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Want to be a green mama - can anyone give advice on eco-friendly stuff?

(21 Posts)
Mirry71 Tue 16-Sep-08 08:18:07

Hello, I'd love to be as green as possible with all my baby stuff, but I'm a bit rubbish at this sort of thing once you get past recycling and buying eco-friendly washing up liquid.
What can I do as regards buying baby clothes/toys/stuff/nappies..? Do any MNers have advice?

(ps in partic quite keen on green disposable nappies if there is such a thing...)

WelliesAndPyjamas Tue 16-Sep-08 08:51:42

bear in mind that I am about 5 years out of date now so hopefully someone with more up-to-date ideas will come along:

disposable nappies - if you don't want to use reusables, there are a few brands of biodegradable nappies available (sainsbury's used to stock them in my day). Remember to get the biodegradable nappy bags to go with them though!

clothes - fairtrade clothes, second hand clothes, organic clothes

toys - if you are buying toys yourself, think about the companies that produce/sell them and whether you are happy with their practices, and think about the materials being used. There are some specialist eco-toys companies out there too. Also try charity shops, jumble sales, toy swaps, ebay, freecycle, etc for second hand toys in good condition that have already 'travelled' to your local area (fewer miles iyswim).

It's easy to buy organic shampoos, baby oils, etc. WRT all the 'equipment' (baby baths, prams, cot, etc) I would suggest the same as above - try and source stuff in good condition which has already 'travelled' to your area. Also don't turn down any hand-me-downs - you can pass on the stuff to other parents once your turn has passed and use the money you save to buy the more expensively priced organic/green items you need. Baby stuff only gets used for a sshort while anyway, in the scale of things.

Good luck

hopefully Tue 16-Sep-08 09:12:37

Agree with all the points that Wellies has made.

Worth being aware that although green disposable nappies are undeniably better than big name brands in terms of using fewer chemicals in production etc, the biodegradeable/compostable claim is dubious, as most of them won't degrade down in a normal landfill site. If you can bear to contemplate reusables, there's a million and one experts on the nappies and potty training board. However, eco disposables definitely an awful lot better than nothing!

It's also worth expressing your green wishes to family - mine are fairly thick skinned, but I just kept repeating that if anyone wanted to give us plastic toys etc, could they please buy them second hand, and we would prefer hand me downs to new stuff. It's worked well so far...

There's lots of books out there about being green if you're looking for more inspiration (although mostly they're just fun to read...), like this, and this has a parenting chapter, as well as loads of other fairly easy tips to follow.

hopefully Tue 16-Sep-08 09:13:24

Oh, and if you want to spend lots of money, has loads of lovely things, but it ain't cheap!

shreksmissus Tue 16-Sep-08 09:32:02

Message withdrawn

MrsJamin Tue 16-Sep-08 09:32:19

One of the greenest things you can do is *buy very little* - there's only a few things that you really should buy new (car seat, cot mattress, shoes later on).

Babies need things for such little amounts of time (particularly things like rockers, walkers, playnest, babygym) that you can just buy used and then sell on quite quickly. It helps if you know people whose babies are a little older but you can buy clothes on ebay, or charity shops, and toys from charity shops.

Another tip is to join a toy library, I love mine as it's just 50p to rent a toy for a month so works out more cheaply in the long run and DS gets new toys more frequently! These things help me too as I have a small house and can only really store things that are used now IYGWIM.

Brangelina Tue 16-Sep-08 09:37:57

I'd say give reusables nappies a go, as Hopefully mentions the "green" disposables are not entirely biodegradable and still end up in landfill, where they don't really get the chance to biodegrade. also they tend to be quite pricey.

Don't use wipes, cotton wool, a flannel or used and rewashed paper liners from the reusable nappies are sufficient, with just water or maybe a drop of calendula/almond/olive oil for yucky poos. This will also save you loads of cash and your child won't be exposed to gender-bending chemicals from an early age. Ideally you should avoid as much as is possible all exposure to chemicals in the first 6 months.

Ditto bath products, for the first 6 months at least you won't need soap as newborns simply don't get dirty. Washing in water with maybe a drop of calendula oil is more than sufficient. My DD didn't even see shampoo until she was over a year old and she certainly never smelled.

Hold off buying stuff until the baby is born, when you will see what you actually need and not what's marketed as being "necessary". DD didn't have a baby bath until she was over 6mo, a small washing up bowl was sufficient before that (also we had space issues in our old flat). She also never had a changing station and many mums I know abandoned theirs early on and changed on a mat on the bed/floor etc.

Lemontart Tue 16-Sep-08 09:40:21

If you google key words like green, eco and baby there are loads and loads of sites with fair trade eco friendly products to purchase - from bamboo jumpsuits to sustainable wooden toys made from charitable organisations.
However, to be as green as possible, I agree with other posters that the more you can recycle, borrow, pass on is better than just buying a lot of well sourced, lovely and expensive things for a short use.
Toy library and libraries in general are good. If you are in a toddler group, organise a table top "sale" between you. Ours did one once a month where everyone brought a few old, clean and still decent items and we "swapped" stuff, putting 50p in the pot to go to the playgroup. We also organised a book swap and toy swap box where we all donated one book and one toy then each week we borrowed someone else’s donated items to give our children a new stimulation then bringing them back the following week.
Once the children get older, there are lots of more householdy things you can do too - like recycling and junk modelling, keeping a wormery (my kids love their "pet" worms), a bokashi in the kitchen, composting, "green eco" holidays etc etc

titmouse Tue 16-Sep-08 09:56:46

Brilliant thread, loads of useful info here. Thanks!

katch Tue 16-Sep-08 10:01:25

Has anyone mentioned Mooncups?

