The Green, Natural, and Zero-Waste Baby Registry

by - Wednesday, March 06, 2019

When you start a Baby Registry, you are basically starting from scratch. You only have a loose sense of what you need or what to prioritize.You read lists on the internet. You ask your friends who have babies. You let the registry tool boss you around. But overall, it can be hard to know what to look for or care about. Baby registries serve the very important purpose of letting soon to be parents know they are fools. Just idiots. We know nothing.

I know we made mistakes when we made our baby registry a few years ago. We were just trying to check our boxes, and didn't even think about how our choices in the present can effect our kids future. 

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? Is it worth it to try 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. Both parts of the job are absolutely essential.

Being a parent gives you a new motivation to change your community, your country, and your planet. One look at my baby boy and I wanted to make the world better. I just wished I had started sooner.

We can approach the registry as an opportunity to start their relationship with stuff on a healthy and responsible foot, which will, in turn, make the world better. We can skip the typical stuff, that people assume are normal or essential, but they-

- Use excessive fossil fuels for shipping halfway across the world
- Take advantage of laborers by keeping them in dangerous spaces, requiring unhealthy hours, and even using slave labor.
-Disenfranchise the environment and economy your child will inherit from you
-Adds that much more toxic and non-reusable materials like plastic into landfills and the water
-Create excessive waste

If it's better for the Earth, it's better for you. If it's better for the Earth, it is excellent for your baby. Start there.

The baby registry, aside from being a horror movie moment of realization that we know nothing about being parents, 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 registering.

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

First, Shrink your List 

Ask for Less. 

Take those itemized lists with a grain of salt. "Need" according to a mom blogger or store might differ from actual need. If a parent is breastfeeding, really all you need in the beginning is a few sleepers, diapers, and a boob. Start with the assumption that you don't need anything beyond that. Everything else might make it easier. Maybe. But it's all bonus.

I will suggest a lot here, but know I am trying to cover every base because every family has different needs. It's like pregnancy symptoms- you probably had some, but you skipped some too. It's always individual.

You probably don't have a bunch of onesies lying around, but you may have more than you think to start with. If you already have a dresser that could work, give it an update, throw a changing pad on top, and skip the changing table. 

Second, Embrace Hand-Me-Downs From Everyone

Get it Used.

This was our biggest mistake prepping for baby. We assumed you need new stuff. You don't. The car seat and crib should either be new or from someone you really trust. Otherwise, it can all be used. Because it is just getting pooped on. A lot. Save your money, get more of what you need, and take some pressure off yourself by embracing secondhand now.

There are tons of great sources for secondhand stuff. First, other people with babies are always looking for people to hand their old stuff off to. Ask on your friends, family, and local Buy Nothing Group (not on one yet? Check their website to learn about how amazing they are and whether your neighborhood has one).

You can even make it more official by registering for items secondhand or even asking for secondhand items on your shower invitation. Encore Baby Registry is an awesome baby registry where you can register for brand new and secondhand items in the same place.

Also, be smart and check your local baby thrift shops and don't register for stuff they have tons of. If they have a bunch of swaddle blankets or bumbo seats, buy it for 10 bucks (instead of registering for the 40 dollar new one. You can cover a lot of bases that way, and your guests can focus on things that are more important to you. I promise to point these items out. 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.

The big bonus of this is that you are keeping things out of landfills and cut WAY down on the packaging too. Secondhand stuff isn't wrapped in plastic, so the more you can get used the better. 

Register For Items Made and Sold Nearby

Buy Local. Buy Recycled. 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 from companies that are local to you (for us, that is the US, but you look close to you). In this way, you can support local 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.

Last, Avoid Plastic and Other Chemical-Laden Materials

You want to make the things close to your baby as chemical-free and natural as possible. We learn more each day that these chemicals can have serious consequences for their bodies and development. This definitely includes most plastics. They leaned BPA plastics were bad, then the replacements also had negative effects, it never ends. The important thing to know is that we only know the tip of the iceberg about plastics' effects, so just avoid it.

Some of the registries like Buy Buy Baby and Amazon Universal Registry have the option to register with other places as well. You want one where someone can marked it as sold without buying it from them, so people can shop secondhand. Buy Buy Baby comes closest to that. 

This registry tries to be as truthful and detailed as I can manage about which items turn 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.

You don't have to be perfect to make a positive difference- make the green changes that work for you!

Ok, let's do this. It's a lot of info, but I promise it's worth it.

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. These are my best ideas on how to use these lists:


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!

Want to do something really special? Commit to a gift of service, like bringing the parents a meal once a week or doing their laundry for the first 3 months. What they need more than anything is your support. If you want to give them the gift they still talk about 5 years from now, focus on what you can do to help (or pay someone else to help with cleaning or laundry) in those first 12 months. 

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 Green, Natural, and Zero-Waste Baby Registry

You May Also Like


  1. This post speaks to me so much!!!! Even though I am not pregnant, I love that it is so focused on being green!

  2. Great tips! A lot of the time, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the used/second hand items you can get, and they work JUST as well!

  3. I think this is a great idea. I have been trying to do intentional gifting. Making sure my gifts are truly useful. We are also trying to avoid plastic especially for packaging and no more unnecessary gift wrappers. Thank you for sharing these tips.

  4. Great ideas! I loved getting second hand items from friends and family. :)



Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address: