We live in a buy-now worry-later culture these days where very little thought is given to the environment when purchasing the items we need for our families, especially with newborns.
The care and nurture that we show to our children are what we should share with the earth as well. We need to show them the right way to do things, from how to recycle to the best way to do green cleaning.
In the modern world, there is a nationwide myth that seems to be ingrained in us — that you have to buy everything brand new and untouched in order to be clean and sterile for your newborn.
That’s not the case anymore, as you can purchase clean and environmentally sustainable products and clothes for your little one instead of just new products. Technology and the internet have broadened supply chains, and advanced manufacturing to a point where creating sustainability can be accessible and cute.
We’ve put together some of the best ways to care for your new babe and protect our environment at the same time.
Online Baby Consignment Stores
Online yard sales have gone beyond internet fossils like Craigslist and social media website marketplaces. The new trend in baby resale is via huge online consignment stores.
You can find everything from onesies and reusable diapers to T4 clothes and even car seats on these sites. The wide selection of items, brands, and sizes hosted by other parents like you ensures that you will be able to find adequate descriptions and even product reviews.
These apps and sites allow the user to scroll through and search an online store precisely the same way you would any online retailer while accessing thousands of gently used or even new items hosted and posted from parents around the country, keeping these items from the landfill.
Baby Clothes Rental Services
Have a big occasion or milestone coming up and want to have the perfect outfit even though your little one is in one of those in-between sizes/growth spurts? There are some fantastic sites out there these days for renting outfits. These sites can provide everything you need, including shoes for both baby and mommy.
These sites allow you to choose or curate an outfit or set of outfits for your baby to wear at upcoming events like a birthday, Christening, or holiday. Some of these sites even offer all organic or sustainable fabrics and sustainable practices for an added layer of eco-friendly design to their concept.
Some of these sites allow you to decide how long you'd like to rent the outfit. Others provide you with a return date. The outfit is then shipped to you with a return shipping label.
Typically these sites use sustainable shipping methods to minimize carbon emissions and allow you to return the outfit in the same packaging it was sent in.
Use Washable Or Reusable Diapers
Diapers account for 3.4 million tons of trash in our landfills each year. It's not just water bottles.
And while washing your diapers at home is not entirely eco neutral, it is environmentally positive. The two main reasons using washable diapers are considered environmentally positive is because it keeps waste out of our landfills and can easily be altered to become more sustainable using environmentally friendly detergents and sustainable fabrics.
Reusable cloth diapers are made of sustainable resources, cotton, polyester, recycled clothing. Organic cotton is an incredibly eco-friendly choice due to the sustainable practices under which the fiber is grown with its low environmental impact. It also isn't treated with all the harmful chemicals that can lead to hazardous waste and pollutants.
There is also a movement to create one's own diapers from recycled clothing. Making diapers at home gets the parents involved in the process and simply requires a pair of scissors and minimal sewing skills. They won't be exactly state-of-the-art, but if they do the job, that's what matters.
Reusable cloth diapers are also able to be washed just as you wash your home laundry.
Avoiding All The Plastics That Come With Baby Rearing
The market is oversaturated with plastic products, both necessities and toys alike for babies and children. Most of these items end up in the landfill. Learning to shop sustainably for your baby will be a game-changer for your pocketbook as you won't find yourself repurchasing the same items over and over, and you'll be helping the environment.
Some of these items include:
- Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups - The majority of children's cups, plates, and eating accessories are made of cheap plastic. These plastics are also incredibly fragile and can warp when exposed to heat, eventually becoming so overused they end up in a landfill. The chemicals can leak into the ground, which isn't exactly helpful for environmental remediation.
Modern science has birthed many environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic, like wheatgrass-based "plastics" that biodegrade at a much faster rate.
- Baby wipes - Wet wipes are a parent's best friend. Wet wipes tackle everything from backseat messes to diaper explosions, and they've been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, most wet wipes are not biodegradable and could take hundreds of years to break down. They are also widely misused and flushed down the toilet and cause expensive plumbing issues.
However, parents these days have several different options when it comes to biodegradable or sustainable wipes. Biodegradable wipes are made of plant-based products that include absolutely no alcohol or synthetics, making them healthier for baby bums and baby faces.
Want to take it one step further? Cellulose sponge cloths, sometimes called French dishcloths, are a great biodegradable alternative. These absorbent cloths can be used, washed, and reused several times before being retired. What makes them even better is that the cloths themselves are biodegradable, so even after several reuses, you can feel guilt-free knowing they will not clog up landfills.
- Baby food packaging - Baby food packaging is a considerable culprit against sustainability in the United States. Most baby-friendly foods from the grocery store come in single-use disposable containers. Research reveals several options for sustainably packaged premade baby foods, but the most environmentally friendly and pocketbook-friendly will be making your own baby foods at home.
Shop From Sustainable Retailers
Along with the processes above, the absolute best thing you can do is shop from sustainable retailers.
Retailers who take sustainability seriously look at their practices from start to finish, value ethical and sustainable practices, and use quality and sustainable fabrics and materials that aren't just grown responsibly but produced responsibly.
How to know if the company you are purchasing from is sustainable:
- Look for fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled cotton — Sustainable fabrics aren’t just grown sustainably. The most eco-friendly fabrics are made of recycled fabric or other recycled products.
- Look for findings and zippers made from recycled materials — Finding and zippers made of recycled materials is rare on the market these days. Companies that support sustainability throughout the production of their product's entirety are the ultimate in sustainable practice. Companies like this don't just talk the talk. They walk the walk.
- Look for brands that use sustainable and eco-friendly packaging, shipping, and tagging. Brands that take the extra steps not to use wasteful mailers or plastics in their tags and packaging are brands that care about sustainability practices. These brands aren't just using sustainability to sell more products but genuinely care about the environment.
- Look for where the products are produced — Brands that are transparent about where their factories are located mean they have nothing to hide. Companies that don't outsource labor means that they are ethically sustainable and economically sustainable and value the hands that produce their products as much as they love the environment.
Our Babies Wear The Future Today
In conclusion, it’s sustainable brands and practices like these that ensure that our children and our children’s children have a happy and healthy place to grow up. Purchasing sustainably not only affects the future, but it affects the now. Supporting sustainable brands helps change the way companies consume on a daily basis. This affects change for the workers as well as the products creating a more clean Earth starting today and not just tomorrow.