My oldest son’s birthday is on Earth Day. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect becoming a mom on April 22, 2003, may have made me more respectful of Mother Earth than I might have been otherwise, and I do find myself gravitating towards eco-friendly products when I have the choice, from our energy-efficient washing machine to my toddler’s BPA-free cereal bowl. It’s not always easy being green–but fortunately, since I became a mother nearly 11 years ago, we’ve come a long way, baby, when it’s come to finding eco-friendly baby and kid products.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for buying products that were designed with the environment in mind:
Feeding baby the earth-friendly way
Breastfeeding is the most earth-friendly way to feed your child–no water to waste cleaning bottles, no metal and paper formula canisters that may or may not end up being recycled, no eventually thrown-away plastic bottles that could end up polluting our waters. But if breastfeeding isn’t on the table for you or you are supplementing, your most “green” choice is going to be glass bottles, such as Born Free Natural Feeding Classic. Looking for an eco-friendly infant formula? Earth’s Best is made without any potentially harmful pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics–healthy for baby, healthy for cows and supportive of organic farming!
As for mealtime, it’s good to have some simple plates and spoons (BPA-free, of course) that can be easily rinsed in the sink–that way you’re not throwing away paper or plastic after one use, and you’re not involving the dishwasher. Reduce the waste involved in baby food containers by making your own by pureeing fresh fruits and vegetables and freezing them in a chemical-free silicone tray–or if you do buy jars, get glass ones that you can reuse. (I have stored everything from spices to tiny Lego parts in ours!)
Unless you’re able to potty-train your baby from birth (ha!), you will be abusing Mother Earth a bit, just by having a child who needs diapers. Disposable diapers are notorious for clogging up landfills, and cloth diapers, while thought to be a better choice, certainly involve a lot of laundry–though you can choose an eco-friendly detergent or Eco Nuts Natural Laundry Soap instead of the more ecologically damaging mainstream laundry cleaners.
Cloth diapering is a lifestyle choice, though–and if you work full-time, have multiples or are just plain too busy to wash mountains of soiled diapers, disposables likely will be your reality. You can feel good about brands like Seventh Generation, which are chlorine free to help reduce the amount of chlorinated toxins released into the environment. (Most mainstream brand diapers do contain chlorine.)
Of course, if you’ve been dragging your feet about potty-training, thinking about all of those landfills can be just the incentive you need to get going with the rewards charts and big-boy pants and say goodbye to those diapers once and for all! (Need help? Check out my friend Jeanine’s 3-Day Potty-Training Boot Camp!)
Splish splash, baby’s taking an environmentally-friendly bath!
We all know how much babies love bubbles, but the typical bubble bath is loaded with sulfates and artificial ingredients, and usually comes in a plastic bottle that likely isn’t biodegradable. If you’re serious about the environment, you’re also probably a serious Dr. Bronner’s fan. Dr. Bronner’s Baby-Mild Pure Castile Liquid Soap is 100% vegetarian, hypoallergenic and is guaranteed to contain no synthetic surfactants, petrochemicals, floral water fluff, detergents or artificial ingredients. Another good choice is California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash, which is sulfate-free, cruelty-free and makes babies feel and smell absolutely scrumptious!
Jorie Mark is Vitacost.com’s Director of Marketing Communications and mother to three children, ages 3 to 10.