10 Simple Ways to Be an Eco Parent
Saudamini Sharma lists some simple ways in which you can integrate green in your parenting.
The news of new addition in the family brings out the researcher in the laziest of us. So while you are surfing the net looking at those cute l’il dresses, bows, hairbands, the new brand of diapers, the theme photographs of the tiny bundles, it’s hard to miss the buzz of eco-friendly products for kids. So you research some more and decide that you will be the greenest parent on planet earth. The little bundle of joy arrives and in the milieu of being a new parent, juggling nappy changes and sleepless nights, the thought of being the ‘eco parent’ sort of drops of your map. One look at the pile of laundry and you decide to be an eco-parent later because now it’s damn too difficult. Only that later never comes as parenthood you see is hard enough and challenges even the staunchest of low carbon footprint environmentalist.
So do you say goodbye to your dream of raising a child with eco-ethics? Surely not. Here is a list of some simple ways in which you can integrate green into your parenting.
1. Start Small
Take baby steps. Start slow and small. Just pick one thing and work on it. Once you are used to it, move to the next. It wouldn’t overwhelm you, and also small wins boost confidence like nothing else.
2. Cloth Diapers
Enough has been documented on the negative environmental impact of synthetic diapers. Cloth diapers are the perfect alternative to it. However, you might find conflicting views of parents on cloth diapers. Some are die-hard converts, large Facebook groups dedicated to cloth diapering are proof of it. And some reject it. If you are in a dilemma, take the middle route. Not up for entire cloth route? Even just one a day is a lot. And the cute prints available in the market these days make cloth diapering worth it. Many eco-friendly disposable diapers such as Bamboo disposable diapers are also available if you want to stick with disposable diapers.
Go traditional with toys. A vast array of wooden toys is available, which can easily replace the plastic ones. If you still feel guilty of thinking that you are depriving your child of modern toys, become a member of toy library. Cloth toys and rattles are available for infants, which are oh so easy to clean. Most of the educational curriculum stress on the sensory play for kids to enhance their motor skills. Sensory plays are best done with natural items like rice, sand, pebbles, coloured spaghetti, cotton wool balls, leaves, flowers etc. The possibilities are endless and so much fun.
4. Steel Feeding Bottles
Even if you are using BPA free plastic bottles you would need to replace the nipples every 15-20 days and bottles every 3-4 months. It would amount to so much plastic waste per child. Steel feeding bottles are thus a boon. Even though they do have silicon or plastic nipples, still the mind is at peace knowing that the entire bottle is not chemical leaching plastic.
5. Traditional Oils
Even baby product manufacturing giant like J&J is facing massive lawsuits for the presence of harmful chemicals in their products. So parents have no option but to be aware of the products that they use. But when you are already juggling a million things, label reading is the last thing on your mind. Want the peace of mind? Go traditional with your oils too. Replace baby oils with mustard, coconut or olive oil. Make them your new BFFs. They not only nourish the body; they are natural moisturizers too. Did I mention that they also make an excellent diaper cream/oil?
6. Alternatives To Plastic
Break up with plastic, for good. Plastics leach when they come in contact with anything hot. It’s the nature of plastic, no matter the quality or brand*. Instead of plastic plates and spoon, give you toddler food in steel or bamboo fibre plate ware. For school going kids, steel lunch boxes are the best. One look at shopping sites and you would be amazed at the variety available for alternatives to plastic lunch boxes and bottles.
Ever tried babywearing? Do consider it. Right from close body contact, mother’s touch to being hands-free numerous benefits of babywearing has been documented by mothers all over the world. Many mothers claim their babies sleep within minutes of babywearing (if that’s not tempting, then what is?). A simple, sturdy sari can easily be converted to babywearing gear. It’s minimal, frugal and eco-friendly. Go for it.
8. Reduce and Reuse – Use Preloved
Babies grow quickly. And they grow out of things too quite fast. Gently used or preloved clothes, shoes etc. are a great way to reduce and reuse. If you are not comfortable with the notion of preloved items for regular wear, there are many preloved materials available for theme photoshoots, etc. Reduction in even one aspect reduces trash from the landfill.
9. Eco-Friendly Tableware
Planning a ritual ceremony or birthday party? Ditch the plastic and styrofoam. Opt for eco-friendly tableware instead like areca leaf tableware or bagasse made tableware. They are disposable, biodegradable and compostable. Better still, look for cutlery banks in your city. If you have one, rent it from them.
10.Spend time outdoors
Begin your love affair with the great outdoors. Introduce your child to the wonders of nature. Kids wouldn’t need much convincing to go out anyways. Outdoors are great for stimulating the imagination of little minds. It’s not only therapeutic but energy saving too.
It’s hard to do it alone. Become a part of forums and groups on social media where you can meet like-minded people and see how they are handling it. Remember you don’t have to be perfect; you have to keep it real. Falling off the wagon is ok. What’s more critical is to keep getting back on the track. You are the greatest role model your child will have.
Good luck and happy parenting!
(About the author: An environment professional, a lover of books and plants with a massive sweet tooth, Saudamini Sharma is a habitual label reader who loves to share the new finds in the eco products market, and as a freelance writer, she is passionate about writing on all things eco.)