Nature's Healing Power

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As I mentioned in another blog post, when our family moved to North Carolina a year ago, the beauty of the place inspired me to better care for the environment.

More honestly, I was struggling with anxiety and a bit of depression upon our arrival. I felt sad most of my pregnancy and had a tough case of the baby blues in my postpartum period. I wasn’t working out like I had been and I stopped wanting to socialize with friends. The sadness during postpartum was then compounded with the stress of moving our family of five across the country, I just wasn’t in a great place upon our arrival. I began to regularly go on walks and runs along the  beautiful wooded trails and I discovered that I would return home happier and inspired. Each day lifted my mood and eventually, the feeling stuck.

While I always knew that nature had healing properties, I recently learned it was a studied form of therapy. The field of ecopsychology, sometimes referred to as nature therapy, studies the positive changes nature can have on a person’s psyche. Ecopsychology experts believe the health of the planet is inextricably linked to the psychological health of humanity, both individually and collectively (Theodore Roszak).

While a walk in the woods is nice,  several studies have found  that a mere glimpse of nature from a window or even photographs of nature can help people's overall mental health and life satisfaction (Ulrich).

While a walk in the woods is nice, several studies have found that a mere glimpse of nature from a window or even photographs of nature can help people's overall mental health and life satisfaction (Ulrich).

When I started connecting to nature, it healed a part of me and in return I felt compelled to do more to help it heal and maintain its beauty.

Practices like composting, improving our recycling, and reducing our single-use plastic consumption slowly helped me feel I was giving back to the Earth. When you appreciate nature’s beauty and healing properties, protecting its health is a natural reaction.

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There have been many times this past year when I needed to connect to nature to overcome struggles from anxiety, grief or loneliness. I loved this connection that I felt everyday in North Carolina. I will miss the immediate calm felt by simply opening the door to our backyard and taking in North Carolina’s breathtaking beauty. But knowing this effect doesn’t require a huge yard or a nature trail gives me assurance that when I need it, nature will be around the corner wherever I go.

Plus, I can’t wait to check out all of Houston’s natural beauty that I haven’t previously experienced!


Places in Houston I am most excited to explore

Where are your favorite nature escapes in Houston (or elsewhere)?

















































Back To School: Sustainable Accessories

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It is hard to believe that the time to start planning for our kids to go back to school is here. Along with the school-required shopping list, a lot of us are also thinking about what lunch box, backpack, snack containers, water bottles, and clothing items will be best for our kids’ return to school.

While using what you already have is the first priority, we are always researching the most sustainable options out there for purchase. To cut down on the length of the post, we are doing back-to-school as a multi-part series. Here, we are focusing on backpacks and lunchboxes and have rounded up our favorites here!

Backpacks

Fjall Raven

With the Swedish mantra in mind, “Straight backs are happy backs,” Fjällräven created the first Kånken in 1978 to spare the backs of school children, as back problems had begun to appear in increasingly younger age groups. Fjall Raven also considers sustainability from its design and materials to its production. These bags are intended to stand the test of time. Their designs are simple but come in a wide variety of colors. I made the mistake of asking Wil which color he wanted, so he might be sporting a black backpack this year (sigh!). I am hoping that adding a few colorful patches will liven it up!

*They are currently having issues with counterfeit bags so only purchase through their website or a certified retailer (a list of these is available on their website).

SHOP FJALL RAVEN KANKEN BACKPACKS HERE

Parkland

Parkland has the cutest, most vibrant prints! They carry many different sizes of backpacks, lunch sacks and even fanny packs! The exterior fabric of all Parkland products is made from 100% recycled water bottles. The vegan leather diamonds on their bags are made from apples. The recycled polyester they use is supplied by a partner in Shanghai, China, who is a global leader in producing recycled fabric. They are committed to ensuring our factories follow international standards regarding labor, wages and safety practices. They believe in being very hands-on with our manufacturing process and work very closely with our factories.

SHOP PARKLAND HERE

Lunch Boxes

For lunchboxes, the most sustainable options are ones that have promote the least amount of packaging inside. Here are a few of our favorite reusable snack bins, lunch boxes and bento boxes… all fabulously green options!

Planet Box

We love PlanetBox for our kids because of their simplicity for both the kids and for Mama (the one who packs lunch). With three kids, its so nice to already have the containers built into the lunchbox so I don’t have to worry about what is washed and what isn’t. As a former preschool teacher, I can also attest to it being nice to open only one item versus multiple containers or snack packages. Don’t even get me started on Gogurt Packs or those Danimals drinks that would both inevitably spill all over my hands (or even my clothes) when helping the students with their lunches!

We decided to get the Rover version for its many compartments but they also have two other sizes depending on what your child prefers. They are all very durable and dishwasher safe! I purchased the accompanying lunchbox to solve the problems of where I would put the silverware, napkin and drink! They have so many cute options!

