It’s no joke that the planet is in crisis. Average global Earth temperatures have risen approximately 1.2 degrees Celcius since the pre-industrial age (G. Thunberg)
Despite serious warnings in the last several decades – things are getting worse, not better.
This is why sustainable parenting is something we need to be doing.
Not only parents, mind you – every person on the planet needs to do their bit. But, parents have a duty to teach their kids about the importance of climate and nature. It’s the most important topic if you ask me.
In this post, I’ll share simple changes I’ve made to be eco-friendlier in our home, hoping it’ll inspire you to do something similar.
This is not some parenting style or fad that will die out as soon as the next TikTok video hits the screen (am I the ONLY one who’s never used TikTok before?)
Sustainable parenting, aka green parenting, is here to stay, and it’s a lifestyle choice.
And thank goodness for that! The planet needs it!
Parenting is messy. Or should I say, raising kids is? Parents – perhaps not so much. But kids! Man, they make a mess!
All that kitchen towel filling the bin, the nappies (endless!), the baby wipes (take years to degrade and contain yucky plastic), and the clothes.
Oh, the clothes! How often do they get thrown out or chucked onto the pile of ‘bin it later’?
All this, and I mean all of it, if you’re not careful, could end up in a landfill.
Some of it will NEVER EVER degrade. So, multiply that by the millions of families with kids (little kids in particular) and you get a good idea of how shit serious the waste and pollution problem is on our planet.
Plastic is everywhere, poisoning the life of billions of sea creatures. Leaking its way into our soils, our bodies and irreversibly damaging lakes and rivers.
I despair at every stat I read about climate issues and they are countless, to say the least.
This is why sustainable parenting needs to become more mainstream.
Parents have a vast opportunity to inspire young children to know more about the planet, its needs, and how to reduce waste and increase sustainability.
Talking about eco-friendly products or the 5rs (see below) are fantastic talking points and a great way to introduce kids to their environment.
The truth is – in 20 or so years’ time when our little ones are adults, the planet could look very different and very scary (if not much changes from now on).
It doesn’t take much effort to be a sustainable parent, really!
One of the best ways I’ve found to help the environment is simply reducing the waste we produce by buying less. An easy way to do this is to set yourself a strict budget and think! Before you click.
Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Do I really want this?
You must also be slower and more deliberate in daily life to allow for the mental space for sustainable living.
For example, not buying plastic bottles with water in them simply because they’re convenient – instead, plan ahead, pre-fill a reusable bottle, and take it with you.
Think about recycling more and throwing away less. Reusing stuff. Buying second hand.
Did you know you can recycle some plastics at supermarkets? Recycling plastic and food bags has been a game changer for us in our house; for once, our refuse bin is not overflowing, and my guilt levels are not bringing me to my knees.
One of the simplest eco-friendlier changes I’ve made is with the washing machine. I found the eco button for one thing which saves energy.
And I also decided to save ourselves some money (cost of living crisis and all that) and invest in an ecoegg.
It’s the easiest and best thing I’ve come across in the joys of laundry! (New things, hey.)
An ecoegg lasts around 70 (!) washes and costs around a tenner.
You can get refills (the little balls) and all you need to do is not overload your washing machine and plomp the egg on top of the pile. Turn your machine on (no more than 40degC), and that’s it.
Of course, not using a tumble dryer and hanging your clothes on a line is something I don’t need to mention (I hope!)
The clothes smell great with an ecoegg, there’s no faff and all the speed and you save a ton of money. You simply take the egg out to dry in between washes, and repeat for up to 70 cycles.
You can get a 15% discount off the ecoegg by clicking here.
If you don’t like the idea of an ecoegg, then laundry sheets are another eco-conscious option.
My devotion to eco-friendly products is becoming an obsession.
I ask myself frequently: How many things can I reuse? What could I make this into? Can I get a sustainable version of this? I ask these questions whenever I’m in shops – and I don’t buy anything that’s pointlessly wrapped in plastic.
The enormous environmental impact of plastic is still not fully realised if you ask me.
Consider how long plastic has been around, and only within the last 20 years has it started to become so prolific. Single-use plastic, in particular, is something I’m determined to eliminate from my life.
I hope the supermarkets follow suit.
The great thing is there are MANY eco-friendly, sustainable options to help shift to greener living.
