Tag Archives: eco-friendly

discovering prefold diapers

Every baby wearing disposable diapers can generate as much as one ton of landfill waste before the age of two.

Readers of this blog probably already know that our family has long been trying to maintain a simple, sustainable and non-consumerist lifestyle. Now that we have a new addition to the family, we attempt to carry on with these principles while raising a newborn.

Why cloth diapers?

The decision to cloth diaper our baby is an obvious one. Disposable diapers may be convenient, but they are also wasteful and expensive. The cost savings are actually secondary. It’s the amount of waste created by using disposables that we can’t live with. Continue reading discovering prefold diapers

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diapering decisions

after a week of stressing over cloth diapers..

This week started with a hell of a bad news, at least for me. I am easing into the third trimester of my third pregnancy, and finally starting with much-delayed nursery preparations–doing an inventory of baby clothes, equipment, cloth diapers. As I tried to make arrangements for the pick-up of a crib that was no longer used by Turo’s sister, I found out that my stash of Tushywushy pocket diapers were missing. In addition to an electric breast pump, the Tushywushies are some of my biggest motherhood investments. These set of cloth diapers have been used by at least 2 children, from infancy to toddlerhood, and I took pains laundrying and drying them just so they would last long. They cost me an arm and a leg (note: I bought them 5 years ago) but they also allowed me to save on disposable diapers and a LOT of non-biodegradable waste.

I fumed when I learned that my beloved Tushywushies were gone. I’m the type who take cloth diapering seriously. Aside from avoiding diaper rash on my babies’ bottoms, and being more economical, the unforgettable flood of 2009 was a major motivating factor for us to cloth diaper our children full-time (we only use disposables when travelling). So I was in a not so good mood for a couple of hours. And then the cloth diaper system search began. Continue reading diapering decisions

the life we live daily – conscious consumption

Practicalities in everyday living need to be just that – practical.

Four years blogging and I cannot instinctively say that my life has changed drastically since. There had been changes — some major, some hardly noticeable. And this blog was a likely witness to most of them. So, in honor of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I start a series of posts that will hopefully serve as a snapshot of my life at the moment, which I know I would lovingly look back to in a year or more.

The first post in this series I call “the life we live daily” speaks of a topic close to my heart, environmental preservation, and the real and doable things that we do in order to make a positive difference to our well-loved earth.

I have written plenty in this blog about changing our purchasing and consumption habits so that we could reduce our negative environmental impact.

The food that we eat

The local food project

Lifestyle check: reduce, simplify and reduce

Ilog maria finds

Greener gift giving

Diaper duty 

This commitment to environmental preservation through conscious purchase and consumption, is not only a personal advocacy, but one that we try to do as a family. We realized that food expenses lead our consumption pyramid and by changing the way that we eat, we can make a significant difference in the way and in the amounts we consume.

Our food prioritization principles are simple.

  1. What we eat should be organic.
  2. If we can’t get organic, these should at least be locally sourced, and best if we personally know the farms or sources where these are derived. By locally sourced we mean coming from the same province or region we are in.
  3. We choose products that use less packaging, therefore less waste, and have gone through less processing.

Below I list down a number of basic food categories, our sources and the reasons why we choose to buy religiously from these sources. Please note, however, that some of these products may be significantly more expensive than conventional ones, while some are practically free (eg. plants we grow ourselves); but that we choose to purchase them for the overall environmental and health benefits we derive from them. Towards the end of the table I also include non-food products that we use regularly that we source in a similar way.

Products Source Reason for buying
Dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB only pasteurized products coming from grass-fed carabaos; non-homogenized, non-UHT, which means more nutritional content than dairy products in groceries
Eggs Micah’s Eggs

micahseggs.com

Pila, Laguna

we know the farm to be environmentally compliant and to maintain high standards of quality and freshness
Meat Herb Republic

http://www.herbrepublic.biz

Bay, Laguna

antibiotic and growth hormone-free pork and chicken
Deli (hotdogs, mortadella, bratwurst, etc.) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB a selection of preservative-free sausages made from carabao meat
Rice (upland organic black rice) La Trinidad Organic Producers Association, Benguet we mix black rice with regular sinandomeng rice to supplement nutrient content
Culinary Herbs (basil, Italian oregano, mint) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Medicinal Herbs (lagundi, native oregano, calamansi, gynura) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Fruits farm-grown bananas

seasonal fruits from neighboring towns

Cooking oil Minola coconut oil

San Pablo, Laguna

 

coconut-based, which is abundant here, and locally sourced
Bath products (honey propolis shampoo & body wash) Ilog Maria Farms

http://www.ilogmaria.com

Silang, Cavite

organic and biodegradable soaps from propolis (a by-product of honey production). we found these products to be effective cleansing agents without stripping the skin or scalp of necessary oils or proteins. we also use calamansi slices as hair conditioner.
Laundry products Champion Natural

