I’m not the most eco-wise mama on the planet. I can’t hold an in-depth conversation on global warming or climate change and their impacts on geopolitics and economies, neither do I follow Greta Thunberg on Instagram (though I might do after this). But, we have made simple household changes to be more eco-friendly and sustainable, and we will continue to do more as we learn more.
With the cold hard truth of our warming planet becoming more evident before us, we can’t all wait for the Big Dogs, The powers that be, government, world leaders, to ‘save us’. They have the power and authority to make radical global-scale changes, but we also can make small and potentially radical changes in our own lives!
I have a responsibility to care for planet Earth, not just for my sake so I can enjoy it now, but so that in years to come, when I’ve left the Earth, and my sons and their children are its keepers, they can inherit an Earth we’ve left nurtured and cared for – not one we have burnt to the ground and neglected.
If you were going to leave your home as an inheritance to your children, would you trash it first? No, you’d treat it well and leave it in good condition because it has value and it’s worth something. That’s our plan, to do as much as we can to treat our planet well; it’s valuable and worthy of our best treatment.
So, here are a few of the changes we’ve made:
Switch to Reusable Cloth Nappies
This has been by far one of the BEST switches we’ve made. Why did no one tell me about them with my first two boys? We made the switch to cloth nappies with my third son as a newborn.
Many parents claim this doesn’t feel like a financial or practical switch, but we found it super easy, and as a part of The Nappy Guru Team, I now help parents make the switch at The Nappy Gurus.
I often hear comments like:
“The upfront cost is too much.”
“it seems like hard work having to boil nappies.”
But it really isn’t so. The truth is that you can save up to £1000 by using reusable cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies. They also have a great resale value if you want to pass them onto another family after your baby has finished with them, or you can use them on a second and third child, saving you even more money.
And no one boils nappy these days! They are simply going in the washing machine after use, and most of the fit on just like a disposable would. Sound easy, huh?! Well, if there’s something about making the switch that is putting you off, here are some things you should know:
- You can contact your local nappy library, which will loan you cloth nappies for a small fee. Our local cloth nappy library in Folkstone offers an 8-week loan for £15.
- Check with your local council for financial incentives. Many offer cashback or £50 vouchers towards buying reusable cloth nappies.
- Check Facebook groups, eBay and other places for pre-loved options.
- You can use my discount code for The Nappy Gurus too. It gives you 10% off most of the reusable cloth nappies and eco-friendly items on the website. The Nappy Guru DISCOUNT CODE is ‘JUSTICE’
- Wash routines are straightforward.
- You don’t have to start off full-time. Using a few reusable cloth nappies during the week will make a lot of difference to the environment. I know some parents that only use them in the day to start off with! Part-time use of reuseable cloth nappies is excellent if that suits you.
- There’s lots of support out there to help you get started!
In the short and long-term, there are benefits to making the easy switch to reusable cloth nappies:
- They are gentle on babies’ bums as many are made from natural materials and don’t have harsh chemicals.
- They are gentle on your wallet – Once you have your cloth nappy stash, you don’t have the pain of buying nappies every week, and you can sell them on to get some of your money back.
- And of course, to care for our planet. Disposable nappies sit in a landfill for hundreds of years; why not use reusable nappies so we can use them time and time again?
Yes, we got rid of our car! That was a biggie for me because I’ve been driving for as long as I can remember. When my boys were little, it was convenient to whizz them here, there and everywhere like the typical parent-cabby. But depending on where you live, being car-free is not easy.
We were able to sell our car as we’ve relocated ourselves right in the town centre, near the beach, 5 minutes from hubby’s workplace, with access to an excellent public transport system for travel to other places. No car means we save money on insurance and road tax, and we reduce our carbon footprint! Of course, this might change over time, but car-less certainly suits us at present.
Would you consider it if you could?
Reduce Food Waste and waste in general
This was one of the first changes we made. We had some terrible foodie habits once upon a time. We’d over-shop on veggies and fruit, and they’d go off in the fridge and end up binned. We had teenagers who’d come home past x o’clock and would walk past the dinner I’d left them on the table or in the fridge, and a couple of days later, it would go in the bin. I’m embarrassed, but that used to be us.
