Children are wasteful. Like overwhelming wasteful. Perhaps in your home is some sort of sweet naturally conservation-inclined baby but mines throws his food on his floor (which is covered in dog hair because life) and is hungry an hour later. He asks me for some milk and then I find the cup/bottle under the couch where he watched it roll and forgot about it. (In fairness to him, he will gladly try to drink hours from now, but no.) And everything is made of plastic. His little seat that straps into a chair (and is extremely mobile and handy), his sippy cups, his bottles, his forks and spoons- all plastic. Don’t even get me started on individually packaged snacks for toddlers. We’ve got them, we use them, I hate it.
Plus every time you have a kid, they need their own stuff. A lot of it can be handed down from another child, yours or someone else’s, but still they accumulate things. The diapers alone will make you lose your mind.
You can rationalize it any way you like, but having kids is not a great environmental decision. They will impact the earth. Hopefully they will be environmentally conscious little conservationists, picking up trash, minimizing plastic and advocating for better regulations, but everyone has a footprint and they add to it. In fact, just having kids makes it more difficult to keep up your own environmental efforts.
With kid #2, I’ve stopped making baby food (yes, there has been a high quantity of baby food pouches), quit cloth diapers and stopped making a number of other things I formally made from scratch- granola, bread, kombucha, etc.
Choosing children isn’t purely an environmental choice. If you choose not to have children, are you saying there’s no hope? The only way for salvation is to stop having kids? My old bud, Katie O’Reilly wrote a really great essay on the choice to have children in the face of climate change for Sierra. I hesitated to read it as I thought it might condemn my choices- not just one child but two! Spoiler alert, she decides on hope.
I have a lot of incredible friends who maintain their environmental ways through their growing families. They make all their meals, cloth diaper their babies, and bike to the store. Their ability to keep it up is so motivating and inspiring but I’m not there yet.
But this year, we’re a little farther away from baby land, less in survival mode and I can add a little more of what’s important to me. The key, for me, is a little at a time.
New Year’s Resolution #1:
Without biting off more than I handle, I plan to reduce plastic incrementally. I got some Christmas money and plan to replace some items in our kitchen. Purchase more reusable silicone bags, glass food containers and replace our sponges with brushes. I’ll also start replacing bathroom items- deodorant, shampoo/conditioner and the like. At one time I thought I wanted to make all our products myself but we’re at the point where I can and should choose to purchase it.
I hope by the end of the year I can focus more on food which is where so much of our waste is created but this is a marathon not a sprint and if I collapse under the weight of unrealistic goals, we’ll never get there!
A little Instagram inspiration to keep me motivated:
@leangreenbean (not an environmental IG account but she clearly works to balance minimizes waste in a realistic three-kids, working parents way)