AD | Having a baby can be one of the biggest ways to increase your carbon footprint. There are all the new items that you need (or want!) to buy for your baby, plus then a whole lifetime of pollution that your baby will create.
It is hard to be eco-friendly when you have a new baby. Especially when in those first few weeks when you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, it’s natural to want to go for the things that are more convenient. So you might be more likely to buy food with excess packaging, use disposable products or not be mindful of where you are buying items from while you are exhausted and in the newborn bubble.
However, being environmentally mindful is something that we need to keep on doing in all aspects of our lives, even with a new baby. Here are some things you can do to be more environmentally friendly when you have a new baby.
1. Buy from eco-friendly shops when buying baby products
As new parents, you should buy from a company that has eco-friendly practices, such as using recycled materials to make their products. If you cannot find a product that is eco-friendly and have to buy something new, you should try to purchase something that is made of natural materials like cotton.
There are many places where parents can find eco-friendly baby products that offer a great selection of eco-friendly baby clothes and bedding. When buying toys, look into buying wooden toys instead of plastic!
Almost every online shop now has a section on their website that tells you what they are doing for the environment and sustainability. These are often practices such as using bespoke packaging that’s plastic-free and recyclable. Other things to look out for are the use of materials in their products that are fair trade and locally sourced.
2. Switch to sustainable washing powder
I’ve never washed so many clothes in my life! There have been a few times that Leo has needed changing five times in the same day due to his reflux which made him sick lots, combined with those poo explosions. It only gets worse as they get older, I’m afraid. Now every time he eats he needs a new set of clothes. He just pulls bibs off!
Use eco-friendly detergent, with recycled and recyclable packaging.
3. Use cloth nappies or other eco-friendly nappies
An eco-friendly nappy is a type of nappy that is designed to be thrown away after use. Eco-friendly nappies are more expensive than regular nappies as they cost more to make, but they are biodegradable. For example, Boots sell a bamboo nappy that uses 40% plant-based materials, has less plastic than traditional nappies and has 100% recyclable packaging.
The other option is reusable cloth nappies which are becoming more and more popular. Although you have to pay for the initial nappies, you can then continue to use them over and over again, which saves money in the long run as well as prevent you from sending nappies to landfills, which lowers the impact on the environment.
4. Use an eco-friendly wet wipe
90% of baby wipes contain plastic. Swap out these for a more environmentally friendly wet wipe that contains bamboo fabric and cotton.
You can also buy washable, reusable wipes so you won’t have to use single-use wipes! I know many people are not keen on the idea of using reusable wipes for those big poo explosions, but even if you just used them from wet nappies, then used eco-friendly disposable wipes for soiled nappies, it’s still better than using normal wipes!
Remember that any change is better than no change!
5. Use a reusable water bottle
A reusable water bottle is an environmentally-friendly alternative to buying disposable bottles or cans of pop.
I’ve mentioned it many times, like in my hospital bag post and breastfeeding essentials post, but a water bottle is a must! Take one of the hospital, one with a straw that your partner can hold to your mouth during labour rather than trying to use plastic cups that the hospital provides.
When I was in the hospital, they filled my bottle up from the jugs they brought in.
When you go home, keep the bottle with you as you will need it when you are trapped in bed or on the sofa with a feeding baby! Take it with you everywhere to avoid having to buy a bottle when you are out. Especially if you are breastfeeding as it really is thirsty work!
6. Buy used items when possible instead of new products
Buying new products can be expensive and the environment will be significantly less harmed if you purchase used items.
Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It reduces your carbon footprint by not contributing to the production of new items and it saves money for you too. A lot of people say that buying secondhand is not as good as buying new, but this is not always true.
Facebook marketplace has loads of baby items. Some are even free! You can get bundles of clothing for your baby’s age so you don’t need to buy new.
Baby’s go through things so quickly! I was given most of Leo’s clothes from a friend, I then passed them on to another friend when he got too big.
7. Compost food scraps
Once your baby starts weaning, you will probably spend most of the time picking their food up off the floor. If you don’t already compost food, then now is the time. You can learn more about how to make homemade compost here.
You can then use the compost in your own garden. It’s a great way to get on your journey to a zero food waste lifestyle!
8. Reduce your meat consumption
Meat produces more emissions per unit of energy compared with that of plant-based foods, so it’s great for the environment to reduce meat consumption.
When you start weaning your baby, you can start getting them into the habit of eating lots of vegetables and plant-based products instead of meat. You don’t have to completely give up meat, but if you are currently eating meat every meal, then having a few meat-free meals a week will be a big help and also push you to explore new food with your baby!
We eat vegan fairly often and it’s often cheaper, easier to cook and the pans and dishes are much easier to clean after!
9. Use reusable sanitary pads
I was sent some disposable pads just before I gave birth and used them after I gave birth in place of maternity pads when i had postpartum bleeding. Most menstrual pads are 90% plastic and take thousands of years to decompose!
You can get lots of reusable sanitary products now, such as period pads, period cups and reusable pads.
10. Plan ahead of time
Once your baby is here, you will be thrown into that sleepy, exhausting, beautiful newborn phase where the only thing that matters is your baby. And sleep. So if you intend to opt for environmentally friendly ways of bringing a baby into this world, it’s time to start thinking about it and getting prepared before you have the baby.