Last year, when I announced here on the Networker that I’m pregnant, I received an email questioning my sustainability if I bring babies into this world. While the question might seem crass, I did think about it before I became pregnant and there is some truth to it, but not much in the US, as we are on the 154th rank of birth rate statistics by country of 2011.
But while the US has a pretty low birth rate ratio, the US is number one in producing the most trash and with a baby in the household, consumption of diapers, baby food, toys, lotions and creams, monitors and a bunch of clothes can generate a lot of waste which can really add up.
So this made me think about how we can reduce waste while having another human being in our lives and how we can be even more sustainable than before.
While raising a baby can be the death of sustainability, here is what we have done to reduce our footprint and produce very little waste during our first year of parenthood.
- We EC with Sydney, so he pees and poops in the potty since the day that he was born, which reduces diaper use probably by 50% (and hopefully more as he will be diaper free before he reaches two years of age).
- The first three months we used G-Diapers, which we got handed down from friends.
- When Sydney wears diapers, he wears diapers from Seventh Generation (we don’t have a washer and drier to use washable diapers yet), which is chlorine free, perfume free, and non-toxic. (Read more about gDiapers and Seventh Generation diapers in pdf form here.)
- I have been breastfeeding Sydney for the first year almost exclusively. When he eats, he eats from our plates, so there is no baby food packaging wasted. When he drinks, he drinks tap water, so again, no plastic bottles have been wasted.
- The first year, Sydney has been wearing hand-me-down clothes from the babies of friends, so nothing went into the landfill and some of the clothes have been handed down again to new families.
- He plays with what is around him and the few toys that we bought are wooden.
- We eat more organic fruits and vegetables now that Sydney is in our lives.
- We eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables. If we buy meat, we look for hormone-free and free range.
- We use organic bar soap instead of liquid sold in plastic.
- Our laundry detergent is also bio-degradable and we don’t use any more dryer sheets.
- We have invested in some sturdy glass food containers and Sydney is learning to eat and drink from regular glass, ceramic, and bamboo ware.
- Sydney has been carried by us in our Ergo, Bjorn, and Moby Wraps, which means that he didn’t need to be put into any baby cart, stroller, or other baby gadget and now that he can walk he is happy to be on his two feet, walking by himself.
Since the day that Sydney was conceived, my husband and I became even more aware of what is around us and how things affect our bodies, our minds, and our planet. We have become better people for it and since we now have a little person watching our every move so he can imitate us, we have made some changes in our lives so he can grow up in a healthy environment.
As we are heading into the second year of his life we are continuing the journey to be the best parents that we can be and also to be the most sustainable. We hope to be good examples for other new parents out there as well.
In conclusion, when asked if having a child is sustainable, I would have to say that statistically speaking and in the abstract, no, adding another child to our community doesn’t contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.
But the reality is this, Sydney’s arrival triggered in us a new awareness of our environment and our community. We are more conscious than ever and more committed to his future, to our future and to the future of this planet.
If the arrival of one child can trigger such a renewed enthusiasm for the sustainable lifestyle, then I would have to say that we need more children, not less, and that they have within them the seeds of sustainability.
I wish you all a fantastic, fun-filled, joyous, safe, happy, and sustainable Holiday Season!
This article appeared in the on-line magazine for actors The Networker, in December 2012.