Since becoming parents the number of disposable things in our household has significantly increased, anything from disposable diapers to sandwich bags, we are having to take out trash daily if not every other day.
Frankly we needed it to survive in those first few months, the less housework the better, as we focus all of our energies on our new family addition. However after Emilia celebrated her first brithday we decided that we need to be more environmentally friendly and look at switching some of the things we use back to their reusable cousins.
Today I’m sharing with you some of the great things we enjoy that are reusable and help reduce household waste.
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Sleep bag with generous size range and adaptability
Our first sleeping bag for Emilia was a swaddle sack, while it did the job, we had to stock up different sizes and she grew out of them rather quickly. So we as soon as we know she is ready to unswaddle, which was around 3 months, she started to want her thumb but also is turning, we looked for a different option.
We landed on using Woolino Sleep Sacks, they have one particular type that is sized for 2 months to 2 years. We got 2 and they are well worth the money. Not only are they saving us the hassle of sizing up every 6 months, they also saved us the work of having to stock up on various thickness. No mess, just two, and each one work year round, as long as you have regular heating in the home.
They are also made of all natural material, one side is organic cotton and the other side is merino wool, so the bag feels like a dream to the touch. We’ve had no problem putting them in the washer and even drying them in the dryer, on delicate cycle. Because the wool is attached to the cotton layer, I haven’t noticed any significant amount of shrinking either.
They are also AMAZING for nights when baby wets the bed for one reason or another. Maybe you are testing a new brand of diaper, maybe they are early for potty training. We’ve often had nights where Emilia leak through her diaper, and thanks to the wool material, even though the bag was slightly wet, it was still warm to the touch and kept Emilia comfortable until morning. A quick spin in the washer then dryer usually then takes care of the pee without any need for pre-treating.
Bento boxes greatly helped reduced the number of sandwich bags and ziplock bags I was throwing away, and the compartment and design often encourage better eating habits, for both me and my daughter. Our current household favourite is Yumbox. It is beautifully designed, easily come apart for cleaning, and well built. It is also very leak proof.
In Canada Yumbox isn’t fulfilled by Amazon on their site, so the price is a lot higher than in the US. Another good option would be Bentgo, which is also built to last, but we liked the pictures in the Yumbox a bit more.
Some babies and toddlers prefer straws, they just do. Emilia is one of those babies. We’ve tried many sippy cups and she always goes back to her straw cups the most. So often for things we can’t put into her sippy cup, like bottled yogurt, we use a plastic straw for her to drink. Over time things can really add up, so this is where a reusable straw come in. Silicone is great since it’s dishwasher friendly, can easily be sanitized, and is soft and won’t knock into baby’s teeth or gum should any accident happen.
We love the silicone straw and lid combo since we can then use any plastic open cup at home, and get Emilia familiar to holding her cups in the process. There’s also stainless steel straws for those that prefer it over silicone.
Reusable food wrap
Yes there IS an alternative to plastic wraps. My parents used plastic wraps for everything from food to remote control that it never occured to me to look. Then one day I found wax food wraps.
It is a very different experience using wax food wraps over plastic wraps but one I’m starting to like more and more. The industry is still very new and very much remain a niche product, so the price tag is a little high, however for those that really like to reduce plastic waste, a few pieces of reusable food wrap in various sizes is a great addition to the home. I haven’t noticed any significant difference between brands.
Silicone food storage bag
When we use plastic bags for outings, it is often for sandwiches or cookies, things that are just not that messy. I felt terrible throwing them away because they are in great shape, but I also feel washing them never get them clean because they are not meant to be washed.
Silicone food storage bag is a good solution for those little items in the diaper bag. While fabric snack bags are a thing and budget-friendly, the stitching can often come undone even with more expensive brands like Bumkins, and they are not completely leak proof. When even a little bit of stitches come out, you will have bread crumbs all over inside of your bag. So for that reason, I feel silicone is more reliable.
This is a big subject to cover so I won’t go into too much detail, but we fully converted to cloth after Emilia’s first birthday. In the first year when everything was so overwhelming, cloth was not even a consideration to me. However as Emilia is older and we get into the groove of this parenting thing it occurred to me just how much we are spending on diapers, and the overwhelmingly large amount of garbage we (my husband) are taking out.
So we explored different brands and set our hearts with Lil Helper, due to them being a Canadian brand, their great customer service, and their over the top sense of humour. We are going strong with cloth diapering and going strong but I can see how it’s not for everyone.
For one you now need to handle those poo and pee instead of wrap and throw…and days when we have to use disposables I feel like it is a mini vacation for that reason. But also everytime I pull out a fresh set of cloth diaper, and see how fluffy soft they are, and how gorgeous the prints look, I fall back in love with cloth diapering again and again.
At the end of the day, I do not consider cloth diapering a cost-saving exercise, since the cost to buy them, and washing them will likely catch up to disposable overtime if you only have one baby. But it does fit well into our effort in reducing house waste, and I feel like we are using a product with much better quality for my baby’s bottom.
This last one isn’t shopping related but we have really committed to buying less. Whether it is groceries, clothes, or toys. We try to keep our buying to a minimum, we only buy what we eat for the next 3 days or so, we buy toys only when we are absolutely out of toys, and clothes when Emilia can no longer fit her head through her old clothes. It has been a great exercise for us as it also reduced the amount of time I have to put into getting rid of, selling, or donating things. It also help create extra space.
The only thing I can’t seem to stop buying even now however is books…I guess everyone has that one thing.