While many parents can greatly reduce waste by breastfeeding, cosleeping, and cloth-diapering, there are options for even the most conventional of families out there.
There’s a lot of stuff that comes with having a new baby, and if we’re not mindful, that can equate to a lot of waste going into our landfills and oceans. Here are 10 baby items you may be surprised to learn that can be recycled or reused:
I loved cloth diapers, but I still used disposables when away from home. And when they were done, I rolled them up and chucked them in the dumpster. Little did I know, but there are a few diaper brands, like Honest, that do make disposable diapers that are biodegradable.
2. Car Seats
I understand why infant car seats have expiration dates, but the amount of waste expired or recalled car seats create must be staggering. And except for reusing them as a toddler seat in the playroom or as a toy for dolls, there doesn’t seem to be much use for them. Not so!
Check out Recycle Your Car Seat for collection sites.
3. Baby Bottles
While breastfeeding definitely reduces infant-feeding waste — to zero — there are many moms who need to use a bottle at least sometimes. By the time a baby weans off breast milk, there can be a lot of bottles left over in the cupboard.
What to do? Well, you can sterilize them and hand them down to the next mom who needs bottles. But many bottle brands are also able to be recycled. If you see the recycle symbol on the bottom, throw your bottles in with your regular plastic recycling pickup.
4. Baby Food Jars
Just like bottles, baby food jars are typically made from recyclable material — usually glass — and can be added to your regular glass recycling pickup. But consider reusing these gems. They can make some cute, and handy, holders for paper clips or rubber bands. Keep the lid, and reuse for food storage.
5. Burp Cloths
When you’re ready to retire those burp cloths, think again. Since they’re absorbent enough to handle spit-up, they make for a great go-to for spilled milk, water splashed out of the bathroom, or that suspicious wet spot on your mattress after a night of cosleeping.
6. Baby Wipe Containers
Think about how much plastic goes into making the containers for your baby wipes, and then what happens to it when you throw them away. Now try to see that empty container from a different perspective — pop off the lid and you have a collection of organizational pieces.
Sort your closet or cupboard items into different baby wipe containers for easy access. Or, if you want a little bin out in your living space, consider redoing the outside of your containers with DIY fabric covering.
7. Diaper Bags
I’m continually impressed with the new diaper bags on the market. Some are indistinguishable from a large purse. Yet, if you’re like me, once your baby is out of diapers, you want to ditch the diaper bag for something smaller. But consider not ditching it completely.
Instead, reuse them for other purposes that call for a bag. Diaper bags can make for great overnight luggage bags for the kids, or hold books and games during road trips.
8. Baby Bathtub
Like baby wipe containers, once you’re done with the baby bathtub, look at it with fresh eyes. Consider all the possibilities it holds as a storage bin. It could hold your gardening seeds or household tools. Mine contains my daughters’ Barbie dolls. The options are endless.
9. Baby Clothes
Babies grow quickly, and often on their own timetable, so don’t be surprised if yours suddenly seemed to skip a whole set of clothes during the last growth spurt. Unless the clothes are heavily stained, pack the too-small clothes in a box and head down to your local thrift store or homeless shelter. There’s a lot of families out there who’d love to have your hand-me-downs.
10. Toys and Books
Babies can go through toys like they go through clothes — quickly, and sometimes hardly even touching them. Like clothes, most toys can be donated to thrift stores or homeless shelters. Books can also find a new home in this way, or consider donating them to the local library.
If they’re damaged, though, the best spot for them is probably the regular paper recycling pickup.