Category: green living

Why Should I Spend Money on Essential Oils?

Why Should I Spend Money on Essential Oils The Skeptic's Guide to Essential OilsWhy did I spend money on essential oils? If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that I’ve been asking lots of questions about essential oils, and after months of research finally decided to buy in a few weeks ago. Quality essential oils aren’t cheap, and we are on a tight budget. It took quite a while for me to decide to take the plunge, so today I’m sharing why I decided to spend money on essential oils. I’m joining with my fellow Oil Explorers as part of the Skeptic’s Guide to Essential Oils series. Each of us is tackling a different topic that we’ve wrestled with in a very real, raw series perfect for those of us who are intrigued but still a little skeptical about this whole oil craze.


Cloth Diaper Hacks: Use {Almost} Any Cloth Diaper as a Swim Diaper


Summer is in full swing and we are basically living in the pool. Our Pearl Girl is a total water baby and wants to kick and splash just like her big brother. We have a few specific cloth swim diapers for her to use, but I want to let you in on a little secret I learned with the Bear. Almost ANY cloth diaper can work as a swim diaper. It’s true! We have used Bummis, Bumgenius, and Softbums shells as swim diapers and they all work perfectly.


Create a Discovery Garden for Your Kids to Explore


My kids love to explore and play in our yard. We’ve been hard at work on our massive yard project trying to get our yard to look better and be more functional. On a whim I decided to dedicate a space for the kids so they could dig in the dirt and play without destroying any of our new plants. This little discovery garden has become one of our favorite daily play spots and it cost nothing to create and took about ten minutes.  Both kids love it and it gives them a sweet little place all their own that has become a home for all the treasures they find as well as the perfect spot for imaginative play.


Three Easy Ways to Green Your Family Today

Teaching our children to care for our environment is a responsibility, and one we work towards on a daily basis.  We try to make eco-friendly choices, but don’t always get it right.  One of my goals for 2014 is take more steps in greening our family and involve our children in those changes.  Thanks to the folks from Direct Energy for sponsoring this discussion.  They are planting a tree for every new Facebook like through the end of 2013.  Click over using this link do something good for our environment in less than 10 seconds.

1) Recycle Everything You Can
For many of you, this is obvious and second nature.  If you aren’t already recycling, start today. No excuses.  Check your city’s government website to find out recycling guidelines for your area.  Involve your kids by teaching them what goes in to the recycle bin and having them help with sorting.  Think beyond the basics.  Rather than throwing away old toys and clothes, donate them to a good cause, give them away through Freecycle or Craigslist, or sell them online.

2) Reduce Your Family’s Waste
We live in a throwaway culture.  If it isn’t useful to us at this moment it goes into the trash.  We create so much trash we are running out of places to put it.  Reduce the amount of trash your family creates by switching to something reusable this week.  We’ve switched to cloth diapers, cloth napkins, and cloth cleaning towels.  Next on this list is cloth baby wipes.  The amount of money we spend on baby wipes is crazy town, and I’m over it.  If you are intimidated about switching to a reusable product, trust me when I say it is easier than you think and you won’t regret it.  Pick one thing and go for it.

3) Get Out of the Car and Walk.
Living in DFW, I’m used to driving everywhere.  Our grocery store is less than a mile away, yet we drive there.  I’ve even driven to the playground near our house so the Bear can get some exercise.  What the what?!  Pick one errand this week and walk or ride your bike instead of driving.  You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and burn calories in the process.  If you don’t live in a walk or bike-able neighborhood, carpool with friends to one thing this week or park in one place when running errands and walk in between shops.

What green changes will make for your family in 2014?

Don’t forget to click over and like New Leaf Energy on Facebook to have a tree planted in your honor.

Green Cleaning with the Norwex Dust Mitt & Kitchen Cloths

Last week I reviewed the Norwex Enviro Cloth for y’all, which is my favorite Norwex product.  Today I’m sharing details about two of my other favs, the dust mitt and the kitchen cloths.  Together with the Enviro Cloth and the Window Cloth, these products have helped us drastically reduce the chemical usage in our home, as well as reduce our paper waste and bring down our cleaning budget. 

