Nope, it is not an easy task and when I started back in February this year I didn’t know it will be such a bumpy ride. But I guess that makes it exciting. Every little change drives me forward. Every reused nappy / wipes / little car in perfect condition from a charity shop just makes it all worth it. So here is my list how we reduce our waste in parenthood. None of them are ground breaking really but I wanted to have a post for those who are tapping into this adventure and show them you don’t have to do it all and still little changes do matter.
#1 Nappies. I wasn’t using reusable nappies for ages and only started again recently with Cealan. I know there are arguments about water usage when cleaning them and the hassle so let me expand on both a little. Water usage. 1) it needs loads of water – 9 gallons in fact – to create a single disposable nappy. Mental! 2) if you worried about your water usage and your bill going up I could understand. There isn’t a study or data I was able to find if anyone’s water bill got higher using reusable nappies / washing them (if you know any reliable source on this matter, please let me know). Overall however you would save loads of money and they are much better for our baby’s sink. See it here. The hassle. Modern reusable nappies are really not that high maintenance. They can be washed on 30 degrees and can be stored “dirty” for up to 4 days. You can also get bamboo liners which are natural and flushable for those exploding number twos. Once you have a few, stick them in the washing machine and hang them to dry. Done! However, if reusable nappies are really not your cup of tea there is an alternative biodegradable one from Kit and Kin. They really are amazing. Almost every element biodegrades within 3-6 years unlike other brands which takes 500. (Face dropped insert) They now can be ordered via Ocado too or from their website and getting a subscription lands you 25% off and free shipping. I have been using them for about a month now and they are as good as all the other big brands. As for reusable ones, I recommend Bambino Mio, they worked for us but there are plenty out there and if you found the choices are too daunting there are Nappy Libraries around the UK to try them out before you settle. I didn’t use reusable ones at all with Brendan so that is 2 years worth of nasty disposable nappies (let’s say 7 nappies per day so more then 5000 nappies so far on landfill for 500 years) which is horrid. With Caelan, I started using again the reusable ones daily but still combining it with Kit and Kin when we are out. It is not my proudest journey as a so called Zero Waster but again you can only try your best.
#2 Wet Wipes. I know everybody uses them and they are part of parenthood now but they are so bad not just for our baby’s skin but for the environment. Have a look at this article and hold onto your jaw before it drops. We use Cheeky Wipes which are cotton cloths and reusable after every wash. I use them mainly for dirty bottoms but can be also used for faces and hands after snacks and meals but for that I use a small hand towel. Although we got the starter pack which comes with travel bags making it transportable I use wet wipes when we are out. (can’t wait for Kit and Kin baby wipes to become available) Since I usually change dirty nappies in changing rooms where there is always a sink I tent to half a wet wipe and use only ONE per change. (the sink being here reference when I get it on my hand… YUK) so a packet of wipes could last us a whole month. If you don’t want to cash out on getting the Cheeky Wipes set you can use any cut up old towels or t-shirts, they work just as well. When I was getting ready for my planed home water birth I digged out loads old towels and cut them up. They weren’t even used and now I use them daily at meal times.
#3 Toys. We definitely have plastic, battery operated all singing all dancing toys but mainly it was given to us as presents. I always look for wooden toys which are not only much nicer (in my opinion) but timeless and don’t contain chemicals. Love Asda’s colletion for example. I also started visiting our local charity shops and if I do get plastic I get it from there. Not only they usually a bargain (Brendan is into cars recently and we are getting them for £0.50 each) but most of them are in mint condition still. I know they can be a hit and miss but what I started doing is if I find something great I store them for birthdays or special occasions.
#4 Travel. I don’t drive. Never in my life ever driven nor does my Man but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been to places or we haven’t taken our kids anywhere (although I know they are still young). I find travelling with public transport can not only reduce our carbon footprint as a family but a fun thing to do depending on a destination. My 2 years old loves bus rides and trains and it really is a bit of an adventure for him. I know there are situations when driving or getting driven somewhere is unavoidable but we always look for family day outs and destinations that are easy to reach with public transport. As for food shopping, we tend to use delivery services, its not only saves time but eliminates buying things we don’t need.
#5 Snacks and drinks. I have a stainless steel bottle like this (and an old aluminum one which I got as a present ages ago) I carry with myself everywhere and Brendan has his too. I always get them refilled for free in cafes and restaurants when I am out. I don’t buy Brendan drinks on the go unless we actually sit in a restaurant and it comes in a glass. If I really have to get a drink I always opt for cans or glass. Aluminium cans and glass that are recycled in the UK are melted down and turned back into cans again and glass. I also carry a couple of stainless steel straws I picked up from Earth.Food.Love and ask at the restaurant not to bring us any. (Recently I found that my Man is also making sure we are not getting any straws. Very proud of him ) As for snacks, I am terrible at baking unfortunately and yeah Brendan loves snacks. So what I try to do is buy in bulk and take a small amount with us when we head out. Brendan is really into this at the moment. It is overall less packaging and cheaper. I try to avoid buying individually packed snacks as much as I can.
#6 Bath time. We use Lush bath bombs and crumble them into small pieces for bubbles. Each night (not every night depending on the kids tiredness level) a small amount gets used which still creates tons of bubble and it smells amazing. For hair and body, I use goat milk soap which I picked up in Hungary when we were there on holiday. It has some amazing health benefits like vitamins / minerals and it moisturise the skin at the same time. Also as a soap comes plastic free and have no end product. Part of my least plastic-y bathroom.
#7 Cleaning up. Making your own. Here is the easiest and most amazing DIY multi purpose cleaning product (I think) from the lovely Eloise (aka @setyourselfgreen). I use this recipe and reuse the spray head from an old cleaning product. Since supermarkets only sells cleaning products in plastic bottles I stay away from them. Not only the DIY cleaner is cheaper but it doesn’t have all the harmful chemicals in it and much MUCH better for the environment. For limescale I use lemon acid which again I picked up in paper bags in Hungary. They work like magic with some warm water only.
#8 Clothing. Although we do get loads of hand-me-downs from my nephew I try to buy only organic cotton clothing for my kids. I love Art and Eden who are all about sustainability and organic cotton. Synthetic fabric like polyester have microscopic plastic in them which get released into our Oceans after every wash, killing marine life. I know they are not the cheapest (yet) but I try to think if I save money on cleaning products and bottled water I could get some nice organic cotton clothes for my kids. When organic cotton is not available I still go with 100% cotton or linen / wool which are also all natural.
#9 Cooking. I try to do batch booking from loose veggies and freeze them in small glass jars (no cling film is needed) like bolognese Brendan loves and he has it 2x a week with either pasta or rice. As for quick, easy to make meals like fish fingers or chips I always go for paper packaging over plastic bags. Like this potato waffles. In the oven I use Pyrex dishes to avoid silver foil use. Pasta is the hardest to get in paper but Waitrose, Tesco and Morrisons stock Barilla which only has a small plastic in their packaging. As for ketchup / honey basically everything else I always ops for glass jars (#7 look out for the glass) or cans over plastic. I also use only plates to cover left overs to avid using cling film completely.
Thank you for reading my post and do comment if you have suggestions on other brands you like? If you tried some of these? Or if you just feel like it. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts.