Kids are hard on the environment, there’s no denying it. They have a lot of needs, and many of the things they need they’ll outgrow in fairly short order. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a lot to be more eco friendly while raising a toddler.
Handmedown Clothes and Toys
It’s not always easy to get handmedowns for your kids, but when you can manage it, they’re one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do with your toddler.
Most toddlers don’t need a lot of new things, and when you have a resource for handmedowns, make the most of it. Toddlers won’t care that someone else wore their clothes first or that they aren’t perfectly new. They won’t care that their toys aren’t new in the package. In the meantime, you’ll be saving a ton of money and you won’t be buying newly manufactured products.
If you know someone who needs handmedowns for their toddler, make sure you continue the trend. Keep the things your toddler has outgrown organized so that you can hand them down easily when the time comes.
Thrift and Resale Finds
Thrift and resale stores are great for finding other items your toddler needs. You may have to pay a bit more attention to product safety, and some products, such as car seats, I suggest buying new simply to be certain of product safety.
But other products you can buy quite safely used. You may be able to find a good quality dresser, for example. Beds are a possibility as well, but once again, be picky and careful.
Thrift and resale are great for making up those areas where handmedowns weren’t sufficient. Lots of clothes end up in thrift stores, and if you don’t have someone to hand your toddler’s old clothes down to, they’re a great choice so that the clothes continue to be used by someone.
Cook From Scratch
The more you cook their meals yourself at home, the more likely you are to teach your toddler lifelong healthy eating habits. Skip the convenience foods as much as possible. Sure, hot dogs and boxed mac n’ cheese are easy favorites for many toddlers, but there’s no reason to serve these things often… or at all if you can manage it. Not every family can, but it’s certainly worth the attempt to keep such foods to a minimum.
The younger you can get your kids used to home cooked foods, fresh produce and so forth, the better.
Keep Their Bedrooms Simple
It’s a lot of fun decorating a room for a toddler, but keep it simple. You don’t need to buy lots of wall stickers or borders to give the room some personality.
Most toddlers love to draw, and there’s nothing wrong with displaying their artwork in their bedroom. Their scribbles may not look like much to you, but some toddlers know exactly what they’ve drawn. My two year old insists that one of her pictures is a cat; another is a bird. Get some basic art supplies such as crayons and let your toddler enjoy them.
You can also put up photos that mean something to your child, perhaps pictures from outings and vacations. Much more interesting than princesses, cartoon cars or whatever the latest trend in children’s decor may be.
Don’t forget a bookshelf. This is a great age to encourage a love of books.
Encourage Toddlers to Help Recycle
Toddlers can start to learn what items can go into your recycle bin. Just what that means depends on the recycling program in your area, but toddlers can certainly learn to recognize that most paper gets recycled, as well as any containers that are usually recycled in your area.
Also teach them to reuse things before recycling when possible. It’s nice to save a few old containers to use for crafts and such.
Encourage a Love of Nature
Toddlerhood is a great time to introduce your child to the beauty of nature. This doesn’t mean toddlers get to go exploring the wilds on their own, but you can certainly take a toddler on a hike, carrying him or her as necessary, go to zoos so they can see the amazing range of animals, visit an organic farm, maybe even keep a few backyard chickens along with any other pets you may enjoy.
The point is to show your toddler that there is more to the world than what’s indoors. Keep your kids inside all the time at this age, and why would they appreciate the outdoors? Even playing in your backyard or a walk around the block is a help.
Don’t forget the delights of gardening with your toddler. They aren’t old enough to know a weed from the plants you mean to grow, but you can talk about it and show your toddler the benefits you gain from the garden. It’s a wonderful source of fresh produce for your entire family if you grow some fruits and vegetables.
Besides, toddlers love playing in the dirt. Try setting aside a place where your toddler can dig.
Minimize Use of the Television
Too much television is a bad habit; I think we all know that. It’s worse for toddlers, who are building the habits they’ll use for a lifetime. Keeping television watching to a minimum in early childhood is important for their development.
Commercial television exposes kids to all sorts of commercials, and means they’ll want things they otherwise would never have known existed. Most any television at all, including many otherwise educational shows also have a lot of products kids will want if they see them in the store. A little, carefully chosen television isn’t a bad thing as such, but do think about what your kids are watching. I like my Tivo, as it means my kids get to watch shows I approve of at the times I let them watch TV, not just when the show happens to be on. It’s also helpful for avoiding commercials when the show does have them.
Used DVDs are also a nice choice, and options such as Netflix’s instant queue. You don’t have to buy movies new if you have a bit of patience.
There are plenty of other things you can do to be eco friendly with your toddler, but these are some good places to start. It’s not too soon to teach the basics of respecting the environment.