/ Sustainability

How being a parent helped me become less wasteful

What are your tips for sustainable parenting? Our guest explains how her daughter has helped teach her to live a more sustainable life.

This is a guest article by Emily Austin. All views expressed are Emily’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

All the kit you are told you need for parenting is daunting – prenatal trips round John Lewis used to send my head spinning. But being a parent has opened up a whole world of sharing, reusing and zero waste. As the parent of a three year-old, here are some of my tips for sustainable parenting from my own experiences.

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There’s a lot of stuff you don’t need out there (wet wipe warmers probably being top of my list!) but there are also items that are really helpful – luckily you can pretty much get everything second hand.

We are part of a local WhatsApp group with 250 parents either selling or just passing on old items. Rather than a trip to the high street, I can walk five minutes down the road and collect from a friendly face. eBay can also be great for kids’ items, such as second-hand shoes at a fraction of the price of a new pair.

Community hubs, toys and nappies

I couldn’t remember the last time I stepped into a library, but now I find it’s a community hub where we can borrow 12 new books at a time – but did you know you can also search your local area for a toy library?

A few good toys are all we seem to need – new fancy items quickly lose their appeal. As a result it means our flat doesn’t look like a play centre. We’re probably fortunate that right now our daughter is happy playing with pretty much anything, but if demands for the latest toys do happen in the future I hope we can find a sustainable way around it.

And then there’s reusable nappies… I was given so many reasons not to use them; ‘too much extra washing’, ‘if you don’t do it straight away you’ll never do it’. But neither of those turned out to be true for me. There are so many brands and technical language used with them that it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but all you really need is a few to start you off.

It turns out there are nappy libraries, meet ups, WhatsApp groups – it’s all there simmering under the surface in your local area – some councils even provide incentive vouchers. With reusable wipes and a wet bag in hand nothing went in the bin – it’s so satisfying.

Food and local holidays

We all eat the same food and avoid processed ‘kids’ food’, so anything rejected can be eaten as leftovers. We also try to avoid packaged snacks and, instead of going for nuts, opt for dried and fresh fruit.

We were also able to avoid using food pouches when our daughter was weaning with only a little bit more prep time. If there’s one thing being a parent teaches you, it’s to be prepared!

Local holidays have become the norm during the pandemic and we’ve learnt to love them – they’re so much less stressful with a three year-old in tow! We try to teach her to love nature, although more often than not it’s her teaching us. Not just in the woods and nature reserves but on our local streets – our daughter’s glee at finding slugs, smelling lavender and looking at plants growing on the pavements make our trips to nursery in the morning ever more special.

There’s a lot of pressure to consume in order to be a good parent, but we don’t think that’s true: no one teaches us this more than our daughter.

This was a guest article by Emily Austin. All views expressed were Emily’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

What are your tips for sustainable parenting? Has having children made you more conscious of waste? Let us know in the comments.

Has becoming a parent made you more conscious of making sustainable choices?
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Steph Gore says:
24 November 2021

I am really conscious of our plastic consumption as a family. We try to make small, sustainable changes where we can. Our most successful ones are using beeswax wraps to cover things in the fridge, instead of cling film. We also use Nom Nom Kids (https://nomnomkids.co.uk/) reusable pouches and snack bags for all our picnics, school snacks and for storing leftovers. They last for ages and can be recycled via Terracycle when they eventually break.

Philip Galloway says:
26 November 2021

Ferris (https://ferrisapp.co) is a great channel for parents to reduce waste. It’s the zero waste app for giving and getting for free. Everything must be posted for free on the app, so check it out if looking for once-loved baby gear, or to post stuff for a grateful family

One thing I hate about some parents is how they just casually dump their filthy nappies on the ground in car parks while totally ignoring the serious public health risk that causes. The more of them who get caught and fined the better.

Sarah @cotswoldsandkiddiwinks says:
3 December 2021

Like Steph, we’ve also really tried to become more sustainable and reduce our single-use plastic usage since having children. Trying not to be wasteful with food and also trying to make healthy meals for a baby and older child at home means lots of bowls of food in the fridge, so beeswax wraps and reusable small lidded bowls are a god send. We’ve swapped buying pouches of baby food where we can and instead fill our own reusable Nom Nom Kids food pouches. We also love the Nom Nom Kids snack bags for both storing and transporting food for our older child – they are also in fun designs too and help reduce food waste by enabling us to portion out what we need for a trip rather than having to take the whole bag! https://nomnomkids.co.uk