It is so easy for us parents to take advantage of all the modern conveniences. They are especially great when you are out and about, and in need of a quick solution. But all the one-time use products start adding up after a while. And that is just thinking about your family only. If you start to think about all the other families, then the amount of waste starts to be overwhelming.
Now I am not here to harp on you for using these products. I still use disposable diapers. As an environmental consultant, I really dislike this choice, but both times the kids entered our lives, a lot was going on. The big one was that we were living in rentals and were not provided with the best washing machines. I was extremely paranoid and worried about not being able to clean them thoroughly. That was one of my new-mom worries. It is not a great reason, but I couldn’t shake that paranoia and so we use disposable.
Anyway like I said, this isn’t to make you feel guilty that you decide you really like using a product. My goal is to show you the alternatives. Some of them are really easy changes. Some of them you might already be doing. I found a few new products that I am now using as I was researching this article.
What are the most wasteful products parents use?
I bet you already thought of at least one or two after reading the above question. Let’s see if they match with any of the ones I have listed below. I think it’s really important to identify what single-use items can be switched with a more eco-friendly version. I have used all of them at some point.
- Baby food containers
- Baby food pouches
- Single snack bags
- Juice boxes
- Plastic straws
Why you shouldn’t worry about the upfront costs?
That statement probably seems a little ridiculous and in some cases, you may not have the option, but a big reason a lot of parents don’t buy these products initially is because of how much you might need to invest in the beginning. Maybe you don’t have the financial option to do it. I will say, there are only a few items that are expensive in the upfront costs. Most products are less than $30.
The best example I can give is by looking at the cost difference between cloth and disposable diapers. A typical 6-pack of cloth diapers from Amazon is about $30. If you have a newborn, you may go through 10-20 diapers a day. This means you will either be doing a lot of laundries or purchasing a lot of cloth diapers.
If you decide to buy enough diapers to get you through half the week, you will need to purchase at least six 6-pack of cloth diapers. That will be an approximate total of $180. Now when we compare to the cost of disposable diapers, this number doesn’t look too bad.
Let’s say you buy your diapers from Costco and are using the Kirkland brand. A box of newborn diapers (192 diapers per box) is $30. If your baby goes through about 15 diapers a day, that means the box will only have enough diapers for about 12 days. Then you are off to buy another box. That’s about $60 for one month assuming you are buying diapers from a place like Costco. In one month you are already at half the cost of cloth diapers. If you are buying them from Walmart or CVS, then it will cost a lot more.
Investing that $180 worth of cloth diapers will save you a lot of money in the long run and at the same time is great for the environment. Upfront costs can look intimidating, but if you look at the long term cost you will see that you are actually saving a lot of money. I don’t know about you, but who doesn’t like saving money.
What are the benefits of switching over?
One of the best reasons for switching to eco-friendly products is what I just talked about…money. Most of those convenient purchases are typically a one time fee. If you couldn’t tell above, I like working with numbers and figuring out different scenarios.
So I added up the cost of how much I spend on disposable diapers and goodness do I truly dislike that number. I’m currently wishing my kid would suddenly become potty-trained.
The number comes to approximately $500 for that first year. That number might be more for you if you are a stay-at-home-mom or the daycare your child goes to requires you to bring in your own diapers. We got lucky that our daycare provides diapers and wipes. I know $500 might not seem like a crazy amount, but if you are living paycheck to paycheck that could make a huge difference.
Another benefit is that you will generate less waste and won’t have as big of an impact on the environment. That is an AMAZING accomplishment. Growing up in an era where it is all about convenience, it can be difficult to make the change. You might not always follow through, but even if you remember to use a reusable grocery bag one day of the week, that is still one less piece of plastic going to the dump.
And finally, you will feel really good about yourself. Maybe it is the thought that you are doing your part, but actively working towards changing these habits makes you feel good.
