Sunday, April 6, 2008

The environmental impact of babies

No, this isn't a discussion of cloth vs. disposable diapers. I am a working mom, 'nuff said.

Yesterday I was at the grocery buying the first of many rounds of baby food, and I got to thinking about the considerable amount of stuff a baby requires and generates.

They say breast milk is best; even so, as a working mom, this isn't a uncostly proposition. You have:

  • a pump (and batteries, if you have to pump in an inconvenient location)
  • bottles for daycare
  • freezer bags for storage (in case you're unable to keep up at a future date)
  • and all the electricity generated for the above
  • not to mention, replacement nipples as the baby grows, and the junk generated by the size-1s that are included with each bottle sold.

And I have yet to find a recyclable baby bottle! Yes, there are some glass ones sold but at $10-15 each you can imagine the expense. I'd love to see Avent or another company introduce recyclable plastic bottles.

Then there's later feedings. As your child grows you're facing an enormous stash of empty glass jars each week. (Let's not even address the cost, which goes up exponentially if you choose organic or dha-laced products.) I live in a community that limits the amount of recyclables to one bin per week so this is a frustration.

Yes, I intend to supplement my baby's diet with processed versions of the foods we get from the CSA this summer, depending on time and texture of the food. Storage is always an issue.

Finally there's the waste generated by all the other stuff:

  • packaging for everything
  • medication and vitamin bottles (which again, is rarely recyclable)
  • wipes
  • batteries for swing (if your kid had colic, you'd understand!)
  • clothes that become to stained to pass along to another new mom.

Does anyone have ideas on how to minimize your baby's impact on the environment? I'd love to hear ideas.

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