Did you go to a Walk Against Warming 2009 event on Saturday 12 December? ABC News says there were more than 90,000 people at rallies around Australia, including over 2,000 at the Parliament House rally in Canberra. I spotted ring slings (hemp and cotton), soft structured carriers (SSCs), and stretchy wraps at the Canberra rally. Check out what the tweeps thought with tags #waw09 or #walkagainstwarming. So what does this have to do with babywearing?
Babywearing is, without a doubt, more environmentally friendly than using a stroller or pram. A good quality baby sling or baby carrier is made from biodegradable, natural materials: cotton, hemp, silk, and wool are the most popular fabrics. Some carriers use padding made from bamboo, cotton, or recycled PET. Other carriers include metal or plastic rings, or hard plastic clips. While PET padding, aluminium rings, and hard plastic clips are not biodegradable at end-of-life, they will take up far less landfill space than the amount of plastic or metal in a stroller.
Traditional-style baby carriers can also support economic development programs in developing countries. Hand-woven cloth, such as the slings made in Guatemala or Timor Leste, or traditional printing techniques such as those used in India and Indonesia, preserve traditional craft skills and usually make use of renewable materials in the artisan’s local area. Making carriers from this cloth also enables artisans to earn a real wage from their work. This means they have an alternative to forms of work that may be less environmentally sustainable.
But the best thing about babywearing is how easy it is to get into nature with the kids. I can’t take a stroller up Mount Taylor, but I can carry a three year old on my back in an SSC when her legs get tired. I can’t push a pram around the cracked footpaths and dirt tracks through the reserve in my suburb, but I can put the newborn in a ring sling and walk him to sleep in the evening. You don’t need the knowledge of a park ranger or make the effort to plan guided activities on bushwalks. Simply being in a place with real trees and grass, checking out birds and lizards and bugs, will pique most children’s curiosity about the world they live in. By showing them there’s a world of living creatures and growing plants, children can begin to understand that their actions have an impact beyond the four walls of their house.