When you become a mom you feel a stronger need to give your kids the best. This includes leaving this planet a little better than you found it. Our planet is affected by the choices our ancestors made but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do. Therefore, I want to share a few tips to be more sustainable as a new parent.
Diapers are extremely wasteful. It is one of the most wasteful parts of a child's life. A baby uses over 6000 disposable diapers during its first 2,5 years of life (the average age of potty training). This is an immense amount of waste produced. Diapers are often made from fossil resources that are turned into plastic, meaning this diaper takes about 500 years to decompose in a landfill.
Before the 1950s, people did this differently, and I think we can do that again. Modern cloth diapers look so much different from what they did 70 years ago. They are more user-friendly and our washing machines are much more efficient so boiling diapers in a pan on your kitchen stove is no longer a thing (this is very bad for your cloth diapers btw). Besides the fact that they produce less waste, there are also fewer chemicals near your baby’s delicate bits and you can save thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers.
Now, I have to be honest. I am not perfect and I always have a few disposable diapers at home. In case something happens to our washing machine or when my baby has a sleepover. As I care about the planet, I choose eco-friendly diapers that are made from 100% FSC-certified wood pulp as absorbent material instead of chemicals making these diapers a great eco alternative to cloth diapers.
2. Sustainable fashion
As clothes are worn directly against your skin, we want to wear something safe and free from harmful pesticides which can be present in cotton clothing. A baby has a higher skin surface-to-body volume ratio which means their skin and body absorb many chemicals easier compared to adults. This is one of the reasons why organic baby clothes are the best choice for your baby. Even though this is best for both the planet and your baby's skin, it is not for everyone's budget. For those of us, second hand baby clothes are a great choice. Not only because babies grow extremely fast and will wear the clothes for only a few months but also because second hand clothes have been washed very frequently. This means that the chemicals that can be present in cotton clothes have been washed away as much as possible making second hand clothes not only more affordable but also healthier compared to new cotton clothes.
Avoid plastic toys for your kids. Plastic is derived from fossil resources like coal, gas, and crude oil. This undergoes extensive treatment to become the plastic that is used in toys. Even though most plastics are extensively tested, there could be toxins present in plastic you would like to avoid like: Bisphenol A, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), and fire retardants. All these chemicals are known to affect the human body and are better avoided. So what is the alternative? Wooden toys. Wooden toys are eco-friendly, have great durability, and feel much nicer in your hands. They are also quieter and less distracting compared to plastic toys.
You may quickly notice that wooden toys are a little more pricey, please don’t purchase wooden toys from places like Aliexpress or Wish. China has much different safety regulations regarding toys compared to the EU or the US. Go for a respectable brand so you are sure that no harmful substances are present in the toys.
About the author of this article
Valinda has an MSc in Plant Science from Wageningen University (with a minor in Climate Change) but changed her passion for academics to sustainability. She started her GreenandHappyMom blog where she shares her zero waste journey and helps others become more aware of the impact they have on the planet for future generations.