Although I firmly believe we should discuss environmental issues and endeavor to pitch in for our planet every day, I wanted to share a few tips with you today—Earth Day—on small “green” changes you can make in your life as parents. If you’re interested in adapting toward a more eco-friendly, healthy lifestyle, start with a few of these and go from there.
Use Cloth Diapers and wipes. With billions of diapers entering landfills each year (where they stay for about 500 years) there’s no question using cloth diapers and wipes is the sustainable route to take. I know that this seems like a huge, inconvenient switch to make, especially when disposable diapers are thrown away so easily—out of sight, out of mind. But there are many great cloth diapering options out there today (as I cover in The Baby Nurse Bible) and resources to help you get started that it’s really worth at least trying it out for a few days. At the very least take a look at what parents who are using them say about ease of use and other benefits. Not only can you save money from using them, but your reduced impact on the planet is priceless.
Buy Organic Food. This is not to say you need to go out and by everything organic today. Organic food is really expensive and many people just can’t afford to make a full-on switch all at once. But you can start by buying the organic versions of produce, for example, that are known to have particularly high levels of pesticides. Some of these include: apples, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, green bell peppers, celery, green beans, cucumbers, and grapes. Check sites like the Environmental Working Group for more detailed lists of conventional produce your family will want to avoid.
Read Your Labels. The FDA does not regulate personal care products so it’s critical to know what you’re using on both yourself and your baby. Check out the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, which assesses products based on their ingredients, toxin levels and ultimate safety. Simple products from earth like jojoba oil for moisturizing and basic “old school” bars of soap work great and have a much smaller impact on the earth and your health.
Hang baby’s laundry: If you’re not already in the habit of hanging your clothes, a great way to start conserving energy is to hang your baby’s clothes since they’re so small and dry quickly. Buy a small rack to have in your home, or outside when the weather permits.
Reuse containers and bags. You certainly know this one by now but it warrants repeating. Keep an arsenal of reusable grocery bags on hand to avoid consuming plastic and paper of disposable bags. Instead of buying plastic water bottles (which, again stick around polluting our earth for hundreds of years) stock up on and reuse glass applesauce or mason jars to carry water on the go in.
I am well aware that the idea of making even these small changes seems daunting. It just seems easier not to. But once you do, you won’t have any regrets—you’ll feel good and these very small changes added up will make a big difference.