Just like all first-time parents, we are being bombarded with information about how we need to parent and it’s coming from everyone: our doctors, family, friends, and now people I have never met. It’s interesting because some people that I haven’t spoken to in years have been reaching out and messaging me as well. Most of the conversations end up discussing things that I can and cannot do during pregnancy and things that I need to do to or not to, to make sure baby is healthy when they’re here. What I noticed was that there’s a lot of advice around buying more things for babies. Every problem is solved by another purchase.
When we first started putting together our registry I felt so incredibly overwhelmed and honestly upset because I felt like if we didn’t get a wipe warmer and a diaper genie I would end up being a subpar mother. Like I’m not providing enough for my child, but I didn’t feel comfortable getting all this stuff that would only be used for a limited amount of time. Living Eco-consciously and sustainably in my opinion rarely talked about beyond cloth diapering and organic clothing.
Before having my daughter, my husband and I sat down and talked about what mattered to us and there were lots of things, being eco-conscious and sustainable was on the list. With every additional person on this planet comes a larger carbon footprint, I would like to have my family but I also want to do whatever I can to be conscious about the decisions we’re making.
Living sustainably and eco-consciously will look different for everyone and we’re firm believers in baby steps and something is better than nothing. Do what you can but don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable and remember that some of this takes time. The big ways that we’re doing this:
Implementing changes before baby.
We started out making changes well before baby came along, mostly because it was something that always interested me. I love finding new swaps and bringing back things that my grandmother may have done or used. We started by replacing plastics with glass, avoiding plastic bags, avoiding fast fashion, and plenty of other ways to make sustainable choices easy. You can read all about ways you can start here.
Minimalism was a big one for me as a mother. I’m easily overwhelmed and I knew that I would be very quickly with all the baby stuff. When putting together our registry I tried to do bare-bones and choose items that we can use for a long time and with our future children. I also avoided items that weren’t needed or were nice to have’s (which often find their ways into must-have lists for babies).
Things that we never bought or put on our registry included a bassinet, baby swing, diaper pail (I know, how did I survive!), pacifier holders, and more. I focused on our cloth diapers, tech that helped with my mental health (owlet, hatch grow, and hatch rest), bottles, things with multiple uses, and other basics. I only purchased four 5oz bottles and four 8oz bottles, so I was trying to limit the number of baby items.
Embrace hard conversations.
This is important, you need to have honest conversations with everyone about your child and let them know what you’re doing. I was very clear that I do not want family and friends to purchase our baby toys and clothes. While this wasn’t 100% followed because everyone was excited for the first grandchild, I think it prevented a lot more things from being purchased. This is also not a one conversation deal, you might have to remind family that you have plenty of things for baby. For our family, in particular, I have my side save the money that they would have spent on toys or clothes and put it towards flights to visit, an experience or something that we want for her that might be more expensive (think swing set or some other thing that will get a lot of use as she ages).
Rethink baby clothes.
Baby clothes is a crazy industry, they’re expensive, it feels like you need a lot of them and they have such an awful footprint in this world. I was really big into all organic clothing but I couldn’t control what others were buying her so we’ve expanded beyond organic. When she was an infant though we had invested in UpChoose which is a company that allows you to purchase a capsule wardrobe for you, baby, all organic, either new or used, and then you can send it all back towards more sizes. Since they’ve started they’ve now added a rental option. In a perfect world, this is all I wanted. Maybe a few additional fun pieces here and there but I wanted a capsule, in neutrals and classic designs. If a service like this isn’t your cup of tea then look into purchasing neutrals that you can use for future babies, or purchase clothes that are a little bit larger. I was able to get long wears out of some of my daughter’s clothes because they were always larger than needed. Do not put clothes on that they’re swimming in but it doesn’t hurt to cuff a sleeve or pants.
All the food.
I am all about what works for you and your family, which is one reason why I’m not including breastfeeding vs formula feeding in this post at all. With the focus on just food, for us, we decided to do baby-led weaning so we didn’t need to purchase jars and jars of baby food and pouches. I will say we did buy them if we knew we were having a tough week or we were traveling but overall she ate a lot of what we did.
Hopefully you found something here that can give you a clearer step to sustainable and eco-conscious parenting. But just remember that parenting is hard enough so do things that you’re comfortable with first. When you’re ready to do more, then try it but don’t weigh yourself down with plans and expectations of how you “should” be doing things. Do what works for you and your family.