Prior to having my son, I was working diligently towards zero waste for my household. I’d done well switching to zero waste cosmetics, using reusable produce bags for bulk foods, and taking advantage of our farmer’s market for organic produce and other groceries. I’d use reusuable shopping bags for all purchases, plus take my water bottle, stainless steel straw, and utensils with me everywhere. I even purchased a stainless steel dispenser for our drinking water. I’ve continued some of my zero waste practices, yet once my son was born things changed a lot. It became extremely difficult to maintain zero waste.
When you decide to have a baby, you’re already inviting disposable waste into your life. I had planned a home birth. The supplies needed for the home birth included many one time use disposable items such as gloves, trash bags, the plastic liner for the birthing tub, and bleach for sanitation purposes. These were only some of the items requested by my midwife as apart of our birthing kit.
Despite planning a home birth, due to complications we ended up delivering in the hospital which contributed to more disposable waste. You can read my birth story here. Hospitals use a lot of plastic and disposables for sanitation purposes etc. This is necessary so I’m not going to complain about it. I’m just sharing my experience since zero waste is also about refusing plastic and disposable waste even when away from home.
Once we had brought our son home, I made more adjustments that leaned away from zero waste. Being insanely exhausted, I wasn’t going to complain about take out containers or the plastic packaging of food and groceries bought for us. At that time there was too much going on to be particular. We needed help, and we were grateful to have it.
Now as a new mom, I’ve ordered more new items online than I’d like to admit. I do my best to make organic and ecofriendly purchases, yet they are still new items. I no longer have the time to run multiple errands to find one particular item. The time and effort it takes to be out and about with a baby needs to be productive. Online orders often have excessive packaging, but it’s the most time efficient and convenient way to shop. I actually reuse as much of this packaging for shipping my organic skin care line AZUHA to customers, but I can’t always use everything.
What I’ve succeeded in doing is minimizing necessities altogether. Having a minimalist philosophy for so many years now has helped tremendously. I actually shared my 25 Minimalist Baby Necessities-The 1st Year. Cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and elimination communication also greatly minimize waste while saving a ton of money.
We lucked up on finding a children’s consignment shop which has been an ecofriendly and economical lifesaver. I’ve found great items at Goodwill or The Discovery Shop as well. Most of my son’s clothing (just like my own) looks practically new, but is secondhand. We’ve also found books, a baby carrier that my husband used, wooden toys, a playpen, and a high chair secondhand.
I haven’t seen many women in the zero waste community with very young children, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It honestly would have been really nice to have the inspiration. When my son reaches the age of two, I’m hoping for a bit more flexibility, and to be able to get back on a truly zero waste path. In the meantime I plan to continue with any zero waste principles that I can. It’s always helpful when your entire household is committed to zero waste too.
Do you know any mothers with young children under the age of two doing zero waste?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)