All the carelessly dropped rubbish we have come across on our journey so far – whether it be along France’s Mediterranean beaches, in Spain’s historic city centers or near a fresh water reserve in remote Portugal – prompted me to post a copy of this article which I had written several years ago through my role as Doula and pre-natal yoga teacher in Sydney.
In the disposable vs cloth diaper debate, there is no black and white, and green arguments go both ways. Fact is that disposable nappies contain chemicals which can potentially harm your baby and each nappy that has ever been produced still lies on some landfill today. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, require water and energy to clean and re-use them. This environmental impact can be reduced by washing cold, air-drying and buying eco-friendly laundry detergent like wash-nuts. If cloth is not your style, try using non-chlorinated or fully biodegradable diapers for your compost.
2. Wipe with water
Simple cloth or bamboo wipes and a bowl of warm water is all you need to clean your baby’s bottom without any of the potentially nasty chemicals found in baby wipes. For out and about, use a little box to store the damp wipes. Like this you can save money and our planet at the same time.
3. Natural nappy rash solutions
If you are breastfeeding, don’t look any further. Mum’s magic milk is full of antibodies, antitoxins and anti-bacterial potential. A few drops on baby’s bottom will do. By the way, breast-milk can also be used for other small ailments, such as conjunctivitis, insect bites, stings, contact dermatitis, infected wounds, burns, and abrasions.
If you are not breastfeeding, try organic calendula cream, kitchen corn flour if powder does it for you, reduce acid foods in your baby’s diet (eg tomatoes) and consider 4..
4. Eatable bath products
Baby skin is so soft, the last thing it needs is any petrochemical derived commercial baby products. Only because hospitals uses free samples, doesn’t mean that they are safe. Research the ingredients lists and be as considered about anything that goes on your baby’s skin as what goes in his or her mouth! Whilst pure body-temperature (use your wrist to check) water is really enough, if you insist on a little creamy feel, fill an old stocking with a small handful of organic oats and throw it in the bath tub. Baby soft skin and no chemical hazards are the result.
5. Green your baby-food
Overhauling your entire grocery list to be organic may seem daunting. Instead, aim to buy some things organic, like baby food or veggies from the cabbage family. Aside from tasting better and being healthier, it sends a message to manufacturers, farmers and the broader community that it is worth while producing organic food. Individual families have the potential to cause tremendous changes.
6. Party-plan the green way
Large gatherings can often lead to large amounts of waste. To make the party eco-friendly, send “evites” instead of invites and scavenge for vintage linens instead of disposable tablecloths. Don’t stop at the baby shower. Party eco-consciously your baby’s first birthday and other exciting milestones.
7. Eco-friendly sun-screen
Some of the chemical ingredients in traditional sunscreens have been proven to be carcinogenic. Often, the same questionable ingredients such as benzophenone-3, oxybenzone or octinoxate used in adult formulas are also used in baby and children creams. A less chemical version could be mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens can be absorbed by the body through the skin, whereas mineral sunscreens form a physical barrier from the sun and remain external on the body.
The skin is one of our biggest organs and the gateway for many nasties – and also some good stuff – to enter our system. When you buy sunscreen, read the ingredients list, do your own research and be aware what you want to go through your baby’s sensitive skin. Also be sun-savvy: Always wear a hat and appropriate clothing, avoid prolonged sun exposure and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before exposure.
8. Toy it back to basics
Many toys today contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which releases toxic fumes into the air – or into your baby’s mouth if placed there.
Go back to basics and encourage kids to play outdoors. Most times, babies just want to imitate what you are doing: a saucepan, the vacuum-cleaner or a box full of spoons or different scarves can be most fun. You can also search for wooden toys finished with nontoxic paint. Moreover, buy second hand toys, thus saving toys from entering landfill and avoiding pollution created by the manufacturing and transporting of new toys. Even more communal could be to swap toys with other children or use Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) for this purpose or check your local toy library.
9. Start in pregnancy
Umbilical cord blood contains about 200 chemicals and pollutants caused by common household items, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit environmental research organization. Protect your developing baby with a shift in your nutrition habits. Consider eating organic fruits and veggies that are free of pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. This simple change can lower your pesticide exposure up to 90 percent, according to Healthy Child Healthy World. If you are worried about the expense, think of it as an investment in your child’s future health and well-being.
- 10. Clear the air
Simply open a window. Inviting fresh air into your home helps offset the off-gas pollutants from carpet and furniture. Mostly, outdoors is better than indoor air-quality. When you can, spend time outside with your baby.
- 11. Lastly, spread the word
Your family, friends, and neighbors may feel just as overwhelmed as you do about going green. Now that you have a good handle on small ways to be eco-friendly, pass these tips to others who may be interested. The power of mothers is tremendous!