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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Earth, Healthy Family: 9 Tips for Eco-Friendly Play and Parenting

Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation

As they play and go about their daily routines, our kids come in contact with at least 700,000 toxins. These chemicals harm our children and the environment. That's why I decided to fight back. I'm implementing nine tips that create a happy earth and a healthy family, and I hope you'll join me.

Invest in Eco-Friendly Toys

From baby's first rattle to the electronics our teens enjoy, eco-friendly toy options are everywhere. There are dozens of ways to invest in green toys for your kids, but my favorites are purging plastics, buying toys with a trusted manufacturer, and stocking multi-purpose toys.

Buy Used

Our home is filled with used books, furniture, and sports equipment. And you know what? These secondhand items work the same as new items! In thrift or consignment stores, at garage sales, or during neighborhood swaps, stock your home with used items, too, as you reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Collect Litter

In your neighborhood, park, or city, you can play a litter collection scavenger hunt game and reduce trash. We grab gloves and trash bags, then pick a few outrageous categories, like neon green bottles or baseball caps. The team that finds the most of these special items wins, but the environment also wins as we do our part to reduce litter.

Recycle Playground Equipment

When choosing playground equipment for the backyard or for your child's school, look for recycled options first. Whether you opt to relocate a gently used jungle gym from someone else's backyard or purchase recycled flooring, the kids have fun as you invest in their healthy future.

Wear Sustainable Clothing

I don't advocate that everyone run around naked, but I do encourage you to wear eco-friendly clothes. Choose options made from sustainable fiber sources like hemp and bamboo, and look for eco-friendly dyes, too. Personally, I also recommend secondhand clothing, donating your kids' gently used items, and gathering your kids for a monthly craft day when you repurpose outgrown clothing into shopping bags, winter gloves, and other functional stuff.

Eat Seasonal Snacks

My local farmers' market always sells a variety of fresh fruits and veggies that I turn into delicious snacks for the week. I feel good about buying local because this one step reduces carbon emissions and supports my organic farming neighbors. I realize, though, that not everyone has a local farmers' market. If that describes you, follow guidelines from the Environmental Working Group and buy organic milk, juice, and these produce items whenever possible:

  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries

Hydrate the Healthy Way

Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of play, but we don't want our kids using water bottles that leak toxins. Instead, we use BPA-free sippy cups and stainless steel water bottles.

Implement Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips

Most kids I know get dirty when they play, and that means you have laundry and tons of it. Make your laundry routine eco-friendly when you:

  • Install a high-efficiency washer and reduce water usage.
  • Make your own laundry detergent.
  • Wash full instead of partial loads.
  • Use cloth diapers.
  • Hang your clothes to dry.

These five tips alone can yield big environmental savings and are easy on your wallet, too.

Use Non-Toxic Cleaners

Take a look around your kids' play room and you see dozens of surfaces. What chemicals are on your kids' toys, table, or floor? Clean the surfaces your kids touch every day with nontoxic cleaners. Baking soda and white vinegar are two of my favorite pantry products because they disinfect and clean. You can also dilute the cleaning products you already own as you take steps to clean green.

Maybe we can't control all of the chemicals in our kids' lives. But we can create a happy earth and healthy family when we take these nine steps. I'd also love to hear other ways you make play time and every day eco-friendly for your family.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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