Eco-moms get wise
Becoming a mom can change your environmental attitude
Hattie Reid is using the few teeth she has to gnaw on a piece of dried mango. She turns 1 on March 15, and she hasn’t had to deal with too many pesticides or chemicals entering her body in this first year of her life. Her mom, 28-year-old Emily Reid, has made sure of it. Hattie wears organic clothes, eats organic food and only breathes clean-burning candles (not the synthetic, paraffin-based kind that pollute the air). She sleeps on an organic mattress, her mom washes clothes with eco-friendly soap and Hattie’s diapers (gDiapers) have a reusable cloth on the outside with a biodegradable liner on the inside. To steer clear of toxic phthalates, her toys are more often made of recycled wood or cotton than plastic, and she drinks from a glass bottle.
For Reid, becoming an eco-mom was “instant.”
“They come out so perfect and awesome, and you think, ‘I don’t want anything chemical or yucky to get on her,'” says Reid, owner of eco-friendly children’s boutique Rockabye.
Many people are eco-conscience—recycling dutifully, occasionally buying organic, trying to reduce their energy use. But for some parents, the environmental dangers posed by chemicals and waste don’t become fully clear—or seem as important—until they have a child. Environmental activists—from Louis Gibbs, who was christened the “mother of Superfund” after toxic waste at Love Canal threatened her children and neighborhood, to mothers fed up with reports of toxins in their breast milk—are often mothers motivated to protect their children. And despite successes within the feminist movement, women still buy 80 percent of the household’s goods, according to the Boston Consulting Group. This gives them major buying power to demand safe, nontoxic products.
For Laura Brigham, mother to 4-year-old Logan, the eco-mom instinct kicked in during pregnancy, when it was obvious that her baby was breathing and eating everything she did. The family now largely eats organically, washes clothes with eco-friendly detergent and tries to resist the wasteful consumerism around every corner of a modern child’s world. She bemoans the bags of plastic party favors that come with every birthday party or the well-intentioned gift of battery-operated toys that mean having to dispose of another toxic-filled battery.
“Trying to create a person who is not consumer-oriented is so difficult when it’s all around you,” says Brigham, a Reno Gazette-Journal columnist and moderator of RenoTahoeMoms.com. “The best thing for us is when we take him outside hiking or camping.”
Logan’s pre-school also encourages play time rather than TV or computer time; a playground with natural, not plastic, equipment; and requires a waste-free lunch (reusable bowls, for example, over Zip-Lock bags or Lunchables).
Brigham says Logan keeps her green values in check. “He’ll notice when you’re not walking the walk, and I’ll feel I’m not teaching him the things I should be teaching him.”
Their children have also given these moms a more global environmental outlook. “When you have a kid, you care more about other children [too],” says Reid. “I don’t want other kids exposed to toxins. So it does expand into the worldly, global sense of caring for what’s around us. … You feel more connected with everything.”