Today, breastfeeding is recommended for all newborns due to the health benefits for both the infant and the mother. In addition to health benefits, it is cheaper than formula feeding, and once established, is more convenient.

Most formula is made from cow's milk (per Wikipedia), and given the environmental impact of the dairy industry, it seems obvious that breastfeeding would be more sustainable. This is without considering the plastic bottles, formula packaging, etc.

I'd like to understand the magnitude of these benefits. What are the specific environmental benefits of breastfeeding compared to formula feeding? I am hoping for answers which provide research, data, or life cycle analyses.

  • 1
    I'm somewhat bemused by this question. Breast feeding or sucking one's young is natural for all mammals & monotremes. During the suckling period the milk is "there". Nature does the work. It's a biological function. The suckling parent may need to eat & drink water a little more but that's it. With formula feeding it's all industrial processes. Getting milk from a cattle, pasteurizing it, transporting, turning it into formula, packaging & transporting that. Then there's everything associated with making the bottles & teats a safe water supply to mix with the powder to make something that is ..
    – Fred
    Jan 3, 2022 at 12:16
  • .. drinkable. Then there's the manufacturing processes required to make devices to heat the liquid formula, such as microwave ovens, stoves & pots with water. Then there's everything associated with cleaning the bottles & teats after use & sterilizing them for reuse. How is all this going to be more sustainable & environmentally beneficial than what nature provided?
    – Fred
    Jan 3, 2022 at 12:21
  • @Fred agreed :) The question is, has anyone quantified all of that?
    – LShaver
    Jan 3, 2022 at 15:34


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