As a mum of three boys, Emma Ross is a slow and sustainable parenting blogger who gives tips on the small, accessible lifestyle changes that any parent can make with a lighter approach. As a parent, Emma's goal is to ultimately live and raise her children that little bit more consciously to the world around them.
Living a sustainable family life starts with the small things - from teaching your children to turn off lights and electronics when not in use, to encouraging them to limit food waste. The smallest contributions will help to reduce your family's carbon footprint and will contribute to the bigger picture of helping to protect our planet.
Emma gives us simple tips on how you can take the first conscious steps to becoming sustainable as a family.
Emma says ...
Bringing children into this world is a huge responsibility. What sort of parents will we become? How can we best bring up the next generation? And what footprint will our children’s generation leave on this planet? With polar ice caps melting six times faster than in the 1990s and rising sea levels, putting millions of people at risk of severe flooding, this last question is becoming increasingly pressing.
Parenting sustainably needn’t be hugely time consuming or expensive; indeed, there are small changes we can make on a daily basis that will make a difference. Here’s how you can help, starting today:
1. Choose Reusables
Invest in as many reusable items in your home as possible, and get used to throwing items out instead of chucking items out. Opt for washable cloth nappies and cloth wipes instead of disposable ones – start by just switching out a few and build it up from there. Other ideas include using beeswax wrap instead of cling film, washable silicone baking trays instead of aluminium foil and reusable sanitary products over single use tampons and pads.
2. Repurpose don’t purchase
Everything from used citrus peels (they make perfect multi-purpose cleaning sprays once soaked in some vinegar and water) to old newspapers (you cannot get more unique than newspaper!) can be repurposed and given a new lease of life, in doing so, you prevent more waste from accumulating. As Annie Leonard - Executive Director of Greenpeace USA writes:
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
3. Avoid food waste
We know that a whopping 85% of all food waste happens in the home so it’s time to take action. Meal plan, shop small and shop often, and have an ‘eat me’ shelf in your fridge for anything that’s at risk of going off. And don’t forget to compost any fruit and veg scraps!
4. Recycle more
We all know we should be doing it, yet the UK's overall recycling rates of everyday waste are below the EU's target of 50%, despite recycling collections being available at every household in the UK. So why aren't more people using them? The answer could be that so many of us are still unclear on exactly how to recycle efficiently. Be sure to check in with your local council, as well as useful websites, such as: WRAP, Terracycle and Recycle Now.
5. Don’t go it alone
Not only will you find yourself up against it on the time front, but there is also so much joy to be had when making these changes as a family/community. Go together to the food market, make pizza dough with the kids, organise litter picks in your local park. Tie sustainable parenting into your day-to-day life with your children and it won’t feel like work.
...and most importantly...
Start small and don’t be too hard on yourself. Even just saying no to plastic toys and opting for wooden or second-hand ones for your kids’ birthday party presents might be enough of a change to start with. Slowly, you’ll realise that it’s not as challenging as you may have first thought, and you’ll likely convince a few other people along the way. Cutting down on plastic use is a journey and everyone needs to travel at their own pace.
All images by @mamalinauk
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