Building a family and trying to run a sustainable household isn’t easy. Sometimes it can feel like you’re constantly accumulating new things, throwing things away, and leaving things unused in the cupboard.
As hard as you try, having ‘less things’ is near impossible when you have children. Which is why we try to focus on making sustainable and eco-friendly choices where we can. After all, consumption is going to happen, but we can aim to do it as ethically as possible.
There are our top five tips for living (and buying) sustainably as a family.
1. Second-hand clothes and equipment
It’s easy to get carried away buying new things for babies. But since children grow out of their clothing so quickly, there’s an amazing array of like-new and brand-new clothing and equipment out there.
We don’t buy into the idea that second-hand means scruffy or over-used. From buggies and scooters to high chairs and cots – we’ve found them all second-hand to reduce our consumption and therefore our impact on the environment.
We’ve always dressed Maya in second-hand clothes from friends and family, online reselling platforms, and charity shops. She has a wardrobe bursting with beautiful second-hand clothes that are in brilliant condition.
Nobody would ever know they were pre-loved, and sometimes they’ve never even been worn. It’s also a great reminder that other parents would probably love some of the pieces you’ve been gifted for your kids but never got round to using.
2. Toy and book swaps
Kids get bored of their books and toys quickly, so we try to hold regular swaps with friends and neighbours. Swapping toys and books can even be temporary if you just want to borrow something for 6 months and return it when your own child grows out of it.
With so many toys filling our children’s bedrooms, it’s super fulfilling to see some of their less-loved items be passed on to new homes where they’ll get even more use.
Some of the best items to look out for are play gyms, building bricks and musical instruments – all of which Maya absolutely loves and were in almost new condition when we bought them second-hand.
3. Nappies and wipes
We know this isn’t something that every household gets on well with, but with Maya we try to use reusable nappies and wipes as often as we can. Not only does it mean we don’t have a bin filled with used disposable nappies, but also that we aren’t contributing more than we need to our landfill waste.
We use Bambino Mio nappies, which have never failed. We’ve also noticed Amazon randomly discounts the nappies – sometimes by 50% – so it’s worth monitoring the price if you’re conscious of reducing costs.
If you can, using reusable wipes and nappies is a great way to cut down your waste and also to reduce spending on disposable versions – although we always have a pack of them on hand in the cupboard for emergencies and when we don’t stay on top of the washing.
The brand we turn to for disposable nappies is Eco by Naty. They contain 100% compostable materials – and we’ve also noticed they’re a lot softer on Maya’s skin (other more popular brands usually cause nappy rash).
4. Local holidays
We used to love jetting around the world for our vacations, but as we’ve become more environmentally aware, it’s something we’ve tried more and more to cut down on. The wanderlust is still there and no doubt we’ll still travel abroad occasionally, but travelling with children is trickier and more expensive, as well as putting a strain on the planet.
So we’re making the most of the beautiful English scenery and taking more ‘local’ holidays. It’s easy to forget that our home country has plenty of amazing beaches and countryside, and we’re lucky to be able to take our holidays close to home without the need to board a plane.
5. More plant-based meals
Kids can be fussy eaters, including Maya from time-to-time. We know it’s normal for children to go in and out of phases around what they’ll eat, but aiming to feed them lots of plant-based foods from a young age gets them used to all the different and delicious ways to eat plants, keeps them healthy, and has a significant impact on the planet.
Fussy eating also means Maya – like most children – will just refuse to eat her food sometimes. Because of this, we usually just make her a version of whatever we’re eating without salt. It means that anything she won’t eat, we can finish ourselves to reduce food waste. Plus, it encourages her to eat with us which will hopefully mean she refuses less food as she gets older.
We live in a city, so shopping locally isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be. But we make an effort to cook with in-season ingredients where we can. And when we don’t have the energy to cook from scratch, we often fall back on frozen meals which we batch cooked weeks or even months ago. Maya loves homemade dhal and pasta sauces, which are often easy to cook in larger quantities.