Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.
~ Thomas Berry
By Katie Dodd Syk
In today’s world, being a parent comes with high demands. Whether it’s our own expectations or those placed upon us by others, many moms and dads feel the need to do it all. When it comes to making our homes healthy, non-toxic and natural the task may seem too daunting to even broach on top of everything else on our plates — and be placed permanently on the back-burner.
But maintaining a non-toxic home is so important to our health and well-being, and even more so with children. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to move toward providing a more natural and eco-friendly environment for your little ones and for yourself. Check out these five ideas to help you get started! Choosing just one of these is a big step in the right direction.
Before you read on, make sure to listen to this awesome, relevant GDs @ Home podcast …
5 Easy ways to make a more eco-friendly home for your free-range children!
- Clean up your laundry act! Use organic soap nuts! Have you heard of them? These aren’t nuts for eating, but rather for washing your clothes. They grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and are 100% biodegradable. Just put a few in a small mesh bag and throw them into your washing machine with the dirty laundry for naturally clean, soft clothes. They’re a great alternative to laundry detergents and softeners since they have no chemicals and very little packaging — plus, they can be composted when you’re done using them.
- Plant a garden. Whether you have a green thumb or you’ve never owned a plant in your life, starting a garden is an economical, rewarding way to feed your family healthier organic food more sustainably. Start with growing your favorite vegetable, fruit, or herb and go from there. If you’ve got kids, this is perfect for teaching them about the responsibility of caring for a living thing as well as patience and an appreciation for the foods we eat. Plus, they may enjoy the novelty of eating their veggies off the branch rather than off their plate!
- Eat organic whenever possible. There are so many benefits to choosing organic food to put into our bodies rather than conventional: more nutrients, fewer pesticides, less bacteria (in meats), and less toxic metal, to name a few. Even the formula you feed your baby should be considered, with a preference given to formulas like these that use ingredients sourced from biodynamic farms. And keep in mind, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. Foods labeled as “natural” generally contain no artificial flavorings, preservatives, or colors. Foods labeled as “organic” have ingredients sourced from farms that grow and process them to a high standard yielding superior-quality foods as well as animals that are humanely raised and farming practices that take care of the earth.
- Ditch the plastic toys. When possible, give your children wooden toys to play with rather than plastic ones. Holding and sucking on plastic toys exposes your kiddos to toxins that aren’t found in wood. If the wooden toys are painted, check that they’ve used non-toxic paint. If you do opt for plastic toys at home, look for BPA and phthalate-free plastic to reduce toxic exposure.
- Learn to read labels. Whether it’s the labels of your clothing or the food you’re eating, educate yourself on what to avoid when making decisions about the products you bring into your home. It may help to figure out brands that stand for sustainable practices, which will make it easier to search for brands rather than parse through individual products while shopping.
- Let the fresh air in. And one more because this one’s too simple not to mention: open your windows to air out your home whenever possible! Circulating fresh air through your home can do wonders to reduce indoor toxins so open them as often as you can.
Do you have any simple tips for parents who are trying to maintain a natural, non-toxic home and raise free-range children? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
Green Diva Katie
Katie Dodd Syk is SEO Manager at the Organic Baby Food Shop and mama to two small boys. She is constantly looking for parenting short-cuts and fun ways to live a healthy lifestyle. She loves traveling, reading, writing, yoga, and playing with her kids at their local splash pad here in Austin, Texas.