Pregnancy is often a time when people give serious thought to the environment and the impact their everyday life has on the planet. We all want to leave a world that’s safe, clean and healthy for our children and our children’s children…
So, how can you balance life as new parents with being eco-friendly? Here are some ideas ?
- The most obvious is using cloth nappies, or natural nappies, instead of disposable ones. Did you know there are more than 8 million disposable nappies thrown in a bin every day in the UK. That’s an awful lot of avoidable waste going to landfill, disposable nappies aren’t biodegradable and can take an estimated 500 years to decompose!
According to an online recycling expert, ‘the main components of disposable nappies are cellulose fibres and polymer. These are both non-renewable resources and consume a lot of energy in production. The potential toxicity of the chemicals from the disposable nappy, as well as from the mix of faeces and urine, leaching into aquatic and terrestrial systems once they have been put in landfill, is a dangerous hazard, with harmful consequences both to humans and the environment. A return to cloth nappies was an instinctive and understandable response to this issue but don’t worry, they’ve come a long way since the days of terry towelling squares!
Today you will find an abundance of cloth nappies on the market, it’s almost a science, and this can be quite confusing for the novice consumer. Luckily, there are almost as many cloth nappy guru’s and experts as there are types of natural nappy. There are even libraries up and down the country in children’s centres, playgroups and high streets where you can get advice, try a product and hire all types of natural nappies and they are shared and re-used once your little one has outgrown them.
- The War on Plastic programme shown on the BBC earlier this year, really emphasised the environmental impact of baby wipes and it totally shocked the country. Since then, the use of wipes and single-use plastic has started to decrease noticeably as people evaluate their lifestyles and search for alternatives. Re-usable baby wipes are cloth pieces of fabric pad (usually cotton or bamboo) that can be washed and used again. There is a huge choice available to suit all budgets and the best thing about them is they’re gentler on baby’s delicate skin. A win-win! ?
- Re-use and Recycle – I know it’s tempting to splash out on all sorts of ‘must-have’ (rarely needed) baby items and equipment when you’re expecting, it’s part of the fun and let’s face it, it helps pass the time! (9 months is SO long to wait) However, think about accepting the offers of hand-me-down baby vests, sleepsuits, socks, hats, mittens…from friends and family. Also, the hardly used baby bath, baby gym, mobile with black and white giraffes! It will save you time and money and has a positive environmental element too.
NB: For safety reasons, cot mattresses and car seats should always be bought new
- Natural materials – think about the equipment and toys you buy for your baby/child. Brightly coloured, shiny new plastic is all very pretty but wood is timeless, durable and kinder to our lovely planet. Wooden highchairs are just as convenient as plastic, they fold and adapt to your growing child and they look so much better. Wood is a varied and very tactile material that can even be engraved with your little angel’s name!
- Eco-friendly living: Paper straws, bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax food wraps, bars of soap, refillable containers – these are just a few ideas of some very simple ideas to kick-start your new eco-friendly life as a parent. The initial outlay may be more but if you’re reusing them it makes good long-term financial sense.
If our children grow-up surrounded by examples of environmentally friendly everyday items, they will take the ‘baton’ of saving the planet, run into the next generation and have a better future because of the small things we can all do today.
Some useful links: