The Eco-Friendly Baby Registry

by - Tuesday, October 03, 2017

picture taken by Jenny Bickel Photography
Baby registries serve the very important purpose of letting soon to be parents know they are fools. Just idiots. We know nothing. It's good to feel this stupid now, and we can all imagine the feeling will pass and eventually we will be experts. I don't know when that happens, but it does seem to be around when someone is calling you Grandma or Grandpa. The registry is long, somewhat complicated, and requires you to have opinions on things you still know nothing (or very little) about. You read lists on the internet. You ask your friends who have spawned. You let the registry tool boss you around. But overall, this registry is just one horror film realization after another. 

I know we made mistakes when we made our baby registry. We could have done better at prioritizing where and how things were made, rather than the print or the price. 

When the baby registry is such a complicated and intimidating task as it is (why the hell would any non-parent know the difference between a sleeper and a onesie?), should you make it even more complex by trying to prioritize recycled and used materials as well as taking into account where the clothes, strollers, even toys were made?

Absolutely, yes.

Our first job as parents might be to get our tiny people ready for the world, raising them with faith, kindness, curiousity, etc. Our second responsibility as parents is to make the world a little better for them. This is the perfect first step. We can see our shopping as fulfilling a need as efficiently and cost-effectively as we can, but what good does that do for our children? 

Instead, we can see it as an opportunity to start their relationship with stuff on a healthy and responsible foot. We can skip these imported, plastic goods that- 
- use excessive fossil fuels for shipping halfway across the world
- take advantage of laborers- keeping them in dangerous spaces, requiring unhealthy hours, and even using slave labor.
-disenfranchise American workers and the economy your child will inherit from you
-adds that much more toxic and non-reusable materials like plastic into landfills and the water

Every time you buy new, plastic, Made in Elsewhere goods, you send companies the message that you are ok with these horrible symptoms of our extreme overconsumption. That it's alright with you for the world to look this way and that you will give them money as long as you get exactly what you want on the cheap. Are you ok with handing a world like that off to this tiny sweet person you are shopping for?

The baby registry, aside from being a horror movie moment of realization, is also one of the only times in life where you buy (or someone buys you) a really giant heap of stuff at once. You can use this opportunity to approach your shopping in a whole new way. You can make the world better instead of worse just by switching up your shopping.

There are three steps you need to take to change your approach to the baby registry: 

First, use what you have. 

Buy Less. 

If you already have a dresser that could work, give it an update, throw a changing pad on top, and skip the changing table. Also, take those itemized lists with a grain of salt. "Need" according to Babies R Us might differ from actual need. If you are breastfeeding, really all you need in the beginning is a few sleepers, diapers, and a boob. 

Second, find what you can in consignment or on groups like Buy Nothing. 

Get it Used.

Baby clothes are the perfect opportunity to find adorable stuff and save hundreds of dollars by buying used. Baby stuff is used quickly before it is no longer helpful, so almost every item on your list can be found used. You can even encourage your baby shower guests to look in consignment or open box. If it's clear you can get it used (like a playmat or onesies), don't register for it. If you can register for something made of reused or recycled materials, that's a big win too.

Last, buy or register for items that are made and sold nearby. 

Buy Local. Buy American.

The standard platitude is that everything is made in China.  This list will prove that just isn't true. You can buy almost anything that tiny person needs right here from American companies. In this way, you can support American labor (the economy this baby will inherit) and higher standards for the treatment of workers and the environment. You can send the message to companies that it is financially beneficial for them to do the right thing, because consumers do care. It also minimizes this baby's carbon footprint before they can even walk- the shorter distances stuff travels, the less fossil fuels are wasted on shipping. 

This registry tries to be as truthful and detailed as I can manage about what turns out to be useful, and what is added baggage. The truth is, all of it will be individual to you and your baby. Some things are lifesavers in one family and nothing to the next baby. In the same way, we all come to the registry with our own priorities. 

The Registry List

 One person can't do everything, but we can all do something. 

No one can have a "perfect" registry; one that will simultaneously be absolutely everything you need (and nothing extra) and save the world. If we started shopping based on what did the most good (however we individually define it) versus what we want the most, we could collectively shift the market for our children, save tons of goods from landfills, and take a stand against nasty labor practices around the world. 

It seems like a big task, but all I ask is that you skim the lists and make use of them as you will.


Compare these lists to your own. You don't have to change everything, but you could set out to switch a third to American-made products (easily done!). 

Buying a gift? 

This can give you good clues on which things on the future parents' registry might be at consignment stores. You can save money and the environment!

Organizing after baby shower? 

We both know you are returning things. That "Future Gender Conformist" onesie clearly belongs to another baby, not yours. Get an idea of what returns might do the most good (return Carter's, Fisher Price, and Melissa and Doug) and fill in those blanks without spending all your money!

the eco-friendly and made in america baby registry

the eco-friendly and made in america baby registry


If you are interested in doing more eco-friendly or American-made shopping, check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists! Or if you want to cut down shopping and having in your baby's life, check out Ten Ideas for Raising a Minimalist Kid

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  1. All my babies are grown but this made me reconsider my day to day spending habits. I'll be making it to a point to shop local and support other small business.

    1. Awesome Christina! There are tons of blogs and ideas for all ages on the blog, so I hope you can find something helpful on here!

  2. It's true that we can all save the planet in our own way. Your idea I so unique and refreshing. I wish you good luck with it.

    1. Thank you! I hope everyone just keeps gaining momentum and doing more for the environment.

  3. Love your tips. What helped me is hand-me-downs. Gotta love those :)

  4. I love this! I was going to write a similar article about recycling for our children's futures and still will but I love that you covered that here and feel the same exact way. I also love how you cover everything right down to buying local... or in America period. This is another thing I've been concerned about. We're making ourselves poorer and absolving ourselves of jobs buy buying everything in other countries, let alone the fact that they have different health standards than us and we don't really know what's in products. Or also like you said slave labor and fossil fuels. You knocked it out of the ball park. Buying used clothes too. When I first had my baby I thought I wanted everything new, but not only is it wasteful and expensive, it's literally pointless. Like you said they go through it too fast. Great work raising awareness. ��

  5. We definitely bought way too many things that we didn't need at first, but finally realized how silly and excessive it was. With our children now, most things are bought used as they outgrow and tire of them so quickly.

  6. I do your first two suggestions! I love using what I have already, also because I hate wasting money. And if I don't have anything specific I'm looking for, I get it used! I love upcycling/DIY projects

  7. Lovely Ideas and that's how we can create an impact on the environment, I love that we should use things we have since it saves the environment as well as cost. And local made things too make an impact.



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