Small human, small impact08 Feb 2018
Being a parent is hands down the most challenging thing I have done... and I am only five months in with my first child. Even if you have an angel that sleeps through the night, you will not get much sleep and definitely no rest. The amount of advice you are given makes you second guess everything you do and you just want the world to be perfect for them. So take the next few paragraphs as you please, but here are a few things I found were helpful as a new mum while focusing on limiting our impact on the environment. By no means is this list exhaustive.
Aurora, Conall and Elle getting some water time.
Modern Cloth Nappies (MCN's)
Gone are the days when cloth nappies require Macguyver-like skills and so-called “safety pins” MCN's are now snap button or velcro and are so easy to use and wash. No last minute trips to the shops, no waste and it ends up being cheaper pretty quickly after the initial outlay. Think about it, a baby goes through at least 8 nappies a day. That’s a lot of waste, money and smell hanging around for up to a week! You will need about 30 if you want to wash every second day. Any longer and you may risk smells. Also use reusable wipes. A Life Cycle Assessment by the University of Queensland in 2009 showed that disposable nappies can result in up to a whopping 360kg of waste, compared to up to just 6kg for reusable nappies!
These are reusable cloth feminine pads that are similar to reusable nappies. Really easy to use and wash and no plastic. You will need at least 12 big ones. Traditional disposable pads are made of non-renewable petroleum-based products, carcinogens and toxic chemicals that should be nowhere near your private parts. Not to mention the amount of fossil fuel that is used to create them. They can take up to 800 years to decompose.
The average washing machine uses around 180 liters per load and a bathtub can take up to around 270 liters. So using the water from baths and washing on the garden will not only save you money on your water bill, but most importantly will reduce your water use. You will find yourself doing lot of washing of nappies, clothes with spew and poo, so the water saving might help perk up these less jolly moments.
Borrowing or Buying Second Hand
Borrowing, and buying second hand is a great start. But also only buying what you need. Babies grow so quickly! Things barely get used and worn and remain like new, so getting second hand is very logical, economical and environmentally friendly. You actually don't need that much. You definitely do not need fancy clothes, and your tired new parent self will curse ever buying them when you can’t get them on your squirmy baby.
Most importantly fed is best, but breastfeeding is the worlds most natural thing and it is FREE, convenient and environmentally friendly. To be honest with you it was horribly painful for the first few weeks, even with a perfect latch. Try to stick with it and get help, it does get better after several weeks. Also get hydrogel pads or cabbage leaves and washable breast pads. You don't need fancy clothes to breastfeed. Singlets you can pull down are fine and tops with buttons and a muslin cloth can help with modesty if you are worried.
The last thing you feel like doing when you have a newborn is cooking and cleaning. Also stock up on snacks for visitors. Always, ALWAYS have snacks nearby from the moment you conceive. Eating small and often helps keep morning (or all day) sickness at bay, and the baby arrives you never know when you will get to eat. Food that you can eat with one hand is perfect. This is when the skill of eating quickly comes in handy. Oats, leafy greens, bananas, nuts (unless you have nut allergies), tofu, lentils and beans are all great foods to eat when pregnant and breastfeeding. Other things that are good are raspberry LEAF (not the berry) tea*, Boobie Bikkies recipe and mothers milk tea*
*Always check with your medical practioner if you have any complications with your pregnancy or breastfeeding and before trying herbal supplements.
Australian Ambassador, Vegan, Writer and Mum. Elle eats healthy, lives healthy, thinks healthy. She is living proof that caring for our fellow creatures is good for the soul.
Cover photo: Dakota Corbin
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