Green parenting tips for raising your newborn

How to raise a newborn without compromising your environmental values.

The average baby soils between 6,000 and 8,000 diapers before becoming fully potty-trained

Environment Canada estimates that about 4 million diapers go into the landfills every day. On the Coast story producer and soon-to-be new mom Jennifer Chen has been looking into how we can reduce the environmental impacts of parenting. (Getty )

Babies may have tiny feet, but when it comes to environmental impacts, they more often than not leave giant-sized footprints. 

Because the average baby soils between 6,000 and 8,000 diapers before becoming fully potty-trained, roughly 4 million diapers go into landfills every day in Canada alone, according to Statistics Canada.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that disposable diapers can take about 450 years to decompose, which means your great, great, great grandchildren could be long gone from this earth before your son's or daughter's nappies. 

If you're a parent looking to raise a newborn without compromising your environmental values, here are some solutions you might want to consider.

Diaper delivery service

Julie Adamson owns and runs Happy Baby Cheeks, a weekly cloth diaper delivery and pick-up service that's been around for seven years in the Lower Mainland.

This can reduce energy and water consumption by up to 20 per cent, and the company carefully maps out their routes so as not to retrace their steps and waste more gas than necessary, she said.

"When you're washing at home, they do recommend that you put them through extra rinse cycles," Adamson said.

"We don't rinse them as long because we do have hospital industrial machines."

Beyond cloth diapers

Lindsay Coulter, otherwise known as the Queen of Green at the David Suzuki Foundation, had her first child two years ago.

She said cloth diapering was big for her, but she eventually decided to go completely diaper-free using what's called elimination or early communication. 

Also known as EC, it's a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues and intuition to infer when a baby needs to go.

"I knew I didn't want this little human being I was bringing into the world to create more waste than necessary.

"My son went on the potty at 12 days old," she said.

For those who don't want to take it that far, Coulter said cloth diapers are a great option and have come a long way, incorporating easy-to-use elastics and snaps. 

Making do with less

Katelin Leblond and Tara Smith-Arnsdorf run the blog Pare Down Home, which promotes a zero-waste lifestyle. 

"As new parents, we get overexcited. We just want our kids to have the best and the newest," said Leblond. 

But giving into this temptation to buy, buy, buy can cause us to generate much more waste than necessary, she said.

"We're sold a story that you need to have all of this stuff to be a good parent, and you don't."

There's no denying that minimalist living is hard work, and as a mom of three children, Smith-Arnsdorf has no illusions about abiding by her eco-friendly principles 100 per cent of the time.

"It's just going easy on yourself and knowing that there's going to be those frustrating moments when you are going to purchase something you didn't plan on, or something that just makes life a little easier, and that's okay," she said.

"This lifestyle is certainly one that we are passionate about, but it's not always easy. Just be patient with yourself."


To hear the full audio piece, listen to: How to have a newborn without compromising your environmental values.