A new breed of eco-aware parents is ditching the disposable diaper and junking the pram to reduce their baby's carbon footprint
Babies may be small but they can have a big impact on the environment — think of the mountains of dirty diapers they produce. Sudha Chakravarty, a 37-year-old Mumbai mum, didn't want the green guilt. So while most children use up at least 5,000 diapers in the first two years of their life, her two-year-old Niharika has used less than 50. Chakravarty prefers cloth nappies instead of disposables. And, there is no pram for her evening strolls either. The toddler watches the world go by as she sits snug in a sling made out of an old sari and tied around Chakravarty's torso.
The former HR professional is not looking to cut costs or follow granny's tips. She wants to raise her children without harming the planet. Chakravarty is among a growing breed of 'green parents' who are ditching modern, non-degradable conveniences like diapers and strollers to minimize the carbon footprint left by their children.
Even as Delhi's hip moms doll up their newborns in Swarovski rompers and Chandigarh's elite splurge on Burberry bibs, these parents are dressing their children in handme-down clothing, buying wooden toys instead of plastic ones and feeding them from regular steel utensils. A few like Sudha are also practising 'baby-wearing' to avoid buying prams. "We won't live forever but we should at least leave a better world for future generations," says Chakravarty. Her son draws on old utility bills to reduce paper wastage.
This kind of 'planet-wise' parenting might be new to India but it has been a rage in the West. While Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow use flushable chlorine-free diapers for their children, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Matthew McConaughey and singer Dave Mathews cover their babies' bottoms in cloth. Hollywood stars like Jessica Alba and Halle Berry have green nurseries with organic bedding and formaldehyde-free wood furniture.
That green parenting has caught the fancy of few Indians is apparent from the long list of brands that have launched earth-friendly kids' products from cloth diapers to ethical clothing.
At least 400-500 pieces of BumChum cloth diapers are sold every month despite zero advertising. Almost as many diapers made by US-based Cotton Babies — BumGenius and Flip Diapers — and marketed in India by Smart Baby Retail are being sold.
Awerganic, a Gurgaon-based company which sells organic clothes for kids, gets at least 2,500 orders for its rompers and party wear every month, say owners Poonam and Nishit Mehrotra. Old players are also seeing a surge in business. A Delhibased toy manufacturer that has been making non-toxic and ecofriendly toys under the brand name 'Skillofun' has seen online sales rise from one toy a day three years ago to 75-plus orders daily in 2014. Many parents are also opting for BPA-free plastic toys or borrowing from libraries like the Delhi-based 'Friendlytoyz'.