Bringing Home Baby? Here’s 4 Simple Steps to Cut Down on Waste
by Bridgitte Rodguez
I don’t have kids, but just about all my friends do. I’ve often wondered if you can have a kid and be sustainable at the same time. After all, between diapers, wipes, bottles and seemingly never ending loads of laundry, babies create a lot of waste. Is it possible to add more sustainability to bringing home a baby?
Let’s start with the most obvious offender when it comes to waste – diapers. The average baby will go through 6,000 diapers before they’re potty trained. Every day in the United States almost 49 million disposable diapers are used. If you use disposable diapers on your child – 50% of your trash is diapers, and diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills. In short, diapers create lots of trash that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as the average diaper takes somewhere between 200 and 500 years to fully decompose. That means they will outlast generations of the kids wearing them. Not ideal!The disposable diaper hasn’t been around that long – in fact, it wasn’t until 1958 that Pampers released the first affordable, disposable diaper. Barely 1% of diapers being used were disposable, compared to today, where fully 90% of diapers used are disposable. For those not wanting to add to the growing landfill of diapers, there are an array of companies that make reusable diapers. These are not the cloth diapers of our grandparents or even our parents’ time. They’ve come a long way, and are easy to use and clean. If going the reusable route is not in the cards for you, there are plenty of diapers on the market that are more environmentally friendly than your standard disposable diaper. These include biodegradable diapers and diapers made without chlorine or other toxic chemicals.
Much like the waste created with diapers, baby wipes are right up there with diaper usage, as every time you change a diaper, a wipe is probably also used. Unlike diapers that stop being used once potty training is achieved, wipes are ever present in the lives of children and many adults. The average baby will use around 2,000 wipes until they are potty trained. Like disposable diapers, wipes are also not biodegradable, as they’re often made from a combination of plastics, wood pulp and cotton. Further, they’re treated with chemicals that can impact the environment. There are no real alternatives to wipes, other than using a washcloth with soap and water, which is preferable for the purposes of sustainability.
Babies get dirty, so you can’t stop doing laundry. You can, however, lessen the impact of your laundry by following a few simple tips. Only do full loads of laundry, avoid using bleach or other harmful chemicals, only use cold water, and hang up items to dry naturally. You can also purchase an energy-efficient washing machine. Front load machines use an average of 7,000 gallons less water than top load machines.
Naturally, the most sustainable method of feeding your child is breastfeeding, but that isn’t always practical or feasible. Even exclusively breast-fed children will have a bottle at one point or another. You can choose bottles made of recyclable materials and even fair-trade formulas to feed your baby.Sustainably raising your baby can definitely be done with a little trial and error to see what works best for both of you. With all of the immediacy of a baby’s needs, it’s still possible to get an edge up on preparing yourself to give your baby the cleanest, most efficient and sustainable beginning into this diverse and ever-changing world!BabyFamilyfeaturedHomewaste
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