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Case Study > Simply Sensenig



Simply Sensenig




Sensenig Family

Mallory Sensenig has always found pleasure in the simple things in life. At only age 22, Mallory is not only a loving wife and mother of two, but also lives and practices an eco-friendly lifestyle, without thinking twice. Mallory and her husband Dwight reside in Millersville with their sons, Asher, 2, and Jude, 3 months. As a young down-to-earth couple married for the past 4 years, they strive to keep their lives simple and minimal. Growing up she was raised in an eco-friendly atmosphere and has continued to implement this way of life with her own growing family and new home. Mallory’s lifestyle may seem simple to many, but for her it is a way of life. From raising her children using cloth diapers, homemade baby food and wipes as well as canning different foods, these are only a few ways that Mallory is benefitting our planet and human kind, in a simple and natural manner.


What is Living Green?

Cloth Diapers - A Thing of the Past?

Homemade Baby Wipes

Home Canning/Freezing

Bargain Shopping

Dumpster Diving - Green or Gross?

Wood Stove – An Economical Option?

The Next Step

What is Living Green?

Mallory considers ‘living green’ as making decisions that take into consideration the positive impacts that each decision makes on the environment. By living green, she makes choices that are good for our earth. Some people use eco-friendly products, but that is only the first step. Individuals who are really committed to the environment need to modify their lifestyles in general. Mallory emphasizes that it is important to reduce the amount of resources people use by living more efficiently.

Cloth Diapers – A Thing of the Past?

To some older generations, diapers used to be considered something of a luxury while today they are the norm and people using cloth diapers for their babies are considered to be strange. Why would anyone revert back to cloth diapers when it is so convenient to just use disposable ones? Why put yourself through all that extra hassle? However, with the benefits of using cloth diapers and the variety of other reasons parents are choosing to use them, cloth diapers are slowly making a comeback.

Mallory’s Motivation to Use Cloth Diapers

When Mallory and Dwight found out they were expecting their first (and second) child, they immediately began reworking their budget to accommodate their changing lifestyle. One of the first things they decided for the baby was to use cloth diapers. Not only would they save a lot of money, but the cloth diapers would also be safer for the baby and greener for the environment.

Diaper Debate

Babies spend on average “around 25,000 hours in a diaper and need about 6000 diaper changes in their first years of life” (Hawkins, 2008). There are ongoing debates on which is better than the other, but in reality it is up to you to make the decision that is most beneficial to your family and lifestyle. According to Hawkins, the convenience of disposable diapers has been around since 1942, although they did not become popular until the sixties. Their popularity has grown over the years, and they have seen many changes, both good and bad (Hawkins, 2008). Cloth diapering has been around forever and has changed over time as well, becoming more absorbent than older styles. Many environmentalists believe that “by using cloth diapers they are just doing one more thing to “do their part” to protect and preserve the Earth for future generations” (Hawkins, 2008).

Pros vs. Cons

1 Natural Cotton Fibers Breathe More Easily
2 Approximately 5 Million Tons of Disposables are Deposited Into Landfills Every Year
3 Approximately 78% of Babies Get DIaper Rash in Disposables
4 The Chemical Used to Make the Super Absorbency of Disposable Diapers is Sodium Polyacrylate and Can Cause Allergic Reactions
5 Some Now Have Velcro or Snap Fasteners
Source: Kirsten Hawkins

How to Successfully Fold and Use Cloth Diapers

Here are several different methods of folding diapers retrieved from Kirsten Hawkins, courtesy of moms everywhere (Hawkins, 2008).

The Angel-Wing Fold

1. Lay the diaper lengthwise on the changing table. Fold the sides of the diaper in to the middle to form an absorbent pad.
2. Fold a few inches down at the front.
3. Unfold the sides at the back of the diaper, fanning them out.
4. Place the baby on the diaper, and pull the front up between his or her legs.
5. Holding the front against his belly, bring both sides of the back around to the front, and pin in place, pushing the pin through a few layers of diaper. You don’t have to go all the way through the diaper so that the pin is against baby’s skin.

Bikini Twist High-Cut Fold

1. Lay the diaper flat on the table.
2. Turn ONE END of the diaper completely over, twisting the diaper at the midpoint to form an absorbent pad.
3. Put the baby on the diaper (or the diaper under the baby, whichever is easier).
4. Pull the front of the diaper up between baby’s legs.
5. Pull back corners of the diaper around the baby, over the front corners and pin securely.

Double-Diaper For Heavy Wetters

1. Use one regular diaper and one infant size diaper. Lay regular diaper on table. Place infant size diaper in center.
2. Fold sides of infant diaper in, then fold sides of regular diaper in to cover the infant diaper.
3. Fold a few inches of the diaper front up, then fan the back of the diaper out to form angel wings.
4. Plop the baby in the middle of the diaper, and proceed as for the angel wing fold.

