Lots of things change when you have a baby. I’d lived a healthy lifestyle for most of my adult life, but once a baby was on board living a healthy lifestyle became more than just exercising and eating right. I started to think about the ways in which my lifestyle would impact my son both now and in the future. My dedication to living sustainably grew because I wanted my baby to have access to many of the same things I’d enjoyed throughout my life: a connection to the natural world, access to clean air to breathe, and enough healthy food and clean water to help his body thrive.
At the onset of pregnancy, I knew I didn’t want to expose a fetus to potentially harmful chemicals so I made the decision to eliminate as much of these as possible from my life. I started with the fruits and vegetables I had always eaten. I made the upgrade to eating organically and locally. Not only was I then eliminating potentially harmful toxins from our bodies, but local foods didn’t have to travel as far to my plate. This meant that I was helping to eliminate many harmful chemicals from the environment that were a result of transporting food.
Once my son was born I also switched back to a plant based diet. Ironically, I had been vegetarian for years before I became pregnant, but during pregnancy I went back to eating meat solely because it was sometimes the only thing that didn’t make me throw up or want to throw up. I’d known for a long time that much of the way meat is produced in America is unhealthy. I didn’t want my baby to be exposed via breast milk to antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals so I cut it out altogether after his birth. Now that the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy has passed I can easily eat a plant based diet and make a positive impact on my health, my baby’s health and the health of the environment.
The other way I have decreased my exposure and my baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals is by eliminating the use of chemicals around the house. Through a little bit of research and then some trial and error I’ve found that most things around the house can be cleaned with a combination of water, white vinegar, and baking soda. The benefits here are many, but what I love most of all is that I no longer have to hold my breath while scouring the bath tub in an effort to keep from inhaling the chemicals I used to use. Chemical fertilizers have been banned from my garden too. A baby rolling around on green grass is no longer cute if I think of all the chemicals his skin absorbs while he’s hanging out there. My new favorite tactic for eliminating weeds is using boiled water from cooking a pot of pasta and pouring it on the weeds. It works like magic to rid my garden quickly of weeds and I don’t have to expose our family or the natural world to harmful chemicals. I have to believe my dogs appreciate it too.
For me, living a healthy lifestyle has become synonymous with living sustainably. I have come to the realization that having a healthy body isn’t very useful in a toxic world and not only that, but it’s hard to create that healthy body in a world that’s not thriving. As I live some of these new habits not only do I hope to make a difference in my baby’s future world, but I am hopeful he will learn to live some of this as well. Numerous other ways exist to live healthily and sustainably too. It’s not just about reducing chemical exposure. Some people I know choose to bike commute to work or others have traded in their plastic water bottles for a reusable container. I’ve found that oftentimes these things don’t require extra money, energy, or time, but rather a reconsideration of routines and habits. With just a little consideration, individuals, families, and communities benefit.
What are the ways in which you’ve started to live a more sustainable lifestyle as a result of becoming a mom?