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Old 02-11-12, 12:58 AM   #1
Piwoslaw
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Default "Efficient" parenting

Is it possible to have a small baby and stay eco and efficient? Our son will be born 1-1.5 months from now, but as we prepare our water and electrical usage is already increasing, mainly because the washing machine is being used more often, and at a higher temperature. I wince at the thought of how much more it will increase once there is a newborn in the house.

So, any ideas on how to keep that impact at a minimum?

Here are a few things we are planning to do:
  • Use reuseable cloth diapers to minimize waste. This will increase water and energy usage since they have to be washed very often, so...
  • Replace old washing machine with newer, more efficient model. The new one we're looking for takes a slightly smaller load (4.5kg instead of 5kg), weighs the load to know how much water is needed, and spins at 1200rpm to squeeze out more moisture. The new machine also has an Eco program which saves even more if the load isn't too dirty.
  • Wash the baby in a small tub, then use the water for other things - washing ourselves and/or flushing the toilet.
Any comments/suggestions?

Oh, and I'd like this thread to cover only the 'technical' side of efficient parenting, but if you can recommend any more general ecoparenting forums then please do

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Old 02-11-12, 08:06 AM   #2
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Well as a parent of three children I certainly have a lot of input here. If water usage is such a concern for you I suggest you get into rain water harvesting. Where I live there is basically too much water so that's not an issue. I have found that the biggest issue the average person encounters when having children is the amount of garbage which enters the house. Many of the "toys" people give to your new child are aesthetically unpleasing, obnoxious and disposable. Try to keep that to a minimum. Having an influx of crappy toys and other baby related junk will increase the amount of trash you have by a minimum of 10x in my experience. Cloth diapers are no doubt the way to go. And if you have another child you can use them again and even lend them to a friend with a small child after yours has outgrown them. My cloth diapers have gone through multiple children. After the child begins to eat solid food you don't need to buy baby food. Just take some of your food out and put in a different pot to finish cooking before you fully season it. And add more water. Then get a baby food mill. One like this: http://www.diapers.com/p/babysteps-food-mill-16298?site=CI&utm_source=cse&utm_medium=cpc_D&utm_ campaign=Google&utm_content=pla&ci_sku=KO-067&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw={keyword}. I've had mine for about 6 years. It's not the same one as mine came here with some friends from Belgium. Don't worry about getting anything for the baby. People will give you much more than you could possibly need. Make as many trips to the salvation army (or the Polish equivalent) to immediately get rid of any items which aren't perfect. Don't worry about the baby being cold in the winter if you like to keep your house cooler than other people do. Just stock up on blankets. They will be healthier for it. All of my children are strong and healthy and I have always kept the house cool. Children were raised in the cold for thousands of years and we're still here. Honestly love and being held gives them more warmth than any boiler. It's also the same for adults.

This is a great thread and I'll keep chiming in as more thoughts come to me.
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Old 02-11-12, 09:26 AM   #3
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I raised two kids, now they're on their own.

My daughter is about to have a baby, in a few weeks.

It may not seem so Eco, but someone gave us Diaper Service for the duration required for each child.

There were many well-wishers, and many thoughtful gifts, but none came close to the gift of the Diaper Service. In the midst of the intense new demands, just having one big thing that we didn't have to do, made a huge difference.

I have already volunteered to be the person to give my daughter the diaper service for her new baby.

She'll thank me later.

And if you consider the economic and ecological aspects on a larger scale, it may be Eco after all...

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Old 02-11-12, 01:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S-F View Post
Many of the "toys" people give to your new child are aesthetically unpleasing, obnoxious and disposable. Try to keep that to a minimum.
Tell that to our family

Half of the clothes we got are from our friends and family, as is the bed, crib, car seat, and a few others. The other half we bought, but the next batches will mostly be used.
Unfortunately, all of our friends used disposeable diapers, so no help from them, but at least our parents still remember what cloth diapers were all about. There is no such thing as Diaper Service here, or at I've never came across it, but when I mentioned it to the Wife she said: "No way! Our diapers, our bacteria, we wash them!"

