How To: Sustainable Parenting on a Budget

Between sleep deprivation, the neverending mess and the barrage of adverts claiming they’ll solve every problem you’ve ever had, leading an eco-friendly existence with a small child can seem impossible. But there are solutions… and they don’t break the bank!

Whether your little ones have reached school age or you’re pregnant with your first, you’ll probably be well aware of the mountains of disposable products and single-use plastic that take over the homes of parents. It can seem completely unavoidable - after all, many of those products will have been given as gifts by well-meaning friends and family members, and eco-friendly alternatives can be incredibly costly.

All is not lost, however. I’ve scoured the internet and weighed up the costs, and come up with a few practical and economical tips and tricks to help you live a little more sustainably with your baby.

  1. Second hand shopping and swapping.
    No one expects you to get absolutely everything for your little one second hand, but, with the rate children grow and change, there’s a huge amount of second hand clothing and toys ready and waiting to be re-loved. In the past, finding clothes of the right size or that toy your child really wants could have seemed like an impossible feat, but the internet came to save the day. Sites such as Whirli (for toys) and Dotte (for clothes) make finding what you want, getting it delivered, then passing it on when it’s served its time quick and easy!

  2. Go bamboo.
    A normal tree can take over 30 years to reach its full size. As the 12-foot monster in my back garden has proven, bamboo takes only a few months, making it one of the most sustainable materials in the world. On top of this, products such as plates and cups made from bamboo are really durable (none of those annoying cracks), and don’t contain any of those nasty chemicals you find in plastic. 

  3. The blender’s your friend.
    While creating your own baby food might sound like a lot of extra work, the cost of the pre-packaged jars and pouches can really rack up. So, instead of making it a daily stress, why not try batch cooking, or, even better, blending small portions of your own meals for your baby - this could even force you to eat better or try some new veggies out

  4. Join the cloth-bum movement.
    The average baby gets through between 4,000 and 6,000 nappies by the time they’re potty trained. That’s not only a lot of landfill, but a lot of money! Switching to washable nappies can save both money and waste - and you can even get financial support from your local council when you make the switch. This useful guide from The Nappy Gurus lets you know what’s on offer in your local area

  5. What about the unwanted items?
    Gifted nappies you don’t want? Inundated with unwanted toiletries? These items are perfect donations for baby banks, which make sure your unwanted items go to those in need. Check out this map to find your local donation point.

  6. Grow, grow, grow!
    Growing your own food isn’t only for the true agriculturists - or even just for people with gardens. Growing fruits, veggies and herbs can teach your little ones about the life of plants and where food comes from, as well as getting them excited about eating vegetables (there’s little that gets you more excited about tomato salad than watching it grow for months). If you don’t have a garden, herbs, peppers, leafy greens and strawberries can all make it on a windowsill!

  7. Get crafty.
    Something you’ll probably notice if you’re reducing your plastic consumption is the amount of cardboard you accumulate. Now, this does recycle well, but it’s even better for reusing in craft projects with your little ones. Loo roll tubes, boxes and bags can all be painted, covered in collages or turned into anything from a toy animal to a rainmaker. All those strange shapes will spark your little one’s imagination much more than a blank sheet of paper!

  8. Clean up.
    You’ve probably seen the adverts: refillable cleaning products are the latest trend. Whether it’s a small tablet you leave in water overnight, or concentrated liquid you mix with warm water, many of these reduce packaging and avoid chemicals harmful to the environment. I recently started using Splosh, and have actually ended up saving way more money than I thought I would, too (plus my laundry smells amazing). It’s a win-win!

So there are loads of different things you can try to live a little more sustainably with your little one, but, still, I want to remind you not to stress! None of us are perfect, and there’s no judgement here if, in a pinch, you grab a jar of baby food or a disposable nappy. But, for those good days, I hope these tips are helpful.

Content Creator @MEplace

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