Six Zero Waste, Earth-Friendly Changes for Families

earth-friendly

Many families are looking into ways that they can change their habits to prevent waste and be more Earth-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started on a path towards zero waste and a healthier planet!

A couple of notes – I recognize that accessibility is an issue for many when it comes to affordability and access to products and that each family has different priorities. Some of these options may not be available (or desirable) for everyone, and that is okay. I encourage each family to look at their own habits and lives and choose what works for them. I also recognize that a large part of the responsibility for the state of our planet lies on corporations. Some believe that changes put into place by individuals don’t matter. But I personally believe that anything I can do to reduce my waste, no matter how small, is worth it. Do what is comfortable and sustainable for you.

earth-friendly

Reduce food waste.

This is, in my opinion, one of the most accessible and important steps for anyone to take. In America, 40% of the food produced is wasted. Are you shocked? I know I was when I heard that number! In my area, food waste is the single largest category of items thrown in the trash. This is one of the best Earth-friendly habits to begin.

Here are some ways to reduce food waste:
Meal plan and use a shopping list.
Compost – in your backyard, or through other options available in your area. In my city, we have drop-off locations for organics recycling, as well as weekly curbside pickup.
Use or freeze your leftovers.
Keep an inventory of the food in your fridge, pantry, and freezer.
Eat what you have first before buying more food.
Come up with ways to use up the “bits and pieces” that you may have at the end of the week. Soup? Casserole? Pizza?
Plan to use up perishable items quickly, such as berries and greens.

earth-friendly

Reduce packaging waste.

Along with food waste, this is a big category of waste for many families. Reducing food waste and packaging are my two biggest goals on my journey towards less waste. Take a look in your trash and/or recycling bin – how many packages do you see? My guess is that there is a lot. There certainly is for my family!

Some ways to reduce packaging waste:
Buy in bulk. This can be done at grocery stores, warehouse stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club, or at local food co-ops.
Bring your own containers to buy items from bulk bins. At many food co-ops, you can buy items such as nuts, grains, coffee, and even maple syrup or liquid soap!
Cut down on single-use packaging. Although these are easy, they can create so much waste! It’s a lot better to buy in larger quantities and divide on your own. Oatmeal packages, applesauce pouches, individually wrapped snacks, etc all add up. This is a big one for us!
Choose recyclable or compostable packaging when possible. At least this way it won’t stay in the landfill forever, it can be broken down and reused.
Buy less packaged, processed foods and make your own at home.

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Know the options and rules in your area.

Do you know what is recyclable in your area? Do you need to sort your recycling individually or can you put it all together? Is there an option to compost food scraps? How should you dispose of paint, medicine, batteries, old furniture, etc? You might learn a lot by googling or looking these things up on your city/county website! There are so many Earth-friendly products out there now, but it’s also great to use what you have!

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Use reusable options whenever possible.

There are a lot of reusable alternatives out there these days! If you can think of a product, there is probably someone selling a reusable variety. For these I suggest you don’t jump in and buy 20 different products at once, but start slow and choose a few that you think will work for your family. You can always add more later! Decide what you’re comfortable with and go from there.

Some popular reusable options:
Reusable food storage, such as glass containers.
Non-disposable “Ziploc” bags for lunches or snacks.
Reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.
Refillable applesauce pouches that you fill at home.
Reusable menstrual products – period underwear, cloth pads, menstrual cup.
Washable cloth breast pads instead of disposable.
Cloth diapers and wipes instead of disposable.
Breastfeed instead of formula feed.
Cloth napkins and towels/rags instead of paper.
Reusable coffee cups for both hot and cold drinks on the go.
Reusable shopping bags and produce bags.

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Avoid buying things new.

We live in a very waste-driven, consumer-based society where the ideal products are fast and cheap. It can be really easy to order something on Amazon or grab it from Target. Moving away from that can require intentional effort. If we avoid buying something new (or at all), we are cutting a lot of steps out of that product’s timeline. This is a great Earth-friendly habit to start with!

