Shock horror in the baby food aisle

Shock horror in the baby food aisle – 3 steps for saving money and reducing the carbon footprint of your baby

This post was originally published on 1 Million Women.

I have an eight month old baby but it’s only been in the past two months that I’ve started cruising down the baby aisle of the supermarket. She was breast fed and I used cloth nappies so I really had no reason to be there. It wasn’t until I was ready to start her on solid foods that I started having a look at what the supermarkets had to offer.

I was horrified.

I had no idea that most of the baby food that is available for purchase these days are packaged in single use, plastic squeeze tubes. I assumed that everything was still in glass jars like they were 30 years ago when my brother was a baby. I discovered that you can still buy baby food in jars but the selection is severely limited and the glass section tends to be down low, away from the flashy squeeze tubes at prominent eye level.

I then looked to the other side of the aisle where they keep the nappies and nearly fainted. Huggies Little Swimmers (disposable swim nappies) were selling for $14.99 AU for a twelve pack. Yikes!! That’s $1.25 per nappy and they’re not biodegradable.


(Can you hear my screams?)


Here are three small things every parent can do to reduce their carbon footprint. As a bonus, all of these strategies are also money savers. How’s that for two birds with one stone?!

1. Invest in a cloth swim nappy.

Cloth nappies and cloth wipes, in general, are awesome but if you aren’t sure about making the switch to full time cloth, a cloth swim nappy is so easy, so convenient, and so economical. You just throw it in the wash with the swimsuits and towels, My daughter has so far never pooped in her swim nappy but should that ever happen, you just have to get the poo into the toilet somehow before washing it (note -for babies exclusively breastfed that haven’t started on solids, you don’t have to do this – the poo is water solluble and can go through the wash). We have a little scrubby brush for doing this with her normal nappies. It sounds disgusting but it’s really not a big deal.


2. Simplify your dinners so that your baby can eat what you eat.

When you’re really busy, the thought of making your own baby food can feel like such a chore (seriously – lugging out the food processor can be such a pain in the rear) but if you just aim to cook meals that have things your baby can eat anyway (roast veggies you can mush with a fork, risotto, small pasta pieces, sliced avocado, etc.) it’s not a drama to just make a little extra and then freeze small portions for other times. Or you could even consider baby lead weaning where you skip the mushy ‘baby food’ thing all together. It’s worth a google.


3. If you do decide to purchase baby food, go for the glass jars.

At least with the glass jars, you have some options. You can re-use them to store your leftover baby-friendly meals (yes, you can freeze jars), you can up-cycle them into other things like these super cute picture frame magnets which the grandmas in my family are toootally getting at Christmas or to organise like a boss.   And of course, with jars, you always have that option of chucking them into the recycling bin.


Roadtest: The Pros and Cons of Cloth Nappies

Image: Kingston & Merton Real Nappy Network

This article was originally published on 1 Million Women.


It’s amazing how things that are environmentally savvy also tend to be economical.

Almost four months ago I entered into a new phase of life. I became a mum. It has been exciting, rewarding, exhausting, and illuminating. One of the biggest surprises was discovering just how often a newborn baby ‘goes to the bathroom’ and just how expensive single-use diapers are. I had no idea.

It didn’t take me long to learn that it’s not unusual to change a baby as much as ten times a day which over the course of a year amounts to over 3500 nappy changes. For babies like mine that seem, to fill up a nappy that was put on just five minutes earlier, that number might be far higher!

By the time a child reaches that most highly awaited milestone of being fully toilet trained, most parents will have paid over

I love picking out cute nappies to match my baby's outfits

I love picking out cute nappies to match my baby’s outfits

$3,000 for single-use nappies and that doesn’t include the cost of wipes. Not surprising, the environmental ramifications associated with nappies are frightening as well. In the United States alone, enough single use nappies are disposed of each year to fill Yankee Stadium 15 times. And as a non-biodegradable product, that means that this giant mass of diapers just sits in landfills, growing year after year, generation after generation. The feces contained within the nappies also leak out and contaminate ground water but that’s an even bigger can of worms that we’ll open up another time.

As a greenie from way back, I was always planning to use cloth nappies when I had children but I’ll admit the process of actually doing this had me pretty intimidated. Most of the baby supply stores in my area didn’t carry cloth nappies and the Kmart and Big W type stores only sold the old fashioned ones that my mother’s generation used. They are basically square shaped towels that you fold and pin yourself in a form of bum origami. I did buy a few packets of these but, in the end used them mostly as burp cloths.


A few nappies from our growing collection

A few nappies from our growing collection

After my baby had finally arrived, I stumbled upon what are known in Australia as “Modern Cloth Nappies” or “MCNs”. They cost anywhere between $10 and $30 a piece and are easy to use, come in lots of different colours and patterns (so great for an Australian summer – who needs clothes!), and best of all – can be adjusted in size to fit your little one from the time they are about one month old until they are fully toilet trained. There are many types of MCNs. The ones that I use have a pocket in the back where you insert a large, absorbent microfibre pad. The moisture from the urine gets sucked into this pad and your baby’s bum stays dry.



There are also many nappy companies run by what the cloth nappy community call “WAHMs” (Work at Home Mums). Supporting these companies gives you the opportunity to not only save yourself some money and help the planet, but you also get that awesome feeling of knowing you’ve just helped out a fellow mum.

I purchased most of my nappies from one such WAHM company called Little Aussie Monster for $10 to $15 a piece. I didn’t have enough money to purchase enough nappies all at once to move into cloth straight away (most people recommend you have at least two dozen cloth nappies for a newborn – less for a toddler). Instead, I would buy two or three nappies each payday until I built up a collection large enough to kick disposables out of my life completely!


I’m only a few months down the cloth nappy road but I’m really surprised by how much I am enjoying it. I find that the cloth nappies do a better job at preventing blow-outs than the disposables and are much more stylish. If I were to move back to disposables at this stage in the game, it would be like exchanging all of my clothes for plastic hospital gowns! I just could not do it.


For those of you with little ones, do you use cloth nappies or have you thought about it?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

You don’t need a Prius – you need a fucking bike!

I was totally inspired this evening by an article my friend Stacey sent me about eco-homes.

The article talks about how in a lot of ways “sustainable” homes are not that at all because despite the fact that they might have grey water recycling toilets, all the materials and labour has to be trucked in. Buying a simple, modest home where you open a window instead of running AC, plant a veggie garden instead of going to the super market, and use good old fashioned cow poop on the garden instead of chemical fertiliser is likely to be just as sustainable of a lifestyle as what any snobbish “eco-home” can offer.

It reminded me of the line in the flick “Baby Mama” where Tina Fey asks Amy Poehler why she doesn’t eat organic food and she says “that stuff is just for rich people who hate themselves”. That line always cracks me up because in a lot of ways, she’s right. Organic foods and “green” products have become elitist and pretentious!

For the record I believe that the philosophy behind the green movement is awesome and I’m all for it. I buy as much organic stuff as possible (including all my cleaning products and makeup) BUT I really believe that the “green” homes, the “green” cars, and the fucking $7 “green” carrots just make the average person feel like living life in a sustainable way is out of reach for them.

And when the whole Green movement isn’t elitist it is really hippy, right? Well I don’t know, anymore actually, because I always have associated hippies with being broke and there’s no way you can be broke and afford the crap these eco-pushers are selling.

Have you ever been to a “co-op”? You’d think they’d be cheap-as because everyone who goes there is either a uni student or a dread-locked, bare-footed 22 year old BUT A JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER COSTS LIKE ELEVEN DOLLARS!! Honestly, maybe these kids could afford shoes if they weren’t buying such expensive peanut butter!

Also, have you guys ever seen those “eco-clothing” stores? I’ve wandered into those on occasion to find FIFTY DOLLAR T-SHIRTS!!!! OMG!!!! Seriously, have you people never heard of the SALVATION ARMY? Second hand clothing does not require any extra resources to create, wearing it prevents it from being thrown into a land-fill, and usually it’s been sourced locally. PLUS IT COSTS LIKE THREE DOLLARS! Granted, a lot of people (myself included) have an aversion to second hand clothing because a lot of it is ugly but I’ll be the first to admit that we all need to give it a try. It’s just a matter of wading through the crap to find the kick-ass vintage treasures. I’m going to plan a thrift store adventure soon. I’ll post some pictures here for you guys when I do.

OK this post is getting a lot more ranty than I had planned but honestly, this whole subject makes me angry because I really think that we should be promoting the cheap stuff that people can do to live more sustainably instead of raising the “green standard” to a level where it is unrealistic for the average household.

Here are some of my ideas for alternatives to elitist, green snobbery:

You don’t need an “eco-home” – you need a fucking small house that you don’t pollute with nasty chemicals (or a yurt if you can stand to be that awesome).

You don’t need a Prius – you need a fucking bike! (click here for an awesome set of baskets for carrying your groceries on your bike)

You don’t need $7 carrots – you need a fucking veggie garden!

You don’t need organic free-range beef – you need to become a fucking vegetarian! (or at least cut out as much meat from your diet as you possibly can and then buy the free range, ethical stuff.)

You don’t need $10 free range eggs – you need a fucking chicken! (haha)

OK I better stop before I get too carried away but honestly, if you want to live sustainably just go visit your grandma and ask her what life was like when she was growing up .. and then just go do that. It’s really that simple.

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