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Choosing reusable cloth diapers is a big decision that can lead to a rewarding journey for you and your baby. But where do you start? Here are the most commonly asked questions on how to start your cloth diaper journey.

Nicki's Diapers is a family business founded by Nicki and later joined by her husband Jesse. As a husband and wife team, they worked together to ensure the highest quality products while following responsible environmental and social business practices. The company is now located in Akron, Ohio.

Sharing is Caring: Spreading the Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

 

Every year we generate so much waste. It can be daunting to realize just how much we throw away or all the things we only use once. How do we even begin to reduce our carbon footprint? Where do we find products that are better for our environment? How do we break habits and make new ones? 

I have been on this journey to cleaner living for a while and I know there are still many ways in which I can improve and change. My husband and I have chosen to focus on one area each year to gradually live eco-friendlier. As we focus on different areas each year, we have found that we can identify areas of improvement, habits that need to be broken, and how to make being green more convenient and natural for our family.

There are so many small steps we can take to live in a way that is less harmful to our environment. Focusing on the small steps helps the process be less daunting and overwhelming. We have found peace in slowly making changes that last as we transition to new products and new routines. I have resolved to not feel guilty for using disposable diapers or single-use products when we need to. Instead, we focus on what we can change and do so at a rate that fits our family’s needs and desires. 

The goal isn’t to make one big decision that changes your life, but rather make many little decisions that add up to a great impact. Nor is the goal to make you feel guilty about using certain products, but rather discover some easy solutions.

Let’s look at some everyday items and some alternative products and habits that support an eco-friendly lifestyle. I am going to focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home; but the mindset of evaluating what we use can be applied to all rooms of the house and all the products we use!

 

The Kitchen

Paper towels – They are awesome. They are handy. They absorb. So what can we use instead? How do we replace something that so many consider essential?

Alternatives

Paper towels from 100% recycled material – I’ll be honest, we still have a roll of paper towels at home even though we decided to stop using them three years ago! Sometimes I just need a paper towel to clean up an oil spill, or my husband needs one to clean up paints from his hobby table. So when we do buy paper towels, we buy either recycled, compostable, or bamboo paper towels.

 

 

Cloth towels – These are a great solution! We keep a basket of small, washcloth-sized towels in a basket by the kitchen sink. They are handy to grab to clean up spills, wipe up the counter and do anything you would use a regular paper towel for. Just make sure to keep them in a convenient location. Next to the clean rolled-up towels, we have a wire mesh basket to toss the dirty ones in. They get tossed in the wash with everything else and then restocked. Another option are Marley’s MonstersUNpaper towel roll and holder. It even looks the same as a normal paper towel holder!

Paper Napkins – Like paper towels, napkins make up a lot of our kitchen waste but can be replaced in similar ways.

Alternatives: 

Napkins from recycled materials

Cloth napkins – We keep folded cloth napkins in the last drawer in our kitchen, the one closest to the table. We also have some in the linen closet upstairs for various holidays. Make sure when you buy cloth napkins, you consider how easy to clean the material is and how absorbent. We had some that would barely absorb anything and just smeared! We learned though, and now have ones that are soft and absorbent. Like our towels, these get tossed in the wash. After dinner we throw them in a pile by the washing machine to wait for wash day.

Utensils – If you have to take utensils to work or when you want to go on a picnic, what do you take besides plastic?

Alternatives: 

Bamboo utensil set – I have one that we take when we know we will be eating on the go and ordering food. You can even get a couple sets so you can each have your own. 

 

 

Wash and reuse plastic utensils – When we go out or get food to go, it often comes with plastic utensils. We wash these and keep them in the drawer to toss in the bag when we are eating out or taking our lunch somewhere

Food Storage– From the iconic Tupperware, to plastic wrap and plastic bags, so much of our food storage is either single-use or made from plastic. Switching to glass or silicone containers is a great first step! Nicki’s carries several great options to replace your plastic bags, and they are cute and come in different sizes. 

Alternatives: 

Glass or silicone food storage containers

Planet Wise Food Storage bags – These storage bags come in various sizes and sealing methods. They are great for snacks on the go and storing food at home! 

Beeswax food cover – These are handy to have and wash up easily. The covers use the warmth of your hands to stick to the plate or bowl you are covering. The downside is they do wear out and break down over extended use.

Plate and bowl covers – Marley's Monsters plate and bowl covers are machine washable and, while a bit bulky, are a great way to cover a plate.

Reuse containers foods come in – I have yet to find lunch meat that doesn’t come in a plastic container. Butter, Cool Whip, sour cream and yogurt often come in plastic containers as well. I can recycle that container, or wash the container and use it to store leftovers in. We often joke that we don’t mind sending food home with friends in grocery store containers, because we aren’t worried about getting them back! 

Cleaning Products Having a clean and sanitary living environment is important, and so is cleaning in a way that doesn’t harm our environment.

Alternatives:

Natural Cleaning Products

Cleaning products that come in glass containers

Great companies to look into for cleaning products areSeventh Generation,Grove, orForce of Nature. We all have different needs and desires in this area, and often it is a bit of trial and error until you find a product you like. If something doesn’t work for you, try a different company or product until you find what works for you. 

There are plenty of other rooms in the house, but let’s move to outside of the home and how we can live sustainably in our choices while out and about. A huge area of change for us has been at the grocery store. Just a few of the options are reusable bags; trying to buy produce that isn’t packaged in plastic; using mesh produce bags; or checking to make sure the milk jug is recyclable or buying a different brand.

Grocery Bags

Alternatives:

Tote Bags – Nicki’s carries tote bags from Thirsties, Smart Bottoms, Planet Wise, Oh Lily, and JuJuBe. These are great options for shopping bags, because they pack up nice and small.

 

Reusable Bags – You can find these by the checkout at most grocery stores. They are handy to have and come in all different prints. I keep mine in the car and always carry them in with me. 

Produce Bags– Those super thin plastic bags that serve the purpose of transporting produce home and then occasionally get a second chance at life by being a bag to pick up dog poop. Some stores are switching to biodegradable bags but not everyone is, so what can you use?

Alternatives:

Mesh Produce Bags – These are great drawstring bags that you can toss in the wash if they get dirty. I keep mine in my reusable shopping bags so I always have them handy. We have been using these for about 4 years and they have held up well! Several companies sell them now, so you can find all sorts of options to fit your needs.

The goal of this blog is to highlight areas in which we can improve, and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the products and routines that need to change—nor is it meant to have all the right answers on what products to use instead. We try to focus on the positives these changes bring about, rather than the negative impacts of products or guilt tripping. Instead, the goal is to help us have a mindset that evaluates how we live and what we use in our daily lives so that we can make decisions that lead to eco-friendly habits. 

We have enjoyed the journey and still have a lot of room for improvement, but we are proud of the steps we have taken so far. Taking time to evaluate how we live and what products we use has allowed us to highlight areas of growth and areas that still need change. It takes time to research new ideas and find what works for our lifestyle. We have used companies likeMighty Nest to try out new green products each month. Nicki’s recent Odds and Ends sale had lots of products I hadn’t considered before and was excited to try. Friends have introduced us to new companies and products that we try out for a season while we figure out what works and what fits our budget. Many of the products we have tried over the years came from a friend’s verbal recommendation or witnessing something that was normal for them. 

Remember this is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like green is made up of two colors mixed together and different quantities of blue and yellow yield different shades of green, so too are our lives different shades of green. We are blessed to learn from one another and each focus on making one lasting change at a time.