By Katie Plant @theplants_dxb
I have been a mother for ten weeks now and, much like the habitual mundaneness of 2020, I have had to get quite used to doing nothing. By “nothing” I mean filling my days with the tedious newborn routine… feed, wind, change, repeat. As any new mother will attest to, days of solely you avec new baby can be tedious at best and lonesome at worst. But it does allow one the breathing space to truly reflect on the moment and- without risk of sounding utterly pretentious – life. Particularly the life of this new soul you have brought into the world.
How having a baby changed my lifestyle towards sustainability
Questions ping pong around your mind every nanosecond of the day; what will they be like when they are older? What type of personality will they have? What hobbies and interests will they have? What will be their place in the world? Will there be a world left for them in the future? OK the last question may be “total neurotic mum” mode kicking in, but with so much noise about climate change, ocean pollution and wildlife destruction, it’s hard not to think about it.
Just a few weeks ago Sir David Attenborough, the living legend that he is, released what can only be described as his dying declaration. A Life on Planet Earth on Netflix is part memoir and part cry for help that we don’t completely destroy our planet and ourselves as he has already seen at a worrying rate in his lifetime. This coupled with statistics such as wildlife populations have declined by 60 per cent globally in five years; global sea level rose about 8 inches (20 centimetres) in the last century; and current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming – then it’s hard not to feel quite bleak about the world we live in. Even more so, it’s hard not to feel powerlessness for the future of the little one you have just lovingly and agonisingly brought into it.
It was on this reflection and the hours spent on nursing Netflix and internet binges, that I decided that I didn’t want to spend my days doing nothing. I didn’t want to have my maternity leave end having achieved very little. Of course raising my little one is achievement enough, but I also wanted to contribute to something greater.
The shift towards being a sustainable family will be a slow one; a gradual process that is taking an alteration in mind-set more than anything. Yes I’ve always recycled and yes, I take my ‘bag-for-life’ to the supermarket. But it’s going to require more than a few less plastic bags and taking the bins out to reduce our carbon footprint.
Our baby steps towards sustainability
Our first step is to “de-plastic” the house, starting with the kitchen and bathroom. Out goes the plastic wrap in favour of reusable beeswax cloths, whilst liquid cleansers bite the dust for old-school soap and shampoo bars. Meanwhile my kitchen cupboards are starting to resemble those oh-so-Instagram-worthy home edit snaps, with rows and rows of labelled glass jars standing to attention like sustainable soldiers. Promisingly, most major supermarkets in the UAE have abundant refill sections where you can stock up on cupboard basics such as oats, nuts and legumes, whilst almost all fruit and veg can be bought loose in reusable bags.
The next step will be to go full eco-hog and replace every single-use plastic item in the house with its reusable counterpart, where possible. From material cotton pads to bamboo toothbrushes to reusable razors… once you step down the sustainable rabbit hole, you realise that there are so many options available to us as consumers. We have just gotten so used to, as a society, to consuming once and wasting without a second thought.
In the long-term it will be about making better choices and purchasing decisions – a plant-based diet where possible, sustainable fish and meat otherwise; palm-oil free products; clean energy providers and companies with a clear corporate social responsibility. Yet ultimately, the way to becoming a sustainable family is to consume LESS. As parents we can often be guilty of buying for buying’s sake, but do we really need another toy or outfit which they will only use once?
I know what some might be thinking; “yes that’s great, but what impact can one family have on our planet?”
Well I would argue that personal individual actions do matter. Individual action influences collective actions and collective actions spark a movement. It’s up to us, the consumer, to put the pressure on corporations to farm and manufacture better by picking sustainable methods and materials, as well as offsetting their footprint with regenerative practices. Without the demand there simply won’t be the supply.
Yet more so I aspire that our actions as parents and adults will encourage our little one and little ones to come to live better, respect the planet and look after one another. That will be our legacy and when it is my time, I can depart this world happy in the knowledge that I didn’t do “nothing”.
To track our journey towards becoming a sustainable family follow us on Instagram @theplants_dxb
If you would like steps to become more sustainable or reduce your carbon footprint visit www.ourplanet.com