Eco-Friendly Potty Options

There’s news in the DeForbes household: Sofie has officially proclaimed herself a Big Girl. After several weeks of focused potty learning, Sofie, Mike and I are celebrating this milestone. Not just for developmental reasons but for the eco ones too: I never have to buy disposable diapers again. Okay, she’s still wearing a pull-up at night, but I have immediate plans to buy a few pairs of waterproof underwear so that I never have to buy disposable diapers again. Yay! That’s less plastic pull-ups in the landfill! The whole potty learning process went quite smoothly. Sofie was an eager pupil who moved at her own pace with lots of encouragement from me, Daddy, her teachers and Elmo. She just loves her potty (wherever the location), but mostly she loves being a Big Girl. She enjoys peeing at the same time I do, reading while on her potty, and she takes … Continue reading

ARSENIC AND OLD WOOD: Which Swing Sets Are Safest?

My husband and I have decided it’s time to get our daughter a swing set. Swinging is her favorite thing to do. If Sofie were in charge, we’d never leave the playground. At school, she spends much of her day amusing herself on the wooden play structures, inside and out. Just imagine the free time having a structure in our yard might provide us! I grew up with one of those metal swing sets that are abundant on craigslist these days. However they are merely that — swings and a slide. No climbing structure for agility. No clubhouse for imaginative play. Mike and I provide Sofie with much mental and emotional stimulation. Our chosen swing set needs to provide a good physical outlet to maintain her interest outdoors. So the next decision then is wood or plastic? My instinct was to assume wood was the greener choice, however, that’s not … Continue reading

What’s the Most Eco-Friendly, Non-Hybrid Car?

In the end, green beat out ugly. I’m talking about my new, pre-owned car, the Scion xB. I’ve never liked this box on wheels since its 2005 debut, never imagined that I’d one day be a proud owner of said box. Our 1996 Corolla had been dying in parts lately, so my husband and I were shopping for a replacement. Our biggest priorities were: fuel economy (the Corolla could still average 33 miles per gallon), space (we were unable to fit our daughter and all our camping equipment into the Corolla on our recent trip) and price (this, unfortunately, ruled out hybrids). I thought this was finally my chance to get an SUV. I’ve always had a soft spot for those sporty vehicles despite their bad eco rap. But the ones we were interested in (namely the RAV4 and CRV) averaged 22 mpg, which seemed a big dip for a … Continue reading

How to Make Your Camping Trip More Eco-Friendly

We just got back from our first camping trip in three years – Sofie’s first. I’d forgotten just how grimy three shower-less days can feel, although Sofie seemed to have no problem with that part. All in all, she was quite the trooper, adapting quickly to tent life in the dirt and drizzle. (The bugs she could do without.) My husband and I invested in camping gear when we first moved to Rhode Island, figuring it was the cheapest way to see New England. Now, as parents, we realize that it is also a fairly green way to travel and share our love of nature with our daughter. While we did not give much thought when purchasing our gear six years ago, I am now analyzing it with an eye to sustainability. Here are some ideas for camping green: Pitch a tent. RVs and trailers consume a huge amount of … Continue reading

Natural Methods for Getting Rid of Ants

Natural Ant Control |

So, it’s bug season. And we’re being visited by ants. I have been finding them since last week, in the living room, kitchen and hallway. They travel alone. Sofie has been eager to screech: “Mommy, look! A bug!” and won’t go near the area until I have intervened. * Sigh * I am already nostalgic for the days when she squatted down to get a closer look and offered greetings to all creepy crawly creatures However, bugs in the house do have a certain “ick” factor. So now my quest is to find green ways to eliminate them. I refuse to use Raid or other pesticides on our property. Internet research mentions everything from pipe tobacco to borax to vinegar to cornmeal for ant disposal methods. (My favorite — if you have large ant hills — was pitting the ants against each other. Apparently, ant colonies do not intermingle!) I … Continue reading

‘Phthalates’ is a Dirty Word

Phthalate-free toys |

PHTHALATES: n. a group of industrial chemicals mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility and resilience) While phthalates have been lurking in everything from our shampoo and detergents to food packaging and that new car smell for decades, they have come under fire more recently as their use has become more pervasive. In 2008, U.S. Congress banned six phthalates from being used in toys and cosmetics, and major retailers like Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us and Gerber have committed to phasing out phthalate-laden toys. What’s the big deal? According to one case study, “Phthalates cause a wide range of adverse health problems including liver, kidney and lung damage as well as reproductive system and sexual developmental abnormalities.” Some phthalates — such as diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), the most widely used plasticizer — have even been classified as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ by the EPA. While there are many types … Continue reading

Learning the Rules of Trash and Recycling

It’s amazing how apartment living makes you take certain things for granted. Like trash. We were used to large dumpsters (and small recycle bins) for quick and easy disposal. Or property managers who maintained the trash barrel collection and all its requirements. In Champaign, Illinois, there was no curbside recycling. In Providence, neighborhood streets on trash day often resemble an obstacle course of everything, including the kitchen sink. And it all gets taken away. In Warwick, things are different. Along with the house, we inherited three 35-gallon wheeled carts: a gray one for trash, a green one for paper/cardboard and a blue one for bottles and cans. On trash day, these containers line the streets of Warwick, all facing out in an orderly manner. This seemed great … until we actually started using them. 35 gallons may sound big, but it only fits about 2-3 trash bags. Which doesn’t include … Continue reading