The following guest post was written by Katie Fox and originally appeared in September 2010.
As parents, I’m sure it has hardly escaped your attention that “green living” is the buzzword everywhere these days, including our parenting choices. If you start researching what green parenting actually entails, it’s easy to experience information overload; there are as many options and resources as there are opinions.
Yet I do believe that this is an important topic, so today I just want to look at some of the most basic ways that I practice green parenting. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to take just one step further in preserving and caring for the earth, as you care for your children.
After I found out I was expecting my daughter, I knew right away that I wanted to use cloth diapers. Cloth is so much better for the environment than disposable diapers that go straight into the landfills after a single use. Cloth is also much more affordable than disposables, and much better for your baby’s sensitive skin – disposable contain toxins that contribute to rash and other problems.
For more details, check out these posts:
Photo by Lori Ann
Homemade Baby Food & Non-Toxic Feeding Choices
When my daughter was ready to start eating solid foods, we made most of her food ourselves, rather than buying it pre-made at the store. Not only does this cut back on waste in packaging, it’s a frugal choice. Most importantly, it’s the healthiest choice for baby.
I wonder sometimes if this is the reason that my daughter is such an enthusiastic, adventurous eater; after all, anyone who’s ever tasted the jarred stuff will tell you it’s not very appetizing. If we don’t like it, why do we expect our kiddos to like it? Serving your baby real food right from the beginning will help them develop their taste for real food. Find lots of resources at NurtureBaby.com.
Try to serve your baby organic food as much as possible; his or her little system can’t handle the toxins in pesticides as well as adult systems can, and non-organic meats & dairy products come from animals that were given growth hormones and antibiotics. This may contribute to early-onset puberty and antibiotic resistance in your babe.
Photo by Nurture Baby
Along those same lines, I made sure we bought a BPA-free sippy cup for my daughter. We chose the Foogo Stainless Steel Sippy Cup, because we prefer to avoid all plastic as much as possible. If you’re using bottles, sippy cups, or reusable water bottles for your child, make sure to look for “BPA-Free” on the label, and choose glass or stainless steel when you can.
For more details, check out these posts:
• The Benefits of Homemade Baby Food and 6 Steps for Easy Batch Cooking
• Homemade Baby Food 101 For the Modern Mom – Part I and Part II
• BPA: What It Is, Where It Is, What To Do
Natural & Safe Personal Care Products
Green parenting is not just about the environment; your family’s best interests are at heart, as well. Choosing natural and safe personal care products, such as shampoos, lotions, and creams, will help ensure that your child’s exposure to unnecessary chemicals is as low as possible.
We really like the brand California Baby. Their products are non-toxic and – bonus! – many of them can be found at Target.
For an introduction on choosing safer personal care products, check out this post.
Get Outside, Grow, and Play
As kiddos grow, so do their opportunities to explore their world, experience the richness that life on Planet Earth has to offer, and care for our world – and its citizens, as well. Here are just a few last ideas and resources for green parenting.
• Gardening: Gardening with your children is one of the best ways to get outside into nature together, teach them where veggies and fruits come from, and feed them healthy, organic, home-grown, fresh food. Wow – what more could you ask for, really? We’ve been gardening for a few years now, but this summer was the first year my daughter could really understand what was going on. She was enthralled – and helpful! Even if all you have is a balcony patio, get a pot and grow something.
Photo by Samuel Mann
Check out the Gardening 101 series on SimpleOrganic.net for info on how to get started.
• Play & Get Dirty: Kiddos need time outside to play, play, play, and then play some more. I will readily admit that sometimes, this is difficult for me. I have lots of excuses: it’s hot; I have other errands to run or things I need to do; I’m bored… We parents tend to whip out our iPhone instead of engaging with our kids and helping them to play. Sometimes, they don’t need our help – but more often than not, they really do. Take your children outside a lot. Engage with them. And let them get really, really dirty. It washes off.
• Buy Them (Mostly) Used Clothes: It’s a great way to recycle, save some money, and hey – they’re just going to get really dirty, anyway, right? (see above)
• Teach Your Children Well: One of my daughter’s chores, at age three, is to take out the recycling. I help her, because she needs help, but she loves to do it. She’s already learning what can be recycled and what can’t. She understands that she needs to turn off the water when we’re brushing her teeth because it saves water, and we’re working on turning off the lights when we leave a room. Basic things – but you have to start somewhere!
Model a life that values stewardship and resourcefulness, and then pass it on.
Do you practice green parenting? What else can you add to this list?