I love the Earth. It’s my home, and I 100 percent agree that we need to take care of it. That being said, once you become a parent, there are certain things you’re going to do that aren’t considered “green.”green

In the first 12 weeks after my first child was born, I did more to harm the environment than I had done in the 12 years leading up to his birth. I know that being “green” in the 21st century is all the rage, but try explaining that to an infant. Trust me, they do not want to hear it.

Before he was born, I had briefly considered using cloth diapers to save money. Then I asked my mother about them. “What do you do with the really, you know, messy diapers?” I inquired. I think she mentioned something about rinsing them out in the toilet before I momentarily blacked out.

After that conversation, I almost dismissed the notion of cloth anything for my baby, and he wasn’t even born yet! Unfortunately, they don’t sell disposable outfits at Babies R Us (nor do the sales associates have a sense of humor about such things).

This leads us to the obscene amount of laundry that comes along with becoming a parent. As babies, there is spit-up, there is poop, there are fountains of pee – and it all ends up right on the nice, clean clothes you just pulled out of the dryer hours, minutes, or even seconds before. I’d like to say that the laundry dissipates as they get older, but it doesn’t. It just grows and grows until you feel like the only thing you have done since you had kids is laundry.

But kids don’t seem to care about things like wasting water or being “green.” In fact, as a baby, my son actually seemed to enjoy it! When he was just a couple of weeks old, we discovered that his incessant crying could only be calmed by the sound of the running shower. As soon as the shower was turned on, he would immediately stop crying. As soon as the shower was turned off, he would start wailing again just as quickly. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, we wasted quite a bit of water that first month.

The wasting of water isn’t limited to excessive laundry and screaming babies. As they get older, a fun game for kids is “flush the toilet for no reason.” When they get older still, I discovered that a great way to keep them occupied for a good while so that I could take a shower, or cook dinner, or do anything was to stand them on a stool in front of the bathroom sink with the water running. That eventually transformed into just filling the sink with water and letting them splash some toys around. In either case – water waster!

Here are just a few more things kids love to do that aren’t considered “green” –

  • Using way too much toilet paper when they use the bathroom
  • Unraveling the toilet paper, just for fun
  • Turning on every light in the house and leaving them on for no reason
  • Declaring that they’re “starving,” then taking two bites of their sandwich, declaring that they are now “full”
  • Using a full-size piece of paper to draw a picture in one corner of it

The schools also don’t seem to care about being “green” as I can attest to with the obscene amount of papers that come home in their folders every week.

Then there are the things that I find myself doing as a parent that aren’t quite “green,” just to make my life a bit easier, like using paper plates and plastic ware. There’s just something about knowing that I don’t have to wash the dishes I’m eating off of that makes the food taste SO much better!

But there are plenty of things I do that are actually good for the environment. Of course, these things are usually due to one of two things: laziness or saving money.

Let’s start with laziness:

  • Only showering a limited number of times per week – it’s always a battle between actually getting to lie down or showering. Guess which one wins more times than not.

  • Wearing clothes that should have been washed one or two uses ago – just trying to ward off another full laundry hamper.

But it’s mostly because I’m cheap:

  • I reuse Ziploc bags – call me crazy, but those things are expensive, so if one only had some bread in it, I’m reusing it!
  • I make my own all-purpose cleaner – it’s cheap, it’s easy to make, and I can’t stand the smell of store-bought cleaners. (Added bonus – your kids can use it, so they can help clean the house as soon as they can work a spray bottle!)
  • I use the reusable filters for my Keurig – again, those coffee pods are expensive, and I’m cheap.
  • I make my own breadcrumbs out of the heels of bread – all you need is a food processor and an oven. I never have to buy breadcrumbs, and with the amount of bread my daughter wastes by not eating the crusts, it’s the least I can do.
  • I compost – my Mom was composting years before it was the “cool” thing to do, so I grew up with having to haul fruit rinds and left-over veggies to the compost pile. And buying soil at Lowe’s is (you guessed it) expensive!

As I said before, I love the Earth. It’s a great place to live and we should take care of it. But raising kids isn’t easy, and you won’t always be able to be “green.” If you are able to, then more power to you! As for me, I’m just doing what I can, trying to get by with the tiniest shred of sanity.

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