Eco-conscious moms and dads care about the overall health of the planet. Our ability to live more “green” has a direct impact on the health of our children and the quality of life for them and future generations. There are many ways to incorporate “green” choices into our everyday lives and even the smallest of changes can make all the difference towards better health for our loved ones and the environment at large. Here are six tips to get you thinking about the kinds of changes families can make together to live a more sustainable, health-conscious lifestyle.
- Recycle and re-use: Many items in our homes have a second life in them; we just have to look hard to see it. Rather than disposing of things, see if they have use another way. Turn a baby onesie that no longer fits into a t- shirt by cutting off the bottom. Create a new pair of shorts for the summer from pants that your son or daughter has now outgrown. Worn t-shirts make great cleaning rags. Jars and prettier packaging boxes can be re-purposed for storage. And don’t forget to recycle appropriate items when sorting out the trash.
- Biodegradable materials: Choose products that won’t spend a lifetime in a landfill once you’re done with them. Research companies that are actively engaged and committed to using these materials; show your support by purchasing their products. While it can be hard to figure out which choice is “greener”, you can try to think of how quickly the item will turn into dirt. Cotton and paper are extremely biodegradable; plastic, even the “eco” varieties, take much longer to break down.
- Conscious Consumer: Let your dollar be your voice! Look for the “Fair Trade Certified” label on goods such as coffee, chocolate, and bananas. Even toys and clothing can carry this label. Products bearing this label are made by workers who are paid a fair wage and are able to provide a sustainable living for their families because of your purchase.
- Animal testing: Earth-friendly equals animal-friendly. Buy products that are NOT tested on animals. Look for labels that state “cruelty-free” or “no animal testing”.
- BPA, Bisphenol A: Check all the hard plastics in your home and make sure these are BPA free. This chemical, found in certain hard plastics and the lining of metal cans, has been linked to health problems such as impaired brain development, thyroid function, and even cancer, with infants and children being most susceptible. Check for a “BPA free” label when purchasing products.
- Carbon Footprint: Reduce the environmental impact your daily actions have by reducing your carbon footprint. Walk or bike to destinations instead of using the car when you can. Turn off the lights and shut off the appliances when they’re not needed. Open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioning. Instead of gathering around the television set, plan a family picnic. These small changes are not only good for the family budget, they encourage a healthy lifestyle.
It’s okay to start out small at first. One change can lead to two and two changes leads to four. It’s important to set the example for our own children so they adopt healthy habits and a respect for the natural world in which they live. Remember, it’s never too late to make even the smallest of changes, for even these can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life for you and your loved ones.