Dear Eartha, I’ve got a new baby at home, and he creates a lot of waste! I try to live as sustainably as possible, but how can I maintain this lifestyle without sacrificing the health and safety of my baby?
Babies require a lot of stuff, and that stuff adds up. For parents who want to lead an environmentally friendly life, this can be a bit of a challenge. Yes, babies need loads of things, but let me assure you, it is possible to find sustainable alternatives. Here are my best tips for raising a happy, healthy baby without negatively impacting the planet.
It may be tempting to want everything brand new for your bundle of joy. But babies grow fast! You may find that clothing items are only worn once or twice before your babe is too big for them. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they have any baby clothes they are looking to get rid of. Join the local Facebook group Summit County Colorado Parents to find gently worn baby items. Check out local stores such as Summit Thrift & Treasure for donated clothes, too.
Wet wipe alternatives
Did you know that 90% of wet wipes contain plastic? If thrown away improperly, wipes break down into tiny fragments of plastic — called microplastics — which are toxic to fish and marine mammals. And if they are flushed down the toilet, they can cause sewage blockages. You’re already cleaning up a lot of poop — do you really need to deal with the added mess of clogged pipes? When shopping for wipes, make sure to choose those that are made with cotton or bamboo fabric. Or, try repurposing old pieces of fabric, rags, or T-shirts instead.
Make your own baby food
Store-bought baby food has a lot of packaging and can be costly. There are many benefits of making your own baby food — it is cheaper, you can make it organic and it cuts down on packaging waste. Sound overwhelming? The truth is, making your own baby food might be easier than you think. Save time by making a large batch of puree and freeze what you don’t need for later. Have leftover glass jars from jam or salsa? These are perfect for storing small portions of baby food — and you can recycle them when you no longer need them.
Let your friends and family know not to buy new toys for your baby. Instead, ask for secondhand toys or suggest an experience gift such as going to the zoo. If you have the time to make your own toys, try using fabric scraps that you may have lying around and make stackable cloth rings or stuffed balls. There are also a ton of sustainable toy companies out there like Oompa or Bella Luna Toys. Look for non-toxic, eco-friendly toys that are made of cotton, wood, or wool. Remember, spending a fortune on toys for your baby may not always be the most important thing. Sometimes, letting them play with a pot or a spatula is just as fun.
Spending time outside is good for you and good for your baby. And, immersing your family in nature is an important way to create a sense of wonder and stewardship for the environment. Activities as simple as going for a hike or walking to the park can be formative life experiences. Getting fresh air with your baby is also great for child development and your own mental health. Connecting your child to nature is the first step in raising citizens who care for our incredible outdoor spaces and become passionate about protecting them. Best of all, it’s free.