My zero waste journey as a mum
Updated: Jul 26
I’m sure many of you can relate with me but going zero waste as a new mum isn’t easy and extremely challenging! Nappies, wipes, (packaged) baby foods and toys. Plastic is just EVERYWHERE we look. And we’re so pressed with time. We’re sleep deprived, nursing our baby 24/7 and on top of it got a lot more housework to do than ever before. Yep we all know it, pretty much zero time left for ourselves. I’m here to share with you that you don’t need to be perfect to make a difference. I’m not afraid to tell you that I was NOT perfect (nor would I pretend to be). But if you have the desire to make a difference, there is always something small you can do. Start small and find a system that’s sustainable for you and your family. As your baby grows, things will just get easier and easier and you will start having more time & energy to care for other things. It’s ok to take care of yourself first. You know I’m a big self-care advocate.
I also wanted to share with you I’m fairly new to this journey and I have no intention of hiding it. It was around when my daughter was 1 that I learned the seriousness of the plastic pollution and its impact on our oceans and human health. If you’re interested in learning more about WHY I began this journey, please go visit one of my earlier blog posts titled “15 simple ways to reduce everyday plastic” (You will find the link at the bottom of this post) This is when my research of finding solutions to reducing plastic waste began. My daughter didn’t grow up in 100% reusable cloth nappies from the time she was born and I’m not afraid to share that with you. (When she was born, I had no idea how serious this plastic pollution was!) I can’t pinpoint exactly when I was using reusable nappies 100% of the time because it was a slow gradual process for me. (I will talk more about this in the Nappies section below) So what I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to go all-in and aim for perfection to start making a difference. You can start small, at your own pace. It’s still an evolving journey for me.
So in this post, I’m gonna focus on what we can do as a new mum to start reducing plastic waste in our own home. You may feel some of the things may not work for you at the moment if you’re still severely sleep deprived and trying to get your own needs met, and that’s all ok. But at least you now have the resource to come back to when the time feels right for you.
I found out many popular nappy brands sold in supermarkets are mostly made of plastic and seeing how many times I had to change my daughter’s nappy a day, this was definitely something I wanted to make a change. I first made the switch to more earth-friendly disposable nappies that were mainly made of bamboo fibre rather than plastic in December 2017. At the same time, I also got hold of reusable cloth nappies and started experimenting using these. But my sleep was still up and down back then so to tell you the truth, I wasn’t in the position (nor in the right state of mind!) to be willing to do deal with cloth nappies and all the more washing everyday. When you’re so sleep deprived and couldn’t function properly as a human being, more laundry (= more housework) was the last thing I wanted to do. I had to take care of myself first before the planet. When your basic needs are not met and you’re in such a survival mode, you just don’t want to do things to overwhelm your system. But as my daughter became older and slept better, I was starting to get better sleep too and I had more time & energy to care for other things around me. I started using reusable cloth nappies a few days a week. And then once a day. And like this gradually increased the frequency until the day when I didn’t need to use the disposable ones anymore. It just got easier and easier as my daughter got older and I’m super proud of my daughter who is now pretty much fully toilet trained (except for occasional accidents) Using disposable nappies everyday is not only harming our planet but also expensive!
If we can all support organic cotton or bamboo products that would be amazing but I understand every family has their own budget and going fully organic or bamboo may not be practical. But I think we can start choosing 100% cotton products and avoid products with synthetic microfiber (e.g. polyester) wherever possible. Another way is to avoid buying new things and getting things second hand. I got heaps of things from my circle of mum friends and also passed down a lot of what our daughter grew out of to our friends. Get together with your mum friends and host a baby clothes swap party!
As our sleep improved, we ditched those pouched or jarred organic foods and start preparing whole organic foods at home. We love using blender and my daughter loves smooth texture of smoothies. Another thing is to stop buying fruits & veggies wrapped individually in plastic and refuse to use plastic bags at the shops. Take your own shopping bags with you. Don’t use plastic bags for putting loose items. Just take them loose or grab a paper bag from the mushroom section. Find your local fruit & veggie delivery business that uses minimal packaging or visit your local bulk food shops (We have the Source, NakedFoods & Scoop Wholefoods in Australia for example) Instead of plastic plates, bowls, cups & cutlery, Try using bamboo ones. Also say no to mini packaged juices that come with plastic straws. Get a juicer and have fun making your own juice with your kids. My daughter liked using bamboo cups & bamboo straws when she was transitioning from bottles, sippy cups to straw cups.
I tried using so many different bamboo toothbrushes on the market and love Bamkiki ones the most out of everything I tried. I love holding the bamboo handle every morning, making me feel closer to the mother nature. They donate 5% of their profits to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and that’s also what I really love about them. (Their products are available on my online eco shop and you will find the link to order yours at the end of this page) We avoid using soaps & shampoos that come in plastic dispenser and use solid soaps and shampoo bars. We stoped buying liquid laundry detergent that comes in plastic bottles and started using powder ones that come in a little paper box while experimented using soap berries. We stoped buying toilet rolls that came wrapped in plastic and instead use Who Gives a Crap ones that come wrapped in recycled paper and in a cardboard box.
No matter how plastic-free I wanted to keep our home, I couldn’t control what others give us as gifts so we still ended up collecting some plastic toys and I guess that’s just part of life. We can always give things away to others instead of throwing things away. I always look for wooden or bamboo toys or things made of recycled materials or FSC certified when looking for a toy for my daughter. And we stopped using balloons for (birthday) parties.
I hope this has given you some ideas to get you thinking and get you started experimenting! The bottom line message I’m trying to share is this. Start small and do what you can in that moment without overwhelming yourself. Stressing yourself out is not helpful and counter-productive. For you to be a positive force in life, you need to take care of yourself first and raise your vibration so I think it’s ok to be kind to ourselves and take things a little easy & slowly if your basic needs are not met while you’re nursing a newborn. If you feel alone in the journey, get together with other like-minded mums or just reach out to people who inspire you, face-to-face or online. Let’s not judge others of the choices they are making. You cannot change others by forcing your opinion on them, but you CAN inspire others by your example you lead and hopefully motivate them to take actions.
If you're looking for more ideas and like to connect with other like-minded people so you don't have to do this ALONE, check out this FREE online workshop that's hosted by one of my friends, Jess. (Hit the workshop title below to find out more)
Wednesday 28th July 2021
Hosted by Jess Silver, creator of the Kickstart Living Podcast
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