Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 Tips for Green Parenting : How to Be an Eco-Friendly Parent on a Budget

There are many ways of making a difference to the planet without breaking the bank or losing valuable time. Being a green parent benefits the environment, your child's health, and even your relationship with your child.

Breastfeed as Long as Possible.
An excellent way to safeguard the physical and emotional health of babies, breastfeeding also avoids the food miles, packaging, time, cleaning products and of course money, associated with formula. The World Health Organisation recommends two years of breastfeeding. Practically speaking this can be difficult, but after six months even one feed a day continues to provide valuable antibodies.

Use Re-usable Nappies
Disposable nappies use 20 times more raw materials, three times more energy, twice as much water, and generate 60 times more waste than cotton nappies. They also contain harmful chemicals, according to Lynoa Cattanach in Green Parenting (Hodder Education, 2007).
     Today’s cotton nappies are very convenient to use. There are nappy laundering schemes to save time, and washing at home is now quick and simple. Check out local council’s schemes for cheap starter packs, and look for nappy recycling schemes, for e.g. The Real Nappy Exchange.

Prepare Eco-Friendly Food Using Simple Recipes
In addition to being better for the environment, natural healthy food from the start reduces the later risk of heart disease, allergies, behavioural problems, and many other ailments. Sharing a farm box scheme with another family, or bulk buying from a food co-op, are good ways around the expense of organic food. Or buy ‘organic only’ for food that is most vulnerable to chemical contamination, such as fruit, salad vegetables and grains. Meat, milk and eggs are also good to buy organically, says Lynoa Cattanach.
    Children can cook and prepare food with their parents from an early age, and it’s great for them to learn about where food comes from. A good recipe book for simple healthy eating is Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner (Ebury Press, 1998).

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is just one of several commonly used toiletry chemicals associated with diseases such as cancer, nervous system problems and liver complaints. Water is adequate for washing babies, and if lather is irresistible, use eco-friendly, organic toiletries occasionally and sparingly. If eco-friendly cleaning products are too expensive, use distilled white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, Epsom salts, or lemon juice.

Recycle Clothing
The cotton industry has a high impact on the environment and can also be ethically dubious. Organic fair-trade cotton is expensive though, so parents could accept hand-me-downs and buy children’s clothes from charity shops, where not only have all the chemicals already been washed out, but they can feel good about supporting a charity, says Lynoa Cattanach. When buying new clothes, avoid polyester, acrylic, rayon, acetate, triacetate and nylon.

Use Green Equipment
Be critical of advertising that tries to convince parents of the need for the latest brand of cot or baby monitor. Consider purchasing a baby bicycle seat – bicycling is the greenest way to travel, and also a fun way to exercise. Try to buy from ethical sources where possible, and get second-hand (this is not recommended for cot mattresses). Networking groups such as Freecycle allow people to pass on their good quality possessions to others.

Use Wooden and Natural Toys
According to Green Parenting, plastic and battery-containing toys can contain hazardous materials such as phthalates or plastic softeners. Instead, choose wooden toys and encourage babies and children to play with their natural environment. For example, when cooking, parents can give kids a wooden spoon. As soon as possible, parents can get children involved in the cooking and cleaning, even if it is messy.

Use the Natural Environment
Going for nature walks can facilitate children’s learning about their environment. Children can choose to plant a tree, grow vegetables with their parents in their garden or an allottment, or grow herbs together in window boxes and planters. Outdoor play should be encouraged as it develops appreciation for nature and a healthy, active physical body.

Take a Natural Approach to Health
Avoid routine antibiotic use, using homeopathic/herbal treatments wherever possible. Don’t try to create a sterile environment – let kids get dirty and develop their immune systems. Read the labels on medicine packaging, being careful to avoid additives and sugar wherever possible.

Educate Children about the Environment
Eco-Friendly Kids has useful articles on teaching children about topics such as biodiversity and climate change. Get children involved in recycling from early on: even a toddler can enjoy putting bottles into a recycling bin.
Parents can make many small changes that reflect a desire to preserve the planet's resources. All it takes is a willingness to think a little outside the box, and in this way parents can teach their children a lot about standing up for what they believe in.

(Sourced from
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