Ditch the Disposables Challenge – Sept. thru Oct. 2008

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s time for another green challenge here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. I was thrilled with the participation in the 5-minute “Quickie” shower challenge over the summer and I hope we can do even better this time around!

For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables! We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. Like in the last challenge, I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. I’ll let ya know what I’m giving up in the comments soon.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Sigg or Camelbak bottles or the Kleen Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Sigg or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags

Or, for the really adventurous:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!

*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Edited to add: For help kicking the paper towels habit, check out my post on SKOY cloths (with a giveaway).

Obama, the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash, and me

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After much deliberation, I finally decided on an outfit to wear last night (a black dress complete with – get this – a non-nursing bra!!!). I blew a kiss to my napping Julian and hugged and kissed my Ava and Jody (hubby) goodbye as I headed out for my first real night out on the town since Ava was born. It was a little hard to leave, but I knew the kids were in great hands with Jody and that there was nothing he couldn’t handle. Me and my girls (women I’ve known as a result of attachment parenting since the birth of our kids 4-ish years ago) – Melissa of Nature Deva, Heather of A Mama’s Blog and Julie of Chez Artz – caught a bus from Boulder and made our way to the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash at Trios Enoteca in Denver.

Me and my blogging girls
All dressed up for a night on the town – Mel, Heather, Julie and me

On the bus we ran into Jeremy Tanner who, upon overhearing our talk of blogging, Twitter and Facebook, asked if we were going to the blogger party too. Was it that obvious? ;)

When we got to the bar, we immediately met up with Amber from Crazy Bloggin Canuck and Mile High Mamas. She’s just as sweet and bubbly in person as she is online. :) And honestly, everyone I met last night was nice as could be.

Not long after we got there, it was time to find the nearest TV and plunk down in front of it. Dozens of us bloggers gathered together (most of us squatting on the floor – which, in a dress, was interesting let me tell you) in the back room of the bar to watch Obama’s acceptance speech. There were many cheers and rounds of applause as the feeling of hope and desire for change was tangible in the room, which made up for the lack of feeling I had in my legs from the precarious way I was kneeling/squatting/sitting. But seriously, the speech was awesome. :) Watching Obama on the TV from Trios Enoteca

After the speech, there were free drinks to be had, food to be eaten and more bloggers to meet. I met Laura (LaLa Girl) who I spent quite a bit of time chatting with and Suzanne (Crunchy Green Mom) who I Tweet with all of the time.
Blogging ladies
Back row: Laura, Heather, Julie, me Front row: Melissa and Amber

Blogging ladies 2
L to R: Julie, Amber, Melissa, Laura, Suzanne, me, Heather

In addition, I met Julie (Mothergoose Mouse), Amy (Inherent Passion), Aimee (Aimee Greeblemonkey ), Tara (I Quit for Ligit), Sarah (Imaginary Binky), a husband and wife (Tessa) from My Left Nutmeg (Connecticut’s Democrats’ blog), as well as others. On our way out to catch the bus, we briefly met Stephanie (Lawyer Mama), Glennia (The Silent I) from Momocrats and Heather (No Pasa Nada). Unfortunately, the BlogHers I hoped to meet up with too got stuck in Invesco and there were a few other bloggers who were at the party that I didn’t know were there and I didn’t get to talk to.

Other bloggers
Julie (Mothergoose Mouse), Amy (Inherent Passion), Aimee (Aimee Greeblemonkey)

Julie decided she had to have the hat in the picture below, so she did her best to sweet talk this blogger (from My Left Nutmeg) out of it, but he wouldn’t give in. Can ya blame him? ;)

Julie and the man in the hat

We soon learned that this man and his wife Tessa were visiting from Connecticut to cover the convention and three of us guest blogged for My Left Nutmeg

Blogging for My Left Nutmeg Bloggers

And, of course, I had to get my Tweet on. (Thanks to Tessa who let me steal her laptop for a bit.) I was trying to find the whereabouts of Erin and the rest of the BlogHers and Momocrats. Thanks to Twitter and Vdog, I found out Erin’s phone had died, but I was able to get in touch with Maria who told me they had a hard time getting out of Invesco and were exhausted and at Denny’s, grabbing some food before going back to their hotels.
Tweet, tweet

So I didn’t get to meet the BlogHers, but I did meet a few Momocrats on our way out to catch the bus back to Boulder.

I didn’t end up getting home until 2 a.m. (wow), but am happy to report that the kids and Jody did great. Jody even emailed me a time line this morning to report back last night’s family events. I didn’t ask for it (really, I didn’t – I know I have control issues, but c’mon), but I guess he knew I would appreciate it. ;)  The time line ended with this summary, “no melt downs. they played well with me, together, by themselves. only time jules really wanted mama was when ava accidentally dropped a book on his foot. how was your night?”

I’d call it a successful night all around. I’m thinking I definitely need to get out more often. Who’s going with me?

Thanks to MrLady and ZombyBoy (both whom I didn’t even get to meet – arg) for throwing such a great party. :) Denver rocks!

