Posts Tagged by Money
|July 1, 2013||Posted by Issa under Blogging|
I’ve been ignoring LoveLiveGrow for awhile now. I’m not sure whether I’m going to get back into writing or not. It’s hard to say at this point. Once I was too depressed to write so I wrote about being too depressed to write, and that had the positive result of me writing more about depression. Do you think that’ll work for not-blogging? I’ll write about not-blogging and then somehow not-blogging will become a rich source of content? Probably not.
I’m not in a depression and haven’t been for awhile. I’m experiencing another kind of state which, frankly, is probably most like a mid-life crisis. I just feel a general apathy and low-level confusion about big swaths of my life. I’m stressed out about money. I don’t want to do housework or errands. I’m a little bit angry all the time. I’m not sure what I want to do with my life. I kind of want to run away.
Mixed in with that I’m having a fairly good time. We went to Euphoria, Georgia’s summer burn, and I had a great time. I got a big stock tank to use as a backyard pool, and playing in it with Dylan is a wonderful, peaceful fun. I’ve read a bunch of books. I’ve learned to play Texas Hold’em. I started smoking again awhile back, and I’m loving that. I got some new chicks, and they are growing up adorably.
Life is good. It’s just kind of mentally… lethargic. Maybe it’s summer. Maybe it’s nothing.
|February 13, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I have really enjoyed using cloth diapers with Dylan, and I want to pass that love onto you. This page gives you an overview of information about cloth diapering and points you towards a lot of other great resources so you can dive in and learn as much as you want. Let me know if there’s more information you’re looking for that I can include here!
- Money: Disposables can run you $2000 or more, while you can cloth diaper for a few hundred or less. The same diapers can be used on subsequent kids, magnifying your savings, plus they have resale value. See here for a closer look at the cost comparison.
- Environment: Cloth diapers aren’t single use items full of chemicals that then end up in landfills. Read more about the environmental impact of diapers or even more environmental information.
- Health: Disposable diapers contain harmful chemicals and are bad for your baby’s skin.
- Ease: Cloth diapering is convenient.
- Fashion: Cloth diapers are adorable!
- Flats: These are the seriously old-fashioned kind. It’s a single layer piece of cloth that’s folded and pinned (or Snappi’d).
- Prefolds: Still old-fashioned. Cloth that’s already been folded for extra layers in the middle. Mostly all you have to do is pin. Read more about the benefits of using prefolds.
- Contours: Contour diapers have a little bit of tailoring such as elastic around the legs and wings that fold over. It’s a slight step up from prefolds. No pinning needed.
- Fitteds: Fitteds are fully tailored diapers – elastic for the legs and waist, snaps or Velcro to close it. These go on your baby like a disposable, although they still need a cover to be waterproof.
- Covers: Flats, prefolds, contours, and fitteds all need a cover to make them waterproof. The cover has no absorbency itself, it’s just a waterproof barrier. But if you remember the rubber pants of yore, don’t worry. Covers these days are as cute as the diapers and come in many easy-to-use styles.
- All-In-Ones (AIOs): AIOs have absorbency and waterproof-ness in one piece. You put them on and they fit just like a disposable.
- Pockets: Pockets are like a cover (and can be used as a cover for other diaper types) in that they are trim and waterproof, but they have a lining that wicks moisture away from baby’s skin and a pocket for stuffing inserts into. The inserts are the absorbent part.
- All-in-Twos: (AI2s): AI2s are like AIOs except the extra absorbent middle part snaps in and out, making them easier to launder.
- One-size (OS): Fitteds, AIOs, pockets, and AI2s come in different sizes, or you can find OS diapers that are adjustable to fit your child as ou grows.
- For more descriptions of these, plus different materials and other related terms, check out this cloth diapering cheat sheet or this page on cloth diapering systems.
- Fitteds: Thirsties and Kissaluvs.
- AIOs: bumGenius and Kissa’s.
- Pockets: Bummis, bumGenius, and Fuzzi Bunz.
How to Wash Cloth Diapers:
- As they occur, put the dirty diapers in a diaper pail or bag. If your baby is eating food, dump solid waste into the toilet first. For babies exclusively breastfeeding, you can wash everything. How long you wait between washings depends on your schedule and how many diapers you have.
- Dump the contents of the pail or bag into your washing machine. Run a cold water rinse cycle to rinse away waste.
- Wash diapers on hot using detergent. Run an extra rinse if you like.
- Don’t use chlorine bleach, fabric softener, or pure soaps.
- Dry on low or line dry. Don’t use dryer sheets.
- If you have stains you want to remove, lay the diapers out in the sun. Stains magically disappear!
Other washing resources:
- Hobo Mama gives the rundown on how to wash cloth diapers if you’re using a laundromat.
- Here’s a chart detailing which detergents are best for cloth.
- If you run into laundering problems, you may need to strip your diapers.
- Washing cloth diapers when you have hard water.
- The ins and outs of diaper pails and how to store dirty diapers.
- More laundering tips.
Cloth on a Budget:
This resource page on cloth diapering will grow over time, as I find more useful information and links to add.
What other information about cloth diapering would you like to know or what other information would you add to this page?
|February 1, 2012||Posted by Issa under Blogging|
The thing I am most excited about lately is blogging. I’ve been writing online for… about 7 years now. I started out on LJ, wrote a thing or two for Associated Content, and kept starting blogs every time a new idea popped into my head. I have started so many blogs and owned so many domain names over those years! LoveLiveGrow has been around for a couple of years now, and I’ve finally learned that I can write about whatever I want without starting a new site every time, which means this site should be around for awhile longer!
Last month, an amazing thing happened. I actually made money from this blog! As far as jobs go, it was a teeny-tiny amount that barely even counts. But! I got paid to blog! I am a professional writer! Haha! I love blogging, and it’s amazingly awesome to be paid for it, no matter how small the amount.
I was so excited, I had to get a picture of the check before I deposited it:
I’m wearing Dylan in a mei tai carrier, and I love how he’s peeking around in this photo!
Anyway, just had to share my good news with you. Thank you to all of you who read here! I wouldn’t do it without you!
|November 3, 2011||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
The revolution has begun, but I’m only watching from afar.
I first heard about Occupy Wall Street (OWS) while I was at Alchemy, and I was immediately riveted. It is exactly what I want out of the beginnings of reform – messy, earnest, consensus-driven, wildly optimistic, and, of course, hitting many of my political buttons.
I’m wary, though.
Our culture is so forcefully stacked against any kind of meaningful change that I wonder if it’s really possible to change anything. And frankly, I wonder if people are really trying. I wonder if the people currently protesting see the problem as I do – something that needs complete overthrow – or if they just want to get more people back into the same jobs/homes/situations they had before.
The post My one demand at Nature Bats Last really captures my skepticism:
“Take a map and draw a circle, then say, everyone outside the circle is to have their labor and resources exploited for the benefit of those inside the circle. If you live outside the circle you say, “this system is completely fucked up.” If you live inside the circle you say, “this is capitalism and it’s the best system on earth you should try it it’s awesome. Sure, people outside are suffering, but who gives a fuck about them?” Now as the circle shrinks, as it is designed to do, concentrating accumulated wealth, people begin finding themselves suddenly outside of the circle. They jump up and down and cry foul, but the ones still in the circle say, “tough shit, you were too slow, shoulda run faster to stay inside the circle“. But then, they soon realize that they too are too slow to keep up with the rapidly shrinking circle, and quickly they find themselves left out, so they cry foul. “The system is broken!!!” they decry! But is it? Isn’t this the way the system has always functioned?”
I’m worried that Occupiers are just wanting to get back inside that circle. I’m worried that they want their jobs and homes and widgets without actually caring about the people who will remain exploited in order to make those things possible. I find the use of the word “occupation” interesting. Occupation is what our culture does to the land, resources, bodies, and minds of every peoples it encounters. Occupation is a word of war. But are the OWS people at war? Clearly not. Yet, I think we should be. Like Derrick Jensen says, if an alien invader did to our country what companies and politicians do to our country, we would declare war. But that’s a deeper question that starts with something simple like air or water quality and ends in contemplating the colonization of your own mind. Whether or not a certain number of people are assured shitty jobs or can remain in their homes built through exploitation isn’t really all that important in the long run.
On the other hand, we have to live here. Maybe people getting booted out of the circle is enough to make them see that the circle fucking sucks.
Whatever complaints about the Occupy Movement I might be able to muster up, the truth of the matter is that I approve of any anger directed towards the people and institutions who are running this civilized show, and I hope this revolutions manages to topple some big things.
And I wish like hell that I was there.
I hear a lot about Occupy Atlanta since many of my friends live in Atlanta. I hear about Occupy Chattanooga from another friend. And here in my own city, Occupy Knoxville continues on as well. And it troubles me to not be there. It feels like I belong there. It causes me physical pain to read things about Occupy and know that I’m not involved.
But. I have a breastfeeding infant, and it is completely out of the question for me to risk being arrested. Sometimes different values are in conflict, but usually one comes out on top. In this case, breastfeeding Dylan trumps my desire and responsibility to participate in this movement. I would support other parents making a different choice, but this one is mine.
And so I watch from the outside. I yearn to be there in the middle. I ache to participate in changing the direction of the cultural tide. Because whatever questions and doubts I might have about the motives of the protesters, from among their voices, I hear my own desires reflected back at me.
I read Starhawk’s blog, and I’m delighted to tears to read her poetic words as I breathe and feel along with her as best I can:
“The plaza is filled with a palpable aura of strong, calm, joyful resistance, nonviolence at its best. People are preparing to stand their ground—not to fight the cops or bait them, but to hold firm and stand together and defend our space and our right to be there. There’s a power in that plaza that is deep and strong, and because the moral ground is so clear, we’ve pulled in people from all walks of life to a movement that has room to grow.”
I hear stories of consensus meetings with thousands of people present, and I’m awed that people are even trying consensus with groups this big, this diverse, this new to revolutionary process. I hear stories of medical tents set up, kitchens, free libraries, and I’m inspired.
I see little hints here and there that’s it’s not just about getting back into the circle. That it might be about redesigning a whole new shape that we can all fit in, one that doesn’t get smaller and smaller by design.
I’m so excited to see where this movement might go and so grateful to the people who are out there making it happen.
In the meantime, it’s my job to be here at home, nurturing new life, and preparing for the future in other ways that make sense to me. To every one participating in the Occupy Movement: Thank you for leading. I’m a little further behind you right now, but I’m on your side and I’m going your way.
|March 18, 2011||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
When I signed up for a baby registry at Babies R Us, I got a little pamphlet called “Keeping Baby Safe”, and one of the sections was, “Safe Sleep for Babies.” I plan to share a bed with my child, so I wasn’t too pleased to see these instructions:
- Babies should never sleep on … regular beds.
- Babies should never share a bed with a sibling or parents.
I don’t even know what to think of this. Side-by-side is the natural place for parent and child. Sleeping together has all kinds of powerful benefits, perhaps the most important being easy nighttime feeding that interrupts the parents’ sleep the least.
There have been some co-sleeping deaths in the news in the last couple of years, so I would understand if people felt they had to put together great big bulleted lists of how to sleep with your baby safely. It makes no sense to me to just say, “Don’t do it,” and leave it at that.
I mean, it’s not like crib sleeping is “safe”. This same brochure lists 11 bulleted items of how to safely put your child in a crib. Couldn’t they do the same for sleeping with a parent?
Sometimes I just think these things get criticized just because they’re too hippie-dippy, lovey-dovey for today’s multi-tasking, teched out people. On other days, I’m sure it’s all about money. You know what doesn’t happen if I share sleep with my baby? I don’t buy a gazillion things to facilitate my child sleeping in another room: crib, bedding, monitor, etc. Every parent replacement item you buy inevitably leads to more items to buy.
I guess I shouldn’t expect anything anymore nuanced from Babies R Us.
|December 23, 2010||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
Table of contents for The Burning Man 10 Principles
From the Burning Man website: Radical Self-reliance: “Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”
People say that Burning Man will change your life. They say that you’ll go out to the desert and you’ll come back a different person. This is true for many people. After becoming a citizen of Black Rock City one button-up business-suit guy I knew became a wild and freaky traveler instead, with little money and no ties to a specific job or place. For other people, of course, nothing much changes. They enjoy Burning Man, but it’s a vacation. Other people say that Burning Man changed their lives, but when asked how, they can’t come up with something specific.
