10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Environmental Impact When Having a Baby

Parents with baby shoes

Having children creates environmental impact. Even as environmentalists and eco-families, many of us have children anyway. If you are concerned about that, consider these 10 easy ways to lower your impact when you have a baby.

1. Stuff
Become STUFF AWARE. Especially if you haven’t had a baby or been around a friend or family member having a baby before, you won’t know how much of what you are told you need is really needed. The answer: not much. You don’t need all of that stuff on the baby lists. We’ve written about cutting down on baby bstuff to save money, but you also save on environmental impact when you acquire less. Only buy what you need, and even then look for the lower impact stuff.

2. Breastfeed
When you breastfeed, you shorten the chain. You eat food, you make milk, and your baby drinks the milk. No manufacturing, packaging, shipping, selling, or trash to throw away. Breastfeeding is not just good for you and your baby; breastfeeding is good for society.

3. Reusable Diapers
Rather than putting 3,000-4,000 disposable diapers of any material in landfill, wash and reuse a few dozen diapers of any material. You use water, detergent, and energy to wash and dry, but you don’t cause the repetition of extraction-manufacture-shipping thousands of times. To lower impact even further, choose materials carefully, wash warm rather than hot, choose low-impact detergents, and air dry.

4. No (or Few) Diapers
By using the method of infant pottying (elimination communication or diaper-free babies), you use even fewer diapers. You might use more water and cloths for clean up, because accidents will happen, but water is a renewable resource—unlike oil and gas that go into the plastics used to make disposable diapers. Even this choice doesn’t need to be all or nothing. When you follow your baby’s cues, you will probably find yourself doing this naturally.

5. Used Clothing
Buy clothing at a thrift store or consignment store. Babies and children grow so fast. It can be expensive to buy new clothes, but that expense is only one issue. Those clothes that are worn for only a few months have impact where the materials are grown or extracted, where they are manufactured and shipped, and where they are sold. Share great clothes with other parents by passing them around, or buy used.

6. Natural Body Care
One thing you probably will need is a gentle soap for baby baths and perhaps cream or lotion for skin care. Cosmetics often hide nasty chemical ingredients, but you have a lot of choices for baby cream, lotion, soap, and shampoo with all-natural ingredients.

7. Library
If you are like me, you read a lot to learn about new adventures, like having a baby. I had books on pregnancy, on baby care, on parenting, and on and on. Rather than buying every book new and leaving it on the shelf after reading, use your local library. If you don’t see all of the books you are looking for, talk to the librarian about getting them. The process will probably take a while, but you are starting a positive ripple in your community of having these books available for others.

8. Low Tech
Gadgets are certainly available. I see crazy new baby gadgets every year at baby trade shows. You don’t need a plug-in wipes warmer, a baby monitor, a sock that continually takes your baby’s vital signs, or a mechanical arm that feeds your baby a bottle. All of those gadgets are used for a short time then they become waste. They use materials and energy that wasn’t really necessary. Maybe you need a gadget here or there, but you don’t need them all.

9. Good Wood
If you choose to buy baby furniture, like a cradle or a changing table, look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which tells you that the wood comes from a forest that was managed according to best practices environmentally and socially.

10. Plant a Tree
It isn’t just that a tree can absorb more than a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Your child will really connect with a tree that was planted at their birth. This tree could become the place where you sit together to talk about their impact on the world. A tree has physical and psychological impact.

Keep in mind, too, that having a child in North America does not have the same impact as in other areas of the world. We use more resources, so having a baby here means a bigger environmental impact. A study out of Oregon State University in 2009 on family planning and environmental impact made the rounds of environmental news that year. The statistical study looked at the impact of having children as compared to efforts to reduce impact through small steps that many of us take. When you look at the numbers, it is clear that having a baby in a high-impact country makes a big difference.

By being conscious of the choices you make and the impacts both now and over time, you can make choices that will significantly lower the impact your baby has on the environment.

Image  ©  | Dreamstime.com

The Best Natural Lubricant – Yes!

Yes organic lubricant

 

As children take more of your time, don’t let that keep you from taking care of yourself. Women are happier when they maintain a healthy sex life.

Which brings up another issue. If you are ridding your life of toxic, non-natural substances, what do you do about personal care products like lubricant? The most popular product in stores includes parabens (estrogen mimics), glycerine (skin irritant and Candida nutrient), and glycols (cell wall disruptor). You have a choice, though; you can avoid these.

