Well, this past year has been my first year ‘Off” in 8 years. I parented, I volunteered at my daughter’s school and I continued running my beloved Birthpool and TENS business which, by the way uses eco friendly pools, but, I took a leave from Midwifery for 4 months ( sorta) and have managed to 100% parent my youngest little chap until he reached 12 months.
In that time I, like many of you, read the news. I read about our incessant BC and Alberta fires and the ones further afield in California, and I legit felt fear. I read the articles about our ten year lifespan, overflowing landfills, and the war, famine and fire that would overtake our countries, our towns and our children, and I felt the pervasive climate grief so many of you have. And I wept for my children- was I responsible for committing them to this awful life sentence of sorts? It’s possible I am responsible because I made the decision to populate the earth with more fresh children.What I know for sure is- despite what the generations before us may be guilty of ( in terms of the way households and governments disregarded alarm bells 30 years ago and to this day), we, today, are still responsible for the decisions we make every day. Those daily decisions are seen through the eyes of our children. What are we teaching them? Can we stop climate change? At this point, likely not….but we can try to reduce disastrous effects, and…. I believe in hope…. I believe in miracles.
So, as this year of action progressed, I actively strove to teach my daughter, and partner, the ways in which we can live greener, and reduce our carbon footprint. It’s my hope that in reading this post you’ll consider making the same changes in your household ( Please don’t even get into the cost of this unless you are legit in poverty/underprivileged- I’m a full time student, with two children, living in one of the most expensive cities on earth. If we can do it, almost everyone can do it).
In that vein, I know finances can be tight and I know time is not in abundance for any of us. So I’ve compiled a little list of changes I made in my household within the past year. Maybe you can ask for some of these things for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate (Who doesn’t want a good pair of compostable cleaning gloves for their birthday?). I did one change a month but I’ve added a few things we were already doing. This is not a judgemental list to show you how great we are….this is to inspire you to maybe purchase differently if you’re an expectant parent, ask for different gifts, and make some new changes in your household that have minimal impact on the planet.
THE POOP AND PEE SEGMENT OF ECOLOGICAL ACTION:
1- Used Cloth Diapers : I recently read an NPR article by Terry Grose who wrote, ” If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, the best way is to not manufacture more stuff. In that sense, the best thing you can do is not buy more stuff.” They’re right- there’s no sense in cloth diapering or buying wooden toys if you’re just getting the item manufactured, delivered to you, and then worn or played with minimally by an ever changing growing baby. It will inevitably wind up on facebook marketplace and maybe passed around once more before landing in goodwill where, if even remotely soiled, likely will wind up in a landfill.
The use of cloth diapers has in recent years become a trend in parenting- but- this is literally what people did for thousands of years before the 1950’s when capitalism was at its peak and major companies started mass producing “convenient” disposable diapers. We’ve even found a way to market the prettiest patterns of cloth diapers so everyone wants them new with a sloth design….when their baby’s diaper will be viewed for only a hot second if that ,by onlookers who will give zero cares ( most likely) from whence the sloth patterned, never seen by the light of day came from.
With my first child I went the cloth diaper route and found there was no inconvenience as compared to “convenient” disposables. The diapers fit snug, went on easily and were kept in a non-stink wet bag until laundry day, which, with 40 diapers only really had to happen once or twice a week. I gifted those diapers to a family in need and sold a few because there was TONS of use left in them. With my second, I was gifted MANY cloth diapers with lots of use left by my cousin and what is so sweet is the diapers had gone through two cousin’s families and now were bequeathed to us. I knew the users so I trusted them, a quick internet search can help you get out “pee smells” from diapers, your costs will definitely be lower and if you wash responsibly ( waiting until you’re down to only 2 or 3 diapers so you’re doing a large load at a time and reducing water use) You’re GOLDEN. Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends if they would give you their cloth diapers instead of selling. If you’re buying, you’ll spend way less than you would on disposables and spare using diapers that won’t break down for hundreds of years. Below are links to my favorite cloth diapers and favorite biodegradable diapers we used this year.
- -https://shopapplecheeks.com/ and Grovia Cloth Diapers: these diapers have been through 3 children so far and are still fighting fit.Applecheeks were form fitted and never leaked after being worn by at least 3 kiddos and Grovia is super convenient as the liners just snap in and snap out so you use less covers. There’s also a woman in BC who can replace the elastics in them should you need it which will give them even more longevity. You can also shop local and see who makes cloth diapers in your community. Intimidated by cloth diapering- look in your community for a free cloth diapering workshop like this: https://www.motheringtouch.ca/classes/cloth_diapering/ or ask a friend to walk you through how they do/did it.
- Biodegradable diapers: Finding them is no easy feat but you can bulk buy great ones before baby comes ( or have someone buy them for you) and have enough to last you ages! Below are some great options for diapers that will break down in a landfill and won’t break your budget.
- Bio Babby diaper pack will give you bio diapers for birth to full sized bambino:
- Naty Diapers: and you can buy online or at lots of stores like Wholefoods, Walmart, and natural markets.
