10 zero waste parenting tips
Whether you’re expecting or are already a parent, it’s never a bad time to start reducing waste; and it’s an awesome example to give your children, especially while they’re growing up. It’s also a great resolution to have. In our case, the changes have been progressive, adopting different behaviours throughout the years and changes are still to come. So I invite you to try and possible adopt one of these tips and then eventually another. A low waste journey is an incremental thing and that journey can be much more stressful when there are kids in the picture, so remember that slow and steady wins the race. The message here is to be kind to yourself as well as to the planet.
- Cloth diapers
You probably have a friend that uses cloth diapers. Yes, it is more work and can be little gross to be honest: my husband is a little sensitive to bodily fluids (he is kind of a drama king when it comes to them actually), but he did adapt; and regardless of the diapers being disposable or not, parents will have to deal with poo… This is a fact. Now, I do have to mention that there are many services provided or products that help make the use of cloth diapers easier, like laundry services, all-in-one diapers without any inserts or disposable inserts that you can flush with those numbers twos.
Cloth diapers are in many ways much easier to deal with though and present many advantages: 1. you won’t have to continuously plan ahead to stock diapers and have the right size at hand since a cloth diaper's size adjusts with time (note that newborn diapers are a different size and you can even now find potty training diapers -Mateo, our son, looks hilarious in his which is an added bonus-), 2. you save heaps of mula and 3. you are doing the planet a solid.
- Cloth baby wipes
We didn’t use cloth baby wipes with Mateo but are planning to do so with our next baby and the advantages are much the same as cloth diapers: saving money and the earth. You wash them with the cloth diapers and you can bring them along with a bottle of gentle soap & water to drench them in before wiping or you can carry them in a reusable waterproof bag all ready to go. If you go with cloth diapers, cloth baby wipes also make sense.
- Reusable nursing pads
For breastfeeding moms, this is a must because leakage is a reality and these nursing pads can be worn comfortably all day long: just wash and repeat. I feel like this is the easiest zero waste swap there is so I strongly recommend it.
- Cloth menstrual pads, period cups or period underwear
As with cloth diapers, there is some work required when it comes to washing these pads & underwear, and if you are already using cloth diapers and wipes, just throw these in the mix. You wash them all together and can keep them all in the same washing bag so it's a great alternative for post-natal bleeding. The period cup, like diva cups (for those wanting an alternative to tampons), is actually very easy to use once you get the hang of it and the upkeep is easier than cloth pads and period underwear. The initial investment is really worthwhile, so again there is a lot of money to be saved with this eco-friendly option.
- Second-hand clothing
This is a big one for us because the wasteful world of fast fashion is what led us to start our online second-hand clothing store for children: gabiba.com. Given that children grow so fast and often times don’t even get to wear some of the clothing in their closet, they are the perfect audience for slow fashion. Fast fashion being the second largest polluting industry after petrol, it makes sense to accept hand-me-downs, do swaps and buy second-hand.
- Reusable snack bags
Basically anything that isn’t single use is awesome. Be it snack bags, water bottles, napkins, anything. So whenever you are preparing for an outing, think of all the alternatives you have to individually-packaged foods as well as single-use containers. We are lucky to now have low-cost alternatives available to us all over the internet.
- Swap & share
There is so much gear out there for children and especially babies; some are really practical but might only be useful for a few months. Accumulating all this equipment, toys and clothing is stressful because of all the physical and mental space it takes up and it isn’t very practical either. For those things you’ll only maybe need for a later child: lend it. And for those things you no longer need but instead have new needs: swap it. Growing a community of friends and sometimes strangers (mommy groups for example) is a great way to build your own sharing economy where you can do your part to keep over-consumption at bay and have only what you need at hand.
- Art projects from the recycling bin
Arts and crafts are also an area where you can get really creative. Why not only use what you can find in the recycling bin? With some glue and paint, you can get some pretty snazzy projects going. And a side bonus is the awareness you’ll build of the recycling waste you are creating and you’ll maybe think of ways to reduce that too.
- Use what you have at home
There will always be that new product that does that task that much better or that’s that much more practical. And the reality is that innovation is continuous and it’s impossible to keep up. If you do try to keep up, you’re bank account will suffer and you won’t be doing the environment any favours. Also, I prefer to go on a trip and enjoy beautiful experiences with my family rather than buying the newest hippest baby crib. So don’t worry, you’re family will be fine with that 5 year-old stroller.
- Repair what you have
A good thing to do is to find people in your community that repair things and build a contact list that can serve you and those around you. These people are golden. Knowing the options you have when an item breaks is important and allows you to salvage a ton of stuff. Even if it can sometimes be costly to repair, know that it’s worthwhile to give that item a second life and it will also encourage you to buy better quality items that will last in the future. Something I like to do is to repair items that I no longer need before donating them so they have a better chance of being useful to another family.
Hoping these tips help! Maybe you can even have a stab at one today…
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- Étiquettes: repair, reuse, second-hand, sharing economy, slow fashion, zero waste, zero waste parenting tips