My kid’s carbon footprint keeps me awake at night

My kid’s carbon footprint keeps me awake at night

We all have a carbon footprint. I’m constantly conscious of mine, but that doesn’t equate to me changing my behavior. If my carbon footprint is significant, my son’s carbon footprint must be gargantuan. I shudder to think of all the pollution and waste he’s single-handedly contributed to the planet in only 42-months.

Infants may look harmless and cute, but that’s really when it all starts. Before they leave the hospital they are already consuming durable goods and leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Welcome to the world little one!

My husband and I adopted our son at birth three years ago, and we have no plans to have a second child. However, given the opportunity, I would do things differently. I suspect I would be a greener parent. We are dedicated recyclers, but just thinking of what we’ve sent off to landfills since Eddie was born troubles me. How does such a small person have such a big impact?

A baby uses 6,000 diapers before they are potty trained

A baby uses 6,000 diapers before they are potty trained, according to the folks at They also say it takes 200 to 500 years for petroleum-based disposable diapers to decompose, and that an estimated 49-million disposable diapers are used daily in the United States. That’s a lot of crap, to be sure. But it’s also a staggering amount of landfill waste attributable to a seemingly innocent segment of the population. (Okay, let’s be fair, it’s really attributable to their parents.)

I started to notice the uptick in our family’s carbon footprint just before our young one was born. Gifts started appearing on the front porch, delivered in big trucks by the USPS, FedEx, and UPS. Our friends from around the world were as happy as we were that our long adoption journey was coming to fruition. They wanted to share in the joy by sending gifts. Who can argue with that? They sent a lot of gifts. We didn’t have to buy clothes or toys for Eddie until he was two years-old and people sent us all sorts of necessities and cute little things.

After he was born, I was struck by how much babies consume. Whether it was disposable diapers, wipes, bottles of pre-mixed formula, cans of powdered formula, or just plastic containers filled with whatever baby needed. There was a lot of trash produced and our larger carbon footprint bothered me.

Landfill photo

It didn’t bother me enough to consider cloth diapers, as many parents have. It didn’t bother me enough to research how to bring up a green baby. I didn’t start making homemade baby food, something I had actually planned on doing before the reality of having an infant in the house sunk in. It just nagged at me, as it does today. I should have taken action. But, a combination of tiredness and laziness became my permanent state.

My husband and I shared baby duty so that we could each get some rest. We had the help of grandmas, friends, and neighbors. But, damn, we were tired. It was a perpetual tiredness that lingers to this day. As many of you know, being a parent means never again sleeping through the night.

So, even though it was present in my mind, I had no energy or motivation to look up ways to reduce my kid’s carbon footprint and make a reversal. I think it’s important though. Perhaps, if we had another child, I would make more of an effort. I would be prepared ahead of the child’s birth. It’s not rocket science. Reducing a family’s footprint can be done with a little effort.

Green parents are out there. I’ve seen them. They aren’t aliens or fanatics. They are just seemingly more informed, more prepared and they take a little extra time to lessen their impact on the planet. I would be one of them if I weren’t so damn tired (or lazy?)

Papa Says So is a dad blog written by Casey Cavalier, a California native living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.