We all know about the classic 3Rs ….reuse, reduce, recycle, as a parent, sincerely wanting to have an impact, how about adding a few more: refuse, rehome, repair and reach out.
As soon as I became a parent, despite my best efforts, a lot of my environmentally friendly habits sort of vanished. This can be true for many parents (sleep or Netflix often take priority), but you don’t have to sacrifice saving the planet for saving your sanity. To avoid this from happening we need to keep things simple…
To start on the path to developing an eco-mindset to raising that little tiny person in your arms, I would like to introduce to you my 7 R’s to Eco Parenting.
We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly – Anne Marie Bonneau
This is not an all or nothing approach, if somethings grab your attention and others don’t feel right at this time, then that’s fine. If you are too exhausted or busy to start today, there is always tomorrow.
No 1. REFUSE what you don’t need.
This one is easy to comprehend but harder to follow through.
Don’t need it = don’t buy it
It can be difficult at times to turn things down, especially as an overly polite lady from England who doesn’t want to offend anyone. To simplify it, before you buy or accept anything, especially impulse buys, just ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Sure, babies need things, but you don’t need nearly the amount nor the extravagance that the mainstream will have you believe.
No 2. REDUCE what you do need.
The best and perhaps the simplest way to ‘go green’ is to REDUCE. We cannot buy our way out of this climate crisis. The idea is to consume less, which results in less waste product.
If the sheer size of your baby list is already causing panic, maybe a more minimalistic approach is the option for you.
“Buy less, choose well.”
– Vivienne Westwood, Fashion Designer
Much research shows that kids need fewer toys, and a baby could really do without any. One of my son’s favourite toys was a wooden spatula.…weird but true. I think we lost it when he decided to bring it along to first birthday party!
No 3. REUSE anything that you can.
If you are going to spend your money, spend it on well made, quality items that are designed to last. These don’t always have to be brand new and can be REUSED time and time again.
The main reusable item advocated for green parents are cloth nappies. With excellent reason, reusing nappies could save the 3 BILLION disposable nappies, which take 500 years to decompose, going to landfill each year in the UK. Even using 1 reusable nappy every day will save 730 nappies going into landfills over a 2-year period.
A few other reusable products you might like to try are:
-reusable nursing pads
-reusable food pouches
-reusable water bottles
These are a small example of all the reusable baby products on the market today.
No 4. REPAIR anything damaged or broken.
Children are destructive beings, so looking at ways to repair items is always a good use of your time.
For the less technically minded repair jobs, why not try doing it yourself and give your old gear a new lease of life.
Doing it yourself is great, but if it is something like a broken pram or a car seat, it is always best to take it to a professional to repair for safety reasons. Cleaning and repair services are popping up all over the place. So instead of throwing away that broken pram, take it in for a facelift.
No 5. REHOME what you no longer need or want
With re-selling your baby belongings, you may find that quality used items hold its value and you can recoup the majority of the original purchase price. Remember that a well-made baby contraption that may cost you more initially can be used for several babies compared to a cheaper alternative.
Some tremendous second-hand resources for used baby gear include friends and family and Preloved.
No 6. RECYCLE anything you can’t refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose or rehome
Some items can obviously be recycled, however, in my experience, baby products are frequently made up of a mix of materials, making them pretty tricky to recycle. So my advice would be to stick to purchasing items from companies who bear this in mind when manufacturing and marketing their products. We have a lot of power as a consumer to drive the market in the right direction.
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
– Annie Leonard, Proponent of Sustainability
My advice would be to contact your local council for recycling or disposal options in your area. Because pushchairs and car seats are made up of multiple materials, you might need to crack open the toolbox to disassemble. You can then recycle the elements you know can go in your recycling bin or to your local recycling centre, and discard the rest.
No 7. REACH OUT to anyone who will listen
Share your eco-knowledge, inspire your sister, your brother, your NCT friends, and any new mums to be, to take it up, and keep it up and keep the ball rolling.
Tell people about that small change you made last week; be proud of your achievements in taking that first step. Tell people how easy it is, tell people how much money you’re saving and tell people how they can make a difference. Follow Facebook and Instagram pages and groups, read and share blogs, ‘share and like’ and talk to your friends and family about green alternatives. Go to rallies and marches and show your support for companies who invest money into being part of the solutions rather than the problem.
Individual action can have a significant impact on creating the collective, coordinated efforts we are looking for. Every day our choices impact those around us and work towards coordinating change.
Buy easier and sell faster and upgrade your Preloved membership for as little as £5 – what Preloved gems could you find?