Ways to Think Green From the Day Your Baby is Born
There are familiar and obvious ways to think green — or be environmentally friendly — when raising a child. Parents have the option of making secondhand purchases or going with hand-me-downs for things such as toys, clothes, and furniture. For new items, familiarity is usually a guiding principle, but it can be tricky to make purchases that support the well-being of individuals or the environment. Here’s a list of some possibilities:
Please note that Nursing@Georgetown provides the following list for informational purposes only. Nursing@Georgetown does not endorse any vendors, websites, or products contained on this list.
Americans throw away about 50,000 tons of disposable diaper tissue every year with the average baby using more than 8,000 diapers prior to potty training. Disposable diapers have been at the center of debate for decades. Supporters argue for their convenience, but the numbers show cause for concern. Disposable diapers can take 450 years or longer to degrade in a landfill.
Green options: Compostable or biodegradable diapers are a potential solution for those seeking a green and safe alternative to disposable diapers. For instance, gDiapers have created a “hybrid” diaper consisting of a disposable, compostable lining and washable outer shell. It is important to keep in mind that biodegradable diapers are only compostable if wet. Soiled diapers will not compost properly unless specific temperatures are met to kill fecal bacteria.
Some traditional baby wipes contain chemicals that you may want to avoid. While many believe natural and organic baby wipes to be the best solution, certain variations have hidden chemicals, such as chlorine, alcohol, or traces of formaldehyde. Be sure to do your homework if you choose a more “natural” option.
Green options: Organic or homemade wipes can eliminate the allergy and rash-causing chemicals found in traditional wipes. You could consider looking into organic wipes made from biodegradable materials, such as the wipes made by Jackson Reece and Bum Boosa. Another option would be the use of washable cloth wipes to significantly reduce the amount of landfill waste.
A mixture of chemicals and potentially toxic additives, cleaning supplies can be harmful or even fatal if inhaled or swallowed. Cleaning solutions contribute to the daily toll of two deaths and 374 children treated in emergency departments after being poisoned. These chemicals also enter water supplies and may (or may not) break down over time — affecting drinking water and overall health.
Green options: Natural cleaning options are simple to make and more affordable than traditional cleaners. They can be made using different combinations of household items like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, borax, and plain old water. Add in a little elbow grease and you can clean every surface in your home without fear of using toxic chemicals. If you’re not quite up to that challenge, look for green cleaners that list all of their ingredients.
Plastic is a huge consideration for a parent trying to support the environment and their child. Not only is there the consideration of the chemicals used to produce plastic, but also the huge amounts of waste generated after its use. There are two items to target in your objective to be greener.
The first item is the baby bottle. Whether you are breastfeeding with a pump or using formula, bottles are a must. The second are plastic snack or sandwich bags. They will follow your child in infancy, elementary school, and beyond. The convenience and disposability of these bags make them seem like the best option to tote items from place to place, but they contribute to the 32 million tons of plastic waste entering our waste system every year. Sandwich bags and plastic bottles consistently add to plastic manufacturing, which consumes eight percent of the world’s oil production each year.
Green options: You can explore the option of glass bottles to steer clear of any chemicals that are used in the production of plastic bottles. If you decide to go plastic-free, products like Lifefactory’s Glass Baby Bottles could merit some research. For snacks and sandwiches, there are a variety of eco-friendly, reusable containers available. While they are more expensive than plastic bags, their lifespan and cost per use are more reasonable long term. Reusable containers come in a variety of styles and materials including fabric, neoprene, and stainless steel. If you’re interested in using reusable lunch bags, you can look into them online through brands like ItzyRitzy, Yummi Pouch, and GrazeOrganic, or on Etsy.com.
There’s a lot to learn if you are trying to provide a green lifestyle for your baby. With so many options, it can feel overwhelming. Take time to talk to other parents or your health care provider, do your own research, and consider your own lifestyle and budget. If you make small changes where you can, it will all add up.
Please note that the above is for informational purposes only. Please consult a health care professional if you have questions.