Packing the (Eco Friendly) Hospital Bag

About a month ago I had to take my son to the emergency room. This was the first time I had been to a hospital since I decided to get serious about my less waste journey.  I was astounded by the amount of plastic that hospitals uses beyond what is absolutely needed. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for modern medicine which I realize involves some very necessary single use plastic for cleanliness and sanitation.  I just wish that there could be a few slight changes.

So, I decided to take matters in my own hands by being prepared with reusables when I went to the hospital to deliver my second child. I was on a mission to save as much plastic from going into the landfill as possible All it took was thinking a little bit differently about my hospital bag than I did with my first child.

Packing your hospital bag is a BIG deal.  Amongst soon-to-be mothers there is a lot of conversation about it.  There are tons of blogs written about it and you can find numerous checklist online about what to bring.  With my first child, I scoured Pinterest looking for all the cute things I just HAD to have in my hospital bag.  When packing your hospital bag (weeks before you are due to have the baby) you have to consider what you’ll need and what the baby might need as well. I decided to fill my bag with things that would make the stay at the hospital as comfortable as possible AND as eco friendly as it could be.  

So, what was in the bag?

Let me start by saying I had the best intentions but some of them didn’t work out exactly the way I planned. I did my best to be plastic free. Living in a foreign country comes with it’s challenges. One of them is being able to effectively communicate what you want. I tried. I’ll share the intentions I had for my hospital stay and what really happened.

The Intention vs. The Reality:

  1. Two refillable tumblers
My two reusable water bottles

The Intention:

First things first, I brought two reusable water bottles.  When I was in the emergency room with my son a while back I was blown away by the amount of plastic bottles that were used for water and juice. I think between my son and I we must have used at least 5-6 bottles of water or juice after being there for just one night and I refused A LOT.  It was awful. I wasn’t prepared (it was an emergency hospital visit). My plan was to fill both water bottles before I left for the hospital and then ask my husband to fill them up or bring me new ones on his visits.

The Reality:

Two water bottles a day was not nearly enough!  Not even 4 water bottles was enough! We tried to ask to refill the water bottles but they used hot water.  I decided I could work with the hot water but it took FOREVER to cool and I was dying of thirst. I ended up using three, one liter plastic bottles.  The reality is, I had just given birth and started to breastfeed my baby and I needed extra water.

2. Bar Soaps

Bar soaps found at The Hive in Kuala Lumpur. The little plastic container is filled with a conditioner also found at the bulk food store that I wanted to try out.

The Intention:

I was most excited about this one.  Soap, soap, soap! I wrapped them in a wax cloth to take with me.  In the last year, I have begun my journey moving away from bottles of shampoo and body wash to solid shampoo bars and bars for body wash as well as facial bars. With my first child, I read somewhere that the first shower after delivering a baby should be special.  I totally bought into it. So, I searched and searched for soap or body wash that I loved. Nothing made the cut. Not this time! I loved these.

The Reality:

That first shower after giving birth in the hospital was as magical as I remembered with my first child.  Come on mamas, you know what I am talking about. The hospital provided this cute, little plastic travel bag filled with small shampoos, conditioners and all sorts of fun single use plastic things. I didn’t need it. I was prepared.  I was so grateful for the all natural, waste free bar soaps. I enjoyed every minute of that long shower.

3. Reusable Pads

Reusable pads found at The Hive in Kuala Lumpur

The Intention:

Reusable pads.  I haven’t used a pad since I was in middle school. So, needless to say, I am not a fan.  Who wants to feel like you are wearing a diaper? They are sticky, huge and even crinkle. While I’m well aware of the plastic and chemicals found in pads, reusable pads are new for me and quite frankly made me a bit uncomfortable.  However, what has ever been worth it that doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable? It’s well worth it for the Earth. So, I gave them a try.

The Reality:

I could not be more impressed with these!  For the first day I used the single use pads that the hospital provided for me.  Once I was out of my “I just had a baby stupor”, I decided to try out the reusable pads.  They were amazing. They were so super soft compared to traditional pads and they worked perfectly for what I needed them for. I only had three so I would hand wash them in the sink, let them air dry in the bathroom  and then rotated them them out. I do have to admit It was a bit of pain to wash them immediately after I used them (because I only had three) but our Earth is worth the inconvenience.   I highly recommend them.

4. My Zero Waste Kit

My Zero Waste Kit. Including items for my two year old.

I took my zero waste kit  which consisted of that adorable bee print cutlery and straw holder, my coffee tumbler and my napkin.  These all came in handy and helped me save on lots of waste.

5. My Bamboo Toothbrush and Refillable Deodorant

Bamboo toothbrush and refillable deodorant. Also purchased at The Hive in Kuala Lumpur.

A no brainer but my bamboo toothbrush and my refillable deodorant. No one wants to be the stinky new mom!

In case you are curious, the other things I packed:

  • A nursing pillow
  • Comfy Pajamas
  • Underwear you don’t really care about
  • Some nursing tops
  • An outfit to leave the hospital
  • An outfit for baby to leave the hospital
  • A blanket to swaddle baby in when you leave
  • Lots of snacks!

Everyday we make choices that shape the kind of planet that we are leaving for our children. The decisions that we make in all parts of our lives make can help or hurt our planet, our children’s future and our own.  Let’s all work together to do our part in any way we can and in all the small ways we can.

We can, you can, we all can do it!

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