That’s why we carry Yes organic lubricant.

Organic Personal Lubricant

Ingredients are important to us. We care about eco-friendly ingredients, and we avoid allergens and irritants. Yes is hypoallergenic and non-toxic.

No distracting perfumes. No chemicals masking your own signs of desire. Just a velvety, sensuous feel to add to your body’s own lubrication.

Choose Water- or Oil-based Natural Lube

Which formula is for you?

  • Water-based Yes gives realistic lubrication that helps with dryness or discomfort. Water-based is compatible with condoms.
  • Oil-based Yes is a strong, long-lasting alternative to chemical lubricants. The sweet almond oil and cocoa better is so gentle that oil-based Yes is suitable as an intimate massage oil.

Yes lubricant are made from organic plant extracts.

Ingredients in Water-based Yes Lubricant
Aqua (water), Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera), Cyamopsis tetragonolobus (Guar gum), Ceratonia siliqua (Locust bean gum), Linum usitatissiumum (Flax extract), Pehnoxyethaol, Potassium sorbate, Xanthan gum, Citric acid.

Ingredients in oil-based Yes Lubricant
Prunus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Helianthus annus (Sunflower) seed oil, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Cera alba (Bees wax), Natural tocopherols (Vitamin E).

Safe Lubricant When You Are Trying to Conceive

Yes Baby lubricant kit safe for conception

Healthy conception can mean managing vaginal pH. The Yes Baby kit gives you the lubricants you need through an ovulation cycle: sperm-friendly lubricant for your most fertile period, vagina-friendly lubricant to restore pH after the most fertile period, ovulation tests, and simple, illustrated instructions.

Both formulations of Yes lubricant are safe for use during pregnancy.

We carry travel-size Yes lubricant.

Ethical Company

We like UK-based The Yes Yes Company, as well. They are committed to ethical trade, no animal testing, organic and sustainable sourcing, and profound purity. They are our kind of people.

Self Care: Sleep Matters

Mother sleeping

 

You keep your family functional through your strength, your health, your happiness and mood, and your focus. The one most important thing you can do to take care of yourself, the one thing that all other self care builds on, is getting enough sleep. Putting on your own oxygen mask first starts with sleep.

It’s so simple!

Sort of. Tough for a young mother but simple in theory.

You probably remember when it was easy to stay up all night and keep going the next day. That was before you had responsibilities for others, children to care for, and a long list of tasks you just have to get done every day. If you go without sleep now, you don’t feel your best the next day. A study of doctors showed that, when fatigued, their performance was comparable to having 3-4 cocktails.

Lack of sleep leaves you impaired with slower reaction times. This does not help your family. Beyond the immediate effects of impaired judgment, lack of sleep triggers health effects: lower immunity, metabolism changes (weight gain), and even more serious disease. This is just the beginning.

Abusing your body by doing without sleep will have a long-term impact. I write from experience. I know getting enough sleep is a very difficult thing for the mother of a young child, but it has both short- and long-term impact on your own health and on everyone around you. Right now you are bridging from your youth to your middle age, and the choices you make for your health make a difference for your present and your future.

Sleep does matter. You must take care of yourself.

Your Sleep Routine

Create routines that protect your sleep. In order to help your baby sleep with love and compassion, you need routines that signal to everyone that it is time to wind down and let go for the day. If you have figured this out for your baby, you already have an idea how developing a routine works. Your routines involve more than just you, of course. Especially if you are co-sleeping, you need to create routines that work for your entire family.

Start with what is working. When have you found that you slept really well recently? What did you do the day before or the evening before that great night’s sleep? How did you wake up? Can you replicate that?

Tweak your routine over time, but don’t assume it will all work out on its own. You need to protect your sleep time. If you can’t handle everything in the time your have available, ask for help.

How much sleep do you need? Every person is slightly different, but the general rules apply. Most adults need 8 hours sleep per night.

Self Care Means Love & Compassion for Yourself

Approach your own needs with love and compassion—as you would for your children or spouse. That doesn’t mean lining up excuses and accepting every one. Loving yourself means understanding your deeper needs and focusing there rather than on the superficial. Loving yourself means not prioritizing your needs below those of everyone else.

Finding a way to meet the needs of all family members can be difficult. You will undoubtedly come up short, but that doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying.