A report by WRAP showed that the UK produced around 9.5 billion tonnes of food waste in 2018
70% waste by households (that’s 6.6 million tonnes)
16% from manufactures
12% from hospitality and foodservice
3% from the retail industry
What a waste? How many families could have done with having that left-over food, and instead, we bin it? Here are a few changes we’ve made:
- Rather than big a monthly shop, we do a weekly shop buying what we need, reducing fruit and veg waste. Planning main meals and lunches helps with the shopping list.
- What doesn’t get finished goes straight in the freezer, as do left-over meals if they are not consumed for lunch the next day.
- We love to shop in the reduced fridge and buy food near its sell-by date. It can be cooked straight away, or it goes in the freezer (and it saves us a LOT of money)
- We used a food waste app that allows us to pick up food from retailers at a reduced price at the end of the day. This saves retailers from throwing food away and saves us a pretty penny at some of our favourite foodie places. The app we use is called ‘TooGoodToGo’. You can set it to any location you’re in.
Reduce single-use plastic
One of the best feelings in the world was moving house and not needing a plastic bag drawer or cupboard. Back in the day, every home had one, or we knew someone who did! As well as no longer accepting plastic bags at stores, we started using our own reusable bags.
Check out these easy eco-swaps you can make at home:
Plastic straws – Reusable straws
Plastic takeaway containers – Glass containers suitable for the oven, microwave and freezer. We got ours at IKEA. The round ones are great for batching up baby meals!
Plastic water bottles – A reusable bottle
Plastic toothbrushes – Bamboo toothbrushes
Disposable wipes – Washable cloth wipes
Disposable cleaning cloths – Reusable cleaning cloths
Takeaway coffee cups – Reusable travel mugs/cups
Commerical deodorant – Eco-deos
Try to avoid fast fashion
I don’t find this one easy, and I’m still working on it. The challenge for me is understanding how ethical a retailer is. Many are now designing sustainable options but still contribute to fast fashion. And while many will suggest going for organic, sustainable and ethical brands, that usually comes with a heavy price tag that many of us can’t afford me included.
Being a new mum again, I see great sustainable brands that provide quality children’s clothing sustainably made. Still, we are aware that many parents won’t or can’t invest in expensive clothing that may last but only actually fits for a few months. I mean, these little ones grow so fast!
If buying sustainable clothing ranges doesn’t break the bank for you, that’s great; otherwise, there are ways to get your hands on the goods:
- Consider opting for quality second hand. Pre-loved clothes are all the rage right now.
- And, of course, hit the sales. To me, it makes sense to buy the item when it’s a fraction of the cost!
- Repair and extend life. Do they even do sewing clubs at school these days? I went to primary school, and whilst I’m no budding seamstress, I can sew on a button or fix a tear, and that’s all we really need to add years to clothes that have a good amount of life left. Recently we purchased JT a new outfit; within days, he has somehow torn a hole at the back. The old me would have thrown it away or used it for cleaning. The new me is excitedly looking for a nice little patch to fix it up and get it back in the wardrobe.
- But for me it’s not just a buying better but asking ‘do I need to buy it at all?’. Just because there’s a new trend, I don’t feel obligated to follow it.
Reusable Sanitary wear
During my pregnancy, I did a poll on my Instagram stories asking people what they thought about using reusable sanitary pads; the response was a complete mixed bag. From:
“Eww, that’s gross, those things can’t handle my period”, to
“I already use them, and they’re amazing”, to
“I want to use them but don’t know how.”
I belonged in camp number three. Now I’m an advocate for them. I started using Cloth Sanitary Pads (CPS) after giving birth to my son and then continued when my period returned. I received my first pair of WUKA knickers as a trial from The Nappy Gurus, and I’ve since started building a stash. I love them. I have way fewer period pains now. In fact, I can say I don’t have them at all. I can only assume when I had them previously that my body was reacting to whatever chemicals were in the disposable sanitary pads I used before the switch.
If you decide to give them a try, you can use the code JUSTICE for 10% off at The Nappy Gurus.
It’s OK to Start Small – Just Start.
As I said, I know it’s way more complex than the few swaps we’ve made above, and I know we have to do more, but we have to start somewhere. For our sake, our children’s sake and our planet’s sake, let’s ask ourselves the question, “Am I am I being intentional about caring for our planet”?
Genesis 2 v 15The Bible
So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
One of Mankind’s first roles was looking after and cultivating the Earth, a mandate I believe should all hold firm.
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