Chris and I have always been an environmentally conscious couple. We recycle as much as our city permits, we avoid plastic and overly packaged items, we even have an outdoor compost bin and in the basement a vermicompost. Skin care products, shampoos, soaps and shower gels are all-natural and made in-house. In terms of housecleaning, we use baking powder for scrubbing, a squeegee bottle with a solution of water and a few tablespoons of a Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap for washing, and for sanitizing, a spray bottle with 50/50 solution white vinegar to water.
Once parenthood hits, being “green” can be a challenge. Parents are exhausted and the amount of things one has to learn in such a short amount of time can be overwhelming even with all the pre-birth reading and the chats with like-minded families. At the same time, for us minimizing the ecological footprint of this little person on the planet while still improving our way of life was very important.
Below are some of the steps we took once Samuel was born. The changes did not happen overnight and there is much room for improvement. Still, by making these choices we in general only have a garbage bag out for collection every 2 weeks, which is very gratifying.
A greener parenthood:
- Cloth diapers – The cliché staple of an “eco-family,” but so important since in the first two years, the average baby requires 5000 to 7000 diaper changes! Plus, it is cheaper and the babies’ bottom is not in contact with suspicious chemicals. We have a small stack of AMPs and Easy Fit that are in perfect shape after a year of use. At night baby has disposables but have heard that sloomb/sustainablebabyish are excellent night diapers for heavy wetters.
- Cloth wipes – Except for massive poops we use bamboo wipes. They are soft and clean the bum better than regular wipes. Once used the cloth wipes are placed in the diaper pail and washed with the diapers.
- Homemade cloth-wipe solution – Lately, we have just been using water but when our son was smaller we made our own solution and kept it on a spray bottle next to the cloth wipes. It has a great natural scent and leaves the bum soft as… well, as a baby’s bottom. Recipe: 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp. sweet almond oil, 2 Tbsp. Dr. Bronner’s, 10 drops lavender essential oil.
- All-natural baby skin care products – Mimino, Rosy Cheeks and Aroma are staples at our home. At bath time we use a shower gel made with Dr. Bronner’s, jojoba oil and essential oils or a handcrafted soap.
- Breastfeeding – Not every mom can or wants to breastfeed but if you are breastfeeding you are already contributing to a greener planet. For instance, breastfeeding does not require electricity (to heat milk), oil (to transport formula), and dramatically decreases waste (from bottles and packaged formula). However, waste will occur when expressing and storing breastmilk, although likely less than when exclusively using formula.
- Second hand clothes and toys – Being surrounded by friends and family that in the past few years have had children meant that we hardly have to buy toys or clothes. These items arrive seamlessly and in mint condition to our household. In terms of toys we aim for wood instead of plastic.
- Reusable sandwich bags – Zip-lock bags are normally washed several times before being discharged but recently I found the reusable and locally made sandwich bags by Sewn Sweet Designs. They come in very cute prints and perfectly fit a couple of slices of our favourite Georgetown Bakery bread.
- Glass containers – We have been trying to wean from plastic containers for quite a while but it is so hard to give up old habits! Once Samuel started going to his babysitter and meals needed packing we finally bought a set of glass containers. We still use the old plastic ones for things that do not have to go into the microwave but glass (including mason jars) are now our go to containers.
- Stainless steel and cast iron cookware – Our only cast iron pan has been frequently used, ever since we found out some suspicious information about the safety of non-stick cookware. This Christmas we replaced our much scratched 10-year-old non-stick set by a new stainless steel set from Paderno. The new set is pretty rad and although we still have a non-stick frying pan it is only used for those breakfast eggs.
There are still a few things I would like to replace in our home such as the laundry, dishwashers and dish detergents. I bought a few supplies from Real Food Market and have some detergent recipes from the internet. Now, it is just a matter of putting some time aside to experiment.
Have you made any changes since becoming a parent that contribute for a more sustainable lifestyle? I would love to hear your tips.