Women’s issues, rights and equality

With the Democratic National Convention wrapping up last night and Women’s Equality Day, marking the 88th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, celebrated on Aug. 26, women’s issues have been a hot topic lately.

Kristin at Candy Sandwich received a work email Tuesday “from the Assistant Administrator of Diversity or something like that” announcing Women’s Equality Day. She notes, “For the record, I’m not sure I feel all that equal but that’s another story, for another time. I definitely don’t feel any more equal today than yesterday or last week.” Kristin goes on to wonder, even though she received an email “from the Assistant Administrator of Diversity or something like that,” just how Women’s Equality Day was supposed to be celebrated at her work.

In some of the buildings around here, we barely have bathrooms but as the current president proclaimed yesterday, in declaring the day, “I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.”

Bring on the appropriate programs and activities.

What were the “appropriate programs and activities?” Did you attend any? Do you know of any that took place?

Barbara from Looking 2 Live commented on Kristin’s post and remarked, “I always hate these ‘special’ days because they point out the fact that equality still doesn’t exist! For the life of me, I don’t see why there ever needed to be inequality. Maybe some day we will rise above things like gender and race. Not yet, however.”

Ashley at Let Me Entertain You is concerned about women’s rights and wrote yesterday about a proposed regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services “that could seriously undermine access to basic reproductive health services, including birth control and abortion.” In her post, she links to the ACLU where you have until Sept. 20 to publicly comment against the proposal by filling out a form.

I intend to do that just as soon as I finish this post and I encourage you, if women’s rights are important to you, to do that same.

Over at The Fashionable Bambino is a post about the Holistic Moms Network who is concerned that “Women’s Rights to Natural Childbirth Are Rapidly Disappearing.” HMN will be organizing a bunch of events around Labor Day to raise awareness a woman’s right to choose where and how she gives birth.

HMN is throwing its support behind Birth on Labor Day or BOLD – a global arts-based movement founded in 2006 by playwright Karen Brody. BOLD aims to inspire communities to create maternity friendly childbirth choices for mothers through presentations of Brody’s play “Birth.” The play tells the birth stories of eight women and paints an alarming picture of how low-risk, educated mothers are giving birth today. Over 100 performances of the play are happening in cities across America in September (see www.boldaction.org). Proceeds from the play are donated to local organizations that provide mother-friendly maternity care, in line with the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative.

You may well know that I’m a big advocate for women’s right to choose where and how they give birth and I am always glad to read of others joining in the fight to preserve that right.

At RH Reality Check, Allison Stevens is keeping a close eye on the Democratic National Convention and asks, “Will Michelle Obama be women’s rights activists best friend in the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt?”

As I reported in Women’s eNews, Obama says her top concern is issues facing women in the workplace — that is, pay discrimination and difficulties women have balancing the demands of work and family.

I agree that it would be wonderful to have a first lady championing for women’s rights.

Over at The Political Voices of Women, guest blogger Deb Della Piana from Turn Left asks women to Use Your Brains, Don’t Vote for McCain.

John McCain is no friend to women. … What really matters is the position of the presidential candidate. Casting your vote for McCain rather than Obama, out of some twisted sense of loyalty to Hillary Clinton, makes absolutely no sense. For the record, Hillary Clinton feels that way too. If, however, you want to set women’s rights back a few decades then pappy McCain is your man and the Republican party is your ticket.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, Pundit Mom live-blogged HRC’s powerful speech on Tuesday and there are over 50 comments from BlogHers with their reactions to it.

All of this goes to show that even though Tuesday was “Women’s Equality Day,” and we should definitely be thankful to all the women who came before us and made great strides to get us where we are today, we still have a long way to go until we will be truly equal.

Cross-posted yesterday on BlogHer

(FYI I wrote this before McCain had chosen Sarah Palin as his VP, which is why she isn’t mentioned in the article. That very well may be a post for another day.)

A night of firsts

Tonight is a night of firsts, some big firsts for this blogging mama.

disco.jpgFirst of all, I’m going out with my blogging friends – A Mama’s Blog, Chez Artz and Nature Deva – and I’m staying out past. the. kids’. bedtime. *Gasp* I know, right?! I’m still not sure how I swung this. ;) This is the first time in 4 years that I will not be home to put the kids to bed. I’m not complaining because those were choices I made and I’m all good with them, but I am a little excited to have a night off. I’m a bit nervous about how it’s going to go for Jody (my husband), but I’m confident that he can handle it and I’m going to do my best not to worry. May the force be with you, Jody.

