HAVING A NEW BABY PROVIDES MAY OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP THE PLANET!
As I packed away the 3-6 month clothes that my baby boy was already growing out of, I couldn't help but notice how much more STUFF is in our home. It's true, there are many things that are needed and unique to having a baby. Some items we have chosen not to purchase but others I can't imagine being without. Then Earth Day (April 22nd) came and I noted that yes, our home is more cluttered with baby paraphernalia but we have made great strides in being a more eco-friendly household. I hope these tips inspire you or at least make you think about how some small changes can make a big difference for our planet.
Our family tries to eat as much organic or locally grown produce as we can. Grocery store chains now carry some organic food options and the country of origin is listed on produce food packaging for convenience. Some harder to find items may also be found in a local co op (like Limerick's Urban Co Op) or health food stores. Organically grown food is not sprayed or grown with industrial fertilizers or herbicides. These chemicals in turn do not enter the soil, air or water system. Your family also isn't ingesting the residues of these chemicals when you eat organic food. Locally sourced food has a smaller carbon footprint so contributes less to pollution. Growing your own food is also another option. Maybe you start small with a potted herb garden or go big and set up a poly tunnel!
The average baby will go through approximately 5,000 disposable diapers from newborn to toilet training! These nappies often contain plastics and other chemicals used during the manufacturing process that may irritate sensitive skin. The nappies are also estimated to take 400+ years to break down in landfills. There are more eco conscious disposable nappies that are made without plastic or cloth nappies are also a great option (brands may include Natty, Kit & Kin, Rascal & Friends and more). There is an initial investment and learning curve for cloth nappies but the rewards are great. They are less irritating to sensitive skin, they are kinder to the environment, they can be used for more than one baby and they save you a lot of money! There are many different styles, brands and price ranges to choose from too. The Cloth Nappy Library of Ireland has kits that parents can rent if they want to try a variety of nappies before they buy. I also regularly run Intro to Cloth Nappy Classes for new and expectant parents that are cloth nappy curious. See my events page to see what’s happening near you!
You can go one step further and also use cloth wipes! You can buy an inexpensive kit for under €25 or buy the wipes solo from many different websites. Some people pre-soak the wipes in water. I prefer having a small spray bottle and simply moistening the cloth wipe before use. You can also opt for a more eco-friendly wipe brand with fewer or no chemical additives, like Water Wipes.
REUSABLES FOR MUM
Along that same wavelength, there are plenty of reusable items for mum too! Cloth sanitary pads (CSPs) or mama cloth are becoming more popular. These sanitary pads have a snap feature so they stay securely attached to your underwear and are usually made of absorbent cotton or bamboo. Once used, you simply wash them! This saves countless pads, which are considered single-use plastics, from going to a landfill where it takes hundreds of years for them to breakdown.
Another alternative is a menstrual cup. These cups are usually made of flexible hospital grade silicon and come in different sizes. They collect menstrual blood while in the vaginal cavity and are rinsed/cleaned between uses. A third reusable mama option is breast pads! I personally love my super absorbent heart-shaped bamboo breast pads by Bamboobies. The heart shape moulds to my unique breast shape so there aren't any super obvious breast pad circles visible through my top. I never have to worry about running low on breast pads, I've used them after THREE babies and again, I'm not adding to a landfill.
DITCH THE NAPPY BAGS!
The first time I saw small disposable plastic bags for dirty nappies was in Ireland. I had never used them before even when I used disposables myself. A great alternative is a nappy wet bag. Commonly used for soiled cloth nappies while on the go, a water proof wet bag could easily be used for those using disposables too! The lining of the bag does not allow leaks and you simply unzip and tip the bag to release cloth or disposable nappies. You can reuse the bag and rinse or wash as needed. It fits conveniently in any changing bag and reduces plastic bag waste.
BUY GENTLY USED
There are many websites and local events where you can buy new or gently used items for baby! My favourite is the Baby Market Ireland. Events are held all over the country and local families sell everything from prams, play units, clothes, toys, playpens and so much more! I bought a pack of new cloth diapers at the last event along with multiple outfits for baby!
MAKE YOUR OWN BABY FOOD
When I was a kid and teenager I remember baby food always being sold in small, shiny glass jars that lined the grocery store shelves. Many are now sold in little plastic pots or pouches that can leech into baby's food and contribute to the world's overwhelming plastic problem. Making and feeding baby food made at home (starting at 6+ months) doesn't have to be a big chore. It could be as simple as mashing an avocado with a fork and thinning with breast milk or formula. Or mashing a banana and doing the same. You could steam a sweet potato or other veg for baby to try. Elaborate meals aren't necessary, especially in the beginning.
BUY FROM RESPONSIBLE BUSINESSES
Look for businesses that recycle, use glass versus plastic or have other low impact practicesYour hard earned money and where you choose to spend it speaks on your behalf. I'm going to use my business as an example for this. My placenta encapsulation remedies are all packaged in glass versus plastic. I offer a chiller pack that can be rented by clients, reducing the number of non reusable items clients buy. I also reuse things like old delivery boxes and padded envelopes to post remedies to clients. My cosmetic items (Mommy & Baby Balm, Face & Body Cream and Facial Oil) are made using organic ingredients. Every step I take to be more friendly to the planet both professionally and personally is something I'm proud of and most of my clients appreciate it too!