Nuts About Soap Nuts!

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With a family of four  I find that I do a LOT of laundry!  Since we’ve taken on cloth diapers and since our newest addition was born, I do at least a couple of loads per day.  Really, I don’t mind it too much.  It’s part of the routine.  However, when you are doing that much laundry, you really start to consider how much you are spending on laundry detergent.

Because I had severe eczema my whole life, we found out when I was young that plain ol’ Tide was the only detergent we could use that wouldn’t break me out.  I believe that my skin got used to it, not so much that it was the best solution for my sensitive skin.  When I started getting into a greener  lifestyle, I realized how many chemicals are in laundry detergents and thought maybe that was part of the reason that I had so much trouble with my eczema.  Since my son has shown the same symptoms of eczema that I used to have, we decided to go for an all natural approach.

I made my own batch of all natural laundry detergent, which made me feel wonderful because I wasn’t putting any harsh chemicals onto our clothes to soak into our bodies.  I found, however, that my messy 2 year old and newborn baby girl’s clothes were not getting as squeaky clean as Tide had done for us before, so I began looking for another natural alternative.

If I thought I was doing something right by making an “all natural detergent” before, I was wrong!  While the ingredients that I used in my homemade detergent were natural and safe, I found that it didn’t have much stain fighting power.  Enter Soap Nuts.

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Wool Dryer Balls

One of the most dangerous, chemical-ridden products on the market is most likely sitting in your laundry room right now and you’ve probably never given it a second thought.

Dryer sheets.

The chemicals that make these products work remain on  the clothes even several times after they are washed.  They’re absorbed through the skin and lungs and certain traces of these chemicals have been found in urine, blood, and even breastmilk!  The worst part of all is that the manufacturers aren’t required by law to put their full list of ingredients on the product!  So when you read “Fragrance” on the box, you have no idea how many chemicals that “Fragrance” contains or how extremely detrimental to your health it is!

Research of these chemicals have linked them to:

  • asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • reproductive and fertility problems
  • developmental issues
  • skin irritation
  • kidney, liver, and nervous system damage
  • cancers
  • massive hormones disruptions

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Why Go Cloth?

I started researching cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my son over two years ago. Knowing that I was going to contribute to the overflow of landfills with thousands of disposable diapers just didn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately, two moves in my third trimester (the last one being 10 days before my son was born) had me a little preoccupied. And as soon as my son was here, I was so overwhelmed with him and all of his perfection that I didn’t really think about it again other than the occasional “I wish we would have done cloth”…as if it were too late.

Almost a year ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I HAD to make it work! I began researching and found all kinds of websites, blogs, and forums on the benefits of cloth diapering, how to get started, and everything I could ever want to know about using cloth. I was blown away at how many people had the same frame of mind as me!  My husband (being just as environmentally conscious as me) was on board right away. Other people, though, didn’t seem as excited about the idea as I did. My response was simply, “why wouldn’t we use cloth?”

Here are a few key points to why I love cloth diapering so much:

Saves money

  • When you decide to make the leap to cloth, you should be prepared to invest a good amount of money into it. The high end, name brand cloth diapers can reach up to nearly $25 per dipe. Personally, I think that is CRAZY! I found hundreds of different YouTube channels and websites that reviewed every kind of cloth diaper brand and style out there and, based on what I researched, decided what was easiest and most cost-effective for my family. Trying to be as savvy as I could, I decided on three different brands of diaper that I got for as low as $4.50 per dipe that could be used from newborn all the way until potty trained.  And, as a general rule, I never paid more than $6 per dipe (for more info on which brands I chose, check out my blog Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper). There are several different online trading companies that buy, sell, and trade used diapers as well (clothdiapertrader.com and diaperswappers.com) so you could potentially get diapers for even less.  I would count on at least a couple hundred bucks to get started, though, depending on how many you want (I recommend at LEAST 20 as new babes go as many as ten times a day).
  • Disposable diapers are, on average, about $.20 per dipe (we used Pamper Swaddlers for my son which are closer to $.25/dipe). You’ll use about 10 diapers a day on your baby for the first three months before that number goes down to maybe six a day for the next two and a half years! That’s math I can’t even do! In all my research, I found that on average, every child uses about $2,000 worth of disposable diapers which creates over 6,000 diapers added to landfills..that’s PER CHILD! That alone should be enough to convince you, but don’t worry…I have more!

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How it began

coupons

I haven’t been a couponer my whole life.  Saving money wasn’t even close a priority when it came to shopping.  Actually, I used to be petrified of clearance sections.  Me, having perhaps a tiny case of OCD, would look at the mess and disorganization of the racks and shelves and immediately get overwhelmed.  My mom could spend hours in the clearance section.  My grandma raids the sales racks throughout the year to put together overflowing boxes of STUFF as Christmas gifts.

That was not me.

I used to think that only little old ladies used coupons.  I mean really, 35 cents here, 50 cents there…that doesn’t really add up to much, right? Is it even really worth the time to find the coupons and cut them from the paper just to save a buck or two?

It wasn’t until we got rid of our cable and I was looking for mindless TV shows to watch on Netflix that I found “Extreme Couponing”, and I decided to watch for a laugh.  But wait…these people were getting over $700 worth of items for like eight bucks.  Totally not possible. But I had to keep watching.  These people had stock piles of food that could last them up to a year and they’re telling me that they paid $25 for the loot! No way! I became addicted.  How was this possible?

My curiosity kicked into overdrive and I started researching.  I came across blog after blog of people proving to me that it is possible!  There is a science to it and (believe it or not) you can save money…A LOT of money!

So, I started taking notes.  Tips and tricks on how to get started with couponing.  I started small.  Getting two newspapers every Sunday and looking through the coupon books to see if they had money savers for the things that we normally eat.  The first time I used coupons at the grocery store, I think it saved us about $4.  My husband, being the overwhelmingly caring and supportive man that he is, told me how proud he was of me.  It was like a spark went off in my head!  Four bucks?  That’s nothing…next time I’ll make it ten!

From there it escalated…quickly. Read more