The Unexpected Ways Being a Parent Made Me More Eco-Friendly
Disposable diapers. Individually wrapped snacks. Juice packets. Pre-moistened wipes used to clean just about everything. On the surface, there is every reason to believe that once you have kids, eco-consciousness goes out the window in the name of convenience and necessity. And yes, there are a lot of ways that parenting children can lead to a way bigger footprint on the environment.
However, when I step back to take a real look at my parenting thus far, I can say that there are changes I’ve made that have actually made me a better steward of the earth.
Do these environmentally beneficial actions negate the detrimental ones associated with parenting young kids? Hard to say. But I’m hopeful that because they are in the form of behaviors, that they will not only outweigh those temporary drawbacks in the long run, but also set a good example for my kids to live by.
Gone are the days where I could linger in the shower, trying out new products or just relaxing as I let the water flow for 20 minutes. Showers have become practical, born out of necessity, short, and usually, not alone. If I need to get clean and a kid does too, it’s not unlikely that we’re in there together. If I’d love to shower but school drop-off is in 15 minutes, I’m wearing a hat instead of jumping in.
When it was just my husband and I eating, food leftover on our plates was not a concern. We took what we wanted and we finished it. The beginning of me composting directly coincided with my discovery of the shocking amount of food waste that kids create. They drop food everywhere. Leave crusts of every sandwich untouched. Decide they don’t like anything on their plate after licking every single piece, rendering it inedible to anyone else. I’m still uncomfortable with any amount of food waste, but composting makes me feel slightly better.
Managing the Mountains of Laundry
Ok, there might be no way to claim that laundry after kids is anything close to environmentally friendly. I know what every parent is thinking: It. Never. Stops. In light of this insane quantity of washing, however, I now run every load of laundry in cold water. (Before you knock it, do a little research – I’m sold that it’s just as effective.) It’s less expensive, far better for the environment, and as a bonus, the cold water is less harsh on our clothes, so they last longer.
Embracing Second-Hand Entertainment
If my kids ever got the chance to walk into a toy store, they would probably lose their minds because they have literally never seen one. I have no reason to go! Since they have been babies, we have been gladly accepting the hand-me-down toys from our friend’s children, finding deals at yard sales, and having “trades” with the neighborhood kids. There is no way to responsibly keep up with all the fleeting trends that kids go through in terms of their interests, and I also don’t want a thousand toys in my tiny living room. As a bonus, I’m not wasting a single resource when I’m using toys that are not being newly manufactured, so not buying new ones has become a matter of principle.
When I got pregnant, it was the first time I gave true thought to what I was putting on, in, and around my body. Knowing that this pure little life was going to be breathing in whatever chemicals I chose to fill my house and body with, I started being significantly more choosy. From the dishwasher detergent and shower cleaner to my bronzer and bubble bath, I lean towards products that are derived from natural components and that freak me out at least a little less when they head towards someone’s mouth. Because, let’s be honest, that’s where everything seems to end up.