Born into an eco-friendly family

Marites Nguyen picks a flower for her daughter, Emma, who has exhibited affection for nature since her first months of life. (photo by Cynthia Kurose)

Born into an eco-friendly family

Emma Nguyen made her debut in to the world April 22, 2017, several days later than anticipated. Originally expected to be a Tax Day baby, she hung on until Earth Day, almost as if to make a statement about the family she was being born in to.

Her mother, Scripps Ranch resident Marites Nguyen, has always considered herself an environmentally-conscious person. A once cloth-diapered baby herself, she was happy to connect with her roots when she made the decision to use cloth diapers for her children, as well. At meal times, her family of five uses reusable cloth napkins, reducing their landfill impact. She is also a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group, from which she receives fresh, seasonal produce procured from local farms to feed her family.

As an admin for her local Scripps Ranch Buy Nothing group, Nguyen fully embraces the concept of reusing and repurposing once-loved treasures received from neighbors, and gifting back to her community from her own abundance. Baby Emma’s first-year wardrobe consisted primarily of items gifted to her through Buy Nothing, including a multitude of onesies, dresses, shoes and accessories once donned by other Scripps Ranch babies.  

Emma “received so much clothes that we were able to share them with other baby friends in the community,” Nguyen said. “We’ve gotten toys to keep her occupied and entertained at home and on family trips. It’s great because it feels like she has sisters in the community.”

For her first birthday, Emma enjoyed an intimate dinner with her immediate family “to celebrate her birth and being a family of five,” Nguyen said.

Then, in order to allow friends to share in the fun, Nguyen planned a playdate for Emma at the park with light snacks and activities.

“We made art using plants and other biodegradable materials. I also asked our friends to bring reusable containers and cups so we could limit the amount of items that go in the trash,” she said.

As for presents for the birthday girl, Ngyuen told friends that while none were necessary, if they did elect to bring gifts, she would “prefer hand-me-down items and non-battery operated toys or books.”

While recounting some of the practices she and her family have adopted, Nguyen offered a list of things others could do immediately to start living a more earth-friendly life.
She suggested: “Participate in your local Buy Nothing group, join a CSA, support eco-friendly businesses, buy from local businesses and minimize the carbon footprint associated with shipping, avoid using disposable plastic straws, use reusable cloth napkins, and use reusable containers and dishes instead of single-use containers that end up in the landfill.”

Nguyen regularly posts photos of Emma on her Facebook page, followed by the hashtag “#earthdaybaby,” affectionately reinforcing the sign under which her daughter was born, and also trying to emphasize her message with friends about adopting a lifestyle that is earth-friendly.

For her future, Nguyen hopes that daughter Emma will honor her “Earth Day baby” nickname and grow up to adopt earth-friendly attitudes and behaviors.

“I hope that her love and wonder for trees continues to grow. I hope that her actions help encourage others in protecting and preserving our environment and limited resources. I hope that she grows up believing in her own magic and empowers others to find theirs,” Nguyen said.

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