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January 2018

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Starting Small 

I want to preface this post with an apology for the radio silence over the last week or so.  This blog entry has been sitting, mostly fully formed, on my phone for a week now.  It’s been one of those weeks where life very much gets in the way.  One of the things I have realised about motherhood over the last 11 months (where has that time gone???) is that it is never plain sailing – and just as you think you’ve got it cracked, it’s all change again with a speed that can leave your head spinning.  There are days when your baby is sleeping well, only waking once or twice in the night.  They go down easily at nap time leaving you with a solid chunk of time to get things done.  A couple of days of this leave you feeling as though you could run the world – or at least, keep on top of the laundry and cook a meal that actually contains fresh vegetables.  Or there are days like I’ve experienced for the last week or so, when you spend the majority of your day in a darkened room trying to get a clearly exhausted child to nap, and by the time you’ve achieved this you’ve spent so long sitting in semi-darkness listening to soothing lullabies that your brain is made of cotton wool and you can barely manage to switch on the kettle.  Or when it seems that at night, every sleep cycle is a stand-alone entity and a four hour stretch of sleep feels like a luxury.   But today, the sun is shining and the fog is starting to lift, along with the appearance of a new tooth this morning.  So while I’m certainly not about to predict what will happen tomorrow, today I am finally able to share this post with you all.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

I am starting to realise that the challenge I’ve set myself this year is going to be far from easy. Yes, I love a charity shop – and not being “allowed” to buy new is the perfect excuse to have a nose whenever I’m passing. But there are a number of wider implications that I am just beginning to realise as we venture further into the New Year, and Christmas seems more of a distant memory. It will take ingenuity and a lot more planning than I’m used to as a self-confessed Amazon Prime addict!

My husband Scott summed it up nicely when, as I was preparing to launch this project at the end of December, he turned to me and asked with some dismay, “Does this mean I’m going to get rubbish presents all year??” Of course, those of you who have met him will know that this is an extremely tongue in cheek comment for him to make, but it was an important reminder that this decision isn’t just about me.

Many people won’t have the time, or the inclination, to jump in with both feet they way I’m doing. And that’s OK. But with the issue of waste, in particular plastic, featuring heavily in the news right now after so many of us were moved by the devastating scenes in Blue Planet 2, many people also want to do more. I love this blog post from Babipur with ten ways to reduce your plastic consumption (and if you’re quick you may be able to get a Klean Kanteen whilst they are still on sale!) but I also wanted to take this opportunity to share some quick, easy and cheap (or even free!) thugs we can all start doing right now to make a difference.

Buy a butter dish. If, like me, you’re partial to a slice of hot toast with butter – particularly on a cold January day like today – why not switch from spreadable in plastic tubs to block butter and keep out of the fridge in a dish? If you keep your eyes peeled, you could even find one in a charity shop. Plus, it tastes better.

Drink loose leaf tea. A lot of people don’t know this, but the majority of teabags for sale today are 20-30% plastic, and so not fully biodegradable. Loose leaf tea is widely available in supermarkets, online and in local speciality shops – as are a range of different devices for brewing the tea in your cup. Personally though, I’m in favour of bringing back the teapot. The leaves have plenty of room to unfurl and develop their full flavour, you can share a cup with a friend and have a natter or drink the whole thing yourself with a good book – and if you forego the strainer you can even have a go at telling your fortune when you’ve finished. Plus, you’ve guessed it – it tastes better!

Say no to junk mail. You may have heard of the telephone preference service – a service that enables you to record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing phone calls, thus preventing you from having your dinner interrupted by Tony the double glazing salesman. Well, I recently discovered that the same service exists for marketing you receive through the post. Joining the mailing preference service will prevent you from receiving any sales catalogues through the post, which as well as saving your recycling bin, could end up saving you money as you won’t be tempted by the offers within. It takes moments to set up, and it’s completely free!!   You can register your previous addresses, meaning the new occupants won’t receive mail addressed to you, and also register the previous occupants of your current address as well.  You can also opt out of receiving unaddressed marketing letters (the ones that tend to come from TV and broadband providers) by downloading a form from the Royal Mail website here. This is slightly more labour intensive (and will cost you a printed sheet of A4 and an envelope) but could also make a big difference.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any more great eco friendly tips – let me know in the comments!

The Sustainable Mummy 😘

Going Green

The Challenge

In October 2017, I attended a Mindr Brains and Babies event on the subject of corporate sustainability.  During the question and answer session at the end, one of the mums asked the question “what can we, as parents, do to lessen our environmental impact?”  This got me thinking.  Babies need a lot of stuff, the vast majority of which has a short shelf life – as wipes and nappies are often disposable and clothes and toys are quickly grown out of.  Add to that the fact that they will then become consumers in their own right, and having children quickly appears to be anything but a sustainable choice.

For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  I like to think I’m pretty good at the last one, although kerbside council collections of recyclables and reduced frequency of landfill collections have made it harder and harder not to be.  If you are anything like me, you may have used recycling as the focus of your sustainability efforts – or even as an excuse for habits which are anything but sustainable.  “I forgot my water bottle today – oh well, it doesn’t matter if I buy another plastic one as I’ll recycle it when I’m finished.”  “I’ll get a coffee to go – takeaway cups are made of cardboard after all, and that can be recycled”.  However, it’s only been recently that it has occurred to me that recycling comes last in the triad for a reason.  Therefore, I decided that to make any kind of impact, I would need to focus more on reducing and reusing.

In my corner of South London, I am lucky to be surrounded by a network of like-minded mums, and social media has brought us together in a number of Facebook groups.  Through these groups I have been able to obtain many of Eleanor’s toys and clothes second hand.  Beyond the obvious financial benefit, this also extends the lifespan of these items, keeping them out of landfill, and removes the need to purchase them new with the associated environmental costs.  I have seen pretty much everything that you would ever need for a baby or child advertised on these sites.  From this, the idea for the Sustainable Mummy was born.

What if I could go a whole year without buying anything new?  No clothes, no toys, no books, no gadgets…  Nothing. This could be a great way to reduce costs as a stay at home mum and lessen the impact my family was having on our planet.  I could also use this new focus as a way to explore other ways to live a greener lifestyle, some of which could hopefully become permanent changes to our daily routine.

Hopefully, by starting this blog those of a similar mindset can feel encouraged to look at how they can make a small difference to the future of the planet by adopting some of these ideas.  I’d love to hear from you all in the comments, particularly if you have any suggestions on green living to share!

Thanks for reading,

The Sustainable Mummy 😘