Going green gradually: Baby steps with a baby

going green with a babyThe birth of my first child inspired me to go green. But simply caring for my baby sucked up nearly every moment, and I found that I had little time, energy or money to accomplish the eco-friendly changes I wanted to make.

Nonetheless, I did make changes. Here are some of the changes I have been able to make with small children:

Lower your standards of cleanliness. And feel good about it, knowing that you are saving water, energy, and money. Until my second child could crawl, she was lucky to be bathed once a week. The adults in my house don’t shower every day either. You can eat off the same plate and out of the same bowl more than once. The sheets and towels can be washed a little less often. You can wear your clothes until they stink or stain, and so can your children.

Clean with vinegar. Just fill up a spray bottle with straight or diluted vinegar, and use it to clean your kitchen table and counters, bathroom surfaces, and floors. Vinegar disinfects, deodorizes, cuts through grease, is completely safe, and can be bought in gallon jugs for a few bucks.

Borrow before you buy. Buy used. You really don’t want all the baby gear out there. Borrow from friends before (or instead of) buying to see if you and your baby even like that swing or stroller. If you buy, buy used whenever possible. Buy clothes and toys at thrift stores, on Craig’s List, or find them free on Freecycle.

When you run out of something, replace it with something greener. Bookmark green consumer websites to consult when it’s time to upgrade. Or browse a few green blogs on a regular basis so that you have the information at hand when it’s time to replace your disposable food baggies or dishwasher detergent.

Feed your baby regular baby-friendly foods. You don’t need to buy jarred baby food or make separate foods for your baby. Just feed your baby normal foods that are baby-friendly in small pieces: bananas, applesauce, oatmeal, yogurt, ground meat, eggs, mashed potatoes, pureed soups, beans, tofu, quinoa, rice, and so on. Tweak your menu plan so that the baby can eat most of what you are eating. (Consult your baby’s doctor before starting solid foods.)

Consider using cloth diapers. I switched when my first child was one. They aren’t as difficult or as gross to use as you think! My mother-in-law washed her children’s cloth diapers by hand. Tossing your kid’s dirty diapers in the washing machine seems downright easy in comparison, right?

Sign Petitions. Sign up for email alerts with one or more green advocacy organizations. When you receive an opportunity to sign an electronic petition or forward an email to your representatives, do it. Then post it on Facebook.  With less than one minute of effort and from the comfort of your home computer, you are helping shape policy.

What baby steps have you taken to go green?

[Photo: kilgub/Flickr]

This has been a guest post from Betsy Escandon. Betsy is a parent of two young children trying to go green without becoming totally overwhelmed. Betsy shares the results of her research into greener products and her family’s efforts to live more naturally on her blog Eco-novice: Going Green Gradually.

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  • Anonymous

    Great ideas, with two caveats. One vinegar is great, but don’t use it on natural stone (or, for that matter, any acidic solution, including lemon juice). Vinegar can ruin the finish. Using baking soda dissolved in warm water instead.

    And, while it is great to re-use children’s products, make sure that the products haven’t been recalled, or if they have been, that whatever it is that was wrong has been fixed. Plus, keep in mind that car seats have a shelf life – usually 5 years – because the plastic can get brittle with time and exposure to light/heat. Also, older furniture shouldn’t be re-purposed for baby furniture unless you know for sure it is free of lead based paint. Lead based paint was banned in 1978 for most residential furniture applications, but some people kept lead based paint around in their home. To be safe, don’t use furniture from before the mid 1980s around your baby unless you know if it free of lead based paint or the paint is in great condition.

    • http://www.EcoSnobberySucks.com Jeffrey Davis

      nice clarifying tips! thanks!

    • http://www.eco-novice.com Betsy (Eco-novice)

      Thanks for taking the time to post all those specifics, thesmartmama.

      It’s true, you can’t buy EVERYTHING used. Although I would certainly use a car seat passed along from someone I knew who could vouch for its age and use. You can find the specifics on its lifespan on the manufacturer’s website. I got a great used hardwood dresser and changing table (no paint, just finished) on Craig’s List before I had a baby, but you do have to be informed about what is/is not safe to buy used. Note to expecting parents: you don’t need a changing table, I got rid of mine after the first kid b/c it took up too much space. Use the bed or the floor with a towel on top. Works fine. In general, I have found that I do not need “baby furniture.”

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  • Anonymous

    I love how this author takes a wealth of information and research and boils it down into simple actions. I have been inspired by the author of Eco-novice to try out cloth diapers, replace my hand, dishwashing, and laundry soaps, and get my garden started. I can do baby steps!

    • http://www.EcoSnobberySucks.com Jeffrey Davis

      awesome! so glad you liked it!

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