So I've just outed my deep dark secret. I live for convenience. Sure, I'll choose the environmentally friendly option when it's there and just as easy. But it's just not a priority for me to be eco-friendly if it makes things harder on myself. (*ducks to avoid composting fruit scraps*)
So, when it came to the inevitable cloth vs. disposable debate before BabyT was born, I chose disposable without a second thought. I did not want to wash poopy diapers. I did not want to store a bag of poopy diapers somewhere in our (storage-challenged) house waiting for the diaper service to pick them up. I knew I'd have to buy disposables for backup, for nighttime, and for daycare, so it was just easier to choose disposable overall. I'm not here to argue, I'm just saying it was easier for our lifestyle.
But, it turns out, we're not the total eco-terrorists I thought we were. We do a handful of things that could actually be considered green, or at least, not totally awful. So I thought I'd share those with you, because they're also easy and convenient.
1. Burp cloths are multi-purpose!
Before T was born, I didn't really get the idea of burp cloths. A close friend whose baby was a few weeks older than T clued us in, and generously bought us a pack of those really thin "cloth diapers" from Target, which are just great for absorbing spit-up. We're long past the spit-up stage, but we still use those cloths *all the time*. T uses them as "blankets" for her dolls. We use them to wipe her constantly runny nose (thanks, daycare!). One of them is the "eraser" for T's chalkboard easel. They're handy for cleaning up spilled soymilk when T leaves her sippy cup on its side. I've even used one to dry off a damp beagle. They're even great for the icky stuff, like vomit, or as a makeshift changing pad cover.
Eco-bonus: We're not using a crapload of paper towels, Kleenex or heavy bath towels (that would then need to be washed) for little jobs. We just toss them into the washer and they get clean and dry easily.
2. WTH do I do with these washcloths?
My pre-baby shopping included one memorable IKEA run where I bought every cute thing in their baby section because "it's so cheap! of course I'll find a use for it!". So we ended up with a couple of nice-sized but totally non-absorbent burp cloths, which have now been put into use as changing pad covers.
But the other *score* that I regretted buying at first, was a 10 pack of small washcloths (KRAMA, if you must know). We didn't use washcloths for T's bath, so they sat around for months. Until she started eating solid food. Or just mashing it all over her face. These washcloths were ideal for cleaning up her face and hands after a particularly satisfying meal, because I could wet them with warm water, and scrub her as needed.
Eco-bonus: We don't use a crapload of baby wipes or wet paper towels to clean her up after a meal. Now, of course, she can climb into her Baby Tower and wash her own hands, but it's still easier to use the washcloth if she's super-messy.
3. You might be Indian if...
One of those Internet memes told me that using plastic grocery bags to line small trash cans was *totally* an Indian thing. Apparently we Indians are a frugal people (!) so we balk at buying small trash bags. No idea if this is true, but I think it was something I learned from my mom, and seemed like a reasonable thing to do. All of our bathroom trash cans are lined with plastic grocery bags. We have so many, it seems like a shame not to re-use them.
The baby angle? Well, any of you with a kid over 6 months knows the unpleasantness of changing a dirty diaper when the kid starts eating real food. Our diaper trashcan was not doing a good job of controlling the smell, so we switched to a new system. Dirty diapers go in a plastic bag and directly outside to the trash. This works *so* much better, and then we don't need to change the diaper trash bag as often, either. *And* our plastic bag stash is finally down to a manageable level. In fact, we're actually perilously close to running out. (Time for another Target run!)
Eco-bonus: We re-use those plastic grocery bags, instead of throwing them away and buying new plastic bags for trash. Granted this is a stretch, because of the number of disposable diapers we're sending to the landfill, and the fact that there isn't really a good reason to get plastic bags anymore, but at least we are using the ones we have, right?
4. We don't need no stinkin' boxes
This one is not rocket science. We bought 2 boxes of baby wipes to get the fancy plastic box for each changing station, then just bought refill packs by the case to fill those boxes. Cheaper, and we don't have to figure out what to do with all those empty boxes. For the diaper bag, I got a cute personalized wipes case on Etsy, and I just grab a stack of wipes from one of the boxes. It's smaller and I don't have to buy special travel-sized packs just for the diaper bag.
Eco-bonus: No dubiously recyclable plastic wipes boxes to get rid of. Again, we're talking about convenience here. Yes, I could make myself reusable wipes out of washcloths, etc. But I don't have that kind of time or desire.
5. No special kid foods
One of the crunchy parenting decisions we made was to introduce BabyT to solids via baby-led weaning. The quick summary - you give the baby slices or pieces of food that they can easily pick up. No purees, no tedious spoon-feeding. I liked the idea, and frankly, it seemed a heck of a lot easier than making my own pureed baby food, or trying to spoonfeed anything into a suspicious baby. If she picked up something and ate it, great. If not, that was fine too. It helped set the stage for us to be able to deal with toddler pickiness without getting terribly upset about what she's not eating.
So we were able to skip the whole baby-food jar stage completely. With T's dairy allergy, a lot of the packaged "toddler foods" were out too: most Puffs, yogurt drops, etc had dairy ingredients in them. But even the "safe" ones seemed junky and ridiculously expensive for what you got. So I didn't buy any of those cute containers with individually packaged snacks. If we needed dry snacks on the run, I bought Kix, Cheerios, freeze dried fruit or pretzels and put them in a little container.
Eco-bonus: No precious individual packaging to throw away. We bought normal sized containers of snacks and put them into reusable covered bowls for travel. We didn't give in to the food industry's idea of specialized (unnecessary) baby and toddler foods. Sticking it to The Man, I say!
6. Used stuff is ok. (Really!)
My mom will laugh at this, because I was *not* into thrifting or wearing clothes from discount stores, etc. when I was growing up. And I won't make BabyT do it if she doesn't want to once she is old enough to have an opinion. But for now, we gladly welcome hand-me-downs. We sometimes cruise our local (swanky) Goodwill to find babyGap and miniBoden clothes I'd never pay full price for. T also thinks it's great that her clothes came from "big girls" like our friends C or Z.
I like buying nice toys used, especially the large plastic contraptions babies seem to require (swing, bouncer, etc.). I am super picky about brands and condition, but can almost always find exactly what I'm looking for on Craigslist or our internal mailing list at work. Or, even better, from my mama friends with older kids. I scored a huge Plan Toys wooden dollhouse on Craigslist for $70 that retails for $150 or more, new. T's not that into it yet, so it's just as well.
About 75% of T's clothes and toys are pre-owned. Our friends are pretty much on the same wavelengths about "good" toys and appropriate clothes, so nearly everything I get from them works for us. So easy!
Eco-bonus: Reuse, baby! Not buying new large plastic things that will only be useful for a few months. Not having to throw away perfectly good clothes or toys with lots of life still in them.
|Shirt courtesy of Z, and pants from C|
Of course there's more I could do, if I had the time or inclination. I'm getting used to bringing my own reusable bags to the grocery, and I even remembered to do it at Target a few times. But for now, I'm happy to do just a little bit while still keeping life manageable.
So, tell me. What easy eco-friendly thing does your household do? I'm up for suggestions!