photo from Alexandra Zissu
Did having a baby make you want to go green? Many moms do, but lots of us aren't sure how to go about it. The good news its, it's easy—and it doesn't have to cost a lot.
I spoke with Alexandra Zissu, an eco consultant who writes the Ask an Organic Mom column at the Daily Green and is co-author of the book The Complete Organic Pregnancy. "Keep in mind that going green is like learning to speak a language," she says. "Fluency doesn't happen overnight. Any step toward green is a step in the right direction—ten percent is better than zero percent, and often gets the ball rolling and rolling." Here Zissu gives us five green things a new mom can do.
1. Shift your mindset. Think green. Green isn't about buying. For die-hard environmentalists, less is absolutely more. You'll not only minimize exposure to all sorts of chemicals, you'll save cash doing it. This means: Don't buy everything under the sun your neighbor/mom/grandmother/best friend tells you you need for your baby. Babies need very little. Most of them are more than happy with breasts and a swaddling blanket. Obviously you want diapers and some clothes. But if that's all you had for the first six months, you'd be just fine.
2. Don't renovate. Unless you absolutely have to (or are ridding your house of something you know shouldn't be around a baby like lead paint). Demolition releases an unknown toxic chemical cocktail and is best to avoid. If you can't make do with what you've got, or need to put up a wall, do it with the greenest products you can find. Leave the house while renovations are being done, and a few days more (to allow it to air out), if possible.
3. Keep the "less is more" mantra in mind.
Do spend the extra money for an organic crib mattress. Babies spend a lot of timesleeping. It's crucial to have a mattress that doesn't emit toxins, and it's worth it. You can make up the dollar difference by buying less baby gear. Cover it with a pure grow wool puddle pad, not plastic, and certainly not vinyl plastic.
When thinking diapers, the greenest choices are cloth you reuse and wash at home, or greener disposables (like Tushies or Seventh Generation). If you crunch the numbers, it's a bit of a toss up, but if you can line dry the hand-washed diapers, that's a clear choice. Conventional disposables are not a green option, and most cloth delivery services aren't either (due to the disinfectants used, and the miles driven).
For clothes and gear, ask around to friends and family for hand-me-downs. Everyone is thrilled to give their baby gear extra use and you might even wind up with too much of it. Share the goods. If you have no access to hand-me-downs, hit secondhand stores. Second hand natural fiber clothing is hands down greener than new organic cotton items.
4. If buying new, choose the greenest option. Always choose organic cotton for new items like clothes, sheets, blankets and more. Cotton is the second most sprayed crop in America; choosing organic cotton keeps many pounds of agricultural pesticides out of our kids' inherited earth.
5. Babies don't need "cosmetics." Kids don’t need creams and lotions unless they have a skin issue—in which case, you should use a certified natural cream. Soaps and body washes should also be certified natural or organic. Ingredient lists should be short. A dab of organic olive oil works just as well as any expensive baby cream.
Did you become more interested in green once you had a baby? What kinds of eco things are you incorporating into your lifestyle?