We all want the best for our planet. Unfortunately, as busy parents who have to cater to the innumerable needs of a baby, we often tend to overlook this. We use loads of disposable diapers and wipes without considering the impact it has on the planet. We buy the most expensive stroller or crib in the market without considering the option of borrowing or buying used items. Since a baby grows quickly and often outgrows a dress after wearing it just once or twice, we tend to discard so many clothes.
Quick TipTo recycle all those unwanted toys and clothes, hold a swap party which would allow you to swap kid items with other parents.
The impact of such wasteful 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.
Babies use thousands of diapers by the time they are toilet trained. Since most parents tend to opt for disposables, it means that lots of diapers are sent to landfills every year. These plastic diapers do not breakdown easily, instead, they end up clogging landfills for years. Moreover, the untreated waste from disposables also poses a risk of contaminating the groundwater. This holds true for baby wipes and other disposable items as well.
Of course, disposable diapers are quick and convenient. The best part is that you do not have to deal with the extra laundry. However, the new cloth diapers have come a long way, and modern cloth diapers are just as easy to use as disposables. Made of natural fiber cloth materials including cotton, wool, bamboo, and unbleached hemp along with microfleece or suede cloth liners, there are many types of cloth diapers in the market. 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. These diapers are easy to use and need not be soaked or rinsed before washing. They are good for the baby's skin, as these diapers do not contain any chemicals that can cause allergies. Moreover, they are reusable, so after the initial investment, you can use them a number of times.
As a new parent, you have to decide whether to breastfeed the baby or give him/her formula milk. Apart from providing the best and most nutritious food, which protects the child from illness and ensures healthy physical and psychological development, breastfeeding also has a number of ecological advantages.
Unlike formula milk, which is created using hundreds of resources including paper, pesticides, land, fertilizers, animals, water, fuel, crops, etc., breast milk is completely natural and free from all waste. It does not have to be stored in plastic bottles, which are one of the worst environmental scorns and are known to produce harmful and toxic wastes such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and more. Plastic is known to leach dangerous chemicals, such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, into stored milk. Breast milk, on the other hand, contains no toxins, and is good for the child and the environment.
Using organic 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 the child's exposure to these harmful substances. Moreover, methods of organic farming used for growing these foods eliminate the need for pesticides and chemicals which contaminate the soil, water supply, and air for decades. Since these pesticides discourage good farming practices like crop rotation and cover crops, they can also lead to soil erosion. Organic farming, on the other hand, boosts healthy soil, supports water conservation, and encourages biodiversity.
Making healthy baby food at home, and reducing the intake of jarred food, can help in cutting down on the environmental cost of producing jarred food. Not only is commercial baby food more expensive, but it also contains preservatives and thickeners that are not good for the baby. The environmental impact of processing, packaging, storage, and transportation of this baby food is huge. Valuable resources used in manufacturing these foods, and the convenient plastic pouches that these foods are packaged in end up in landfills. As opposed to this, homemade baby food can be made using fresh vegetables and fruits, which are best for the baby. They can be stored in reusable jars and food trays.
Look for eco-friendly baby products in the market. For example, if you are buying toys, look 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 been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to have come from sustainably managed forests. These toys not only last longer, but are also non-toxic and lead free. You can also buy local, handmade toys to save the energy used in transporting products. Look for organic or fair-trade products, gear, and toys.
Similarly, when it comes to clothes or other baby products, you can always consider borrowing them from friends and family instead of buying everything under the sun for your child. You can shop at consignment stores, or buy clothes from garage sales. Buying secondhand, especially big-ticket gear, can save you a lot of money, and it is better for the environment.
Parents tend to be really fussy about cleanliness in their homes. The need to clean and scrub every surface seems ever so important. While most people know that the "danger" or "warning" sign on the bottle means that even a small amount of exposure to these chemicals can lead to medical issues, what they do not realize is that using these harsh and toxic cleaners at home can cause serious pollution in the waste stream. Ditch these harsh cleaners, 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 your homes.
Learn to reuse and recycle your waste. Simple things like small cloth fabrics and cardboard boxes can be up-scaled into cloth dolls or fabric storage boxes for your home. This will help reduce the waste from packaging and sending old items to the landfill. Avoid buying disposable items, like spoons and plates, which just add to the waste.
There are many people who believe 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. Using reusable products and making your own cleaners may seem tough, but at the end of the day, you can take pride in providing the best for your baby while saving the environment. Moreover, by adopting these simple tips, you can instill ecologically-responsible habits into your children as well.