breastfeeding and sustainability

Breastfeeding and Sustainability: 4 Ways Breastfeeding Keeps the Planet Healthy

Sometimes the best things in life are free…breastfeeding and sustainability help keep the planet healthy! We know that breastfeeding has a wide range of health benefits for both Momma and baby, but there are also so many benefits for the environment, like reducing your carbon footprint. From energy to water to land, breastfeeding saves many natural resources and also reduces waste.

Breastfeeding and Sustainability: Energy

Mommas who are breastfeeding need about 400 extra calories per day. That is the total energy cost of breastfeeding. In contrast, production of infant formula and its containers require large amounts of production energy. After production, the formula must travel to stores and to homes, which creates carbon emissions from trucks and cars. Once home, parents need to sterilize bottles, which requires energy to heat the water in the dishwasher or stove. Reducing carbon emissions from energy usage is a key way we can slow down global warming, and decreasing use of formula can help with this. 

Breastfeeding and Sustainability: Water

Of course, we know that formula needs to be mixed with water before baby can drink it. But there is a hidden source of water consumption in the production of formula. It takes around 600 liters of water for a cow to produce enough milk powder for one day of formula. Meanwhile breastmilk production uses about 1 liter of water per day. That’s a huge impact on saving water!

Formula comes packaged in plastic, and over the course of infancy, that plastic adds up. Breastfeeding requires no extra materials for packaging. Sometimes mommas may want to store their expressed breastmilk in the fridge or freezer, which is usually in plastic bags. However, if you want to make your breastmilk stash more environmentally friendly, you can use reusable containers (with proper sterilization) that can be used long after baby grows up.

Breastfeeding and Sustainability: Land

The base of infant formula is usually either cow’s milk or soy. Producing these foods takes both water and land, often leading to deforestation. Of course, making breastmilk requires some extra food, but the food that momma needs does not require as much land or water as cow pasture and soy fields. By decreasing the need for this land for food production, we free that land for oxygen-producing trees and habitats for wild animals.


Breastfeeding and the Environment

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Emily Sylvester

Emily Sylvester is the Founder & CEO of Mother of Fact. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Mom of 3, she's helped thousands of families in many low/middle income communities feel confident and supported in their feeding journey. Her mission is to eliminate the deficit of equitable breastfeeding & formula feeding help for all households & healthcare systems.
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