First up is the dust mitt.  In my opinion, this little beauty is the most fun to use.  You put it on and just go for it, dusting any and every surface.  You don’t need Pledge, chemicals, or paper towels.  When you are done you bang the dust out of it (like you would a rug) and throw it in the laundry after a couple of uses.  It picks the dust up without spreading it around, so your surfaces stay dust free for quite a while and nothing ends up on the floor.  It can easily clean between mini blinds and the tops of ceiling fans.  The dust mitt retails for $16.99 and will last for years, paying for itself in savings on paper towels and chemical dusting sprays in a few months.  You can also get it as part of the Household package (my personal favorite deal) with the Enviro Cloth and Window Cloth for $48.99.  Click here to shop and be sure to list me (Becca Eby) as your hostess.

My other must have item from Norwex is the kitchen cloth.  This comes in two sizes (cloth and towel) and I have both.  I love the small one for cleaning up after meals and wiping down the counters and Bear’s high chair, and the large one for bigger messes.  As you can see below it has a looser weave than the Enviro cloth which helps it to grab onto big food particles and pick them up rather than spread them around.  The kitchen cloths contain silver making them anti-bacterial.  As long as you wring them out after each use bacterial growth in inhibited in the cloths and they won’t cross contaminate.  You can buy the small kitchen cloth for $9.99 and the larger kitchen towel for $19.99.  You can get a better deal and buy them together in the Kitchen Microfiber Collection with the Veggie and Fruit Cloth and Kitchen Scrub Cloth for $54.99.

If you are truly interested in reducing the chemicals in your home, reducing your paper waste, and reducing your household cleaning budget, give Norwex a try.  There are several small collections you can check out just to get started.  The products are made with fair trade practices and will last for years, paying for themselves in savings on chemicals and paper goods in just a few months.  Feel free to email me or comment below if you have questions.  You can check out the full line of Norwex products here and shop away.  Please put my name (Becca Eby) as your hostess.  My online party will be open until June 20th.  

Frugal Friday: Reducing Our Cleaning Costs with Norwex ~ An Enviro Cloth Review

Our family strives to live frugally and reduce our environmental impact and waste as well as the toxins in our home.  For this week’s edition of Frugal Friday, I’m thrilled to share with you a line of products that are helping us meet those goals.  I was introduced to Norwex a few months ago by a friend who hosted a home party demonstration of the products.  I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m not really a home party direct sales kind of girl, and Norwex is a direct sales company.  However, Jed and I had recently discussed how much paper waste we created as a family, specifically paper towels, and how we could reduce that waste and cost.  The party came along and I was intrigued.  My friend has 3 kids and talked about many messes she cleaned with her Norwex cloths and how much she had reduced her paper waste, and I decided to try them for myself.  

I bought the Household package at the party, consisting of one Enviro Cloth, one dusting mitt, and one window cloth.  With those three items alone I brought our paper towel usage down by about 90%.  Seriously.  The other fabulous thing about Norwex products is that you clean with just the cloths and water.  No chemicals.  And they work.  For real.  Jed thought there was no possible way the Enviro Cloth and window cloth would clean Bear’s dirty finger prints off our glass door with just water, but they did leaving no streaks.  He was shocked.  My reply was, “Did you think I would buy something that didn’t work?”.  The Enviro Cloth is also naturally antibacterial because it is made with silver woven throughout the cloth.  I’ve used the dusting mitt all over my house with no Pledge, and it really picks up the dust instead of spreading it around like a feather duster.  The Enviro Cloth is my favorite product, because it really works.  A few of the messes I’ve cleaned with just the Enviro Cloth and water include: chocolate, bbq sauce, and crayon off my white couch; coffee and crayon off the carpet, countless counter spills, olive oil grime off the stove, and many others.       
Because I’ve become such a believer in Norwex products, I’m doing something I never thought I’d do.  I’m hosting a Norwex party at my house and right here on the blog.  You, fair reader, get to join in the party just as if you were hanging out at the Norwex Play Date I’m hosting for my mom friends here in Dallas.  

