, dried
1 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme
1 and 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 Tbsp olive oil (or enough to coat pan generously)
1 package gluten-free pasta of your choice
(we used brown rice spaghetti and it came out awesome. You can also use a package of regular wheat pasta if you like it better.)

So, start by washing the spinach and making sure it has no little buggies on it. Meanwhile, cook your pasta, drain, and set it aside. While the pasta cooks, coat your pan with oil, and saute the onions for about 4 minutes until a bit translucent. Add in the garlic, salt, and spices, and cook for 1 more minute, then add in the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and olives. Cook for about 5 minutes until the spinach shrinks down. Toss in your pasta and serve. Excellent on its own, and pairs well as a side dish to fish or chicken. Makes 4 large servings.

How to make sun-dried tomatoes at home: You can easily make your own “sun-dried” tomatoes in the summer when tomatoes are in season (and therefore more affordable). Simply buy a whole bunch of organic cherry or mini roma tomatoes at your local farmers market and slice them in half. Arrange then on baking trays and bake at 175-200 degrees for 6-8 hours.  Store them in the freezer for yummy winter eating!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

healing miso soup

Now that the weather is finally getting a little colder, today I’m feeling the urge to cook up a pot of healing and nourishing miso soup. But no matter the time of year, anytime I am feeling under the weather, or slightly run down, I find that eating miso soup really helps to rejuvenate my energy and my immune system. Miso is an amazing healing food, known to be an effective therapeutic aid in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, certain cancers, and hypertension, especially if taken regularly. Miso soup consumption is linked with up to a 50% reduced risk of breast cancer according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Miso paste is a fermented soy food containing probiotics, which can aid in healthy digestion. This healing miso soup recipe has a high vitamin and mineral content, and is recommended as a regular part of a healthy diet. The mushrooms, ginger, and seaweed add extra therapeutic qualities to the broth. And it’s super yummy too!

what you will need:

1 onion, chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp organic cooking oil, canola or olive
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups leafy greens, washed and chopped (I like bok choy, tot soi, collards, kale, or green cabbage
1 large handful of shitake mushrooms (about 1 cup), thinly sliced
2 tbsp tamari
8oz firm tofu, cubed (about 1/2 a package)
1 strip of dried wakame seaweed (optional adds minerals to your broth)
1/4 cup chopped scallions (optional)
2 qts water
1 Tbps miso paste per serving, to taste (you will need about 1/2 cup for the whole pot)

To begin, coat your pot with the cooking oil and turn heat on to medium high. Add the onions and ginger, and saute for about 3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add in the sliced mushrooms and tamari, and saute for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the remaining veggies, tofu, and strip of wakame seaweed. Stir together and let cook for another minute, then add the water and bring to a low boil. Let your soup simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes, until all the veggies are tender. Turn off heat. Now it’s time to dissolve the miso paste into the broth- be sure not to boil your miso paste! It has live probiotics and in order to preserve the therapeutic quality of the miso you will want to dissolve the paste into the warm broth before serving, but after the cooking is all done. You can either add the dissolved paste into each serving, 1 tbsp per serving, or into the whole pot if you are eating it all at one sitting, 1/2 cup for the whole pot. To make sure the paste dissolves evenly, scoop out about 1 cup of broth into a bowl, and whisk the paste into the broth, then add back into the soup. Garnish with chopped scallions if desired, and serve it up. Makes about 8 large servings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

holiday gift ideas: natural hand-crafted body products by eathwise medicinals

One thing I love about fall and winter is that I finally have a bit of time to sort through all the herbal tinctures, herbal-infused oils, and dried herbs that I have made and collected in the warmer seasons. For many years I have been using these home-spun supplies to make hand-crafted gifts for the holidays that have been much enjoyed by family and friends, including herbal salves, balms, and natural body products.  I have been developing these natural body product recipes over the past many years, and this year I am making my products publicly available for the first time.  Now is your chance to enjoy these hand-crafted natural body products for the holidays! You can click on any of the items listed below to see the product description, ingredients, pictures, prices, and amount I currently have in stock.  All of the items listed here are 100% natural, food-grade quality, and organically and/or ethically grown and harvested.  

vanilla body balm

wintermint lip balm

coconut creme

lavendar hand salve

rose hydrosol

lavendar massage oil

I have limited amounts of each body product available, as I make very small hand-made batches every time in order to ensure quality control. If you would like to order something that you see here on my blog, please leave a comment below or message me personally on facebook.  I am able to put together custom orders, designed just for your own needs, as well as gift wrap a selection of items for you in a natural wicker basket if you’d like to give something here as a gift.  I truly hope you enjoy these wonderful natural body products as much as we do!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments