Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Have an Organic Baby on a Budget



For the past 5 or so years of my life, I've been striving to live more naturally and include organics into my life as much as possible. I was interested in living a more natural life, but I didn't know where to start. After viewing the documentary "Go Further" by Ron Mann (which I highly recommend!) in 2008, my life was changed, and I decided to go organic and never go back. Since then, I've done much more research into the world of organics, and fully decided that for many reasons, it is the lifestyle that I want for myself and my family, and a lifestyle that could benefit the whole world!
Some of the benefits of living an organic lifestyle are:

- Less exposure to toxic chemicals.
Organic fibers, plants and foods are grown without chemical fertilizers, GMOs, herbicides and pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. Organic textiles do not contain harmful dyes are not treated with chemicals after production as many conventionally grown fabrics are to make them "resistant" to insects or even flames. They are not made with petroleum byproducts, as synthetic products and textiles are. Organic skin-care products are not filled with the smorgasbord of  toxic chemicals, but are simply plant based, safe products. (to find out if your skin care products are safe, or which products are the safest, go to EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database). The chemicals that are used in non-organic items are linked to cancer, skin irritation, and a long list of illnesses (go ahead and look it up, I've got to make this short).

-Good Karma
When you buy sustainably produced, fair trade products, you can rest assured that the planet is being well cared for, as well as the wages and working conditions of those who are producing them. No sweat shops. No poisonous chemicals in the faces of workers, causing them to have serious health problems. No blood, sweat and tears. Just good energy surrounding your little ones.

-Comfort and Warm Fuzzies
Organic fibers are naturally soft, comfortable, amazing feeling, amazing smelling (really! take a good long whiff of a new organic cotton shirt or blanket!), wonderful textiles. Part of the reason why I am more than happy to have my babies surrounded by organics. Also, organic natural fibers and plant-based products are less prone to allergies or irritation on the skin. They are breathable, natural, soft and beautiful. I feel happy folding my family's soft fluffy laundry and diapers. Why wouldn't you want that?

-Setting Limits, Saving money
When you choose to go organic, you are setting up a boundary for yourself that does not allow you to simply walk into a store and splurge on everything you think is cute. Instead, you turn it down because it is most likely not organic.  It is a great way to minimalize your life. You sell off or get rid of the items in your home that you can do without, and replace only what you need with organics (if you have a garage sale, you can use the $ towards the new organic items!). The ability to impulse shop is very limited when you choose to live organically. If you see something that is organic and overpriced, you make a mental note to search for the same item for a more bargain price. You'll be surprised how much money you can save with this strategy!

-Vote with your $
When you buy only organic, natural products, you are telling the corporations, "Hey, look. My family and our future generations and our planet deserves better. We're refusing to buy your mass-produced, chemical-filled, low-wage worker made, cancer-causing, pollution-making crap that is killing our planet. Change your ways and maybe I'll reconsider. Maybe." You're also usually funding wholesome, family owned companies or individuals with good morals and character, instead of corporations who care only about themselves and their profits, rather than the well-being of our planet and it's people. If you decide to buy the organic versions or popular brands, you're telling them "Hey, I like you, but I've got standards, you see. So I'll stick to the organic stuff, and maybe if you produce more organic stuff, I'll buy it too!". Big companies switching over to organic products is only a good thing..

The FUN part of going organic on a budget, is the challenge of finding a great bargain! Not only did we find ourselves paying less for organic products, but paying less for these organic products than we had ever paid for NON-organic products!! A deal's a deal, and we've found some great ones!

The #1 reason I hear from people on why they choose not to go organic is because they feel they cannot afford it. Switching every aspect of your life to organics can be difficult, especially when you're living on a strict budget. Also, one google search for organic products can send someone running for the fields, those prices can get OUTRAGEOUS! But after 5 years of converting our lives to organics, I'm here to reveal some of the secrets and even benefits of going organic on a budget.

Since this is a mommy blog, I'll start with the baby stuff, since that's where I began. We had tried to incorporate organics into our kids' lives as much as possible, but before we tried to conceive Baby Gummy, we decided that our next baby would be 100% unfailingly organic! And that she is! She is 100% breastfed with mama's (mostly) organic breastmilk, every single item of clothing, bedding, diapers, towels, cart covers, carriers, toys, skin care products and everything she needs is organic. In other words, anything that goes in or on her body. While striving for our goal to have an organic baby/family, we discovered amazing ways to not only find bargains but SAVE money while we were at it!
Please note that although we find an organic food diet VERY important, this specific blog post focuses on non-food items. :)

Clothes


Pictured above is Baby Gummy's closet, with most of her clothes sizes 0-3 mos all the way to 2T. Every single item of clothing pictured here is 100% organic. Most were bought new with tags. I would also like to note, that we did not pay full price for a single one. We paid about an average of $5 per item, with a range of $2-$10. I think the most expensive outfit I bought was a brand-new-with-tags Laura Ashley Organics outfit that I found at a high-end downtown consignment shop for $14, which is still much less than it would originally retail. Now you have to admit, having a closet full of ANY type of clothes that average about $5 in price is impressive, but to have a closet full of ORGANIC clothes for that price is almost unbelievable, right?!  Keep reading to find out how it's done...

