At least it’s easier, now that I’m a parent. I’ve made a number of changes around the house over the last few years, and they’ve all been directly related to having kids. For example:
When I realized I didn’t want to put my infant in the clean tub even after rinsing and rinsing the cleanser out, I switched to baking soda and vinegar.
When I realized I didn’t want my baby’s first solid foods accidentally touching a counter that had been cleaned with a chemical-filled, disposable wipe, I switched to vinegar and water.
When I realized I didn’t want my newly-mobile baby to stick his hand in his mouth after crawling across the clean floor, I switched from a popular chemical spray mop with disposable pads to a steamer that uses only water and has reusable pads.
When I worried about my curious toddler accidentally getting into other dangerous chemicals, I stopped buying almost all commercial cleansers. I now use a damp microfiber cloth on glass. I use a 98.5% natural brand of laundry and dish soap, (while remaining wary of “greenwashing”). I don’t bring things like air freshener sprays into my home, and now I find I can’t tolerate the strong odours of these types of products—including dryer sheets, which I used to love, but now just seem wasteful. Static cling isn’t the end of the world.
When I read the scary ingredients used in typical baby bath products, I did some research on Skin Deep and switched to safer products.
When I learned about the dangers of BPA in baby bottles and other plastics, it wasn’t a big concern—BB#1 had only ever had a few bottles of expressed milk, and BB#2 never had a bottle at all. I did however replace our plastic sippies with stainless steel (we had already switched to reusable water bottles for our own use long before.) I also stopped cooking or reheating anything in plastic in the microwave.
When I heard about the evils of Teflon, I stopped buying microwave popcorn (we now have an air popper), and replaced my cheap non-stick pans with a ceramic coated one.
When I started packing school lunches, I decided to go litterless. I use plastic storage containers (glass would be too heavy, and breakable!) but they are never heated. It’s a bit more work avoiding prepackaged, processed lunch foods, but it’s greener, healthier, and probably cheaper.
When I realized that the more processed a food is, the less healthy it is, I worked at eliminating convenience foods from our diets. It helps that my children will only eat vegetables raw. But no more of those frozen single serve lunches at the office for me (even if I still worked in an office), no more frozen pizzas for dinner (I buy pizza shells instead—I don’t know for sure this is healthier, but since I put my own toppings on, I have to assume that it is.)
I know I still have a long way to go, so I’m definitely not “greener than thou”. I admit to a bit of an addiction to paper towels when I should be using washable rags. I tell myself it’s not so bad because the paper towel goes in the green bin compost, but yeah, I could do better.
I could also improve the toiletries I buy for myself—full disclosure: crystal deodorant doesn’t do it for me. And the search for a good, safe sunscreen my extremely fair-skinned kids will put up with is on-going (one highly recommended “green” sunscreen we tried had a beeswax scent that seemed to attract, well, bees, and to this day BB#1 has a phobia…) In addition, my normally understanding DH doesn’t always think about this stuff when he does the shopping, and after all my hard work researching, he will come home with a vat of the worst rated sunscreen or dollar-store shampoo. I can’t complain too much, though—he avoids buying Nestle products just because I asked him to!
Small steps, to be sure, but we have taken quite a few. And probably saved a lot of money in the process! (The fact that my house is not as clean as it was before I had children has nothing to do with the absence of commercial cleansers in my cupboards…)