Congratulations! Your baby boy or girl has finally arrived and you’re now ready to dive into motherhood (or fatherhood – hello, dads). Before those sleepless nights become habit and diapers and toys take over the house, take a moment to think about how your baby routine and items have an impact on another mother; Mother Earth.
To put a perspective on how just one baby (let alone millions) can affect our planet, consider this quick fact: American babies use approximately 18 billion disposable diapers each year, which of course end up in landfills.
Each baby uses between six and eight diapers per day. The average parent spends about $3,000 on diapers and disposable wipes for each child in the first two years. These 7.6 billion pounds of waste (3rd largest consumer landfill item), will take about 500 years to decompose...
Disgusted yet? You should be – it’s pretty disturbing. But if you just can’t give up your disposable diapers, or don’t think that reusable ones are more eco-friendly (it’s debatable), then consider other green tips that will balance out some of the waste your small, innocent baby is already generating. 1) Clean with less water – buy a small baby tub and fill it with water. Wash your baby with mild, eco-friendly soap and then just rinse. No need to waste running water or use a bigger tub. When you're done and the water is minimally soiled, dispose of it in your backyard or use it to wash your tires, side of the house, garden tools, etc., instead of pouring it down the drain.
2) Dress with reused clothing – gather from veteran-parents such as friends, neighbors or family members. In the first year, babies wear some outfits only a few times since they outgrow them quickly. Don’t spend unnecessary money on new, cute “baby outfits.” Birthday outfits are an exception :)
3) Paint without VOCs – pick healthier options for your baby’s first residence. Certain, vibrant colors can affect your baby's mood and brain activity. Choose eco-friendly paints that won’t emit toxins, which can harm a little one’s lungs.
4) Furnish with renewable sources – buy bamboo, reclaimed wood or any other material that is sustainable or easily re-purposed. A sturdy crib, a chair, perhaps a table, curtains and a few other key pieces are all your baby needs in his or her room. If you're open to giving someone else's furniture a second chance, tap into the resources of your local Freecycle network and you're bound to find hidden treasures at no cost.
5) Entertain without chemicals – the simpler, the better. Toys are fun when they are colorful and have many parts, but those little parts can also be dangerous. Many times, they’re a choking hazard, and they’re held together by toxic glues and adhesives. You’re better off buying wooden blocks (more appropriate for toddlers, not newborns), simple dolls, or just playing soothing music to engage your baby's senses.
6) Teach without tools – children mimic their parents. Electronic learning devices are unnecessary when you want to teach your baby proper behavior; just show your child how to be a good person. He or she will learn from examples, which will eventually become habit. Saying 'please' and 'thank you' will be unconscious actions. This eliminates you having to purchase electronics that you won’t need once your baby or child grows up. If you do make such a purchase, please consider donating outgrown items to others in need.
If you’re keen on continuing to use disposable diapers, at least consider some of these tips, to negate the impact such waste can have on our planet. You might've heard over and over that small changes can make all the difference, but they really can! Start small with your little one and he or she is bound to learn something about the environment and Mother Earth.