Gaëlle Wizenberg CEO of new cloth diaper sensation Charlie Banana stops by The Shopping Mama to share some of her secrets for living a lower impact lifestyle in the New Year. Charlie Banana brand diapers are the hot new thing hitting the cloth diaper stage and The Shopping Mama is fortunate to have had the chance to get the scoop on living green from Gaëlle Wizenberg herself. Charlie Banana, the international, luxury brand of modern cloth diapers and eco-friendly, organic baby products are now available at Target.comAmazon.com, Babies R US and CharlieBanana.com as well as at select retailers. Thanks to Gaëlle for all her advice.

The Shopping Mama: Is going green going to cost me a lot of green? I want to help the environment, but my budget is really tight right now.

Gaëlle Wizenberg: Actually, quite the opposite. I find on most cases going green saves money. In some cases the upfront cost is higher but in the long run it saves you a LOT more. Just to name a few examples – make your own cleaning products,  grow your own veggies, purchase energy efficient  appliances, use cloth diaper, use organic cotton handkerchief, fabric table napkins purchase a hybrid car, use solar panels,etc. If you are looking to use cloth diapers, for example, you can save nearly $3,000 by not purchasing disposable diapers.

TSM: If you could only do ONE thing “greener” (cloth diapering, reusable products, going organic), what would you choose?

GW: Definitely use reusable products whether its reusable towels, cloth diapers, cleaning materials, toys, furniture, clothes, etc. Use what is available and can be reused versus throwing away and purchasing new!

TSM: I hear a lot about going organic. I totally get eating organic, but what is the benefit to using organic cotton, organic diapers, etc?

GW: The epidermis is breathable and whatever you apply on your skin, it soaks in. It is like a sponge really. if you wear a shirt made of fabric that has been grown, processed, dyed with loads of chemicals they will not disappear after 2 washes. Your skin will absorb all those chemicals. Babies are even more sensitive as their epidermis is even more porous. Organic cotton is grown without chemicals, it is better for the body and better for the soil. It is more expensive and the yield is a lot less. source

TSM: What made you want to live a more earth friendly lifestyle and do you have any goals for this coming year to be even more environmentally minded?

GW: Being eco-friendly is my passion – both in my work environment and personal home life! It’s one of the reasons I started Charlie Banana®– to encourage worldwide parents to be more environmentally minded. Starting with hybrid cloth diapers and reusable baby products is one great step!

My family tries to live a very earth friendly lifestyle and I make sure to encourage and teach my children the importance of this as well. They are our future! We use eco-friendly paint in both home and office, I change all light bulbs in our house, purchase the best eco Miele appliances (they use the least power and water), live 5 minutes from my work which is less driving, travel less or when only really necessary. Our family eats tons of vegetables (grown and produced close to here) and less meat meat in meals. I only use organic products in general including the heath and beauty.

I want to try to make a different on an individual basis and also as an entrepreneur. 5 years ago cloth diapers were barely found in Hong Kong, Now we are in the main stores and doing lots of awareness. The trend is growing here and most parents when asked; cloth diaper because they want to make a difference and want healthy babies. In the Charlie Banana®office, we use only recycled paper, use lots of natural light, turn off air conditioning and open windows as much as possible. All our packaging, boxes and printed materials printed are made from recycled materials.

Charlie Banana®is all about promoting reusable products and I emulate this in every aspect of my life !

I also want solar panels for our house for my birthday – hubby, are you listening?

TSM: Can you recommend some simple changes to make in the new year to live greener? (Editor’s note, I’m sure she intends you to pick and choose from this list. I’m not sure 31 items could be considered “simple changes” but each one on it’s own is simpler.)

GW: Yes!

  1. Trash all toxic cleaners in your house. Use vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, peroxide, and eco detergents clean really well. You do need to worry about your potentially harming your children with poisonous cleaners. The air in your house will be cleaner and you will feel more energize.
  2. Only shop for the things you really need or are special.
  3. Go to the organic market and support your community and eat organic vegetables and meat as much as possible.
  4. Try to do more vegetarian meals as meat production is really high on carbon emission and it is not healthy to eat too much of it.
  5. Buy a fuel efficient or hybrid car if you have to replace yours this year.
  6. Turn off the light  when you leave a room.
  7. Turn off the tap when brush your teeth
  8. Take a shorter shower
  9. Carry your own utensils and use reusable coffee mugs when you go to Starbucks!
  10. Minimize your airplane trips. take the one that are REALLY necessary
  11. Grown your own vegetables: fun to do and you can share with your neighbors
  12. Turn off your night light to reduce light pollution.
  13. Live close to your work place or work for home if you can.
  14. Explain to your kids when they waste not to do it and explain why
  15. Stay away from all processed food
  16. Buy quality items that last, you will save, you will have only worthy things and you won’t need to do garage sales or live in clutter.. (such as quality toys for your children, quality furniture and clothes and shoes)
  17. Less is more
  18. Recycle
  19. Use cloth diapers
  20. Buy stuff at consignment store and reuse and save before buying new.
  21. Put stuff in consignment store if you do not need them anymore.
  22. Drink tons of water – buy a good home filter
  23. Unplug electronics if not using.. standby mode uses power
  24. Use eco paint if redecorating.. not much more expensive but a whole lot healthier
  25. Take public transportation or shuttle as possible, carpool with co worker and take then if living close by
  26. Have plants in your home to purify the air freely.
  27. Use your bicycle to go run errands and buy locally when possible
  28. Carry your own shopping bag when going to grocery store.
  29. Use an organic shampoo, cream soap, toothpaste etc…
  30. Go to the library with kids to borrow books and DVD… great selection, free, and reuse reuse..,they always have a fun time too.
  31. Breastfeed if you are able.

Thanks again to Gaëlle Wizenberg for all her going green advice. What changes have you made or are you planning to make this year to live greener?

earth photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group; MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).
  1. 1.

    so much wonderful information here, thank you!

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  3. 2.

    This is great information, I agree. Sometimes I feel guilty for the things I do/use pertaining to “green living”. I felt a little better after reading the list of things you can do, because I do quite a few of them! I think I will make it my goal to add one more a month throughout 2011. Anybody with me?

    • .

      What a great idea! I don’t know about one a month, but I’ll be looking at adding (restarting) several this year.

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