Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wood Burning Stoves - A Sustainable Option?

A friend of mine was over for dinner several weeks ago and our conversation turned to wood burning stoves as he and his wife were building a new house, with plans to install a wood burning stove.  Apparently this topic has been a hot one with his friends and family so I thought it would be useful to discuss it further.

Is burning wood bad for the environment? NO.
When looking at how we contribute to an unsustainable society - one of the things we humans do is burn fossil fuels for transport, heating, cooling, cooking and electricity generation.  The result is an increase in carbon dioxide that we emit to the environment.  Burning fossil fuels uses heat energy from photosynthesis but this resource has been buried for hundreds of millions of years and is not currently part of the carbon cycle. By digging it up and burning it, we are creating excess carbon dioxide emissions which push natural cycles out of balance because essentially we are adding a NET introduction of carbon dioxide - we are overwhelming natural system's ability to absorb and store these emissions.



Wood is a renewable resource and is already part of the natural carbon cycle - therefore whether it decomposes on the forest floor or we burn it as fuel, it will release the same amount of carbon back into natural systems.  The heat energy comes from photosynthesis - trees use sunlight to create food needed to grow, in combination with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When you burn wood, it releases the energy (as heat) and carbon dioxide back into the environment. 

That being said, wood burning for heating your home needs a responsible approach:

Burn sustainably harvested, properly processed and seasoned fuel in an advanced combustion stove or fireplace that is vented through a chimney that runs straight up through the building.  (woodheat.org)
From woodheat.org, they suggest the following for responsible wood heating:

Process properly: wood is cut to the correct length and split to the correct range of sizes for the appliance.  Having wood the right length and range of size makes it easy to build good, clean burning fires.

Properly Seasoned: fuel is processed in the spring and stacked in an area open to sun and wind for the summer.  You cannot burn without smoke if you are using wet wood.

Sustainable harvesting: involves selective, uneven age cutting so that an acceptable level of biomass and biodiversity is maintained permanently on the site.


Can I burn wood on an open fire in my home?  Yes and... there are disadvantages like smoke, extra effort to keep fires going, less efficient burning and potential for sparks and ash to damage home interiors.  Use Advanced combustion stoves and fireplaces which burn wood about 90 per cent cleaner and one-third more efficiently than older conventional appliances.  That means a lot less smoke outside and lower forest impacts because less wood is used.


Wondering if wood would work for you? 
Visit the following page for Wood Stove Safety Instructions  and the space required to install a wood burning stove safely.

REMEMBER - NEVER BURN GARBAGE OR TREATED WOOD IN YOUR WOOD STOVE! THIS ADDS TOXINS TO THE ATMOSPHERE AND YOUR HOME. 

Resources:
J√łtul (Norwegian Fireplace Maker) offers a Fuel Calculator for your use

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru

Get your FREE ebook preview HERE 

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TED Tuesday: Greening the Urban Space

An inspiring talk about greening one of the most unlikely neighborhoods - South Bronx. A very inspiring talk about courage, the human spirit and our connection to the land we live on.




Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bisphenol-A in Coke Cans!

According to FastCompany.com's April 21st article last week,  Coke has eliminated Bisphenol-A (BPA) from their plastic bottles but the plastic used to line aluminum cans still contains BPA!  Many shareholders were concerned and upset about the lack of transparency from Coke about the use of this chemical in their aluminum cans.

Bisphenol-A is a hormone-mimicking chemical used in polycarbonate plastic resins, epoxy resins, and other products. It is most commonly used in baby bottles or any type of hard shatterproof plastic containers. It is also found in the lining of canned goods, plastic wrap and other household plastics.

