BABY STEPS TO ZERO WASTE
Some simple ways to reduce your child’s environmental footprint
Children make life richer, and definitely a lot busier! So it’s no surprise that when it comes to choosing products for your family, convenience is always a consideration. Parents want to make the right choices for the environment, but the easiest solution often wins.
In this post we want to highlight the baby and kids items that create the most waste, and myth bust some of the eco alternatives that seem to be so difficult to change to. Zero waste living can be a daunting concept, but with a little pre-planning, it is easy to make eco-conscious choices that are not only better for the environment, but also reduce the amount of kid generated waste accumulating in your home.
This article comes not from a place of perfection, but a desire to make the right choices as often as possible so we hope you will find it an encouraging read.
It’s no surprise that diapers (or nappies) are one of the biggest causes of waste for babies.
Disposables are definitely more convenient, and are known for their super absorbency which is less hassle for parents.
When you consider your baby will go through around 3,000 diapers in their first year and that diapers take about 500 years to decompose, it does make it worth considering what that convenience is doing to the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the US reported that about 20 billion disposable diapers globally end up in landfills each year, accounting for 3.5million tons of waste. It is estimated that around 1 ton of non-biodegradable waste is deposited into landfills per child.
Don't forget to flush
Whether you use disposable or reusable diapers, make sure to flush the poo down the toilet. The World Health Organisation advocates the correct disposal of feces from diapers into the sewage system, as when sent into landfill many viruses including polio and hepatitis can be spread through the contamination of groundwater. It also poses a health risk to the sanitation workers that manage the waste at landfill sites.
Packaged wet wipes are another convenient baby product that are causing a lot of problems for waterways, sewers and landfill. Most wet wipes contain plastics which mean they are not bio-degradable so if they are binned they sit in landfill, or when flushed (even worse!) they can clog the sewers or make their way to our oceans.
In the UK the Marine Conservation Society found 4,000 wipes washed up on British beaches which is 80 wipes for every mile of coastline they examined!
Re-usable wipes are easy to make by cutting up old cotton or flannel pajamas or worn out baby clothes. If you would still prefer a disposable option, try swapping your packaged wipes for cotton squares which you can buy in bulk (less packaging overall), then dip them in water or a homemade cleansing liquid at the diaper change station. For on-the-go bring your cotton squares pre-soaked in water or a cleansing liquid in a reusable container.
Borrow or Buy Second-hand
It seems that our tykes require so many toys to foster each developmental stage, but they are used for a short time then quickly build up in the home. Before you buy brand new, consider what could be borrowed or purchased second-hand from other parents in your area. Once you have finished using them, try and resell them or donate to another parent that needs them. Not only will you save precious space in your home, but you will be saving these items from heading straight to landfill. You can also make use of playrooms so that your tyke can enjoy the toys without taking them home.
Wood vs Plastic
When you are buying new, consider the material the toys are made from and where they could end up. Plastic toys are dominant in toy stores, but sadly they are destined for landfill at the end of their useful life and take 1000 years to decompose. Wooden toys have a better chance of being recycled, and depending on how the wood is treated takes one to 13 years to decompose in the ground. Wooden toys are also more durable and will show wear, but are less likely to break.
It is easy to make eco-friendly choices when it comes to feeding your tyke as pre-preparation will already be a natural part of any parent’s routine. The key is to find reusable packaging solutions versus disposable that will be just as hygienic and convenient for you.
Make Your Own
Homemade food is obviously the best way to avoid unnecessary waste and can be very convenient when you pre-prepare it in large batches. Small thermos tins or reusable snack bags make eating on-the-go easy and waste free. Bring a washcloth in a reusable bag when you are out to clean faces and hands, and mop-up spills, then take home to wash and reuse.
Making your own snacks creates less rubbish than buying pre-packaged snacks, but if you must, buy in bulk instead of pre-portioned packs to reduce the waste.
Put On Full Loads
Childhood can be a messy time, and their clothes will almost always require washing after every wear! To reduce the amount of water usage in your home, don’t wash every day but instead wait to put on full loads of washing. Some great advice for new Mom’s buying newborn baby clothes is to buy only white cotton onesies as everything can go in the wash together, and will withstand a higher heat for sanitation!
Mend Before Buying New
Get zippers fixed, buttons sewn back on and holes mended before replacing a loved clothing item for your tyke.
Buy Good Quality
At Retykle, we encourage you to buy high quality clothing for your tykes so that it will outlast their wear and can be passed on to another family. When you buy new clothing, consider how you will dispose of it when it has reached the end of its useful life in your family. With Retykle, you can re-sell your tykes pre-loved clothing for another tyke to wear, rather than disposing of it. When you buy at Retykle you know you are getting a high quality garment that you can sell back to us when you have finished with it to continue the cycle.