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Trying to Be Good to Mother Earth…in the Face of All of the Paper Towels

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How do you teach your kids to be earth-friendly? Credit: Horia Varlan

Happy Earth Day! I’ve already talked about how babies destroy the planet. They don’t do it on purpose, but in their effort to create the biggest messes on this earth, you’ve got to clean up after them. Between diapers and laundry and cleaning up in the kitchen, the environmental impact seems monumental. Especially when you compare it to your pre-baby days.

In my pre-baby days, I’d use paper towels…but went through a roll every few weeks. Now, I’m lucky if I make it a week with the jumbo-sized rolls. My son is growing up, and his 14-month self is eating everything with his hands, which makes for a super-messy mealtime experience. My post-meal cleanup strategy consists of a paper towel to give his tray a quick wipe. Then, I give his hands one, too. Then, I usually need another paper towel for his face and neck region, and then another one for all of the gunk that collects on his chair, the seat. Thank goodness I have a dog that snarfs up anything that falls on the floor.

Constant runny noses means using tons of tissues and toilet paper and wipes to clean up nose messes. And potty training? Well, 2-year-olds may not like to use the potty every time, but they really like to use toilet paper. Plus every item you buy a kid seems to come in a massive box that needs to be recycled. Each box of diapers I buy adds to the copious amounts of box recycling we do.

Despite all of the paper produce usage, I really try to set a good example when it comes to conserving resources. I do recycle paper and cardboard practically to a fault. I reuse plastic grocery bags and take them back to stores for recycling. (I used to be great about taking my reusable bags, but there just doesn’t seem to be room in my brain to remember that lately.) I let my daughter play in the sink a lot because when making dinner that is one thing that will keep her distracted and occupied for awhile. But I’m always telling her to turn the water down low (same as when she wants it on full blast when brushing her teeth; why’s it always gotta be full blast!?)

I’m not going to win Environmentalist of the Year with my contributions, but I do make an effort. I do try to set a good example. We do get outside to enjoy mother nature as often as possible. We walk a lot. I sing “Beautiful Trees” from Sid the Science Kid all the time. (Seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I love that song.) Eventually, I swear I’ll be a composting, gardening fool. But for now, I’m just trying to survive and do my best.

How about you? Do you cringe at your paper-products usage now that you have kids? How do you try to compensate? —Erin

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