Rarely any need for 'normal' sanitary protection with mine.

No more disposing to landfill or laundering washables.

Mirry71 Tue 16-Sep-08 20:48:59

thank you! again lots of info. I will think about the reusables just a bit scared of them - reassure me it will not be like my childhood and a house stinking of napisan!

any other tips gratefully received

bikerunski Tue 16-Sep-08 21:42:56

Make the most of being at home and shop local!

Olive oil for nappy rash, dry skin etc

Have a look at

Sputnik Tue 16-Sep-08 22:08:56

Reusables are fab! You can get them in all sorts of designs and patterns, eg here, you can have a lot of fun. I also found that reusables were far better at containing poo explosions.

These days there are disposable liners and you can flush away the poo. No need to soak, just get a bin with a well-fitting lid, no smell escapes. Some people use a few drops of esential oil just in case.

That said I used disposables myself in the first few weeks, as the whole new baby thing is quite overwhelming. But get yourself a selection of reusables and give them a go, it's really very easy.

Mirry71 Tue 16-Sep-08 22:52:34

ps i think i cannot face mooncups yet though - dont hate me!

Alexa808 Wed 17-Sep-08 04:07:22

Check out this here:

Have just ordered them after I found a friend using them. Great stuff.

Alexa808 Wed 17-Sep-08 04:08:02

Check out this here:

Have just ordered them after I found a friend using them. Great stuff.

Brangelina Wed 17-Sep-08 11:48:10

You know, with reusables you've really got to take the plunge. I also put off using them in the first few weeks (also because my DD was quite diddy) but once I made myself use them I realised they were a lot less scary and less hassle than I'd thought. I even developed a fetish about them, bought a few different brands to try, experimented with funky wraps etc. and when my DD potty trained I was quite sad that I wouldn't be hanging out any nappies and watch them dry in the sun anymore(yes, I know, I should get a lifesmile).

ninja Wed 17-Sep-08 12:02:51

Reusables nappies are great - you don't have to soak them so there really doesn't have to be a smell.

I use the wash balls - but I'm sure you can get them cheaper than that. I think mine came from lakeland. I do used detergent if I have stains and I think they recommend not using the eco wash if there's less water. I've found they work well.

I love my mooncup I have to say, SO much more comfortable - one for the future?

littlefrog Wed 17-Sep-08 15:57:38

Top green tip: buy nothing! Or at the very least, buy as little as you possibly can, and go for second-hand whenever you can.

Only things you need new are a mattress, and a car seat if you need one. Jumble sales, nearly new sales, freecyle, friends - all fantastic sources of stuff. I found charity shops not so good: pricey for most stuff

Washable nappies are great - we don't have a drier (do have space to hang inside though) and we don't find them any more hassle than disposables. Could you borrow some from a friend to try first? Try and track some down on freecycle, or second hand, and see if your council runs and incentive scheme

Breastfeed! I found washable breast pads great - they weren't sweaty and sticky like the disposable ones (pegging them out is a pain though)

Mirry71 Wed 17-Sep-08 18:34:44

I don't have a garden - live in two bed flat- feeling very sad about no garden for the baby althogh a park nearby. I have a couple of maidens I hang clothes up on at the moment - although that tends to be in what is now the spare room & will be the baby's...does that mean that we will have nappies hanging everywhere? How many do you do at a time?

those things for the washing machines sound great...

Gemzooks Wed 17-Sep-08 20:24:47

Just to add, I would avoid traditional baby bath products, especially in the first vulnerable few months, olive oil or Weleda oil is fine for putting in the bath, some probs to look out for are:

phthalates: hormone disrupting chemicals which have only recently been banned in for-mouth toys for under 3s. they are in a lot of bendy plastic stuff. For this reason I would really avoid plastic toys as much as possible.

bisphenol A, in avent and most other baby bottles. asda now does bisphenol a free ones.

fragrances, parabens in baby products: fragrances are not necessary and can cause allergies, parabens are oestrogen mimickers and have been found in breast tumours.

Oh, also think about the whole indoor environment of the baby's home and room, since indoor air can have all sorts in. You could switch to non-toxic cleaning products, for example. Also, if you're going to paint the baby's room, try to get a low or zero VOC paint, otherwise paint can release quite nasty chemicals for a long time afterwards. Same for baby mattresses, ensure they don't have brominated flame retardants. Ikea Sultan range claims not to.

Can you guess I work for an environmental NGO (called Women in Europe)! We spend ages at the moment campaigning on the Ec Toys Directive; it is shameful how the toy industry tries to weaken the regulations put there to protect children! We have some info on our website,, also believe Friends of the Earth has some great stuff.

Good luck!

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