If you want to balance the responsibilities of caring for your beloved baby with your devotion to eco-friendly living, you should know that reusable baby wipes will help you to achieve your goal. While most people already know about the downside of choosing disposable diapers, many are unaware of the way that disposable baby wipes also harm the environment.
We’re confident that once you know more about the negative aspects of using disposable baby wipes to care for your infant or small child, you’ll want to make a change. By opting for natural baby wipes, you’ll feel better about your choices, and you’ll be doing all that you can to reduce any toxins that you expose your baby to. Not only that, but by choosing re-usable baby wipes, you’ll ensure that your baby care practices are as green as they can possibly be.
Quick Guide: Baby Wipes and Their Environmental Footprint
- How baby wipes are made: Typically, disposable baby wipes are made out of non-woven rayon/polyester/cotton blends that are treated with a range of chemical cleansing ingredients, fragrances and preservatives. The wipes are wet, so they are packaged in plastic containers in order to keep them moist.
- Number of baby wipes consumed annually: Every year, 27.4 billion of these disposable wipes are tossed out after each diaper change, which creates a lot of unnecessary waste.[i]
- Biodegradability of baby wipes: Since disposable baby wipes take centuries to biodegrade, when they end up in landfills along with other non-biodegradable products, they contribute to a range of global environmental problems. In a nutshell, disposable baby wipes are not a planet-friendly choice.
- Toxins found in baby wipes: Parents looking for green parenting tips should also be aware that these wipes may contain chemicals, including perfumes, chlorine, alcohol, 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol) and dioxins, which may be harmful to their babies and to anyone else who comes in contact with these lab-created additives. [ii]
- Costs of using disposable baby wipes: Sometimes, green parenting tips may actually save you money, and that’s certainly the case with homemade baby wipes. Since typical, disposable baby wipes cost from $3.49 to $10.99 per package, the cost of using non-biodegradable wipes really adds up over time.[iii]
Take Action! How to Create Your Own Homemade Baby Wipes
- Making your own reusable baby wipes: Start by choosing soft baby washcloths as wipes. For a really simple solution, just add water!
- Mixing your own baby wipe solution: You can also create your own cleaning solution to soak your reusable wipes in composed of pure water, natural oils and plant essences. One simple, inexpensive recipe for homemade baby wipes is as follows: Mix one cup of pure water with one tablespoon of organic jojoba oil. Then, add three drops of natural tea tree oil (this is antibacterial). If you like, feel free to add a touch of vitamin E to your formula (a teaspoon will be more than enough), in order to soften and protect your baby’s delicate skin. You may substitute a teaspoon of pure Aloe Vera gel for vitamin E.
- For low-energy wipe warmers: Most mommies and daddies do choose cloth over paper towel when creating their own green baby wipes, and then place the cloth wipes in a wipe warmer to keep them at the perfect temperature for baby. While these aren’t the greenest choice because they do consume energy (and therefore contribute to climate change, you can opt for an ENERGY STAR Certified appliance or another energy-efficient model to reduce electricity use.
- Buy reusable baby wipes: If making your own baby wipes to reduce resource consumption doesn’t appeal to you or fit with your busy schedule, there are other options. Today, green parenting products are more popular than ever before, and a range of reputable and trustworthy manufacturers produce excellent products, including Bumkins Re-usable Flannel Wipes and Prince Lionheart Warmies Reusable Cloth Wipes. Just be sure to look at ingredient listings (are they organic?) and product feedback to determine the most appealing brands for your needs.
- Tell your friends about reusable wipes: Now that you understand exactly how disposable baby wipes harm the environment, you may want to take political action that inspires family and friends to stop using these non-biodegradable products. One way to advocate for change is to share your new knowledge in a grassroots fashion, through informational blogs, social networking or articles that you write for local magazines and newspapers. As well, consider giving a speech about the value of re-usable baby wipes and trashless parenting at a community center or parenting group get-together.
- Lobby for safer baby products: In addition, you may wish to lobby the government by writing letters asking your state representative to put more emphasis on the drawbacks of using untested chemicals in baby products. Support the work of organizations like The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Joining a group that works to inspire environmental improvements (Greenpeace is one example) may also allow you to advocate for green parenting online or in your own community.
Dig Deeper: Green Parenting
- Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find safe baby care products.
- Get some instruction on how to sew your own reusable baby wipes from recycled textiles.
[i] Why choose cloth diapers? There are so many reasons. (n.d.). Retrieved from REAL DIAPER ASSOCIATION – DIAPER FACTS: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
[ii] Environmental Working Group. (2012). Top tips for safer products. Washington: Enivronmental Working Group.
[iii] Why choose cloth diapers? There are so many reasons. (n.d.). Retrieved from REAL DIAPER ASSOCIATION – DIAPER FACTS: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
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