For such tiny human-beings, babies are capable of creating a significant amount of landfill waste. However, as parents it is totally possible to raise a zero waste baby…it just takes a little planning.
An unbelievable 20 billion disposable diapers are added to landfills in the USA every year! That’s roughly 3.5 million tons of waste!
But, it’s not all about reusable diapers…
As a society we are obsessed with over consumption and there are clever marketing strategies that make us believe that we simply MUST HAVE something in order to make our lives easier or our baby more comfortable.
A survey by NetMums.com found that the typical new mother spends around £1,000 ($1270) preparing for a new baby!
Thankfully, that kind of spending is avoidable and totally unnecessary especially if you’re committed to raising a zero waste baby.
Most of these ideas aren’t actually anything new and were considered entirely normal a generation or two ago.
However, some more modern touches have made these less wasteful way of raising a baby much easier…I’m thankful for poppers instead of pins and Facebook Marketplace for finding used toys, shoes and clothes locally.
So, here are our ten tips for raising a zero waste baby in 2019…
1. Tell People About Your Zero Waste Baby Wishes
One of the most challenging aspects of trying to raise a zero waste baby (or living eco consciously) is convincing those around you to respect your wishes.
The family members who insist on mailing new toys and clothes after every shopping trip or the friends who buy plastic tat that lights up a child’s face for a few minutes before ending up in landfill for a few hundred years.
All you can do is to be honest with your loved ones. If people insist on gift giving then ask for donations, a tree to plant, pre-loved toys or something that you really need.
Some people will listen and others won’t.
As a back-up-plan I keep unwanted gifts in a box and re-gift them when I need to or donate them to charity.
2. Zero Waste Baby Shower
What better time to announce your zero waste baby intentions than at your zero waste baby shower!?
Send invitations online or by text and be clear that you’d like any gifts to be handmade or pre-loved.
Take a look at these fun ideas for throwing an awesome zero waste baby shower!
I kind of obsessed over Nursery design with my first born…thanks Pinterest!
Truth is, he barely used that room for his first year as he ended up co-sleeping in with us.
A zero waste baby nursery should be a room that will last for years rather than just a year or two.
We ditched the cot and went for a floor bed. It made bedtimes much easier and there was no transitioning into a ‘big bed.
I also loved that the floor bed was low to the ground so my little climber had one less thing to fall off!
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Neutral colors and simple furniture will be much easier to continue to use as your child grows rather than purpose built ‘nursery furniture’.
Use baskets and boxes to organize shelves and surfaces. They are so versatile and you will easily find another use for them as baby grows.
For example, the baskets that once held our baby nappies and wipes now hold our boys wooden blocks and crayons.
Look for freebies on local social media groups and up-cycle them to suit your style.
4. Breast or bottle…
Discussing how a baby is fed can be a pretty emotive subject and I have no desire to offend anyone.
Breastfeeding is clearly the most zero waste option.
However, I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy because it isn’t always (and that is coming from someone who has been breastfeeding or tandem-breastfeeding every day for over 4 years now!)
Unfortunately, the alternative formula milk entails farming, storage, pasteurization, drying, cooling, packaging and shipping.
If you want to breastfeed but are struggling then get some support as it can really make a difference.
If you choose to bottle-feed then you can use reusable glass bottles like these…
If you need any breastpads then reusables are great.
The fashion industry has a disastrous impact on the environment. In fact, it is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry.
I’d take a guess that a pretty size-able portion of the clothes and shoes that we buy are for our kids.
In the early months especially, our babies grow crazy fast which means that they will barely get a chance to wear the contents of their wardrobe before it doesn’t fit!
Make capsule wardrobe
The best thing I did was start putting together a capsule wardrobe for each of us.
My first born had mountains of mostly hand-me-down clothes. I learnt quickly that less was definitely more and we now stick to buying key items (from ebay and second hand sales). It is so much easier to get them ready each morning!
Keep tidy clothes tidy
As your baby learns to crawl, walk and engage in messier play then you could keep some playing clothes so that every outfit doesn’t end up with stains and/or rips!
Buy a size up
Call me tight but I also buy a size up from what my boys need because they grow SO FAST.
6. Washable Diapers
We used old fashioned terry squares covered with waterproof wraps on our tiny babies as their legs were too skinny for the one-size pocket nappies we had.
Once our youngest had moved onto pocket nappies most of the squares were sold with the wraps and a few became wash rags.
One-size pocket nappies fit our eldest from a few months old until he was potty trained at 3 years old. He still wears them at night.
Washing reusable diapers
You’ll need to store the nappies in a bucket or bin until you have a full load. This usually takes us a few days.
We pre-rinse ours and was in 40 degrees or sometimes at 60 degrees if they smell particularly potent!
All nappies are different so check the manufacturers instructions before washing.
I also add a drop or two of Tea Tree essential oil to the detergent as it has antibacterial properties and smell lovely too.
Be careful if your using essential oils around babies though as they are natural but potent.
7. Zero Waste Baby Wipes
There has been so much talk about wet wipes being banned but if you ask me 25 years is not soon enough!
Those horrible pieces of not-quite-wet-enough wipes are responsible for clogging up sewers and damaging eco-systems but they have somehow become a baby essential.
We use cloth wipes for bottoms and wash them with our nappies.
When our boys have sticky fingers we don’t grab a wet wipe…
If we’re home we use the sink and if we’re out we use a cloth that we wet with water from our bottle. These get washed with our towels.
I would love to tell you that I’m a minimalist with an immaculate Instagram worthy house.
Truth is that my kids love toys and they actually play really well with them most of the time.
Our four year old spends his pocket-money on whatever he chooses but we don’t often visit “new” stores so thankfully it’s usually spent at car-boots or charity shops.
When your baby starts teething opt for an organic bamboo toothbrush. These are suitable from 6 months old and are packaged in unbleached, recycled paper.
10. Natural Remedies
I’ll always take me children to the doctors if I feel they need to go but I do try to avoid all these over-the-counter relief ‘medicines’.
There are several more natural and less waste creating items that we do use if we need to.
Essential Oil Diffuser
We use an essential oils diffuser to help our babies to relax at bedtime and to soothe them when they are ill.
You have to be careful if you want to diffuse essential oils around babies so read up on it first.
Natural teething ideas
We use chamomile from the garden to make a soothing drink and freeze our own ice lollies.
There are loads of teething ideas in this post.
11. Use what you have
The most important thing to remember about living a zero waste lifestyle is that we should use what we already have or can borrow.
My boys are lucky to have lots of hand-me-downs from their cousins and we’ll always pass it on to someone else when they outgrow it.
We stupidly bought a pushchair 5 years ago before Leo was born…it was a “bargain” in the sales (it actually cost a few hundred!)
Leo lived in a baby carrier until he could walk…then he mostly walked everywhere or went on his balance bike.
When I tried to sell that pushchair second-hand I couldn’t even get £20 for it!
If you found this useful please share with friends and family.
So, that’s how we raised our zero waste baby…(babies!) Did we miss anything?