Nothing motivates one quite as much as being responsible for a new being, and having a baby is the moment when many people move from one end of the green spectrum to the other – it’s no longer just what you put into and on your body that counts, now it’s a little life that’s being affected – it becomes a big deal!
Green jargon unravelled – just how to green your baby
We give you the low-down on how to be more ‘green’ when it comes to your baby; how you can treat the planet with the respect it deserves and in so doing, teach your child to do so too, and how to have less of an impact on the environment.
Nappies: Whilst many people function on automatic pilot and stock up on disposables as the only sensible approach, the cotton nappy is re-emerging as a far more sustainable, green option.
• the average baby uses about 6 000 nappies
• petroleum-based disposable nappies take 200 – 500 years to decompose
• SA is running out of room for landfill sites
• disposable nappies contain chemicals banned in the 1980s in women’s tampons
• the long-term impact of chemicals in nappy production has not been studied
• nearly 8 million nappies make it to landfill every day in the UK
Yes, washing cloth nappies does use energy and water, but one study showed that home-washing cloth nappies has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables, and if you’re using biodegradable washing powder and sun-drying your nappies, the impact is further lessened. [revenge of the cloth nappy]
The days of pins and cloth nappies, like your mother used, are over too (although from experience we can say that the good old fashioned cloth nappies still work really well). Today there are fitted cloth nappies with velcro or snap fasteners.
Where to buy cloth nappies
There are local companies supplying cloth nappies made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Not only are they comfortable, practical and absorbent, they look cute too! Local alternatives like Stegi eco-nappy, Bio-Baba, Mother Nature Products and Earth Babies all provide biodegradable nappies and sound advice.
Organic food: From about 6 months, your baby starts to eat real food. Whilst one of the most important choices you can make for the environment is to eat organic food, giving your baby organic food is even more vital.
Put simply: organic food is better for your baby! And here’s why:
• its has higher levels of vitamins and essential minerals
• there are NO additives
• there are NO pesticides
• it is NOT GM (genetically modified)
• babies are more vulnerable to developmental damage than adults
• immature organs are more susceptible to damage from toxins in food
There are a number of local organic box delivery schemes, Olli Organic Baby food is the organic alternative to Purity, and organic baby food is available from these suppliers.
And learn to read the label! If there’s anything in there that you don’t understand, then it isn’t natural and it probably isn’t good for your baby.
Body care: our bodies absorb whatever we put on our skins. Go to any baby shower and you’re sure to see an array of baby powders, creams and lotions that mothers feel obliged to buy for their newborns – most of them petroleum based.
The best baby lotion is olive oil; you can clean your babies bottom with water and cotton wool (camomile tea or rooibos tea makes a good alternative for nappy rash days) and other products need to be as natural, organic and fragrance-free as possible. Watch out for those baby products claiming to be natural and organic – again, read the label. Rather go for something like Enchantrix or Pure beginnings who use only natural and organic products.
Clothing: It’s easy to get caught up in the whirl of cute little designer numbers in gorgeous colours, but not only does your baby grow out of clothing at the rate of knots, but they get their clothing really dirty. Choosing organic cotton or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals is certainly better for both baby and the environment. Going one degree greener than that is to buy second-hand, or share clothing with other mothers who have older or younger children – a far more sustainable option. Earth Babies and the Little Chicken Company are both local alternatives and provide a number of baby accessories, like organic mattresses too.
5 other tips to green your baby:
• use natural and organic washing powders and softners
• find natural and organic alternatives to household detergents
• grow your own vegetables and beat the organic food bill
• buy wooden toys and soft cuddly toys made from organic materials
• buy second-hand, durable furniture for your baby’s room – there is less chance of the use of toxic material, and its greener for the environment