Babies and toddlers are like sponges, soaking up information at full speed. Therefore, this is the perfect time to get them into the habit of caring for the earth so that they and future generations can enjoy it.
While some of the following tips are not directly teaching young children specific lessons about the environment, they allow us parents to lead by example – an important form of learning for our gorgeous little sponges!
Use cloth nappies
The average baby will use around 6,000 nappies before they are toilet trained. When you consider that disposable nappies take up to 500 years to decompose, this is a seriously scary fact.
While cloth nappies pose their own burden to the environment (through water and electricity), their ecological footprint is still only about half that of disposables. This halves again if you use a diaper laundering service.
Show us yer boobs!
We understand that not everyone is able to breastfeed. But if you can, you may as well, because it’s way cheaper and there is no negative impact on the environment.
If you’re looking for a delicious and fun way to increase your milk supply, check out these lactation cookie (aka boobie bikkie) recipes that even non-lactating family members can enjoy!
Embrace hand-me-downs and shop secondhand
Babies and young children grow out of their clothes super quickly, plus they trash them mercilessly with rough play and bodily fluids. They also get bored of toys easily. So to save money (and the environment), make use of pre-loved goods. Accept hand-me-downs from loved ones, or go nuts at a thrift shop.
When you’re done with these clothes, toys and books, release them back onto the hand-me-down or thrift shop train so that other people can use or enjoy them.
Use less water
One way to reduce your water usage is to invest in energy-efficient dishwashers and washing machines and only run these when they are full.
You could also take shorter showers that focus on washing only. Save the daydreaming for your work commute, and save the singing for when you’re making dinner. Did you know that kitchen acoustics are almost as good as bathroom ones? Plus you get more room to dance!
Alternatively, if you can’t resist stretching those vocal cords in the shower, try singing shorter songs. Here are some examples of tunes that don’t quite hit the 2-minute mark:
- Lazing on a Sunday afternoon – Queen
- Welcome to the Working Week – Elvis Costello
- Get Off My D!ck & Tell Yo’ B!tch to Come Here – Ice Cube (maybe save this one for when the kids and neighbours are asleep)
You could also reduce the number of baths you give your baby. Unless they’re covered in spit-up or nappy explosion, babies will be fine with only 2-3 baths per week. In fact, a bit of dirt is good for their immune systems. In any case, babies are so darn cute that they can get away with being a bit whiffy – so let them take advantage of this privilege while they still can!
Use less electricity
Get your family into the habit of switching light switches off when they leave a room, and switching devices off at the plug when they’re not in use (did you know that this standby power, aka “vampire power”, accounts for as much as 20% of your electricity bill? No amount of garlic will ward off that scary statistic)
You should also avoid using the clothes dryer where possible. Line drying in the sun is not only more environmentally sustainable but is also better for you. The sun is more effective than a dryer in killing germs.
Leave the car at home where possible
Using your feet, bike or public transport will dramatically reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, save you money on fuel and get you all exercising. Not being able to always easily and comfortably get from one place to another in a car will also teach your kids the art of delaying gratification – a very valuable life skill!
Embrace ‘ugly’ food
Did you know that an alarming amount of fresh produce (amounting to billions of dollars’ worth) is rejected because they fail to meet the stringent cosmetic standards of major supermarkets?
To reduce this horrific food wastage, one simple thing you can do is support the Ugly Fruit (and Veg) Movement. Some places offer, for a reduced price, bags of three-legged carrots, dimply pears and triangular tomatoes. The kids will fall in love with these beacons of delicious imperfection.
Embrace ‘nude’ food
Avoid packaged foods where possible. Not only is it better for your health, but it also reduces waste.
Stuck On You’s Bento Box is the perfect funky and reusable receptacle for nude food. We have our standard-sized boxes for older children and adults, as well as smaller boxes for littlies. Instead of carting around jars and packets of different foods for a day out with baby, throw these all into a Mini Bento.
Inspire a love of nature
The more your child loves nature, the more motivated they will be to care for it. There are many ways to inspire this appreciation of the environment. You can plant something together with your child, go bird watching or teach them (and yourself) about different types of leaves.
Reuse shopping bags, drink bottles and coffee cups
Single use plastics are one of the biggest environmental polluters, so avoiding these will reduce your family’s ecological impact.
Make recycling fun
Use bright and colourful bins to sort paper, metals and glass so that your little one can learn about different types of rubbish. Babies and toddlers love sorting stuff and putting them in containers so it won’t feel like a chore to them at all.
Another way you can make recycling and caring for the environment fun is to throw some earth-friendly songs into your playlist. A goodie is Jack Johnson’s “The 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)” – catchy and educational!
Otherwise, you can get creative with the lyrics of existing songs – for example, “Toot, Toot, Chugga Chugga Big Red (Hybrid) Car” (or something smoother than that).