We're also planning on not getting a stroller, but using a shawl instead. A bike trailer which doubles as a stroller (Croozer, for example) will take care of the rest, and reduce our car use.
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Old 05-15-12, 09:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Many of the "toys" people give to your new child are aesthetically unpleasing, obnoxious and disposable.
Hahaha this one made me laugh out really loud!

Oh and I'd skip reusing babys bath water...I'll just use it for flushing the toilet.
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Old 05-22-12, 12:27 PM   #6
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I've been collecting data since my son was born and did some calculations today:
  • When washing the reusable cloth diapers (cotton@60C program) the new washing machine uses about 40 liters of water and 829 Wh of electricity (averaged over 19 loads, between 757 and 913 Wh per load),
  • Each load is 20-24 diapers, plus some of the kid's clothes,
  • This gives about 2 liters and 40 Wh per diaper. This is rounded up, not counting any other clothes into the average, so I won't count the miniscule amount of electricity used for ironing.
  • Factoring in the cost of electricity, water and sewage this amounts to a cost of 0.05 PLN (0.015 USD/0.011 EUR) per use per diaper.
  • The up front cost of each diaper is 30-40 times more, but it is used once every two days, and will be for at least a year, so this hardly raises the total cost.
  • Disposable diapers cost between 0.70 PLN (0.21 USD/0.16 EUR) for the normal types and 1.20 PLN (0.35 USD/ 0.27 EUR) for ecos. Our son would have to use the ecos since he got a terrible rash from the Huggies we got from the hospital. The eco-disposables were fine, but normal cloth diapers are the best
Summing up: Using cloth diapers is not only at least 12-20 times cheaper than disposables, but also much healthier
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Old 05-22-12, 04:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I've been collecting data since my son was born...
With all respect, Piwoslaw (since I did the same thing)...

You know you're and EcoRenovator if, when your son is born, you start collecting data...

My Very Best Wishes...

-AC
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Old 05-23-12, 12:14 AM   #8
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Thanks AC

One thing that I've noticed is that now it is impossible to leave home when planned. We've learned that to go somewhere and not be late more than an hour, we have to plan ahead and start the changing/feeding/sleeping cycle many hours earlier for there to be a chance to pack up and leave when we should. One of the (many) downsides of this is that it is hard to use the car's engine preheater efficiently. Shortly after returning from the hospital I plugged the heater in about 1.5-2 hours before we wanted to leave. After 3 hours I unplugged it, after another hour plugged it in again, etc. In total it was on twice as long as usual, so it used twice as much electricity, but the engine's temperature wasn't any higher than normal Now it's warm outside, so I can turn it on within 1-1.5h of leaving, plus we're getting into a daily routine which makes planning much easier.

Thankfully, we hardly use the car: only to go to Grandma's every two weeks (hopefully we'll start taking the train again within a few months) and visits at the hospital. Our doctor's office is 1.5km away, so we wrap Jnr in a shawl and walk. We also bought a bicycle trailer which he doesn't seem to mind (goes to sleep) which is used when we don't need to go farther than 5km.

Another increase in power consumption comes from breast feeding: Mrs P is chained to the armchair for hours each day, P Jnr won't let her read a book, so she is bored and turns on the TV (with accessories - 200W). She's not happy about it, but there's not much else she can do.

On the good side, P Jnr's bath water is ideal for washing my feet at the end of the day, then is gets poured into a bucket and is used for flushing at night.
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Old 02-11-12, 02:20 PM   #9
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Yeah I have a pretty intense bike trailer, the Burley Cub. It was a great investment. I highly recommend it as opposed to any other trailer I have seen on the market. I use it all winter long. When the kids were young their mother just carried them in a sling. I have had one of the frame baby backpacks for about 11 years now too. All gifts. Very good gifts.

About the diapers, I have a bunch that I'm not using any more. How much would it be to ship them to Poland? You can have them. I'm not having any more children.
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Old 02-12-12, 07:29 AM   #10
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I wonder if it would be better to get a bigger washer instead of smaller. As long as you use it for full loads. Fewer but larger loads should be more efficient. With a baby you will certainly have lots more to wash.
Also remember you will be able to divide all the utilities by an extra WHOLE person.
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