Go green, mum and dad: How to save money and the planet

By Bianca Mungalsingh

A parent’s pollution footprint can quickly amass. We’ve put together some tips on how to go green and save money

If you’ve already heard that the average nappy takes over 250 years to decompose and contains toxins and carcinogens, that tonnes of non-bio degradable baby wipes wash up on beaches every year and that cheap clothing is the second greatest pollutant in the world, you may already be considering going green.

If you want to protect and love your environment and are willing to make some of the sacrifices necessary, here's a list of earth-friendly parenting practices.

Reusable nappies

Disposable diapers take an estimated 250-300 years to decompose and many contain harmful chemicals, making reusable nappies an imperative for the eco-conscious. Though extra washing, drying and arranging can dissuade mothers, reusable nappies are overall easy to use and many last from birth to potty-training, making them time and money-saving. Even if you use a mix of disposable and reusable nappies, you are still saving the environment from hundreds of non-biodegradable soiled nappies.

What’s recommended?

You will need 15-20 reusable nappies so that you can go 2-3 days between wash cycles, as well as a bucket, nappy cleanser, nappy bags and disposable liners. Made for Mums has a brilliant list of the best reusable nappies. Many mothers start using reusables after the first month when babies need less frequently changing.

How much do they cost?

Reusable diapers are expensive, the average price per nappy being £12, however, companies often sell in discounted bulks and have frequent sales. Though your initial investment will be £200-300, the average parent spends more than that in disposable nappies in a year. If you want to start small, you can use disposable, biodegradable nappy inserts, though more expensive, before you transition to reusables. Once you get accustomed, you may find reusables more convenient as washing is quick, you won’t run out and your bins won’t be full of dirty nappies wrapped in individual, non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Multi-purpose cloth wipes, panty-liners and breast pads

Wet wipes were named 'the biggest villain of 2015’ by The Guardian as 2,000 tonnes are disposed of per year in the UK, they wash up onto beaches and have non-bio degradable plastic micro fibres. Go green by switching to cloth wipes for nappy changes and cleaning up baby spit-up, vomit and food.

How to use cloth wipes?

Simple. Soak them in water, wipe your baby or surfaces, then wash in the next laundry load. They are gentle on your baby, affordable and can be used for many, many purposes, including cleaning around the house after they’ve been used several times.

What to buy?

Cheeky Wipes come in different materials and colours and often have sales. If you're breastfeeding your period won't come back for a while so it's the perfect time to go one step further and try out their cloth panty liners, which are very soft, keep you fresh and are easy to wash. Avoid buying boxes of disposable breast pads as you probably won’t use them for more than a month. Buy a pack of Little Lamb Bamboo Breast Pads, which can be used as wipes when you’re done using them as pads. Stay clear of disposable changing mats and buy a Mothercare portable mat that is easy to clean.

Second-hand clothes, books and toys

Disposable clothing is made with cheap cotton from places like Cambodia where demands for cotton are only met by spraying crops with an ever-increasing list of powerful chemicals and pesticides. Cheap clothes are also often made using polyester, acrylic and nylon, and charities are only able to sell 10% of used clothing, making disposable clothes one of the top pollutants, tonnes and tonnes ending up in landfills. As babies grow out of clothes rapidly, buying used baby clothes is a must for any mum who wants to avoid adding to these landfills.

Where to find second-hand stuff?

By shopping at an NCT Nearly New Sale or in charity shops, attending clothes swaps at local churches, joining Facebook groups like Mummy’s Gin Fund or browsing Freegle, you could find quality items for your baby you may not otherwise be able to afford. Babies do not need everything to be new or perfectly clean, they just need well-washed, comfortable clothing. Second-hand clothes are sometimes more comfortable than new ones.

Wooden or plastic toys?

The plastic in many toys is derived from a type of petroleum, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Soft plastic parts of toys are often made of PVC, which can contain lead, phthalate and volatile organic compounds that are known to cause cancer and disrupt the fragile balance of your hormones. Buy wooden toys only or second-hand plastic toys.

Easy, homemade purees with market-bought produce

Many popular baby foods come in non-recyclable plastic pouches, contain an unhealthy amount of sugar and can cost up to £2.40. Avoid the price and the plastic waste with homemade purees and meals. Once you get the hang of what ingredients combine well, it's really quick and easy to blend and serve.

Any recipe ideas?

Anabelle Karmel and Healthline.com offer healthy recipe ideas. Buy your produce from markets and you'll reduce packaging waste and expenditure. Homemade meals are a sure way to encourage your baby, and yourself, to enjoy fresh, healthy food.

Non-toxic cleaning products and fewer washing cycles

Choose non-toxic, environmentally-friendly cleaning products that are gentler on your baby's lungs and skin. Method has a range of cleaners that smell wonderful and don’t require washing away with water.

Reduce the amount of times you do laundry as detergent contains harmful pollutants or switch to the HuffPost’s best natural products. Who doesn't love the thought of more infrequent laundry loads?

Top Takeaway

Recycling takes effort but makes a massive difference to you parent pollution footprint. One of the best ways to recycle your baby stuff is to get in touch with friends with babies and offer to take their used stuff or give them yours. They will love you for it. 

Choose reusable cloth diapers and wipes over disposable ones, get familiar with online and offline second-hand groups and shops, make your baby purees at home to reduce plastic waste and switch to natural cleaning products to give the earth a whole lot more love. Tell us what environmentally friendly habits you’ve adopted and if you found it tiresome or liberating?

Author bio: Bianca is a mumpreneur who is most passionate about writing and education, and uses both to share her experience, tell heartfelt stories and support people, like young mums and newlyweds, on their similar journeys.?

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