Homemade Baby Wipes

Another way Mallory saves money and keeps her babies’ skin healthy is by making her own baby wipes. Not only are they easy to make, but they are inexpensive, portable and convenient. Baby wipes can be made with either paper towels, or even cloth baby wipes, which you can wash along with your diapers. Commercial baby wipes add up in price quite quickly and they contain chemicals, fragrance, alcohol and other ingredients. When you make your own wipes, you choose the baby bath liquid, and therefore can control whether you use organic or all natural at your own choosing.

Tips to Make Your Own

There are many recipes to make your own baby wipes; it is just up to you to find a good match for you and your baby. Both paper towel and cloth wipes are really easy to use. When you make them, you can either make the wipes solution in a bottle or put it in a wipes container. If you put them in a container, it is convenient as soon as you need them, as well as on the go. When doing this, you may need to change your wipes more often if you find that they smell musty. If you choose to put the solution in a spray bottle, you can wipe your baby with a wet cloth wipe with warm water and give a spritz or two of your wipes solution. You can also premix your wipes solution and moisten a couple wipes when you are on the go. Just put the wipes in a plastic bag, or a travel container, and you are ready to go!

Mallory’s Method

Roll of Paper Towels (Bounty has worked the best)
2 T Baby Wash (Aveeno is her favorite, but any natural wash will work)
2 T Olive Oil 2 Drops Tea Tree Oil
2 Cups Water Old Baby Wipe Container

Cut the paper towels to fit in the container. Mix together all ingredients and pour this mixture into the container. Let the paper towels soak up the mixture. Tea Tree Oil has disinfectant properties along with its wonderful, clean smell. Homemade baby wipes are very simple to make, cheap, convenient and much better for your baby’s skin – so make your own today!

Home Canning/Freezing

Canning your own foods can be a safe and economical way to preserve fruits and vegetables and other foods. It is also much cheaper than buying commercially canned foods. According to the Canning Pantry, the canning process involves placing foods in jars and heating them to a temperature that destroys microorganisms that could be a health hazard or cause the food to spoil. Canning also inactivates enzymes that could cause the food to spoil. Air is driven from the jar during heating, and as it cools, a vacuum seal is formed. The vacuum seal prevents air from getting back into the product bringing with it microorganisms to re-contaminate the food (Reynolds, Susan and Paulette Williams, 1993). Freezing also hinders the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that cause food spoilage.

Family Tradition

Growing up, it has been a tradition for Mallory to spend certain days of the year with family canning a variety of fruits and vegetables, most of which they grow themselves. They have canned pickles, potatoes, apples, peaches, green beans and many others. They would also freeze fresh corn and peppers (for stir-fry). Once they have finished canning, they split everything. Mallory and her mom also shop at wholesale stores such as BJ’s and Costco, buying meat in bulk and then separating, for example, a 10 pound package of ground beef into 10 separate plastic bags (containing one pound each) to freeze and use for later.

Tips for Canning

What You Will Need

• Boiling - Water Canner
• Pressure Canner
• Canning Jars
• Lids and Bands
• Canning Salt (not table salt)

Things to Know Before You Start

1. Leave a headspace at the top of each jar before you seal it. This will allow room for the food to expand while it is cooking.

2. Wipe the jar rim before you seal it. Any food debris or salt left behind will prevent it from sealing.

3. Heat the jar lids before you place them on the jars. Just bring them to a simmer and turn off the heat. Keep the lids in hot water until you are ready to use them. The heat from the actual processing will kill any bacteria left behind.

4. Remove air bubbles from the jar of food before you seal it. This can be done by slipping a spatula between the food and the jar. You will see air bubbles being released when you do this. If you do not release air bubbles now, they will be released during the processing, and you will lose liquid from the jars.

5. Know your pressure canner. Read all of the operating instructions included with your pressure canner.

Tips for Freezing

Freezing food is a great way of preserving if you do not want to can it. It can be somewhat easier than canning, but foods do not keep as long. The reason you can preserve food by freezing it is because organisms that cause spoilage become inactive. As long as the food stays frozen, bacteria will not grow. Once you thaw the food out, however, bacteria will start to grow again. Freezing is simple; you can freeze in canning jars, plastic containers, plastic bags, plastic wrap or freezer paper. Food expands when it is frozen so it is important to leave ample room. If you don't, the food will expand during the freezing process and leak out of the containers, potentially creating an unwanted mess.

Bargain Shopping

There are many ways you can bargain shop, whether you are buying a new or used item and even when grocery shopping. If you want more bang for your buck, bargain shopping is a must! There are many ways to look like a million, even on a minimum wage.

Deal or No Deal

1. Do Some Homework and Prep Before You Leave
Before rushing out the door, check to see what you need, how much money you have, what’s in and what’s out. First, know what you already have and what you can work with. Then you can decide what you need to add, or would like to add. Mallory owns a few classic pieces that she mixes and matches and adds accessories to in order to make different outfits, no matter what occasion (for example, simple white and black undershirts, shoes that match many outfits, a little black dress, white button down shirts, etc.

