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A generation or so ago, green parenting was the norm – although it certainly wasn’t thought of in those terms! It was more a matter of money – not wasting resources, and re-using wherever possible, without the vast array of ‘convenience’ products we now have. Many of today’s parents are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint – and they’re also saving money and benefitting the health of their kids in the process. Here are some ideas to get you going:

1. Swap, re-use and recycle
Children grow out of clothes quickly, often tire of toys even more quickly, and before you know it that very expensive must-have toy is gathering dust in the corner. Swap meets are a great way to pass on the items you’ve finished with and pick up the ones you need now (and we’re not talking about trading in that tantrum-throwing two-year-old, tempting as it may be). You’ll save money, divert items from landfill – and if you organise one in your area, you’ll meet other local parents.

2. The joy of a cardboard box
Most parents would know that a small child is just as likely to be entertained by a cardboard box as they are by the toy that came in it. Encourage friends and relatives to resist purchasing another cute teddy bear, and suggest that they might like to give your child an outing or activity instead.

3. Make your own baby food
Stewed fruit, pureed pumpkin, mashed banana and rice – it’s simple to make your own baby food. It comes without packaging, you know exactly what’s gone into it, and your baby will find it delicious.

4. You are what you eat
Try to source fresh, local, seasonal produce – it’s cheaper, better for you and travels far  fewer food miles than the asparagus flown in from the other side of the globe. Check out our list of farmers’ markets in Sydney and take the family on a shopping outing where you can chat to the producers and learn more about your food.

5. Rethink the baby wipes
Most baby wipes take many years to break down, creating a lot of landfill. Small squares of cotton fabric dipped in warm water are just as effective, gentle on the skin and can be washed and re-used.

6. Can the chemicals
Investigate more natural ways of cleaning your house – our 10 tips for a green, clean, home are a great place to start.

7. Read labels and do the research
Many products make all kinds of claims – with the words “natural” and “organic” a popular choice on labelling. Check out the ingredients carefully, the “natural” part may be a very small percentage of the whole.

8. Wash less!
We thought that headline might sound appealing. Wait until you have a full load before you do the washing and wash in cold water whenever you can. You’ll be using less of the planet’s energy and less of your own.

9. Choose energy efficient appliances
Most appliances have star ratings to help you choose the most energy efficient. Check out our guide to choosing energy efficient appliances.

10. Leave the car at home
Many car trips are shorter than a kilometre or so. If you can, walk. It’s a far healthier alternative for you and the kids. Organise a local walking train so kids can walk, or catch transport, to school together in the company of an adult. If you do have to drive, try not to leave the car idling when you’re waiting to pick up children from sport or school – you’ll spare the air and your lungs by switching off the engine.

The Green Living Centre in Newtown holds Natural Baby Care workshops every few months to answer all your questions about nappies, food, toys and more, so keep an eye on their website.

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