Ecological Sustainability: Three Tips from One Parent
by Ani Asik
Many parents share the common desire to leave the world a better place for their children. Occupying the role of parent means to evolve deeply. Part of that growth manifests by making conscious decisions in our homes and modeling increased awareness for our children. As my journey towards ecological sustainability unfolds, here are three tips I find useful.
Tip #1: Buying Organic Clothing and Food
A truly organic product means that there is respect for the biology of what is being produced. It means that there is no exposure to synthetic pesticides, herbicides, agricultural fertilizers, irradiation, growth stimulants/hormones, antibiotics, and chemical ripening processes, among other practices. In Canada, it also means that organic food is not genetically modified. When looking for organic products, consider the reputation of the company you buy from as well – what is the company’s business reason for being? Did the owners create the company to respond to a need for clean products and produce, or is it an organic product line produced alongside non-organic products? Since the skin is the largest organ, choosing organic cotton is also something to consider especially for babies who could do without the toxicity exposure right from birth. It’s important to reflect – if something isn’t healthy for us, it probably isn’t for the earth either. Non-organic cotton farming not only contains pesticides in the clothing itself but also produces toxic water runoff, soil depletion, air pollution and affects the health of farm workers. Reducing our toxicity load a bit at a time can’t hurt and allows us to dollar vote on products and agricultural practices we want to see more of.
Tip #2: Cloth Diapering at Home
Most children wear 6-8 diapers per day and some estimates peg the average two-year-old as having contributed 2,000 pounds of non-biodegradable garbage through diaper wearing alone. It takes hundreds of years for diapers to decompose, especially since they are not exposed to sunlight or air. What can we do? Consider potty training sooner – in some countries, this begins as early as six months. Another option is using cloth diapers when your child is home. It’s a good place to start, saves money, diverts waste from landfills, and reduces dependence on polypropylene and polyethylene plastics. Some companies even send consultants to your home to teach you how to use cloth diapers effectively, and show you different absorbency levels, covers and styles from which to choose. Dawn Gifford of the Small Footprint Family reminds us that today, diapers are the third largest consumer item in landfills.
Tip #3: Freecycling Toys
Depending on whom you talk to, toys can be considered destined for the landfill from the very beginning due to their limited-time use. Consider freecycling, a community movement to give and receive items for free in order to reuse and divert from landfills. Another option is using wooden toys with nontoxic finishes, paints and dyes. This option is also likely to be healthier for children because materials such as bisphenol-A, PVC, polystyrene, plasticizers and lead are less often found in them. According to pediatric researcher Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, due to childrens’ unique hand-to-mouth behaviors, floor play and developing nervous and reproductive systems, they are particularly at risk when exposed to industrial chemicals.
From moment to moment, day by day, if we are fully present to the choices we make by selecting biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and clean materials for our activities, we allow our children the opportunity to learn how to take better care of themselves, one another and the earth.
“The moment is now and our children await.”
– Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Ani Asik is an Ahimsa Eco Ambassador, passionate yoga teacher and public relations professional who is mother to one and soon-to-be two. She teaches yoga for Lolë Women and prepares personalized Āyurvedic lifestyle plans for her students to customize yoga practices for them. She also consults with companies in diverse industries on public relations projects. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org