America's Parent Series: Green/Natural Parenting and Our JJ Approach

Jerry and I have always been interested in living greener. My parents are big proponents for green living and having lived on a farm for my whole entire life, I learned a thing or two about conservation and preservation.

Have I practiced any of it since I moved out of Mom and Dad's farmhouse? That's another story.

When I got pregnant, my research on babies revealed two things: how expensive babies are and how significant a baby's carbon footprint is. Since long before JJ was born, we've been conceiving more than a bundle of joy - we've been thinking of ideas on how to save money and be greener.

The first thing that I decided on was making his nursery decor. It was easy after I decided on what pattern and learned a few tricks. Some forward planning was all I needed in order to make the decorations for his changing table, the changing pad cover, the diaper stacker, curtain, crib skirt, letters for his name on the wall, and the door hanging. We even fixed up an old guitar of Jerry's for a wall hanging. I will post pictures later, but the baby is asleep right now... or at least trying to sleep.

I didn't realize until recently of the global impact of my DIY nursery decor. Think about it: have you ever been amazed at the amount of packaging that, well, anything comes in? All of that cardboard for the original box, which is usually shrink wrapped and put into another box for protection. Then that box is put into a large cardboard crate with other units for shipment. Then those crates are shipped, which uses an exorbitant amount of fuel, to the store. Then the store unpacks those crates, outer boxes, and shrink wrap to put those items on the shelf. News flash: most department stores do not recycle those packing materials! The consumer then drives to the store, using more fuel, and purchases the item. Once the consumer gets the item, the packaging is thrown away, usually not recycled. This is the story for every new items you purchase in the store.

Other things that we did not cost packaging on: two borrowed cribs, one borrowed changing table, one old bookshelf that we painted, one borrowed rocking chair. We bought a good deal of our baby gear used, with the exception of the stroller and car seats. We borrowed his jumper and a lot of clothes from a good friend, too.

We also make our own baby food. Think about it this way: from about 6 months until about a year or so, a baby uses around 6 small jars of baby food a day. That's 1080 jars and lids used. Let me reiterate: not everyone recycles, and there is production waste involved with making all of those jars, too! Those jars are also packaged with lots of cardboard and plastic prior to grocery store arrival, who do not recycle those materials!

And think about it: do you really know why baby food doesn't expire for nearly two years? (hint, it's not the pressure cooking) Food manufacturers are not required to list ingredients if the amount is below a certain level of saturation. That is, if in a 2 oz jar of baby food, if the maximum level of a preservative is 1 gram per FDA, the preservative is not listed if the level is .9 gram. Making baby food is a surefire way to know exactly what is going into your baby and it's way cheaper, too. Not only that, nearly everything is available organic now, so that's a plus.

I'll agree that green living requires an adjustment. We're getting way into it now, by replacing our light bulbs, and hardcore recycling. We're unplugging our appliances that we're not using, and a few other things that reduce our footprint.

But... just because we're trying doesn't mean that we're doing everything. For example, I'm not cloth diapering (although I'm very interested in starting soon!) for the simple fact that it just doesn't fit our lives right now. I didn't put much forethought into it before JJ was born, but I'm doing my research and I may figure it out before JJ goes back to daycare. As soon as I run out of wipes, we will be switching to reusable ones, though. I don't want to get into the impact of disposable diapers in landfills, but you can google it if you want.

Other things are pretty easy: using washable bibs instead of those disposable ones, planting a garden (next year, I just couldn't get it together this year!) or shopping at your local farm or produce stand, and of course recycling. Any little thing that can be done to protect the earth is worth it!

Although we're still learning, it's still an adventure, like every other day. And now a cute picture of my kid.

1 comment:

Starla Rae said...

I cloth diapered Vincent, but haven't with Chelsea. I think it is great that you are making your own baby food. That is one thing I couldn't do because I didn't have a blender at that time. Being green or at least trying to be is awesome. Think of how much of a good impact our kids will make if we teach them to recycle growing up.


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