So what is the big deal? Bisphenol mimics hormones in the body and has been shown through tests in animals to cause many health problems such as an increase in prostate and breast cancer, uro-genital abnormalities in male babies, a decline in semen quality in men, early onset of puberty in girls, metabolic disorders including insulin-resistant (Type 2) diabetes and obesity and neurobehavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

As a family greening up your act, this relates to one of the fundamental ground rules we cover in greater depth in my ebook.  This is an example of how we are poisoning the system we live in and depend upon for our health and survival.  Why would we continue to allow companies to do this???  Coke has a facebook page if you want to post your thoughts...would be interesting to see what happens to the negative posts!

Here is a link to the Environmental Work Group's page on how to avoid BPA exposure. This is also a good link to the survey they did on canned food and BPA levels.  Also of interest might be a recent Food and Drug Administration report for public comment on BPA's affects on human health.

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Reflection

You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself - Nelson Mandela

 
Behind the times or doing it differently?

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blog Bubble Brain

Hello followers!

I've hit a blogging wall earlier this week and have been a bit under the weather so I'll be back with new blog posts next week! My apologies!

Thank you to those of you who suggested topics to cover via facebook. I appreciate it!

Happy (belated) Earth Day. I found this cartoon and it gave me a good giggle!





 Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TED Tuesday: Using Embodied Energy to Build Green

This one is for those of you who like the details and want to know about green energy and building. Catherine Mohr gives a short TED talk about using embodied energy to calculate the payback time of her new home.



While embodied energy does not take into account all of the sustainability aspects I cover in my ebook - it does present an easy to understand analysis of how to view your choices through a certain lens - that of how much energy goes into the production and transport of materials she's using to build her home. At the end of her presentation, she provides a payback period which is really interesting!

Enjoy!

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wood is wonderful!

I love trees! Why you might ask? Not only because they provide oxygen for us to breathe, beautiful displays of colors and a place for those cute little birds to live - they provide a renewable resource for us to use. This renewable resource is also sustainable (able to continue on forever) provided we follow good forest management practices which allow for the growth and harvest of trees in a way that doesn't degrade the forest resource as a whole.

Wood is also a wonderful material because when we are finished using it - more often than not, it's easier to return to nature than other materials such as plastic, metal or a combination of all three.

Here are some of my favorite recent picks of products made from wood that I think families going green might like....
The timbur Rattle - Each rattle is made in the USA by hand by timbur, constructed of all natural wood, filled with natural shell beads and finished with a non-toxic blend of natural oils and wax.  For sale here (USA).  I emailed with timbur's owner, Ezra and this is what he had to say about his wood sources:

"At timbur we take sustainability and ecologic responsibility very seriously and go to extended lengths to source our wood from lumber suppliers that share our values."

They are continuing to look for a secure source of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) wood - currently the gold standard for the wood industry and it sounds like they have a good lead so stay tuned!


One of things that I HATE to throw away is my toothbrush - not because I'm addicted to brushing my teeth but because you cannot recycle them (that is if you use plastic toothbrushes).  So, here is a great wooden option. The picture showed here is the model for Toddlers but they make adult versions too!

•Toothbrush handles made from sustainable beechwood - safe to chew too!
•100% biodegradable
•Pure, natural bristles, medically safe, hygenically treated pig bristle
•More gentle and safer on your child's gums than plastic bristles 
Link to buy this product (UK)



Concerned about BPA in plastic kids toys - I LOVE this and no worries about any kinds of chemicals getting into your little one's skin/body.  This product is also made with FSC certified wood.  I'll take a tomato melt to go please!  For sale at Ecotoys (Australia).

If you are new to "FSC" certified wood here is some further info for you:


FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.


Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide. 

FSC is a certification system that provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry.

The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value. 

FSC is nationally represented in more than 50 countries around the world.

FSC USA - use this link to search their product database
FSC Australia - has link to search for FSC certified products

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A bathmat you'll want to get mouldy...eventually

I love products like this - made from natural sources, useful during their lifetime and then can return to natural sources - just like Nature intended!

