Can breastfeeding be GREEN?

breastfeeding

Erin Spaulding, mommy of 2 and owner of Spaulding Chiropractic, Sanford

by Donna Antenucci LPN, IBCLC
Two by Two Lactation Services
photo courtesy Allison Vaughn with Little Waves Photography

I like to think that I have done my fair share of saving the planet.

I try to recycle. I am using less harmful chemicals in my home for cleaning. We attempt to conserve water and electricity. If I have errands to run, I try to do them all in one trip to cut down on fuel usage. We have a compost bin in the backyard. And I breastfed my children.

Did it ever occur to you that breastfeeding your baby is considered GREEN?

Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Everywhere you turn these days it seems we have more and more opportunity to learn about trying to save our planet.  The sales and use of eco-friendly products has skyrocketed in recent years and is wildly popular among the Generation Y or Millenial population. Decades ago, the decisions that a young mother made during the child-rearing phase of life weren’t thought about in a global manner. Nowadays, however, many mothers are making parenting decisions with the environment in mind.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person generates approximately 1,600 pounds of trash a year that winds up in our landfills. When a new baby joins the family, there can be an exponential increase in the amount of waste going out of the home in the form of solid, water and commercial waste. Baby formula comes in packaging that requires consumption of precious natural resources for production and distribution.  The use of chemicals, petroleum-based products and fuel, plastics, metals, glass and the increased water usage all impact the environment. If a mother chooses to feed her baby formula, the amount of solid waste, water and chemical usage within the family home will be a great deal higher than if she chooses to breastfeed.

Consider the sheer number of bottles just one baby will consume in a year’s time. At an average of 8 feedings a day, that would be roughly 2,990 bottles that would require preparing, cleaning and sanitizing, an exhaustive process that further taxes the water treatment systems in our communities.

In the USA alone, the excess packaging from artificial baby milk yields millions of pounds in solid waste, only a fraction of which is actually recycled. On the other hand, the packaging that contains breast milk doesn’t have to be thrown into a recycle bin, and this original happy meal is much more attractive than a formula bottle!

Breastfeeding is undoubtedly a win-win situation when it comes to being good for baby and being GREEN. Human breast milk is the superior food for babies, and it is good for the earth. Breast milk is a renewable resource, with positive health effects for both mother and baby.

As you snuggle your nursing baby, just think – you’re helping save the planet!

5 Comments

  1. Carol Zander says:

    Congrats on an awesome article! I too breastfed my daughter for 2 years and could never imagine feeding her any other way! I also was blessed to have the assistance from the author of this article to help me along the way…for that I am ever grateful!

  2. Ann Marshall says:

    Terrific article! I never thought of Breastfeeding as helping the environment. My primary concern was my children’s health and best interests. And truthfully, the cost of formula was prohibitive also. I wish I had a Lactation Service available. But, 28 years ago I had to figure it out myself. Two by Two Lactation Services sounds like a BLESSING!! How lucky are these new Moms today to have someone so qualified and informed available to them!!

    • Vodochow says:

      My first breastfeeding experience began almost 6 years ago. That’s how old our eldest boy is now. His was a wonderful birth and despite some conflicting advice in the hospital and himself being a very slow feeder, we got on wonderfully and our breastfeeding experience was to last 13 months. Our second boy literally popped out and into the world ninety minutes after arriving at the hospital. He, too, latched on straightaway and he soon proved to be the opposite of his big brother. Not for him the long, lazy snuggles in his mothers arms, but rather lets get this job done so I can go back to sleep. He was a very efficient feeder from the get go. Breastfeeding came into its own when he fell foul with a horrible bout of chicken pox at seven months. Coupled with three top teeth that decided to appear at once, this chap just couldn’t catch a break. 9 months later, I was six months pregnant with son number three, and he fell asleep for the first time without a breastfeed. At 16 months old, he weaned. Our third little boy was born via emergency C-section and for the first time as a breastfeeding mother, it looked as if it was not going to work out for us. He was sleepy and not at all interested in latching on but the second day, when I was feeling a little less groggy, things took a turn for the better and we didn’t look back. Another little bloke who enjoyed his mothers milk for 16 months. I was 6 months pregnant with son number four and with the joyful prospect of feeding a newborn again, it was with a light heart that I let him go onto the next stage of his life. Our fourth son was a wonderful VBAC and is now 7 months old and as much a joy to feed as his older brothers. Of course, he is doing that acrobatic twist of his head at the slightest noise which makes it practically impossible to feed him sometimes. I love breastfeeding. It is so calming, nurturing and precious. I love the way all of our boys went into a massive body tremble when they saw me and realized dinner was about to be served. One of the lads used to get excited when he spotted a particular bra I had. That poor chap has no surprises left for his teenage years I fear! It may have been a challenge in the beginning and certainly after the C-section, but I am so proud of the fact that I am a breastfeeding mother. This Christmas will be the first Christmas in 6 years that I am not pregnant BUT still breastfeeding.

  3. So glad to have this sweet picture nursing my Elynn Love. This nursing experience is so wonderful and having great lactation support has been key!
    Breastfeeding is Green & did I forget to mention AMAZING!

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