Editor's note: The following is a guest post written by Michelle Montoya for Baby Best Buy. Michelle is an SEO copywriter at Pole Position Marketing, and online retailer Baby Best Buy is one of the company's clients.
By protecting the environment today, you will be creating a better life for your children tomorrow. If we teach our children to love and respect the earth, they will have a better understanding and will then pass that on to their children.
Although the damage that has been done to the earth is irreversible, we can do our best to preserve it as it is by teaching our children.
While “going green” sounds like it might require an internal overhaul, it’s really not that difficult. There are many minor changes you can make in your life and in that of your children that will have a positive impact on the earth’s environment.
Ten Ideas to Go Green
- Make your own baby food – Not only is making your baby’s food environmentally friendly, it’s very healthy too. When you make baby food, you know exactly what is (and what is not) going in it. Babies’ pallets are blank slates for you to create. They will eat bland foods as long as you provide them. As soon as you start adding flavors (including salt), children are less likely to go back and eat mild foods. Take baby steps and introduce new foods once a week. Start with green vegetables (as opposed to orange fruits or vegetables) so that they develop a taste and a liking for them.
- Use cloth diapers – According to Mothering Magazine, about 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose. Eco-friendly cloth diapers are a lesser expensive alternative to disposable diapers. Many diapers don’t use diaper pins, so there’s no way to poke your baby. Made out of high quality durable cloth, the diapers are machine washable. Many cloth diapers come with diaper covers that are waterproof and leak proof. Using cloth diapers instead of disposable can save over $2,000 per child, so you can save money while saving the environment.
- Buy organic when you can – Almost everything sold today has an organic alternative. As natural as it gets, organic products are free from harmful chemicals. From foods to bedding, cleaning products to clothing, organic products will leave less of a carbon footprint on the planet. Made out of natural products that aren’t processed with chemicals, many of the organic clothing and organic cotton bedding products are made from cotton that does not pollute the ground, water, or air. Organic foods are grown without using pesticides or artificial fertilizers and have low amounts of preservatives and additives. Organic products are safe for your kids and safe for the environment.
- Swap kids’ items with other moms – By having a kids’ swap (swapping items, not children), your children will experience items that are new to them without you having to purchase them. This will help reduce the amount of waste in landfills and will be an economic alternative for you. Although many kids may have a hard time parting with some of their treasured toys and clothing, you can let them know that they will be getting different toys and clothes that they can learn to love.
- Walk or take public transportation – If you’re planning on going anywhere near your home (no more than a mile at first), perhaps you can walk or take a bus there. By not driving everywhere you go, you will be saving the environment from the carbon dioxide gases and will be saving your pocketbook the enormous expense of gas. If you’re going to the park, pack a picnic lunch and stick it in the bottom of the stroller, or maybe you can put individual lunches in each kid’s backpack. Be sure to pack provisions – such as waters and maybe even granola bars – so that you can take rest stops along the way. The kids will find this adventurous, and you will find it advantageous environmentally and economically.
- Have fun recycling paper, plastic, and aluminum – Many of today’s products come in packages that are recyclable. This is noted on the container with a symbol that has three arrows pointing toward each other in a triangle shape. The two common symbols indicate whether the packaging is recyclable or if it is made of recycled materials. Newspapers and paper bags can be used to make book covers for school books, while the Sunday comics can become wrapping paper for gifts. Many plastic containers can be used to store leftovers, but they can also be used to store small toys, snacks, craft supplies, etc. With aluminum cans (used for sodas), kids can have fun stomping on them to compact them so that there’s more room in the recycling bin. Before throwing anything away, brainstorm with the kids if it can be reused.
- Use canvas bags for your groceries – The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that over 500 billion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. While they can be reused to take lunches to school and work, to line trash cans in the bathroom, and to take smaller and lighter items almost anywhere, many plastic bags litter our landscape. Instead of getting plastic bags at the store, consider getting canvas bags for your groceries. Your kids can each get one, and they can decorate them with fabric paint. Shopping at the store is a great time to educate your children on making educated purchases – fresh fruit instead of canned, organic cereal instead of sugar-laden cavity creators.
- Plant trees, flowers, gardens – Other than being a beautiful addition to any home’s landscaping, trees provide many benefits: they reduce noise, create shade, and in one year produce enough oxygen for a family of four. By growing an organic garden, your food will taste better, will be healthier for your family, and will save you money. Get your kids involved by having them help out with the selection and placement of the trees and vegetables. They can be put in charge of ensuring they’re getting enough water, and they will be able to pick the vegetables when they’re ripe. They’ll even be more likely to eat their veggies if they helped grow them from seeds.
- Start a compost pile – Compost conditions and fertilizes garden soil by feeding it microorganisms and adding nutrients. It consists of biodegradable garbage that would normally go in the trash and then into a landfill. By recycling yard and kitchen waste, you’ll not only reduce your contribution to , but you’ll be creating a better environment for your plants. To start, you’ll need a ratio of one part brown materials (dried leaves, wood chips, etc.) to three parts green materials (grass clippings, weeds, vegetable scraps, etc.). Keep a small pail in the kitchen to collect kitchen waste, and encourage the kids to add to it – fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells – anything that is biodegradable.
- Conserve water and energy – Although it seems rather easy, kids have a really hard time with turning off lights when they’re not in the room and turning off the water when they’re brushing their teeth. And, according to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, changing to a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl) will save around 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year because they use 60% less energy.
It may take a lot of nagging and following around to make sure your kids are turning off the lights and water, but once it becomes habit, you’ll be conserving energy and saving money. What could be better than that?
If you teach your children to take care of the earth from an early age, it will become second nature to them. Future generations will benefit from what we teach our children today. They can then teach others to help protect and preserve the earth.
As a parent, you can consider yourself the Green Police, and your motto can be To Protect and Preserve