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Breastfeeding and the Environment

breastfeeding environment earth day nursing parenting platypus media

When it comes to taking care of Mother Nature, breastfeeding can't be beat.

Breastmilk may look white, but actually, it is as "green" as can be. It is one of the few foodstuffs produced and delivered to the consumer without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste.

In fact, breastmilk has been called the most environmentally-friendly food available. It produces zero waste, zero greenhouse gases and has a zero water footprint.

Breastfeeding Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

breastfeeding environment earth day nursing parenting platypus media

Most of the focus on the environmental effect of newborns is concentrated on the debate between cloth vs. disposable diapers, but the environmental consequences of formula feeding have far greater impact.

Substituting cow’s milk (or soy or other ‘milks’) for human breastmilk is costly, causes waste and uses valuable resources. The production, shipping, and preparation of infant formula consumes large amounts of water, fuel, paper, glass, plastic, and rubber -- and produces significant amounts of garbage.

How Breastfeeding is Good for the Environment

Breastfeeding is good for the environment in several ways. Here are some examples:

Reduction in Toxic Chemicals: Substituting cow's milk (the primary ingredient in infant formula) for breastmilk destroys the water, land and air.

Raising cattle and growing soy (for cattle feed or soy milk) requires large amounts of fertilizers and irrigation. Sewage and fertilizers pollute rivers and groundwater. Additionally, pesticides and antibiotics used in the farming contaminant the soil and water.

breastfeeding environment earth day nursing parenting platypus media

Waste Reduction: Producing the packaging of infant formula creates toxins and uses paper, plastic, and tin. For every 3 million bottle-fed babies, 450 million tins of formula are consumed. The 550 million cans of infant formula sold each year to feed U.S. babies alone use 86,000 tons of tin and 1,230 tons of paper (for labels).

Even More Waste Reduction: Artificial feeding requires more diapers and menstrual products. Breastmilk is absorbed very efficiently by babies, so breastfed babies excrete less and require fewer diaper changes.

Breastfeeding moms typically experience a 14 months delay before menstruating after birth. Producing diapers, menstrual pads, and tampons requires fibers, bleaches, packaging materials, and fuels and produces a large amount of landfill.

breastfeeding environment earth day nursing parenting platypus media

Reduction in Pollution: Producing artificial baby milk contributes to air pollution. Methane gas is second behind carbon dioxide in contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming; cow flatulence and excretion account for 20 percent, or 100 million tons, of the total annual global methane emissions.

Conserve Energy: Processing artificial baby milk consumes a huge amount of energy. Cows must be milked and the milk must be skimmed, processed, pasteurized, homogenized, dried, and packaged.

Manufacturing the bottles and nipples uses large amounts of energy in addition to plastic, rubber, silicon, glass, packaging, and paper.

Population Reduction: Breastfeeding reduces the birth rate. In fact, worldwide, breastfeeding is a more effective method of birth control than all other methods available to Third World women. And breastmilk produces healthier babies who are more likely to survive. When parents expect their children to live into adulthood, they choose to have fewer children.

We need to value our natural resources, whether they grow in a forest, swim in the sea, or come from our bodies. Protecting and promoting breastfeeding is an important way to honor and cherish the most incredible mother of all -- Mother Nature.

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