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Archive for the ‘Green living’ Category

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My feature Could you be a stay-at-home mum? was chosen by The Green Parent as one of their top 20 stories from the first 70 editions of the magazine.

When I wrote this feature the idea of going freelance was just beginning to spark in my head, and pitching the idea and getting published in a national magazine gave me the confidence I needed. I’m proud that this first freelance feature was so popular!

The Green Parent has published these top 20 stories on its website – here is the link to mine.

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Green Parent June-July 2016

UPDATED 25/4/17: This piece is now also available on The Green Parent’s website – How to Raise a Nappy-free Baby

The June/July edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting experts.

I spoke to Christine Gross-Loh, author of The Diaper-free Baby, about “elimination communication” – recognising and responding to your baby’s natural cues to allow you to do away with using nappies.

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Green Parent Cover Dec 2014

The latest issue of The Green Parent magazine (December/January) includes the fourth of my regular interviews with parenting experts.

I spoke to Angela Probert, author of The Well-Informed Parent, about how parents can make better decisions thanks to scientific research.

You can view a PDF of the feature here.

 

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If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are curious about alternatives to traditional sanitary protection. If, however, the very thought is making you squirm, this might not be the post for you. Even my husband looked away quickly when he realised what I was writing about. Come back again soon! 🙂

I’m amazed that the Mooncup is such a well-kept secret. It can’t be down to British prudishness as we all seem to cope with the knowledge that other sanitary products exist. Say Bodyform to anyone, for example, and they will no doubt let out the hearty “wooooooooooooooah” from the adverts and see mental images of a rollerskating woman.

But there’s no gutsy wail for the Mooncup, a medical grade silicone cup which catches menstrual blood; no bucking broncos or rollercoasters; no bowls of brightly-wrapped sweeties confusing hapless boyfriends.

No, the might of the advertising industry has not risen up behind the Mooncup. Could it be because there’s not much repeat business? One woman will use over 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime, but once you have bought a Mooncup (about £20), you can use the same one for years.

Publicity photo from Mooncup website

Publicity photo from Mooncup website

I love my Mooncup now but our relationship did get off to a rocky start. I tried a few years back with the smaller Size B cup, but I never really got the hang of it. It was uncomfortable and leaked, and I couldn’t be bothered to persevere. And so it languished, unused and unloved, in my underwear drawer while I carried on with tampons, panty liners and pads. I felt uncomfortable with the amount of waste this was creating (women use on average 22 tampons or towels each period) and while I switched to washable panty liners and pads for nighttime I didn’t want to investigate the alternatives to tampons.I got quite used to not having periods while pregnant and for several months after my son was born, but once Aunt Flo returned I decided to give the Mooncup another go. I bought a new one – the larger Size A (for women over 30 and those who have given birth) – boiled it in a saucepan to get it ready for use and eagerly awaited the next month’s arrival.

Few women can claim to be happy when that time of the month rolls around, but I was pretty excited to try out my new bit of eco-friendly kit. I’d already trimmed the stem down (the Mooncup sits much lower in your vagina than a tampon and the stem can rub if it is too long) and decided on “folding method A” from the detailed usage (with “A” you just fold the rim in half – “B” looked way too complicated with origami-like twists).

I crouched down and popped it in. Just like that! I heard a satisfying squelch as the seal was formed and gave my muscles a squeeze (good old pelvic floor exercises!) to make sure the Mooncup had fully opened out, and the job was done. I couldn’t feel a thing.

You can leave the Mooncup in for four to eight hours but in the early days of using it I was so sure that my cup would runneth over that I removed it more frequently than that. But even when I’ve left it in longer it never seems to be more than half full. Apparently they can hold at least three times as much as the most super-absorbent tampon, and because they don’t absorb moisture there’s no dryness on lighter days.

To remove it you just carefully grasp the Mooncup, break the seal and gently pull it, tipping it slightly to one side to ease it out. Then tip the blood into the toilet, give the Mooncup a rinse in the sink (I use a couple of drops of Dr Bronner’s Baby Mild castile soap) and reinsert. If you’re in a public toilet or without access to a sink just give it a good wipe with toilet roll and wash it properly at home. I have occasionally had to use my muscles to encourage it downwards after using it overnight (took ages first time, but am now a dab hand at it) and only once have I spilled the contents – practice makes perfect! And my top tip? Put some toilet roll into the toilet before you empty the Mooncup to stop the blood sticking to the toilet bowl.

You must be wondering whether emptying it is disgusting. I am fairly squeamish – I used to feel very faint during blood tests until I got all too used to them during pregnancy – but I actually find it fascinating. It’s definitely a good way to become more in tune with your body, as you can see the ebb and flow of your cycle, and how the colour and consistency of the blood changes. It’s not awful; it’s completely normal.

It’s not just good for those some-might-say “hippy dippy” reasons though. A further benefit is that I barely suffer from period pains now, whereas in the past I would be curled up with a hot water bottle for several days a month. And there’s no longer any need to hide a tampon oh-so-subtley up my sleeve when heading for the loo at work.

I just wish more people knew about the Mooncup – hence this post – as I am a complete convert and can’t imagine using anything else now. It’s good for the environment, your bank balance and your lifestyle – what’s not to like?

** Full disclosure: the Mooncup links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click through from here and buy a Mooncup from the official website, I will get a percentage of the sale. They’ve even got 10 per cent off until 31 December 2012 (using code XMAS2012). Why not give it a try? 🙂 **

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As well as cutting down on chemicals in my personal care routine, I barely use any commercially-prepared cleaning products. White vinegar and baking soda are my friends! My son’s easy to clean highchair gets wiped down with a vinegar and water mix, as do the work surfaces and windows (although admittedly I haven’t quite perfected the no-streak window yet…). The bathroom comes up sparkling using a mixture of castile soap, baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil. A 1/4 cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar fizz away blockages in slow-draining plug holes.

My favourite homemade cleaning product is my laundry detergent. It’s another recipe from from the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of the blog Simple Mom.

Here’s what you need:

  • two parts soap flakes
  • one part washing soda
  • one part borax (or borax substitute)
  • a few drops of essential oil if desired

Mix them all together, store in a suitable lidded container and use one or two tablespoons in your washing machine. I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to use soap flakes in the detergent drawer as they can block the pipes, so I use one of those plastic dispenser ball things that you put into the drum. If I’m washing whites I often put a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer to give it all a boost.

I never use fabric conditioner – a good glug of white vinegar in the conditioner compartment does the trick nicely, as well as keeping the machine’s inner workings nice and clean. Any lingering vinegar smell disappears when the washing is dry.

My son has eczema and sensitive skin and this combination doesn’t irritate him at all.

The only time I use shop-bought laundry detergent is if our clothing is really dirty or if the whites need a bit of extra sparkle. I think most of the time our clothes don’t get dirty enough to need anything stronger that what I make. I’m still using disposable nappies on my son but once I bite the bullet and switch to cloth I will have to see how my homemade version fares.

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