Squishy Toes is a bathmat made by Rebecca Berrigan and Nancy Kelly in the USA.  It's made from plant cellulose - the structural component of of the primary cell wall in green plants.  Did you know that 33% of all plant matter is cellulose and in trees, cellulose makes up 50% of the tree's matter.  It's a renewable material - one that nature grows and provides to us for free!    It is used in paper, cardboard, card stock and in this case - to make a bathmat.

This bathmat is a bit different though because in addition to providing a soft mat for the shower, an anti-slip surface for inside the home/camper van shower or on a shower seat, it will biodegrade!  Once your Squishy Toes bathmat wears out, instead of throwing it away in the garbage (like many bathmats which are fabric and rubber and may take years to break down), this one goes in the compost heap!

By placing it in the compost heap or in the soil, it allows microorganisms to break the mat down into humus which is the dark, organic material in soil produced b the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter and essential to the fertility of the earth.

Products like this embody the "Waste = Food" mantra of the Cradle to Cradle concept:

"using environmentally safe and healthy materials; design for material reutilization, such as recycling or composting; the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency" and several more...

This concept has been developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart who offer Cradle to Cradle certification as a way to label some of the greenest products available today.

One of the only baby product so far to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification has been gDiapers 



These are the kinds of products we'll only see more and more of and as a family wanting to green up your act - look for other examples like these!  If you find some, pass them along and I can share them on the blog.

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TED Tuesday: What Adults Can Learn from Kids

Loved this!



Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s Connect with me on Facebook- click here

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Principles of Successful Manifesting

Enough of the fight today -  The reality is that often times, we feel completely small, overwhelmed, burnt out, confused and just plain tired of putting up a good fight in an attempt to be good green families. Thank you to Stef - a friend and coach of mine - for his always inspiring words! Enjoy your day and remember to just be. 

As we travel through the imagery of life we eventually arrive at a silent place of being where we stand at the cliffs edge overlooking a vast ocean of inquisition. The power and force of rhythmic tides are enchanting enough for life to simply pause still. The warm gentle breeze of questioning takes us to a place of confusion, solitude and often pain. we question our existence, our journey, our choices, our friendships, our actions and reactions, our passions and our faiths. We then more often than not become encroached in fear; we become paralyzed when motion is required. If we move deep within ourselves and connect with the rhythm of life’s pulse we can evaluate circumstance from an extremely powerful and productive vantage point. - Stef Sifandos

The Principles of Successful Manifesting



Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
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Friday, April 9, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Green Fish = Good Fish

Did you know that we are in danger of losing ALL of our fish stocks before the end of the century?  Could you imagine your grandchildren reading a Dr.Seuss book and asking what those funny things were on the page?  Imagine a world without fishing (I can hear all the men gasp!) As a family greening up your act, choosing a good fish is equal to choosing a green fish!  Green in this sense meaning the health of the fish population is safe and not currently being overharvested.

This is one of the fundamental ways we are continuously hurting the health of the biosphere - the biggest earth system that contains everything - the earth's surface, the atomosphere and all living systems - including YOUR FAMILY, your community and our society.  We are over-fishing some stocks of fish which means we eat them faster than they can re-populate themselves.  THIS DOESN'T MEAN WE CANNOT EAT FISH  - we just have to be wary of how fast we are doing it and taking the pressure off certain species.

At the same time we are putting pressure on the oceans through our societal actions - the results are worse water quality (killing fish), toxic algal blooms, dead zones, plastic infested patch of ocean (Pacific Garbage Gyre),  invasive exotic species, beach closures and coastal floods are increasing.  These floods are linked to the continual destruction of wetlands, reefs, mangroves and the plants and animals that filter out pollutants and protect our shorelines.

I love eating fish - I'm from British Columbia - home of the pacific salmon. I couldn't imagine life without ever having tasted one of these beautiful fish.  My dad used to take us fishing when we were kids and I have many fond memories of doing that with him.

