5 Sustainable Parenting Tips From a New Mom
Brightly founder Laura Wittig is the mother of a one-year-old baby. These are her top five sustainable parenting tips.
In the world of Brightly founder Laura Wittig—mother to a one-year-old baby girl, Brooksley—sustainability rules. And while the learning curve for new parents can be a daunting one, making eco-minded moves is a habit that's easily honed with some extra attention—and less unnecessary stuff.
Making your own baby food lets you reduce food waste while upping your baby's intake of healthy nutrients; cloth diapers cut down on landfill waste; and gifting economies ensure that all of the things that come with your little one enjoy long, worthy lifespans.
The major takeaway, though? Take what works for you and leave the rest. "It's a really crazy time," says Laura. "The last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy trying to be the most eco-friendly parent ever."
Here, Laura's top five tips for attainable sustainable parenting.
Laura's Top 5 Sustainable Parenting Tips
1. Opt for Cloth Diapers
While every baby is different, you can expect to go through a total of 2,200 to 3,000 diapers in the first year of your baby's life. That waste adds up. According to the EPA, an estimated 4.1 million tons of disposable diapers was generated in 2018—plus, single-use diapers can take about 500 years to decompose.
For all these reasons, Laura goes the cloth route. She favors organic cotton diapers from Esembly, and opted to invest in a portable washing machine from The Laundry Alternative to keep things clean.
If reusable diapers aren't your thing, Laura notes that compostable disposable options offer an eco alternative.
Esembly Cloth Diaper Starter Kit
Esembly's Cloth Diaper Starter Kit has everything you need to diaper sustainably: reusable organic cotton inner diapers, a waterproof outer, washing powder for laundry, and more.
2. Join Buy Nothing Groups
The Buy Nothing Project is a gifting economy that encourages users to give (and receive) items in their area for free. You can download the app or search Facebook for your hyperlocal community chapter—often down to a block-by-block radius.
Buy Nothing offers a great means of finding gently used toys, books, and clothing, and of offloading your own. Needless to say, Laura is a huge fan. "Regardless of where you are in your life, you're going to want to look up your Buy Nothing group," she says.
3. Make Your Own Baby Food (And Freeze It!)
According to the USDA, each year, more than 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. Making your own baby food is more environmentally friendly, healthier, and can be cheaper, too.
After cooking up fruits and vegetables in her Beaba BabyCook Steam Cooker and Blender, Laura uses the same device to create a baby-ready purée. "I found this little device to be life-changing in terms of helping me and my husband with food waste," she says. Note: steaming and blending can certainly be done sans the specified tool, too.
Next, freeze your food! Ice cube trays or silicone muffin molds allow you to freeze pre-portioned meals that can be popped into freezer storage bags and defrosted as needed.
Silpat Silicone Muffin Mold
Silpat replaces the need for butter, grease, oils, and sprays, unlike other steel tins. It can be used in the freezer, refrigerator, oven, and microwave with no problem.
4. Try Not to Overconsume
Kids come with a lot of stuff—but parents can decide where to draw the line. For Laura, that process began very early on. "When I was making my registry, I tried to register for stuff that was multipurpose," she says.
She also strived to be easy on herself, as babies do require a fair amount of things—and that's okay! Much of what new parents accumulate can be passed on to friends, donated, or resold.
5. Be Choosy With Pajamas and Clothing
Favoring natural materials and opting for gently used clothing items when it makes sense will help to reduce your baby's little footprint.
Though no material is perfect, bamboo offers a relative eco route and is great for sensitive skin. "The TLDR is that bamboo is not a magical material, but it is typically better than cotton, even organic cotton," says Laura.
She also favors modal, made from beech wood fibers. So much so that she's utilizing it in her newly-launched Kindthing brand of baby pajamas.
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