I don’t claim that Burning Man changed my life. Where I am now is clearly a straight line from where I was before. Burning Man didn’t cause a gigantic veer in the road for me. However, if someone were to ask me, “How has Burning Man changed your life,” I could give a solid answer. Some of the things important to my life now were nurtured and augmented in the desert and I can easily see the marks that living in Black Rock City has left on the rest of my life.
Central to those changes is the principle of radical self-reliance.
|Photo by Darcy McCarty|
Radical self-reliance isn’t about having/being 100% of what you need 100% of the time. Humans are social animals, and we need our community/tribe/family/friends/lovers for all kinds of things all the time. Self-reliance isn’t an everything always proposition. Thinking of it that way makes the whole thing pretty daunting and less likely to make you happy.
- Understand yourself and your circumstances.
- Think about the situations you’re likely to encounter and what you’ll need in them.
- Do what you can with what you have to prepare for those needs in advance.
- Trust that other people are doing the same.
- Don’t hesitate to ask when it turns out you don’t have something you need.
In Black Rock City, the necessity for this ideal is apparent. It’s a harsh, radical environment with no resources except the ones people brought with them. If you need shade, there are no trees under which to seek shelter. If you need water, there are no public fountains, rivers, lakes, or convenience marts. If you need special medical equipment, you’ve got to bring it with you. If you know you need peace and quiet, there’s no off button, so you’re going to need your own earplugs or white noise machine.
I like the interplay between self-reliance and gifting: if you don’t have what you need, someone else will probably have it, since they also planned for everything they needed, and all you have to do is ask. There’s also the communion with decommodification – since you have everything you need there’s no need to sell to you, and since there’s nothing to buy you have to bring everything you need.
In the rest of the world, the need for this ideal is less apparent to most people. Whenever we want something or a need arises, we go to the store and get it. (This isn’t true for everyone’s financial situation, of course, but this is the ideal the system is based on.) There’s no particular drive to have a certain amount of food on hand, because you can just go get more. If it’s suddenly cold outside and you don’t have a winter coat yet, you run out and buy one. If you get sick, you go buy medicine. If you need to repair something, you go buy the tools or hardware you need to fix it.
However, times of greater need can and do arise, and I sometimes worry that they will increase with the effects of post-oil and climate change. There are relatively mundane times of need, such as ice on the road so you can’t shop for a couple of days. Or you need medicine/food/tools/etc but the car is broken down and you’re stuck at home. And there’s the possibility of actual emergencies – big ones like earthquakes and floods and smaller ones like a storm that knocks the power out for a few days.
The principle of radical self-reliance was powerful enough to me at Burning Man that I have drawn it from the world of Black Rock City back into my day-to-day life.
How has Burning Man changed my life? I own a gun. I own 3 fire extinguishers. I own a battery pack that can jump start a car. I dress for the weather when I travel by car so that I’m prepared if I have to walk. I keep flashlights strategically placed around my house. I’m learning to grow my own food. I’m learning to raise my own food. I try to do these things with as few inputs as possible. I’m learning how to preserve that food so that I have some of it in the off seasons. I have reduced my dependence on disposable products and instead use things that last. I keep a stocked first aid kit in the house. I buy work/farm tools that don’t require gasoline. I keep stored water. I know how to distill water. I know CPR. I make friends with my neighbors because sometimes one person is prepared in ways another is not.
As I said, Burning Man didn’t really change my life, because most of these things are a predictable path from where I was before (except owning guns – that has a much more direct connection). I would say, though, that Burning Man heightened or focused my life. It made the value of self-reliance more stark in my mind.
There’s a certain freedom that arises when you’re ready for what comes your way, and this is magnified when those around you are also ready. I enjoy this freedom in Black Rock City, and I enjoy it in the rest of my life as well.
|December 9, 2010||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I’ve started receiving baby magazines in the mail. This means that about once a month, I get to sit and laugh and bitch and boggle at the ridiculousness that is modern commercial baby care. Since I know you’re dying to read my whining about baby magazines, welcome to Baby Bellyaching, a (hopefully) monthly bitch-fest about the crap in these magazines.
This month, I got American Baby (Dec 2010) and BabyTalk (Dec/Jan 2011).
Special Note: Other than this note, Baby Bellyaching is exempt from any sort of disclaimers, examination of privilege, or acknowledging people’s different reasons and situations. This is just a space for me to bitch.
