FEATURE: An unsung green hero(ine)
It has been argued that having children can be one of the most un-green things to do. Luckily there are plenty of resources to help parents ease their guilt. Personally I have found a great deal of support and advice through the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). Whilst the NCT isn't an overtly green organisation, much of the work its involved in nationally and locally is directly helping the environment.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Each local branch frequently runs Nearly New Sales where you can buy and sell second hand children's clothes, toys and equipment. You can usually pick up lots of bargains as the mums try to compete in price with cheap supermarket clothes. With the advent of ‘ebay’, most people have moved on from the snobbery related to second hand stuff. The energy and water which goes into the production of plastic toys is not inconsiderable so it’s better to reuse those we’ve got rather than keep buying new ones. The NCT are also collecting old printer cartridges. As well as helping the environment, recycling is a great way to raise funds for the NCT. Currently, only 10% of printer cartridges and phones are recycled in the UK. The other 90% are dumped in landfills.
Addressing our landfill problem
The NCT support the use of ‘real nappies’ which you can buy from them mail order or through their website. There are now plenty of different styles and prices of washable real nappies and starter packs available to try. If the thought of washing pooey nappies puts you off then why not consider a local nappy laundering service. Another suggestion (I would recommend!) is that you could combine washable and eco-disposable? For lots of great links to local products and services, see the Sustainable Wales Real Nappy Campaign.
Breastfeeding is one of the greenest things you can do as a mother - a natural sustainable resource and locally produced! The NCT provide support during early parenthood through their breastfeeding counselling line (0870 444 8708) and locally trained Breastfeeding Counsellors. They also support the Nestle boycott as part of the Baby Milk Action campaign.
The NCT house-swap register is an economical way to holiday in the UK. It’s a win-win situation, you haven’t got to take all the toys and equipment you need. Plus you are not polluting the atmosphere through flying and probably use less energy than a hotel (who launder towels daily for example). Extra green points if you travel by train! Why not ask the family you are swapping with whether they have a local organic veg box scheme and arrange one for you stay? Annual membership for the register is £30, there are no other fees to pay and you can swap as much as you like. I cannot guarantee that all the houses will be as pictured though! Check out their newly updated website for full details.
As well as all this, meeting with other mum's through the NCT has been an invaluable source of sharing tips on the best organic produce and green baby stuff. Thanks to all the Swansea and South West Wales branch for all your tips!