Having a baby is one of the events in your life that will challenge your eco-friendly lifestyle. In many lists of what to do to lower your environmental impact, one of the most significant items is “have fewer children” or “don’t have children”. This is not only because of all the stuff that you will need, and all the trash you will generate. But it is also about all the impact that the baby will have on the environment during her lifetime. There are people who decided not to have children stating the environment as one of the reasons for this decision.
My husband and I decided to have at least one child. We will try to educate them in a way that they will help to bring positive change in the future. I am currently pregnant, and we are preparing to have a baby while still doing everything possible to maintain the most eco-friendly lifestyle possible in our new situation. In this article, I will share what I learned so far, and what we are planning to do.
We are aware, that some of our decisions might not be the best possible option. We are trying to do our best, and we will learn along the way. Our decisions might change when we are in a specific situation. We will probably have to adjust some of the things to a real-life situation and that is OK. I will have updates on how things are going, what we have learned, and what we are doing to lower our environmental impact.
- General rules
- Maternity clothes
- Baby clothes
- Baby wipes
- Items we decided we don’t need
1. Buy second-hand
In many of our decisions, a general rule will be to try to source items from second-hand. This will definitely be the case for most of the items that are used for short periods of time like maternity or baby clothes. Even for bigger items, and items that we will use for extended periods of time, we will prefer used items. We will think of purchasing new items that are safety-related like a car seat.
Not purchasing new items and not creating more demand for more production is something that we firmly believe in. We always look at used items first when purchasing almost anything. We are always able to find great and quality items for a fraction of the original price. Moreover, this ways these items will last longer, and won’t end up in the landfill before their time is up.
2. Do we really need this?
The second common element is to always ask a question: Do we really need this item? The baby industry has expanded so much in the last decade. Most of the items now considered as basic necessities didn’t even exist when I was a baby. Questioning the real necessity and use of each item will help us not to end up with items we will rarely or never use. While deciding on each item, I try to talk to my friends and family members who have children to know how have they used or not each item.
3. Gifts from family and friends
The next rule is that there will be items that we will have no power over, like the gifts we will receive from friends and family. We will not be imposing our values and/or beliefs on other people.
We will talk to our family members and closest friends to explain that we are usually not fond of some materials or items like plastic toys, etc. But we are sure some people will just not adapt their shopping habits to ours, and that is OK. If we receive gifts we would not buy ourselves, we will find a way to use it.
After we don’t use an item anymore, we will be very mindful of how we dispose of it. Our first option will always be to find people who will still use the item. If an item is not usable anymore, we will dispose of it in an appropriate way.
To learn how to dispose of any items in environmentally friendly ways, read this complete guide to eco-friendly disposal.
A new baby in your life usually means a lot of new stuff in your life. This actually starts before the birth of the baby. Maternity clothes are items that you will use for only a few months. Maybe you will use them for more than one pregnancy. But still, you won’t be able to use them for so long.
In my specific situation, I knew I would be spending most of my pregnancy at home due to the pandemic, and I because I work from home. This means I didn’t need anything fancy, as I am not going to the office, meeting with clients, or anything similar.
So I contacted all my friends that have had babies recently and asked them if they had maternity clothes left they didn’t want to keep. One of my friends was just looking into getting rid of her clothes and she gave me several pieces of clothing. She was happy she didn’t have to deal with it, and I was happy with the clothes. I bought some extra second-hand items online.
I also picked a few items from my regular closet that I would keep using during the pregnancy, knowing these might stretch and be unusable after the pregnancy. These were a few T-shirts, undies and a sweater. All the clothes I received or purchased second-hand were in great shape, as they were not used so many times. I encourage you to not buy new items if you can source second-hand one.
When I told my friends I was pregnant, three of them offered to give us their unused stuff. Some of it was clothing and we got most of our newborn clothes from one of them. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I will go to a specialized second-hand baby clothes store to purchase whatever we don’t have yet. I will go in with a list of items and quantities and stick to those, so I don’t get overwhelmed with the cuteness. We will have very few newborn sized items, as those are used for such a short period of time.
I am sure, we will get some brand new newborns and baby clothes from family and friends, and that is ok. Our loved ones will want to be part of the baby’s life and we cannot change that. We will let them know what clothes we still need so we hopefully get items we don’t have yet.
There is a lot of controversy over disposable versus reusable cloth diapers. Some people are insisting on reusable diapers being much better for the environment because of all the diapers you don’t send to the landfills. On the other hand, others claim that making, washing, and maintaining the reusable diapers have a comparable impact on the environment as the single-use ones.
I will soon write a whole article on the topic and link it here. But in the meanwhile, I will tell you what are we going to do with diapers.
