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Diana Donlon's picture

The internet is abuzz with the impending birth of Kate Middleton’s royal baby. Meanwhile, Rachel, Nina and Natalie, three amazing young women I know, are also welcoming little ones this summer.  Like Kate, they want the best for their babies and are thoughtfully preparing their nurseries. This period of anticipation is the perfect time to think about how you, as a new parent, can give your baby not only the best start in life, but the best future.

Because while parents may differ on life’s small decisions, every parent in the world can agree that we want our children to grow up and live life unburdened by the harrowing threat of climate change. Making this desire a reality will, however, take a serious and sustained effort. Parents can begin by evaluating their consumption patterns and then committing to a life that doesn’t further warm the planet. This self-reflection is especially necessary for those of us living in countries like the US and the UK where we are trained to be active consumers and where, as a result, our carbon foot prints are significantly larger than the global average[1]!

In fact, you may have heard new parents marvel at the amount of “stuff” that arrives with baby.  It doesn’t have to be this way. To be a Cool Parent you’ll need to put out the word that you don’t want, or need, mountains of stuff. This gives you an opportunity to practice your “re-direction” skills before baby and gifts arrive. While it isn’t always easy, it can have multiple, long-term benefits. For example, when my children were born, in the late 1990s, my husband and I gently announced to family that for a number of environmental reasons we would prefer not to have plastic toys. They were a bit perplexed but soon complied and our boys had a low-impact, largely plastic-free childhood. Buying mostly wooden toys meant that they received far fewer of them. This in turn meant not only less clutter around the house, but quality toys, like “Neck” the giraffe on wheels who continues to circulate around the neighborhood to the delight of a new generation of children. Meanwhile, having fewer toys inside had the unexpected benefit of having the kids turn to the great outdoors for most of their fun.

As expectant parents, we also decided to get serious about eating organic food. Yes, there have been and still are tradeoffs.  We spent, and continue to spend especially now that the boys are hungry teens, far more than other families on groceries. We also go out to eat far less than other families.  While we initially made the switch to organic for health reasons (we were worried that pesticide tolerances didn’t take children’s weight into account), little did we realize at the time that supporting local, organic agriculture had the added benefit of being a climate-smart investment in the future!

Avoiding plastic and going organic are just two ways parents can express their concern for the climate. There are so many others! So, to help you, and your partner, think about how you will do your part, Cool Foods is launching a “Cool Baby” board on Pinterest. Just like our other climate-friendly boards, (like “Cool Kids”) Cool Baby is loaded with tips that will help your family make climate-smart choices.  We’ve combed an array of baby blogs and web sites and pinned creative suggestions that are healthy for baby and the planet. Be sure to check out our suggestions on how you and your family can make things cool for baby!

After all we live on the most beautiful planet in the solar systems and while you may want to give your little angel the moon and the stars, what she’ll need most of all is a safe little nest on this cool, green earth.

[1] The carbon footprint of U.S. households is about 5 times greater than the global average, which is approximately 10 tons CO2e per household per year. For most U.S. households, the single most important action to reduce their carbon footprint is driving less or switching to a more efficient vehicle.

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