Dirty Business – The Diaper Pail

Ok guys, so I haven’t blogged in quite a while, but as a new parent I have encountered a lot of blog-able things in recent months. This is the latest stop on my journey – not a new physical location, but still a very new place. Parenthood.

When our bundle of joy first came in to this world, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know which shower and registry items were necessities, which were niceties, or which may not be particularly useful. Still, confident in our choices or not, we strode forth making our own decisions.

One of those decisions, was what sort of diaper pail to get. We had intended to employ a mixture of cloth and disposable diapering, and the local cloth diapering service provides pails for soiled inserts. All we needed was a good place for those pesky disposable diapers.

I will admit we spent several weeks without a closed pail. Frankly, with an itty bitty fresh newborn, it wasn’t much of a problem. However, as our daughter grows I have found the soiled diaper smell has likewise gotten stronger!

When doing some admittedly cursory internet research (being a new mom has brought new significance to the phrase ‘ain’t nobody got time for that!’), I found the majority of diaper pails require proprietary bags. There is an exception out there, maybe even two. I considered also going the closed trash can route, thinking it doesn’t really have to be designed for diapers does it?

Ultimately though, my postpartum energy levels and frugality meant I bought one in the place I shop most, and I bought the one I had a coupon for… namely the Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail. For other parents out there, I just wanted to note a couple of things I felt were not accurately covered by even thorough reviews and diaper pail comparisons (here’s a comparison I found very helpful during my own search).

  • Price: While I have seen this pail listed for more on amazon and elsewhere, the Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail only costs $25 at Target. Plus, if you do a baby registry there you will likely receive a $5 off coupon bringing it down to only $20. This is a much better price than the competition
  • Odor Control: I have found that this pail does a great job eliminating stinky diaper odor! The way this pail closes sort of spins the bag closed so very little smell can escape. Plus it has a little baking soda dispenser that sprinkles a bit in the bag each time it is closed, and the proprietary bags have additional odor control. If it smells, it is probably time to empty the trash bag!
  • Proprietary Bags: This pail uses proprietary bags This is one of the reasons I almost didn’t buy it, actually. I figured, with the ease of returns at Target I could always take it back if the cost of replacing bags turned out to be too much. Baby Gear Lab estimates the lifetime cost of the proprietary bags to be $190.

But here’s the thing – contrary to what I had read elsewhere you really don’t have to use the proprietary bags. Here’s what I do instead!

A trash bag and a plastic ring cut out of the proprietary bag

What you will need: One proprietary bag, plastic ring removed and One trash bag of your choice (we use a drawstring bag)

The awkward part – this is how I wrap the opening of the bag around the plastic ring.

  1. Cut the blue plastic ring off of a proprietary bag. If you are doing this from the get go, you won’t have to buy any bags at all because the pail comes with one to start you off!
  2. Insert your alternate trash bag. I use these kitchen sized odor control drawstring bags that we picked up on sale at a deep discount, but even little plastic shopping bags would probably work! Whatever you use, just insert it by wrapping the bag opening around the blue plastic ring.
  3. Pop the ring in to the pail. You will notice that the blue ring has four tabs, so you just need to pop these all in until it feels secure.
  4. Pull the bag through. You can open the pail door and pull the bag down in to the interior.

In action! You can see how the trash bag was pulled through in to the inside of the pail.

And voila! It is really extremely simple! The first time I tried it, I wasn’t sure if it would work, and it was a bit awkward to position the bag since you aren’t really using it as intended. But after I did it a couple of times I found it to be quite easy.

Do take caution to monitor your bag’s contents. The proprietary bags are the perfect size to use up all of the space in the pail, but still be easy to remove. When using your own bag, if it has a larger capacity, you might over fill it a bit. In that case, it is just a bit of a struggle to pull the bag out when it is over full. With mine, using kitchen size bags, if I notice the door start to bulge a little bit I know it is time for a new bag.

When you purchase the pail, it comes with one bag. I bought a small box of bags along with it, thinking I would be using them exclusively. Instead, I have been happy with hacking the pail, and we just use odor blocking drawstring bags.

Note We have now been using this pail for over a year. Eventually, the seam on the plastic ring will wear out. At that point you can choose either to get a new proprietary bag, if you have extras or can get them at a good price, or you can go the cheap route like we did and just duct tape that thing back together! It might not be glamorous, but let’s be real…  it is a soiled diaper storage arrangement, so I don’t think fancy or expensive will do anything to improve the situation.

Boston, Race, Religion & Identity

My first post in a long time probably should have been to tell you all about my pregnancy, but I feel compelled to write instead about the recent tragic events in Boston. Like a lot of people, for the last few days I have been fixated on coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing (and ongoing) investigation.

My heart is breaking for the casualties, their families and friends, the city of Boston and for our country. I have been ruminating about this event, and its possible implications for racial and religious relations in America. I am deeply saddened by the prospects… to the point of in-eloquence.

While I can’t seem to form the right words to express what I feel and fear, I wanted to post a brief reading list of articles and op-eds for your consideration. Well, not precisely a reading list, as there is a bit of audio programming in there too, but you get the point (I hope).

