Zero Waste Working Mum
Most of the waste we generate is due to convenience. As our lives have become busier, convenient “time-saving” products have been invented to streamline our days and fill our landfill. Because society is now so reliant on these single-use items, it can take considerable time and effort to eliminate them from your lives and to truly have a zero waste home. So how do you generate less waste when you are a busy, exhausted new mum AND you (and your partner) work full time? Well the truth is sometimes you can’t help it and I definitely have moments of guilt when I don’t have enough time to plan meals for my baby and end up taking the easy way out. Or go for the disposable diapers when we haven’t washed the re-usable. I often struggle with having enough time getting out of the house with everything that I need for the day, let alone having stuff ready and prepped for my baby. So I try not to be too hard on myself and remember that all I can do is try my best to have a plastic free life and to be really conscious of how and where we are generating excessive waste; and take any steps possible to reduce it. Below are some of the basic things we try to do to minimise our impact as new parents and some of the associated problems you can run into along the way.
Beg, Borrow or Steal (except you probably won’t need to beg or steal).
Your babies grow so quickly that half the clothes you get for them never even get used. Which means charity shops are full of often unused and basically brand-new baby clothes. This resource combined with hand-me-downs from friends and family means that you virtually never have to buy new clothes for your baby. Clothing waste is a huge problem in society so it is a really good place to cut-down.
The same applies to toys, babies get sick of toys so quickly so again see if friends have used toys you can use or do a toy swap with your baby group. Or once again, the charity shops will have some great pre-loved items. Also check to see if you have a local toy library where you can go and borrow toys for a few weeks at a time.
Where you can run in to problems with this:
Gifts- Before any big milestones, when you know people are going to be coming around and giving your little one a gift, let them know that you are more than happy with pre-loved items. People can be a little weirded out by this however so you can’t really avoid the well-intentioned plastic palace, or two.
Unknown unknown’s- Before baby was born, we had no idea what we would need it seems. So, we panic bought items that it later turned out were either not very useful, or just not needed at all. They were mainly used items bought off gumtree but we would find that they just weren’t fit for purpose. Sometimes it’s only after you’ve used the thing for a couple of weeks that you learn how rubbish it is. Don’t be afraid to wait until baby is born to some of the big ticket items.
2. Prep meals and shop local.
The weening process has been rather difficult for us. Our baby Flo just isn’t a big eater and she looooves the boob. Nevertheless, I have been researching a lot of different snacks and meals for her to eat during the week. My husband and I try to make a varied selection of them on a Sunday and will put 2 or 3 portions in the fridge and freeze the rest. This saves a lot of time during the week.You can also find some great meal prep ideas at Happy Family Organics.
We buy most fresh fruit and veggies for these meals at the local market or zero waste shop on Saturday. I bring my re-usable bags to fill up at the market and old jars and Beeswax wraps to use at the zero waste shop. Beeswax wraps are great to have around when heading to the loose shop or packing snacks when you go out. They are re-usable and you can put them in the fridge and freezer to use for pre-prepped food. You can find out how to make little snack pouches and boxes on our tutorial page. There are more and more places now offering zero waste shopping. If you head over to our zero-waste map you can check to see if there is a zero waste shop near you.
It Is always time and planning. I do struggle with being able to juggle baby, work and life and then squeeze meal preps in. Sometimes I cave and buy a quick and easy snack for Flo. It can also be very difficult if your baby just doesn’t want to eat anything you put in front of them, especially when they are ill. Some days she won’t want anything other than to be breast fed or have some yogurt, which is the only food she will eat regardless of her mood/condition.
3. Reusable Nappies.
This is one that I have not quite nailed down yet. I had such good intentions when my baby was first born to implement this. There is even a program in Gloucester that is set up to help you buy re-usable nappies. You can find it on this website here and hopefully you can find a similar nappy program in your local area.
As an alternative I use eco nappies that are bio-degradable. They work well but I still have the guilt of using an item that will have to be thrown out after 1 use.
I think the reason we were turned off them was using them when Flo was really small and they didn’t fit well so they leaked everywhere. It is important to keep trying them though to get in to a good habit. So even they don’t work well at first there is nothing to say they won’t after a month or so.
Any other tips out there for using re-usable nappies would be great to hear from you!
Below are some more useful zero-waste links to check out with a bunch of useful tips and tricks.
1. Mamalina is an amazing mummy blogger who lives a simple and plastic free lifestyle. She put together a plastic free parent challenge. Below is her link to her plastic free guide. There are many tips and tricks.
2. Mamaeco has some very inspiring and eye-opening blogs posts. They are not long reads but they are very informative.
3. If you head out of this blog and into our plastic free home blog you will find some tips that we have used and love.
4. Claudi is our plastic free guru. On her blog she has so much informative hints and tips in living a plastic free lifestyle. Check it out to be inspired.
Why don’t you and your family try your own plastic free challenge? Let us know how you go on Facebook or Instagram. It would be great to hear the changes and challenges you have had on your own zero waste journey. Also remember you can find our Vegan wax wrap alternatives over at Vegan Food Wraps!