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Prepping to be a Sustainable, Low Waste Parent

As I'm nearing ever closer to the end of my pregnancy (excited and nervous do not even begin to cover it!), I thought it was high-time I talked about something that y'all know is close to my heart and part of my life ethics - sustainability and trying to be more low waste and eco-friendly in my day to day life. I'm no stranger to these topics here on Northern Blood, but something that I've had to battle through has been preparing to be a parent and still maintaining this lifestyle choice.

Sustainability and being pregnant/preparing to become a parent doesn't necessarily go hand in hand. Something that became obvious very quickly for me was just how many baby products are disposable/throw away items and how it can be difficult to find sustainable options - particularly in a price bracket that's actually affordable for the average person. I'm very lucky in the respect that most of the time, I can live a comfortable life in which I don't need to worry about money between pay cheques. I can absolutely get by. But when I found out I was pregnant and starting working out things such as my maternity pay then wow, suddenly the thought of buying certain sustainable products for baby that I had lusted over needed to take a back seat and I needed to work out exactly how I was going to navigate my lifestyle ethics and also live comfortably without money worries. I've since discovered that it's not impossible to prepare to be a sustainable parent - it can be simple in some ways and it's all down to preference in where you want to invest (if you can) and where you're happy to compromise. So here's some ways in which I have chosen to make low waste or eco-friendly choices in preparation for my babe showing up earthside:

Buy baby clothing secondhand
Okay straight up the first thing that might be obvious but definitely shouldn't be overlooked is buying your baba's clothing secondhand. I have gotten *so* many gems on eBay and Depop especially over the past few months for a fraction of the price the items would have been brand new from a high street store. This is a great option for not only helping you save some money already, but also for reusing clothing because surprise surprise, baby's grow quickly and they can get through a lot of clothing. You can rehome brand new clothing that hasn't been worn or get those all important white vests/bibs etc. essentials and feel good about giving these items a second chance of use.

Don't just stop at clothes - secondhand furniture is great too
Again, it won't be much of a surprise to you all that babies go through things quickly due to growing and developing and it doesn't just stop at clothing. Websites such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace as well as your local charity shops are a great place to find furniture you may need for your baby. Pushchairs, strollers, car seats, and Moses baskets always seem to be in the shop windows of my local charity shops and all they need is a good clean and they'll serve their purpose. As I live 300+ miles away from family and use public transport to visit them, they've gotten all sorts of "back up" items from pushchairs to high chairs that can be used when we visit so we haven't got to lug everything with us. If you're on a budget or you want to just try and keep to Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra, you can certainly apply that thinking to the bulky items that you need to purchase for baby.

Reusable and/or eco-friendly items for baby's hygiene
Back in the day, towel nappies and were the norm then the dreaded disposables came along and now they sit in landfill for 200 to 500 years until they fully decompose. That statistic is always so alarming to me when you think on average a newborn can get through 10-12 nappies a day on average! Not only does each one outlive you, your baby, and your baby's potential baby to degrade, but the production of them uses 3.5 times more energy and 8.3 times more non-renewable/90 times more renewable resources than reusable options do. The debate between reusable and disposable options have lots of layers though - convenience, accessibility, price etc. - so it can be difficult to decide what is best for you. For us, we unfortunately have no choice but to go down a disposable route because upon initial purchase, it's more affordable for us. Of course using reusables works out *so much* cheaper when you think of cost per use, but for us, they are an indoor "we're at home" option and disposables are our "we're out and about" option. There's so many great brands out there for both reusables and biodegradable disposables however, so there's something that suits everyone:
Reusable/washable brands: Bambino Mio, Little Lamb Nappies, Bumgenius, Charlie Banana,
Tots Bots, and Babipur
Biodegradable disposable brands: Kit & Kin, Bambo Nature, Mum & You, Naty by Nature, Moltex,
and gNappies - the reusable/disposable hybrid!

Of course the same issues are surrounding wipes. We all know by now the damage baby wipes/face wipes can do; sitting in landfill taking around 100 years to degrade due to things such as polyester and other non-biodegradable plastics being in their make-up, but there's so many great eco-friendly brands out there now that whether you're still wishing to use disposables or reusables, there's a wipe out there to suit every smelly or sticky mishap and the best part? They're all pretty reasonably priced. Some great options that I've looked into or plan to use include: Cheeky Wipes, Mum & You, Aqua Wipes, and Natracare - also make sure to check out your local supermarket as Sainsbury's and the like are stocking some great eco-friendly brands!

Reusable and/or eco-friendly items for your hygiene
Okay let's get real. After labour and giving birth yes, the human body is a wonder and gets through one of the most primal, raw, and magical events, but not without some collateral damage. I'm talking leaks of all kinds and it's something that I wasn't really aware of until later in my pregnancy when I started to research things properly. Some things I've invested in in this area are reusable/washable breast pads, period panties, and also reusable/washable maternity pads/towels. If you're someone who plans to breastfeed, leaks are imminent and buying reusable pads seemed like a no-brainer for me as they're the eco-friendly option and can be donated/passed on after I'm done with them if someone is in need of them and can't afford some. I mentioned how intrigued I am by period underwear a couple of months ago and post-labour is a great opportunity to finally try some out. Post-labour can leave you sore, bleeding, and leaking and thus period underwear seemed like an obvious choice to me. I can use them alone or use them as a back-up extra peace of mind option alongside reusable maternity pads/towels.

Sustainable and ethical brands are out there
If buying new baby clothing is within budget for you, there are so many wonderful brands out there who use organic sustainable materials, have ethical production methods, and who want to have a positive impact on our planet rather than continue to contribute to this throwaway culture that certainly circulates around babies/toddlers. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't help but research and swoon over so many fab brands who are doing good things but I didn't just stop at clothes, oh no. There's also some fantastic small businesses focusing on making toys for babies and toddlers that are not only ethically made, but that are created using sustainable materials such as wood or recycled material to curb the excessive amounts of plastic that seems to come along with baby entertainment/development. Some of these lovely brands are fairtrade and donate to charities with each purchase, too. Here are some of my favourite brands that I've purchased from or plan to when bambino is old enough:
Clothing: MORI, Little Green Radicals, OYA Goods, Tilly & Jasper, and Piccalilly
Toys: Pebble, Tikiri, Oli & Carol, Cuddle & Kind, and Chunki Chilli

Of course there's enough to worry about when becoming a parent and I'd be a straight-up liar if I said everything that I've done throughout my pregnancy and everything I plan to do throughout transitioning to my title of "parent" is going to be sustainable or completely low waste. However, I'm proud that I've managed to stick to my lifestyle ethics enough that I'm happy and content with my choices. There's more I can do and the more I learn and the more confident I become with the role, the more I hope to adapt and change to continue to make even better choices.

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