Sustainability is a topic on many parents’ minds. With all the accessories that come with babies and tots, it can feel impossible to try to green your parenting. In addition to buying and using less, walking instead of driving, reading labels and making greener lifestyle choices, there are a few ways to lessen your growing family’s impact on the planet. We’ve collected a few tips below to help new parents:
Apart from food, there is very little reason to buy anything new for your babies. The environmental impact of fast fashion and plastic toys is significant, and with how fast kids go through things, choosing secondhand just makes sense. Everything from breast pumps to clothing to toys and accessories is available secondhand. By choosing secondhand items, you’ll be saving money and keeping items out of the landfill.
Where to shop in Yellowknife:
Salvation Army Store
Boreal Kids Consignment (all deliveries in Yellowknife free and affordable shipping to other communities!)
Where to shop online:
Cloth Diapering 101
Diapers are a massive source of non-biodegradable waste (disposables generate sixty times more solid waste than cloth diapers, not to mention hundreds of times more raw materials are used in making them). Switching to cloth diapering full- or part-time will majorly reduce the amount of waste (not to mention the amount of money) coming out of your household. The good news is - it’s a lot easier than you may think!
Don’t be intimidated
Truly, it’s not that hard. You have to get slightly more comfortable being up close and personal with poop, true, and there’s an increase in laundry - but if reducing waste is important to you, give it a try. You don’t have to go whole hog to make a difference. Many people choose to cloth diaper during the daytime and use disposables at night, or have a stack of disposables for on the go. There are biodegradable disposable options, if you’re interested in that too!
Getting set up
While cloth diapering is much cheaper in the long run, initial costs can be high if you buy everything new. Many companies offer start-up kits that include several diapers and inserts, bins, and other materials you might need. However, full sets also come up often on the secondhand sites identified above, which can be a great deal! With a quick wash they are often as good as new.
Types of cloth diapers
There are several types of cloth diapers - prefolds, all in ones, pocket, etc. Some, like this Canadian made brand, adjust in size so fit your baby for up to 3 years. Mama Natural has an excellent primer on cloth diapering that describes all the different types of cloth diapers: https://www.mamanatural.com/cloth-diapering/ - this is a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed with choice!
A basic cloth diaper set up will include: Cloth diapers (duh), a diaper bin, and wipes (check out this tutorial for how to make your own cloth baby wipes). Certain types of diapers allow for waterproof covers and additional absorbent inserts to be added to customize the diaper. You can also use biodegradable liners to keep the diapers even cleaner and reduce your washing time. To start, you’ll need about 15-20 diapers to keep your baby diapered and keep your washes to every few days.
A note about newborns: Many of the average-sized cloth diapers don’t properly fit newborns, so if you’re hoping to cloth diaper from day 1, you might need to get some special newborn-specific diapers for those first few weeks.
Feeding Your Baby
Whether you breastfeed or use formula, fed is best when it comes to babies. However, there are still greener choices you can make no matter how you feed your newborn. Pumping mamas can store milk in mason jars instead of plastic bags, and you can choose powder formula over pre-mixed to reduce plastic.
When it comes to weaning your baby, making the same green choices at the grocery store as you do for yourself is a no-brainer. Buying organic when you can afford it is great, as is a plant-rich diet. If you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, focus on the Dirty Dozen, the foods most likely to be contaminated with pesticides and chemicals. The popular baby-led weaning method encourages babies to eat the same food as you from the beginning, reducing the need for wasteful and unhealthy packaged baby products. But for baby-specific food such as purees and pouches, making your own can significantly reduce plastic packaging waste, and reduce the risk of toxic heavy metals in your baby’s food.
Making your own purees
File this under things that might intimidate you at first but are dead easy. Start by buying reusable pouches used or online, decide on a few simple food combos (we like strawberry/banana/steamed cauliflower and mango/boiled sweet potato), add a little milk of your choice, and whiz in the blender. Add to pouch and boom. You’ve saved plastic and money, and you know exactly what your little one is putting into their body.