When I was pregnant with my first baby it was important to me to extend my conscious living way to the way I raised my baby. I wanted to raise a baby reducing our environmental footprint to the best of my ability. So, before I gave birth I made a list of all the new activities and products raising a baby will require and then, after a thorough research I gave each one a spin toward a more nature-friendly alternative.
Here are some easily achievable, that you too can do.
1. Let’s Wash Some Diapers!
Millions of plastic disposable diapers end up in landfills every day around the world. Plastic pollutes the environment, especially the oceans, and it is not good for baby’s skin either (see below more about plastic). Needless to say, I was not going to contribute to this effort, so we decided that we would be using cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are made of fabric – usually cotton, fleece and some kind of waterproof cover. They are washable and reusable. Yes, they are expensive, but it is a one time cost. You get them once and they last. Mine lasted through both of my children’s diaper years (with some minor tears here and there).
Here is my list of pros and cons for using cloth diapers:
2. No Petroleum, Please!
Next time you use cosmetics take a look at the ingredient list and look for petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, or paraffin. They are all common names for a petroleum-derived additive used in cosmetics. In fact, it is an ingredient in about 40 percent of baby cosmetics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems it safe. However, ample research has shown that petrolatum has carcinogenic effects from the chemicals found in crude oil and its by-products.
So, with this in mind, I leave petrolatum to its intended use – to grease heavy machinery and I choose safe ointments for my babies’ bums. There are plenty of alternatives out there to choose from. In this way, you are making a healthier decision for your child and for the planet by not participating in the production and demand of an oil by-product.
3. Go Organic!
I have and will be writing in this blog quite a bit about food. Food is what fuels our bodies and minds. So, when we talk about your kids you cannot go wrong by choosing organic food whenever you can. If it can be homemade, even better! Organic food is not only good for nature and for the farmer, it is also richer in nutrients and thus overall better for your child. If you cannot afford organic food try to intersperse it occasionally, or when it is on sale. Or think about buying organic food just for your kids instead of for the entire family. Try to find out if there is a farm nearby where you can get your produce from directly. Sometimes, farmers will grow food organically but will not go through the hassle of organic certification. And honestly, pesticides are expensive, so small-scale farmers often try not to use them at all, unless they have to.
4. Say No to Plastic!
Plastic is ubiquitous, in our lives and on the planet. I invite you to take a look around you and count plastic products. I bet you will find many. Two things mainly concern me in relation to plastics:
- Their toxicity: A common plastic-hardening chemical, BPA (Bisphenol A) has been shown as toxic, especially to children. BPAs were used in many products – can linings, plastic bottles and feeders, toys, CDs… Many companies today have substituted BPAs with other chemicals. However, the safety of those substitutes (BPS, or Bisphenol S) has recently been brought into question.
- Their role in pollution: Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It is a giant area of gyrating marine debris, composed mostly of plastic trash. Need I say more? Our consumption of plastics has a massive negative impact on the planet and curtailing its use is an imperative for a healthier Earth.
My suggestion in relation to kids is to reduce the use of plastics as much as you can. Here are some suggestions:
Switch to wooden toys (Disclaimer 1: In this case, I have not thoroughly examined the cost-benefit analysis of plastic versus wooden toys. In other words, I am not sure what causes more damage to the natural environment – production and disposal of plastic toys or wood consumption used to make wooden toys; Disclaimer 2: my kids do have some plastic toys such as Legos).
- Get rid of any plastic dishes and utensils. Instead use regular glass/ceramic ones (it is not the end of the world if a child breaks it), or stainless steel
- Switch to stainless steel water bottles and sippy cups.