Okay okay okay, I have to admit it -- I’m the baby shower buzz kill. I’m just frankly no fun when it comes to baby gifts. I have my reasons though, so hear me out.
I’ve been working in childcare for almost 15 years, 10 of which as a birth and postpartum doula and parent educator. I am by nature a fairly minimalist person. Blame it on my Swedish grandmother. The amount of baby stuff has tripled in the past few years, and I have to tell you all, IT’S MOSTLY CRAP. Worthless, plastic, expensive, crap. Sometimes dangerous, worthless, expensive, plastic, crap.
Our planet is on a fast track toward demise. Sorry to be gloomy here, but we all know it. The fires raging here in California, the hurricanes hitting our families and friends back East, conflicts in resource-rich parts of the world. We are literally on fire. Luckily, we can do something about it.
One of the big ways we can make change is in choices in parenting. Starting a new family is an awesome opportunity to make healthful and environmentally conscious changes that will spread through the lifetime of this new person. If you have someone in your life who is starting or expanding their family and want to give your warmth and love for them through gifts, you can help by making smart and “green” choices in your gift giving. We can all chip in bit by bit without having to go crazy on bespoke items or GOOP approved nonsense.
Here is a quick list of environmentally considerate items you can gather for a very sweet baby shower basket for about $100 dollars (please please please try and buy these in store and even second hand versus online if you can for double the green points!) :
Glass baby bottles $12 each or $36 for 4
Silicone breast milk freezer storage $10 for one
Herbal Sitz Baths $14 for a pack of 2
Organic cotton baby swaddles $40 for a set of 3
Full glass bottle set $60
Milky Mama lactation cookies $16 with shipping
Mrs. Patel’s Lactation Chai $16 with shipping
Glass baby bottles $18 for one 8oz bottle
Organic Cotton Moby Wrap $60
Organic herbal perineum balm $13
Glass baby bottle set of 4 $36
Washable wipes ~ $10 for a set of 12 (I recommend buying at least 2 packs of 12)
Scarlet Sage Lactation tea $16
Organic cotton burp cloths $16
Yep, all of them have glass bottles on the list. Plastic bottles are horrible for the environment, horrible for our health, and deprive infants of some of the essential fats and nutrients in exchange for pumping chemicals directly into their bodies (also this). Switching away from plastic toward glass and silicone (without plastic filler) or even better — stainless steel, is one of the biggest steps we can take in lessening the footprint and improving the health of our little ones. Glass bottles are easy to clean, last a lifetime, and can be placed directly on pumping equipment, too!
More tips on “Green Gifting” and “Green Shopping” for new parents :
First off, you could not purchase anything. Take the money that would be spent on some useless gadget or yet another onesie and stock your cabinet with healthy postpartum snacks or hire a doula or put it toward your home birth kit. Ask your friends and family to chip in to a fund for these items that are proven to be helpful in birth and postpartum instead of wasting their money on Amazon purchases you don’t need. (See...buzz kill, but TRUST ME, this is so helpful.)
Secondly, you can purchase things second hand. There are loads of great local shops that specialize in maternity and infant items that are gently used, or even not used at all and consigned to them. Babies grow fast, someone’s great Aunt Marg insisted on buying them double of something, and lots of times families find that certain things just don’t work for them. That’s where these shops thrive. You can go in and take a peak at various items to pick up for yourselves or for a loved one expecting another little being. The price tag will be greatly changed, you’re supporting local businesses (many of them women-owned), you’re making less of a dent in your baby’s footprint, and you get to actually test drive some things before purchase.
Lastly, as much as it seems like a Herculean feat to leave your house in the first few weeks postpartum, I want to caution you to resist the lure of same-day shipping shopping sprees. (Buzzkill again...I’m not sorry about it.) This is multi-fold, friends. You will be less likely to bunch things into your cart you don’t need, fall privy to advertising of plastic garbage you didn’t know you didn’t even need that was irresistible during an infant tantrum at 3am, short shipping times are an absolute nightmare for the environment, and it’s more money and time spent away from getting hands-on supportive help and more money to the corporations making the biggest disasters in our environment. Your bestie really wants to help you in the first few weeks, so send them out to Natural Resources for those silicone breastmilk storage containers! Your dad doesn’t want to see your boobs, but wants to be helpful, you say? Great, send him over to Scarlet Sage for your herbal sitz bath then to Berkeley Bowl for some broth and mac & cheese.
Again, after more than a decade of observing families in the postpartum period, I can tell you that NO gadget or pile of clothing can replace putting your money and the time and effort of your loved ones like investments in lactations support, grocery store gift certificates, acupuncture appointments, postpartum massages, herbal support from a midwife, and postpartum doula care. Plus, all these things are much much more gentle on the environment.
Want to put together an environmentally friendly baby shower registry but don’t know where to begin, let Friday aka the Sustainability Concierge, do it for you! Or give me a call on all things postpartum and we can chat about it. I do phone consults starting at $45 an hour, or full packages for $380-450. These investments can save you a ton of time, money, increase confidence, and lower your carbon footprint all in one go! Let’s get to it.
If you do shop online for these products, one of the best resources out there is Life Without Plastic, which has pages and pages of baby and kiddo items which are plastic free so check them out!