2 July 2021
HOW TO LIVE (SOMEWHAT) PLASTIC FREE WITH A BABY
Plastic is everywhere and it doesn't disappear. We can't let nature go to waste.
Help phase out single-use plastics.
Graphic Designer, WWF-Australia
Nappies, wipes, dummies, bottles... Plastic is everywhere in baby-land! It’s not all bad (and there are some plastics we can’t get by without), but single-use plastic is wreaking havoc on our environment. Now is the perfect time to rise to the challenge of living life with less plastic.
The most important thing to remember about going plastic free (I prefer the term somewhat plastic free) is that the world doesn’t need a handful of people doing zero plastic perfectly, real environmental benefits will come from millions of us using less plastic, imperfectly! Parenting itself teaches us that aiming for perfection is futile, so use the same wisdom when it comes to eliminating plastics too!
1. Let your friends and family know you love plastic free toys and baby gear!
Your friends and family will be glad to know they’re buying you something you love and you’ll be able to stem the flow of plastic into your house. Win-win.
Family often ask, “What does he/she need?” presenting the perfect opportunity to let them know what cute, sustainable toys you’ve had your eye on. Friends with similar aged children will also happily offer up hand-me-downs.
2. Use washcloths instead of baby wipes at home.
Save on single-use plastic and reach for the washcloth. Ever heard of a ‘fatberg’? Several giant "fatbergs" spanning up to 250 metres have been found in UK sewer systems: a mass of hardened fat, oil and baby wipes or ‘flushable liners’ (that aren’t actually flushable). Yikes!
3. Choose a sustainable nappy when possible.
According to Zero Waste SA, 800 million disposable nappies end up in Aussie landfill every year, and once there can take 200-500 years to break down. But let’s face it, there’s no perfect, environmentally-friendly solution when it comes to nappies. But generally, cloth nappies are gentler on the Earth and of course, are plastic free.
Choosing a sustainably-produced cloth nappy, line-drying, and reusing the nappies with subsequent children will help decrease your footprint further. Using your cloth collection across multiple babies saves lots of money too! How much of a hassle are cloth nappies? More work than disposables, for sure. But nothing will top the planet-saving feeling you get in return. Oh, and never having to run to the shop for nappies because you've run out is excellent.
4. Choose plastic free bottles, sippy cups and drink bottles.
We have an amazing array of choice in Australia when it comes to plastic free drink bottle options. Biome.com.au has a great selection of glass and stainless steel baby bottles and cups. This is also a sure-fire way to protect baby from nasties like BPA (bisphenol A.) and other chemicals that can leach out of plastic.
5. Washable, reusable nursing pads are a thing.
Natural fibres are much more comfortable than plastic! Bonus.
6. Choose a solid soap.
There’s a huge range of locally produced, plant-based, solid soaps in Australia to help you in your plastic free quest.
7. Think long-term when it comes to accessories.
A beautiful hair comb crafted from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) wood is an accessory that will last the distance. It could even become a cute keepsake you can pass on to your son or daughter to use with their own baby. (Plastic will last the distance too, but just may not be as cute in 30 years.)
8. Choose plastic free fabric where possible.
For baby clothes and blankets etc. organic cotton, linen and hemp fabrics are all plastic-free, and as an added bonus they hold their quality going through the washing machine a lot!
9. Parents need coffee.
You’ll likely need something to help you through the ‘Will I ever sleep again?’ phase, and if coffee is your thing - choose a reusable coffee cup. Single-use coffee cups and lids are among the most common plastic waste items found in the ocean.