The Cost and Value of Natural Living

Today’s post is brought to you by guest blogger, Amy. In addition to being a loyal fan and costumer at Mom’s Milk Boutique, Amy writes a consumer’s guide for environmentally conscious living at The Mindful Home. Her blog is dedicated to helping people with busy lives find eco-friendly products. I invited her to be a guest blogger this month in honor of Earth Day on April 22. Amy shares with us her thoughts on….

The Cost and Value of Natural Living:

At first glance, one might balk at the price tags of wooden toys, cloth diapers and all of the other consumer goods associated with a natural and sustainable lifestyle. This reaction begs the question – what are we really paying for as consumers? What are the costs and ramifications of focusing on quantity for cheap over quality? What impact do those decisions have on our health, on the lives of others, and on society in general?

Let me start by saying that we have been surviving on my husband’s income as a carpenter, and are by no means living the high life. Yet we are compelled to make conscientious decisions as consumers, and try to adhere to a “less is more” principle when it comes to purchases, as well as avoiding plastic unless it’s absolutely necessary

When you talk to parents who prefer to buy toys made of natural materials like wood for their children, the general consensus seems to be that it is far better to have a handful of well made, heirloom quality toys that will inspire lasting, age-limitless imaginative play and endure for generations, over stacks of breakable, seemingly disposable plastic toys. While my daughter is only approaching her 3rd birthday, we have still only had 3 toys of hers break, and all of them were able to be repaired with a little wood glue.

The less is more way of life doesn’t just apply to toys. Do we own stainless steel, insulated sippy cups that cost the same as 6-10 plastic ones? Yes, but we own two. Two that we rotate each day, and a third uninsulated bottle for water – that’s it. Do we own some pricy tempered glass plates to heat my daughter’s meals on? Yes, and again, we own two. There’s no overflowing cabinet in our home with stacks of throw away cups and plates. Now I will admit we only have one child so far, but I know we would still make it work with whatever we had, and the few items we do have will last for many children

Besides buying less, we have found plenty of other ways to make up for what can at times appear to be a higher cost of say, a wooden teether vs. one made of PVC from Target. Making as much as we can from scratch is one way, but I realize not everyone has the time to do that. However, even busy lifestyles could perhaps try out the biggest way we save, which is by reducing our use of disposables. Unpaper towels, cloth diapers and wipes, mama cloth, part time use of family cloth, reusable food storage over plastic bags… all an investment up front, but the payoff is huge and if you ask cloth users, every single one will tell you that a couple extra loads of laundry a week is doable no matter what your schedule, and entirely worth it. My daughter grew very quickly, and now that she’s 2.5 we’ve been using our large sized cloth diapers for well over a year and a half. Hopefully we won’t have to much longer, but even so, I cannot even calculate how many times each diaper has been used. So when I look at a diaper for $20 that I can use for close to two years and they are shockingly still in great shape for another child, I can only think of how many one-time use diapers I’d get for $20? Furthermore, we’ve had all of our velour cloth wipes since day one, and they are barely worn and would easily last another couple of years for a second child. Forty cloth wipes at $1.25 each vs. the number of disposable wipes to diaper 2 children start to finish? I’ll take the cloth wipes any day!

The greatest driving force for us is the repercussions of living a plastic-based, disposable lifestyle. From the bodily harm that chemicals like BPA, phthalates, PVC and flame retardants can present, to the ramifications of using plastic – polluting the earth, often poisoning its inhabitants during both the production and the disposal, and using up natural resources – the costs are too high for us. There are ways to avoid plastics, and we are extremely passionate about that decision in our own lives.

I fully acknowledge that there is a little extra work involved, like doing the research to seek out safe products (something I try to help people with in my own blog), or having to order products from some obscure online store rather than picking it up at the local Target. But for us, we feel that every purchase is a means of promoting change. Whether it’s supporting a smaller retailer over a big box giant, casting a vote by increasing the demand for organic and eco friendly goods, or showing the powers that be that consumers want non-toxic products, we are very deliberate and thoughtful when it comes to our purchases. The planet is not a giant trash can, and we feel like the least we can do is think about the things we’re responsible for leaving behind, and make sure they’re really needed, valued and used to the fullest.

Thanks Amy! If you want to learn more about Amy and her eco-friendly lifestyle check out http://www.themindfulhome.blogspot.com/

-Sarah

 

Tags: Cloth Diapers, conscientious decisions, conscious living, consumer goods, earth day, friendly products, imaginative play, natural materials, plastic toys, quality toys, sustainable lifestyle, wooden toys

One Response to “The Cost and Value of Natural Living”

  1. Janine says:

    People love to gift us plastic toys, whereas we spend the extra money (actually, we usually enter giveaways and also consign old baby clothes etc to pay for new toys) on wooden, more open-ended play items. The plastic stuff is interesting out of the box or if I hide it and rotate it out. Otherwise, completely ignored. Wooden blocks and play food on the other hand? Played with EVERY SINGLE DAY, even when it’s left out at all times. They are just better toys!

    Another big upside? They LOOK better! Ugh, nothing is worse than ugly plastic crap messing up your house and photo-bombing cute moments.

    Anyone who says those choices are too expensive isn’t trying hard enough. We are a low income family – We qualify for food stamps, etc – and we make it work! I’d say it’s definitely cheaper in the long run.