Welcoming a newborn this year? Congratulations! Having a baby is a really exciting time in life. It certainly was for my husband and I!
Parenting, for me, also came with wild dreams of raising my kids to become little eco-warriors! Between cloth diapers, chemical-free detergent and a vegetable garden, I was determined I was going to be the ultimate EnviroMom!
Sadly, my determination did not last long. The reality was a lot harder and it didn’t take long for me to come across a lot of waste.
Never have we seen so much plastic than when our newborns arrived and with them a ton of gifts – and lots of things we didn’t actually need!
One of the things I absolutely regret with my firstborn was not organizing a gift baby registry! At the time, they seemed to me like consumerism on steroids and something to be avoided at all costs! As a result, I ended up being gifted tons of things I did not need and did not like!
What is a gift registry?
Gift registries were traditionally created for newly-wedded couples. In fact, it is believed that wedding gifts are as old as the institution of marriage.
A few generations ago, it was unusual for couples to co-habit and have a fully-equipped house before their wedding. So, the idea was to create a list of much-needed items for the new couple to take to their new home.
Long before the internet existed, this list was a paper document circulated among family members and close friends. After a while, retailers started to provide this service for their customers.
With time and technology, gift registries have evolved beyond the wedding domain! It didn’t take long for baby registries to become popular!
Why a baby registry is an eco-friendly option
So how does a baby registry actually help you to avoid waste when it seems to get people to buy more stuff?
People will give you gifts when you have a baby, particularly if that’s your firstborn, even when you say you don’t need anything! It’s just part of our culture and it is how people express their love and appreciation.
There’s a ton of waste in the world of new babies (and so much plastic). Here are some ways creating a registry cuts down on this:
- No double-ups: You literally list out everything you need, no useless double-ups in sight.
- Receive products you actually want and need: Avoid being gifted something that will sit in its box for years to come.
- Ability to focus on plastic-free products including cloth diapers and wooden toys.
- Ability to choose eco-friendly products: Your registry, your rules. Control how eco-friendly your baby products are by only listing eco-friendly options on your registry.
- There is no need to focus on physical products. You can, for example, organize a fundraiser for your baby shower. Another great gift is to organize meal delivery for sleep-deprived parents or clean-up services for cloth diapers.
How to keep things eco-friendly with a newborn?
New babies often tend to come with a ton of waste.
From the plastic that seems to coat everything you buy to the well-intentioned but not needed 5th baby rug from friends that will sit in your cupboard unused. Here are some ways you can try to reduce your environmental footprint with a baby:
- The rules of “reduce, reuse, recycle” apply to newborns as they do to just about anything else in life. A second-hand cot is a much better option than a brand new “eco-friendly” one
- A baby registry – especially an environmentally-friendly one – should not be an open invitation to include one million items of stuff just because they will be gifted. It is important to avoid the ‘shiny-object syndrome’
- Use reusable diapers: Disposable nappies are a huge source of waste. Your second-best option is the biodegradable ones that quickly break down.
- Opt for organic materials: Not only do they feel better, but they’re also a lot more durable than their non-organic counterparts meaning you can use them for way longer and pass them down to other children.
- Think about the end-of-life of products you buy or include in your registry. It is always important to have a plan for when we no longer need baby things. Can we donate or gift them to someone? Worst-case scenario, will they break down quickly if they end up in landfills?
- Think about eco-friendly stuff for parents too. Washable breast pads for example can replace hundreds of disposable ones that end up in landfills.
- Support genuine eco-friendly businesses that operate within certain ethical parameters of sustainability. Support local and family-owned whenever possible.
Top 3 items to include in the baby registry
1 Washable items. Anything that replaces dozens or hundreds of disposable items will always be a winner. Things like cloth diapers, washable wipes and reusable breast pads are great choices.
2 Reusable items. It is great to think about future use for the things we buy. Things that can be used by siblings or gifted to family and friends will prolong the lifecycle of a product. The bottom line is the longer a product lasts and is in use the more sustainable it will be.
3 Minimal waste items. Our concerns should not be limited to the product only. How items are packaged and how much plastic is used are becoming increasingly important facts. The same goes for transportation and emissions that come from buying items that are located further away.
Having a baby is a special time in life. Enjoy your baby in guilt-free mode.