What is greenwashing & why should we avoid it?!
It’s important to recognize that a lot of effort goes into marketing products to make you feel good about using them but also to make you feel like you need them. Greenwashing occurs when false or misleading claims are made about the eco-friendliness of a product or service. Those short-lived feelings of euphoria we get from purchasing things, particularly “green” things, can cause you to overspend, even with the best intentions.
If you want to reduce your baby’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals (and who doesn’t?!) it can seem daunting and expensive.
A while ago I did a Facebook Live Video with Bianca of bebo mia and in that video I talked a lot about how to avoid greenwashing. I’m going to share some of my favourite tips to help you make some conscious choices – some green living life hacks, if you will. By following a couple of these tips (or all of them!) you can create a healthy space for baby (and you!), without breaking the bank. Here goes…
This is my number one tip to anyone who is concerned that going green costs too much. It can be easier said than done, especially if you’re an avid shopper and love the latest and greatest. By reducing what you buy, you are leaving more money in your pocket to invest in better quality items that you truly do need.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Ask before you buy.
If you are in love with the idea of a new gadget, product, or toy, ask other parents whether they found it useful. Facebook groups and local mom’s groups are great for this. Sure, you will get different answers, but it can help you decide if it’s right for you.
Try before you buy.
Buying ahead is one of the biggest traps we get into – especially when pregnant. Sure, there are certain things you need to have before baby arrives (like diapers), but the list is actually surprisingly small. For the non-essentials, try getting along without them first. If you find yourself cursing your decision to wait, then it might be something worthwhile. If you’ve forgotten about the idea in a couple weeks or have found a solution that doesn’t require buying new, you’ve just saved yourself some cash!
Borrow or buy used.
Giving something a new lease on life by borrowing or buying used is a great way to save money. Many baby clothes and pieces of equipment get used for such a short amount of time that they can go through several children and still be in great condition. Ask friends or parenting groups for the best place to find used items in your neighbourhood. Check out your local consignment store (Once Upon a Child has locations around Canada and the US) or take advantage of online shops like iSpy Clothing for clothes.
DIY is certainly not for everyone, but stay with me on this one because I totally thought it wasn’t for me (and in many cases it still isn’t). It’s definitely something worth giving a shot, especially if you want healthier products without the price tag. The key is to keep it simple: you don’t have to turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab if this isn’t your thing. For the basics, check out David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green baby care recipes. For cleaners without toxic chemicals, you can make these 5 basic cleaners in 5 minutes once you have the ingredients.
This one may seem counter-intuitive. Better quality items (and I’m talking truly better quality, not just big name brands) cost more without a doubt. They also last longer so they can be used for more children – either your own, or they’ll retain their resale value if you wish to sell them when you’re done with them. Buying better will help you buy less, saving you more in the long-run. You will typically find better products at boutique shops specializing in healthy alternatives.
Do your research and if you’re buying new, invest in quality items like mattresses, change pads, and furniture that will be used a lot and are often made with toxic materials. You can find products that are free from chemical flame retardants and use natural materials even from the big box stores if price is your main criteria (in addition to health). If you didn’t get a chance to read “Your Top 3 Eco Nursery Questions Answered” you can find out more about creating an Eco Nursery here.
As your kids get older and stay in clothes for longer than 3 months before they grow out of them, used clothes can be harder to find. Look for quality here too so that outfits are lasting longer than one season and hold their resale value. There are some great brands making clothes to last: Mini Mioche, Ollie Jones and Wee Woollies are Canadian-made brands that come highly recommended by moms; and check out Modern Rascals for fun prints sourced from Europe.
And so, before making a purchase for your baby, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Can I borrow, buy used, or even make it myself?
- Can I invest in higher quality for the long-term?
I think you’ll find that by using a combination of these strategies, you can make eco-friendly and healthier choices for your baby and not break the bank. What will you do with the extra money you’ve saved? Do you have any tips or tricks that I didn’t mention? Share them with us in the comments below!
Are you a birth, baby or parenting practitioner? Looking to add even more value to your client packages? Check out our Eco Baby Certification Program. This affordable, 4 module, self-study course will provide you with the tools and resources to help families make eco-conscious choices for the entire household!
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Emma Rohmann is an environmental engineer, mother of two, and founder of Green at Home. She educates and inspires families and businesses to go green in a simple and practical way through workshops, one-on-one consultations, and seminars. Emma is a David Suzuki Foundation Queen of Green Coach, Home section editor for EcoParent Magazine, and contributor for Green Moms Collective. She is also the instructing expert in our Eco Baby Certification Course!
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