Ok, quiz time…. Are you "greener" now that you're a mom?
Mostly – I'm pretty sure I am.
Some of my closest Green Mom friends came about during the births of my sons. From how to eat pure and healthy when you're pregnant, to learning about the effects of drugs during labor, to breast feeding, cloth diapers, and whether to immunize… we were never at a loss for things to worry and talk about.
We all want our little ones to be healthy and safe. So we learn what we can about how to avoid toxins in our environment. We make sure they get 20 minutes of sunshine a day for their Vitamin D levels…. even though we fret the whole time about a sunburn. We only use chemical-free soaps and shampoos. We sign Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution petition.
As moms, we try to do what's right for our families, good for the planet, and still be "normal" enough to fit in at the kindergarten holiday parties or out on the baseball field. We take it seriously, but we keep it light and fun as much as we can. And generally it works. As long as our recycle bin is fuller than our garbage can, we consider it a pretty good week!
Birthday Parties… Not So Green?
But when it comes to birthdays and holidays, it's easy for parents to stray from green to brown.
Think of the last child's party you attended. Chances are – the cardboard, paper, plastic, and heavy duty tie wraps filled a garbage bag alone. And that's just wrapping paper and packaging! Most people don't realize that most wrapping paper is not recyclable.
Consider for a moment… the long term impact of batteries and all that indestructible molded plastic. You know, the stuff that will never, ever break down. The fact that most of the toys were made in China or are loaded with plastic toxins. Add in how we're teaching our children to consume at a rate beyond that of any generation in history, and your family's environmental impact is astounding.
So, what's a parent to do?
- Adjust your Mindset from Disposable to Reusable – This is super easy if you're having your child's birthday party at home. We haven't used paper plates in a few years. Stock up on extra plates and silverware at the flea market or Goodwill. One extra load through the dishwasher is way easier than trying to wipe those paper plates clean enough to recycle.
- Ditch the Goody Bags – From one parent to another, does anyone really need another sheet of tattoos and a tiny plastic jug of bubbles? Experience parties (pottery making, touring the local fire station, etc) leave a memory that doesn't get lost in the bottom of the toy box.
- Spare a Tree, Save a Dime – Aren't we all tired of spending $4 on something that gets torn and tossed? Wrapping paper is just plain wasteful. If you have paper gift bags left over from other gifts, by all means use them. But if you're looking for a unique, reusable alternative, try fabric gift bags.
- Start with the obvious toy culprits – batteries and plastic – Save your fellow parents the headache of another musical, light up toy. Studies show babies and children don't learn to use their imagination if a toy does all the work and entertaining for them.
Let us know how you're making your next party a green one. Share in the comments and let's talk about how easy, inexpensive, and fun green gift giving can be!