You can start being green as soon as you are born – if your parents are environmentally minded, that is. If you’re a new parent, you’ve got a lot to think about and take responsibility for, so caring for the environment may seem a little lower on your priority list. But with a bit of planning and though, you can care for your baby and the environment at the same time.
The biggest issue when it comes to “green babies” is the issue of nappies. Nappies are an inevitable part of life with a small human being. At the very least, a healthy baby will go through at least six (and probably more) nappies per day for the next two years. That makes, assuming that no leap years are involved, 4380 nappies minimum. Just picture what four and a half thousand nappies looks like all stacked up in a heap. And if you consider disposable nappies, in a heap is exactly where they’re going to end. And that’s the minimum from just one baby…
Old-fashioned cloth nappies make a lot of sense environmentally. Yes, disposables are convenient for you and more absorbent (and, for older children who are late to grow out of wetting the bed, the only option), but they’re bad news when it comes to the environment. But cloth nappies are not that much of a hassle really, especially these days when nappy washing services are springing up in many main centres and towns. Cloth nappies are, in the long run, cheaper, too, as you can use them for a second (or even third) baby and then retire them as dusters and polishing rags.
If you don’t have a nappy washing service in your area, then you will need to wash them yourself. You will need a large bucket with a lid, a spatula that’s retired from active duty in the kitchen (for scraping solid bits down the lavatory) and a sterilising product. Rubber gloves are another must. Chlorine bleach isn’t the most environmentally product on the market, but it’s a lot better than the mountain of waste produced by disposables. Nappies will need to soak overnight if possible – doing a load of nappies daily is a good system. Change the sterilising solution daily as well. Then wash the nappies in the machine and dry as usual. The next area that you can save a lot of time, expense, packaging and waste is in the area of feeding your baby. Breastfeeding involves no packaging other than a maternity bra, not to mention the other advantages such as no sterilisers, no careful reheating, no stirring and mixing and no bag of bottles to tote around. It hurts for the first week, but after that, things get easier, so persevere.
Baby food that comes in tins and jars is convenient, but not necessary. Yes, glass jars and cans are recyclable (the glass ones make good spice jars) but these still require a good chunk of energy to produce. Furthermore, the iron used in making the cans is a non-renewable resource and could go into other uses. Pureed fruit (especially bananas), mashed potato or other vegetables are perfectly good baby foods that come in minimal packaging and can even be home grown. It’s simple enough to take out some of your regular dinner and mash it up before adding salt or sugar.
You do not need to buy new gear for your baby, with the exception of a car safety seat, unless you can absolutely guarantee that a carseat hasn’t been in an accident. Babies grow out of things very quickly, especially clothes. Second hand gear is easy to find – if you know someone who has a child a little older than yours, they will probably be only too happy to give used clothes away. Don’t be too proud to dress your baby in hand-me-downs; the baby doesn’t care as long as the clothes are comfortable, and you’re part of the great “reduce, reuse, recycle” system. And you will probably hand clothes on to a younger child, too, if the garments are still in good nick
Nick Vassilev founded Anyclean, his London based domestic cleaning company, back in 1998. Nick is an expert on cleaning and loves to help people with his cleaning tips, articles and knowledge. If you would like to know more about his cleaning company, please visit http://www.anyclean.co.uk.