Preparing For Baby: Tips for the Eco-Conscious
Adding a new baby to your household is an exciting event. For the eco-conscious parent, all of the gear necessary for a new baby seems excessive. After all, many of the most popular items of baby gear are simply not environmentally friendly. If you are a soon-to-be parent who wishes to “go green” while preparing for a new arrival, here are some tips you can use.
The Diaper Dilemma
The first bridge you will need to cross as a new parent is deciding what diaper type to use. For centuries before the modern parenting generation, parents used cloth diapers for their little ones. There simply was no other option. However, that changed when disposable diapers hit the market. You probably assume that cloth diapers are the most environmentally friendly, but can you be sure? After all, you will spend a lot of water and electricity cleaning those diapers, so which is really better?
Disposable diapers add 5 million tons of untreated waste to the landfills each year. This includes 2 billion tons of urine, feces, paper, and plastic. The diapers used by American babies take 200,000 trees a year to produce. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose, and some of the plastic parts will never decompose completely. The future impact of disposables on the planet is huge.
In contrast, cloth diapers do use water and electricity to clean, but this has far less of an impact on the environment as a whole than using disposables does. The fecal matter and urine, for instance, is sent to water treatment facilities, where it is properly removed from water through the sewage system, rather than soaking into the ground in a landfill.
The good news is that today’s cloth diapers are as easy to use as a disposable, and they are very cute too. Modern disposables come in a variety of styles, but most have a multi-layer liner that absorbs as much as a disposable diaper can. Parents no longer need to use safety pins, because the diapers are clasped with Velcro or specially designed diaper clasps. Also, babies who use cloth diapers tend to potty train quicker than babies who use disposables, because they feel the wetness in their diaper and are more willing to learn the process of using the toilet in order to avoid that wet feeling.
Organic Baby Clothing
Another consideration that environmentally conscious parents must make sir whether or not their baby will use organic baby clothing. Baby clothing is typically made from soft materials, like cotton. While these are very comfortable for baby, they can carry harmful chemicals that the fibers of the plant absorbed while it was growing and as it was treated to be made into cloth.
Organic clothing is made from organic cotton, which means it will not contain these dangerous chemicals. Not only will you be helping the environment by encouraging growers to stop using pesticides, but you will also ensure that the items that are the closest to your baby’s sensitive skin are as safe as possible for your little one.
Lotions, Soaps, and Cleaners
Believe it or not, the traditional baby lotions and soaps that so many parents use could be harmful to your baby. Many shampoos and baby lotions contain paraben, a dangerous chemical that is absorbed into your baby’s skin. Paraben can mimic estrogen, which can lead to cancer. While it is unknown whether the amount of paraben in baby soaps and lotions is enough to be dangerous, as an eco-conscious parent, you are probably more than willing to avoid them. The good news is that there are several “green” soaps and lotions you can buy for your little one, if you shop carefully.
Laundry detergent is another area that you might want to use some caution. Doctors already advise parents against using traditional laundry detergents on their baby’s clothing because of the harsh chemicals and irritating perfumes that they contain. Most parents buy special “baby safe” laundry detergent, but even these can contain toxic chemicals that you may wish to keep away from your baby. You can make your own laundry detergent to avoid these problems, or you could purchase non-toxic laundry detergent from an earth-friendly baby store.
One of the latest problems that researchers have found in the baby world is BPA. BPA is a chemical that is found in a variety of hard plastics, such as those that are used in bottles and other baby feeding gear. BPA is thought to increase the risk of developing certain cancers later in life. High exposure to BPA can also lead to reproductive problems.
Researchers have discovered that this potentially dangerous chemical leaks into the food that is stored in the containers, particularly if they are reheated in the microwave, which is a common way to heat baby formula. Advocates are currently working towards getting BPA removed from all baby and toddler feeding gear, but until that happens, educated parents need to take steps on their own to protect their babies from this potential danger.
Breast-feeding moms can protect their newborns from BPA by not using baby bottles. However, breastfeeding is not the sole source of nutrition for older babies and toddlers, and BPA can be found in sippy cups, plastic spoons, and plastic bowls. As a “green” parent, you will want to shop for BPA-free baby products.
One option to avoid the potential dangers of BPA is to buy glass baby bottles and sippy cups that are made out of BPA-free plastic. If you are unsure about whether or not a particular feeding item is free of BPA, contact the manufacturer and ask. Most of the major companies that manufacture baby feeding supplies have a BPA-free option for concerned parents.
About the Author
This article was written on behalf of MyBabyMarket, a popular online
Is there any point using biodegradable nappy/diaper sacks…?
If you’re using pampers or some other not eco friendly nappy/diaper?
I hope to only use disposable diapers/nappies for the first couple of months with my baby, then will hopefully try reusables. Can’t see the point of using a bio-degradable sack if the nappy inside it isn’t going anywhere soon!
I’m fully aware of the eco benefits of washable nappies but have heard from various sources that it’s better to wait a month or 2 before trying them, given the staying power of newborn poo…
The newborn poo is apparently pretty bad BUT you can get disposable liners for reusable diapers that can work. I personally have BumGenuis one-size reusable diapers with the disposable liners to go on top (they come in a big roll and can be thrown out or flushed), but depending on how big the baby is, even BumGenius are a little too large for the first few weeks. I also plan on using a natural oil on his/her bottom to help ensure it’s easier to clean off them, and disposable diapers for the first week or two until they fit into the BumGenius.
SO…. Yes it’s ‘bad’ to throw any of it out, so ANYTHING you use that is biodegradable is good. (By having the sack degrade quickly, maybe the diapers can start to degrade quicker as well?) I know how you feel – I feel bad about using any disposable diapers before I can move him/her into the resusables – and have made sure to find biodegradable/flushable top liners for the really nasty messes once I do make the switch.
FYI – The BumGenius diapers I tried on my nephews, one is about 1.5 months old, the other nearly 2 years old – and they fit great, were easy to change, and washed clean in the laundry. Neither had them leak. They did cost a bit more up front, but will save tons of money over the years – as the one-size works right up until they’re out of diapers. It’s worth looking into if you haven’t found a type you like just yet and are hoping to move you child into resuables within a month of being born.
Good luck and ANYTHING you do to help cut down on landfill waste is a good one, so don’t stress if you do end up throwing out a bit – and thank you for trying to use biodegradable products in any way
Flushable Diapers Provide Eco-Friendly Option