Here at Little Bunny Bear we don’t really need #ZeroWasteWeek as an excuse to be more eco-friendly, but here are our suggestions for how your family can help reduce or eliminate waste.
Waste is a huge problem in the UK. Just this week I learned that 7.3 million tonnes of food waste ends up in landfills each year while there are many families struggling to put food on the table1. We are reminded again about the problem with plastic waste 2. I am sure that like me, you feel guilty about this. So let’s turn that feeling into something more positive by thinking proactively about how as individuals (and therefore as a collective) can reduce what we throw away. Zero waste week presents an important reminder that it is not only about recycling, but about reducing what we actually buy in the first place. Achieving a zero waste lifestyle may seem out of reach to those of you with very young kids, but if you start using even one of the things listed here, you will see a significant difference to your waste pile as well as your purse.
REUSABLE NAPPIES AND BABY WIPES
Nappy waste is probably the single biggest pollutant that parents contribute to when they have a baby. So switching to cloth is a really good way to go zero waste. Cloth nappies are not new (until the 60’s, cloth was the only option we had), but they have advanced considerably in recent years. By switching to cloth, you could save money as well as eliminate nappy waste. You can go the extra mile and invest in a wool and cotton system which has zero plastic.
Cloth wipes are so super duper I would not go back to throw away wipes now unless I really had to. Cloth wipes actually work better and you can wash them along with your regular cloth nappy wash. Feeling thrifty? Why not make your own? And while you’re at it, you can add in your own wipes solution (so many recipes but my own is simply WATER for a young baby and as they get squiffier, a squeeze of coconut oil and some essential oils.
REUSABLE NAPPY LINERS
Yep, those little sheets of so-called “flushable” liners might not be as biodegradable as you thought. So, newsflash: try some eco-friendly washable ones. Better still, check out these wool ones, which are breathable against babies skin, highly absorbent and naturally antibacterial. Oh, and the best thing? No need to wash after a wetting thanks to wool’s amazing antibacterial properties. All good!
NON-PLASTIC CHANGING MAT
Ever considered where all those plastic foam changing mats end up? LANDFILL. Instead, opt for a washable, reusable and all natural fibre changing mat like this one. You can even use this one as a mattress protector instead of the usual plastic or washable PUL variety. Much nicer to sleep on and it will come in super handy when you get to potty training .When you’ve run out of uses for it, you can donate it to smaller friends – zero waste!
A zero waste birth
Home-births (and hospital ones too) have the potential to generate a LOT of waste. Consider washable protective coverings such as this wool pad , reusable sanitary wear (AKA “fluffy vagina blankets3“) reusable utensils and cups, cloth nappies etc as before. Oh, and why not consider eating your placenta as well instead of having it thrown away. Many people, myself included, will swear to its magic.
GLASS / STEEL BABY BOTTLES (if you are bottle feeding)
Of course, if you can breastfeed, great, but I know myself that it’s not always possible. Did you know that plastic bottles should be replaced every 3 months?? That’s a whole to of bottles if you are bottle feeding and you can’t recycle them. So, check out your options – a quicker google search will bring lots. We used Dr Browns Glass bottles, Mam Glass and Born Free. You can also consider which formula brand you are using – does the powder come in recyclable or reusable packaging?
PRELOVED TOYS, CLOTHES etc
Babies grow so fast, little clothes usually don’t get a lot of wear and tear, so it’s easy to find some great stuff in your local charity shop. Or ask around friends and relatives who might have some to donate. You can also simply try and reduce the number of clothes/outfits. Does your baby really need 10 cute fully coordinated couture outfits complete with matching plastic accessories? Thought not.
It’s the same with toys – choose carefully sourced toys that will last and which are open-ended enough to be interesting for many years. Try and avoid the allure of plastic toys and consider toy minimalism as a positive way to teach children about the value of things.
Forget a plastic baby bath – a young baby can be safely and comfortably bathed in a sink or a adult bath. Bath products? Make your own (see below) or trust in nature as water is a great cleanser and surfactants are not recommended for delicate infant skin.
Consider getting a second hand sling or pushchair (in fact, second hand slings are usually better as they have been “worn in” a little – just contact your local sling library for ideas and advice). A second hand crib or cot is great, or bedshare if that’s right for you. Your baby doesn’t need most of the stuff retailers will make you believe, so before you get anything, ask yourself whether you really do need it.
Donate any items you are done using to women’s shelters or other charities.
DIY baby cosmetics
You can make your own baby bottom butter by blending coconut oil, olive oil and even a little essential oils like lavender or chamomile. You can keep in an old face-cream jar (preferably glass) which you probably have already. Works a treat to prevent nappy rash and as a general skin healer.
HELP YOUR BABY USE A POTTY and POTTY TRAIN “early”
Each pee or poo you catch in a potty is one less nappy to throw away or wash. And it’s a totally normal parenting practice around the globe, believe it or not, from birth.
As soon as your baby can walk, understand basic commands and imitate you, they are ready to start potty training. Developmentally, this can be somewhere from around 12 months. And before you spit out your drink in surprise, it’s what over 50% of the worlds babies do anyway. It’s only over here that we think we have to keep our babies in a portable toilet until they are 3 or 4.
How zero waste if your family? Tell us your tips and tricks by commenting and help inspire others!
6 thoughts on “How to raise a zero waste baby”
We are gradually working towards a zero waste lifestyle. Right now we are focusing on using reusable napkins and towels. With my first child I felt like I was supposed to use at least some disposable diapers and wipes. Next time, I plan to stick with only cloth diapers and wipes, we prefer them anyway! Our family practices elimination communication, so we use cloth diapers the first year; cloth training pants the second year; and underwear after that. Shortening the amount of time your child is in diapers is a great way to reduce waste!
Thank you for your comment Heidi. I think the reusable nappies and cloths are great. We have cloths for faces as well as bottoms and I’ve never looked back. And a great reminder to potty train earlier… xx
We raised a zero waste baby using the tips mentioned here for sure (Mama cloth for PP is something I love and swear by as well as my encapsulated placenta pills)! A few other things I swear by are convertible car seat from birth- not all of them have correct lower weight limits so look into something quality, but our dude is 2 and still in the same seat we brought him home in. Also consider skipping the stroller and baby-wearing. Babywearing on a budget is an amazing Facebook group that resells high quality baby carriers for $100 and under.