Gearing Down for Earth Day

Posted on: April 22, 2010

A gear blog with eco-sensibilities is something of a paradox.

After all, in the (few remaining) greenest parts of our Earth, the only baby gear you’ll see is a simple piece of cloth tied into a sling.  And this to raise children with legitimate life skills like hunting and building and cooking from scratch.  If the point is to raise a family who stands a chance post-Armageddon, perhaps the rest of us are barking up the wrong tree (before cutting it down)…?

Okay, we’ve said all that mainly to be provocative.  But today really isn’t the day to push product at GaGaGear, so we’ll push some ideas instead.

1.  Living with “less” really is most environmentally effective when it means “less stuff.”  Always choose quality over quantity when it comes to baby gear.  You’ll be surprised at how much you don’t need (*cough* wipes warmer), and the best gear often does more with less.

2.  Items of higher quality at purchase time (cleaned, and maintained throughout their use) will fetch the most at resale.  By springing for that $400 BOB stroller, and keeping it spiffy, you’re starting a cycle of reuse in your own family and with others that is both eco- and community-friendly.  That $20 umbrella stroller – destined for the landfill.

3.  The good thing about plastic is it’s easy to keep in good condition (breakage aside).  Before opening your wallet for all new wooden toys or “green” toys made from recycled plastic, open your mind to resale!  Yard sales, Craigslist, Ebay, and your local resale shops are excellent places to pick up the usual suspects in very good condition – activity tables, exersaucers, tea sets, learning toys…even potties, diaper pails, high chairs and booster seats.  Buy them, use them, clean them up, and take them back for store credit.

4.  Do maintain a degree of vigilance around material provenance and surface chemistry, especially for toys, clothes, and bedsheets.  This requires understanding the issues, reading labels carefully, and familiarizing yourself with caution cues (we’ll cover this in more depth for an upcoming post).  We believe children have a right to chew safely on all their toys, play and sleep in clothing free of pesticides and flame retardant.

5.  Radical homemaking doesn’t have to be so…radical.  Simply befriending and agreeing to swap/share with a few other families can significantly ease the modern family’s baby gear burden.  Start the hand-me-down habit early, and it’s liable to stick.  Buy around a common interest – active families can successfully share items used less frequently like trampolines, family-sized tents, hiking backpacks or bike carriers (unless needed for a commute).  Rental can also be an option – check with local stores or place an inquiry on Craigslist or a community bulletin board.

You’ll notice none of these ideas require deprivation or major sacrifice – just mindful consumption.  Earth Day reminds us that we live in an ecosystem in which “things” are continually created, destroyed, and renewed.  Our job as 21st century parents is to source products in a way that sustains a healthy life cycle, for our families, for our communities, and for our environment.


2 Responses to "Gearing Down for Earth Day"

Hear, hear.

Slightly off topic perhaps, but a plea for you to consider the ethics of purchasing cheap trampolines. Please try and think about, for example, the materials the product is manufactured with, the human rights of the factories where they’re made and the ethics of the retailer. Oh, and endeavour to recycle your trampoline instead of discarding. Thanks!!!!

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    • JHeff: I have read a good number of comments about most users of the boba not really ever using the foot rests. Looking at the videos I've seen, the back on
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