Zero Garbage Baby -- How to Raise a Child without Raising your Waste

Zero Garbage Baby -- How to Raise a Child without Raising your Waste

Raising a green child is nothing to be scared of if you plan well and follow some good advice, says a Saskatoon mother.

An eco-friendly family can be a happy family, says Naomi Mihilewicz, who was invited by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society to give a talk on "green parenting."

Mihilewicz, 32, potty trained her son Holden without using a single disposable diaper or wipe.

"There were a few close calls where we were at the end of the cloth diapers," she said in an interview before her Tuesday night talk. "When he started solids at six months, we hardly had any poopy diapers. It was almost always in the bathroom."

Mihilewicz and her husband Kris aren't strangers to sustainable living.

Between May 2009 and May 2010, the couple took on the challenge of throwing away as little waste as possible. With smart consumerism and close attention to daily habits, they filled the city-issued rollout garbage bin only once that entire year.

Holden, now almost two-and-ahalf years old, was born at home, breast fed (another waste-reducing tip), and as he grew his parents made sure to use as much homemade finger food and reusable snack containers as possible.

The desire for sustainable living came from Mihilewicz's parents, who raised her to keep an eye on wasteful habits, she says. She also works at the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council.

"I guess I follow the seven-generation principle - you should try and live your life so that people seven generations after you aren't going to feel the negative effects (of the waste you generate)," Mihilewicz said.

Deviating from conventional parenting can be difficult. Research is an important first step for parents wishing to replace disposable diapers with cloth ones, or for any practice straying from the norm, Mihilewicz said.

Otherwise, surprises and missteps might discourage parents. Mihilewicz started with 25 waterproof cloth covers and about 45 absorbent inserts in place of the disposable diapers. The only diaper boxes you'll see in the Mihilewicz home are from a cousin who supplied the family with hand-me-down clothes (another sustainability tip).

"I think a lot of people think they can't do it - that it's all or nothing," she said. "Try it. Think outside of the box. There are support groups in Saskatoon to help." Mihilewicz hopes to pass along her eco-friendly parenting habits to Holden when he's old enough to understand.

"My guess is that he isn't going to care until he has his own kids," Mihilewicz said.

StarPhoenix article and video

Saskatchewan Environmental Society