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Not waste-free but baby steps in the right direction.

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reusable nappies zero waste weekSarah lives in Staines with her almost 2 year old daughter, husband and 2.5 cats (long story). When not working with rubbish she enjoys experiencing the toddler perspective on activities and relaxing with yoga.

Today’s she’s talking about the importance of celebrating what you DO achieve and not beating yourself up when things don’t go according to plan.

Here’s Sarah…

I don’t think there’s one right way to go about reducing how much you throw away, I think there are lots of ways. My approach stems from some advice I got when I was pregnant. Admittedly it was in the context of the many parenting decisions I’d have to make, but it’s working out well for our bin. Here it is –

“listen to all the advice people want to give you and only do the things that really speak to you.”

Everyone’s lives are so busy that unless you really want to do something we often just don’t get round to it but we’re more likely to if it fits with our perspective on life.

Whilst throwing away just one carrier bag of rubbish a year is something I’d like to aspire to, the reality is that with 2 cats and an under 2, combined with work and volunteering commitments, I just don’t have the inclination to put in the thought and on occasion the effort required to achieve that.

So instead I aim for balance.

There is a difference between the content of our bin before baby and after baby but I’ve tackled nappies and food waste, the ones that are most important to me.

reusable nappies zero waste week

Nappies

Anyone with a child in nappies knows just how many of them are needed. Not only do they take over your bin but honestly they make the bin smell. Nappies combined with the cat litter made our bin very smelly. When my little one was 3 months old I felt settled enough with the changes to my lifestyle to give washable nappies a try. First I borrowed a nappy pack from the county council, then got some advice from a friend who used them on both her kids and then started experimenting with the bits she loaned me. It’s now 18 months later and washable nappies are just part of the routine in our house. Disposables are used when we’re away and for the occasional night when the nappies haven’t dried – I try not to beat myself up about these. I’m such a fan that I’m now a host for the trial kits the council makes available for residents and I encourage others to give them a try.

Kitchen meal planner from Sarah - zero waste week

Food

I’m lucky to live in an area with a weekly food waste recycling collection so when we have our “oops” moments the food will at least be composted to create something useful but I still hate throwing it away. With both of us at work we do struggle. There’s now a white board in the kitchen with a meal planner on it which gets completed every 2 weeks and our shopping list is generated from it. We only plan meals in the week that can be cooked in 30 minutes which makes it feel easier to cook. I didn’t realise how much food waste a baby can generate. When I started weaning our daughter I made purées but quickly found this generated a lot of waste because she didn’t want a lot even though I’d done small portions. I switched to baby-led weaning and just gave her what I was eating and it reduced waste. She still eats what we do and relatively little is wasted as at least I like it if she won’t touch it! That is if I can catch it before it hits the floor!

Overall, I’m pleased with what we’ve managed to achieve. Our bin still takes 4 to 6 weeks to fill. But on the days when food is thrown away or a disposable nappy is used I am ok with that knowing I’m doing the best I can at the moment.

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Rachelle Strauss

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