How to save the world for (and from) your new baby.
There was a chart doing the rounds on social media recently (from this study if you’re interested http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541/pdf) which listed the top 10 things you could do to reduce your impact on the environment, with ‘having one fewer child’ making the top of the chart.
Don’t panic, I’m not about to deliver a guilt trip, but if you are eco-minded, you might be interested to find a few ways you can make a difference on behalf of your new baby, so they can feel like they were saving the world right from the minute they arrived.
Just as long as you remember that frankly every mum is a sleep-deprived superhero, and nobody is perfect.
Nappies – eight million disposable nappies go to landfill every day in the UK, and the average baby poops its way through £700 worth of nappies before toilet training. If you’re feeling brave, you could have a go at using cloth nappies. Modern cloth nappies come in a whole range of gorgeous designs and a sometimes overwhelming range of styles with everything from Velcro and poppers, to nappy nippas to keep them secure and snug. If you want to give them a try it’s worth looking for a local nappy lending library in your area, so you can see which style suits you.
If you don’t fancy reusable nappies, then a quick Google search brings up a few companies which make biodegradable disposable nappies, or Naty nappies are available in most supermarkets.
Food – for those of you able to breastfeed, obviously breastmilk is waste free (not to mention giving you a good reason to eat cake throughout maternity leave), but it’s not for everyone, and either way, once your little one moves onto solid foods that’s when the real waste begins (if you’ll excuse the pun). Making your own food is a great option if you have the time, and there are some wonderful books full of recipes out there including, if you can cope with the mess, Baby Led Weaning. Ella’s Kitchen even has its own cookbook.If you don’t have the time, or the culinary confidence, you could opt for baby food in glass jars, which can easily be recycled, or if you find yourself using the plastic food pouches, there is a company online which will collect and recycle them for you (http://www.terracycle.co.uk/en-UK). They specialise in recycling a whole host of hard to recycle packaging, so you might find yourself saving the planet several times over after a quick visit.
If your house is like mine, more food will end up on the floor than in your baby however you feed them, and if the amount of food waste going into your kitchen bin depresses you, you could invest in a Bokashi Bin, an idea from Japan, which uses a kind of bran to turn cooked food into plant fertiliser you can use on your garden, or add to your compost to supercharge it.
Toys – I’m not about to take on my friends or relatives over buying anything for my baby, but you will find when your child arrives that they seem to come with their own instant collection of plastic, which will eventually break and end up in landfill. If you want to try and cut this down (and I don’t blame you if it’s too tricky a conversation to have) you could suggest other gift ideas, from wooden toys, (Melissa & Doug do some gorgeous brightly coloured ones) to other kinds of mementos like a professional photoshoot, a nest egg, or even the really lovely ‘Letters to My Grandchild’ where grandparents can write personal letters for your baby and seal them up to be opened at a future date.
Whatever impact you make, remember that everything is making an impact, so even the smallest gesture is a help, and you are a superhero whatever you do. A very tired, slightly vague superhero.
Alex Townley, Journalist and Mum