This is the beMOMSTRONG blog's first guest post! Heather is one of the members of the postpartum program and also the author of website Go Green Together and of the Instagram channel @gogreentogether.
When I think of societal stress and holistic wellness - a lot of this moves beyond diet and exercise. I think that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to always eat, shop, live organic, local and sustainable but sometimes that's not always the easiest choice. I love Heather's approach to this and how she combines her lifestyle choices with her transition into motherhood.
I can definitely resonate with all of the information she posts with regard to sustainable living, climate change, eco-conscious choices and more! So I asked her to answer a few questions for the blog:
1. What does it mean to live an eco-conscious and sustainable lifestyle?
A sustainable life means making the best choices for you based on your values, the environment, your community, and your family. There are so many ways we can all reduce our ecological impact, but if they don’t work for you and your family or cause loads of stress, it’s not a sustainable choice!
2. How has your approach to sustainability changed now that you're a mom?
I’m much more forgiving with myself. Being a parent is hard work, but so is constantly trying to vet every company and product to find the “best sustainable option.” Sometimes, I just don’t have the bandwidth to deal with it! It’s okay to eat pre-packaged snacks or reach for a disposable diaper. Our current society isn’t set up to make sustainable choices easy.
3. Can living more sustainably save you both time and money?
Many sustainable choices won’t save you time, per se. It’s all about tradeoffs. Do you want to run to the store for more diapers or do you want to quickly throw on a load of laundry? Do you want to order take out and work more hours to pay for it, or do you want to make something with what you haveAre those single-use items worth the time it takes to earn that money? If it saves you an hour, but costs more than you’d make in that hour, is it still worth the convenience?
Despite that, sustainable choices absolutely can save money. Non-sustainable choices are usually cheaper in the moment, but more expensive in the long run. They break faster as they are meant to be single use, requiring you to replace them. More sustainable options will often cost more up front, but you won’t have to buy any more for months or years to come. Or you can buy second hand, like with clothing, and save tons of money there!
4. What are your top product swaps or suggestions for parents moving toward a more sustainable way of living?
Oh, I love my easy swaps! Some of my favourites are reusable period products (they’re way more comfortable), shampoo/conditioner bars, bar soap, wooden dish brushes, etc. Swaps are fun and easy to incorporate most of the time.
I’d say the most important thing, though, is to use what you have. I love the saying “the most sustainable item is the one you already have.” You can’t simply buy your way into a sustainable lifestyle.
Babies don’t need tons of stuff (except for clothing, but you can buy that second hand). We’re pressured to buy tons of gadgets and toys for our babies which ultimately aren’t necessary. Secondhand is not “second best.”
5. What are your top product swaps or suggestions for babies and children based on a more sustainable way of living?
Ask friends/family for toys and clothing. Shop secondhand. Look into cloth diapers – there are companies that pick up used diapers and deliver fresh ones so you don’t have to do the washing or buy your own stash. Kids really don’t need as much stuff as you might think, and can often get overwhelmed by too many choices (toys, clothes, etc.). Look for personal care items in bulk/refill options, such as baby shampoo and soap.
As children get older, snacks become a huge source of waste, so look for options in the bulk bins! Many stores will let you bring your own containers so you can further reduce your waste!
6. Any advice/ tips and tricks to people and parents thinking about this for the first time?
Keep showing up and be kind to yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to throw away all your “unsustainable” stuff to buy the “eco-friendly” options. You don’t have to do everything at once. If you're looking to start, pick one area of your life (like your bathroom, wardrobe, office, or food buying habits) and focus on that.
It’s important to remember that our society is built on waste and exploitation. It’s difficult to avoid it, especially since so many companies hide it or participate in greenwashing. Just do your best, stay humble, and keep showing up. You’re doing a great job!
If you'd like to learn more - follow Heather @gogreentogether
Thanks so much Heather for taking the time to contribute to the beMOMSTRONG blog!