Sustainable baby: Tips for consuming less.

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It’s no secret that we consume far too much. We buy too many things. We don’t recycle as much as we should. We should all be more eco-conscious, there is no doubt about it, but I fully appreciate that changing old habits is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. So many of the blogs and publications I read on sustainable living suggest eco-living products that are exorbitantly expensive, as if living with a planet-conscious sustainable mindset requires you to be rolling in the big bucks. Unbelievable price tags on organic cots and organic baby products… they are pretty, sure, but are they necessary?

Do you have to be well off to be eco-conscious? Surely not.

On top of the hefty price tags attached to “organic” and “eco” labelled baby furniture, toys and clothing the sheer volume of information can be very overwhelming. I have often felt totally inundated with options and information and research and daily I feel like I’m completely unable to live up to my environmental ideals. When feeling completely overwhelmed I try to remind myself that even making little changes, make a difference. Every little thing I do does make a difference. Being aware of what we buy and the footprint we make on our world doesn’t have to be elitist and you don’t have to do it all to make a positive impact.

You certainly don’t need to be rich to make good choices for your family and the planet.

Making changes in our day to day life is essential to changing the way that we look at the world and the affect we have on our planet (and our hip pocket too).

There are lots of things that we can do to encourage sustainable living, be friendly to our planet and raise our kids in a world where what you have does not define who you are… whilst saving money along the way too. Consuming less saves money and is much better for the planet, and every little change you make in your day to day life, makes a difference in the long run. You don’t have to live in a mud hut, or give up TV, or eat only organic to care about our world and the impact we make on it.

Here are a few little tips for consuming less while you have a baby on your hip:

1. Go cloth in the nappy department. You don’t have to use them all the time or at night or traveling or whatever if you don’t want to. Using cloth even 30% of the time makes a difference, and they are really easy to use. Trust me.

2. Don’t drain the bathwater. Use the bath water to fill a top loader washing machine, or to soak dirty clothes, or to water your garden. It’s a pain in the butt sometimes, sure, but it actually does make a difference.

3. Use your local library. Every area has one. We live in a pretty small town and there is a great library with an excellent selection of books for both Bo and I, it has a kids area with puzzles and games to hire out too. Libraries still exist and they are an excellent resource for any parent (or, human). Check with your local council and find out where your nearest toy library is, I know where mine is, we haven’t visited it yet but I think when Bo gets bigger it’s going to be a wonderful resource for us.

4. Compost your food scraps. Whether you eat a lot of processed food or not, it’s likely that you produce a fair amount of food scraps every day. During the toddler years, I’ve discovered, these food scraps multiply by a hundred. If you don’t have chickens or dogs to feed the scraps to then all of the goodness in your scraps is just going into your bin and into landfill somewhere, which is a terrible waste. Mine does at the moment too. We are all bound by circumstance, and gung-ho outdoor composting doesn’t suit everyone’s lifestyle or living arrangements. Bokashi bins are an excellent solution for the less keen (or able) compost-er, an in-kitchen compost system without smell or mess that avoids trekking outside in winter or digging in the garden when it’s cold and miserable outside.

5. Buy second hand. We buy second hand everything from cloth nappies to clothes to kitchen appliances and furnishings, if I can source it second hand, I will. Not only is second hand extremely cost effective it is really kind to the environment… I avoid the big chain op-shops these days because I find they are getting more and more expensive, smaller church run jumble sales are fabulous, as are tip-shops and local buy and sell pages. Does your kid care if she has a brand new bike? Of course not!

There are thousands more little things you can do to encourage sustainable change in your house. This is a very brief list of a few of my personal favourites, even if you only implement one or two of them in your house you could be making a big difference.

What is your favourite tip for consuming less and saving your money? What don’t you want to live without?

