5 ways to be environmentally friendly with children

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How to be more Environmentally Friendly with Children by Jessica Potts

I took my daughter to the zoo this weekend and saw a quote that stopped me in my tracks. It read, “by the year 2045, the last rainforest tree will be cut if we continue at this pace.”

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I couldn’t help but think – “my daughter will only be 28.”

With that awful feeling in my heart, I started giving some thought to all the baby products that are disposable or single-use plastic. In an effort to create a better world for myself and my daughter, I have come up with some ways that we can be environmentally friendly with little ones in tow.

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1. Cloth Wipes

This is an obvious one for all Lil Helper lovers! Cloth Diapers are already saving the world one cute fluff butt at a time but one can easily expand into Lil Helper cloth wipes while using disposables too.

Cloth wipes lead to less waste and are better for the environment because they can be washed and reused. They are efficient and more gentle on skin as they help avoid irritating soaps and chemicals on your baby’s bottom that are found in most disposable wipes. When your children are potty trained, they can also easily become rags for cleaning.

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2. Baby Led Weaning

Traditional Weaning, or ‘TW’, is the process of adding solids to an infant’s diet.TW is a common developmental stage that calls for solids to be added slowly, beginning with purees, then mash, then mash/purees with lumps and continuing until Baby is ready for solid foods. This process is often supported by the use of store-bought baby foods in single-use containers made of glass or plastic.

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This form of weaning produces a lot of waste, as those little containers are anything but environmentally friendly!

image of green, orange, yellow, and purple baby purees in glass jars with spoons on top of them for Lil Helper blog post "5 ways to be environmentally friendly with children" by Jessica Potts

Still, if you do choose to use pre-made baby foods, the containers can be upcycled in many ways like using them to store art supplies. They make excellent glitter containers!

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A more environmentally friendly way to wean your baby is called Baby Led Weaning, or “BLW”. This method teaches children to feed themselves from the very beginning by encouraging them to join family meals and explore the foods. In other words, baby eats what you eat. Babies eat small portions of your food to experiment with texture and taste. This way of feeding allows children to learn with their food while working on their fine-motor skills! No special foods mean no wasteful containers 🙂

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Precautions must be taken with this process, as with any other form of weaning as babies can gag and choke while they learn to eat. BLW can be very messy during meal times but you can use one of your trusty Lil Helper cloth wipes or one of the new Lil Helper Biggie Bibs for the mess. If you’d like to learn more about BLW, check out this link. Feeding your baby CAN be environmentally friendly!

3. Wood Toys

That’s right, toys can be environmentally friendly too!

Wood toys have longer lives. They may be a bit more pricey to start with (kind of like cloth diapers) but they are 100% worth it. Wooden toys do not come with sounds, lights, or specific instructions so children must find a way to interact with them while using their imagination!These toys can be passed on to other generations. They make excellent gifts and they are more environmentally friendly than its plastic counterpart. 

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In 2014, Americans generated about 33 million tons of plastic. The year before, only 9.5 percent of plastics were recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Why is this a problem? Most plastic toys are going straight to landfills. Very few of these toys can be recycled and many of them are not built to withstand use by more than one child. Which leads to buying more plastic toys and more in the landfills!

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My husband has a wooden truck that he was given when he was a child.  It is still in perfect condition still and he plans to clean it up and give to our daughter when she is old enough!

My hope is that she treasures it. Kids are not exactly the “treasuring” kind so I fully expect the truck to be thrown around. The good news is wood toys hold up really well to strong babies!

4. Buy gender neutral

What does that mean? Gender neutral is items that can be used for boys and girls. I know it’s easy to get excited about all the pink things or the sports motifs but you can still indulge!

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Back in the 1700s, men and women wore pink. It wasn’t until after WW2 that pink became a “girly” color. Let’s all agree that boys can wear pink, too! Don’t believe me? Watch Mohammed tell you it’s okay here.

Buying gender neutral does not have to be extreme. You can start small, by buying items that don’t get used as frequently, such as rain boots, baby shoes, coats, jackets. By buying gender neutral, you can pass them on to other kids (your own or a friend’s! 🙂 )

It is much more environmentally friendly to buy items you can pass on to other children since it reduces a lot of clothing waste. Newborn clothing is especially damaging as it’s normally used only a few times before Baby outgrows it. When buying for a new mom, it is always a good idea to skip newborn clothes altogether and head straight for 0-3mos sizes.

image of white baby clothes laid flat that includes a sleeper, onesies, hat, and a bear for Lil Helper blog post "5 ways to be environmentally friendly with children" by Jessica Potts

New babes don’t need much and grow crazy fast! This is one of the reasons Lil Helper does not make “newborn” diapers. It would be contributing to the never-ending waste of newborn items. Plus, there are plenty of fit tips and ‘hacks’ on Lil Helper’s youtube channel showing how to fit your Lil Helper diapers on your newborn from as small as 7lbs!

5. Buy Second Hand

I will admit, I struggle with this.

I always think to myself “but what if they didn’t take care of it or wash it the way I would?”

image of a second hand shop with various items hanging and on the walls for Lil Helper blog post "5 ways to be environmentally friendly with children" by Jessica Potts

It is very easy to make excuses. However, many gently used clothes have so much life left in them that you could use them for many, many kids.

Buying second-hand clothing is a great way to reduce waste. There are literally TONS of cute, barely-used clothes that just get thrown away!

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Plus, let’s be honest, children fly through clothes, so your sweet babe will probably wear it for only a few weeks before it’s time for something new. 

Thanks to the internet, you can now shop second hand from your phone or computer! Facebook has countless buy/sell/trade groups for all kinds of items, including Lil Helpers!

Apps such as Mercari, Poshmark, and thredUP are just a few that have brought second-hand shopping to the mainstream. They are making it easy and convenient to be environmentally friendly in 2018!

We have a whole blog post about how buying secondhand can help save the planet and how the concept of “fast fashion” is dangerous. Read it here!

image of poshmark clothing app showing different items that are for sale including shoes and a jacket for Lil Helper blog post "5 ways to be environmentally friendly with children" by Jessica Potts

These are just a few of the many ways you can make the move toward being more environmentally friendly with your little ones!

For another quick way you can make a small but meaningful change check out the Plastic Pollution Coalition here.

Do you have any environmentally friendly tips you use with your kiddos? How do you teach your babes to be more aware of the environment and treat it with love?

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