Let’s check out American Baby first!
The main thing that always astounds me about baby magazines is the number of products they’re offering and problems they’re trying to fix that I just don’t understand. This month’s “baby booty” includes shoes for babies and shirts that help you hide that you’re breastfeeding. Frankly, I can’t wait to whip my boobs out in public, so maybe it’s me that’s strange. But shoes for babies? That just sounds like a waste of money to me. Another item was a bowl especially for baby food. Huh? Assuming I was going to give my baby special baby food (which I’m not), why would it need its own bowl?
Breeding Fear: There are always little fear nuggets in these magazines, of course, so each month and for each magazine I’ll be able to fill the Breeding Fear section. This issue sported warnings of ER visits if you leave your kid in a carseat on a surface like a table, encourages you to keep your kid away from dog food lest they get Salmonella, and suggests avoiding wire lined holiday ribbons so your kid doesn’t electrocute ouself1 with them. This issue also had a whole article on weird shit that your kids do to their bodies, like eat Christmas ornaments and put crayons up their noses, and also a whole article on protecting your baby in the winter cold. Whew. That’s a lot to be worried about. Or not.
Dubious Reporting on Studies: Apparently, “A study…finds…tots who received the most affection turned out to be happier than…those who got less.” The tiny blurb starts off by claiming that this is a reason to hug your baby. This is dubious because it’s being presented as “hug your baby more and ou’ll be happier,” instead of, say, “families who make happy babies also tend to be touchier”. I highly doubt that hugging your baby three times a day by rote (and doing nothing else differently) is going to increase the happiness of your child. That doesn’t stop this magazine from suggesting that you do it anyway.
One GOOD thing: To the question “Can I have a cocktail if I’m nursing?” the reply is basically yes, you can have up to 2 drinks a week, just wait a couple of hours after drinking to nurse. It’s so rare to see a reasoned opinion when talking about babies and alcohol. Plus they also dispel the “pump and dump” silliness.
And how did BabyTalk stand up to my bellyaching?
There’s a small article on how dad can connect with the baby that’s a little condescending, but not the worst I’ve seen.
There’s a big article on how your baby’s communication develops. I generally enjoy these kinds of articles, because they help keep me fresh on childhood development stuff I learned years ago. However, I’m always a little annoyed by the advice given to help these skills along. For example, in the 3-6 month range, the article suggests echoing your baby’s sounds back at ou as well as making new ones. Who really needs this suggestion? Who doesn’t do that with their babbling baby? It always seems to me like the advice can be summed up as, “Like your baby, spend time with ou, and have a positive relationship.” Everything else follows.
Ooh, this one is fun: In the article “Is my baby ready to…?” doctors give advice for your “pressing concerns”. Let’s hear my answers instead! Is my baby ready to snooze on her tummy? Nah, she’ll want to sleep on her back or side most of the time, because she’ll fall asleep in your bed nursing. Ready to ditch the bumpers? What bumpers? Oh, you mean in a crib? Hahahahaha. Sleep through the night? No. Hardly anyone does this ever. Don’t you sometimes wake up to pee or wake from a bad dream or get a little chilly and snuggle in more or briefly wake to change positions? Let your baby be a real person, too. Ride in a stroller? No, you’ll carry ou, and after that ou will be ready to walk. Needless to say, my answers are a bit different than the ones in the magazine.
Breeding Fear: Did you know that you you shouldn’t use a drop-side crib? Or one with slats that are too far apart? Or one that’s too old. Or, or…! Tell me again why sleeping with your baby is supposed to be so scary? Besides the crib stuff, there’s a scary little paragraph on the return of whooping cough and a laundry list of fire hazards.
The other half – ADS!:
There’s never actually that much content in these magazines. Half of the “content” is stuff you should buy, and half of the magazine is actually ads. So, I took an ad tally while I was reading. I counted both magazines together and only full or half page ads (not the little ones in the back). I left off ads for stuff that wasn’t specifically kid-related, like Wal-Mart or car insurance. After that, here’s what was being advertised to me:
- Parent Replacement Items: 14 ADS. This was the biggest category. It includes bottles, cribs, heartbeat and nightlight stuffed animals, monitors, strollers, pacifiers, etc – a whole host of things that replace direct parental care and explain why people think babies are expensive.
