The ethos behind Today We Will newsletter and my approach to sustainable living, has always been the idea that, you should live your life as normal — everyone has different needs and preferences, there can't be a one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability — but, we should always be looking out for opportunities to make our chosen lifestyles as sustainable as possible.
So, even though having children increases my carbon and waste footprint, I'm eight months pregnant.
True to form, I'm approaching pregnancy and preparing for my baby in the most sustainable way possible, for me. I'm not an extreme off-the-grid, 100% zero-waste person, so, when I say "for me", that's just to say that there are certainly more sustainable options for preparing for a baby. I find my approach most realistic for a modern, urban, sustainable lifestyle.
Preparing with this approach cost me hours of research and strange looks from my husband. So, to save others the time from research and explaining to their significant others, I've put together what I've found.
Realistic Sustainability Tips for Preparing for Baby
Reluctantly Have a Baby Shower. Register for Gifts.
Gifts are going to be purchased for your baby. By having a shower with a gift registry, you can choose the most sustainable options for people to gift, and reduce the number of unneeded gifts that will go to waste.
Register with a Few Local Shops via Babylist.
Babylist is an online baby registration where you can register a list of items from multiple stores across the web. This is great since most local stores won’t have everything needed to prepare for baby.
To find a local store that sells an item you want online, search for “name of item you want + your city” in a search engine. Usually, a nearby store that carries the item will come up as a result. Then, you can add that link as the place to buy the item on your registration on Babylist. Continue for the rest of the items.
Local Etsy shops are another way to achieve local baby registering via Babylist. Just refine your search in Etsy to your state or city and link a product from those results on your Babylist registration.
Make a List of Bare Minimums. Put it All on your Registry. Stick to It.
This way you’ll only purchase what you really need, reducing waste and impact. Plus, even though you’ll have a registration, expect gifts outside of it. If you find you need other things once the baby is born, you can get it then.
Listing everything on your registration is helpful because it puts everything in one place, so you’ll avoid duplicate purchases or over-buying.
Get Day-one Essentials from your Own Registration from a Local Store
In case baby comes early, or gifts arrive late, I went to a local store and bought the absolute minimum essentials we’d need for one day with baby…and nothing else (knowing more will likely come from gifts, and that I have family or a friend to run out and get more need be).
The essentials I got:
One pack of diapers | One pack of wipes | Infant first-aid kit | A place for baby to sleep | A place to change baby | A place for baby to chill, other than a crib | A carseat to bring baby home | Two outfits, including one sweater | One sleep outfit
Reuse When Clean/Safe
When it comes to furniture for myself, I’ll buy refurbished in a heartbeat. When it came to buying furniture for my baby’s room, I had to know, without doubt, that it was safe for the baby (Greenguard certified, for example). So, I bought more new furniture than I like, but as sustainably as possible.
Same goes for clothes and other tools.
When Buying New, Opt for Local, Natural, & Longterm
Look for things like non- or naturally-dyed natural fibers, and solid wood furniture that has a natural finish rather than a painted color. The goal is to end up with new items that required the least amount of inputs and processing to make.
If you can’t find something in a natural material, look for other ways to make a most sustainable choice — recycled materials, long-lasting, mission-driven, etc..
Prepare to Breastfeed
If you can breastfeed, this is the most sustainable option. So, first prepare for this option, and if it’s not working out, then buy and use formula.
Safety Comes First
By rule of thumb, if something is not safe, it is not sustainable. There is no way it will last. There were a few things where I put safety first, like buying new furniture that I knew didn’t have harsh chemicals rather than buying refurbished.
The other thing that was safety-driven was the baby’s carseat. I wasn’t able to find a “sustainable” carseat that I knew was also the most safe. Know of any? Please share.
Adjust to Baby Life, Then Try Extra Sustainability
Example Story: You start off with reusable cloth diapers and find it’s impossible because you’ve never changed a diaper before and it’s so much just learning how to do that, and they don’t fit well, and you are so tired, and this baby poops so much more than the last, and ahhhhhhh newwww babyyyyyy!!!!! Chances are, you’ll swear off reusable diapers and never return to them again.
Give yourself a chance to adjust to your new life. Start with disposable diapers (the most sustainable as possible), and use those at first. Once you get the hang of it a bit more, try reusable.
A Realistic List of More Sustainable Baby Products
Here’s what I bought. The rest is on my Babylist registry, which I invite you to visit if it’s helpful.