To shop through my party, head over to Emily’s Norwex page here.
Choose the products you want to try, then choose me (Becca Eby) as your host.  Be sure to check out the full line of Norwex products

They have everything from household cleaning cloths to mops, towels, skin care, and so much more.  I can’t wait to try more, which is one of the reasons I’m hosting this party.  I felt weird at first asking my friends both in real life and online to shop through my party, but then I realized how many home parties I’ve gone to for other folks and how many great products I’ve discovered through other bloggers’ reviews and I knew I had to do it.    
Norwex Enviro Cloth Review Summary:
Positives – reduces paper towel waste, reduces household chemical usage, reusable, 2 year warranty, 60 day satisfaction guarantee, naturally antibacterial (from silver woven into each cloth)
Negatives – start up cost, availability (you can’t get it at Target) 
So, if start up cost is one of only two negatives I found, why include this on a Frugal Friday post? 
Much like cloth diapers, the initial cost of family cloth products can seem daunting.  The Enviro Cloth retails for $16.49.  Your average pack of paper towels retails for around $12.  I was using about 3 rolls per week at $1.50 a roll or $4.50 per week.  At that rate my Enviro Cloth paid for itself in a little over a month.  Now if you add in the dust mitt and window cloth, the cost goes up to $48.99 for the Household package.  With less than 3 months of usage your cloths have already paid for themselves and you still have 1 3/4 years left on your warranty.  You can read testimonials of customers who’ve used the same cloths for over 10 years.  When you add in the money you save from not buying cleaning products like Clorox wipes, Pledge, Windex, All Purpose Spray, etc, the Norwex products become an even better deal.  
Check out my Norwex consultant Emily’s video explaining the ins and outs of Norwex microfiber cloths.
My Norwex party will run from May 24-June 20.  If you are interested in hosting a party yourself, contact Emily and she will help you out.  From May 30-June 13 I will be hosting a Norwex giveaway here on the blog as a part of the Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop.  Be sure to come back and enter to win.  I’ll also post a few more Norwex reviews during the event here on the blog.  If you are in the DFW area and interested in coming to my Norwex Play Date to see the products in person, send me an email at  
What steps does your family take to reduce waste and environmental impact?

Frugal Friday: Our Trashy Family

Check out our new jogging stroller.  Guess how much we paid for it.  I’ll give you a few hints.  It is a double jogging stroller, made by the Baby Jogger brand.  It is a few years old, but new ones retail for $400-700.  Give up?  We paid $0.  Jed actually found this stroller on the side of the road, during the lovely time of the month in Dallas called Bulk Trash.  I’ll tell you more about the glories of Bulk Trash later.  First, here’s the tale of the stroller.  Jed was out on a run and saw this sitting on the curb.  He looked it over, grabbed it, and brought it home.  It looked like this… 
Not so pretty.  My genius husband saw potential there and persevered.  He looked over the frame and saw it was in good shape.  The problem was the seat.  He removed it and washed it thoroughly.  It is still a little stained, but looks much better.  We look a little silly rocking a double stroller with only one kid, but I don’t care.  The Bear loves it and kicks his little feet like crazy whenever we take it out.  
Does your neighborhood have a bulk trash pick up?  Ours is once per month, and everyone puts out any large items they want to get rid of for the trash collectors to come and pick up.  This cues every resourceful person in town to drive around and pick through the good stuff before the collectors make their rounds.    Friends have found furniture and all kinds of treasures during Bulk Trash.  We found a jogging stroller.  We are just doing our part to keep good stuff out of the landfill.  Bulk Trash rocks.  One family’s trash is another’s treasure.  
Does your neighborhood have a Bulk Trash pick up?
Would you ever take something home you found 
on the side of the road? 