NAME DROP!: Some of our favorite brands of organic clothes are: Under the Nile, Burt's Bees Baby, Sage Creek Organics, Kate Quinn Organics, Nui organics, Speezees, Zutano organic, Skoon, Kushies, and many many many others (it pains me to have to leave some out, as I love them all so much!!)

Diapers


For the first 2 or more years of your baby's life, they will most likely spend every minute of every day with their bottom in a diaper. That is why it is so important to be very picky about what goes against your baby's most sensitive and vulnerable parts! Organic diapers are soft, absorbent, safe, and chemical-free, and usually manufactured fairly and sustainably. Pictured above, is my babies' diaper stash as of last year. (I have since majorly destashed and focused on mainly 3 brands of organic diapers, but I felt this picture provides a good idea of the complete VARIETY of organic diapers that is out there!) The top shelf are all newborn diapers, the bottom shelves are One-size diapers, covers, and inserts (enough to diaper 2 children, and have some slack on folding laundry). Every one of them are either 100% organic, or have organic interiors, which is what will be against the skin. The diapers are made of organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. There are also some organic wool covers. There are pocket diapers, AIOs, AI2s, fitted diapers, prefolds, flats and lay-in soakers. I rarely will ever purchase a cloth diaper at full price, and I always seek out a bargain or coupon on what I am looking for first!

NAME DROP!:
As of right now, we have converted our entire one-size stash to only BumGenius Elementals, or organic fitted diapers and organic prefolds/flats with organic covers and wool. The organic diapers pictured above (before our destash) are:
Osocozy Organic, GMD organic, Under the Nile, Imagine Organic, Bummis Organic, Babee Greens, Tiny Tush, Imse Vimse, Little Bottoms, Little Beetle, Goodmama with OBV, EcoPosh, GroVia, Swaddlebees (Eco-Nappi or organic fitteds), Clovers, SBish, EcoBumz, Kissaluvs organic, Motherease organic, DiaperRaps, Organic Caboose, Babykicks, Wahmies organic, Happy Heiny's Organic, BumGenius Elementals, Chelory, BottomBumpers, Blueberry Bamboo, Drybees organic, and Loveybums.



Toys


Our babies spend a lot of time playing, touching, and tasting their toys. It is important to make sure that while your child explores the world of imaginative play and various textures, that they are not being exposed to harmful chemicals and plastics that are often found in the average toy. Organic natural toys are safe for your baby and children to explore, and you can rest assured that their health will not be negatively affected. Pictured above is our Organic little Baby Gummy playing on her organic nursing pillow, on top of an organic sheepskin (Sorry vegans. It was a gift, and the benefits are many..), in her organic diaper, covered with an organic wool cover, playing with some of her organic toys. All that you see here was either bought at discounted prices, or gifted to us at some point (also a money saver, to put organics on your registry!). Keep reading for the secret on how your baby can also be an organic baby...

NAME DROP!: Although we've acquired a collection of organic toys of various brands, the ones pictured here are mostly Under the Nile, Vulli and Mary Meyer Earthmates brand.

Skincare


Skin care products is one of the most important things that you can switch to organic! Did you know that every single thing that you put onto your skin, absorbs through your skin and affects your vital organs, your hormones, your blood, your immunity, your future health, everything!! When you are putting chemicals and carcinogens onto your skin, you are seriously affecting you health in ways you never knew. When you use safe, natural organic plant-based products, or organic oils, you could actually be enriching your health! What a difference that is! We made sure that we bought the lowest possible rated (on the EWG Cosmetics Database) baby products for our baby. (Pictured above is Gummy Bears's first bath) When a bath is needed, we only use chemical free natural organic soaps, and moisturize with organic natural oils or lotions.
NAME DROP!: We highly recommend Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Honest Company, Nature's Baby Organics, and any brand of Extra Virgin Organic Unrefined coconut oil.

Bedding

Bedding is also very important to go organic. Did you know that chemically-treated (non-organic) mattresses and bedding produce much harmful off-gassing in a home? Also, our loved ones and ourselves spend a significant amount of our lives sleeping, with our faces and bodies pressed against our bedding and inhaling whatever our bedding is made of. That is why it is important to have only organic, natural fibers for bedding and blankets.

Other Items

In an attempt to keep this post short, I will briefly add without detail that some of the other items to look for in organics are: shopping cart covers, baby carriers such as slings, wraps, mei tei's or structured carriers, accessories, nursery furniture or covers for the furniture (such as changing pads and changing pad covers, nursing pillows and nursing pillow covers, decorative plants or flowers, curtains, lamps and other decor, towels, washcloths, sponges, and pretty much anything and everything your family regularly comes into contact with. Also don't forget to use safer feeding items such as glass, natural rubber, bamboo, organic wood, or stainless steel for bottles, sippy cups, bowls, plates, and utensils.

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for....

The Secret to how to afford it all:
My greatest tip is to buy a little at a time. Before you know it, you will have everything you need! Here is where to look for the best deals:

- Resale shops/Consignment shops: It's as simple as browsing around, looking at the tags. You'll be surprised what you can find out there in the resale/consignment world that is organic, in perfect condition (some even new with tags!) and only being sold for a few dollars.

