As parents we can spend so much time worrying over every little detail. Your house is clean, the kids are clean and happy, but how green are your parenting habits? Is your daily parenting routine good or bad for the environment? Living green is part of my normal household routine. For us, it's not a choice, but a way of life. With a few small changes to start with, your family can be this dedicated to a more eco-friendly lifestyle as well.
Convenience can be wasteful. Sure, it can be easier to use disposable dishes and flatware for kids. But think about the impact on the planet. Did you know that paper plates may be consuming more energy than styrene foam? If you really must take convenience over reusable items, foam will cause less toxic methane gas after disposed of and have less impact on energy consumption. But if you can afford it, compostable disposables, such as bamboo dinnerware and flatware, are the best disposable option. Many are compostable right from your own home.
What do you clean your home with? Chemicals can harm the earth and your child. Before doing the dishes, sanitizing the bathroom, or wiping down that baby high chair, think about what you are using. Did you know there are natural products that work just as well as (and sometimes better than) the chemical cleaners sold in stores? Instead of bleaching the toys your baby will put in his mouth, find a natural alternative. Sanitizing your bathroom is possible without using chemicals. You can also make many eco-friendly household cleaners yourself and for cheaper than the chemical options. Just like chemicals, there are safety precautions to follow with natural alternatives as well. But when used properly, the natural products will be safer for the kids and better for the planet.
Be careful how you launder. The chemicals used to wash your child's clothing may be toxic to the earth and even to your family. Did you know that fabric softeners may be hazardous to your child's health? You can also disinfect and "bleach" your child's clothing without using chlorine bleach. Everyday household products, such as vinegar and baking soda may be the answer to your laundering needs. They'll cut down on cost, as well as wasteful practices. We like to hang our clothes to dry in order to cut back on energy usage. Clothing racks can fit neatly in the laundering area or even inside the bathtub if your space is limited. For warmer days, hang the clothing outside via a rack or clothesline.
Are your kids recycling? Teach your kids to recycle as much waste as possible. This could be plastic bottles, milk cartons and jugs, egg cartons, cardboard boxes, aluminum, newspapers, broken toys, and more. Many papers, plastics, and metals can be taken to the recycling center or even picked up from your house. Call your local recycling center to find out what services are available in your area. Some sanitation companies and recycling centers will hand out recycling bins and pick them up on a routine schedule. You may even be able to collect some cash from recycling these items. I let my kids keep any money returned via recycling as one incentive to stay proactive about the process. It's also important that kids know what happens to items when items are wasted and not reused, as well as possible impact on their future.
Is your child's school lunch packed the green way? If your child takes a sack lunch to school frequently, think about all the waste it may be causing. Lunch sacks that are both biodegradable or compostable and reusable are a better option than the brown paper bag. They also save you from having to purchase new bags all the time. The same goes for the containers used to hold the food. If your child is likely to come home without his nice bag and reusable containers, opt for compostable disposables instead.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Eco-Friendly Parenting Tips for Going to the Park
Going to the park with the kids is fun. But it also can be bad for the environment if you aren't careful. I try my best to teach my kids greener ways to do everything, including going to the park. What's greener than the park? That may sound true in retrospect, but waste and mistreatment makes it not so green. So, how do you green your park trips?
Pack a Green Lunch
When packing lunch for the park, be cautious of the potential waste. Whenever possible, avoid disposable items and go for reusable, BPA free, earth-friendly containers and dishes. If you absolutely must use disposable, at least use something biodegradable or recyclable. Paper, plastic, and styrofoam disposable dinnerware and drinkware may seem easier. But at what cost? These items are often non-biodegradable and sit in landfills destroying the earth.
Do you know how many trees are cut down and how many toxic chemicals are emitted into the air to create these items? The most green lunch would likely be made of 100% natural and locally grown foods, not be packaged in a container, and be fully consumed with nothing left over. However, some people will not comply out of convenience. Therefore, the above tips will help reduce some of the waste.
Reduce Waste at the Park
In line with creating less waste, teach your kids not to litter at the park. Anything you bring with you should go home with you. If it's trash, it goes in the proper receptacle. If it's recyclable, same thing. Some parks do not have a recycle bin. In that case, take it home with you and recycle it yourself. Keeping the park clean helps foster a healthy environment, which in turn is good for the kids.
Avoid bringing unnecessary items to the park with you. That includes lunch items. But it also includes toys and other entertainment items. If the kids color at the park, don't let their papers litter the ground. If they blow bubbles, be sure the bottles and wands are taken home for rinse and reuse or recycling. Visit Condo Blues for an eco-friendly bubble recipe.
In addition to reducing your own waste when at the park with the kids, you can help combat the problem further. Help clean up other people's waste from the park. Go through the same routine you would with your own trash. Dispose of it properly, collecting recyclable items or placing them in receptacles if available.
Perfumes, products for the car, cleaning supplies, and even some toys (such as commercially sold bubbles) contain chemicals. These chemicals can pollute the park. Not only does this destroy the plants, but think of the animals that live in the park. It can be hazardous to their health and even deadly. If you absolutely must use some of these products, at least go for an all-natural green version.
Impact of Greening the Park Routine
You may not think one family cleaning up after themselves and others at the park can make a difference. Think again. How many times do you visit the park in a year? How much waste could be accrued in that time period if not picked up. In two years? Five? Looking at the big picture can help illustrate how much impact you and the kids could have on he environment. It's your choice whether to make that impact negative or positive.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
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