- Health/Beauty/Cleaning: 12 ADS. This next biggest section includes things like stretch mark lotion, baby nasal spray, disinfecting wipes, and cord blood banking. It’s all annoying and offensive, because it’s all based on either “The world is scary!” or “There’s something wrong with you! (or your baby!)” or both.
- Diapers/stuff: 8 ADS. This section bugs me because of the unexamined notion that you’re going to dispose of all that garbage. Not a single one of these ads was for cloth diapers or cloth wipes.
- Inappropriate/inferior food/supplies for babies: 6 ADS. This included formula (of course) and also that mushy, overpriced “baby food” with an infant in the picture (WTF!) Separately, 2 ADS for breast pumps or pumping supplies.
- Misc. non-bothersome stuff: 5 ADS. The smallest category was the non-offensive stuff, like carseats and toys.
As a special bonus, here’s one particular ad from this month. I categorized it under Parent Replacement Items, because in addition to the crib, a nursery kind of counts as a replacement item all on its own. This picture absolutely horrifies me and embodies all the ways in which I don’t want to parent.
I wonder if January will bring any new bitching or if it’ll all look the same month after month? Wait and see!
- It’s hard to talk about babies without using pronouns, and since you don’t know the gender of the child in question, the available pronouns really bug the shit out of me. So, I’m finally jumping off the cliff and picking a gender-neutral pronoun. I’ve decided to go with ou, which has the benefit of not being completely made up. Look it up if you like, and expect to see more of it around here ↩
|November 25, 2010||Posted by Issa under Parenting, Simple-Eco-Happy|
In case you missed it on Monday, click here to read part one of the review of the book Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care. This book gave me so much material to rant about, I broke it up into two parts. If you’re ready for another dose, here’s part two.
What’s next? Oh, yes. Fucking bottled water. I’m still in the 1st chapter of the book here – the one on pregnancy. You’re “Drinking for Two”, so the book recommends that you check the labels on your bottled water or filter your tap water. Wait, bottled water? What? Isn’t this supposed to be a book about being “green”? Why is it recommending bottled water at all? I quickly turned the page, hoping to see a condemnation of bottled water…and I found one. Apparently, you might want to avoid plastic bottles with BPAs. Choose bottles with these recycling codes rather than those recycling codes. No mention anywhere of bottled water as a wasteful disposable product, the corporatization of a local resource (sometimes to really creepy ends), all the other reasons not to drink bottled water, or that it’s just stupid. This is a huge fail that basically says to me that this book isn’t green at all. Period.
Chapter Two was all about giving birth, so I mostly skipped it. I won’t be in a hospital for my birth (probably), so almost none of this chapter would directly apply to me. Besides, this book was already getting tedious.
I hopped over to Chapter Three, which is simply called “The Nursery”, at which point I burst out laughing. And this “review” is almost done, because that’s about as far as I could manage to read.
There are two problems with a chapter called “The Nursery” in a book about greening your baby. First, having a nursery is inherently consumer-driven and is inherently un-green. In order to have what’s called a nursery, you need an entirely separate room in your house. You need “room things” like a chair, a dresser, lighting. You’ll probably get window treatments. You might hang art on the walls. You’re going to put a baby in there, so you buy a special “baby bed” when you’ve got perfectly functional beds elsewhere in the house that would easily fit a baby. The baby’s going to be alone, so you need music-players and heart-beat-sound-makers and monitors and snuggly toys. It’s a ridiculously expensive, anti-green endeavor.
The second problem is the whole concept of a place you leave your baby alone is alien to the philosophy in which “being green” exists for me. I know that there are people out there who want to be environmentally conscious who are otherwise ”normal” (the targets of this book, apparently). I’m just not one of them, and so at this chapter, I put the book away.
There’s one more thing I want to bitch about first, though. I left this for last because it’s not just one sentence or section. Something that permeated all of the advice in this book was it’s ignorance (or avoidance) of the fact that people exist at different economic statuses. This book seemed to assume that money isn’t a factor for anyone. And this, more than anything else, highlights that this book is only for a very narrow set of readers.
When talking about lactation consultants, the book says they are sometimes provided by the center or hospital where you give birth, but if not, “you can hire a private one.” There’s no mention that the price of a lactation consultant can run you $50-$100 an hour. And no suggestion to check with your local WIC office or La Leche League for cheaper (or free) assistance.
