I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding quite a bit lately. Perhaps it’s due to the amount of time Joshua spends nursing… I’ve been writing this post for a while now, about why environmentalists should support breastfeeding and practices that promote breastfeeding. I’m not going to tout the health or economic benefits, I think we’ve all heard “Breast is Best” and it’s fair to say there’s scientific consensus there. This is about the environmental benefits of breastfeeding.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
Breastmilk does not need to be made in a factory, nor does it need to be packaged or shipped around the country to consumers. The mother’s body produces milk through a biological process without the need for fossil fuels. There’s no need to heat water to sterilize bottles, so that’s another reduction in carbon emissions. Of course, if a mother chooses to express milk and bottlefeed, for whatever reason, there’s still the energy savings from lack of production, packaging and shipping.
Breastfeeding creates no waste for disposal (with the exception of dirty diapers, which is a topic for another time). This saves energy from collection and transportation of waste, as well as space in a landfill.
With breastfeeding, water consumption is reduced because there’s no industrial manufacturing process, and there are no bottles to wash. In addition, in disaster areas or the developing world, breastfeeding infants are protected from contaminated water.
With breastfeeding, there’s no need to use metals or paper to make packages. There’s no need for coupons or junk mail advertisement.
Population seems to be an issue that many environmentalists ignore; the so-called “elephant in the room.” While not a 100% effective form of birth control (though I think there’s a lot to be said about the biology of the lactational amenorrhea method), breastfeeding reduces a woman’s fertility. This increases the time between pregnancies and ultimately reduces family size.
These are just a few of the reasons why my sleep-deprived mommy brain thinks the environmental movement should be in support of breastfeeding and practices and legislation that promote breastfeeding. What do you think?