Is green living even possible with a baby in the house?

It’s a good question. Right?

One I asked myself before we had our baby and one I am still thinking about. Hardcore environmentalists actually argue that having a baby is so bad for the environment that none of us should have any. Articles promoting not having kids have circulated the green community for a while, been enthusiastically shared and, of course, I see their point; an average American’s carbon footprint exceeds 20 tonnes each year so don’t add another one. That number is calculated with today’s consumption behavior and technology – it can most certainly decrease as these improve.

So, a baby is bad for the environment. But what if he’s the new Elon Musk or Bernie Sanders? What if he invents the best carbon trapping technology ever, one that solves our climate issues forever? Yes, this is how we (and other green parents) are justifying our actions.

On that note meet baby August, our little love bug, who turns two months today.

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One month old August!

Now, despite the carbon footprint of a new (western) life – Is it possible to make mindful, eco-friendly, low carbon choices to soften the blow? All amidst intense emotions, new routines and a strange little person to keep alive?

For us, yes and no. We’re trying our best. Let me start by confessing some of our less successful undertakings.

Failure # 1: Trash, trash, trash

I will admit that there was not much cooking going on during the first month of baby’s life. Yes, we ate pre-made food, ordered take out (some of it packaged in Styrofoam!) and lived off of Cliff energy bars. We even had Starbucks (twice!) in their disposable cups. Honestly, I think we created more waste in that first month than we had in the previous six! I felt bad about it, but at the same time I knew it wasn’t a big deal to live like most Americans do all year, since it would be for a very short time. Either way, a green living fail.

Failure # 2: Baby gifts

Baby August has been spoiled with gifts from neighbors and colleagues, people we know but aren’t aware of our lifestyle, thus these gifts have included quite a few sweatshop-made, Asian imports. We took a few things back but kept many of them as they were usable (and we didn’t have gift receipts). Our close friends and family have been super thoughtful and only given us baby gear made in USA, second hand items, handmade crafts or brought us food. I’d say we’ve managed to stay as minimalist as one can hope, having a new baby and being surrounded by kind, generous people who want to congratulate us (and how lucky are we that people feel that way!). All in all, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure, despite some “Made in China” tags sneaking into our home.

Now on to the greener side if things.

Success story # 1: Baby’s food

Going back to the topic of food; we have continued to shop local, vegan, bulk and organic to the same extent we were before, and we have kept up with the compost. August is eating (or should I say “drinking”?) the most eco-friendly, zero waste and natural food possible: mama’s milk! I am thankful that after some practice, baby and I got the hang of breastfeeding. Green living win (and all around nutritiously awesome!)

Success story # 2: Cloth diapers

Though trash was initially piling up in the kitchen, we were (and are) mastering almost zero waste in the bathroom! I was determined to cloth diaper the baby from the very beginning and I am happy to say we started doing so after only one week. We were sent home from the hospital with a packet of Huggies newborn diapers, but about five days in, both my husband and I were ready to switch to cloth – Huggies don’t hold shit (literally) and that gets tired very fast. I definitely have to do a blog post on cloth diapers, the environment and our routine when I have more experience with it! I will tell you now that it is not hard to do if you own a washer and dryer. Cloth diapers and wipes: another green living win.

Now that we’ve settled in and things are becoming less chaotic, we’re back to old habits of me cooking (from scratch) and the gifts have stopped coming (phew!).

My conclusion is that living green with a brand new baby can certainly be done with a little help and superman/woman type motivation. We needed about five weeks before we could get back to being “green” and each week it gets easier to maintain healthy, eco-friendly, low carbon habits. That said, no matter how much we try, August cannot produce zero carbon, just like we, you and I, are contributing to climate change every day.

I am sure there’ll be more eco-compromises as we go along, finding ourselves in new and unexpected “we have a kid” situations! But, I am ok with that, as long as I feel we are doing our very best – for us, the baby and the environment.

9 thoughts on “Is green living even possible with a baby in the house?

  1. Congratulations on your decision to cloth diaper! I did that with our two, but 23 years ago now. Found lovely Egyptian cotton diapers in different configurations, and breathable cotton diaper covers, all made here in the USA. The initial investment was great, (back then I think about $500), but I figured we recouped that and more. We even still have some nice, very soft dust rags even today. They worked well at home, but I did find it much easier with the disposables when we went out and also overnight as they got older (leaks!). Go Anna!

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    1. Thank you Valerie! It’s so easy now, they come as “all in ones” and you just use and wash them :) Most of them are organic cotton and bamboo blends so eco friendly in that way too! (I can’t think of anything worse than having petroleum underwear so neither should baby!)

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  2. Hey!

    One of my friends shared this on Facebook and I thought it might be of interest to you too! Thank you for teaching me that synthetic fabrics shed plastic when they’re washed!

    Also, congrats on the babe and thanks for your honesty. My husband and I are considering that step so I’m looking​ forward​ to reading about your diaper experience!

    Best,

    Erin

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    1. That is super cool!! I have to look at that further :)

      Yes, honestly the modern cloth diapers are so handy, no folding, no pins, just wear and wash. I’ll have to get that post written! (Just have to teach baby to sit in his chair for more than say 3 minutes so I can write!) Thanks for a comment that cheered me up on a rainy day yesterday.

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  3. I love this update! My husband and I aren’t expecting any children yet, but I’m already wondering how to tackle the gifts when we are expecting. I definitely don’t want too many items that aren’t eco-friendly or our style, but I know that I won’t be able to control it all. :) (Already thinking about what to say on potential shower invitations though!)

    And I look forward to your posts on cloth diapering. My husband and I differ tremendously on the concept, so I need all the ammo I can get on why it’s not the grossest thing ever! :)

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    1. ooooh, that’s exciting :) I didn’t have a shower at all, but I am the boring kind that like small groups of 2 people lol. Can’t wait to see that invite :) I did tell all friends that we wanted NOTHING and no dropping off stuff on the porch unannounced!

      Honestly, if the baby is breastfed, the poop is not gross, it’s water-soluble but does stain so we rinse quickly in the shower (no parts just watery poo haha TMI!)then goes in a wet bag we empty into washer. When baby starts on solids it may become gross I don’t know yet… but that’s still 6 months down the line from birth so lots of landfill to be saved if you stick with cloth for the breastfeeding phase! Plus, no blowouts coz they hold so much more. Poopy clothes is grosser than a diaper you take off under controlled circumstances :)

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