Three ways to be a greener parent
These days we are more inclined to be a greener parent and take greater note of the environmental impact of our lifestyle choices. As parents, we have a natural urge to maintain a safe world for our children. But often we make choices that are at odds with the need to tackle urgent environmental issues such as plastic pollution in the sea, carbon emissions and chemical pollution from manufacturing and landfill.
Here are three simple eco-friendly ideas to help you begin to set your family on a sustainable path right from birth.
Reduce waste and research the options
Looking after a newborn can generate huge amounts of waste, and while some of this is unavoidable, there are simple ways to tackle this issue right from the start.
In the UK, 8 million disposable nappies are sent to landfill every day, and wet wipes flushed down the loo make up around 90% of the material that causes sewer blockages. So it is no surprise that many parents choose to make changes to the ways they use nappies and wipes.
Alternatives to conventional wipes made of polyester include both disposable and reusable bio- bamboo wipes which have the advantage of being biodegradable.
As for nappies, there are now a wealth of reusable designs available which are simple to wash and dry. In many areas there are nappy libraries where you can try out and borrow washable nappies to find out whether they are right for you.
Ask yourself whether a particular item or piece of equipment is really necessary. Not all products marketed to new parents will be right for you and your family – and often things aren’t really needed or are only used for a very short time.
Do your research by asking other parents what they found most useful and looking online for reviews. Many items are also now available that are designed to be adapted for different age groups, meaning that you only need to buy once.
Reuse and recycle equipment
Consider which items you would be happy to buy second hand or borrow from friends and family. People often love to see their cherished baby items go to a new home to be used again.
Most things intended for use by babies and toddlers are designed with easy cleaning in mind, for obvious reasons, and fabric covers are usually machine washable. Not only does this keep perfectly good furniture, toys and equipment out of landfill, it also can save you a lot of money.
Check websites such as Freecycle and Gumtree as well as local charity shops – they are often a great source of items which are often as new or barely used. Don’t forget to do the same when your baby outgrows something; pass it on to a new owner. Our own bamboo baby wear is ethically sourced designed to not only be super soft and great for sensitive skin, but it also lasts for hundreds of washes. Clothes from this durable fabric are ideal to be passed on many times.
For safety reasons, certain items, such as car seats and cot mattresses, should always be bought new. There are useful online guides and directory to help you find ethically responsible suppliers for new items.
If you don’t want to resell items yourself, local charity organisations gratefully receive donations and many will even pick larger items up from your home.
Reflect and rethink everyday choices
Once you begin to consider the environmental impact of your choices for your family, you may wish to make more changes. There is a growing market in responsible and organic cosmetics and household products such as baby soap, shampoo and laundry products.
As well as lightening your family’s environmental footprint, by using these products you can avoid exposing your baby to the harsh petrochemicals often found in conventional products.
Did you know that several chemicals used widely in cosmetics, such as parabens, triclosan and synthetic fragrances have disruptive effects on the hormonal system? Using gentler alternatives made from natural and organic ingredients is another simple way to look after your baby and the world at the same time.
All these ideas involve making small, simple changes which can make a big difference to your family and to the planet. We’d love to know your tips for environmentally aware parenting too – why not get in touch?