It’s not easy being a green parent

Estimated Reading Time 3 Minutes
You want to live a green, eco-friendly lifestyle. Along comes baby, and suddenly just making it through the day can take higher priority than composting, making your own cleaning solutions or checking whether a particular can of tuna is ocean-friendly, contains mercury or is leeching toxins. 
Vancouver’s Stephanie Lauzon recalls what a blur those first months were, as she focussed entirely on the immediate needs of her daughter. “I couldn’t think of anything much beyond her next feed or just how tired I felt.” And while she was consumed with trying to be a good mom, there was something else getting consumed – her money, on unnecessary items. She ended up buying three different breast pumps before she found the one that worked for her. 
All this waste (not to mention frustration, expense and over-crowded cupboards) led Stephanie to start Busy Bump Maternity Services to help other expectant and new Moms figure out how to cut down on waste and choose the right products from the get-go. 
It’s hard to talk about green parenting without acknowledging that babies themselves are mini waste-producing machines, needing on average 6,000 diaper changes before they’re potty trained. According to an Environment Canada report, disposable diapers represent approximately three percent of the total quantity of residential waste in Canada. Washing and drying cloth diapers also uses energy. Some families opt for a combination of cloth and disposable. Ultimately, Environment Canada recommends parents choose a diapering system that is best suited for their baby, lifestyle, financial situation and environmental concerns. 
Trying to be a green parent can leave even the most enthusiastic eco-wannabe feeling short of the mark if they use plastic bottles, buy non-organic cotton or order a pizza. But there are lots of small things you can do that will make an impact for your baby now and in the future. 
For starters, get plugged in, says the David Suzuki Foundation’s “Queen of Green” Lindsay Coulter. “Parents can’t be expected to keep up-to-date with current scientific research, that’s our job. But they can look to organizations like ours for the latest advice and information.” 

Easy ways to be a greener parent:

  • Combine errands with a workout and walk wherever possible instead of relying on a car all the time. Your baby will love you for it! 
  • Accept hand-me-downs or buy secondhand clothes. Babies really don’t care if their clothes are brand new and they grow so fast that even previously-owned clothes have probably been worn only once or twice. 
  • Wait until after your baby shower to buy the things you think you need. This not only saves your money, but saves on packaging and reduces your shopping eco-footprint. 
  • Register for gifts. This helps avoid duplication or gifts that you won’t use. Registering also allows you to guide your friends towards buying environmentally friendly products. Or suggest gift certificates for babysitting, restaurants or house cleaning which don’t leave an eco-footprint. 
  • Send out electronic birth announcements. Sure, it’s nice to walk to the mailbox, but think of the trees you’ll be saving. 
  • Check your thermostat. Suddenly you may find you are home all day and the heating and cooling demands on your home are greater than when you were at work. Try keeping to one room and using a space heater rather than heating the whole house, or turn the thermostat down one degree. 

Originally published in ParentsCanada, April 2012

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