When Earth Day comes around every April, I can’t help but feel a little guilty.
Mom guilt knows no bounds, right? This is Earth mama guilt.
You see, I didn’t use cloth diapers. At all. We prioritized time and convenience, and it’s a decision I am generally happy that we made. But just thinking about two kids’ worth of disposable diapers sitting in a landfill or being incinerated and polluting the air makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.
This year, I decided that instead of looking back at diaper decisions past, I’m going to use Earth Day to make a few forward-looking, environmentally friendly family resolutions that I know we’re capable of keeping.
As I think about these changes, I’m inspired by the three Minnesota moms who blog at Zeroish.org — they have made a commitment to drastically cut down on the amount of trash their family creates while realizing that no one is perfect. One of them even decided to keep using disposable diapers but make changes in other areas!
One resolution for us is to buy fewer new toys: This shouldn’t be too hard now that we have joined a toy library, which lets you check out toys for weeks at a time instead of buying new ones. That means less clutter around the house AND less new toys that eventually end up ignored, broken and landfill-bound. We have loved being a part of the Minneapolis Toy Library so far.
This year, we will also compost as much as possible — and Hennepin County makes it pretty easy, depending on which city you live in. Minneapolis residents can sign up for curbside pickup of food scraps and organics like stained cardboard pizza boxes.
Another change for us: No more buying single-use applesauce or packaged snacks for the lunches my daughter takes to preschool each day. It takes less than a minute to pour applesauce from a big glass jar into a little reusable container. I may curse this decision if the container ends up opening and spilling all over everything, but so far it hasn’t been an issue.
Paper towel use has been out of control at our house lately — they are so easy to grab to mop up endless spills, wipe down the sticky table top, and use as napkins. But when I saw my three-year-old ripping one after another off of the roll without a care in the world, it made me want to yell “The trees!!” at her. It made me realize we can stop using so much paper — using cloth napkins, reusable and absorbent Swedish dishcloths and regular kitchen towels instead.
My final resolution is to think about using less single-use plastic in general (straws, takeout containers, etc!) and explore other options.
Do you have any Earth Day resolutions this year?