Written by: Sarah Paiji Yoo CEO + Co Founder at Blueland
October 14, 2020
I started my low waste journey when I became a new mom to my son, Noah. I was researching water for his baby formula when I found out that no matter which water I chose, it had pieces of plastic in it! I started to see how my personal consumption of single-use plastic is impacting the planet. So I decided to start my low waste journey and cut back on my consumption of single-use plastics. That’s also when I came up with the idea for Blueland! Now that I’m expecting baby number two, I’m excited to share some of my favorite tips for staying low waste while pregnant and low waste tips for new parents.
Low Waste Pregnancy: Make A Plan
Like many aspects of low waste living, making a plan for your low waste pregnancy is the first step. A lot of situations where you find yourself reaching for a single-use plastic item can be avoided with some planning and thinking ahead. For me, my pregnancy is no different and you can start planning as soon as you know you want to get pregnant! That meant figuring out what vitamins I should take, a plan for staying healthy and a plan for maternity clothes.
Since this is my second pregnancy I had a pretty good idea of what I’d need, but this is the first time I’m going through pregnancy while also trying to keep my waste down. Some things are unavoidable, but here are some of my favorite things that helped me during my pregnancy.
Sarah Paiji Yoo’s Low Waste Pregnancy Tips
1. Low Waste Options For Pregnancy Tests
In some aspects of pregnancy, plastic is unavoidable. Pregnancy tests tend to be one of those things we can’t avoid. Most tests come as a single-use plastic stick or strips. Heading to the doctor to confirm results rather than taking a few extra single-use tests can be a good option, but it’s still hard to avoid plastic altogether. Luckily, there is some hope! Companies like Lia are seeking to address the plastic problem with plastic in pregnancy tests with the first biodegradable, plastic-free pregnancy test. Tests aren’t available quite yet, but you can sign up to get a test when it becomes available.
2. Low Waste Prenatal Vitamins
Avoiding plastic containers when it comes to prenatal vitamins can be difficult. But while it’s tough to avoid single-use plastic, you can choose companies that make it easy to get prenatal vitamins that are made from, non-GMO and vegan-friendly ingredients and are making sustainable packaging choices. For vitamins, I looked at companies that were using great ingredients and thoughtful packaging. Though vitamins do tend to come in plastic, there are some companies like Ritual that are working to make that packaging more sustainable. Ritual uses recycled plastic packaging for their vitamin bottles and recycled paper mailers, helping cut down on single-use packaging!
Ritual’s ingredients are simple – just 12 ingredients in their prenatal vitamins so you get all your vitamins in just 2 tiny capsules! Ingredients are important, so having transparency in ingredients and ingredient sourcing is very important. Ritual makes it so easy to get your vitamins and feel good about them.
And, with pregnancy in the midst of COVID-19, having vitamins delivered to my door was great for cutting out even more plastic and staying safe! Early on in the pandemic and my pregnancy, pharmacies and grocery stores weren’t allowing reusable bags, and many switched from paper to plastic. Having my vitamins from Ritual delivered helped me cut out plastic from grocery bags too.
3. How to Satisfy Cravings Without Plastic Waste
If you’ve been pregnant or read anything about pregnancy, you know that cravings happen. For me, I was craving dairy the whole time, which was interesting because I typically don’t have much dairy in my diet. A lot of dairy products come wrapped in single-use plastic packaging, so it can be hard to keep plastic at bay and satisfy cravings. For my cravings, I tried to satisfy my cravings with dairy products like yogurt that comes packaged in glass, or making my own at home.
My other trick? Carry snacks all the time! I am definitely hungrier during pregnancy and carrying snacks with me on-the-go helps me avoid grabbing a plastic-packaged item in a lurch. I tend to carry cut veggies or fruit in my reusable Stasher bags or glass jars
4. Plastic-Free Hydration
Staying hydrated is super important during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic pregnant women need at least 10 cups of water everyday and even more if you’re breastfeeding! For me, carrying a reusable bottle or mug is a habit I’ve had for years, but it’s even more important for me now. I carry around a reusable bottle in my home and when I’m out and about, which helps me make sure I stay hydrated. I tend to use a bottle like a Yeti or Corkcicle that has a reusable straw attached because it makes it easier to drink lots of water
5. Waste-Free Maternity Clothes
Planning for my maternity clothes was a BIG way for me to stay low waste this time around, and I’m proud to say that I was able to get through the past 9 months without buying any new clothes! Luckily I was able to repurpose a lot of what was already in my closet. Given I’ve been pregnant mostly through the warmer spring and summer months, I was able to continue to wear a lot of flowy and loose dresses I already owned. Another thing I did was hack some of my existing clothes. For example, I was able to use hair ties to expand the waistline of my pants which meant I could wait a little longer to find a new pair.
Also with my first pregnancy 3 years ago, I tried to stick to purchasing oversized sweaters and t-shirts that I could wear during pregnancy, but would also look cute and I could continue to wear post-pregnancy. So I already had a lot of solid staples in my closet this time around. I was also able to borrow many other items that I needed from friends, like pants and shorts, since I was pregnant mostly during winter the first time around. I’ve also found that local Facebook groups are a great place to borrow, buy or give away maternity clothes from nearby families (as well as baby furniture and toys).
My last resort was renting anything I needed to get dressed up. I was able to do a rental of 4 dresses from Rent the Runway that held me over for 3 months. It was cheaper to not opt for the option for frequent swaps, and it also cut down on any shipping and dry cleaning associated with consistently swapping out rentals! Another great alternative, if you need something special or particular is to thrift. During COVID quarantine, in-person thrift shopping wasn’t really an option, and I didn’t have the need to thrift this time around. But sites like ThredUP have great options to browse online.
There are so many ways to help reduce waste during pregnancy, but these are just a few of my favorite tips! If you’re curious about my pregnancy journey, you can learn more about it here.