It’s Plastic Free July! If you’re a new parent taking part, you will know it’s super hard to reduce plastic with a baby in your life.
The campaign focuses on reducing single use plastics like water bottles, coffee cups, plastic bags and straws, which feels achievable with a few swaps, but throw a baby in the mix and you have a whole new world of plastic sources to consider.
For starters; the disposable nappy –
American babies poop their way through over a million diapers per second!
A staggering 3 billion nappies (or 6000 nappies per child) are thrown away every year in the UK, with the plastic component taking around 500 years to break down in landfill.
The oils used to manufacture plastics for disposable nappies means babies who wear them use more oil than cars!
So where can you focus your efforts to reduce the plastic associated with your baby?
The main areas where you can make a difference is with what you use on your baby’s bottom. Most of the baby plastic waste we generate comes from nappies, wipes and nappy sacs, so this is a great place to start! But what are the alternatives?
Reusable nappies? How effective are they? What about all the extra laundry?
With nappy libraries allowing you try out a range before committing, you can find the right one’s for your baby to minimise any dreaded leaks!
With collection services for laundering, it’s easier than you might think and can even work out cheaper after the initial investment.
Otherwise, eco-friendly disposables such as biodegradable bamboo nappies take a fraction of the time to break down in landfill and are often made with sustainably produced and chlorine free materials.
You can hybrid both options to suit your lifestyle or pocket and you’ll still be reducing your plastic consumption and landfill contribution. Not sure where to start? You can find some great alternatives and tips HERE
Baby wipes –
The UK uses an astonishing 11 billion wet wipes each year!
Pampers baby wipes, for example, are made from a mix of “regenerated cellulose” and polypropylene. Some other wet wipes can contain different types of plastic, like polyester or polyethylene. I recommend using just plain water and a cloth or organic cotton wool to clean your babies bottom for the first month.
Baby wipes account for 93% of UK sewer blockages.
Washable cloth baby wipes come in a range of colours and designs and can be cleaned along with your reusable nappies. If you prefer a disposable wipe try a DIY option using soaked paper towels – try the recipe HERE and use Nom Nom Baby Bath and Baby Oil for a gentle, soothing, fragrance free baby option which is kinder to the bottom as well as the planet.
No time to make your own? For the ultimate in convenience you can now find biodegradable and compostable baby wipes made without alcohol, artificial colours, synthetic fragrances or harsh chemicals.
Nappy bags –
While not plastic free, a washable reusable nappy bag will produce less waste than disposable plastic nappy bags. 100% compostable and renewable disposable options are also available, made with chlorine, GM and fragrance-free materials.
Breastmilk comes in environmentally friendly awesome packages! Although do check your breast pads are plastic free and, for bottle fed babies, glass bottles are now an option.
When you get to the weaning stage the plastic consumption can really ramp up (not by them eating it!). Bibs, beakers, bowls, spoons and feeding trays etc. Consider bamboo versions instead (these can come with handy natural silicone suction pads to prevent spills and upsets) and silicone or cloth bibs can all reduce plastic for your baby.
Certain plastics can release toxins such as BPA, PVC and phthalates, so use plastic free options or PET recyclable plastic which does not leach. For snacks on the go and food storage replace cling film with beeswax wrap or use baking parchment.
Why do children end up surrounded by a sea of brightly coloured plastic? Which could end up in the sea! There are so many beautiful wooden and cloth, sustainable, and ethical alternatives. In fact, the best play solution I ever found was a Treasure Basket and I have recommended it to all my baby massage parents. I created one for my children from the time they could sit unaided, and was amazed by how long it held their attention and curiosity. Find out more about the benefits and creating your own HERE
Nom Nom’s Plastic Policy
At Nom Nom we use recycled glass for all but one container in the full range. We use post-consumer recycled PET plastic bottles for Baby Bath, as it safer in the bathroom, and in our Mini Set to make it lighter when travelling and out and about. So while we are not 100% plastic free, where plastic is used it is Soil Association and COSMOS approved as part of their stringent packaging regulations. Our lids are made with PP rather than urea plastic and our labels are PE instead of PVC (used for most labels and the most environmentally harmful plastic). The plastics we use are harder and more costly to obtain but are the easiest of all to recycle and do not leach harmful chemicals.
The Way Forward
I hope you have found these suggestions to help reduce plastic for baby useful. Doing the right thing for the environment takes time to research and usually comes with a higher price tag as many of these alternative items are made by smaller companies and are not mass produced. So, you could see this as a double win of supporting the planet and small business!
Ultimately the way forward is to choose the options that suit you, your baby and your lifestyle and consider the mantra to reduce, reuse and recycle where you can.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com