We have decided to take a mixed approach, we will mostly use the cloth diapers, use them as often as possible. But we will occasionally use disposable diapers when going for a visits or going out for prolonged periods of time.
I will stay at home with the baby, so I will have the time to wash the reusable diapers and take care of everything needed, but I will also be a first-time mom, who does not have a lot of experience, so I do not want to put too much pressure on us. We will take everything as it comes and we will try to be relaxed.
I am a big fan of reusable diapers for several reasons: No chemicals, no extra waste sent to landfills, babies using cloth diapers tend to potty train earlier than babies using disposable diapers, and saving money. Some of my friends really wanted to use cloth diapers with their babies but they didn’t like the experience and quit early on. I really would like this to work for us, but I am cautious with my expectations. In the meantime, I am talking to many of my family members and friend to pick their brains on the best ways to approach this.
As for baby wipes, we will not use single-use ones. I will make my own organic cotton wipes that I will wash and reuse. We will wet them with warm water before using them. This one is a no brainer for me, so much less trash with little extra work. I will be already washing the diapers, so I will do them all at the same time. And it is possible to easily use these even when going outside or traveling.
If you want to learn more about eco-friendly fabrics, read this article where I talk about the most and the least eco-friendly fabrics.
Obviously, newborns don’t really need toys, but as the baby will grow, our policy on toys is to have toys made of natural materials, handmade toys, second-hand toys, or gifts from other people. We do not want the baby to have a flood of toys, we will prefer quality over quantity.
For now, we have my husband’s toys from when he was a child and a dinosaur textile toy I made after we knew I was pregnant. We really want to make a crib mobile for the baby, not because we think it is necessary, but because we want to make something together for the baby. Additionally, we will try to get second-hand age-appropriate books and maybe a few toys that help with the baby’s abilities development.
We know we will need to have a talk with our family members. We will kindly ask them not to purchase plastic toys, and not to bring a new toy each time they visit. And we will try to explain our values and preferences, give them some examples of what we like. But other than that we will not stress them out about it. They have their own ideas and they might not share our environmental passion.
As for the furniture, we decided we will only have a co-sleeper for the newborn and a crib for when the baby is bigger. We will also have a dresser with a changing pad on it. That’s it. This will definitely change in the future, but for the newborn, we don’t really need anything else.
We already have second-hand co-sleeper, crib, and changing mat from a friend who used them with her baby. Now, we only need to get a dresser for baby’s clothes and all the other few items we will have. We will bring a dresser that we already have and don’t use much in our country house, now it will have a specific use in the nursery.
I haven’t yet picked the specific items we will use to wash the baby, but I know it won’t be any commercial product. What I know is that our washing and cosmetics routine will be very simple. One washing products, one cream, maybe one more item. Natural soft ingredients, no chemicals. We will not be investing in products that the commercials are trying to convince us we need.
Items we decided we don’t need
We decided we won’t need a baby monitor. In our specific situation, living in a small apartment, and having a small country house, we really don’t need it. If the baby is sleeping in the room, and he/she starts to cry, we will hear it without a monitor. I acknowledge that for some couples a baby monitor can be really needed, but it is not our case.
Special bedding, crib bumpers, pillows, and other accessories for the crib. According to AAP, it is the safest to only have one fighting sheet in the crib, everything else is a choking hazard. To keep the baby warm we will use a baby sleeping sack when necessary.
Baby shoes are the cutest, no doubt, but until the babies are actually walking they are not necessary at all.
We have an enormous amount of nice and soft towels at home that we actually don’t use. I will designate a few of those for the baby. I might cut some of the big ones into smaller ones, maybe sew a hoodie into few, or do something special, but we will not purchase any new towels.
Other items we won’t be buying: white noise machine, activity gym, diaper genie, bouncy seat, additional baby blankets (we received one as a gift and I am making one), baby food makers, walking helpers, special diaper bag (we will use a bag we already own and repurpose it for carrying baby stuff).
Things that we don’t have yet but will have
There are things that we consider necessary and will be looking into getting them. These are a stroller, baby sling or carrier to wear the baby, and a car seat. We are still researching what kinds will be the most appropriate for our situation. But we would like to wear the baby a lot because in our country house using a stroller will be more difficult, as the terrain is just gravel roads, grass and a lot of rocks.
I am really interested to know how everything will go for us. We will do our best to be as eco-friendly as possible while trying to stay sane. I am not sure how overwhelming everything will be. I hope that I will be able to keep up with all our expectations. But at the same time, I want this to be a pleasant experience and not a stressful one.
If you want to learn in-depth about what to do to become more eco-friendly, I have a series of articles on how to make your house more eco-friendly.
Start with making your kitchen eco-friendly here!
Continue with your bathroom here.
Learn how to green your bedroom and home office here.
Lastly, save energy and the planet!