Frugal Friday: Choosing Cloth Diapers

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever use cloth diapers, I would have looked at you like you were crazy and said “Not possible.”  Now we are 9 months in and loving our choice.  If you are an expectant mama or want to have kids (or more kids) someday, I hope you will read on and consider cloth diapers.  Why did we choose cloth diapers?  There are so many reasons.
1) Cost
Here’s a calculator that will show you exactly how much you can save using cloth diapers, including cost of water, detergent, etc.  We broke even after about 4 months and will save well over $1000 after 18 months.  If we continue to use our cloth diapers with future children, the savings increase exponentially.  The average savings per child are between $1500-2000.  Nice.  Hello, starter college fund.  We went with one size diapers, and love some of the more expensive brands.  We could have saved even more using prefolds, but we couldn’t get on board with them.  We love the ease of use of our one size diapers and were willing to pay a little more initially.  Our favorite brands are Soft Bums, Apple Cheeks, and BumGenius.  I will explain our cloth diaper trials in a post coming next week.
2) Environmental Impact
Did you know that each baby using disposable diapers creates about a ton of landfill diaper trash during their diaper years?  It’s true.  Disposable diapers create over 3.6 MILLION TONS of landfill trash per year.  HOLY CRAP.  Literally.  Some folks argue that the additional energy used to launder cloth diapers negate the environmental positives.  Not true.  We do maybe 3 more loads of laundry per week than we used to do.  We line dry our diapers whenever possible, so that saves on some energy usage.
3) Safer for Baby
Disposable diapers contain so many chemicals, synthetics, and toxins (like dioxin) that I would rather avoid putting next to my Little Bear’s skin.  We have to use disposables occasionally (for Mother’s Day Out, church nursery, MOPS, etc) and know that when we do he is prone to get diaper rash.  He never gets it from his cloth diapers.
4) Functionality
Cloth diapers work better than disposable.  Really.  We have had very few leaks or blowouts with our cloth diapers, really almost none.  Disposables are a whole other messy story.
5) Cuteness
Cloth diapers are just so cute.  Seriously.  They come in a million fun patterns and colors and you can match every outfit.  So fun.
I plan to most more about our cloth diaper
decisions and routine soon.
Do you use cloth diapers?
Why or why not?
Would you ever use them?
Do you think we are crazy?

Green Day – Hanging Solar Powered Light Jars

 In celebration of Earth Day this week, and as a part of my “Green Day” eco-friendly series, I’m sharing one of my favorite projects with y’all.  Jed gets all the credit for this one.  It was all him from beginning to end, with just a few opinions from me.  He keeps asking when I’m going to share it on the blog, so here we go.

 We found a great deal on solar powered outdoor lights at Lowe’s, but we don’t have a walkway or appropriate place to put them.  You know the ones I’m talking about, those little ones that stick into the ground.  Then we searched high and low for jars that would hold the solar cell and battery in the lid.  We are partial to mason jars at our house, but couldn’t find any that fit.  We found these at Big Lots, so they were super cheap.

 Jed painted them on outside with frosted glass spray paint.  He then took the stick lights apart and used silicone glue to attach the solar cell to the inside lid of each jar.  He tried gorilla glue first, but it was a big fail.  You can find the full tutorial at Lifehacker as trying to get Jed to explain the details of each step is not something I’m up for right now.  You now how men are with explaining details.

 He looped each jar with thick but bendable wire, and hung them from hooks along our front porch.  I think they look super cute during the day and fit our front porch aesthetic (a work in progress) nicely.

 Here’s the best part – they get enough sun each day to glow every night without ever needing new batteries or help from us.  The sun provides everything they need to light up our porch.

 The jars begin to glow at twilight, and look so lovely when we are doing a little front porch sitting.  We have a rocking chair and a 2 person glider on our front porch, which are perfect for our spring evenings.  Our neighbor’s honeysuckle makes it smell amazing, and we just sit and rock/glide away.  We are hoping that our porch fan will keep the mosquitoes at bay and allow us to enjoy the porch into the summer.

 Below you can see how the jars glow at night.  So cool, right?  I love that my husband is creative and is always building and doing fun projects around the house.  He works so hard at his job, and then comes home and works hard here too.  I can’t wait to show y’all his current project – cedar log side tables.  They are incredible and should be done soon.

We are always looking for new ideas.
What is your latest green living project?  
I’m linking this project up to some great parties on the right side bar.  Check them out, find some inspiration, and post your own.