Eco Parenting – Easier said than done?
Everyone who is into a green lifestyle inevitably wants the best for our planet. If you are a parent, is could also mean leaving behind a better dwelling place for your offspring.
Still, as busy parents who have to cater to the innumerable needs of a baby, many of us often tend to fall back in our intentions. How do we turn this around?
We can’t seem to help it. If we have babies, we have diapers. Disposable diapers are still the main choice of parents around the world, for the plain convenience of wear and throw. The impact of modern parenting on our planet is staggering, with landfill sites being clogged with these disposables and other toxic products. As a parent, if you are worried about the carbon footprint that you are leaving behind and are planning to reduce the waste, here are a few tips on environment friendly parenting that will help you tread slowly but surely to do your bit to save our planet.
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From the time a baby is born till he or she learns to use the potty, a baby will go through thousands of diapers. Using disposable diapers means lots of money used to buy them and trucks full of those mini stinkers sent to landfills every year! Disposable diapers are generally made up of non-biodegradable material, hence they do not breakdown easily. Instead, they end up clogging landfills for years, running into decades.
What’s worse is, the untreated waste from disposables also poses a threat of contaminating the groundwater.
There’s no denying the utter convenience of disposables, including the fact that they do away with piles of laundry. Still, the new cloth diapers have come a long way and some are just as easy to use as their disposable cousins. There are a myriad of cloth diapers to chose from today and they can be made of natural fiber cloth materials including cotton, wool, bamboo, and unbleached hemp along with microfleece! These include all-in-one diapers, fitted diapers with covers, and pocket diapers that have a water-resistant outer shell and an opening for insertion of absorbent inserts.
Some of these diapers are easy to clean and need not be soaked or rinsed before washing. They are chemical free and are kind to both baby’s skin and the environment too!
Milk – Breast is best
A baby will need to drink milk and if you have given birth, you are faced with the choice of either breastfeeding or giving your baby formula milk. Needless to say, breastfeeding provides the best and most nutritious food, which protects a child from illness and ensures healthy physical and psychological development. Breastfeeding lessens the need for milk bottles too.
No matter how good or reputable a formula milk is, it still has to be fed through milk bottles and many of these bottles are worst environmental offenders for their share in producing toxic waste such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and more. Yes, sometimes even breast milk is fed through a bottle, but in any case, nothing can compare to the 100% natural goodness of a mother’s milk. The key message here is: Breast is best!
Make your own baby food
Commercial baby food may look really appealing on the shelves, what with all those different flavours and variants! Still, have you ever wondered what goes into a jar of commercial baby food? Worse still, have you ever wondered how long they have been sitting there on the shelf before you bought them?
Many brands of baby food, even reputable ones, contain preservatives and thickeners that are not good for the baby. The environmental impact of processing, packaging, storage, and transportation of this baby food is also something to consider. Valuable resources used in manufacturing these foods, and the convenient plastic pouches that these foods are packaged in end up in landfills.
Head to the kitchen and make your own! This action will help cut down on the environmental cost of producing commercial baby food. You can pick and choose your ingredients and make sure that your homemade baby food is made using only the freshest vegetables and fruits, which are best for the baby.
Go for eco-friendly baby stuff
Fortunately, as awareness catches on, more and more eco-friendly baby products are emerging in the market. Looking for baby toys? Keep your eyes open for ones made from non-toxic, recycled and recyclable plastics, which are free from PVC and polycarbonate. Look for eco-friendly wood products that have come from sustainably managed forests. These toys not only last longer, but are also non-toxic and lead free.
You can also check out local, handmade toys to save the energy used in transporting products. Look for organic or fair-trade products and baby gear too.
As for baby clothes or other baby products, consider borrowing them from friends and family. You really do not have to purchase everything just because it’s for a baby! If you do feel like buying stuff, try shopping at consignment stores, or buy clothes from garage sales. Buying second-hand stuff including baby gears like strollers and cots, can save you a lot of money, and adds up to lesser junk in landfills.
We all want clean homes and most of us don’t think twice about the environmental consequences of the effective yet harsh products we use to get the job done! The “danger” or “warning” sign on the bottle means that even a small amount of exposure to these chemicals can lead to medical issues, but what we seemed to have forgotten is that using these harsh and toxic cleaners at home can cause serious pollution in the waste stream as well.
Ditch them all, and instead use homemade cleaners that are made from simple kitchen cupboard ingredients. Make environmentally-friendly cleaning products using vinegar and baking soda which can be used to clean almost every corner of your home!
Many people still lament that eco-friendly parenting involves a lot of sacrifices. However, this is not really the case. It is all about relearning, giving up on certain bad practices, and adopting good habits that help provide a better lifestyle for you and your baby. At the end of the day, you can take pride in providing the best for your baby while saving the environment. Plus, as your baby follows in your footsteps, you are directly passing down your eco-friendly ways to be, in turn, passed down to the generations to come. It all starts with you!
If you must buy, go for organic!
Organic baby foods and baby formula is not only good for the baby but also good for the environment as well. Made without conventional pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones, organic foods limit a baby’s exposure to these harmful substances. Organic farming also boosts healthy soil, supports water conservation, and encourages biodiversity.
Get into the habit of reusing and recycling your waste. Why throw away pieces of fabrics and cardboard boxes when they can be up-scaled into cloth dolls or reused as storage boxes for your home? These small changes you make will help reduce the waste from packaging and sending old items to the landfill. While you’re at it, resist beating the purpose of it all by still buying disposable items like spoons and plates which just add to toxic wastes.