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Be Green, Save Green — and All While Raising Kids

Money-wise tips from a mother of one with plenty of tricks up her sleeve.

With kids, it seems like there is always something to buy.

Diapers, new clothes, toys.

It can really add up, both for your pocketbook and the environment.

As a self proclaimed "crunchy mom," I am always trying to find ways to not only save a little money but to make a little less of a dent on good ol' mother earth.

One of the biggest decisions we made was that we were going to cloth diaper our son. So, after a little research because there are so many different styles, we decided to go with the bumGenius Organic All-in-One Size diaper.

We chose this one because it seemed like the closest thing to a disposable diaper. There is no stuffing or folding, just swap out the dirty one for a clean one.

The question I get most often is about cleaning the diapers. Yes, you have to wash them and it takes all of 5 minutes of pre-rinsing before I throw them into the washer and then the dryer. No time at all and we don’t throw anything away!

Cloth diapers do seem like a big expense upfront — we paid about $300 for 25 new diapers. But, we have been using them since our son was four months old and the diapers adjust — so he will be able to wear them until he is potty trained. Figuring you could spent about $12 a week on diapers times two-and-a-half years, that equals $1,560! So, 15 minutes a week could save you a lot of money.

Another simple step we took to be green and save some green was that we made our own baby food. Each week, we would make the trek to Sendik’s and we would stock up on new vegetables and fruits for our son. We could come home and then, working in batches, prepare each vegetable or fruit for freezing.

Some were boiled, some were roasted — but then all were mixed with a little water in the blender, pureed to a thin consistency and then evenly divided up into ice cube trays. Those trays were then put in the freezer, until set, and then the cubes would go into big freezer zip top bags. They were dated and labeled.

Labeling is important — carrots and sweet potatoes can look awfully similar when pureed and frozen.

The ice cube sized portions were perfect for Declan when he was just beginning solid foods. As he got older, we would mix two cubes for new flavors. He loved it.

Each week, it would cost us about $6 for his food and we could make about 30 cubes with a bag of carrots or a butternut squash. Some of the baby food jars can be $1 or more each.

Something else that we do (which is nothing new, but still — it saves) is that we try to buy what we can second-hand. My son has no idea that the car he drives around in was owned by a little guy before him.

All he knows is that dandelions are the "gas" and the key comes in and out. There are hundreds and hundreds of toys out there that are gently used and needing a new home and by purchasing them from a second-hand store, garage sale or receiving hand-me-downs from a relative, it keeps the kids happy and the toys out of the landfill.

I always give the toys a good scrub down before I give them to my son, but I am weird about germs, so you can do what you are comfortable with.

Kids can be expensive, but if you are willing to put in a little extra work, that cost can be cut down pretty significantly and most importantly your global impact will decrease — leaving more earth for these babies to enjoy.

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