If I could sum up pregnancy in one word, it would probably be challenging. As a first-time expecting mom, this whole process of growing a human has been both incredible and difficult. Add this to my ever-present desire to be a conscientious consumer and eco-minded, and some days it has just felt like all too much. So I finally sat down and created a few small steps for myself to be gentle on the planet, my (sometimes frazzled) mind, and my body. Remember that even a few small changes can get big results, so start small, my friend, and be gentle on yourself - you’re literally making a person!
Disclaimer: as always, since we are not part of the medical community, make sure to discuss any questions or concerns you have with your obstetrician or midwife first.
Embrace Second-Hand Shopping
For some of you, this already may be second nature to you (pun intended). For others, this may be a new step in your clothing journey. Fast fashion contributes significantly to air pollution, textile waste, chemical exposure, and blatant human rights abuses the world over, and especially during pregnancy, the rates of fast fashion are even more prevalent. After all, you’re only planning on being pregnant for 9 months at a time, right? At most, many pregnant people wear maternity clothes for only their second and third trimesters - that’s just about 6 months of use for an entirely new wardrobe. And if you’re anything like me, you bought the cutest pair of maternity jeans when you finally started getting a tiny bump, took immense pride in hemming them yourself, then proceeded to outgrew them within two months of owning them. (I was not pleased with this outcome, but this baby’s gotta grow somewhere!)
So instead, I’ve switched to shopping at local thrift stores and second-hand boutiques for all my maternity clothes. First of all, holy cow has this saved me a ton of money! I now have a respectable amount of clothing in sizes that will hopefully continue to grow with me through the rest of my second and third trimesters, and it’s cost me all under $100. From a sustainable standpoint, this was a win for me, too. All the clothing I’ve purchased (aside from a pair of maternity leggings that I ran to a big box store to purchase the day that I realized my normal pants just weren’t cutting it anymore) has been pre-worn. I fully intend on passing on the clothing after I’m done with them, too, so these pieces can keep on giving. This minimizes the waste and pollution created from purchasing brand new maternity clothing, and helps me live into my sustainable values through this process.
You don’t have to stop at second-hand shopping for your sweet baby bump! When you start gathering up baby essentials (for me, it happened earlier on that I’m willing to readily admit), purchase baby clothes and other necessities second-hand when you can. To date (at 22 weeks pregnant) we’ve managed to find a baby bath, like-new Boppy pillow, bassinet, so much baby clothing for a variety of stages, and children’s books just from keeping an eye out at thrift stores, second-hand bazaars, and online buy-nothing groups. If you’ve got friends with little ones who are ready to part with some of their baby things, it’s a great way to keep the chain going and avoid shopping for new materials at every turn. (Oh yeah, and your wallet will thank you.)
Splurge on Organic When You Can
We all know that groceries are atrociously expensive right now, but one way to nourish the planet (and your growing babe) is to opt for organic produce when it will fit into your budget. Buying organic not only helps keep harsh toxins from passing through the placenta to your baby, but it supports healthy topsoils and ecosystems across the globe. Pesticides have been shown to have increased risk to the fetus as they pass through the placenta, particularly during the first trimester, and can lead to a rise in conditions such as oral clefts, heart defects, and neural tube defects. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, higher levels of exposure are associated with infertility, miscarriage, and low birth weight, as well as developmental delays during childhood. That’s a lot to take in - but don’t panic yet! Unless you are working with pesticides on a consistent basis or exposed to household pesticides quite frequently (read - nearly daily), your risk is still relatively low. We prefer to use our overarching rule here - it’s about progress, not perfection. Do what you can! If you absolutely need to use pesticides in your garden during your pregnancy, (although we encourage you to seek out chemical-free alternatives where possible) have a family member or friend apply the pesticides instead of you, and thoroughly rinse any produce before consuming. When you can swing for organic options either in your own garden or at the grocery store, choose those.
Choose Eco-Friendly Body Products
The second you find out you’re pregnant, you may (like me) find yourself questioning not just every food morsel you put in your mouth, but the products you are applying to your skin and hair as well. Pregnant people are often more aware of the ingredients in the products they use throughout their 9-month journey, and this often goes hand-in-hand with an eco-conscious mindset!
Starting early in my pregnancy, I found myself avoiding ingredients like parabens and phthalates even more than I usually do. I put away any items with ingredients that had a heavy emphasis on essential oils (although these fragrances are typically considered more environmentally-friendly than chemical-heavy perfumes, they can still be dangerous for a pregnancy) and sought out lotions and belly oils that had clean, simple ingredients. No more bleach or harsh chemicals when cleaning anymore - instead, we’re using a natural all-purpose cleaning concentrate or simple distilled vinegar. As I saw it, any swaps I could make to benefit both my growing fetus and the planet were the best scenario. So rather than rushing out and purchasing the first stretch mark cream that I found on a supermarket shelf, I took the time to research what was in the products I was now applying to my body. It’s a simple step, but one that has proved to give me great ease of mind, and the fact that it’s the sustainable decision makes it that much better!
Shop For Clean Zero Waste Goods With Us!
At Summit Sustainable Goods, we sell household and personal care products that are clean and zero waste - meaning nothing ends up in your trash can! We take extra steps while vetting products to ensure that all our products are truly environmentally friendly and oriented around genuine sustainability. Best of all, we make sure all our products are safe for the environment, your body, and your pregnancy - because we believe that you, your growing little one, and mother nature all deserve the best. You’ve got this, mama! We live into our values of being as environmentally and ethically conscious as possible so you can take the pressure off yourself.
Where can you find our curated selection of high quality and sustainable products? You know we’ve got you covered! Check out our website at www.summitsustainablegoods.eco or visit us at a local pop-up around town. (Info available through our website or socials.) Want to follow our journey and learn about future zero waste events and happenings? Adventure with us by signing up for our email list or follow us on Instagram or Facebook to keep up-to-date on all things Summit.