Schaumburg, IL (April 2008)—Breastfeeding not only provides babies with optimum nutrition, but also helps reduce landfill waste, preserves valued energy, and helps prevent deforestation. Human milk remains the ultimate natural renewable resource and perhaps the most overlooked way of helping to create a healthier planet.
Human milk requires no resources for packaging, shipping, or disposal. The production and disposal of artificial baby milk products add to environmental problems by consuming energy and producing waste. The 550 million tins of formula sold in the United States alone, placed end to end, would circle the earth one and a half times. Each year in the United States, the production of artificial baby milk produces 86,000 tons of tin and 1,230 tons of paper labels which add substantially to the landfill waste.
Breastfeeding preserves valued energy. No energy is wasted producing human milk the way it is wasted when producing artificial baby milk. Precious fuel is used to transport the ingredients of formula and baby milk products. Energy is used for sterilizing bottles and refrigerating them.
The environment also pays a price for growing soybeans or raising cattle to produce artificial baby milk. Clearing land for pasture results in deforestation, which then results in land depletion and soil erosion. Growing soy requires fertilization and irrigation.
While breastfeeding is a wondrous act of nurturing between a mother and child, it also has an enormous impact on the global ecosystem. Breastfeeding not only grows a healthy mother and child but also grows a healthier planet.
Although we live in a polluted world, scientists agree that human milk is still the very best food to nourish our babies. This is further reinforced by reports in recent years of processing errors in the production of infant formula and the contamination of plastic baby bottles with bisphenol-A.
Human milk is not only the very best food for our babies, but it may even protect babies from some of the effects of pollution and contamination.
To find out more about why human milk is "green," that is, the healthiest and most ecologically sound way to nurture babies, or for breastfeeding information and support, contact La Leche League International at www.llli.org or call 847-519-7730. Since 1956, La Leche League International has been providing breastfeeding assistance through mother-to-mother support, education, and information.