Zero Waste Baby
I had G back in 1979, I know that’s ages ago. But when I started thinking what to write for Zero Waste Baby I realised that back then when G was a baby it was naturally just more Zero Waste.
With three grandsons since G was little I’d forgotten that we didn’t use disposal nappies, there weren’t really any disposable wipes, I breast fed her and then I made all my own baby food.
Thinking back about it really brought home how we’ve become a plastic dependant disposable society. In many ways Zero Waste is just turning the clock back a little bit. Yes, plastic and disposables can be more convenient, but it is certainly manageable without them.
Why Zero Waste Baby?
In the UK alone over 400,000 tonnes of waste every year comes from disposable nappies, that’s 2-3% of all British household waste! Disposable nappies are mainly made from cellulose fibres and polymer. These are both non-renewable resources and consume a lot of energy in production. Both materials also need a lot of water in production and take a long time to break down once in a landfill site.
If you add in wet wipes, then you can see that going Zero waste baby makes a lot of sense. Wet wipes contain non-biodegradable plastic and 93% of blocked sewage pipes in the UK are caused by wet wipes., a key element of the infamous giant obstacles known as fatbergs, according to Water UK.
Ten Tips for Zero Waste Baby
It may take a little bit more thought and a bit more pre-planning when you’re going out, but it is doable.
Here are my top tips for going Zero Waste Baby and I’m glad to say that there have been improvements on what was available back in the 70’s. I never did like those huge nappy pins!
1. Use cloth nappies
Cloth nappies have to be the first thing on the list. Use washable, reusable liners to increase absorbency and reduce mess. There are biodegradable, flushable liners but they can clog toilets and septic systems.
There are lots of cloth nappies available now and a wonderful place to get advice on how to choose the right ones can be found at The Nappy Lady
2. Reusable cloths rather than wet wipes
Use cloths with warm water and soap or mix up a natural solution of organic soap with essential oils and store damp ready-to-use cloths in a jar or container. Cheeky Wipes do some great kits.
3. Washing Nappies and Wipes
If you’re using reusable cloth nappies and wipes, you’ll need to wash them. Washing machines use a lot of water so make sure you pop them in a covered bucket until you have enough for a full load.
You can use soapnuts to wash them, check manufacturer instructions. Some nappies can be washed at 40 degrees, some at 60 degrees, so just check the wash instructions before washing. if your baby is younger than 6 months old (and manufacturer instructions allow) it may be better to wash at 60 degrees C to remove bacteria, as they are still developing a resistance to infection.
You can add a couple of drops of Essential Oil which will also help to disinfect them, but don’t use too much as the oils can build up in the cloth if overused. It’s best to add a couple of drops onto the soapnut wash bag.
The best antibacterial essential oils are: Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Lemon Myrtle, Orange, Geranium & Rose.
4. Baby skin care
Coconut oil makes a great moisturiser for babies and is great for repelling water and makes a good nappy cream. You don’t really need anything special to keep your baby clean. In fact, using fewer products is probably healthier for your baby’s skin anyway. Make sure you use a mild bar of soap, such as olive oil or chamomile
5. Buy used clothes
Babies grow so quickly that they hardly get any wear out of their clothes, so you can always find great nearly new ones for sale.
Muslins are great for cleaning up and wiping down, babies do dribble a lot. I think nearly every pic I have of my daughter with our three grandsons when they were tiny has her with a muslin draped over her shoulder.
7. Breastfeed if you can
Obviously, breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby because it generates no waste. You will avoid a lot of wasteful packaging and cut down on the need for plastic bottles.
8. Glass Bottles
If you’re not breastfeeding or if you just need some bottles you can buy thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass baby bottles. It’s possible to buy them with colourful medical grade silicone sleeves which help little hands to grip on, as well as preventing breakages. The bottles are BPA and phthalate free.
9. Baby Food
Rather than buying jars of baby food try making your own. You can make it in large batches and store in reusable containers or freeze in an ice cube tray before transferring to a container.
Babies don’t really need that many toys but if you want to get a teething toy you can buy wooden ones. You can also buy fabric toys or other wooden toys for them to play with that don’t contain any plastic. I love the wooden toys from Babipur.
Having a new baby is a wonderful but also stressful time so try and enjoy this time. If you want to try and be a Zero Waste for Baby as possible plan ahead so you’re not having to worry about it once baby has arrived.
And remember if you can only make one or two small changes every little helps.