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Jennifer Grayson

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Eco Etiquette: 9 Time-Saving Tips For Busy Green Moms (PHOTOS)

Posted: 05/08/2012 4:33 pm

Send all your eco-inquiries to Jennifer Grayson at Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Any time-saving tips for us eco-minded moms? I try my best to go green, but lately I feel so overwhelmed that I have a hard time even remembering to take out the recycling bin!


For the first several months after my daughter was born, I put on a good show. I learned how to fold cloth diapers into absorbent little angel wings and made my own baby wipes. I tucked the babe into a sling and lugged canvas bags of vegetables from the farmers market. I whipped up organic dinners every night from scratch. I soaked beans. I breastfed.

I also worked from home, conducting phone interviews as my daughter snoozed on my shoulder or writing while she bounced in her baby chair. It wasn't easy to "do it all" (especially since my husband had to go back to his long houred job a week after she was born), but it was manageable. Or maybe I was just hopped up on new-mom adrenaline.

Then my daughter turned six months old and began crawling.

And teething, which meant what little sleep I had had went out the window. And eating solid foods (making baby purees was time-consuming; cleaning the diapers was a nightmare). Every day felt like a giant hamster wheel. I couldn't remember a night when I wasn't slicing and steaming and scrubbing and feeding up until I collapsed in bed.

In the words of Chinua Achebe, things fell apart.

I don't remember my exact breaking point, but it was around the time our building's washing machine broke for the umpteenth time and I had to schlep soiled diapers to the laundromat three times a week. (My daughter was in the sling for that, too. Fun!)

Our lifestyle may have been green, but it certainly wasn't sustainable; something would have to give. Here this was only my first child, and I worked from home! How did moms with more kids, moms with full-time jobs go green without going crazy?

I have two words for you: Time management. (Plus a few clever shortcuts thrown in.) Here's what I -- with help from my most efficiently eco mommy friends -- have learned since those early days.

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  • Pick one day a week to shop.

    Constantly running out to the grocery store not only burns time, it burns gas. It also wastes money and resources: Shoppers who make multiple trips a week spend <a href="" target="_hplink">54 percent more than originally planned</a>. Keep a running list by the fridge, then tackle it when you won’t be fighting traffic/toddler tantrums (off to the park with Daddy!).

  • Or: Embrace an organic delivery service.

    Who says you have to <em>go</em> grocery shopping? When my daughter's nap schedule made venturing out a challenge, organic produce delivered via <a href="" target="_hplink">Spud</a> was a godsend. (I filled in with a bi-monthly quick trip to the store for staples). <a href="" target="_hplink">Many CSAs deliver, too</a>. <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of MMChicago </a>

  • Create a weekly menu plan.

    Fridge filled with organic produce? Check. But deciding how to turn it into dinner on the fly each night is a time waster. (Not to mention <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>food</em> waster</a>; sorry, shriveled heads of chard). A meal planning tool like <a href="" target="_hplink">Food on the Table</a> trims time and <a href="" target="_hplink">food waste-related methane emissions</a>. <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of LizMarie_AK</a>

  • Consider a bike commute.

    Are you a working mom who never has time to exercise? Pedal to work, and watch your waistline shrink along with your gas budget. (There’s a great how-to article in <a href="" target="_hplink">this month’s <em>Natural Health</em></a> to help get you going.)

  • Use a flushable liner for cloth diapers.

    After my daughter started solids, washing diapers took forever (not to mention an iron stomach); so much so that I considered giving up. Then I discovered the <a href="" target="_hplink">biodegradable diaper liner</a>, which turns the mess into a neat, flushable package. Moms, this will change your life! <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of Lourdes Christina</a>

  • Stop buying so much stuff.

    No mother wants to deprive her children, but guess who usually ends up cleaning/maintaining/organizing all those adorable outfits and “must-have” toys? That’s right: You. Curb the consumption, and you’ll free up time in your schedule/space in our landfills.

  • Involve your kids in eco projects.

    Can’t seem to find time to start that compost bin? Turn it into a fun weekend project for the family and then put your kids in charge of maintaining it. (Even better: Make it <a href="" target="_hplink">a worm bin</a>; kids love worms.) <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of cheeseslave</a>

  • Stop the electronic multitasking.

    In the Digital Age, <a href="" target="_hplink">we’re fast losing our connection with nature</a>. Teach your kids to appreciate the world around them: Take your nose out of your smartphone when you’re together. (You’re not saving time by trying to answer work emails, anyway; studies show <a href="" target="_hplink">that multitasking reduces productivity</a>.) <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of malias</a>

  • Know you can't do everything.

    Focus your eco efforts; you’ll stress less and accomplish more: Want a <a href="" target="_hplink">zero waste</a> household? Great! But then you may not have time to volunteer at the school garden. Want to write your <em>HuffPost Green</em> column while on vacation with your family? Then don’t fret when you only make it to nine tips instead of an even 10. Happy Mother’s Day! <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr image courtesy of Perfecto Insecto</a>


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