The Problem with Baby Wipes

Mar, 23, 2018

By Fredrica Syren:

Being a parent to a baby is exhausting, so doing anything that will make the job a little bit easier is welcomed. For most new parents, just the thought of cloth diapers is out of question because it seems simply impossible. With my first baby, I was interested in cloth diapers, but not knowing what to expect with having a baby combined with people talking me out of using them made me choose the easy disposable diapers and wipes. When I had my second child, I felt confident that I could handle cloth diapers, so I took the leap. I’m happy I did because I never have regretted it. As soon as I committed to cloth diapers, reusable cloth wipes were the next step.

It totally makes sense that disposable wipes and diapers are helpful for convenience and a little extra sanity; however, there is a downside. Anything disposable (especially diapers and wipes) has a huge negative impact on the environment. While diapers might get the most attention, wet wipes are a huge environmental problem, too, and are easily overlooked.

Disposable baby wipes are convenient for not only cleaning up dirty baby bums but are also great for wiping hands, toys — even the computer. The problem with disposable baby wipes is that, first, most contain plastic fibers. And we all know by now what happens with plastic … nothing. And that’s the problem. Plastic is not biodegradable, so it will stay in a landfill for 100-1000 years; and, if we’re unlucky, it ends up polluting our oceans, causing all kinds of havoc to the ecosystem there. Furthermore, store bought wipes are packed in plastic that also is not biodegradable.

Most baby wipes on the market contain harmful ingredients like alcohol, preservatives, fragrances, and cleaning and moisturizing agents that should never come into contact with the delicate body of a baby. These chemicals may also leak into the environment once disposed of in a landfill or flushed down the toilet.

So, what is the better green option? First, you can simply swap disposable wipes for reusable cloths and plain water. That is zero waste, not to mention that it could help reduce the amount and number of chemicals your baby is exposed to. For my babies, I used Satsuma organic cloth wipes and California baby bum wash. The wipes are super soft, and the wash is great on any red bums. My boys loved when I sprayed them with it. The major difference I notice with using cloth diapers and wipes was the reduction in our weekly trash

Alternatively, you can also make your own baby wipes. Wellness Mama has a great recipe for that here.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Veronica Mitchell

    March 24, 2018

    It always a shame how people always choose convenience over the environment. But like what you said, it is not a easy transition. It’s hard to juggle all things at once. It’s almost impossible to be that nature-loving mom slash super mom slash socially aware mom slash career woman. Most of the time, we can choose just one or two of these characters. It all comes down to choice. Would we want to be kick-ass mom who is well-organized and does everything so well at the expense of the environment? I was that person. It wasn’t an easy transition but it was worth it. It doesn’t have to be an overhaul of your lifestyle. It can happen in simple easy steps. Start with small things like using reusable straw at home, and even using menstrual cups.

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