Ethical baby shopping

As some of my more long term readers will know,thinking more carefully about how we consume is an issue I keep returning to. Following on from the Jewish High Holidays, and beginning the new year, we are encouraged to examine ourselves and our actions and how they impact on the world around us. So in my world, how I consume as a new parent is very much on my mind and has been all year.
We are often told that the best thing we can do for the environment is to have fewer (or even no) children. Children use up even more resources, create huge amounts on waste with nappies and growing out of their clothes every few months, and generally add to the problem of a growing world population. No guilt here then! However when we thought we might not have our own children but would adopt (something that I still think would be a fantastic thing to do) I had to ask myself what it meant to be a parent, and a huge part of that was the opportunity to pass on knowledge of and love of a Judaism positively lived, and in a world where the Jewish population is decreasing while the world population is increasing, this brings me some comfort (perhaps even misguided justification!)
So how can we reduce the environmental impact babies have on the world? The first place we have to start is nappies. The amount of waste we generate here is enormous, and any regular nappies used will still be around hundreds of years after our daughter has gone! People (particularly of older generations who had to use terry nappies) were incredibly discouraging about using washable reusable nappies, and telling me I just wouldn't manage. That is until I asked friends in Facebook. Then I discovered (to my joy) that plenty of friends have used them and loved them, saving money and the environment at the same time. Yes they do take up more water resources, but this has to beat landfill, and lots of councils offer incentives for the nappies and for laundry services.
I have used these happily, though it took me a little while to have the courage to do so, but until I tried them I relied on biodegradable nappies which I am still using a lot of the time as I build my confidence with the washables. I am amazed by the number of people who think I am batty for doing so, and for paying more than I have to, but I can't think of anything more important than protecting the world we want these future generations to inherit. I also, personally, found the chemical smell and the imprints left on daughters skin by other brands the occasions we've used them totally off putting.
So what about clothes and baby gear? I have been so incredibly blessed not only to have received gorgeous gifts, but also to be offered second hand things, either for great prices, or just as gifts from mums happy to find a new home for clothes etc. One such mum who kept us in babygrows for new borns was worried we'd be offended if she kept offering us hand me downs, although the age gap is great for doing so (she's been reassured otherwise!) Beautiful clothes that only last 6-8 weeks size wise and which are regularly covered in spit up and baby poo are so easily discarded, and so many feel happy to discard because they cost so little in Tesco, primark, sainabury's etc. There are plenty of ways to recycle the clothes and furniture etc. once they are used, (from charity shops to eBay, free cycle to friends kids) and they don't all need to be new to begin with. Perhaps in spending a little less on clothes, and making good use of them when they are done, we can afford those biodegradable nappies a little easier!
And of course as with any shopping, there are always organic and fair trade options out there, not to mention lovingly handmade items, which have been some of our most precious gifts.
When you buy new baby clothes you are always told to wash them before they are first used. Laundry is another one of those things that children contribute to the world! So it's important as far as possible to make sure that washes are as full as possible, and use ecological washing powders and softners. Baby's skin needs protecting but so does our water supply and world.
I know that whatever we do in creatig new life we will have somewhat of a negative impact (as well as all the positives we hope for). But I hope there are ways we can walk this new journey with our ethics in tact and leading by example even before she can remember such things!


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