How big is your parenting footprint? by Colleen Reagan Noon

These precious little beings that we so lovingly bring into the world do not come alone. They come with a lot of stuff. Diapers, bottles, sippy cups, clothes, single serve foods and toys, so many toys. We have increased loads of laundry, dirty dishes that need to be cleaned and a whole lot of electricity used. The holidays bring a rush of items into your house from well meaning friends and relatives that you don’t need and guiltily throw away or hang onto increasing the clutter of your house. This is all part of the parenting footprint. Have you thought about how big yours is?

I will tell you right now that mine isn’t good. I used mostly cloth diapers and my children were out of diapers at 15 and 18 months. Did I still impact the environment? Yes. Did we go through the phase of using those baby food and applesauce pouches in a desperate attempt to wean my almost three year old? Yes. Do my kids grandparents buy them junky toys that I know will break in a few weeks and need to be thrown away because I feel bad saying something? Yes. Do I order items from Amazon that come with plastic wrap and weirdly large boxes for my item because I am too exhausted to go to the store with two kids in tow to buy said item? Yes to all of that. 

I’m trying. I really am, but I’m not perfect. Would I love to be this zero waste, minimalist parent whose children never beg for toys when we are at the store? Absolutely. Is it realistic? Probably not. The journey of making eco-conscious choices in your parenting is about progress, not perfection. We lead busy lives and we need modern conveniences at times. Some days you will knock it out of the park and feel like the environmental savvy goddess that you are. Other days you are going to fill your trash can at an astoundingly fast rate and be too tired to care. The key is to keep trying. Here are some small ideas where you can start now, in baby steps, to stay a bit more conscious about your parenting footprint. Try to adopt one of these habits every few months. Once you have mastered one and feel comfortable with it, start another. 

When your shampoo runs out switch to a shampoo bar instead of replacing the bottle. 

Switch from single serving snacks to larger sizes and use reusable containers.

Buy items from bulk bins such as nuts, beans and rice

Use reusable mesh bags to bag your produce at the grocery store

Start composting your food scraps. If you live in an urban area check if there are any services that pick up compost at your house or if there are any community gardens that you can drop it off at.

These small ways of reducing your footprint can add up in a big way. We have to focus on smart choices today with our children to ensure a healthier tomorrow. These small changes aren’t only about the environment. Many have positive effects on a child’s development as well. Healthy child development and eco-conscious parenting go hand in hand. It can be hard to make the connection that choosing better toys can lead to less plastic in landfills and a child with a better attention span, but it’s true! It’s not only in toys either. Every area of waste reduction comes with the added benefit of living in a way that is better suited for your child’s brain. How cool, right? It’s no mistake that the earth and the human body vibrate at the same frequency. Are you ready to trim down and tune in?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not” - Dr. Suess. 

What I do:

How will your parenting habits of today affect your child’s world tomorrow? That is a question that all of us parents should be asking ourselves. We can’t control the chaos and fast pace of the world around us, but it’s time we stopped bringing that home with us. When we are home and with our children we need to trim down and tune in. My workshops will bring you to a place of lower waste and higher connection. Now is the time to motivate your community to take the first steps in lowering their parenting footprint. 

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