For families with children, a massive chunk of the budget goes into raising your kids. That means if you want to use your money to make an impact, you need to make eco-friendly choices for yourself and your little ones.
This is a great way to save money and cut back on trash — two things every parent needs to do — and it’ll also help you instill positive values in your children, which is priceless.
While many families take some basic steps, like sharing hand-me-downs, seasoned parents know there’s more to sustainable parenting than just being frugal. Here are two high-impact changes you can make to help your kids and the planet.
The average American parent spends about $300 every year to buy one child 40 pounds of toys.
While every child has a few treasured favorites that they’ll keep for years, the vast majority of those toys are quickly forgotten or outgrown, only taking up space in the toybox. Eventually, most will just be thrown away.
It’s an especially noticeable problem when children are young, because they’re developing quickly. They need toys to practice emerging motor skills and learn shapes, colors, and numbers, as the National Association for the Education of Young Children explains, but it seems like almost as soon as they have those toys, they’re ready to move on to the next ones.
That’s what makes a toy rental service genius.
With a service like ToyLibrary, parents sign up to receive a set number of high-quality and personalized toys for a monthly fee. Every month, parents can choose to swap out the toys they don’t want anymore for new ones, sending the old ones back for free. The old toys get cleaned up and become available for new families to rent.
This approach is amazing for parents and kids alike. Some subscription services are as cheap as $12.50 a month, so you could save up to or beyond $150 per year compared to buying all your child’s toys. You can swap items out frequently so your child doesn’t get bored, like old-school Netflix, and their toys will grow with them. Old toys are passed on to new kids, so nothing gets wasted.
Plus, you’ll have way less junk to deal with in the playroom, spend less time on cleanup, and have less trash to deal with when clearing out closets — about 40 pounds fewer per year. And nothing would be stopping you from still buying some toys outright, when the long-term value feels right or an item is just not available from the toy rental service.
While your children are in diapers, they’ll average 2,500 per year, or 230 pounds of diapers alone. If your child finishes potty training at age 3, they’ll have produced over 700 pounds. That’s a mountain of waste, much of it non-biodegradable plastic.
The more eco-friendly alternative is a diaper service that uses compostable (or cloth) diapers. The right provider can not only deliver these diapers to your doorstep on a regular schedule, but they’ll also pick up the dirty ones on a regular basis.
The used diapers are taken away and composted — meaning they’re allowed to break down naturally into soil. Tiny Tots is one company that offers this type of diaper service.
Currently, using a diaper service isn’t a money-saving choice. It does cost more than traditional diapers: $2,000 per year ($408 of which is for the delivery, pickup, and composting service, and the rest for diaper costs) versus around $1,000 for buying and trashing traditional diapers. That’s an added cost of around $2,500 per child from birth to the end of potty training.
However, if you can fit it into your budget, you’ll be doing an incredible favor for the environment by eliminating a significant amount of plastic waste — and there’s always the possibility that the service will become more affordable as it gets more popular.
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