Eco-Friendly, Earth Mama: 14 Sustainable Parenting Tips

When a new member is added to the family, (i.e. a child through adoption, an adult through getting hitched, or a baby), the person can produce a lot more waste, use a lot more resources, and accumulate a lot more belongings. If you would like to help the environment, live as sustainably as possible, and even save some cash along the way, try one or a few of the following tips for bringing home baby. In the long run, every little bit makes a difference! The planet will thank you!

  1. Give cloth diapering a try! According to an article written on livestrong.com, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year, which contributes more than 3.5 million tons of waste! That’s a lot of crap, (literately)! There’s also an argument that spending all of that money washing them at home will significantly waste more water and increase your water bill, since you’d have to wash diapers frequently. I can tell you from personal experience cloth diapering; I’ve never seen an increase in my water bill and have energy efficient appliances. Washing also depends on how many diapers you have on hand, how old your child is, etc. To get the real scoop on cloth diapering, visit http://realdiapers.org/diaper-facts.
  2. Co-bathe with your little one! You get clean, the baby gets clean. No separate showering here! Of course showering probably saves more water, (depending on if you take long or short showers), but until the baby turns into a toddler and can safely stand on their own and whatnot, I would recommend you both getting clean in the bathtub. Remember, safety is always a concern when there is a little one around, so make sure to create a safe environment. Check out http://www.whattoexpect.com/baby-bathtime-basics/bathing-with-your-baby.aspx for safety tips!
  3. By clothes second hand! Our babies grow so fast. Why spend the money on brand new when we can buy from thrift stores, contributing to less waste? Save money for your first family vacation and save for moments that create memories instead of accumulate things.
  4. Use bottles made of glass or stainless steel, instead of plastic. You won’t have to worry if the bottles are BPA free and whatnot either and you could even reuse the bottles for something else after your little one is older. Glass bottles might seem a little old school, but they are still available from Brown’s. Also, the stainless steel merchandise is pretty cool, not to mention great when your little one starts throwing things for fun. Check out organicKidz or KleanKanteens.
  5. Make your own baby food from fresh, local and organic produce rather than buying baby food from the store. This supports local farmers and the food is often times better for baby and without the additives that no one can pronounce. There is always the argument that this food is more expensive, but if you do the calculations by weight, you are getting more food when you go to the farmers market than buying produce from large corporate grocery stores, (especially if you go to buy organic from them).
  6. Better yet, plant your own garden and use the produce to feed your whole family!
  7. Always recycle, reuse, or upcycle anything that you can. If you know a local producer of baby soap, use your own containers to store these items. If you don’t decide to make your own baby food and you buy baby food in glass containers, reuse them to store herbs and spices. There are so many things that you can do with items that you are no longer using for baby instead of kicking them to the curb in a trashcan! Is your baby potty trained and no longer using that changing table? Upcycle and reuse it for something else in your home, such as in the kitchen as an island or extra storage if you need it. You can find awesome ideas on how to do this on Pinterest!
  8. Buy toys second hand, (and disinfect them if you are worried). We have Once Upon a Child stores around us, (a consignment store with baby clothes, toys, children’s books, and other merchandise). We go here all of the time. A lot of the items still have tags on them because they were bought and never used by the person that came in to sell them. They do not take certain items if they could possibly have recalls and they check that sort of thing. When your little one grows out of his or her toys, clothes, etc., you can even bring them there if they are gently used to sell for cash. You know kids; they like a toy one minute, then the next minute they are old news.
  9. Coconut oil can be used for just about anything! Multifunctional products are fantastic for cutting down on your grocery/drugstore bill and the amount of waste that you create is reduced. Coconut oil can be used for baby lotion, diaper cream, (totally safe for cloth diapers), cooking oil, body butter for adults, deodorant, as well as an ingredient for DIY baby wipes, shampoo, and more! Get maybe three tubs of coconut oil, (keeping the tub used for cooking, the tub used for diaper cream, and the one used for other miscellaneous things separate), instead of buying all of those baby/adult toiletries and groceries separate.
  10. Invest in a drying rack of some kind or consider putting up some kind of clothesline outside! A baby equals more laundry, (and the sun does wonders on cloth diapers!), meaning that you can save a lot of energy by choosing to dry your clothes, sheets, towels, and diapers this way instead of using the dryer. Use that dryer when you need to dry something quick and let nature do its thing!
  11. Spend more time outdoors, reading books, or good old fashion cuddling instead of turning on the “boobtube”, (and no, I don’t mean breastfeeding).
  12. Really consider the things that baby really needs before purchasing them. As a new parent, there are so many products out there that seem like a great idea, but you might not really even use them if you buy them, (this happened to me a lot!). Their advertising states they are a “must-have” product, but in reality babies don’t need a bunch of stuff in the beginning.
  13. If cloth diapers aren’t an option for your family, (i.e. don’t have the facilities to launder them and no cloth diapering service around), try the “elimination communication” method, (getting in tune with when baby has to go to the restroom and take them to the toilet). People that use this method swear by it and say that it helped potty train their little ones faster. Sounds crazy? For more information on this method, visit http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/! There are also some somewhat biodegradable diaper brands on the market, but I’m not sure how really affective these are though.
  14. Want to save money, get rid of household toxins, and have a sparkly clean house, (if that’s even possible with a new baby)? Try making your own household cleaners out of products that you already have right in your cabinets. It’s possible! There are so many recipes out there on Pinterest, blogs, and more using white vinegar, soap, baking soda, cornstarch, and etc. We all know babies make messes… a LOT more messes. Try this alternative to clean them up.
  15. Celebrate your new bundle of joy! Plant a tree in celebration of the new family member and watch it grow along with your child.
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