2. Buy Quality and Know What to Buy
When shopping for “bargains”, make sure to check the item carefully. Just because something is cheap, does not mean it is worth the purchase. Ask yourself if the item is well constructed, are the seams stitched properly, are there loose threads and so on. If something is marked down, check to see why.

3. Time is Money
When it comes to the best time to find bargains, make sure to check frequent advertisers, holiday sales, liquidation sales, Summer/Winter end sales, etc. Holiday sales are some of the best times to shop when looking for new or newer items.

4. Best Places to Go
Outlet and off-price stores [such as Gabriel Brothers in York, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc.] are great for bargains. Many people assume that everything is used, which is not always the case. They also get overstocked and discounted item from stores that just needed to make room. Discount stores also offer bargains all year round. In fact, Mallory shops at Goodwill and thrift stores constantly, looking for the best deals for her family. Both Goodwill and thrift stores are great places to find cheap clothes, accessories, furniture, books and all sorts of other things.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is similar to bargain shopping for clothes, accessories, furniture, books and all sorts of other things. Make sure to prepare ahead of time. Planning before you head off to the supermarket will help you shop more economically. Do an inventory of your kitchen to determine the food that you need. Prepare your shopping list and cut out coupons that you may want to use. Read the newspapers to find the best deals. When buying items in bulk, focus on warehouse clubs or superstores, and for other grocery items, look into bargain grocery outlets. Mallory’s grocery stores of choice include Amelia’s, BB’s Grocery Outlet in Quarryville [run by Amish and limited to certain hours, but worth planning a trip] and Sharp Shopper.

Another way to help save money would be to eat before you go! Many people tend to buy on impulse, especially based on hunger, which leads to the shopper putting anything that looks good into the cart, even when it is overpriced. Everything looks good when you’re hungry! Mallory sets a budget and only buys what she can afford. Using a credit card is a bad idea, especially because it just sets you further in debt, and usually when you use your card, you are more likely to buy unnecessary items.

And finally, don’t buy convenience items, such as prepared fruit and vegetable trays or meat and cheese trays or even sandwiches. You are much better off buying your own separate items and spending just a little more time preparing them for yourself, whether it may be for a party or even for a packed lunch. Although you are spending a little more time with preparation, you will save a lot of money in the long run.

Dumpster Diving – Green or Gross?

What is dumpster diving?

According to Wikipedia, dumpster diving “is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be useful to the dumpster diver” (Wikipedia, 2009). So why do people dumpster dive? There are many reasons, including for fun, the hunt or making money. If you have ever walked past a dumpster and spied something of use to yourself and picked it up, then you are a dumpster diver. For the most part, dumpster diving is not a gross dirty job as one would tend to think. In fact there are many ethical arguments used to justify dumpster diving. By reusing resources that tend to end up in the landfill, dumpster diving becomes a green endeavor. Some feel that the wastefulness and ‘throw away’ mentality of individuals requires other individuals to reuse usable items from destruction. Others see dumpster diving as a way of making money or finding needed goods especially in bad economic times. Overall, it’s about recycling reusable items, saving some items from the landfill and finding ways to make money from a hobby, thus living a little greener.

The Sensenig Stance

In Mallory’s case, as a resident of Millersville, she is constantly finding items that college kids leave behind due to lack of room in their vehicles to transport home. For instance, the DVD player in her living room, the vase on her kitchen table, and the wooden chair sitting on her porch all came from a dumpster on campus. One of Dwight’s hobbies includes creating artwork to display in their house or even sell. As an artist, he has found many discarded materials to create some of his artistic works, including scrap metal, broken tiles and glass bottles.

Wood Stove – An Economical Option?

Sensenig Point of View

Mallory and Dwight were concerned with the rising prices of fossil fuels when they first purchased their home. However, they decided that having a wood stove would be far more efficient and cleaner. The addition of their wood burning unit has made a big difference in both their fuel bills, and the air quality in their home.

Pros and Cons

1 Trees Can Be Replanted Whereas Coal or Gas (Which Currently Heat Your House Even If You Are On Electrical Power Only) are Running Out
2 This Was a Major Deciding Factor For Mallory and Dwight, Knowing That They Were Planning on Having Children

The Next Step

The world has only a certain number of natural resources and as population growth is happening quickly, there are fewer resources available. If we intend to leave our children and grandchildren with the same standard of living we have enjoyed, it is important for us to preserve it now. Some of the greatest threats to future resources come from things we throw away everyday. Take for example household batteries and electronics. These items contain dangerous chemicals that contaminate landfills, from the soil in which our food grows to water that we may eventually drink. This is a great risk to human health. Throwing away items that can be recycled decreases the number of energy and natural resources tha could be saved by recycling. Overall it only takes a few simple changes to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Living sustainable isn't hard and it is a very serious matter that people need to consider.Just think twice about our environment and consider going GREEN.


This site was created by (Bethany N. Bolin) (contact) who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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