- Craigslist: Just type in the keyword "Organic" in the for sale baby or toy, clothes, etc section, you'll be surprised what you can find! If you are familiar with any specific brands of organics, you can chance it by doing a search for those as well, and you might find someone selling a bundle of clothes, diapers or toys, etc with a few organics thrown in. Then you just ask the seller if you could specifically buy the organic ones. Items on CL sell for super cheap usually, so you'll find some great deals this way.

-Online resales: There are plenty. Spot's Corner (Hyenacart), Facebook Groups, various websites specifically meant for reselling items. Do your homework and you'll discover greatness!

- Local Swaps or Garage Sales: Our mommy groups in our area enjoy organizing a swap for  our unwanted items, and offering them for sale. A garage sale is also a great place to score some great finds. I actually managed to attain several organic diapers, covers, a few clothes, and eco-friendly toys at garage sales. It's worth the hunt if you enjoy that type of thing!

-Ebay: Many business that are going out of business and want to sell off their remaining merchandise post their items on eBay, very discounted. Also, many parents list their used, new but gifted, unwanted, or outgrown organic items on eBay. I've found some AMAZING deals on eBay! The perk to this is knowing that your money is being used to help out a family or a former business owner.

Note: When buying used organics, keep in mind that whatever detergents were used by the previous owner may contain chemicals, so you will want to do plenty of washes in hot water to wash the irritants/chemicals out, and begin using your own non-toxic natural detergents on them.

-Zulily: Oh...my...gosh. Is all I have to say. They always have the cutest selection of organic clothes at greatly discounted prices it is unbelievable! You have to be careful though, as there is SO much cute organic low-priced stuff on Zulily, that you might have to refrain from overspending. You just sign up for a free Zulily account (click here to sign up for one) and type in "organic" into the search box, and behold the wonders of the adorableness and great deals before you!! (and yes, I shamelessly linked you my personal Zulily invite lol. That's part of the awesomeness of Zulily though. If you have a Zulily account, and you invite people and they sign up from your invite link and make a purchase, you get store credit! And that means FREE organic clothes!! And who doesn't want FREE organic clothes?!! I've definitely bought some free organic outfits this way, and it made my week! It will make yours too, so do it! lol!)

- Family-owned businesses having a clearance or closeout: Many of my children's organic items were attained BRAND NEW at a very low cost this way. Just do a search for organic clothes/toys/diapers/etc (or whatever brand) + clearance and you'll likely find some great deals. I am astonished at some of the deals I was able to find this way.
(I would like to specifically thank a hometown friend of mine who owns a lovely little online organic shop called Crunchy Bunch. She's been having a closeout clearance sale of all of her amazing organic items, and during my pregnancy I was able to get LOTS of name brand organic clothes, accessories, slings/carriers, toys, cart covers, skin care products, diapers, towels, blankets, bedding, just about everything a baby could need...for literally $2-$5 a piece! It was a godsend! Although she has significantly less stock now than she did when I was pregnant with Gummy, she still has several BARGAIN organic items up on her site! Go check it out! Things will probably go flying out of her stock soon!)

Regular stores having a sale or clearance on organic items, or carrying low-cost organics: This one kind of speaks for itself ;) Yes, even some mainstream or outlet stores carry organic products. I've managed to find some great deals on organic items out there in mainstream world. It's rare, but it happens from time to time. For example, a local 99 cent store has been found to carry organic Babylegs brand leg warmers for just $1 each! I've found 100% organic 2-pack of lip balms at dollar tree for just $1 and also 100% organic soaps that I've seen for sale at health food stores selling $3-$6 each for just $1/each (and yes, we have a lifetime supply of soap now, lol!). I've also bought 3 packs of organic name brand receiving blankets and other baby items at outlet stores such as Ross or TJ Maxx for a mere $3.99 and such. I've also found organic beauty and skin care products at these stores very discounted as well.
Also don't forget Amazon! I've truly bought some organic baby clothes from there for only $3-$5/each with free shipping! Pret-ty awesome!

-Coupons for stores and online shops: If there are full-priced organic items you must have, be sure to do a search for coupons for the specific brand or store from which you are buying!

I truly hope that this post is able to help strict-budget or low-income families or individuals to achieve a goal of going organic at a reasonable price. I am writing this post in hopes that regular everyday people do not have to sacrifice their health or ethical standards, but can live a fulfilling, healthy organic lifestyle.
If you are able to afford all of the wonderful full-priced organic goodness that is out there, I am truly happy for you. I also don't look down at that at all. In fact, if you can afford to, I even encourage paying full price. After all, the costs of producing organic items can be much larger for the companies producing them, and by paying full price, you are keeping these companies running (good companies, which strive to make this world a better, cleaner and safer place for all). My primary goal in writing this post, is to prove to those who believe that an organic life is impossible due to costs, that it is entirely possible! You just have to do a little bargain hunting!

Love,
Boheme Mom <3
  
Discussion: What ways do YOU go organic on a budget?? Share your ideas!

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