The book recommends organic cloth diapers, organic linens and blankets, and organic clothing for baby with no mention of the fact that all of these items can be significantly more expensive than non-organics. No mention of alternate buying options, like thrift stores or used cloth diaper websites.
And the most grievous omission of personal finances comes when talking about organic foods. The book says, “Let’s all pull together,” to buy organic foods. All? I don’t think it means all, when there’s not even a passing mention of the increased cost of organic foods. And unlike a one- or two-time lactation consultant or the clothes and diapers you could find used, organic foods are hard to save on and buying food happens over and over forever.
Anyone who’s looked at conventional and organic foods in a grocery store knows that organics are more expensive. And plenty of articles and books on organics make room to discuss the price and the struggles people have to buy organic. So why doesn’t this book bother? My guess is just that this book isn’t written for those people. This book assumes that “green” means you can buy your way into greener choices. And that’s not very green.
In order for a movement to succeed, it needs to be accessible to as many people as possible. In order for a message to resonate with a population, it needs to focus on the different people in that population. Also, have a little faith that your movement can be accessible to everyone. If you think your philosophy can only be attained by a few, you’re not putting a lot of stock in your own ideas are you?
And at the very least, “green” needs to mean something other than “money”. Ideologically, money means more, faster, higher, farther, better, and all of these things are the antithesis of sustainability and environmental awareness.
I’m really glad I didn’t buy this book, but I am glad to have gotten some green ranting off my chest. I hesitate to give this book just one star, because some people out there are in a position to put in new expensive, organic flooring just because they’re having a baby. If you’re one of those people, great, buy this book.
But, in short, I think this book sucked. I don’t think it has anything to do with benefiting ourselves and our environment. I think it is just about trendy stuff to buy.
TWO STARS – Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Green, M.D. with Jeanette Pavini & Theresa Foy DiGeronimo
|November 22, 2010||Posted by Issa under Parenting, Simple-Eco-Happy|
Within the last year, I’ve fallen in love with my library. I think I have ten books checked out right now, and I’m reading a few of them at once. The library enables me to read as much as I like without worrying about the cost or the waste. Lately, of course, I’ve been perusing the pregnancy section of the library. I came across Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Greene, M.D. I’m not really looking for any guidance on “green” topics, but it is a topic I care about, and I figured I could at least review it for LoveLiveGrow. Plus, in the meantime, I might learn a thing or two.
Instead of any education or pleasure, though, all I got out of this book were frustration, anger, and incredulous sputters.
The first clue that this book wasn’t going to sit well with me came two pages into the introduction. Greene wants to give a small example of a way to make a positive difference. Here’s the sentence that gave me my first sputter:
“…If every household in the United States replaced just one box of conventional facial tissues (175 count) with 100% recycled ones, together we could save 163,000 trees for our children’s world.”
First, I usually dislike examples that talk about what would happen if “everyone” did it. There are usually benefits to the individual regardless of what the masses do, and hanging your movement on the masses is a losing proposition. It’s a small gripe, as is my feeling that trees are a strange place to start when talking about conservation. Trees are a renewable resource. I don’t mind getting around to trees, but leading with them seems odd.
The great big fail, though, is recommending that you replace one disposable product with another. Disposable items are inherently bad for the environment, bad for your money, and bad for your state of mind. Especially when you’re talking about tissues, for crying out loud. I’ve written about reusable kitchen cloths, bathroom cloth, and menstrual products, but it doesn’t even strike me as interesting to talk about not using reusable tissues for your snot. Who does that?
Chapter One has a section called “Why Go Green During Pregnancy” where it talks about a tiny study of umbilical cord blood where each baby was found to have about 200 different industrial chemicals in the cord, including mercury, fire retardants, and pesticides. Greene quotes the report as stating that most of these are known to cause cancer, be toxic, and/or cause birth defects. Then he says something I whole-heartedly agree with:
“We are the environment; there is no separation. If a chemical is “out there” it may also be “in here”…”
I completely agree! It is impossible to live surrounded by toxic chemicals and not be affected by that.
