Here at Ella Financial Advising, we have babies on the brain! As many of you know, my wife, Morgan, and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family in April. With that in mind, we wanted to use what we’ve learned over these past three months to write about sustainability and parenting. Specifically, we wanted to take a look at some different products that can help keep baby happy while also keeping Mother Earth lush and green.
Of course, one of the first places to look in sustainable baby care is diapers. Did you know that a baby can go through 3,000 disposable diapers in their first year alone (Healthline 2020)? These diapers end up filling landfills—contaminating groundwater with feces, and even contributing to oil drilling. They also contain harmful chemicals and non-recyclable plastics (Nicki’s Diapers 2021).
So, what then is a desperate parent to do? Green America recommends organic, cotton cloth diapers, despite the excessive water use that comes with washing reusable diapers. If you pair your cloth diaper with biodegradable or flushable diaper liners, waste cleanup can be quick and easy.
However, cloth diapers won’t work for every family or every situation, such as communities struggling with water shortages or families who simply cannot afford the upfront monetary and time-consuming investments cloth diapers require. Thankfully, there are still some options out there that are both disposable and good for the environment. Treehugger compiled a list of the seven best biodegradable diaper brands for the earth-conscious parent.
Alongside diapering, feeding can be difficult for sustainable parents. Formula mixes are often harmful to the environment, many baby bottles are made up of plastic components, and the carbon footprint needed just to transport these items can be astronomical. Thankfully, there are viable options out there.
Of course, breastfeeding is the most sustainable solution, despite still requiring some equipment (GreenMatters recommends silicone pump cups, reusable nursing pads, and muslin bibs and burp cloths). However, this is not always an option for all families. Many babies end up needing to be bottle-fed for a variety of reasons.
In these cases, glass or stainless-steel bottles with silicone nipples (another recommendation from GreenMatters) are a possible option. Zero-waste formula is often impossible to locate, but you can reduce your carbon footprint by buying formula in recyclable containers. Finally, when it comes time for baby to start trying solid foods, environmentally conscious parents can easily make their own baby food purees. Parents.com has a whole database of baby food recipes.
When it comes to toys and furniture, natural wood or bamboo is a more sustainable way to go. Furthermore, shopping secondhand for clothing, toys, strollers, and more can help reduce your carbon footprint too. For pacifiers and teething toys, GreenMatters advises looking into natural rubber rather than those made of hard plastic.
Last but not least, skincare products—such as diaper cream, baby shampoo, and baby oil—can also be made sustainably. The Good Trade.com has compiled a list of some of the best vegan, cruelty-free, and organic/plant-based baby skin products.
Though it may seem tricky at first, sustainable baby care is possible. Whether you’re a new parent, a new grandparent, or just looking for baby shower gifts, we hope this list has helped you find products in line with your values.
Osmanski, Stephanie. (2019 February 7). Sustainable Babies 101: How to Stay Green As a New Parent. GreenMatters. https://www.greenmatters.com/parenting/2019/02/07/_kcewp6fj/sustainable-babies-101
Miller, Marissa. (2023 April 24). The best sustainable baby essentials to consider for your newborn, according to experts. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/home/best-sustainable-baby-products
(2023 June 27). 9 Best Natural Baby Care Products With Organic Ingredients. The Good Trade. https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/natural-baby-care-products/
Wallis, Meredith. (2020 May 15). How Many Diapers Do I Need? A Guide to Stocking Up. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/how-many-newborn-diapers-do-i-need
(2021). Go Green With Cloth Diapers. Green America. https://www.greenamerica.org/green-living/get-better-diapers
Parker, Stephanie. (2021 December 1). The Environmental Impact of Disposable Diapers. Nicki's Diapers. https://nickisdiapers.com/blogs/switch-to-sustainable/the-environmental-impact-of-disposable-diapers