The 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?
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.