I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years – that’s over half of my life. I stopped eating meat because I was appalled by the way animals were treated and decided that I wanted a smaller ecological footprint. Yes, way back then before ecological footprint was a well known term. It was around the time when the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was being celebrated. I remember reading everything I could about environmentalism, cutting out articles and pictures and making a collage on the front of my closet door – isn’t that what all tween girls did? I will admit that my Earth Day collage, was right next to my Kirk Cameron posters. I also joined every environmental group there was, became active in the community regarding instituting a recycling programme and became vigilant about all things earthy in my own way. I think I drove my own parents absolutely crazy. The faces I pulled at the dinner table and the pontification I undertook while they ate meat and I ate salad must have been trying to say the least.
The reason I bring this up, is that I am now raising a little one of my own. I am acutely aware that she copies everything I do and I am overwhelmed by how much more *stuff* we now have as a result of having her in our lives. I want to be a good role model to her and I don’t want to compromise on quality of life. I find myself constantly (re)evaluating what we do and what we buy to make sure it is as environmentally friendly as possible. Obviously, there is a learning curve here.
To start with, we buy for the most part Bio/Organic food and I cook for her that way too. I highly recommend Alnatura products, which we buy in Germany. They seem to be high quality and with no ingredients in them that I cannot pronounce. So far, I am keeping meat out of my daughter’s diet. Her papa thinks we should let her decide whether she wants to eat meat or not. Which is fine. BUT, I don’t want to buy meat and purée it for her. On any number of levels that just goes against my grain and sensibilities. So for now, she is a lacto-ovo.
The second way we try to be greener is regarding the stuff we buy to keep her clean and diapered. The whole disposable diaper thing was a question I never seriously posed to myself. When I started to think about all the water and cleaning detergents that go toward cleaning cloth diapers, it didn’t make sense. The fact that disposable diapers sit in landfills for ages upon end, is a distressing thought. I have found Seventh Generation wipes (we get them in the US) to be really great. No petroleum products or bleach used in them. But then again, shipping them to Europe does nothing to reduce our carbon footprint, does it? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Another way we try to be greenish is by buying as few plastic toys and accessories as we can get away with. Before our baby was born, we told ourselves, no plastic toys were going to be coming into our apartment clogging up the living room. So we bought Haba and other products we felt were quality. Never mind that the second she got her hands on something impossibly neon and plastic (thanks Grandma for sending that) it was like an epiphany for her. Still, we’re trying to get handmade, wooden, wooly and NOT neon toys whenever possible.
With the baby came mounds and mountains and a few peaks of laundry. All day, everyday I could do laundry. Any mama will tell you it is inevitable that the day you try to spiffy yourself up and wear something new, perhaps in a light colour, your baby will have expulsive puke. Not to mention the various other “p’s” that make their way onto clothes. So the laundry machine better be in stellar working order. I try to be greenish as I tackle this task too. I use Ecover products (also from Germany). They work well and smell nice without being overwhelming.
I mention the name of the products here because I would recommend them to anyone who asked, and why not name names in a good way?
I am constantly looking for ways to be as green as a role model as I can for my baby and to begin to raise her awareness and make a greener lifestyle a natural thing for her. This adventure is just beginning.