Understand that taking care of yourself matters. Getting enough sleep matters.

Sleep well.

For more details on the effects of lack of sleep, read “Sleep for Health.”

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Alternatives to Candy on Valentine’s Day

Candy for Valentines Day

Has your child been asked to contribute candy to a Valentine’s Day party? We can turn this into an positive opportunity. Let’s think of this as taking a treat—a treat of any kind—rather than approaching negatively as NOT taking candy. You can just quietly send a fun treat that happens not to be food.

Crayons
Kids love crayons. Give them out in the original shape, or you could make a craft of it and use a candy mold to shape melted crayons into hearts. Our Soy Rocks Party Box gives you 64 colorful crayons to give out.

Lip Gloss
Make lip gloss. It’s easy and exciting for kids to make lip balm in many flavors and colors. Don’t call it “gloss” and you might get boys interested as well.

Bouncy Balls
A ball is a small gift that won’t cost you a lot but will get used a lot.

Pencils
A common non-candy gift for children is a fun pencil. They come in great variety (including our tree-free pencils), they are easy to decorate and personalize, and kids will use them.

Wooden Toys
We often find situations where kids might want to give small gifts, and we don’t want to create more plastic clutter of throwaway gifts. We want to give eco-friendly gifts that children will actually use. That is why we created a loot bag section in our Green Celebrations department. We have a couple of tiny toys that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day gifts: mini wooden kaleidoscopes and wooden pop tops.

Friendship Bracelets
An older child can use cotton embroidery floss to create friendship bracelets. To make it a Valentine, add a small tag with a message.

Wooden Yo-Yo
For a special friend, a red wooden yo-yo is great gift that will be played with for a long time.

The Recurring Candy Issue

Yes, it’s nice to take a positive approach. I can be tiring to think, “Great. Another holiday, another opportunity to explain why we don’t give out candy.” Sure, we don’t have to focus on explaining. We can just nudge expectations away from sugary treats to other treats.

The issue will continue to come up, though. If you want to deal with Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and all of the candy holidays all at once, if you are tired of navigating the candy and food issues, help your school or district develop policies that will make it easier not just to manage allergies but to meet nutrition goals.

A lot of schools have no-food or no-candy policies for celebrations. This makes it a lot easier for schools to manage food allergies and sensitivities. Sell them on the benefits for the school, and they might be willing to work with you.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Self Care: Your Own Oxygen Mask

Baby watching woman doing yoga

“In the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”

As a parent, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you help your children, spouse, and everyone else who wants your help. You are no good to anyone, including yourself, if you drain your energy, your oxygen, and your focus to zero.

I know it’s difficult to prioritize yourself when there are little people who need and want you every minute. Prioritizing yourself doesn’t mean neglecting them. It means helping your children to learn patience in those few moments it takes to put on your oxygen mask.

Your oxygen mask might be as simple as getting yourself a drink of water before the next activity or taking a shower even when your toddler tells you, “NO!” It might take more time, like doing yoga while your child waits. Whatever it is, your child learns self control gradually in those moments.

Lessons you are teaching your children will stay with them. They know you are a person with needs as well. (Yes, that sounds strange, but it does take children a while to realize this about their parents.) Also, they will learn that they need to take care of themselves before they help others so they don’t drain themselves.

Have you read “The Giving Tree”? I remember it from my childhood, and I picked it up to consider buying it for my children’s library. I read it again in the store. I couldn’t believe what I read. The lesson was to give everything you have without taking care of your own needs. The tree (who I interpreted as a mother) gave itself in pieces for the boy, who didn’t ever bother to take care of the tree or even to thank the tree. Some people interpret this book environmentally as an example of how not to sustain the earth. Either way, I don’t want to plant the seed of the idea in my children’s minds that they are to take and take from others without regard for others’ needs. And, no, I didn’t buy the book.

Your family is—or can be—a sustainable system. You need to be functional to make that system work, and the system works even better when you are not just functional but happy. Your happiness matters to everyone in your family, whether they realize it or not.

Show your children that you care about yourself. You are teaching them valuable lessons. You are teaching them that you have needs. They will develop empathy as they recognize others’ needs. You are also teaching them that each person needs to address their own needs. You are teaching them to put their own oxygen masks on first.

Don’t hesitate. Take care of yourself. You’ll be better able to help others when you do.

This month, we are focusing on self care. Come into the bynature.ca store for a few self care surprises.