Green, baby, green

Expert tips for raising an organic baby without breaking the bank.

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How to make sustainable choices for your little ones without breaking the bank?

As a new mama, it’s important we raise our child using natural products whenever possible. However, I was disheartened to discover that there seemed to be a (high) price in doing so.

Reality hit when I went shopping for our 5 month old and found rubber teethers starting at $20, organic clothing from $30 and wooden toys spiralling upward from there.

Yes, I aspire to be, if nothing less, an environmentally conscious mom, but at what cost? Do you have to spend green to go green?

Before throwing in the organic towel for a plastic one, I sought guidance from two professional moms who are dedicated to sustainable choices for their family. Kelly Grindrod, a Vancouver-based pharmacist, and Tamara Champion, CEO of the online baby store Parenting by Nature, offered some valuable tips to the organic trade. Both agree you don’t have to spend a lot to be a natural mommy; you just have to know where to put your money.

Tip #1: Less is more

First of all, it’s easy to be seduced by marketing, but just because it is green, doesn’t mean you need it. Invest in a few quality things that are made to last and what you don’t spend in one area you can put toward another.

For Kelly, her approach is simply less is more; she doesn’t buy a lot of stuff. Her family focuses on food, transit and diapers to make the biggest dent in their environmental footprint. She explains how cloth diapering can cost a lot to start but saves in the long run.

“Though we spent around $500 up front and about $30 per month on laundry,” says Kelly, “we figure we’re saving at least a $1,000 on this child alone, not to mention future children.”

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She also recommends spending on natural ointments like Bum Bum Balm Diapering Salve made by Dimpleskins Natural Body Care out of New Westminster because zinc found in regular diaper creams can occlude cloth and make them less absorbent.

To cut down on gas and auto maintenance, Kelly chooses to use a quality carrier and stroller to get around. And for wholesome fare they choose seasonal variations from Vancouver Farmer’s Market and purchase local foods delivered by organics delivery service Spud!.

Putting money in these areas means not spending a lot in others like excess toys and expensive clothing. Kelly is big fan of utilizing consignment stores like North Vancouver’s Boomers and Echoes and searching for used goods on Craigslist and Kijiji.

Tip #2: Make smart investments

Tamara shares many of Kelly’s sentiments and adds that a good rule of thumb is, “If it’s designed to be reused, passed on or have a longer life past the baby stage, it’s likely a better investment.”

As a result, Tamara won’t compromise on things that go in the mouth, are slept on or are long-lasting like wooden toys.

“Toys made from wood or natural materials are a better alternative to plastics. Buy three or four quality pieces that are healthier, safer and environmentally sound.”

She suggests using stainless steel for cutlery and feeding for its safety, durability and ability to be reused. As well, it’s a valuable keepsake for the kids.

Perhaps a little pricier than their plastic counterparts, sippy cups like the Klean Kanteen can grow with the child and be used for a lifetime.

Tamara is also a huge supporter of cloth diapering and is putting the $3,000-plus she figures they have saved using cloth diapers toward an organic twin-size mattress for their girls.

“They will be using the mattresses for so long we feel this is a great investment in their long-term health.”

Tip #3: Spend on reducing waste


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Desiree gets expert advice from mommies who know on where to cut costs and how to save big when raising an organic baby.

Another thing to consider spending a little more on are items that will reduce waste (literally) in the long run, like a potty. Many potties on the market cost around $20 and are needed for a small amount of time. Tamara suggests buying a biodegradable potty that can be planted in the garden after it has served its purpose.

Taking stock

Considering how Kelly and Tamara approach green living, I realize we are already ahead. Living in a condo with limited space means we already borrow and acquire passed-down clothes, toys, gear, etc. We don’t have a car. I breastfeed. And we were sold on cloth diapers months ago.

These choices alone have saved us significant dollars and help make an environmental difference. Knowing that, I can now enjoy certain splurges without worrying I’ll break the bank.


Desiree Daniel

As a Vancouver-based writer and new mama, Desiree Daniel’s inspiration comes from watching her little one “discover” life. With babe in tow, Des can be found exploring the city, tackling the outdoors and nesting at home with the fam. Twitter