10 Tips For Eco-Friendly Parenting To Create Eco-Conscious Children From Birth
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Are you wanting to be a more sustainable parent? You’ve come to the right place! As a parent myself, I know how challenging it is to be low-waste when you have children.
Kids of all ages require a lot of “stuff”, and they create a lot of waste. Babies, for example, seem to use up a lot of disposable items, toddlers and adolescents are notorious for food waste, and then you have teens, who constantly bleed your refrigerator dry, frequently demand new clothing to keep up with trends, and always need newer versions of electronics. It never ends.
Hence, it’s no surprise that many parents, just like yourself, are wanting to be more sustainable in terms of parenting in order to lower household waste, save money, and improve their mental health by minimizing clutter.
Why Is Sustainable Parenting Beneficial?
There are many benefits to being a more sustainable parent, and no, it won’t make you appear cheap. On the contrary, sustainable living will make you richer in a number of ways:
- Sustainable parenting helps reduce household waste, which means you’re sending less to the local landfill.
- Sustainable parenting saves you money because you’re no longer buying cheap, disposable items that constantly require replacement.
- Sustainable parenting improves your children’s health because you’re reducing a significant amount of toxins that come into your home.
- Sustainable parenting encourages children to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Sustainable parenting results in eco-conscious children who respect their belongings and the environment .
- Sustainable parenting focuses on experiences rather than things, which teaches children to be less materialistic.
With that said, I’ve put together a list of 10 helpful tips for being a more sustainable parent, whether you’re just starting out with a newborn, or parenting teenagers.
I promise that these small and gradual changes, will help your entire household live more sustainably, and you’ll create some wonderful eco-minded young adults.
Tips For Raising Eco-Conscious Kids In A Plastic Dominated World
1. Choose Reusable Diapers
Sustainable parenting begins at birth, and your sweet little newborn will require a lot of diaper changes, which means that thousands of diapers can potentially end up in the landfill during their first year of life.
So, how can you turn diaper changes into a more eco-friendly experience? By choosing a cloth diapering system over disposables.
As someone who used reusable diapers, (and you can see my full guide to choosing cloth diapers here) I can definitely say that cloth diapers are not perfect, and definitely do require you to do laundry more regularly, but boy do they save you money in the long run.
Reusable diapers also prevent around 3,000 diapers from entering the landfill each year, and they’re much kinder to your child’s delicate skin and overall health. Thus, using a cloth diapering system is one of the best sustainable choices you can make as a parent early on.
2. Choose Eco-Friendly Nursing Supplies
Both bottle and breastfed babies require a a lot of supplies, and unfortunately, many are single-use and non-organic—which are bad for the environment and baby’s health because they can leech toxic chemicals and disrupt hormones.
Items like breastmilk storage bags, nursing pads, and breastfeeding pillows are just a few examples of items that are typically made from plastic and non-organic material. However, you can opt for eco-friendly versions of these products that are much healthier for babies and the planet.
If you need recommendations for sustainable nursing items, see my blog post for 17 must-have eco-friendly breastfeeding essentials here. You’ll be surprised how many non-toxic and sustainable nursing products are actually available on the market.
3. Make Your Own Baby Wipes
Another great way to parent your child sustainably is to make your own non-toxic baby wipes. DIY baby wipes are better for both your child’s health and the environment. Plus, you’ll save money!
This DIY all-natural baby wipe tutorial by Our Oily House is a super easy 3-ingredient recipe to create your own non-toxic baby wipes! It’ll save you money, and you won’t need to worry about your baby’s health or creating excess waste.
4. Embrace A sustainable Wardrobe
It can be tempting to buy a ton of clothing for your child—especially when they’re on clearance. But having too much clothing can turn into clutter, and unless you’re buying sustainable fashion pieces that are made from organic fabric, you’re doing a disservice to your child’s health, the environment and factory workers.
