This guest blog is provided by Sort It Out Sustainably
Each person’s lifestyle can either have a beneficial or detrimental impact on the environment. The environmental impact most babies have, before they are even at an age where they can consent to their lifestyle, is enormous. I started ‘Sort it Out Sustainably’ to empower, encourage and guide new mothers to live in a home that is simple and joyful, while being as sustainable as she can so the next generation can grow up in a better world. So let’s bust some ideas around what we should be using for our babies and talk about some less wasteful substitutes to use instead.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. 3.7 billion nappies go into landfill each year within Australia and New Zealand alone. This makes up about 5% of the total landfill mass… Even though we only wear nappies for 2 years of our lives! Traditional disposable nappies are made from plastics and synthetic materials that take HUNDREDS of years to break down.
The Alternative to disposables is washing cloth nappies. Wait! What about the water? Well, surprisingly disposable use more water produce than it takes to wash cloth nappies. Modern cloth nappies (MCNc) can be better fitting on your bub and they look super cute too. Many parents report that while using cloth nappies their baby has never gotten a nappies rash and the oh-so devastating poo ‘blowouts’ are far less likely to happen. You can buy bundles of MCNs second hand to start off with while you learn why type of nappy you prefer before investing in some new ones. To wash them, I recommend checking out ‘Clean Cloth Nappies’ for learning a wash routine that works and then find an eco detergent that works with nappies.
The majority of baby wipes contain non-biodegradable plastic. Let’s just take a moment to make sure we all know never to flush baby wipes down the toilet. A lot of people are still doing this and in the sewerage system, they combine with fats, oils, and greases to form blockages known as fatbergs… Yuck!
Baby wipes are used just once and thrown away. And you go through so many with a baby! Over 5000 a year Apparently. They also come in plastic packaging and sometimes contain nasties.
The alternative to baby wipes is cloth wipes. You can buy them online, use thin washcloths, have them made, or better yet… make them your self with old clothes. I paid $30 to have 60 made and I think they will last me for years washing them in with the nappies. Just spray them with water and use.
3. Nursing pads
Oh the joy of leaky nipples! I like to remind myself to be thankful rather than burdened by milk leakages because it reminds me by body is making lots of nourishing milk for my bubba. Generally women will go through boxes of disposable breast pads that slip into your bra and soak up leaking milk. Some of of these are made from similar synthetic materials as nappies. Some of these are made from cotton and we all know (well not all of us) the damaging environmental effects of conventional cotton farming.
Instead, you can use reusable breast pads. There are some quality ones that have waterproof backing and there are cheaper ones that you can buy in larger quantities usually made from something like bamboo. The cheap ones are great to reuse as make up removing pads later down the track. I recommend getting a small wet bag to keep in your handbag so you can store the used ones in, if you need to change them while out.