Is having a zero waste bebe even possible?
As the permie hippie parents we aspired to be, we totally envisioned ourselves having as close to a zero waste baby as possible. In reality we just wanted to strive for a minimal waste life for our baby, after all, we figured we had already established a routine for ourselves where we’d produce no more than one small trash bag of waste per week. Our waste consisted mostly of food wrappers that we’d try to avoid at all cost and were not recyclable, so a baby that doesn’t eat packaged foods should have no problem having a zero waste life right? WRONG!!! Unless you live in a community where waste is discouraged and people are making direct efforts to not produce any waste, the best option is to make small efforts to reduce waste even if you may have to do a little extra work.
No new things for baby
This is a cardinal rule we do our best to follow at all times. Babies outgrow everything exponentially faster than the lifespan of that product. From clothes, special pillows, basinets, strollers, car seats, and even toys, these products can survive generation after generation of babies so what’s the need of buying new, and then disposing of, products so quickly. One of my best hacks has been joining baby marketplace WhatsApp and/or Facebook groups, or searching through your local resell website/app. It will be important to be flexible and willing to make an effort to pick up preloved items or ask for help arranging for deliveries. Our baby’s whole room is built of only preloved items. From toys, changing table, crib, rocking chair, and even books. Two amazing bonuses of only shopping preloved is that the goods are always cheaper and most times do not include the original packaging which would have ended up in the trash anyways. Once you get into the groove of buying you’ll realize that you can also sell. This lessens the cost burden of buying things that your baby needs now but might not need in a few months or even weeks.
If cleanliness and sanitation is an issue for you then always kindly ask the seller to prewash or sanitize and they usually will. For clothes I love scrolling through Retykle, Hong Kong’s local and official, children’s consignment resale market. The products are all assessed by an employee before they are made available for sale and product descriptions are very much on point. Also, when it comes to clothes, babies outgrow them faster than they even have time to wear them. On most occasions the clothes I have purchased still have tags on them and just never got a chance to be used.
This is where I lose all the mamas but I do hope to give you some insight that may help you keep an open mind. Before I gave birth I had purchased a whole collection of reusable nappies from a seasoned mama with a child that had outgrown them. When I went to go pick them up she said, “I wish you the best of luck” in a really serious tone almost making me feel like she was sending me off to the Hunger Games. That’s because reusable nappies are no joke and if you don’t have a system and routine around how to handle them this can become a nightmare.
First things first I will say, we do not use cloth diapers 100% of the time. Cloth diapers are an exclusively day time “at home” thing in our household. So when I said we make “small efforts to reduce waste” I really mean it. We managed to reduce our waste from 100 diapers a week to about 100 diapers in 3 weeks. Not bad…
You will want to buy a lot of diapers, at least 10-15 to give you enough time to wash them without running out. Go for those preloved diapers even if they’re all kinds of funny patterns and colors. After all they’re only an at home thing for many people anyways. Then you will also need liners and ecobleach. Liners are a really thin cloth like material that you put on top of the cloth diaper sitting between the baby’s skin and the diaper. The function of the liner is to catch the solids while allowing the liquid to be absorbed by the diaper. This really reduces the messiness of the poop since the solid poop gets caught by the liner which you can simply throw in the trash.
As for the wet nappy, we throw that in the sink immediately and run it under warm water for a few seconds. We wring it out and put it in a plastic bucket next to the sink with a secured lid. Every couple of days we throw them in the washer and add one teaspoon of ecobleach. All in all we can’t complain too much about making this transition. Once we had the protocol in place it really was not that much more work. I’d rather load the washer and do a little extra laundry than to be running to the refuse center every day to dispose of our trash.
The other product I found myself excessively using in the first few weeks of being a mom were baby wipes. I felt like I was going through dozens of baby wipes a week and it was bothering me so much. Wipes in general are the absolute worst for the environment and if that weren’t enough, so many people flush them causing them to clog our sanitation systems and end up in our oceans. This alone gave me anxiety. So I looked at the ingredients of baby wipes and realize that not only do they have a host of things I can’t pronounce, the principal ingredient is water…
This lead me to doing a whole bunch of research, which I will spare you, and instead I’ll just give you the best bumbum spray recipe and tell you exactly where you can get everything.
Ingredients: Aloe Vera (5 table spoons), almond oil (5 teaspoons), Baby soap (2.5 teaspoons), reduce in about 10 ounces of water. This spray is not just good for their bums but great for cleaning their hands, feet, and faces on the go. And if you are using clean ingredients you should have nothing to worry about if they put their hands and feet back in their mouths. I couple the spray with some cotton cloths and always have a stack right by the changing table for an easy reach. Of course, I will still have regular wipes or even tissues for the major poo blowouts, but for the regular wet pee diapers I always just use the spray and a cotton cloth. I’ll throw the cloth in the same bucket as the diapers and they all get washed the same.
In the wonderful event I have inspired you guys to try any of these methods make sure to share with us!