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May 2015 • Online Edition

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Spills & Thrills: Raising A Family | Print |  E-mail

by Jamie Siebrase

You would be horrified – horrified! – if you knew how much waste my small family produces.

ANY FEARS YOU MAY HAVE about using cloth diapers instead of disposables can be easily assuaged with a little practice ...

Each added child makes “sustainable” and “ecological” sound more like pretentious verbiage than surmountable goals. So, here it is, my judgment-free call to all: let’s really support our local community this year by resolving to make 2013 less toxic.

Buying cleaning supplies? Skip the chemicals. “Environmental cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated,” explains local entrepreneur and mom, Kerrie Slocum. To learn more about Slocum’s low-impact housecleaning, dial 303-475-4334.

For conscientious cleaning, Slocum uses three products: white vinegar, baking soda, and borax. “People think green products won’t get the dirt off,” says Slocum. “But, they do!” On mirrors, countertops, floors, and surfaces traditionally requiring blue liquid spray, use vinegar and water. On sinks, where softer scrubbing suffices, vinegar and baking soda does the trick. Borax takes off more material – perfect for grimy tubs.

Noah Stephens, mastermind behind Vert Kitchen, 704 S. Pearl St., uses lemon and salt to scrub pans and shine copper. When I asked Stephens to share the top three secrets to a greener kitchen, he replied: Go vegan one day a week, join a CSA, compost and recycle.

Stephens makes Tempeh Tuesday easy as, well, vegan pie. Drop by Vert; order Vegan de la Saison. Delectably slow-cooked food made with fresh, local ingredients means you’ll barely notice your sandwich doesn’t cluck. Fear not, carnivores – Stephens serves up plenty of meat. It all comes from locally-owned and operated, ethical vendors.

Modern farming may feed masses, but the prevalent use of chemicals associated with large-scale production is no friend of the environment. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, direct partnerships between farmer and consumer, make it easy to financially bolster smaller, responsible farms. Adds Stephens: “You’ll eat seasonally, trying foods you might not buy at the store.”

There are a variety of CSA arrangements. Generally, a shareholder pays for her seasonal farm share up front, receiving regular installments of organic produce in return, the amounts of which vary based on the harvest. For a list of local CSAs, visit ecovian.com, choose “Denver” and browse “Food” listings.

Between individually-packed snacks, glass jars of baby food, and uneaten ... (fill-in-the-blank), waste quickly compounds. Traci Carpenter, MNT, Healthy Eating Specialist at Tamarac Whole Foods, shares tips that are as economical as they are ecological – and – logical.

“Buy from the bulk bin,” advises Carpenter. Bulk shipping reduces packaging waste. “Customers who want to cut out plastic entirely can bring in reusable containers.” Skip individually-packaged foods. “The 365 line has many staples,” says Carpenter. “Buy a jar of applesauce, then put individual servings in reusable containers.” ReSnackIt bags are a green, machine-washable alternative to plastic bags. Available at Whole Foods or online (resnackit.com).

Interested in greener cooking? Schedule a free private session with Carpenter via phone or email, 303-488-2000 ext. 298 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , respectively.

If you can’t reduce, recycle and compost. To find out if your address is eligible for Denver Recycles services, visit denvergov.org/trashrecycling; then click “Sign up for Recycling Services” under “Recycling” or “Compost Collection Pilot Program” under “Composting.” Recycling is free; at $29.25 per three months, composting is feasible for most people.

Interested in a DIY pile? Denver Recycles partners with Denver Urban Gardens to host free compost classes. Classes held April-October at Gove Community Garden, E. 13th Ave. and Colorado Blvd. For details: dug.org/compost or 303-292-9900.

Waste-wise, disposable diapers stink. As my fearless editor noted, “Disposables are great for being out-and-about, etc., but sure are resource-intensive.” The Giggling Green Bean, 3929 Tennyson St. & 437 S. Wadsworth Blvd., is Denver’s one-stop shop for cloth diapering.

Store manager Jenna Hoskinson eases fears: “These aren’t your grandmother’s cloth diapers.” Hoskinson used cloth because she didn’t want to contribute unnecessary waste to landfills. The EPA propounds disposable diapers make up 3.4 million tons of waste in landfills. While cloth may require frequent washing, Hoskinson dispels one common myth, explaining manufacturing disposables guzzles water too. 

Over time, cloth saves money. I spend roughly $80/month on disposables for two. Hoskinson estimates an up-front investment of $250 is all you’ll need the first year. Cloth diapers hold up well, allowing for reuse with subsequent children.

Ready to ditch disposables? GGB’s shelves are lined with a colorful array of cloth. Thirsties and Rumparooz – both local – are two premium brands. First, attend Cloth Diapering 101. Free; offered at both GGB locations. For schedule: the-giggling-green-bean.com/education/classes.

Then, give GGB’s risk-free trial a whirl. Put $50 down, and GGB provides everything you need to get started (roughly $100 worth of booty). If you’re dissatisfied, return the gear for a refund. If you’re a cloth convert, pay the difference. Expecting mommas can register at GGB. For assistance, visit the-giggling-green-bean.com or dial 720-988-3725.

Change isn’t easy. Start small, be patient. Greener cleaning, cooking, and diapering help the environment and save moolah while promoting health and wellness throughout your family.

Happy New Year!

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