Living on a planet with 7 billion people, dwindling resources and the very real issue of climate change makes me worry about the future for my child. It also makes me wonder if it is slightly irresponsible to create more children for the earth to support. My husband and I talked about this a lot during my pregnancy, as we wanted to take a proactive role in reducing bubs impact on the earth.
It really wasn’t that hard to make some conscious decisions that reduce the impact of a new baby on the planet. Most new parents spend a fortune on brand new clothes and nursery furniture that gets used for such a short period. Disposable nappies, formula feeding (by choice, not necessity) and pre-packaged foods all lead to excess waste production, and often are linked to many transport miles. And ironically these choices can often be unhealthy for our babies too.
For furniture and clothes we had a secondhand rule. We scoured eBay and baby markets and got some great secondhand furniture. It took a bit of time, as I wanted everything to work nicely in the room but it all came together beautifully. As well as reducing the impact new furniture has on our earth, there were a couple of other benefits too. It was cheap! The whole nursery, including pictures, manchester and toys cost less than $1000. All our furniture was solid wood and good quality; second hand did not mean second best. It was also better for our little girl’s health. New furniture off-gases toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, which have been linked to cancer, asthma and respiratory problems. In the end the room didn’t look as pretty as I planned mostly because little miss moved into our room, leaving the nursery as part change room, part play room and part storage!
Toys are often super cheap secondhand, and baby markets have heaps of them. Friends have also been very generous with donating old unwanted toys. They get to clear their clutter and recycle at the same time! Lately I have been sourcing some good second hand books from Better World Books. These guys do great work – check them out. I also dusted off the old library card, and am constantly surprised by the range of books on parenting the library has.
I also use cloth nappies most of the time. Despite some controversy about the water requirements for washing, cloth nappies have been found to be more eco-friendly than disposable. I’m not superwomen, so sometimes we revert to disposables when I’m struggling to keep up with everything (I work from home and study too!), but most of the time my little girl bops around in her cute cloth bottom giving me an ‘awwww’ factor as well as some eco good feelings.
I make ALL of my baby’s food myself. She has not had one spoonful of commercial food. We source our ingredients from a local organic farmers market. Buying local also means buying seasonal. Just this morning, we noticed that the pear season is over. The only pears left are hard ones that looked bland. I was sad for a while as my baby loves pears, however watching her tuck into a nice ripe organic peach later that morning reminded me that each season brings it’s own favourites. Making all the food gives me a real opportunity to reduce the impact on the environment – and its better for my growing girl.
I’m sure as she gets older, we will learn new ways to be kind to Mother Earth, mostly though I hope we teach bub to be eco-conscious. After all the planet will soon be in that generations hands and hopefully they will do better than we did.