We all want our children to grow up in a good world. Our consumer decisions are one way we can vote for the kind of world we wish to create. Start your baby’s life off on the right foot by buying baby products which are better for the environment, animals, your child’s health and the people who make the products. Here are 6 steps to get you started.
Disposable or re-usable – What is the greener option and why?
Both re-usable and disposable nappies have some environmental impact. Re-usable nappies use water and energy in washing and drying, while disposables create landfill, contain chemicals and are not necessarily biodegradable. Buying reusable nappies is one way to put the power in your own hands, rather than leaving it all up to the manufacturers.
Reusable nappies are by far more environmentally friendly than standard disposable nappies – this report from the UK government’s Environment Agency suggests that reusable nappies produce 40% less CO2 (provided that they are hung on a line rather than tumble dried). According to CHOICE, re-usable nappies are also far more cost-effective than disposables – you’re looking at a cost of around $600 for cloth nappies rather than $3000 for Huggies, leaving you with more money to spend on other more pleasant, less pungent things. You can also use cloth nappies again for another child.
There is no denying that disposable nappies are convenient – luckily, there are some more sustainable disposable nappy options on the market. CHOICE have some tips for what to look for when shopping “green” disposable nappies and information about which ones perform the best. Consider a brand like Gently, which makes biodegradable disposable nappies from sustainable resources that can be composted or put into approved council green-waste bins, as well as re-usable cloth nappies with biodegradable inserts.
If you’re especially interested in the pros and cons of using disposable or reusable nappies, have a looks at this more in-depth article from the Nappy Lady.
With the average baby going through around 8000 nappy changes, there are a lot of baby wipes heading for the bin. Consider buying biodegradable wipes or wipes made from recycled materials. Some wipes may also tested be on animals, so look for wipes that are certified cruelty free or vegan. Also have a think about which chemicals are in the baby wipes you are using. Chemicals such as methylisothiazolinone may harm your skin or your baby’s, and The Good Guide suggests looking for products that do not contain phthalates or parabens – compounds which contain chemicals which have been linked to health issues such as cancer and developmental problems. The Good Guide (a US site) has a ranking system for baby wipes on the shelves in the US . If you are interested, some of these products may be available here in Aus too.
This handy list from Shop Ethical provides information about baby wipes easily found in Australia, so you can easily find a brand that’s right for you and your baby.
Clothing and bibs
When buying clothing for babies and young children, our first instinct may simply be to buy as cheaply as possible – babies grow quickly, stain everything, and once they begin crawling there’s no telling what new ways they’ll find to destroy their clothing. However, buying cheap mass-produced clothing means that the price is being paid by someone else (usually the workers involved in production).
Style It With Heart have put together a great list of children’s clothing brands that meet a range of different ethical and sustainable requirements. Frugi is one interesting brand to look out for. They use biodegradable compostable packaging, certified organic cotton and soil, support charities and whose factories are certified to the Social Accountability Standard 8000.
If you’re looking to save a little bit of money as well as save on resources, why don’t you join the many people who buy second hand, swap clothing with others in a parenting group and share hand-me-downs.
What you feed your baby comes with many of the same ethical concerns as what you feed yourself – sustainability, health and so on.
Shop Ethical has a list of baby food brands that are readily available in Australia, with information about their ingredients, manufacturers and supply chains – a great way to see which brands of baby food are best for you and your child.
If you decide to use formula to feed your child, Shop Ethical also have information about formula brands available in Australia, including which larger international companies own and manufacture them.
Baby products and other gadgets
To ensure that you are buying products that are safe for your baby, CHOICE has reviewed a number of baby products and tools, including cots, strollers and baby monitors. You can check out their review here.
There are so many gadgets and tools out there on the market for new families – with ads constantly telling us that these products are essentials, it is normal for new parents to feel pressured to invest in them. When looking at buying a new baby gadget or product, first ask yourself whether it is really necessary. Go minimal and, where possible, buy second hand.
Sustainable baby workshops
A number of councils around Australia are offering free workshops for sustainable parents. A simple web search into eco, sustainable and green baby workshops will reveal whether there is a useful workshop near you.
Researched by Grace Boglev