Top 10 Ways to Go Green with Baby
Overwhelmed by going green? Don't be, says Christopher Gavigan, CEO of the non-profit Healthy Child Healthy World and author of Healthy Child Healthy World. So, even if you try just one of these 10 tips, we'll still give you a gold—er, green?—star.
Start during Pregnancy
Know the issue: Umbilical cord blood contains about 200 chemicals and pollutants caused by common household items, says the
Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit environmental research organization.
Try this solution: Protect your developing baby with a quick switch in your nutrition habits. Consider eating organic fruits and veggies that are free of pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. This simple change can lower your pesticide exposure up to 90 percent, according to Healthy Child Healthy World. Worried about the expense? “Think of it as an investment in your child’s college fund,” Gavigan says, noting that proper nutrition leads to better students.
Throw a Green Baby Shower
Know the issue: Not to be a party pooper, but large gatherings can often lead to large amounts of wasted paper and plastic.
Try this solution: To make the party eco-friendly, send evites instead of paper invitations and scavenge for vintage linens instead of disposable tablecloths, the book suggests. Don’t stop at the baby shower: Party-plan the green way for Baby’s first birthday and other exciting milestones.
Clean like a Green Fiend
Know the issue: Whether you’re spring cleaning or just doing a daily tidy-up, beware of chemical-laden cleaning products. “Just because it’s in the store, doesn’t mean it’s safe,” says Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned pediatrician and author of
The Happiest Baby on the Block. Check the label. “A lot of conventional cleaning products say ‘Danger: Keep out of reach of children’ with a skull and crossbones,” Gavigan notes. “It’s on there for a reason.”
Try this solution: Instead, try a natural option. Next time you scrub shower scum, use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar and water, the book suggests. It kills mold just as effectively. Or, try an eco-friendly brand. Gavigan recommends Seventh Generation, Shaklee, or Method.
Clear the Air
Know the issue: Cleaning the outdoor air can seem like a huge, impossible feat. However, cleaning our indoor air can be achieved with small steps, Gavigan says.
Try this solution: Today, simply open a window. Inviting fresh air into your home helps offset the off-gas pollutants from carpet and furniture, Dr. Karp says.
Redo Baby's Food
Know the issue: “Due to their size, fast metabolisms, and less varied diets, children are more vulnerable to developmental damage from exposure to pesticides,” says Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician, author, and supporter of the
Go Organic! for Earth Day campaign.
Try this solution: Overhauling your entire grocery list to be organic may seem daunting. Instead, aim to buy something organic, like baby food or juice. “Aside from tasting better and being healthier, it moves things forward on the agenda,” Dr. Karp says. If you’re willing to pay a little more now, manufacturers and farmers will see the profit of selling organic food, Dr. Karp says. “Tremendous changes happen from individual families,” he adds.
Try Natural Beauty Products
Know the issue: Many cosmetic companies add chemicals to their beauty products to maintain the color,
fragrance, and more. However, few companies test the products for long-term health risks,” the book says.
Try this solution: Gavigan knows first-hand from his wife how hard it is for some women to give up their favorite products. He suggests starting by switching one product. To find out the risk level of your cosmetics, check the EWG’s Skin Deep report, which lists all the chemicals in your products. (Something to check before your curious toddler chomps on your new lipcolor.)
Do Your Diaper Duty
Know the issue:
Disposable vs. cloth diapers: Which is greener? Disposables dump 3.6 million tons of plastic in landfills each year and may contain chemicals that harm the baby; cloth diapers require water and energy to clean and re-use them, the book says.
Try this solution: Look for new disposable diapers that are nonchlorinated and more biodegrable. Or, try gDiapers, a new kind of diaper that can be flushed down the toilet or composted.
Try Low-Tech or No-Tech Toys
Know the issue: Many toys today contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which releases toxic fumes into the air, the book says. Plus, kids explore by putting things in their mouths, including these toxic toys, Gavigan says.
Try this solution: Go back to basics and encourage kids to play outdoors. “We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, but our indoor air quality is typically worse than outdoor air quality,” Gavigan says. You can also search for wooden toys finished with nontoxic paint.
Go Green with Your Pet
Know the issue:
When baby is born, parents often devote so much attention to their newborn that they neglect their pets, Gavigan says. However, a
greener lifestyle for your pet can improve the health of your baby.
Try this solution: Trash the flea collar. “It’s just a chemical band around their neck with pesticides on it,” Gavigan says. The toxic ingredients can be poisonous for children if they touch the collar and then put their fingers in their mouths, Gavigan warns. Your solution? Vacuum. This wipes out 96 percent of fleas, according to the Journal of Economic Entomology.
Spread the Word
Know the issue: Your family, friends, and neighbors may feel just as overwhelmed as you do about
Try this solution: Now that you have a good handle on small ways to be eco-friendly, pass these tips to others who may be interested. “The power of mothers is tremendous—I never underestimate the power of their voice,” Gavigan says.
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