The arrival of our own little bundles of joy into our lives can feel like the proverbial double-edged sword when it comes to the planet. We almost subconsciously start to think more about the future, their future, and the kind of life we want for them as they grow up.
And as we enter a new year and a new decade with news feeds full of apocalyptic fires, tornadoes and floods, I think many of us are starting to feel anxious about what that future might look like. At the same time, we’re inundated with ‘all the things’ – the toys, the nappies, the magazines with the tantrum inducing landfill in transit plastered on the front, the weaning pouches, the wipes, so many wipes…
Being a parent is at times overwhelming – some days just managing to keep a small person fed and vaguely entertained, or off to school with their lunch and their bloody shoes on, can feel like Herculean tasks. Thinking about the climate crisis and what we might be able to do is also overwhelming, sometimes to the point of paralysis. So the two things together might not make for natural bedfellows – which is where Sustainable(ISH) comes in.
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO ME!!— Sustainable(ish) (@sustainableish) January 9, 2020
The countdown is over, and today's the day that The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide is officially launched into the world 🤩
Thank you @BloomsburyBooks @spinningkates @moomincroft and more for believing in this book and this message 😘🌟💚 pic.twitter.com/PepDcjx6dy
With a sustainable(ish) approach, no step is too small. There are no all or nothing expectations of eco-perfection. There’s no militant right or wrong way to do things. What there is, is a desire to ‘do your bit’, to make one small change, and to be OK with the fact that everybody’s changes might look different. Being accepting of the fact we’ve all got different circumstances, different challenges, different families, and that some days, maybe ‘being the change’ is all a bit too much.
So here are some top tips (from Jen Gale’s new book, The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide) for being sustainable(ish) with kids in tow…
1. Don’t be all or nothing
If you want to try reusable nappies or wipes, maybe just try at home at first, until you get your head around how it all works. Or maybe you decide on disposables at night-time, or on holiday, or at nursery. It’s OK.
Every reusable nappy used is one less disposable – celebrate those ones, and don’t beat yourself up about the others. For a super easy switch to reusable wipes, check out Cheeky Wipes.
2. Connect with nature
Most kids are passionate about nature and wildlife – get them outside and connected with their local environment as often as you can. Talk to them about native wildlife, point out flowers, climb trees. We only protect what we care about, and this applies to grown-ups too.
3. Do a #2minutelitterpick
The #2minutebeachclean movement started out, as the name implies, encouraging people to do a litter pick for just two minutes each time they visited the beach. But you don’t have to live near a beach to join in – do it at the park, on your dog walk, on the school run, wherever you are.
Use it as a gentle prompt to maybe have a conversation about plastic and pollution, and what changes you might be able to make at home together.
We’re always telling our kids it’s good to share, and there are so many ways now that make it easier to lighten our kid’s footprint by joining the ‘sharing economy’. There are an increasing numbers of clothes rental options for baby bundles, through to older kids, which are brilliant for fast-growing little ones.
5. Think secondhand first
When our kids were small, we spent a year buying nothing new, and the kids are pretty accepting now of the fact Lego doesn’t always come in a box, and sometimes the instructions are missing (you can download instructions from the Lego website if you know the model number!).
Charity shops and sites like eBay are bursting at the seams with pre-loved stuff for kids, whether that’s big expensive stuff like a buggy, or bundles of clothes and toys. You can pick up what you need for a fraction of the price and save resources at the same time – #winwin.
The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide: Everything you need to know to make small changes that make a big difference by Jen Gale is available now.