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By: Ashley Wasilenko

When my three-year-old son came home from school singing a song about “the Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her,” it made me realize as parents, we need to take every opportunity to teach him about, well—everything! Carpe diem!


We were driving home in the car, and he asked why we have to take care of the Earth like it said in the song. A question with so many possible responses, but I started by explaining ways in which we can all work together to help keep the Earth healthy. I tried to find analogies that would resonate for my little outdoorsman who loves landscaping and planting and puttering outside like a 50-year-old man.

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But instead I tried to keep it simple, and explain some things we can and should do in our everyday lives to help the planet. ?

We conserve energy at home—

We have made many changes in our home to be more eco-friendly. We bought an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat, which allows us to control the temperature remotely, so we don’t have to waste the heat/air conditioner all day when we aren’t home—and, more importantly, it saves us money. I’m happy to keep an extra $50 a year in my pocket! We have started to switch all of our bulbs over to the energy-efficient ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs, and explained to him this helps conserve energy. I love them! They are the perfect brightness and color – and last for 12 years! My son will be in high school then. (Cue the waterworks from mama!) All of these he puts his tool belt on, and helps “install,” so he feels like part of the process.

We planted a garden—

Something we do every year, but this is the first year he was heavily involved, and helped actually plant. I explained how we could grow our own food. We start with seeds, care for them, water them, give them sun, and then they will grow into herbs or veggies that we can eat! And he can even harvest them and help Mommy cook them. ?

We go to the Farmers Market—

Every Sunday in the summer we make it a routine to go to the farmers market and stock up on delicious produce, milk, eggs and treats from local farmers and vendors. Each time, we go talk to our favorite farmer, and ask what is extra delicious this week and what’s coming next week. Whenever I cook it up for dinner, I always remind him “farmer Guy grew this for us to enjoy.” We’ve even visited the farm a few times, so he can see where his food comes from.

We eat what’s in season—

When he asks for watermelon in the dead of winter, I always remind him that we eat what is in season. Likely that means it’s grown locally, or traveled a shorter distance to get to us. And it just plain tastes better – something he can understand more than reducing carbon emissions.

We do the little things—

Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth. Turn out the lights in a room if you’re not in it to conserve electricity. Some day he will realize all that electricity and water actually costs MONEY. Another little switch I’ve made myself? Opting for ENERGY STAR certified appliances. Whether it’s an energy-efficient washing machine saving me $45 annually (mamas do a lot of laundry) or the dryer using about 20 percent less energy than standard models, I love being able to set a good example without having to work any harder than I already do. All I do is look for that blue label to know I’m making a smarter choice. ?

We recycle—

It seems simple, but this is a huge one. Our son helps us take out the garbage and recycling. And like any toddler who is obsessed with all moving vehicles, a garbage truck is no exception. He knows our garbage men’s names, and waves every morning, says thank you, and have a nice day!

I never thought it would be this hard to teach a little human the ways of the big bad world—and still manage to shield them from the icky stuff. But I’m a believer in taking the positive route. Don’t talk about the Earth being in bad shape, or global warming, or there may not be a planet for your grandchildren. Definitely all concepts they cannot grasp. But instilling values, family values now, shows them the right way, rather than telling. Leading by example and doing things together, as a family—this is how we shape these tiny humans into thriving, contributing members of our society.

When it comes to saving energy in our homes and protecting the environment, the simple choice is ENERGY STAR. Making smart choices can help all mamas (and dads!) use energy more wisely. With ENERGY STAR, all you have to do is look for the blue label. How simple is that?

Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program.

Our babies come out as beautiful, soft and natural as can be—shouldn't their clothes follow suit?

Here are nine of our favorite organic kids clothing brands that prove safe fabrics + stylish designs are a natural fit.

Estella

A brick and mortar store in Manhattan that opened in 2002, Estella is NYC's go-to shop for luxury baby gifts—from sweet-as-pie organic clothing to eco-friendly toys.

L'ovedbaby

@lovedbaby

We l'oved this collection from the moment we laid eyes on it. (See what we did there 🤣) Free of things harsh added chemicals, dangerous flame retardants, and harmful dyes, this collection is 100% organic and 100% gorgeous. We especially adore their soft, footed rompers, comfy cotton joggers, and newborn-friendly kimono bodysuits.

Looking to stock up? Don't miss Big-Find Thursday every week on their site—a 24-hour flash sale that happens Thursdays at 9 a.m. PST and features a different body style, collection, and discount every week!

Hanna Andersson

@happyhannas

One of our all-time favorite brands for durability, style, + customer service, Hanna Andersson doesn't disappoint in the organic department, either. From an aww-inducing organic baby layette collection all the way to their iconic pajamas, there are so many organic styles to swoon over from this beloved brand. And we swear their pajamas are magic—they seem to grow with your little one, fitting season after season!

Monica + Andy

@monicaandandy

The fabric you first snuggle your baby in matters. Monica + Andy's (gorgeous) collection is designed for moms and babies by moms with babies, and we love it all because it's made of super-soft GOTS-certified organic cotton that's free of chemicals, lead, and phthalates. Newborn pieces feature thoughtful details like fold-over mittens and feet.

Finn + Emma

@finnandemma

"Here boring designs and toxic chemicals are a thing of the past while modern colors, fresh prints and heirloom quality construction are abundant." We couldn't agree more. Made from 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and in fair trade settings, we love this modern collection's mix of style + sustainability.

We especially love the Basics Collection, an assortment of incredibly soft, beautiful apparel + accessories including bodysuits, zip footies, pants, hats, and bibs, all available in a gender-neutral color palette that can work together to create multiple outfit combinations. The pieces are perfect for monochrome looks or for mixing with prints for a more modern style.

SoftBaby

@littleaddigrey for @softbaby_clothes

You'll come for SoftBaby's organic fabrics, but you'll stay for their adorable assortment of prints. From woodland foxes to urban pugs, there's no limit to their assortment (meaning you'll even be able to find something for the new mama who's hard to shop for). Plus, the name says it all--these suckers are soft. Get ready for some serious cuddle time.

Gap Baby

@gapkids

Organic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Gap, but this popular brand actually carries a wide variety of organic (and adorable) baby + toddler clothes. From newborn layette basics to toddler sleepwear—and more—there's something for everyone in this collection. Everything is 100% cotton, super soft + cozy, and perfect for eco-conscious mamas.

Winter Water Factory

@winterwaterfactory

Certified organic cotton with Brooklyn-based swagger? Be still our hearts. Winter Water Factory features screen-printed textiles in bold designs you'll want to show off (get ready for some major Instagram likes). And the husband-and-wife co-founders keep sustainability at the forefront of their brand, meaning you can feel good about your purchase--and what you're putting on your baby.

The company makes everything from kids' clothes to crib sheets (all made in the USA). For even more cuteness, pair their signature rompers with a hat or bonnet.

Under the Nile

@underthenile

Under the Nile has been making organic baby clothes since before it was cool. Seriously, they were the first baby clothing company in the USA to be certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. They've kept up that legacy of high standards by growing their Egyptian cotton on a biodynamic farm without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and all of their prints are made with metal-free colors and no chemical finishes.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

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