However, the rest of this chapter goes on to talk about things that the mother can personally do (or not do): eating the right foods, drinking good water, not dying her hair, not breathing gasoline fumes, etc. These specific actions may be good on their own, but they don’t address the 200 chemicals thing. It doesn’t matter how many small adjustments I make to my choices – I have to breathe this air; I can only buy clothes at the places that are available to me, I can only live in the houses that are legally allowed, etc. I’m simply not in control of the amount and variety of industrial chemicals in my environment, and it’s mean to lay that on the individual. It reminds me of the Checklist of Fear – the irrational belief that if you put enough things on the list, eventually you’ll be safe. You won’t be. And you won’t make a huge dent in those chemicals by not dying your hair, either.
Next up is Greene’s poetic love of organic foods. One section asks “What Exactly is ‘Organic’?” and he goes on to provide some answers:
The word organic extends a promise of a food that is natural, pure, and brimming with healthy nutrients.
Organic farming is a method that honors our health and the health of the planet.
Organic fruits and vegetables are grown in fertile soil teeming with life. Organic farmers follow earth-friendly cultivation practices…
Organically raised animals are treated in a way that protects their natural development and behavior…the animals are raised in a healthier and more humane manner.
I know that’s what we’re supposed to infer from the happy little cartoon cows pictured on the sides of the packages and all, but I’m not buying it. I do frequently buy organic food, since I want that word to mean something, and sometimes it does, and I don’t know what else to do. But, in the meantime, I don’t get all doe-eyed over the myth. I’m not going to go into a full-scale anti-organics bitch here. Instead, I’ll ask a couple of rude questions and give you a couple of links. You can go digging for more if you like.
- The little organics label with your best interests at heart? Who owns that company? Kraft? ConAgra? Coca-Cola? Nestle? Do you think they have your best interests at heart?
- Are organic crops grown with care, or are they just grown “organically” until something goes wrong, at which point they’re sprayed down anyway and then sold as conventional crops? Is that what you want from the word organic?
- And the title of this Treehugger article says it the best: “Has the ‘Organic’ Label Become the Biggest Greenwashing Campaign in the US?”
Okay, this has turned into a LONG rant, so I’m going to leave the rest for part two. You can tune into part two on Thursday to hear the rest of the rant and find out what I rated this book.
In the meantime, tell me what you think about disposable products, organic foods, or any other green topics that come to mind.
|November 19, 2010||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
On rewind days, I bring you a post that has previously appeared at my other now-defunct blog, Right to Bleed. If you’ve read it before, skip on by, or go ahead and enjoy the rewind.
This one is from April 10th, 2009 and is printed here in a slightly altered form. (Photo by ElPablo!)
I like clever little lists that validate choices I’ve made. I ran across this one recently: The 10 Most Successful Potheads on the Planet. I don’t even like pot and haven’t smoked it in a long time, but I strongly support those who do and support an end to drug prohibition. One of the stepping stones to accomplishing that is taking a hard look at the myths and fears about drug use. One myth, of course, is that your life won’t amount to anything if you do drugs. So, I appreciate this list, which says, look, you can do drugs and still be a multi-billionaire or a star athlete or a president of the United States or whatever.
Another set of bullet points that I enjoy has people who didn’t go to or finish college, such as 15 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Need College (which includes at least one crossover with the former pothead list). This list says you can not go to college and still be innovative, rich, and world-famous. As someone who hated college and flunked out spectacularly, I appreciate this attempt to validate the decision to reject college.
So, these little lists give me a little sense of glee.
I don’t actually think these lists are helpful to the “cause”, and, in fact, I think they point to and contribute to a larger problem. That problem is the worship of “success”, which is strictly defined along monetary and popularity lines. These lists say that it’s okay that these people smoked pot or didn’t go to college because now they’re successful, and that means their choices were obviously fine.
What if I’m NOT a millionaire, though, and I also didn’t go to college or didn’t stay sober my whole life. What then? THEN is my choice the wrong one? The answer from the masses is probably yes. Whatever my choices were, if they didn’t lead to “success”, they were wrong.
I’d like to reject the idea that there’s an all-important standard of success that’s anything other than “you’re happy”. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be a pothead AND a dropout AND lay about your house in your pajamas all day doing whatever the fuck you want. OR to be a billionaire who never did drugs and loved college. OR anywhere in between. “Success” should mean something much closer to “happiness”, and there are an infinite number of ways to get there.