What actions can you and your family take?  Be conscious about what kinds of fish you are eating and how they are caught. Different types of fishing methods cause greater damage to the oceans than others. REMEMBER - you CAN make a difference by VOTING WITH YOUR WALLET.

Here are some resources for you:
 The End of the Line Trailer - A recent documentary about over-fishing



Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter
p.p.p.s On Facebook? I am too at this link - click here

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why does it always lead to this?

I'm not sure how many dinners you can get through with your family without some kind of potty humor, especially if you have boys? I grew up with a younger brother and seriously, the topic was often brought up at the dinner table - either through actions like gas, jokes or noises......can anyone relate?

Anyway, I actually think it's pretty useful stuff to talk about if you are interested in greening up your family, that is if you can get past the whole my-brother-is-being-gross stuff!  I was reading some notes today on the Transition Town movement website and noticed some facts about water use in the household.

Did you know this is the average breakdown of where your household water use is?

  • 33% gets flushed down the loo
  • 25% is used washing ourselves 
  • 18% is spent on drinking and in preparing food 
  • 12.5% is used in our laundry
  • 8.5% is used when we do the dishes and,
  • 3% is used to wash the car and water our extensive vegetable gardens!
If you combine the amounts for toilet water, showers/bath, and laundry water - that accounts for a whopping 70.5% of our household water use.  Have you ever wondered what you will say to your grandchildren (or even great-grandchildren) when they ask why we ever took good drinking water - about 6-9 Liters (1.6 to 2.4 gallons) PER FLUSH - pooped in it and then flushed it away!? My goodness!

So what can you do?  There are a lot of different options to help and which one you are able to implement will depend a lot upon your living situation.  If you are renting, then perhaps water saving tips would be most useful to you.  If you own your home and are interesting in eventually doing some renovations there are a variety of options available to you from changing your entire toilet system to re-piping your house to have greywater systems (for sink/showers and laundry for example).  And for the really adventurous - you can switch to composting toilet systems. I've used a few and when properly maintained they don't smell at all!

Here are some resources for you:
Water Saving Tips from Australia - one of the most water conscious countries in the world
Greywater Design Information from Oasis Design in the USA - Publish a very informative book
Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure
To wrap up this text, I have to finish off with one of the coolest inventions I've seen in a long time - The LooWatt. It's a toilet made of 90% horse dung (I know! Go figure?!) where people in developing nations can take the contents to a central outdoor biodigester which provides a free source of biofuel for cooking.  The LooWatt features a biodegradable lining that stores excrement in a sealed, ordor free container.  The system is low-cost mechanical and the design may be useful in many developing countries where installation of sewage systems is impossible, and improper waste disposal spreads many devastating waterborne diseases. VERY COOL!

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
http://howgreenismyfamilynow.com/index.html

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with a single step and lasts a lifetime
p.p.s. Follow me on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tracylydiatt
p.p.p.s On Facebook? I am too at this link - click here

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guilt Free Ice Cream for the Green Hearted

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has recently announced it will go completely Fairtrade Certified with its ingredients by 2013! YEAH!  As recently posted in my April 3rd post about "45,000 reasons to swap your choco eggs" I talked about the benefits of fair trade for families trying to green up their act.  Ben & Jerry's ice cream creating a MASSIVE goal to go completely Fairtrade by 2013 is HUGE news.

It gives families a way to support social sustainability and build community by voting with their wallet. (and it doesn't hurt that the ice cream is totally yummy!).

From the Guardian's April 4, 2010 Article: 

Sold up but not sold out, Ben and Jerry are still the poster boys for fair trade

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. 'Ben & Jerry's was never Unilever,' says Cohen, 'and you know, I never had any illusions. Photograph: James D. Morgan/Rex Features


Full Article Here


From the Fairtrade Organisation's webiste:

Ben & Jerry’s has just announced its commitment to go fully Fairtrade across its entire global flavour portfolio.  From Cherry Garcia to Chocolate Fudge Brownie, all of the flavours in all of the countries where Ben & Jerry’s is sold (including Australia) will be converted to Fairtrade Certified™ ingredients by the end of 2013. 

