Having a baby has a way of making many parents think on a much grander scale about the future of the planet. As a new parent, you may feel the desire to leave this world a better place for your children. And even though it can feel like an overwhelming task to take on, there are small things every parent can do to leave a smaller footprint.
These 10 tips will help you become a pro at green parenting.
- Breastfeed. If you want and are able to breastfeed, then consider breastfeeding Green Parenting 101. It’s low-cost, provides your baby with all the necessary nutrients, and reduces formula production and packaging waste. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with your baby.
- Consider Diaper Alternatives. This is a tough one. In the age of convenience, it’s easy to depend on disposable diapers. But disposable diapers are also a huge contributor to landfill waste. If you’re willing to try them, cloth diapers are the gold standard, and have come a long way since grandma’s era – there are even diaper laundering services! But if you’re not quite ready to make the leap to cloth, there are some great eco-friendly disposable diapers on the market.
- Reuse and Recycle. Having a new baby is exciting! And while you probably want to run out and buy brand new furniture, toys and clothes, you might want to reconsider. Try shopping re-sale stores for furniture (just make sure it’s still up to code!) and ask your friends with older kids if they have any baby clothes you could use. We promise your baby won’t know the difference between a new onesie and a hand-me-down. If you can’t resist the urge to buy new, try to find pieces that will grow with baby – like a crib that converts into a big-kid bed.
- Become a Minivan Mom (or Dad). Embrace the minivan! We’re not talking about your parents’ old Ford Windstar. Nowadays there are a lot of options for family-sized cars that guzzle less gas. Consider organizing a carpool when kids are older and have soccer games, music lessons, and other commitments. Not only will you be taking unnecessary cars off the road, you’ll be spared the multiple trips if you team up with other parents.
- Swap Light Bulbs. You don’t have to be a parent to swap out traditional incandescent bulbs for LEDs or CFLs. Both bulb options may cost more up front, but they’ll save you money over time by lasting longer and cutting energy costs.
- Maximize Laundry Loads. Babies are messy. Even though it may be tempting to toss a small load in the washer before your hamper overflows, resist that temptation and wait until you have a full load. To save the most energy, use cold-water detergent and run your loads with cold water. And if you have a toddler who loves changing outfits three times a day, don’t automatically throw every shirt in the wash – especially one that was only worn for 30 minutes.
- Make Your Own Baby Food. Once your baby is eating solids, consider investing in a good blender or food processor. Simply blend whatever the rest of the family is eating for dinner, and then freeze into one-ounce ice cube trays for easy storage. Making your own food reduces waste, saves money, and can help teach baby to eat the way your family eats. Trying to figure out what to do with that leftover breast milk stash? Adding breast milk to baby food can give a boost of powerful nutrients for your toddler.
- Find Eco-Friendly Cleaners. Many common household cleaners are full of potentially harmful chemicals. But if you’re aiming for a green household, there are plenty of alternatives on the market that are free of harsh chemicals, but still stand up to baby messes. Even better, you can go completely natural and try homemade, chemical-free cleaners like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda.
- Unplug. As busy parents, we plug in everything from breast pumps to iPads. Electronics like this suck power even when not in use, so unplugging them when you’re done will not only save you money, but will keep the earth happy!
- Get Outdoors. Teach your children to love and respect the environment from the beginning by getting outside. Strap on a baby carrier and go for a hike through the woods; dig for worms or try to catch toads with your toddler; or light a campfire and camp out in the backyard. The more a child is exposed to nature, the more likely they are to find ways to enjoy and protect it when they’re adults.
What other tips do you have for green parenting? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.