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World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Conversations Beyond Breastfeeding

The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This post is the fifth in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the other posts in this series here, here, here, and here.

WBW Theme #3: Environment and Climate Change

The health of our planet is affected by the way babies are fed. Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging, or waste. The breastmilk substitute industry, on the other hand, carries a negative environmental impact that is not commonly recognized. Safeguarding breastfeeding links human life with the well-being of our planet in a powerful way.

The health of our future generations is affected by the health of our planet. Ways in which environmental issues and breastfeeding are interrelated include the needs of women and families in hazardous working conditions; increases in greenhouse gas emissions; and increased water and electricity usage from formula production and use. Organizations, such as Pesticide Action Network, are already working to highlight the dangers of working and breastfeeding in polluted environments.

Steps to Success:

1. Use links between breastfeeding and the environment as part of your advocacy.

  • Visit the WBW website for explanations, graphics, and downloadable materials to enhance your understanding of the issues and enable you to make it clear to others.
  • For more information and research about these connections, see this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 WBW celebration.

2. Normalize breastfeeding as a sustainable method of feeding infants.

We must find common cause with groups working on environmental issues and make the link between breastfeeding and sustainability.

3. Raise awareness on how breastfeeding contributes to reducing carbon footprint.

4. Talk to youth about the environmental impact of formula feeding.

Younger generations must be informed of the negative environmental impact of breastmilk substitutes, and have the information and support necessary to encourage them to make other choices, whenever possible.

5. Ensure that the  International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is fully implemented and monitored regularly.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is a framework to regulate the formula feeding industry. Adherence helps to safeguard both the environment and the right to breastfeed.


To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Environment and Climate Change, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

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