Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Babies Love a Green Hug

Babies! Babies! Babies! We can hold them and hug them all day long. But what do you think is the most impactful hug we can give them? Yes! A Green Hug! There are countless ways we can get our newest angels on Earth on the Green Brick Road to conserving our planet. Let’s start this New Year out with a big, healthy commitment to educating ourselves on how we do it.

The Great Diaper Debate: Disposable, bio-degradable and cloth, Oh My! Buying your standard disposables is definitely the most expensive, long term, and least earth-friendly, but very convenient and easy to find in stores. While bio-degradable is a bit more costly at the store, tossing them into your regular landfill defeats the purpose, as decomposition requires sunlight and oxygen to effectively break down; 2 characteristics that are greatly compromised when piles upon piles of waste are thrown on top of each other. Dumps are not currently equipped to handle separation of types of trash, or compost piles, so bio-degradable need to be taken to a commercial composting site (contact your local waste management facility for help with this one). There is also the risk of contaminating ground water through soil absorption. Buying from companies who make diapers from recycled or post-consumer materials is a fantastic option. Using cloth diapers has consistently gotten easier and easier, and overall, least expensive. They’re made with Velcro® or snappy clips, eliminating the need for difficult and prickly pins. The weekly chemicals and water required to clean them properly are actually the same as running 1 to 2 loads of standard laundry per week. A good local source outside of your home is Tiny Tots Diaper service in Campbell. Their machines are more efficient and handle more than our home washers. They do use bleach but water treatment plants don’t mind a bit of this chemical to help with odor at the plant. Also available are flushable liners (but this brings us back to the bio-degradable debate) to make it even easier. These bio-degrade within approximately 8-20 days (verify your plumbing capabilities before jumping into this one - some precautions may need to be taken to prevent drain clogging, and some septic tanks can’t handle them at all). One common tip in all of this is that solid waste from any type of diaper should be flushed and not thrown in the trash. Yes, that is correct. Human and animal feces alike should not be thrown into landfills. They should be flushed down a toilet for proper sewage treatment.

Breast vs. Bottle: I am not sure I need to get into the proven medical benefits and cost-savings of using breast over formula. I'll let you decide what works best for you. I am specifically addressing the environmental impact in this post. But do I really need to? Breast feeding leaves no waste, period. There are no bottles. There are no formula cans. There are no microwave steam bags to clean all of your supplies. Just a few extra burp cloths and breast pads to assist with leakage! One side note I do have to add: I breast fed my babies as long as I could, and they are, thankfully, extremely healthy. Unfortunately, I could not satisfy their appetites on my own by the time they both were about 9 months old. And trust, me, I tried everything (especially with baby #2) to keep my milk supply up. I had to give in to their hunger, so they were completely on formula between 9-12 months of age. I do, however, want to say something about formula-fed babies. I am the very healthy result of a 100% formula feeding mother (along with my 2 older siblings) and I continue to be one of the healthiest, minimal-to-no allergy-suffering people I know. So there is definitely no judgment going on either way from this camp.

We all know how important our environment is to the future of our children, our children's children and so on. Writing about this topic in a blog can be a true challenge. There are countless topics on sustainability that I haven't even touched on yet. I will really be relying on your input to give this subject it's due attention. What other green hugs do babies love?


  1. another way to be more green: share baby clothes! We've circulated several rounds of gently used clothing; babies grow so quickly that they don't wear out their clothes (with the exception of stains, of course).

    Also, I've heard about Earth Baby, a Mountain View company that delivers compostable diapers and wipes and takes away the dirties for composting. http://www.earth-baby.com/home.php $30 per month fee plus cost of their diapers/wipes

  2. We've used a cloth diaper service for 10 months now and love it! Our baby has not had diaper rash once. It has worked so well that we are going to attempt home washing of diapers next week to be even greener because the delivery truck creates air pollution for pick up and deliveries. Another motivation is saving money.

    I ordered two packs of 12 diapers and a washable bag to place them in. The process seems simple. You use a squirt of vinegar on the soiled diaper to kill bacteria and reduce odor, throw them into the special bag, then in 2 or 3 days when you're ready to wash, you place everything in the washer(including the bag inside out), run one cold rinse then a hot wash and that's it. I will report back with all the dirty details on how this worked out for us.