Perla white bar

we use a biodegradable detergent and a coconut-based laundry bar soap. we also use fermented rice washing to soak soiled clothes before washing with detergent.

ilog maria finds

And I continue to be a sucker for everything local, natural and hand made.

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Ilog Maria is a honey bee farm in Silang, Cavite. Just a few minutes drive from our in-law’s home in Dasmarinas. We’ve been seeing signs of the place each time we head to Tagaytay via Aguinaldo Highway but never really took the effort of going there. That was until last January. And then suddenly, we were honeybee lovers.

beeswax bars
beeswax bars

We already have a local source of wild organic honey at the Bee Project here in UPLB’s Institute of Biological Sciences. But Ilog Maria opened our eyes to a whole range of useful, everyday products made from all things bees.

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They have handmade soaps made from honey, beeswax and propolis, with variants like lavender or rosemary which are supposed to be great for energizing morning showers. Or charcoal which has a deodorizing effect.

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This time I bought the calamansi, sandalwood and charcoal variants, all three are supposed to have some kind of antibacterial or deodorizing effect. If it was just me taking showers in my household I would have done with just about any organic soap you can find in the market. But with my 2 rowdy boys and a farmer-husband, I need an everyday soap that has a good dose of antibacterial powers to keep my boys clean. So far I’m still on an active search. Let’s see how Ilog Maria soaps fare with respect to the germs in my boys’ bodies.

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They also sell beeswax candles. These are all handmade and when you hold them, the texture is just glorious. They are a bit expensive but the quality of the product easily speaks for its price. It was good thing I didn’t bring extra cash or we’d end up with going home with a manger-full of beeswax statue candles. But I swear, I’m going to buy candles on our next visit here. And if I can afford to, give them away as gifts for Christmas.

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Because it was a weekend of getting something for myself, I bought this handmade, beaded curtain which I plan to drape around the smallish entrance to our new kitchen (did I mention we’ll be moving to a new apartment?). The curtain wasn’t made from bee products or anything, but I did validate that it was made by a local community also in Silang. Still local, which is a good thing.

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I think I’m doing a good job of converting my household, and my extended family, into fans of all-natural products. Or maybe it’s just a matter of finding organic products that are of really good quality. Turo is now a huge fan of Ilog Maria’s Honey & Propolis Shampoo which he uses everyday together with 2 slices of calamansi as his conditioner.

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Just in case you’re headed for Tagaytay, you may want to pass by Ilog Maria farm and take a look at the range of honey bee based products they offer. You just might find something you can use everyday, and take the first steps to a chemical-free lifestyle.

 

To all things natural and crafted by hand!

the food that we eat

the truth about healthy eating is now sinking in..

I have mentioned quite a few times in this blog (here, here and here) how we are trying to revolutionize the way we live to fit into what can be considered a “sustainable lifestyle.” While moving out of the city was the biggest influence for this change to happen, we also realize that at the core of this sustainable lifestyle are choices that has to do with the food we eat. Because these are choices that we have to make everyday, and with every meal.

our children have developed an acquired taste for carabao milk products. we have a preference for carabao milk and yogurt, which we purchase from a local source, because we know these went through less processing than milk products you would often find in supermarkets.

Looking at where we stand financially, it would seem an unlikely move to be shifting to an organic, natural and whole foods diet, considering that such food options command premium prices in markets at the moment. But the thing is, this lifestyle shift I’m talking about is not just a trend that we’re trying to jump on, but it is in fact our commitment—to be able to live well—and our investment—to have healthy minds and bodies for years to come.

Whole foods is the general term for foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or foods that are processed and refined in as little ways as possible. As a rule, we make it a point to buy fresh food items from the market and avoid the grocery altogether as most of the items found here are commercially processed and make use of a lot of synthetic packaging. Our family loves cooking and eating at home, and refraining from “instant” and “canned” and “processed” food items was not really difficult. What was more difficult, in fact, is changing our mindset that going for groceries is an essential part of our day to day living.

