Our guest blog post this week has been written by Hannah Harding, of Growing Oaks ToddlerCalm workshops and consultations in the Llandrindod Wells area of Powys, Mid Wales. She is Mum to a toddler, a yoga teacher, holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and wanted to share her own eco journey with you. You can find out more about Toddlercalm sessions here.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I had wonderful imaginings of being a baby-wearing, breastfeeding eco mum -I would raise my child in the forest, showing them how to forage and build dens. My husband and I diligently researched slings and wraps, then dashed out to buy them. We did a lot of shopping-blankets, baby grows, vests, baby sleeping bags, a baby bath. I believed that there was so much that we “needed” – this the first baby in my side of the family for 20 years. I followed the advice from family members, which I now realise was quite out of date
When our little baby arrived, I floundered massively. With breastfeeding, with having a newborn and the “mum guilt”- were we doing the right things? Luckily, I was able to breastfeed, and I continue to breastfeed my now 2 year old. This wasn’t planned nor expected; no others in my family had breastfed, and I struggled massively with the lack of support within my own family. Online support was a lifeline, and it opened up a whole new world of parenting options - reusable nappies, reusable wipes, second hand clothes, shoes, minimalist parenting, Montessori, wooden toys, home education…the list goes on…
As overwhelming as I found all the information, I bought into it all and determined to make it work. I felt guilt every time I used a disposable nappy, or if other “cloth Mums” saw me using one, leading me to switch to more planet friendly disposable nappies and wipes. I started selling and donating the outgrown clothes and toys, replacing them with second hand. When my baby’s weaning journey began, I made sure to only buy bamboo bowls, plates, cups and cutlery, though I felt guilt if I bought anything new. I fell down the rabbit hole of Facebook zero-waste groups (which can get pretty intense!), and was comparing myself to those who made their own yoghurt, worrying about the waste created by pots. For me, starting my eco journey and with a young child in tow, it was overwhelming.
Over time, I’ve come to realise that doing a little at a time is far easier to manage and sustain. I’ve worked to let go of the belief that I’m doing enough and instead remind myself of what I have been able to do.
We currently use both cloth nappies and wipes, but also disposable nappies and wipes- it was a revelation for me to realise I could do both! All the bamboo tableware I had bought broke within 6 months; I learned that it’s actually not the most sustainable option, and we now use very durable plastic. I’m smartening up to greenwashing, and that many items claiming to biodegrade aren’t great for the environment, and those sold as compostable tend to only compost in industrial compost heaps, so no good for your composter at home.
It can be so incredibly hard to navigate these eco waters; I think it is so important to just take one little step at a time to avoid burnout or becoming overwhelmed. Whilst it can seem like a positive step to get rid of all your plastic toothbrushes and replace right away with wooden ones, to throw out all those plastic things you have and get brand new wooden/glass/bamboo ones, or to invest in some shampoo bars when you have a cupboard full of bottles. First, use up what you have, and use your current items until they can no longer be repaired. When looking for new things, ask yourself if there is a second hand option.
Lots of us making small changes, bit by bit, really does add up.