These articles, mostly posted before the identity of the suspects was revealed, still apply now that the alleged perpetrators are young white men originally from Chechnya. A friend, and a woman I respect said this morning on social media that she’s “Less sure that the “suspects” being literally Caucasian will complicate feelings about race than that it will simplify feelings about Islam.” Her comment is on the money for where my mind is currently.

I hope we can refrain from profiling further based on a simplification of these brothers’ identities. We don’t need to make assumptions about others in whatever group(s) (religious, racial or otherwise) these individuals fall in to – their actions are their own.

Oof, and the future person growing inside of me seems to be learning to dance or swim at the moment. I wonder what the world they grow up in will look like, and I hope my worst fears are unfounded.

Edible Mail

clementine peel

Edible Mail

We just received the most delightful package – a box full of organic clementines! We were given a one year subscription to Harry & David’s Organic Fruit of the month club by my mom, and this was January’s installment.

I’ve already been eating them, and they are amazingly orange and rotund in comparison to our remaining conventional batch of clementines. (The skin in the photo once contained something delicious)

Since I’ve been juicing again (after cracking my juicer’s bowl and waiting for the replacement to arrive), and since it is difficult to find organic produce where I currently live, this is a very fortuitous gift!

When I was in Portland this summer, my husband sent an edible arrangement, and I have been thinking it would be really neat if they offered organic arrangements. Then, you’d have the option of eating them off the stick or dumping them in the juicer! Well, since they’re precut, there will be some nutritional loss of course, but imagine if you could buy pre-arranged juice recipes! I would adore a surprise delivery like that!

Ethical Gift Giving

With today being Giving Tuesday, and the gift buying giving season being upon us, I wanted to talk a little about my approach to giving in general. I wouldn’t call this a full blown philosophy, but I do try to follow some basic principles. Here’s the annotated version: Put your money where your ideals are.

Do Good by by von glitschka via Help Ink

Give to charity
Some of the most meaningful and memorable gifts I’ve given and received have been charitable donations. From donating to Human Right’s Watch in my Mother’s honor for mother’s day when I was living abroad, to receiving the gift of donations to my undergraduate alma mater. There are a myriad of organizations out there that you can donate to, many of which will send form letters or certificates to the person in whose name you are donating. It can actually be very rewarding to spend the time to research potential recipient organizations, and select one that will be meaningful to the recipient.

Buy from conscientious sellers

If you still want something to wrap up and give as a tangible package, you can also shop with many organizations. Unicef, Sierra Club and Amnesty International all have stores. These are just a few examples, but you can also simply consider organizations working in other areas you support, be it on social issues, environmental issues or even political issues. Check their website to see if they offer anything for sale. Sometimes these may be sold off site, such as this awesome Sierra Club commuter bike I’ve been ogling.

If you’re more interested in fashion and accessories, Ethical Ocean vets sellers on their products which must be either Good for People, Good for Animals or Good for the Environment. You may also consider looking for retailers that donate a part of their profit to charity. An example is Help Ink, where beautiful art is offered, and 40% or more of the profits go to charity. The print at the top of this entry is by Von Glitschka and profits from the sale of this piece benefit Charity Water. Alternatively, Sevenly offers stylish shirts, hoodies and totes benefitting a different charity each week.

Buy Handmade

There are a ton of places to buy hand made, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Buying handmade doesn’t just mean shopping on Etsy (but that’s okay too! After all, anyone can use an infinity scarf to keep warm!). Other online retailers like The Bootstrap Project support artisans from around the world. They are a non-profit, employing artisans and helping preserve traditional handicrafts, not to mention the products are gorgeous & functional. It doesn’t get much better than that!

It is worth mentioning here that gifts you made yourself are great too! Repurpose or reinvent something, or create something from scratch! I promise, it is a lot of fun.

Buy Local

Shopping where you live is also a great way to spend your money. One of my favorite thrift stores in town is a not for profit, which supports a local battered women’s shelter. In particular, buying local to me means looking for local small businesses, not just the local branch of a big box store. It may seem like a small gesture, but even if you buy at a local for-profit business, you’re injecting money in to your community, and giving more security to these businesses, and those whose livelihoods depend on them. Bonus: Get yourself out there, and explore your own neighborhood! You never know what you might find…

Want some inspiration? Here are a few ideas:

  • Oxfam – Pay for tools, livestock, a bicycle or instruction that can improve the income generation and livelihood of those in poverty. You can even plant a forest!
  • Good Neighbors – Sponsor a child! Having volunteered with Good Neighbors in Dominican Republic, I can vouch for this as a reputable organization. The children of Los Guandules are in my heart forever. Alternatively, you can contribute to projects providing cookstoves, wells and other relief for impoverished communities in the developing world.
  • Charity Water – Awesome products, profits go to providing clean water to people in developing countries
  • Nisolo – Providing livelihood to Peruvian shoemakers, this is a beautiful catalogue of shoes and other leather goods
  • The Bootstrap Project – These Tajik stockings by Nadzhida look beautiful & cozy, and don’t get me started on how much I love Sodiqjon’s Footstool
  • Shana Logic – Support artists and craftsters by buying some nerdy, hip accessories!