BY LAURA CALLAGHAN (GUEST WRITER)
I’m Laura. I’m a 37 year old single mum, and I live in Brighton UK, with my 3 year old son Finn. I am founder of Plastic Free Baby, an online plastic free shop and eco blog. I am going to be sharing the impact of plastics on fertility, babies & children.
Rewind the clock a bit to a couple of years before I conceived Finn, when I was married to my then husband. There were many months and years of conception struggle before I finally became pregnant naturally with a much yearned for baby. I was so desperately sad when I lost the baby a few weeks into pregnancy; I then had several months of miscarrying. I conceived my next pregnancy more than a year later and happily I gave birth to a happy and healthy little baby boy, and called him Finn.
During this desperate and emotional time, I was trying to research things that could be having an impact on fertility, in order to maximise my chances of conceiving a baby, and to reduce the risk of miscarriage. I wasn’t looking for “just think positive”, “relax and it’ll happen” type self-help approach to fertility and conception; I wanted facts evidenced by research!
I came across a book that would change my life in this period, called “It Starts With An Egg” by Rebecca Fett. The book looks at how improving egg quality can significantly impact various aspects of fertility. It determines some of the key strategies for improving egg quality, and one of them, amongst others, was avoiding toxins in plastics that can harm developing eggs and embryos.
I was bowled over by the research in this book, pointing to the harmful toxins in common household plastics being a risk to human fertility, to developing embryos and foetuses, to babies, infants and children, and to all humans in general. It was mind blowing!
We all know the well-publicised environmental damage being caused by plastics in our oceans and the need for society to ‘choose to reuse’ single-use plastics for the sake of the health of Mother Earth; but the horrendous impacts that plastics can have on human development is something that is less talked about and less well-known. It really needs to be shouted about!
The main issue with plastics is that the toxins leached from them can be toxic, and these toxins can in some cases be endocrine imitators or interrupters; that is to say, chemicals that can disrupt our bodies endocrine system, the system that produces, stores and secretes hormones. Endocrine disruption by these toxins can lead in some cases to negative impacts on growth & development of foetuses / babies, weakened immune systems, reproductive issues, metabolism issues, and many more impacts besides. Pretty alarming stuff!
Just in the last couple of months a study revealed that for the first time microplastics have been found in the placentas of unborn babies. Quite a shocking revelation. “Due to the crucial role of placenta in supporting the foetus’s development and in acting as an interface with the external environment, the presence of potentially harmful plastic particles is a matter of great concern. Further studies need to be performed to assess if the presence of microplastics may trigger immune responses or may lead to the release of toxic contaminants, resulting in harm.”
I am not a scientist, but I am a concerned mummy who wants the very best and very healthiest of starts for her child (and any future children), so when I was trying to conceive I started cutting back on everyday plastics, and began finding out more and more about ‘hidden’ plastics and where to avoid plastics during the conception (‘pre’ prenatal) phase, and into prenatal stage and beyond.
When I was pregnant with my son I began searching around the internet for plastic-free baby products, as natural alternatives to plastic baby goods, so that my baby could be introduced to a plastic-free environment from the get go. I found this so incredibly hard! There was no one place that I could source plastic free baby goods, and items were really hard to research and source. In many cases, the products just didn’t exist. We are so used plastic being the ‘king’ of materials (it doesn’t break, it lasts forever, it’s super cheap to produce, it’s lightweight, etc, etc) that most common baby and child goods are made entirely of plastic, or at least contain plastic parts at the very least.
So this is when Plastic Free Baby was born!
Plastic Free Baby is my plastic free shop and eco blog which I started to help other parents like me, who hope to avoid plastics for themselves and their children. I hope that is is a helpful resource to other eco-minded mums and parents, either those hoping to conceive, or those who are pregnant, those that have newborn babies, or children. In time I hope that this and other similar shops and blogs will put pressure on the industry to develop innovative new non-plastic products for babies. My intention isn’t to worry or scare parents (who, let’s face it, already have their hands pretty well full!!), it is to provide alternatives and information.
For those trying to conceive, or parents wishing to make green eco-friendly swaps and choices, the shop offers a range of ‘plastic free swaps’ or eco friendly alternatives to everyday plastics, such as plastic free bottles, plastic free thermos, bamboo travel cutlery, reusable vegan wax wraps, plastic free natural cosmetics…
For pregnancy and post-natal mums, the shop offers reusable breast pads, natural organic cosmetic range in plastic free packaging, bump & baby creams and soaps…
For babies & infants, the shop offers a range of plastic free baby products, such as plastic-free natural rubber teethers, bibs, weaning bibs, sustainably sourced reusable cloths, beautiful handmade nursery furniture, organic cotton rattles, toys…
For children, the shop offers a lovely selection of eco-themed books, toys, wearables, and games
I also have a lovely Plastic Free Gift Set range, including Mum to Be, New Mums, gender neutral plastic free gift set for she / he / they, weaning gift set, first meals gift set, eco friendly potty training gift set, and many more… as well as other seasonal gift sets for things like Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas.
I write an eco blog on Plastic Free Baby, which gives parents some handy hints and tips about going plastic free with a baby or child. Here are my top 3 bits of advice if you are planning to take steps to reduce your plastic usage for the health of your family and your baby:
1) Little and often – make SMALL changes regularly and consistently; rather than making a huge change that’ll be hard to stick to, make little changes incrementally and do them consistently. This will be where you make the greatest change.
2) My Eight ‘R’s – Reuse / Recycle / Repair / Rehydrate mindfully / Reduce / Repeat / Reiterate / and…. RELAX! Read more about my 8 ‘R’s’ on my blog.
3) Be aware of how toxic plastic is and why you need to avoid it for your health and the health of your family. Read more about this on my ‘5 ways to go plastic free for your family’s health’ blog post.
I really hope that this blog post has been helpful to you, and wish you so much luck with whatever stage of the journey you are at. These are just all SMALL CHANGES over a LONG period of time. I really do believe this is the best way to make a difference. Don’t go with fads that don’t last, make a commitment to life changes that will go the distance. I’m no eco mum superhero, I’m just doing my small bit for my child and for the world as best I can.
I’d love to hear from you…
Were you aware of the impact of plastics on fertility, babies & children?
Are you aware of how to limit our plastic consumption and household plastic overload, to reduce our exposure to harmful plastics?….
What plastic free swaps are you making in your home for the health of your family?…
Founder, Plastic Free Baby
YOU CAN FIND LAURA ON;
INSTAGRAM : PLASTIC FREE BABY UK
WEBSITE : Plastic Free Baby