Here are the Best Eco-Friendly Products for Parents!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
- Cloth Diapers
- Compostable Diapers
- Diaper Cleaning Services
- Reusable Sandwich Bags
- Tupperware/Plastic Containers
- Sippy Cups
- Silicone Ice Cube Trays
- A Good Blender
- Reusable Food Pouch
- Silicone Straws
- Reusable Grocery Bags
- Reusable Paper Towels
- Wool Dryer Balls
1. Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers are a simple and great alternative to disposable diapers. There are also a ton of cute designs and they make them grow with your baby. A bonus benefit to cloth diapers is that they do not contain the harsh chemicals that most disposable diapers have. Disposable diapers are bleached and that is where the chemical concern comes from. I am not an expert, so please either reach out to a knowledgeable source or conduct your own research, but reactions to the chemicals are rare.
2. Compostable Diapers
I just recently found out that this type of diaper exists but have not yet tried. I do though want to share it with you all as a great disposable diaper option. These diapers are typically made from bamboo and are presented as a more earth-friendly disposable diaper. A brand that I just found when I was researching compostable diapers is called DYPER.
3. Diaper Rental and Laundry Service
This is another great diaper alternative, but depending on where you live it might not be a viable option. These are typically limited to the bigger cities. When I was pregnant I was really excited about this option. My parents told me how much they loved this service, but unfortunately, there were none in my area at the time my first son was born. If you are one of the lucky ones to have this as a possibility, here is why you should consider it. You get to be eco-friendly without being responsible for the product. These businesses will drop off clean cloth diapers and then pick up your dirty diapers. They do all the cleaning of the diaper as well.
I love the idea of this service the best because even when you are done using this service, they can continue using the diapers with the next family. Nothing goes to waste until it is unusable.
4. Reusable Sandwich Bags
I personally hate dealing with plastic bags, so I love any option that replaces them. The reusable bags are typically silicone or thick BPA-free plastic. Amazon has a variety of them to check out. The silicone is currently my favorite because they are so simple to clean.
5. Plastic Containers
This tends to go hand-in-hand with sandwich bags. You can stick with the typical plastic containers that you find in the general kitchen area or you go for the cute kid-themed ones that are made messy hands. Once again Amazon has a large variety to check out.
6. Sippy Cups or Water Bottles
So I’m pretty sure most of you have these already, but for those of you who use juice boxes regularly, try this instead. In my opinion, the best sippy cups are the Take-N-Toss. They are very inexpensive and work the best. I have tried so many different kinds of sippy cups (brands, styles, etc.) and Take-N-Toss is the winner. There are no fancy parts to them and they don’t leak that much. As a side note, almost all sippy cups leak in some way, even the ones that say they don’t.
If your kid has out-grown sippy cups, look for a water bottle. Once again, this took a few tries but the Camel water bottles for kids are amazing. They don’t leak and are really durable for a destructive toddler.
7. Silicone Ice Cube Trays
If you plan on making your own baby food, then this is a must. I recommend the silicone option because it is simple to remove the frozen cubes from them. I found the plastic trays tend to crack after a while. We bought one set for when we started making food for Charlie and have continued to use it with Arthur. Click the link to check out the set we have used with both kids.
8. A Good Blender
Making your own baby food is so ridiculously easy and will save you so much money. The cost of buying baby food verse making it yourself is big and the cost difference can be 3X or more.
I got lucky that I bought a good blender way before kids were thought for my husband and I. We have had our Ninja for about 6 years and I love it.
Please don’t buy any blenders that are sold as specifically for making baby food, like the NutriBullet Baby. Instead, purchase a good quality blender like the Ninja, NutriBullet, or Vitamix. With these blenders, you are investing in something that can be used long after your children are done eating baby food.
9. Reusable Food Pouch
If your kid ends up loving eating food out of the pouches, then the reusable option is a great way to go. They are simple to clean and reuse when you need them. Plus this is such an easy way to eliminate waste without having to do a lot of work.
10. Silicone Straws
Now I recommend using silicone straws over the metal ones because they won’t hurt their teeth as much. My two year old loves to bite on my metal straws, so I had to set those aside in favor of a more kid-friendly option. Reusable straws are so easy and convenient, that I recommend them to everyone both young and old.
11. Reusable Grocery Bags
I am sure a lot of people are already doing this, but just in case there is a super easy product that will help cut down on plastic waste. I typically will get my from events that I tend for free, but if you need to purchase some, there are a lot of options on Amazon. If you want a durable bag then I recommend this one:
Here is a great list of the essential items you need and those you can live without to build your maternity wardrobe.