Some ways we can avoid buying things new:
Borrow from a family, friend, or neighbor.
Join a library for books, toys, or tools.
Buy items secondhand. This is especially easy for babies and kids, as there are many parents selling their kids’ too small clothes, abandoned but like new toys, and furniture they’ve outgrown.
Think about it before you buy. Do you have a plan for it? Do you already have something that can serve that purpose? Will you actually use it?
Fix, repair, and mend items when possible.
Donate or sell your items when done with them, instead of just throwing them away.

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Drive as little as possible.

Driving is one of the worst things for the Earth, and yet most of us do it every day. In order to be more Earth-friendly, we will often have to make a sacrifice or change how we’ve been doing things. What can you do to reduce the amount you drive? What changes can you make in your life?

Carpool. Can you ride with your friends to the movies? Can you take turns driving the kids to school with your neighbor, or soccer practice with a teammate?

Walk, ride bikes, or take public transportation. These are all great ways to help the Earth and give yourself a boost as well. More time outside and connecting with others can’t be a bad thing, right?! Walking has the smallest carbon footprint, unsurprisingly. But the other options are great too! Replace your usual drive to the local park or library with a nice family walk or bike ride! 

Do any of these sound doable for your family? How do you plan to change your habits to be more Earth-friendly? Let me know in the comments! The Earth thanks you!

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Guide to the Minnesota State Fair with Kids

It’s that time of year again… time to load up the family and gorge ourselves on fried food with hundreds of thousands of our closest friends. That’s right, it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! Although the fair is loved by many, it can seem a bit overwhelming to bring the kids. Here are some tips to make it fun for everyone!

Make a plan.

While showing up the fair with no agenda and going with the flow can be fun, now is not the time for that. There are many things to consider. How do you plan to get there? Will you drive, take the bus, or take a free shuttle from the park and ride? What day will you go, and how much time will you spend there? Are there any discounts on the day you plan to go? What do your kids like to do – and what is a must for you? Make sure to grab a map when you enter the Minnesota State Fair!

Think about how you’ll transport the kids.

My preferred method is babywearing. It’s simple, your kid can’t escape, and you don’t take up much more room than normal. You can bring your stroller or wagon to haul the kids around, but those take up a lot of space and can be annoying in crowds. The fair also has wagons and strollers you can rent for $15-$17 per day.

Write your information on your kids in case you get separated.

There are multiple ways to do this – some people just write on their kids arms with permanent marker. You can make a necklace/lanyard for them with your information on it. You can also get a free bracelet made specifically for this reason from the information booths. And make sure you have photos of your kid from that day in your phone. This is always our first step once we get into the fair.

You can bring food and (non-alcoholic) drinks into the fair!

Pack some of your kid’s favorite healthy snacks along with water bottles for everyone. Since a lot of the food at the fair is decadent, bring something healthy. Fruits and veggies are always a good option. Offer them to kids in between activities. You can even bring coolers into the fair – but not the grandstand. And be prepared for your bag and cooler to be searched when you enter the fair.


Photo by @mrs_rachdana ⁣

Make time for breaks.

The fair is fun, but it can also be too much if we go go go without taking the time to rest. Find a quiet, shaded bench to have a break and a snack. If your kid still naps, take that into account as well. Do you need to leave before they nap, or go in the evening after they nap? Can you leave and come back again later? Will they nap in the wagon or stroller?

Check out the myTalk 107.1 tent for a quiet place to pump or feed your baby.

This space is great! I used this space for 3 years of the fair and am so glad it exists! They have fans, toys for older siblings, places to plug in your pump, comfy seating, and a diaper changing area with supplies. It’s semi-private – there are no divided spaces. It’s just a big tent. There are also other areas around the fair that you can pump or feed if you need a calm, quiet space with electricity. Some also have space to change your baby’s diaper.

Lower your expectations.

High expectations can ruin any experience. You may think you’ll take your kids and everything will be perfect, but that’s not guaranteed. It can get hot, tiring, and overstimulation for little ones. The Minnesota State Fair is one of the most attended state fairs in the country! Large crowds, new foods, noises, and lots of walking can overwhelm anyone but especially our kids. If you go into the day expecting too much, you might be disappointed at the end. And don’t think you’ll get to do every single activity you have on the list, or eat all the foods you want to try. Keep it laidback and simple.

