When I became a mom, there were a lot of choices to be made. Crib or co-sleeper? Cloth diapers or disposables? Find out baby’s gender ahead of time, or wait for birth? We wrestled with some of these, but one choice was really easy for me: the decision to breastfeed.
This isn’t the place to get deeply into the main benefits of nursing (health of baby, health of mother, bonding, economics, convenience, etc.)–you can refer to a million other sites and books for that. But, five months in, it occurs to me that breastfeeding is also a green choice. That wasn’t why I opted to nurse, but it turns out to be a great bonus.
Why is it more sustainable? Well, there’s no packaging involved. There’s no manufacturing. The milk doesn’t need to be heated on a stove or in a bottle-warmer. We’re not washing out bottles, except on the (fortunately rare) occasions when I’m apart from my daughter. I suppose I’m consuming more calories and more water than I normally do, but I’m guessing that’s still a smaller impact than I’d have if I bought and heated formula.
One of the books I refer to (whose title, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, sort of cracks me up) does discuss this, quoting author Gabrielle Palmer:
"Inventors of fuel-saving cars are rewarded, why not energy-saving women? For every three million bottle-fed babies, 450 million tins of formula are used….resulting [in] 70,000 tons of metal in the form of discarded tins."
So, all you prospective and expectant mothers, add "the planet" to the list of reasons why breastfeeding is the bomb!