Ben & Jerry’s was the first ice cream company in the world to use Fairtrade Certified™ ingredients starting in 2005, and today it’s racing ahead as the first ice cream company to make such a significant commitment to Fairtrade across its global portfolio.

Company co-founder Jerry Greenfield said, “Fairtrade is about making sure people get their fair share of the pie. The whole concept of Fairtrade goes to the heart of our values and sense of right and wrong. Nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting somebody else.” 

Ben & Jerry’s 100% Fairtrade commitment means that every ingredient that can be sourced Fairtrade Certified™, now or in the future, is Fairtrade Certified™. Globally, this involves converting up to 121 different chunks and swirls, working across eleven different ingredients such as cocoa, banana, vanilla and other flavourings, fruits and nuts.  It also means working with Fairtrade cooperatives that total a combined membership of over 27,000 farmers. 

I'm so excited about this! A huge step forward for setting a great example and providing a fabulous product!  I am a fossil fuel kind of girl: FOSSIL FUEL ICE CREAM that is! It's fabulous and hopefully one day, won't involve any kind of fossil fuel use in its making....

For more information on Ben and Jerry's Activism visit their website.

Bravo Ben and Jerry! My spoon is raised to you.


Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru

p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with one step and lasts a lifetime

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tracylydiatt
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TED Tuesday: How food might be killing your kids

Bravo to chef Jamie Oliver for ranting, his passion and helping families learn how to feed their family food for success!



Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru

p.s. Remember you can do this, it all starts with a first step and it will last a lifetime

Monday, April 5, 2010

Leading by example is a scary thing...

A little inspiration from my weekend trip to Denmark, Western Australia.....sometimes we have no easy and quick numbers to justify the costs, to outline the benefits, to calm our partner's fears/doubts about making changes to the household, to answer our friend's inquiries and to quiet the critic's voice in our head!

Sometimes the only thing we can really do is lead by example and have a little faith.

This is what courage means to me.


Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
p.s. Remember you can do this, it begins with one step and lasts a lifetime
http://www.howgreenismyfamilynow.com

Saturday, April 3, 2010

45,000 reasons to swap your choco eggs

Happy Easter everyone! In addition to the Christian religious significance to the Easter Holiday, many families plan easter egg hunts and fun spring related activities and crafts for their kids.  Chocolate has become a large part of the North American Easter tradition.

As consumers, we are able to vote with our wallets and families interested in "greening up their act" have several essential fundamentals to consider.  One of them is the social aspect of our consumer choices.  


So what does this have to do with Easter? C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E!!! YUM.  You can change lives by investing in buying Fair Trade chocolate this Easter.  It is typically 15-30% more expensive than conventional choices but you can use it as an adult treat and focus on crafts for your kids this Easter.   When I buy fair trade chocolate bars - they range in price from $4.00 to $7.00 for a 100g to 150g (3.5oz to 5.3oz).  I actually find they taste better and the extra few dollars I would have in my pocket is one take out tea/coffee a day out of my life.  A worthy exchange of extra change for the value it produces.  If you are new to the Fairtrade idea the following is some information for you and an inspiring video!

From the Fairtrade website
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

Even though we don't intentionally mean to, sometimes our choices place barriers in the way of other people so they are unable to meet their needs.  Those needs might be something so simple that we often take for granted such as clean drinking water, fair wages, and access to education for our children.  It's very important to create conditions so people can meet their basic human needs. If they are unable to meet their basic needs, they will be solely focused on survival, unable to contribute any of their gifts to the world and will often have a much lower quality of life for themselves and their children.

