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Parents going 'green' are saving money

September 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you saw "Jon and Kate Plus 8" on Oprah, you saw how much time and energy it takes to raise eight young kids. A new addition may be small at first, but a baby can have a big impact on our planet. Environmentalists say if you're worried about the world you're bringing your child into then it's time to start thinking about a greener parenting path. Gerrit and Maura Bulman are trying to raise their son Quin in an eco-friendly world.

"I think when you are bringing a new person into the world, you want to do it in a way that's going to have the least impact on the environment as possible," said Gerrit Bulman.

One green step they've taken is cloth diapers. About 27 million disposable diapers are used every year. More than 90 percent end up in landfills -- where they take up to 500 years to decompose.

"The only additional time it really takes is to wash the diapers," said Maura Bulman.

Kathy Williams, owner of Baby's Abode, teaches a cloth diaper class and says cloth is better for the earth and your baby.

"Disposable diapers contain all sorts of chemicals, dioxins, carcinogens that everybody seems to accept," said Williams.

When her boys were young, she also made her own wipes.

"A little bit of baby oil, some tea tree oil, essential oil, some lavender fragrance and a little bit of baby soap," said Williams.

Spray it on fabric wipes you've made yourself. Williams says breastfeeding is also green.

"It just seems nonsensical when you look at it, to purchase something that your body makes for free," said Williams.

Other green steps -- buy organic clothing, wash clothes with baking soda and vinegar, and use olive oil as a chemical-free lotion for baby.

The Bulmans also make their own organic baby food. Simply blend fruits and veggies and fill your freezer with a week's worth of food.

"Environmentally, it felt better. You're not, you know recycling all the glass jars -- you just don't have to use them at all," said Gerrit Bulman.

For the Bulman's, it's healthier living -- but also guilt-free living.

While you'll still have to use energy such as water to clean cloth diapers, consider this: in the complete diaper period from baby to toddler, disposable diapers will cost you about $3,000. Simple, pre-folded cloth diapers, will only cost about $300.

Web Extra Information:

BACKGROUND:

Parents often think about the world they're brining a new child into -- and what they can do to make sure baby grows up in an environmentally "safe" world. And these days, many parents are trying to go green when it comes to raising baby to decrease their family's carbon footprint on the world.

Here are some tried and true environmentally sound steps to get you started on the path to green parenthood.

    Cloth Diapers:
  • Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose and every day, 50 million of these go into landfills in the United States. Disposables are convenient, it's true, but cloth diapers have come a long way. Some cloth diapers are just like the kind you remember -- layered flat diapers that you fold up onto the baby and secure with a safety pin. But there are many more options out there. There are pre-fold diapers, pocket diapers, fitted diapers, contour diapers and even all-in-one (AIO) diapers. The only extra time it takes is to wash the diapers. Another benefit -- cloth diapers cause fewer (if any) diaper rashes than disposables, and some moms swear babies are easier to potty-train with cloth diapers than disposables.


  • Make your Own Baby Wipes: In the United States, 5,000 baby wipes are used per baby. Try making your own to cut back on waste. Cut pieces from cotton or flannel clothing or other material and sew the edges to prevent fraying. For the wipe solution, come up with your own variation, or try this one from babysabode.com: 2 cups distilled water 2-3 drops of tea tree oil (antiseptic and cleansing qualities) 1 T. your favorite baby oil 2-3 drops of lavender oil (for its soothing qualities) 2 tsp. Dr. Bronner's Organic Hemp Soap


  • Breastfeed! It's common sense, really. Breastfeeding is better for the health of the baby, the health of the mother and the health of the environment.


  • Buy Organic Cotton Products: Here are a few reasons you may want to think twice before buying traditionally grown cotton. The chemicals used on cotton are among the most toxic substances used in farming; the runoff from irrigation seeps into our drinking water. Commercial cotton farming uses about 3 percent of the farmland but consumes 25 percent of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In the United States, about 600,000 tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are applied to cotton fields each season. Organic cotton is just a healthier choice. Organic crib mattresses and organic sheets are also green steps to consider.


  • Clean Smarter! Wash baby's clothes in cold water, hang them to dry and try a simple homemade detergent of baking soda and vinegar. Or, if that's too "homemade," find an environmentally safe laundry detergent.

  • Make your own baby food: Making your own food not only eliminates tons (literally) of glass baby food jars, but it's also a lot cheaper. (We know you can recycle glass, but recycling uses energy too!) Simply buy regular food that your family would eat and serve it to baby. The food may need to be blended to a soft consistency. Blend up a week's worth of "meals" and store them in baby-size reusable containers in the freezer. Feeding baby organic food is also cheaper if done this way, by using frozen organic fruits and veggies, which are cheaper than their fresh counterparts.


  • Other Tips: Use plain old (chemical-free) olive oil as baby oil/lotion for your little one; buy baby items second-hand or swap with other parents; go online and find ways to make your own baby goods (i.e. diapers, breast pads, toys and baby clothes); and choose old-fashioned wooden, organic cotton or homemade toys.

 

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