Secondly, this is the first time in my three-plus years of blogging that I’m going to attend a blogger event and meet some bloggers apart from those whom I already knew before they became bloggers and apart from a dance in Second Life. ;) I’m going to the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash which is going on in the madhouse Denver during Obama’s acceptance speech tonight. We’re planning on taking a bus downtown and walking to the bar where the bash is being held. I’m crossing my fingers that with all of the road closures (including I-25), we’ll actually make it there. Once there, I hope to have the opportunity to meet up with some of the fabulous women I’ve gotten to know via their blogs and Twitter such as Queen of Spain, Crunchy Green Mom, Aimee Greeblemonkey, Amber from Mile High Mommas, several of the Momocrats like SoCal Mom and The Silent J, Imaginary Binky, GeekMommy,  Whiskey in my Sippy Cup (the host of the party), MotherGoose Mouse, Inherent Passion, Aviva from Parentopia, and others I’m sure I’ve overlooked. (Sorry!)

Of course, I’m not one to go out much. I live under a rock tend to stay in my comfort zone, so going out to an “upscale” wine bar is all new to me. Heather and I were discussing last night on Twitter what to wear. Business casual is recommended, but guess what – I haven’t had to dress in “business casual” attire in over 4 years and I JUST (as in a month or so ago) gave away most of my remaining (outdated) business casual duds. I tried on a couple pairs of black pants last night and a black dress that I have, but I’m not sold on any of them. I tend to go with comfort over style and my closet reflects that. And Jody has the car today so he can get home in time for me to take off for my night of fun, so I don’t have a way to go clothes shopping (unless I want to attempt public transportation twice in one day and try to wrangle the kids onto the bus to the mall or something). Way to leave it all to the last minute, but that’s how I roll. I hope I can pull something half-way decent together.

I’m also wondering if I should bring my camera. I think I will. I can’t go to an event as big as this without some documentation. ;) But I’ll just take the point & shoot.

I wish I had business cards to take with me too, but that’s something I’m giving up on for this soiree. Next time.

So there ya have it. Amy’s big night out on the town, right in the middle of the Denver National Convention. :) I’m excited about it.

We’ve had the DNC on the TV (PBS rocks) quite a bit the past few days. We (meaning me, Jody and often Ava) have watched Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden’s speeches. When Obama showed up as a “surprise” last night, you should have seen the look on my 4-year-old daughter Ava’s face. She was thrilled. She said, “I thought Obama wasn’t going to be there until the other day!” I’m excited that she’s getting excited about this election too.

These are exciting times and this is going to be an exciting night. I can’t wait! :) And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to raid my closet – again.

The 5-Minute Shower Challenge comes to a close

After three hot summer months, we are nearing the end of the 5-Minute Shower Challenge (which was recently mentioned on Consumer Reports – woot!). I thought the turnout was great at over 110 participants. Thank you to everyone who gave it a go! You rawk!

As the challenge comes to a close, I have these questions for you:
A) How did you do? Was it easy? Hard? A pain in the ass?
B) After the challenge ends, will you continue to take shorter showers?

I recently started using a low-flow shower head (courtesy of USALandlord – it’s great BTW and I highly recommend you all replace your shower heads if you haven’t already) and have noticed that my shower times have gone up slightly. Overall, I’m sticking close to 5 minutes, though I do have the occasional day where I “need” to stand under the water for one or two minutes longer. (I know, for shame.) But there are also a couple of days every week where I go stinky au naturale and skip the shower all together so I feel like it all evens out. I plan to keep taking my quickies AKA 5-minute showers, even after the challenge ends.

I’ve got some ideas up my sleeves for future challenges. If you have any as well (especially ones that you think would kick ass), feel free to email me. ;)

Lastly, if you emailed me that you wanted to sign up for the challenge and I inadvertently never added you to the list (in the right sidebar), please drop me another email. I’d like to do one last blog about the challenge with links to all participants and don’t want to leave anyone out. Thanks. :)

From fresh fruit to tasty jam in 36 hours

Photography-wise, I only pulled out the P&S and I’ve got nothing to write home about this week. But as far as expanding my kitchen prowess goes, I’m very proud of these pictures. :)

On Saturday, we visited Berry Patch Farms where we ate picked organic strawberries and peaches, and had a great time doing so.
Ava’s strawberries 8/23/08Julian helps too 8/23/08
Julian and daddy having fun in the strawberry patch 8/23/08
I was determined to get some of the big ones up high, so up the tree I went:
Me, up a tree 8/23/08

Something like 4 lbs. of strawberries and 15 lbs. of peaches later, our bounty looked like this:
Strawberries and peaches we picked ourselves, plus a few other goodies from the farm store 8/23/08

Then it turned into this (after a fair bit of work) in the span of 36 hours:
Strawberry and peach jam - 8/24/08

That used up all of our strawberries, but we still have a LOT of peaches left that I may freeze or can as slices.

But the big deal here (at least to me) is that Sunday was my first time ever making jam or canning anything! While it was definitely a learning experience, it was also a lot of fun and I’m so proud of my first 10 little jars of jam. :) Those 10 little jars are my choice for Best Shot Monday, although they are hard-pressed to compete against Mr. Strawberry-face up there. ;)

I will be blogging a step-by-step guide to canning jam (with pictures) in the near future, so if you want to get started canning be sure to check it out.

More Best Shot Monday pics