Sustainable companies are popping up everywhere. And, the cost savings over a long period are significant when you switch to eco (if you shop wisely that is – some are milking it for all its worth so avoid those like the plague).
Ok, what I’m talking about is cleaning products in reusable, refillable bottles.
Reusable sanitary products/pads/pants. Reusable makeup remover pads. Organic products. Washable, biodegradable swiss style cleaning cloths.
Once you buy these, you don’t need to buy anything else! You never run out of sanitary pads – you simply wash them and reuse them.
The only thing you would need to do is buy the refills of some of the cleaning products – BUT a simple, easy and cheap alternative is white vinegar.
Portion about a 3rd of a glass bottle with white vinegar, top up with cooled boiled water, and add 20-25 drops of essential oils of your choice.
You’ve got a cheap, eco-friendly, and health-friendly cleaning solution that can be used on surfaces, windows, and floors (just avoid PVC window frames to be safe, as vinegar can melt plastic).
If you’re a new mom or expecting a baby soon, it’s really tempting to get everything brand new and shiny to fill the baby nursery.
So instead, do something different, ditch the ego, and do what we did! Go to charity shops and actually shop intentionally.
You can pick up some fantastic, sometimes brand new baby items in your local second-hand store and create a meaningful impact simultaneously.
Consider trying cloth diapers too. We did, and in truth, they leaked everywhere until I layered on two inserts. This is what worked!
You’ve got about 2-3 hours until you need to change them, but the joys of using cloth nappies are immense.
Why not buy a bundle of baby clothes from a marketplace online and simply wash them when you get home?
My memories of when I bought our first baby bundle and hung the tiny clothes on our washing line are cemented in my heart.
I was so in love with our little baby (who is now a near 4 year old!) and caressed his freshly washed second-hand clothes most days leading up to his arrival.
I make it a bit of a game in charity shops to look for the highest quality, organic cotton clothes.
It’s a small thing, but organic cotton is truly wonderful on a baby’s skin. Look for sustainable fabrics such as bamboo and avoid plastic polyester – it’s yuck!
Choose natural ingredients
Unsustainable materials tend to be anything man-made. Think of the tragic pharmaceuticals industry, which is just a money-making machine and you’ve got it.
On the flip side. If you trust nature (which I do without fail), then you’ll be living more sustainably too.
I grow my own herbs for making ‘garden medicine,’ as my eldest likes to call it. I love making a positive impact on a small scale; it really gives me butterflies in a good way.
Try and keep any glass jars you get from, say, pasta sauces or jams – give them a good wash, and you can store any herbal concoctions or homemade recipes in them.
How to handle non-recyclable materials
It’s true that not everything can be recycled BUT you can get creative.
What can you give away?
What can you use around the house in a different form?
I love smashing up old mugs that are chipped and cracked for use as pot liners for my bedding plants in Spring. Great for drainage!
If you’ve got an overload of plastic toys, pass them on. Drop them off at a charity donation point or have a house sale.
Also, don’t assume things when it comes to recycling. Take whatever you can’t reuse, recycle or donate to a recycling centre.
More often than not, I’m pleasantly surprised by what can be done with certain items, and more and more these days are being used in other ways.
Oh, and ban yourself from ever buying these items ever again if you want to be a sustainable parent:
Wet wipes (go for reusable, washable ones)
Plastic baby bottles (go for the stainless steel or bamboo/silicone ones)
Use of plastic straws in drinks
Ready-made baby food unless in an emergency (make it yourself with a blender and storage pots)
Second-hand reusable nappies?
Last on my list – is the use of reusable nappies. However, go further with this and consider buying second-hand ones.
I did, and I got a fantastic bundle for a very affordable price.
I know there are concerns that the increased washing ie, energy expenditure needed outweighs the benefits, but compare that to toxic landfill, which gives off tons of Greenhouse emissions.
I feel washing on an eco-setting is far better.
My trick is to double up the liners, particularly at night, and not worry if you get leaks because, y’know, you can always change them.
Extra material is the secret sauce to working with reusable nappies, and doing them up properly!
Remember to make gradual changes that stick rather than overhauling your entire life to become more sustainable.
Green choices are available everywhere you look – you just need to remind yourself what sustainable choices are and consider reducing single-use items and waste production.
I hope you found this post informative and that it inspires you to become a sustainable parent!