Nappies, toys, food, clothes … just because children are small doesn’t mean their environmental impact is.
Being a parent is a double opportunity to be green. You can reduce your child’s environmental impact – and teach your children eco-aware habits that will stay with them for life.
l Australians use more than 800 million disposable nappies a year. They can take 500 years to break down in landfill.
l About 80 per cent of new toys are made from non-biodegradable plastic.
parenting: key steps
1. Use cloth nappies. Modern fitted cloth nappies are better for the environment, cheaper and as convenient as disposables. Buy organic cotton brands if possible. Soak soiled nappies in water with bicarb of soda or vinegar before washing. Or use “eco-disposables”, which are about 70 per cent biodegradeable (ordinary nappies are about 40 per cent biodegradeable).
2. Breastfeed. Not only does it avoid the bottles, sterilisation equipment and packaging of powdered milk, but it’s better for your baby. Breastfeeding can take a few weeks to master so if you are finding it difficult or painful seek support before giving up (www.breastfeeding.asn.au).
3. Don’t buy new. Most kids’ clothes, toys, prams, etc are outgrown rather than worn out so you can often pick these things up at garage or car-boot sales and charity shops. Organise toy-swap sessions with friends where kids can exchange toys when they are bored with them. Hand down your own children’s hand-me-downs, or give them away to charity or on Freecycle.
4. Nurture a nature lover. Help your kids grow some plants. Get some chickens and a worm farm. Explore Australia’s wildlife together.
want to do more?
q Use rechargeable batteries for toys (or avoid battery-powered toys).
q Buy fewer plastic toys – and avoid PVC.
q Exchange toys at a toy library.
q Puree organic vegetables and stewed fruit instead of buying commercial baby food.
q Use flannels or cut old clothing into strips as washable nappy wipes.
q Keep a box of old cards, buttons, wrapping paper, etc for crafts.
counter pester power
Make “reduce, reuse, recycle” a family adventure, such as going on treasure hunts for toys at garage sales and op shops or teaching kids how to fix bikes or how to revive old clothes with natural dyes or funky patches.