- Get your PC Optimum points while using diapers that don’t endanger forests and support renewables:
- Bamboo Nature Cloth Diapers: Luckily our size one diapers of these were gifted to us from a too big baby! But we wound up getting them again when traveling to Nova Scotia because they were so great at holding our heavy wetters pee but also https://naturebabycanada.com/pages/ingredients
Cloth diaper elastic repairs to make them live longer: Leanne is a great contact here in BC. Some of the diapers given to me had gone through more than just 3 kiddos so they needed a new set of elastics. Doing this saved mass production of news ones, the cost of new ones and material waste. Look in your community for a seamstress that could do the same or contact Leanne here in BC.
The Poop factor- inevitably your baby will have solid, stinky, sticky poops- for that- a biodegradable thin liner that goes over the insert is perfect! you simply lift them out, poo and all from the cloth liner and flush them or compost as they’re biodegradable.
Cloth diaper wet bags- THESE.ARE.AWESOME. They keep the stink out of rooms as they zip up and you’ll not smell a thing. Then, wash them with vinegar at the end of your cloth diapering days and BAM, you have a bag for your kid’s swim stuff, wet clothes, soiled cloth menstrual pads ( see below for that info). REUSE, REUSE, REUSE. Buy local, even better.
2-Elimination Communication: To save on water usage and diaper usage even more we did easy peasy elimination communication with our son. When I’ve worked in developing countries I’ve seen mamas just hold their babies over the latrine. I never smelled a poopy diaper because babies were offloading their excrement in a potty! Granted, for many of these moms diapers were not an affordable luxury but they were saving the planet while prompting their babies to go when they needed to go. We started holding my little guy over the toilet when he was 3 weeks old and….with a little sound que, he went. This continued and I’ve maybe had a few poop misses and some pee misses but for the most part, most babies whose brains are neurologically intact will naturally know to go in the potty, or wherever the air hits their bits with some gentle coaching from you. This book is excellent, as is this podcast on introducing EC into your life. It really makes life more simple, not harder.
3-Eco Potty: I managed to find a potty made of Plant based materials that is biodegradable. Yup, they exist. Consider one. I kept one regular hand me down potty on the ground floor and one upstairs for those moments you need to race to the potty.
4- Cloth Wipes: This link gives you the straight facts on why, and how to cloth wipe over and over. Sure, use the disposable ones in a pinch but this is an easy solution to implement. Learn how here
…..You are now exiting the Poop and Pee Section
5- Used Toys:/ Books You’ve all read about how plastic is no damn good, and wood is good. Here’s my thought- if it’s plastic, it’s already been made, so, if it’s in good working order ask your friends if you can have that plastic baby walker rather than tell grandma to buy one new ( and they’ll insist, because there is still some kind of gross factor in buying used or taking hand me downs….make it not a thing). If it’s wood, even better, who gives a flying pig if there’s some wood chipping off of it, if it’s safe, and still works well, wrap it up and pass it on! We asked for used gifts, that we need for my son’s birthday and I am certain this turned a few people off on our guest list but, I’ll refer to the point above ” If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, the best way is to not manufacture more stuff”, your baby will not know the difference. From time to time I will buy things new, I’m no angel saint. This is just a suggestion as to how you can gradually make different decisions.
6- Make your own or go to a Zero Waste Emporium: Ok, granted, I wasn’t on call or doing school work so I did have a bit more time to make my own hand soap and laundry detergent but, it legit did not take any more time to make them then it would have to drive all the way to Costco and buy the King Kong sized laundry detergent, poured into a bottle that will very likely not get recycled. I saved my containers from dish soap, laundry detergent and hand soap and made that which would refill it and thus give it 20 more uses if not more. I’ve linked to some sites that helped me craft my soaps below. If you have the means you can easily join a zero waste emporium. Locally we have Zero Waste Emporium and here’s a list of places in Victoria that will accomodate your zero waste needs https://www.zerowasteemporium.com/zero-waste-shopping Simply purchase the glass containers for your product then go down and fill them. Ask for what they can do for folks on a shoestring budget- they may be able to help.
7- Reusable shopping bags and produce bags: I made the full switch to reusable produce bags. They can be made out of old pillowcases (https://awastenotkindoflife.com/diy-produce-bags/) I stuck 3 in my stroller to have just in case I did a last minute shop and put the rest in my bike bag or car and just toted them in with my reusable shopping bags. I’m hoping to get more for Christmas!
8- Bamboo Toothbrushes: A local Company BAM BRUSH does a family pack which is an economical way to outfit the whole family with bamboo brushes. It works out to about 4 dollars a brush which is not too shabby. My research showed that you do need to just pull the bristles of your brush with a set of pliers before they can be composted or recycled but that’s not a big deal. The tides are changing with big brand companies as well. Colgate has apparently gotten on board the bamboo buggy and are making bamboo brushes for the mainstream shopper.
9- Reusable cloth pads- Recently I spotted a local midwife who is making these awesome things. I also use a wet bag to put my used pads in until I can throw them in the wash at home. Buy local, or there are a couple great canadian companies you can buy from. Help divert 2,000,000 pads from landfills each month!
That’s it for this season, but watch for my next post on kitchen eco friendly options and hopefully another one on reducing emissions as I travel outside the home.