Plastic Alternative: Wool

Wool is truly wonderful.  Wool is
  • antibacterial
  • anti-fungal
  • flame retardant
  • cool when it's hot
  • warm when it's cold
  • absorbent
  • warm instead of cold and clammy when wet
  • nearly waterproof

10 Ways to Replace Plastic with Wool:

Plastic-free bed 
You spend a lot of time in your bed.  If you want to limit your exposure to plastic, start here.  You can read my other, and very lengthy, post all about my kids' natural affordable-ish bed HERE.

My kids' plastic-free bed.

1. Wool puddle pads.  If you want a waterproof pad on your child's bed, you don't have to use plastic.  You can use wool!  I've used puddle pads on my bed (we co-sleep with our babies) and on my young children's bed for years.  Despite leaky diapers, leaky breasts, potty training, and everything else -- never has moisture touched the mattress.  Wool is not 100% waterproof (if completely saturated, it will eventually leak), but I trust it enough to use it to protect my relatively new and not very cheap mattresses.  Super duper bonus: my wool puddle pads are machine washable.  If you can't afford a bed-size puddle pad, buy the crib size and put it where it really counts!  I have bought my wool puddle pads (and wool felt and wool pillows) through KelleyGreen, which has great prices and good customer service.  (I have no affiliation with this store.  I am just a satisfied customer.) 

2. Wool felt.  An inexpensive alternative to an actual puddle pad, wool felt is nearly waterproof (I dumped a cup of water on mine to check), but cannot be machine washed (spot clean only) or it will lose its shape.  I couldn't afford a queen-size wool puddle pad, so I bought a huge piece of wool felt instead. You can also use wool felt (and wool stuffing) for sewing and crafts, instead of the synthetic stuff.

3. Wool pillow.  Our family sleeps on wool pillows.  We own these and love them!  Previously we were sleeping on synthetic pillows that I washed once in a blue moon and which were probably full of fungi and dust mites by the time I got rid of them.  Wool pillows are generally spot clean only, but they are also naturally antibacterial and antifungal (unlike synthetic pillows).  My 3-year-old had a bloody nose on his, and it wasn't too bad to clean, and then I just let it air out outside to make sure it got completely dry.  Your face spends 30% of your life on a pillow (your kid's face spends an even higher proportion of time there).  Consider going plastic-free on the pillow.

4. Wool blanket.  Instead of a fuzzy fleece blanket or even down, just go with a wool blanket.  Very warm and not too bulky.  The 100% wool machine-washable blankets can be very pricey though.  We inherited some 100% wool blankets from South America (which we do not wash at all, just shake out) that work really well for us.  Even a mostly wool blanket (and these can be pretty cheap - check an emergency supplies store), is better than a 100% synthetic blanket.

5. Wool mattress.  A wool mattress is the only way to have an all-natural-fibers mattress with no added flame retardant that meets national flammability standards.  A great option for a crib mattress.  Read more on mattresses HERE.

Plastic-free baby care

Wool nursing pads are natural, soft and waterproof.

6. Wool nursing pads.  I am a very heavy producer/ leaker, and was a plastic disposable nursing pad junky until I found these LANACare nursing padsLess expensive wool pads might work for you if you are a lighter leaker than I am.  I think it's very nice to have wool instead of plastic sitting against the area where your baby puts her open mouth all day long.  You can read more about plastic-free nursing pads HERE.

7. Wool diaper cover.  I personally use unbleached cotton prefolds with a waterproof plastic cover to cloth diaper my babies.  But if I had more money, I would go completely plastic-free by purchasing wool covers.  You can even buy machine washable ones.

Plastic-free warm and weather-proof clothing
Plastic-free and toasty wool gloves.

8. Wool socks.  Oh, how my husband loves his wool socks.  They keep him toasty while keeping moisture off of his feet.  Outdoorsy people know all about the wonders of wool.

9. Wool sweater.  When I lived in colder climes, I lived by my wool sweaters in winter.  Skip the fleece and put on a wool sweater.  Merino wool is not even scratchy!  You can also buy wool pants, if you really want to.

10. Wool outerwear. You don't need Gore-tex, vinyl and Polar Fleece, just a wonderful wool pea coat, wool hat, wool scarf and wool gloves.  

How do you use wool?

Read more Plastic-Free posts HERE.

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  1. I use fleece for leaks in our bed - Wool might be a good option when Baby is older and leaks are a bigger deal! I recently started using wool breast pads and I LOVE THEM.

  2. What a great list of plastic-free alternatives. I am in the market for a new mattress and I have been trying to find one made from wool. Any suggestions?I love wool for so many things, but I do find it very itchy. I guess I could try Merino wool.

  3. Janine, I'm so glad you tried wool nursing pads! They are the best. I was experiencing serious guilt about all those tiny plastic pieces from the Lansinoh disposable pads until I found the LANACare wool pads.

    Lori Alper, If you find wool itchy, you can always put something between you and the wool. There are wool/silk nursing pads by Imse Vimse (silk goes against your skin), for example. My bed post has info on mattresses -- check out the mattress links at the end of the post.

    I'm hoping to do a crib mattress post one of these days.

  4. Thanks for your list of plastic-free alternatives. They are all great!

  5. Just discovered your blog today and love it.
    In the 90's when I was nursing and co-sleeping with our daughter, I used a piece of cotton covered rubber sheeting. You can still buy it at some fabric stores or on-line. However, if you like to buy only American made products, you may have to forego it. Joann's for instance, gets theirs from China. And the cotton is not organic -- if that is important for you.


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