I was fully intending to do the best eco-friendly parenting ever. But then, reality kicked in…
By Lora O’Brien
I tend to think of myself as a bit of an eco-warrior. I like to use skincare with natural ingredients, I prefer to make my food from scratch, and I use reuse glass jars to store my pantry ingredients. In terms of being eco friendly, I felt like I was really doing my bit for both the planet, my health and the environment.
And then I had a baby. And it ALL went out of the window!
While I was pregnant, I planned something completely different. For sure I was going to raise a vegan child (and indeed, my girl is a vegan). I was only going to buy wooden toys. I would only use organic baby care products. And of course, I would buy cloth nappies, which I would wash and reuse.
But once my daughter was born, reality kicked in. I no longer cared if something was planet-friendly so long as it worked. When my daughter totalled a minimum of poops in one day, I gave up on cloth nappies and stocked up on disposable ones. I cringe to think how many wet wipes I’ve used since having my daughter, who is now two. In sort, eco-friendly parenting seems like a bit of a pipe dream.
The Boring Reality
Fact: motherhood is mundane. As wonderful and rewarding as it is, it’s also a continuous cycle of wiping bums, washing clothes and making snacks. You do what you have to do to survive, and it’s easy to forget that you’re a role model to the tiny human you’re busy raising.
If you’re reading this and realising that sustainability has taken a back seat in your home, just know you’re not alone. Recent research found that two-thirds of parents ditched being eco-friendly when becoming a parent, with 27% going as far as to say it was impossible to be eco-friendly when raising a newborn. But one celebrity mum is helping show everyone just how easy it can actually be, and this unlikely star is using her platform to spread awareness of being green in a really fun way.
If you’re from the UK, then it’s likely you already know who Stacey Solomon is. The ditsy Essex girl first burst onto our screens after auditioning for the X-Factor in 2009, wowing the nation with her enviable set of pipes, before later becoming a regular host on Loose Women.
If you follow Stacey on social media, you’ll know that she’s gathered her 3.5 million followers by using her celebrity status to keep it well and truly real online. From her beauty confessions to her upcycling hacks, Stacey is the down to earth celeb who feels like a friend to all who follow her.
Now Stacey, a mum-of-three who welcomed baby Rex into the fold last May, wants to be conscious that she’s setting a good example for her children by being actively green. She says it’s not always easy, but she has been doing her bit for the planet by swapping out single-use items for reusable or biodegradable products whenever possible.
She has recently been working with Baby Dove to find out how other parents are faring in terms of being eco-friendly. To learn this, Dove commissioned a study of 2,000 parents with children aged three and under. Apparently, during the first 12 months of their child’s life, parents will typically splash out almost £2,000 (around $3,000) on non-sustainable baby products such as unrecyclable baby wipes and nappies. But although two-thirds said they would like to use more environmental-friendly options, a full third went on to say they simply found being more eco friendly ‘too difficult.’ So, why is that?
Reasons We’re Not So Green
According to the study, a whopping 42% of parents cited the cost of eco baby products as a barrier, while 39% said the time it takes to clean reusable items such as cloth nappies was an issue. Personally, I would tend to agree in both cases!
Around 31% stated a lack of availability as being the reason that hindered them using more eco-friendly options. I would imagine that must be the case for many who don’t live in major urban capitals. In addition to this, three quarters of mums and dads said they didn’t feel well informed on how to be ‘green.’ (I guess they’re not Eluxe readers!?)
While many admit to not always choosing greener options, a third of the parent admitted to feeling judged by others when they did use single-use baby items.
The Baby Dove study, carried out through OnePoll, also found parents would be more inclined towards eco-friendly parenting by buying green baby products if they were cheaper (65 per cent) and more widely available (38 per cent). And seven in ten said they would use biodegradable wipes – IF they could more easily buy them.
So in short – whose fault is it that parents aren’t greener? It seems most of us want to be, and feel bad when we’re not. But the main issues – for me and others – are price, availability, and let’s face it, convenience.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if certain ‘green’ products were as readily available and priced the same as ‘regular’ ones, most moms, myself included, would buy them. But the reality is, even for someone like me, who lives in a pretty large city in a developed country, these products are not as easy to find as you may think. Biodegradable wipes and nappies at Tesco? Ha ha ha!! Not in my neighbourhood. And every toy store in the general vicinity may feature a few wooden blocks and trucks, but that’s about it.
Eco friendly clothes are even harder to find around here – and when you do, they’re way more expensive. Many moms find it ridiculous to pay premium prices for organic baby clothing when they know their kids are just going to outgrow them in what seems a matter of days. And are you really going to say NO to friends and relatives who gift the most toxic plastic toys and clothes to your baby?
A Tiny Pat On The Back?
As I said, I’m not doing nearly as well as I could do in terms of eco friendly parenting. I know that. But instead of beating myself up over it, maybe I – and all parents – should focus on the positives?
For example, my girl is a vegan. A nice, strong healthy one at that.
I try to buy organic clothing for her whenever I can, and I do ask for that for her birthday and Christmas (though people don’t always comply). I’m teaching her about the value of nature, and compassion for animals. I’m feeding her organic food whenever possible. I ask relatives and friends to pass me their baby hand-me-downs so my girl can use them (everything from toys to clothes), and I shop in secondhand stores for such items, too.
In short, while we all may intend to be the greenest parent that there ever was, the reality of eco friendly parenting is quite different. Because parenting itself is always quite different (and tougher) from what we ever expected it to be. And you know what? I think that’s ok.
Do you agree that eco friendly parenting is harder than most would think? Do you have any eco friendly parenting tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments, below!