I am sure you saw that coming. After all, when two non-hip hippies reproduce, they are likely to become even more crunchy for the sake of the planet, where their offspring is going to spend her life.
As a couple, me and N. have been on the granola side for a few years already. We don’t own a car. We eat a mostly plant-based diet (with the occasional egg or dairy). I have been researching eco-friendly cleaning products for the home and body for some time now and we have even tried out the no-shampoo method a couple of years ago (with relatively good results). We try to buy our groceries in season, we are fond of organic produce and try to buy local produce as well. We make sure not to over-heat our home and try to switch off the lights when we leave a room. We also never take baths, but I have to admit that this is because we only have a shower and I have to work on reducing my water waste when using it as well.
When I found out I was pregnant and even before that, I started to wonder how living an eco-friendly lifestyle can be extended to include parenting practices. Soon enough I came across many excellent ideas that resonated with me on many levels. You see, when you look for eco-friendly solutions, you usually end up finding solutions that are better not only for the environment, but for your health and pocket as well. A pretty great combination, right? This is why I thought you might find it useful if I share my discoveries with you. The first parts will be focused on products and solutions that have to do with baby care, but more parts will follow, that will be relevant to everyone, so do keep coming back 🙂 I will keep this first post of the series short and sweet and I promise that more detailed ones will follow.
So, without further delay, here is my first list of eco-friendly parenting tips:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Baby clothes, baby toys, burp clothes, bibs, baby furniture are all things that you can get second hand. If you think about it, you will realize that for the first year of its life, a baby grows so fast that he/she will wear the same size only for a couple of months. This means that by the time the baby outgrows a new onesie, two or even three more babies can use it afterwards, if it is properly washed. The same goes for toys and furniture like cribs, Moses baskets, bouncy chairs etc. By buying -or even getting for free- second hand items, not only do you save money, but also valuable resources. And once your baby is done using those cute pants and shirts, pass them on to someone else.
- Use cloth diapers. Ours arrived in the mail just today, after an unfortunate event of a lost package, and I am thrilled! I will come back to cloth diapers once I have enough experience to give you tips and tricks, but I have friends who use them for a while already and are thrilled. There are tons of reasons to use cloth diapers, but to mention a few:
- it takes much less water to manufacture a cloth diaper compared to a disposable one
- disposable diapers fill landfills and take more than 250 years to decompose
- disposable diapers are made of synthetic materials composed of non-renewable resources and the more environmental-friendly versions (like paper diapers) are super expensive
- cloth diapers are breathable, especially if they are made of natural materials
- cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposable ones in the long run
- cloth diapers don’t contain dioxin and other carcinogenic and asthma-triggering compounds, that disposable diapers contain
- cloth diapers are way cuter than disposable ones and yes, I know this is not a serious argument, but I am so excited with the funky patterns I received today from Responsible Mother (by the way, this is not an advertisement, I am genuinely happy with their products and they are a small family business, that is worth supporting)
- Use cloth wipes. Even if you are too scared to use cloth diapers (and you totally shouldn’t be, but more on that in a following post), use cloth wipes. You can buy them or make them by cutting old cotton t-shirts into squares. You can use your cloth wipes just dampened with water or you can use all sorts of herbal concoctions. Once they are dirty, just throw them in a wet bag or a bucket with a lid. If you are also using cloth diapers, you can wash them together in the laundry. Let me motivate you a bit more: Have you seen the list of ingredients on your regular wipes? Do you know what half of these are? I don’t. That’s why I started using cloth wipes and trust me, it is really easy to wash and they dry very fast as well, since they are small pieces.
- Use reusable breast pads. If you are approaching the end of your pregnancy, your breasts might already leak colostrum. Do yourself a favor and buy washable breast pads. They will last you for months or even years, they are much softer than the disposable ones and you won’t contribute to waste. You can find washable breast pads made of different materials, usually made of cotton or hemp, and they come in different thicknesses as well. Get yourself a couple of pairs for daily use and a couple of pairs for overnight use.
- Use coconut oil instead of complex diaper creams. Well, I will ask you once again about that list of ingredients. Yes, I have bepanthen and sudocream at home. After all, I was given tons of free samples. And they do work great. But what exactly are all those ingredients in them? Especially if your baby doesn’t have a major case of diaper rash, using coconut oil is a great natural solution. Not only will it help heal irritated skin, but it also creates a film that makes it so much easier to remove sticky poop. Why is coconut oil more eco-friendly than over the counter creams? Because it is much less processed and it contains just one ingredient, that can even be organic, and comes from a renewable source.
- Use vinegar as a fabric softener. You have probably been told that you shouldn’t use fabric softener on your baby’s clothes. If you want them to come out soft though, you can use white vinegar in the rinse cycle of your laundry machine. Again, this is just one ingredient, made of renewable resources, without any creepy chemicals that you can not pronounce. Vinegar is also a natural deodorant, therefore it is an excellent addition if you want to keep those cloth diapers smelling fresh.
I shall stop my list here, not because I have nothing more to add, but because I don’t want to scare you off with too much crunchiness in one go :). If you are hesitating to give those ideas a go, remember that me, N. and Loulou Maya are new to this journey as well. So why not start with us and share your glorious and disastrous moments of eco-parenting?
Talk to you soon!
*You can check out all the “Family and Parenting” posts here*