April was Earth awareness month. According to an article by Wendy Correa in Mothering magazine, breastfeeding is probably the most overlooked means of contributing to the health of our planet.
Breast milk is produced and delivered to the consumer (baby) with a nearly zero ecological and carbon footprint. Breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or create pollution. Breast milk is a naturally renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping or disposal. There is no need for glass, plastic, metal and paper, which are all waste products that end up in landfills. But more importantly, producing artificial baby milk contributes to inefficient use of land, deforestation and soil erosion.
Breastfeeding not only uses less natural resources but it also uses fewer unnatural and hazardous materials. Making formula can contaminate water and contributes to air pollution. Sewage from dairy cows, pesticides for soya plants and detergents, used for cleaning bottles, pollute rivers and ground water. Methane gas is second, behind carbon dioxide, in contributing to the green house affect that lead to global warming. Dairy cows contribute to the total annual global methane emissions.
When milk goes directly from mom to baby there are no by-products. Breastfeeding is not just a lifestyle choice. It is a health issue for mother and infant, a social issue, and last but not least, one of the more pressing environmental issues that we will face in the next millennium, if we hope to maintain our planet.