That’s why I highly encourage building and maintaining a minimalist wardrobe with sustainable pieces for your child, no matter what age they are. You’ll save space, have less to throw out, and you’ll be swapping low quality for high quality clothing that can be resold or handed down to the younger generation.
See my blog post on sustainable children’s fashion brands here for the cutest fair-trade clothing to add to your child’s sustainable wardrobe. Embracing sustainable fashion is a great way to instill an eco-conscious mindset in children!
5. Choose Eco-Friendly Toys Over Plastic
In a strange way, toys are kind of like food—some are like refined carbs that produce a temporary sugar rush, and some are like complex carbs with lots of nutrients that power the brain.
With that said, if your kids are anything like mine, they take interest in conventional plastic toys for a day or two, and then forget all about them for the rest of the year.
That’s why this year, let friends and family know that you are not accepting traditional plastic toys for Christmas (remote control race cars, Barbies, etc). They do absolutely nothing for cognitive growth, add to clutter, and spend years in the landfill.
As a sustainable parent, you should opt for toys made of eco-friendly material (wood, silicone, organic fabric, etc), or any kind of STEM toy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math—and they are just as fun, if not more entertaining for kids than a single use plastic toy.
6. Use Plastic-Free Containers For Your Child’s School Lunch
If your school-aged child takes lunch to school, make a personal commitment to use plastic-free reusable lunch containers and cutlery in lieu of single use plastic bags and disposable flatware.
If you’re concerned about your child throwing forks and spoons away on accident, you can always purchase biodegradable cutlery made from plant based material in lieu of reusables.
Sending your child to school with a reusable water bottle is also a great way to be more eco-friendly outside of the home. Opt for a water bottle made from stainless steel or one that is at least BPA-free.
7. Swap Plastic Bathroom Products For Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Bathrooms create a lot of waste—and many of the products that we buy make a negative impact on our planet. If you want to be a more sustainable parent, choose plastic-free, biodegradable hygiene products for your children in lieu of plastic items.
For example, you can swap bottled shampoo for biodegradable shampoo bars made just for kids, swap plastic toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes, and use plant-based floss instead of synthetic versions. The list goes on and on.
8. Prevent Food Waste
The bottom line is that if you have kids, you’re going to have food waste. Kids can be picky eaters, and in many households, uneaten food is inevitable. However, there are ways to get kids to waste less food, and they’re worth a try.
- Plan ahead and plan to cook meals that your kids actually enjoy.
- Limit pre-meal snacking to prevent feeling full before dinner.
- Encourage finishing their meal by offering a weekly reward.
- Offer smaller portion sizes and add more only if your child eats everything they were given initially.
- Let them cook with you so they feel proud to eat what they’ve made.
- Compost left overs if a little bit of food is left and refrigerate leftovers if larger sizes are left unfinished.
9. Choose Green Products For Home Cleaning
An important part of being a green parent is using non-toxic cleaning products for the home. Traditional cleaning supplies are full of carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals that can cause long term health problems.
Instead, opt for plant-based multi-purpose cleaners, or create your own cleaning solutions using basic pantry ingredients. You can find a few easy DIY cleaning recipes for the kitchen on my blog post here.
And don’t forget about the laundry. Many traditional laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin, and many young children are in need of hypoallergenic, plant-based laundry detergents. If you need some recommendations, see my list of best non-toxic laundry detergent brands.
10. Encourage Nature Walks And Outdoor Recreation
These days, kids are accustomed to being primarily indoors and being consumed by television and electronics. A lot of the time, it’s because parents are genuinely busy (working, focusing on younger siblings, illness, disability etc). It’s not really anybody’s fault, it’s just life.
However, there is always a little wiggle room to encourage a little outdoor play—whether it be the backyard, the park or going on a simple walk in your own neighborhood (even if it’s just on the weekends).
By doing so, you can unleash your inner eco-friendly parent by pointing out things in nature, perhaps picking up some litter and collecting flowers, rocks or pinecones for arts and crafts projects.
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