SHOP PLANETBOX HERE

ECOlunchbox

Another favorite! The lunch bins are probably better for older kids lunches but the snack bins are perfect for any kid or adult’s snack time. If I packed a lunch, it would be in one of these since I am not going to carry a lunchbox around, and it would fit nicely in a purse or backpack. I often carry one of these out to dinner for takeout!

SHOP ECOLUNCHBOX HERE

Getting ready to go back to school is such an exciting time. I miss the routine that school provides as a parent and seeing my child meet new friends and learn new things warms my heart. This year, I am especially excited since we will be returning home to Houston from a year away in North Carolina. The kids will meet the children they will become lifelong friends with! My husband grew up in Houston and we still regularly hang out with the friends he met in preschool and elementary school!

Happy Back to School!

x, Amy

The Dirty on Diapers

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While I now have two children potty trained, I still have a 14 month old girl who will be wearing diapers for the next 10 months to a year. Standard diapers take 500 years to decompose in landfills due to excessive use of plastics and chemicals, so l’ve been testing out some of the leading brands of environmentally-conscious diapers to find out which ones actually work well, and why they are considered “better” choices.

I thought about switching to cloth diapering since it would be more manageable now that we only have one child in diapers (we just recently potty trained Joseph). Cloth diapering has had a resurgence because it is has been simplified and is widely considered a more sustainable choice despite the water and energy needed to clean them! My friend who cloth diapers recommends getting the all-in-ones versus those that have two or three parts because they are just as easy to take on and off as a disposable. The only difference is throwing them in the wash versus the trash in the end. Newborn pee and poop is not that gross to put in the washer but once they are older and eating real food it’s a different story. The easy fix to this is using flushable diaper liners. Genius!

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I considered all of this and know that I could do it with just as much ease, but a few things have made me decide not to.

First of all, this is my last child and these all-in-one cloth diapers are expensive, costing $25 to $35 for each diaper. This wouldn’t be expensive if you were just starting out, in fact you would definitely save money in the end! If I had more than a year of diapering left in me, I would definitely invest. I am hoping to potty train Isabel right at two years, so it’s too short a period of time to make it worthwhile. Also, Isabel is starting a preschool that requires disposables, so I would need to buy some disposables anyway, so it just doesn’t make sense for me. I definitely encourage those who are interested to try! There are lots of cute options out there!

So on to disposables.

I have tried many brands of diapers in the past few years from Pampers to Honest Company and most recently I’ve tried Bambo Nature, Naty by Nature and Boo Diapers. Bambo and Naty have been around for 25 plus years as companies concerned about making better products for the environment and are consistently rated as the top two diapers in that category. In a time when it sells to be considered an eco-conscious company, “greenwashing” is something to be mindful of. Bambo Nature and Naty have many environmental certifications to back up their claim of having diapers that are better for the environment.

I have used and been happy with both brands. I think Naty diapers have a cuter aesthetic from their website to the designs on the diapers. Bambo has a more standard look being white with the useful wetness indicator down the middle. They both function very well. I have never had any leaking problems and have used them at night for Isabel with no problem but Joseph tends to pee more at night so his pajamas would sometimes be moist by morning. Both diapers are similarly priced between $12-$13 per 26-28 diapers with Naty being slightly more expensive. Both companies offer subscriptions through their websites or through Amazon. I switched to using Naty’s pull-on diapers for nighttime for Joseph since he was potty-trained with no leaking problems. I love Naty’s wipes and am a huge fan of both their regular unscented version for diaper changes and their flushable wipes for having near the toilet for wiping the boys (is that TMI?!). I have never tried Bambo’s wipes so can’t speak to them.

Nature Babycare
Nature Babycare
Naty by Nature Babycare
Bambo Nature
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Boo is a new company making diapers from bamboo. Bamboo is a sustainable and renewable material that uses less water to produce compared to cotton, is self regenerating and is naturally absorbent. Boo claims their diapers decompose over 60% in just 75 days. That is a lot compared to the 250-500 years for standard diapers to decompose. Boo is a new company and there is not much written or disclosed about their sustainability in production but based on their materials, they seem great. Like I mentioned, I get wary about these things and will continue to be on the lookout for more information on them. I have used their diapers for my babies and have had nothing but a great experience. I find them more absorbent than Naty and Bambo. They even work for Joseph at night with no damp pajamas in the morning! You would save about $.03 cents per diaper with Boo compared to Naty and Bambo.

If you are interested in trying Boo! Use this discount code to get 50% off your first month. Full disclosure, I will also get 50% off my next order if you use this code.

http://boo.refr.cc/amydoherty

Other Diapering Favorites

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Diaper Backpack

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Diaper Balm

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Diaper Rash Cream

It’s hard being a mom, dad, or caregiver and there are enough stresses already! I try not to suggest switches that aren’t relatively easy or meaningful! Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out for you though. Making sustainable switches doesn’t have to be all encompassing and maybe this one isn’t for you? We’re all just trying to do our best!

x,

Amy