Be Environment-friendly! Breastfeed
Breastfeeding offers a myriad of benefits to both you and your baby- from lowering the risks of illnesses, strengthening the immune system for the baby, to helping the mother achieve pre-pregnancy weight quite easily. However, one often overlooked benefit of breastfeeding is the impact it has on the environment. In this article, we will dig deeper into how economical and environment-friendly breastfeeding is.
How Does Breastfeeding Contribute To Environment And Nature Care?
Breastfeeding contributes to global environmental benefits in the following ways:
Natural source of nutrition
Breast milk is nature's most perfect baby food. It contains healthy enzymes and immunity-boosting antibodies that scientists are yet to replicate. Breast milk does not go through processing and is thus the best source of baby's nutrition, especially for the first six months of life.
Besides, unlike formulas that have additives such as coconuts, algal oils, and vitamins, breast milk does not include preservatives, and there are no risks of contaminants. It's fresh and pure from the source!
Bottles and packaging of donor milk or formula require non-renewable energy to manufacture, promote or even recycle. However, from breast milk production to feeding, there are no products needed, just mom's and baby's bodies.
What's more, there's no need to warm the milk when a baby feeds directly from the breast. The mother's body will prepare the milk and produce it at the right temperature. Wherever and for as long as possible, breastfeeding is most efficient in terms of eliminating the need for energy consumption and reducing wastage.
Lactating moms use washable organic nursing pads in order to have a smooth breastfeeding experience. The first few weeks of nursing are especially tough because breasts often leak milk, causing circles of wetness around the nipples. This may cause some embarrassment here and there or interfere with the mom's productivity at work. However, these nursing pads not only help in curbing the leaks but are also reusable, making them an environmentally friendly and affordable long-term option.
In addition to nursing pads, some breastfeeding moms use breast pumps to express milk for the baby. While these entail additional accessories, gear, and storage products, the majority of these products can be recycled.
Lowers carbon footprint
As opposed to formulas, human milk does not require raw materials, processing or packaging, making it a sustainable resource. Breastfeeding produces no carbon emissions, uses less water or land resources, and minimizes or zero wastage. It also suppresses ovulation, thereby reducing family sizes, which can further minimize humanity's impact on the Earth's resources. Indeed, according to a 2019 study, breastfeeding for six months can save up to 153kg carbon dioxide equivalents per baby.
Why Is Breastfeeding The Most Economical And Sustainable Way To Feed A Child?
In addition to the breastfeeding advantages on the environment, there are economic benefits of nursing that can be realized by families, employers, insurers, and the country as a whole.
Breastfeeding is essentially free. A family that optimizes breastfeeding can save over $1,500 that would have otherwise been on formula during the first year alone. Even if you decide to buy a few things such as an electric pump, several nursing pads, a nursing pillow, among other comfort items, you'll still spend only half the cost of formula supply a year. Besides, breast milk means better health for the baby, which translates to fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off, and higher productivity.
Minimizes the Cost of premature deaths
According to WHO, exclusive breastfeeding can prevent over 820,000 mortalities in children under 5 years every year. Increased breastfeeding rates can also save over $302 billion per year in the US from medical and other related costs. It can lower the risks of ovarian cancer and type II diabetes and avert over 20,000 deaths from breast cancer annually. In any case, breastfed babies have:
- Strong immune system
- Few cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Fewer cases of constipation, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis,
- Fewer ear infections that damage hearing
- Fewer cases of bacterial meningitis
- Less respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and whooping cough
- Lower rate of infant mortality
- Better vision and less retinopathy of prematurity
- Are less hospitalized and rarely fall ill overall
The Carbon Footprint of Formula Milk
Carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Typically, it shows how individuals, organizations, events, products or services impact the health of the environment. That said, here is how formula milk contributes to the environment carbon footprint:
Wastage and disposal
A study showed that 150 million containers of the formula are required to feed one million babies every year. The containers comprise tons of metal and paper, and while some are recyclable, most end up in landfills.
Carbon dioxide emissions
Production of the formula requires the use of fossil fuels. In a recent study, carbon dioxide emitted from manufacturing infant formula in Asia is 2.9 million tons. Moreover, paper use, transportation at different stages of processing, marketing, and sales of infant formulas have taken a toll on the environment.
Most formulas are produced using powdered cow milk. The cattle industry is the second largest contributor to methane emissions. Methane is 30 times more potent than CO2 in trapping atmosphere heat. Besides, sewage from cows and fertilizers used to grow feeds can pollute groundwater and rivers. That affects all ecosystems dependent on them.
From farming, processing, packaging to transporting, a kilogram of the formula requires over 4,000 liters of water. The water used has to be heated to over 70°C. This energy used is equivalent to that of charging 200 million smartphones.
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a positive effect on maternal and child health and wellbeing. It is a free, natural, and sustainable source of nutrition and sustenance for the baby. Additionally, in environmental settings, the life-saving potential of breast milk is even more crucial. Breastfeeding is non-polluting, non-resource intensive, and is part of the global commitment to lower carbon footprints in every sphere of life.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Lindsay Hudson
Lindsay is a freelance writer who is mom to a lovely daughter. She loves dressing in matching outfits with her daughter and bringing their 2 dogs out for their daily walk.