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Greening Up Baby

For the Eco-Conscious Parent, How to Be Gentle on the Earth and the Wallet

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007; Page F01

Those cute little feet sure do make a big carbon footprint.

The mountains of disposable diapers, the piles of swiftly outgrown clothing, the bins of last year's toys. So many resources consumed, so much energy burned.

Greening The Baby
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Modern parenthood often feels like an exercise in excess -- even an assault on the environment.

What, then, is a an eco-conscious mommy or daddy to do?

For Lia Mack, it's a green birthday party for her son, Nathan. She's trying to mark Nathan's fourth without the mountains of wrapping paper and plastic that have cluttered past celebrations.

"We just really want to make it simple," said Mack, a Maryland resident who also has a 16-month-old daughter, Julia. "But it's so hard."

Raising a green baby comes with challenges. Just a glance at the price tags on the various organic baby products suggests that going green could very well mean going broke. Consider: A two-pack of organic onesies from Gerber costs $11.99, three times as much as their conventional counterparts. For my 10-month-old dirt magnet, that's not even a day's worth of laundry.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Cheaper environmental alternatives are available. Look beyond brand-name organic products. And take a hard look at your lifestyle. The old "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" can help you in more ways than one. "Part of the whole green movement is that we need to cut down on all the products that are headed to our landfills," said Trish Riley, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Living" and the mother of two grown children.

Organic and "natural" baby products are increasingly lining store shelves. Grocery-store chains including Safeway and Giant are rolling out their own organic store brands.

Other retailers are pushing hard, too. For instance, Babies R Us, one of the nation's biggest retailers of infant and toddler products, has been aggressively stepping up its green offerings, including food, skin-care and bedding items. Even Soleil Moon Frye, also known as Punky Brewster, is in on the action; she recently opened her own eco-baby store in Los Angeles.

If you feel passionately about the environment, don't let all the marketing -- or the higher prices -- scare you from trying to make greener choices, Riley said. "It's not nearly as expensive as it seems."

Parenting Goes Green


Food: Full Bellies And Fatter Wallets

Diapers: Waste Management

Travel: Hitting the Road With a Smaller Carbon Footprint

Toys and Soothers: Another Round of Play

Clothes: Organic Onesies vs. Secondhand

The Nursery: Rethinking The Furniture Fixation


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