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  • June 20, 2013 - 6:24 pm

    Julie - At least 80% of Jarvis’s clothes are second hand or hand made. Every single baby and now toddler item (bar for the stroller that was gifted and a car seat) was second hand and upcycled by me. Kids do not need as much as you think.
    My biggest money saver has been my garden. If you can’t have a vegie patch like me, you can still have a potted garden. It is amazing how much fresh produce you can grow in pots. Next on my wish list is a couple of chickens ( I have asked for two for my birthday). Fresh eggs, fresh herbs and vegies. Great for kids to be out digging in the dirt, plus a cheap organic food source..
    I also made a promise to myself to buy no new clothes for an entire year. I can sew myself clothes from my fabric stash, and swap with other people, but not to purchase a thing for a year. (I excluded undies and bras) So far we are almost half way through the year and nothing has been bought.ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2013 - 6:32 pm

    Zanni Louise - Hi Sash,
    I have been doing #frugaljune this month, and it has been great for me. I realised how much excess I consume…buying random stuff I don’t need for either myself or my daughter. Even though it’s often second hand stuff, it all adds up. I love just using what I already have instead of buying something new. xReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    Rachel - Point 2 is actually pretty useful! I must admit I hadn’t thought about saving my water like that. I agree with you that you don’t have to be rich or live off the grid in order to be kind to the earth. But I hate how ‘being green’ is marketed as being trendy. I know that’s not going to sound right. But to be honest, when it comes down to paying rent or buying grassfed beef this week, well…we kinda have to pay rent. I wish there were a bit more….um…incentive…education maybe? for lower income families (like mine and worse so) to be able to make the choices to buy organic, fair trade, ‘green’ etc. I used to be the pay bracket where it was easier to make these choices. Now, we buy almost everything second hand (it helps that my hubby has a part time job managing a second hand store), cloth nappies, compost, we aren’t allowed to dig a garden in our rental unfortunately so we have a some pots of herbs and greens. Its hard!ReplyCancel

  • June 21, 2013 - 12:29 am

    endelaney - 1. I love your new site. It looks great! 2. Love this post. I used to think you had to make a lot of money to live like you don’t have money. However, I’ve learned to just do without. Things bring clutter and clutter brings chaos. When there is chaos I am just not happy. Giving up things, I used to think I needed…car, microwave, smart phone, lots of shoes and clothes, has made me so much happier. A life with less feels so much better. It kind of gets addicting actually. There is so much more I can and want to reduce in our lives. Even with our lifestyle changes, we are still over consuming and have more than we truly need. Although I will admit, I want a dishwasher more than anything:)
    Ps. I will start doing number 2. I never thought of that, great idea!ReplyCancel

  • June 22, 2013 - 10:08 am

    veggie mama - i just pinned this – thank you!ReplyCancel

    • June 22, 2013 - 4:23 pm

      Sash - No, thank YOU! xReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2013 - 2:08 am

    Anya - Being vegan! It is much gentler for our environment – and kinder to the animals, too. 🙂

  • September 23, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    Inked in Colour: Sustainable home: Ten simple tips. - […] We’ve discussed the push for new parents to buy buy buy… but it’s not just in the world of nappies and cribs and baby clothes that we are pushed to consume. It’s not just our baby-bonus spending that is making our lives less sustainable. We use way too much in our homes each day, we all consume too much and we all waste too much. Even the most conscious of consumers could probably stand to save a little more and waste a little less. Having been born and raised in this world it is very hard for us to even be aware of what we are doing. I try really hard to be very conscious of where I spend money and how much we waste and still I get sucked into the consumer machine and I think that we “need” things for our home. Things that will make us look more successful or feel more comfortable or be able to live a more productive, faster, more fashionable life. But at what price? On the other side of this discussion is more overwhelming thoughts. Not only do I get overcome by the need to change my every day habits but I also get easily swamped by the information about the cost that my poor habits and decisions have on our planet and on other families all around the world.The cost that my decisions make and the footprint I am leaving on this world. I get overwhelmed and some days I think, gosh, it doesn’t seem to matter what I do… I’m never going to be able to do it “all.” […]ReplyCancel

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