Natural foods are those grown naturally without the addition of harmful chemicals such as pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. We are blessed to have a small piece of land to till where we grow some of our vegetables, so shifting to a diet filled with organic and chemical-free vegetables came in quite easily.

The last but major item in our diet revolution is shifting to all-organic meat. Since the previous month, more than 50% of the meat we cook and eat came from farms employing natural and sustainable farming practices. We are lucky to be networking with enterprises whose objectives are similar to ours—that is providing healthy and natural food sources at the most affordable prices possible. We have started purchasing organically raised chicken and pork, eggs from organically fed ducks and hens, and ocean-caught seafood.

The thing is, the prices of some of these items that are now staples in our food list cost several times as much than their conventional counterparts. To give you an idea, here are the prices of some of the food items we buy from what we consider healthier sources, compared with their price if we bought them at regular sources.

Regular market price Price of organic/natural Price difference
Pork PhP 170/kg PhP 195/kg >15%
Chicken PhP 120/kg PhP 170/kg >25%
Rice PhP 34/kg PhP 120/kg >250%
Fresh milk PhP 50/liter PhP 95/liter >90%

Indeed, some of the food items that we purchase are that much more expensive. Considering that these are food staples, a lot of you may wonder how we are able to afford such food choices. The key is in finding portions in our food budget that we can spend less on. Like vegetables, for example, because we grow some of our own, we can spend as much as nothing on vegetables on some meals in a week.

When it comes to fruits, buying local and seasonal fruits is key. Fruits in season are always at their cheapest. We had just left rambutan season, now we are thriving in calamansi before prices start to climb up again. Lansones also come in cheap nowadays. And we have banana and papaya trees so we have free fruit sporadically throughout the year.

Another tip is to finding less expensive alternatives to these expensive food staples. When it comes to meat for example, because organic meat is definitely more expensive, we are now trying to expand our protein sources to include more beans, legumes, nuts and soy. This way, we can cut down on our organic meat purchases without sacrificing our protein requirements. For rice and bread, there are plenty of local food crops that can be as filling, as healthy but much less expensive. Take cassava, camote, saba bananas, these are very cheap sources of carbohydrates that some of us often overlook. And when my children won’t eat boiled cassava? I make them into muffins, and they’d have no way of finding out that they’re eating some of the best calorie sources there is.

The good thing about maintaining an organic, natural and whole foods diet is that you are assured of better nutrition because these foods contain more complex micronutrients than processed or refined products having the same ingredients. So even if you skip meat on a meal but eat organic potatoes and parsley instead, you will still get your protein and vitamins and minerals because these contain a fairly balanced amount of nutrients.

So yes, we have made another step forward towards a truly healthy lifestyle. The first steps are really the most difficult. Still, it can be done. We are a normal, middle-class family, and yes, we can afford this kind of lifestyle. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a matter of choice.

garden in a bottle

When the absence of a garden stopped being an excuse for not gardening..

We live in a tiny apartment. We point to the soil underneath a palm tree outside our unit and call it a garden. We have oreganos, peppers, mints, basils and a small cement fish pond where our pet goldfishes swim around. Recently, we extended our so-called garden to include our roof gutters. Turo had planted lettuce, Italian parsley and some other herbs inside used plastic bottles and hanged them up against the roof where they are partly sheltered from the rain but receive an ample dose of sunshine everyday.

This is a photo of our flatleaf parsley in a bottle. It conveniently hangs right outside the door of our front porch so I can easily snip off a few leaves or branches to garnish pasta dishes and stews. Apart from herbs, almost any plant can grow inside a container, except for those with an extensive taproot like coriander. I’ve seen tomatoes, cucumbers and beans sprout from soil-filled soda bottles, mineral water containers, etc.

Continue reading garden in a bottle

everyday bounty

It is amazing how nature creates, transforms and sustains itself. And we are lucky to be witnesses to the abundance and wealth that our good earth offers to those who are willing to cultivate it. The earthy smell of the soil being dug, the miracle of the seed transforming to a living plant, the crisp of leaves fresh from the picking. This is bounty that we are blessed to experience every waking day.

Our garden is our inspiration. We look out to it the moment we wake up. Our first greeting is to our beloved children, then to our beloved bushes right outside our porch. We take a closer peek at insects and pests that may be on the attack. A quick check on the soil especially if it did not rain the day before. This is our morning habit, which sometimes extends until noontime, or even until the late afternoon. Continue reading everyday bounty