Spring is the perfect time to talk about eco-friendly and sustainable living practices. Not only is everything in bloom, full of new life, but April 22nd is also Earth Day! As parents we all want to make the best choices for our children, but often we forget to keep Mother Earth in mind. Green parenting, and choosing eco-friendly options, doesn’t have to be a tedious chore. You also don’t have to be a compost-heaping, homestead-having professional to help reduce your family’s carbon footprint. (Although if you are a compost pro, I could use some of your knowledge!) In an effort to make the world just a little bit greener, I’m sharing five super simple ways to go green as a new parent!
1. Buy Secondhand
One of the most fun parts of expecting a baby is diving into the world of baby gear! Cribs, bassinets, baby carriers, and tiny clothing… ahh! All the heart eyes! While it’s incredibly tempting to rush to the nearest baby store and stock up on all the shiny, new things, you may be able to find the very same products for far less simply by buying secondhand. By giving these items a second life, you’re saving them from piling up in a landfill. This also helps ensure you don’t add to the product demand, thus increasing carbon emissions during the production process. Can’t forget about all of that packaging, too! Purchasing quality items secondhand is a great way to help save the Earth and your bank account. Worth noting: Car seats, unless you’re fully aware of the seats history, are best purchased brand new.
Many new mothers choose to breastfeed their babies for a whole host of reasons, but being eco-friendly may not be the first thought that comes to mind. Not only is breastmilk free, but it’s also “ready-to-feed” without the added hassle of bottles, warmers, and accessories. Breastfeeding helps guard your little one against illnesses, lowering the chances he or she will need antibiotics, too. If breastfeeding isn’t an option for your family, or you choose to feed baby from a bottle, consider glass bottles with silicone sleeves, like these from Lifefactory. You can swap the top for a sippy cup lid so the same pieces can last from birth through toddlerhood. Check out some of the informative breastfeeding posts right here on the Ergobaby blog.
3. Diaper Wisely
Parenthood is one of those funny, weird roles you can never quite prepare for. Who knew we’d spend so much time and energy considering something our child defecates in? It was a surprise for me, that’s for sure. When it comes to eco-friendly diapering options, there are typically two options that spring to mind: cloth vs. disposable. Cloth diapering has come a long way since our grandparents’ time. Today’s cloth diapers come with button snaps, velcro, pocketed inserts, and some are almost exactly like disposable diapers, but in reusable form. One “stash” of cloth diapers can, and very often does, last through multiple children. My family chose to use cloth diapers with our youngest due to the cost efficiency and environmental factors, but I recognize that cloth isn’t an option (or desire) for many families. There are many green options for disposable diapers, too. If you choose to use disposables and are looking for the right brand, consider diapers without latex, fragrances, and bleach. There’s also a third option as well: no diapers! There is a growing trend with new parents known as the Diaper-Free Movement. Parents who choose this option pay close attention to their baby’s cues in an effort to quickly transfer them to the bathroom, reducing the need for diapers during waking hours. This method is called Elimination Communication.
4. Grow Your Own Grub
While it would be totally cool if we were all self-sustainable and had homesteads with our very own farm-to-table food, it’s simply not how our society functions. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the effort to grow some of our own food. If you live in an urban environment, or you don’t have a large yard to plant a garden, consider growing things like cherry tomatoes or herbs. You can grow a variety of herbs and vegetables in small containers on your patio or balcony. Herbs can even grow in mason jars on your window sill! Not only will you be able to save money – and a trip to the grocery store – but you will also be able to teach your children about how things grow, and to instill a certain confidence in themselves that will last a lifetime. Gardening can be a great way to bond with your child as he or she grows.
5. Experiences > Things
One of the easiest and most gratifying ways to go green is by skipping the toys and getting outside! Rather than stock up on toys and gadgets for birthdays and holiday gifts, opt to experience things instead, such as going to the zoo, having a picnic at the park, or just going outside in the sunshine. When we shift our focus from “stuff,” we not only help the environment by reducing packaging, transportation and manufacturing waste, but we also avoid adding to the inevitable resting ground for our junk: the landfill.
Each of these changes may seem small in theory, but they make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. By reducing our carbon footprint, even if only slightly, we’re helping shape the world our children will live in. Little changes have big impacts, and so much of this can begin before your baby is born. You don’t have to be a recycling pro to instill certain eco-conscious principles into your family’s everyday lives. Now go out there and be green!
Please use caution when attempting any of the carries, exercise or activities highlighted on this blog, social media or any other content channels. Please use common sense and caution when using a baby carrier. You should consult a physician before starting any diet or exercise program. For more information, see our Disclaimer.