Expecting a new baby is a time of excitement and anticipation. But if global warming and the future of the planet is also taking up space in your mind, introducing a little one to the world may be a time of concern too.
With a recent scientific report stating that having one less child (in a developed country) could save 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year, coupled with the sheer volume of stuff you seem to need to buy for your newest family member, it can be enough to induce a climate-guilt headache.
But fear not – there are small steps you can take to ensure your journey into parenthood is as kind to the planet as possible. Check out our top tips and advice, to find out how to make more environmentally friendly choices for your growing family:
When it comes to parenting, nappies are pretty much top of the environmentalists’ hit list – and with good reason. With the average baby pooping its way through 2,000 nappies per year, and the standard disposable nappy taking between 200-500 years to decompose, it’s plain to see that babies’ bums are a big problem for the planet.
But don’t despair – reusable nappies are becoming ever popular and make a great eco alternative (and they’re super comfy for baby, too). Of course, it’s not the perfect solution – reusable nappies need to be washed (at 60C, according to the Department of Health) and dried, which will increase your energy consumption. But ultimately, reusable cloth nappies help divert an enormous amount of waste away from landfill, so they’re accepted as the far better option.
If that’s not enough to convince you to switch to reusable nappies, they’re also economical: a set will generally set you back £250. Compare that with the £600 it’s estimated most families spend on disposables for one child, and it’s a clear win-win situation.
There are loads of different types of reusable nappies out there, and there’s no ‘best’ option, as what works for one baby may not be so good for another. Check out your options – which include pocket, one-part and two-part nappies – and try a few to see which suits your baby best.
If you do need to reach for a disposable nappy every now and then, or reusables are simply not practical for your situation, don’t despair. There are eco-friendly options out there. Biodegradable nappies are the best of the bunch – look for ones that contain zero per cent plastic.
Reusable baby wipes
Wipes are up there with nappies as the bad boys of babyhood. Indeed, wet wipes are known to cause environmental havoc, clogging sewers, washing up on beaches and killing marine life.
Your best bet are washable, reusable wipes – great for your baby’s skin and kinder to the environment too. Still think you might need a pack of emergency wipes to pop in your changing bag? Alternatively opt for the biodegradable variety to ease the impact on landfill sites.
Plastic-free baby bottles
Meanwhile, with approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution finding their way into our oceans every single day, it’s a good time to join the anti-plastic crusade. But if you’re trying to go plastic-free, where does that leave you if you decide to bottle-feed your baby?
Considering baby bottles are not a single-use item, this may not be an issue for you. If buying plastic baby bottles, you will need to always buy new and ensure they are certified BPA-free, for safety. Glass bottles, however, are more durable and long lasting (provided you take care not to break them), and are guaranteed to be chemical free. They are also easier to clean.
We love this Kidly insulated infant bottle. 100 per cent stainless steel, plastic-free and perfect for hot or cold drinks, your kid will be the hippest baby in the sandpit. The Nuk First Choice+ Glass Bottle is also a great alternative to plastic baby bottles.
Pre-loved baby clothes
What with milk dribble, baby sick and explosive nappies, you may be surprised just how many clothes your baby gets through in a single day! It therefore pays to have a decent-sized stock of baby vests and babygrows lined up ready for use – but as the clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world (behind the oil industry), your conscience may not be happy with you purchasing a wardrobe full of cheap new garments for your little one.
As with all clothing items, the most environmentally friendly baby clothes are the ones that already exist (even cotton has a huge environmental impact, with approximately 20,000l of water needed to produce just 1kg of the stuff). This means the most eco-conscious option is to head down the pre-loved route.
Friends with older children may be able to pass on great-condition baby clothes, or try eBay and Facebook Marketplace, where sellers often offer ‘bundles’ of baby clothes (a few of everything you’ll need, including vests, babygrows and outfits for a certain age – think of it as a starter kit).
If secondhand isn’t your thing, try to opt for natural fibres when you buy, such as organic cotton clothing. We love Little Green Radicals and Eco Mama and Babe.
Second hand toys
As with clothes, the most eco-friendly toy option is to purchase second hand toys and games that already exist. You can find great pre-loved options in charity shops, search for a toy library in your area, or download Young Planet: an app for giving and receiving kids books, toys, clothes and much more for free.
If you do buy new toys and want to avoid stacks of plastic, there are wonderful wooden options out there, which make great additions to any nursery and are safe and durable. We love Grimm’s Toys.
Try a babywearing sling library
Babywearing is a wonderful way to be near your baby, giving you the chance to snuggle up and bond while you’re on the go. Even better, it allows you to shop, stroll and even cook hands-free, while offering your baby closeness and comfort. But with so many different types of babywearing slings out there – from wraps, to ring slings, to more structured baby carriers – how do you know which is right for you and your baby?
The best way to try a range of slings, rather than having to fork out for several different versions, is to try your local sling library. Simply Google ‘sling library’ and there will likely be a local option for you.
Sling libraries can be run by the NCT or an experienced babywearer, either in a local community centre or their own home, and offer you the chance to try out and borrow a range of different sling options, to help you find the one that best suits your needs. Genius!
If you’re ready to invest, we love the Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In-One Galaxy which provides lumbar support for extra back comfort.
Baby bath time
Water is arguably our most valuable resource, but according to Water.org a bath uses around 80 litres per person. To make bath time kinder on the planet, dunk the whole family in the same tub or wash baby in a smaller bucket or the sink, and to take care of all the living things under your roof you can re-use bathwater for your houseplants or the garden afterwards. In the meantime don’t forget to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, as a running tap wastes over six litres of water per minute.
To make bath time even kinder to the planet, try the Little Ethique baby range to clean your grubby tots. The world’s first zero waste beauty brand, the range includes handmade solid bars in place of liquid products and all of Ethique’s products are plastic free, vegan, cruelty free, palm oil free and made from sustainable and ethical ingredients.
If your little one is prone to bumps and scrapes and you’re reluctant to smother them in plastic plasters, we recommend Patch: bamboo, 100 per cent compostable and hypoallergenic vegan plasters; perfect for baby eco-warriors. And to mop up the tears without relying on plastic dummies, opt for the Hevea natural rubber orthodontic pacifier.
Last updated: 14-02-2020