Here's 45,000 reasons to consider switching to Fair Trade chocolate



In Australia/NZ buy your Fairtrade Easter treats at:
http://www.chocolatier.com.au/ourstores/OurStores.htm
www.lindsayandedmunds.com.au
http://www.lighthouse-ventures.com
http://www.aldi.com.au/ 
http://www.alterecopacific.com/wheretobuy.html 
http://cocolo.com.au/stockists/ 
http://www.oxfamshop.org.au/retail 

In USA and Canada buy your Fairtrade Easter Treats from:
http://www.fairtradefederation.org/
http://www.transfairusa.org/
http://www.equalexchange.coop/
http://www.transfair.ca/ 
http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=pageFairTrade1&type=store
 
Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
p.s. Remember you can do this, it start with one step and lasts a lifetime

Friday, April 2, 2010

Help for the Diaper Conundrum

Did you know your little sweetheart will go through 8,000 to 10,000 diapers (nappies) before they become toilet trained?

Did you know that we throw away an average of 18 Billion disposable diapers a year in the United States alone?

That's a whole lot of waste going straight to garage dumps and how long does it take for a diaper to break down?  A LONG TIME and what does it break down into? As well, the more waste we create, the more space we need to dispose of it (unless it's incinerated which just adds harmful emissions to the environment) so throwing these diapers out causes a lot of problems. 

Traditional disposable diapers contain all or some of the following:

  • Materials such as paper, wood cellulose and cotton that have been bleached using chlorine
  • Absorbent material inside the diaper: Sodium Polyacrylate
  • Plastics found in the fasting tabs and bonded to the paper to help keep the "wetness away from baby's skin"
  • Chemical based perfumes and lotions 
If you are a family with young children trying to green up your act, I'm sure you've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this topic.  A friend of mine, Ben Kneppers of Edge Environment in Sydney, Australia recently published an article about the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) he did comparing two kinds of diapers that I thought might be of interest to you.  The full article is here.

Comparative Life Cycle Analysis for Disposable Diapers (Nappies) vs. Reusable Diapers

The three options analysed:
  1. Disposable Nappies
  2. Reusable Nappies with an efficient washing machine, and 
  3. Reusable Nappies with a less-efficient washing machine. 
Note that other nappy options exist (e.g. compostable and alternative material nappies) but due to limitations in the scope of the study these three most common options were selected.

Within the LCA system - the more "eco-points" a product has, the higher the impact. Here were the results of the study:
3rd place:  1.52 eco-points over the 2.5 year life span (of the child using diapers) is the disposable nappy.
2nd place: 0.74 eco-points is the reusable nappy with a less efficient washing machine
1st place: 0.55 eco-points is the reusable nappy with the efficient washing machine as our most environmentally preferable option

Ben states:
The main areas responsible for impact in the life of the disposable nappies were the high material inputs, which used a significant amount of energy, water, produced a lot of waste emissions, and made a large impact on global warming. The main issue for the reusable nappy is water consumption. As previously mentioned, cotton is a water intensive crop and, in addition to the water used for washing, this led to the impact on water scarcity impact coming out much greater than the disposable nappies. 
 
So stick to reusable cloth diapers as much as you can, line dry where possible and if you can, save up for the most energy efficient washing machine when yours kicks the bucket!



Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
p.s. Remember you can do this, it start with one step and it lasts a lifetime

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where have all the boys gone?

I'm on a roll lately in regards to chemicals and I think this is a short documentary EVERY parent should see. It's called "The Disappearing Male" and was produced by Canadian Broadcast Corporation for Doc Zone.



It's less than 1hr and discusses in depth our rapid evolution (by losing the male species) of our human race.  Sounds like a crazy sci-fi movie? Watch and find out for yourself!

As an integral part of greening your family, it's very important to identify and eliminate the use of man-made chemicals from your home. Later posts will talk about how to do this and where these chemicals are even found.  For now though, please watch and share with any concerned friends or family.

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
p.s. Remember you can do this, it all starts with a first step and it will last a lifetime