Trying to shop ethically: Baby Edition

So, a while ago I said I was going to compile a blog about ways to shop a bit more ethically for baby necessities. Since this year I’ve been trying to find ways to generally love the planet a bit better, I’ve been thinking a bit more about this, so I thought I’d have a go at sharing some things I’ve found…I’ve still got a long way to go with making purchasing decisions that are totally ethical, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

In general, the baby industry is definitely ALL about getting you to buy lots, and lots, and lots, all brand new. And if you don’t, well, your baby is going to be massively deprived/developmentally stunted/might even die. Trying to sort through the plays on your fears to find what is actually necessary can be a challenge. But there are also a lot of ways to try and avoid buying into the everything-new-then-chuck-it-when-you’re-done culture. So here’s my starter for five…

  1. Going second hand – so, it’s really obvious, but there are SO few things that you need to buy new for a baby. In fact, I think the only thing that we really HAD to get new was a cot mattress – they advise you don’t get a carseat second hand, but we were lucky enough to get one from a family member who could guarantee it hadn’t been in a crash. We’ve had so many bargains second hand – a £15 cot, a £25 jumperoo, countless clothes, a wetsuit, a snowsuit, highchair toys…Ebay is a treasure trove, as is Gumtree. In Newcastle, there’s an AMAZING children’s goods charity shop on Shields Road. Tiny Lives charity run huge sales to raise funds multiple times a year. And of course, handmedowns are a winner – there are some great “Play It Forward” groups on Facebook, where mams pass on stuff to others in need for free.
  2.  Refurbished pushchairs – one of the biggest pre-baby expenses is a pram. If you can’t find one second hand, a great way to avoid buying totally new is to go for a “pre-loved” pram that has been returned to the manufacturer to be refurbished. We got ours from Mamas and Papas “Loved for Life” scheme and it was about half the price it would have been new, but looked as fresh as anything. You can also return your pram in return for vouchers when you’re done with it. Winner!
  3. Baby carriers – if you decide you’d rather carry your baby than use a pushchair, there are LOADS of ethically-produced slings on the market. We have a Beco Gemini which I love, and which is made “according to high ethical standards”.
  4. Resuable versions of things you’d otherwise chuck – although the repeated washing isn’t great environmentally, the overall impact of reusable nappies on the environment (especially if you air dry them) is much less than disposables. We haven’t quite cracked reusables at night, but they are SO great for during the day. There are MANY on the market so there are some to suit all shapes and sizes of baby!  (Check out The Nappy Lady as a starter point…or ask someone who uses them already.) Alternatively, there are some good more biodegradable disposable nappies out there, like Naty or Bambo. But what I love even more than reusable nappies…are reusable WIPES! It seems such a waste to chuck multiple baby wipes away every day (not to mention, expensive!) – so I would wholeheartedly recommend something like “Cheeky Wipes” – we have one set for bums and one set for hands and faces. I’m also trying to cut down on throwaway packaging for food etc – trying to switch pouches for homemade food in tupperware/Eco Snack Wraps. Alternatively, some manufacturers, like Ella’s Kitchen, have recycling schemes to reduce their environmental impact.
  5. Finally, there are a whole host of great suppliers of Fairtrade and organic/ethically produced clothes and toys. Of course, these are often more expensive than buying second hand – but for special items, there are some lovely companies – many of which provide people with jobs and a fair wage. Here are some links:

Frugi – cute organic clothing.

Little Green Radicals – as above

Pebbles and Lace – a mum who makes beautiful teething necklaces

Pebble – fair-trade knitted/crocheted toys – knitted avocado rattle, anyone?

Babipur – slings, clothes, toys etc.

Green Tulip – ethical gifts

Etsy – is also a great place for supporting independent retailers.

 

Have you found other ways to shop more ethically for your baby/small person? Please do let me know – I realise there are so many things I just don’t consider so am always on the lookout for more ideas!

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