1. Diapers and Wipes
First up is the big one that most people talk about when thinking of waste reduction with a baby: diapers and wipes. Cloth diapers have come a long way and they are easier to use than ever, but a lot of people still shy away from them because of the laundry time commitment. If that scares you away, I would suggest starting small with cloth wipes. Cloth wipes are easy because you can find them just about anywhere and you can use them over and over again by just putting them in your wash. Baby washcloths are a great option for this too, since you might end up a lot of these as gifts. In my opinion, it also does a MUCH better job at cleaning up the messes than regular wipes too.
2. Toys with Less Packaging
Something I did not realize until the pandemic hit was how much packaging goes into baby toys. Especially in the early days of the crisis, I was purchasing a lot of toys online to help entertain my little one and noticed how much packaging went into each of the products. It felt crazy how much plastic was being used and wasted. Then I discovered Green Toys! These toys are not only made from recycled products but also packaged responsibly to reduce waste. It is a win-win!
3. Second-hand Baby Gear
This tip is probably the most obvious, but take advantage of hand me downs! One of the biggest takeaways I have from the first year of parenthood is that every child is different, which means they all like different things and have different needs. No one product is perfect for each baby. So that really expensive, pretty rocker with over a thousand five star reviews that you bought might not get used because your little guy hates it. We were very fortunate to have friends with older children and they let us borrow a lot of their baby gadgets. This not only saved us money, cleared space at my friend's house but also reduced the waste that would have come from buying something new. Then after we were done with the item, I was either able to give it back to the family to use with the next baby or pass it along to a new family.
4. Hand Me Downs
Babies grow at stupid crazy rates. There were so many times over the course of this year that I realized my kiddo never wore outfits either because they got lost in the drawer or he grew too fast before the seasons changed and did not get to wear that cute sweater, jacket, etc. However, we ran into the opposite problem once he got a little older that we did not have enough clothes because everyone likes to give 0-6 month clothes as gifts. We had an amazing family come to our rescue with bags and bags of old clothes their kids grew out of and now we're set for a year! Many of the clothes were still like new or never worn because they ran into the same problems we did. I cannot wait to return the favor to another family someday!
I hope you find these tips helpful or a good starting point when planning for gifts for an expecting family, or for planning your own family! However, I would love to hear any tips you might have that I missed. What worked well for your family? Please share your experience and expertise with us in the comments.
Blog Post Written By Sara Walters, Programs Manager at KTB.