Some of our favorite activities for kids at the Minnesota State Fair…

Eat an apple cider freezie
Alphabet Forest and Math on a Stick
Great Big Sandbox
Little Farm Hands
Look at the tractors on Machinery Hill
DNR building
Giant Slide
Miracle of Birth Center
Animal buildings
Scavenger hunt (pick up at Alphabet Forest)
Sit on the horse in the Horse Barn
Nature Adventure Play Yard at the Eco Experience
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Rides at Kidway or Midway
Free live music
Education building
Watch the parade
Meet a PBS Kids character at the TPT booth

minnesota state fair
Photo by Jenelle Hill

What are YOUR favorite Minnesota State Fair tips or activities for kids? Let me know in the comments or contact me!

Doula du Nord at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been accepted to have a table at the 2019 Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!
This is a great event for anyone who is pregnant, has kids, or is planning to have a baby. And it’s family-friendly too! I hope to see you there.

birth and baby expo

Details:

When?

November 2, 2019
9:30 am to 3 pm

Where?

Capitol Hill Magnet School
Saint Paul, MN

What?

A wonderful event featuring local businesses related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting as well as kid-friendly activities (face painting, storytime, and more!) and presentations/workshops.

Have questions about the expo? Contact me!

 

Babywearing Has…

Babywearing has been an incredible tool for me as a parent as well as a birth worker. We started wearing our baby when she was a week old… and we were still wearing her when she was 3.5! I also love wearing babies as a postpartum doula – it’s such a great tool for comforting, bonding, daily activities, travel, and everything in between! I absolutely love it when families ask me for help to wear their babies, and they love it too! The benefits (for everyone) are endless!

We love our local babywearing chapter, Babywearing Twin Cities. We have met so many amazing friends through meetings, tried and checked out different carriers, gotten tips and help for wearing our daughter, and learned so much from this group! I’m so happy we have such an incredible resource in our area! Their purpose is “building the bond between babies and caregivers through baby carrier education and support.”

This year marks the 10th year of International Babywearing Week and the theme is “Babywearing Has…” so I thought I would highlight some of the amazing things that babywearing has done for our family over the years! Here are some of my favorite photos!

What has babywearing done for you? Here’s some of what it’s done for us…

Babywearing Has…

… let us hike together as a family. In state parks, nature centers, and on vacation in places like Canada, Colorado, and the North Shore.

babywearing colorado

babywearing north shore

… kept us calm during sickness and doctor visits.

babywearing          babywearing

… helped us exercise our civic duty!

babywearing vote

babywearing vote

… taught our child to love live music.

babywearing concert

babywearing concert

… accompanied us on road trips, through airports, and to landmarks.

babywearing mt rushmore

babywearing lighthouse

 

… let us enjoy activities like farmers markets, running errands, and taking walks together!

babywearing farmers market

babywearing walk

… provided endless snuggles and fun!

babywearing snuggles

babywearing fun

AND

… made our daily lives, activities, and experiences even better.

tandem babywearing

babywearing pool

babywearing museum

babywearing

Contact me, check out my services or learn more about me!

doula du nord

 

12 of the Best Snacks to Eat While Breastfeeding

If you’ve ever fed a baby from your breasts – whether that looked like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping, or a combination – you know that it makes you hungry. Really hungry. First, your body likely recently grew and birthed a human being. Maybe more than one! That is hard work and you did a great job. Now, your body is working hard to produce milk to feed that human being. No wonder you feel hungry all the time!

In order for you to feel your best and to create milk for your baby, you need to eat. And you need to eat well. Sometimes that can feel extremely difficult, but it’s so important! Many of the best breastfeeding snacks are ones that are easy to eat one handed and easy to keep stocked near where you will be pumping or breastfeeding.

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The Value of a Postpartum Doula

Basically everybody who has kids knows the value of having help in those first few months after bringing  baby home. Your family and friends love to come over and hold the baby or drop off a meal – but the first few weeks can feel like an endless whirlwind of visitors. Entertaining guests plus adjusting to life with a new little one can be draining and stressful! This is when you will be most thankful for your postpartum doula.

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Don’t Let the “Witching Hour” Scare You!

Ghosts, goblins, and spooky creatures of all kinds will roam the streets this Halloween – but maybe the scariest thing of all for new parents is the “witching hour.” Does the phrase send chills down your spine and make your hair stand on end? It doesn’t have to be that way!

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