Living Simply with a New Born!

This past week we’ve been sharing on our Facebook page some of the lessons we’re learning and things we’re trying with our brand new baby boy! We’re so keen to give him the best possible start to life while thinking about where everything comes from as well as its impact on our planet. We’ve also loved  hearing from other more experienced mums and dads as they share their top tips and experiences, we feel like we’e learnt a lot! So here is a summary of what we’ve been thinking and learning this week.

Being idealistic vs realistic

Living ethical and sustainable lives is really important to us, and so naturally we wanted to extend this to our baby and his life too. While this is good and honourable, having a child is also hard work and tiring and there’s not room for beating yourself up over it. These first couple of weeks have been such a huge gear change for us as we adapt to being parents and get used to our new routine. In light of that we’ve tried to cut ourselves some slack while we make this transition. This doesn’t mean our values go out the window… but below you will see something of the ideal, and something of the realistic.

 

Nappy Changing

Oh Nappies! An essential and central part of the baby experience. Some reckon the average baby will get through some 2500-3000 nappies in their lifetime Thats a lot! And most nappies out there are less than 25% biodegradable! That’s quite a scary amount of waste. On top of this a lot of nappies use chemicals to aid absorbency, with possible links between these chemicals and and nappy rash, eczema and other skin conditions.

This gives us two main considerations, avoiding any nasties on our son’s bum and keeping waste to a minimum. The obvious and well loved solution is washable nappies, this practically eliminates waste! We’ve been given a load of Pop in nappies to use. These are the modern take on the classic terry nappy. Yes they are expensive, there’s no getting round it, but will they end up more expensive than 2500-3000 disposables? That’s a hard thing to calculate, we reckon 2500 nappies may cost you somewhere in the region of £500 which would get you around 30 pop in nappies. Of course the big perk of the reusables is you can hold on to them for any subsequent children or pass them on to a friend as someone has kindly done to us! This is a great solution, no chemicals and no waste.

But this is where we come back to being kind to ourselves. Reusable nappies are clearly the winner, but there is the extra pressure of washing and drying the nappies to make sure you have them ready as well as carrying a sopping wet nappy around when you’re out. We’ve allowed ourselves some grace these first couple of weeks while we’ve been in the hospital and adapting to our new regimen. So yes we admit we have been using disposables.  But there are disposables and disposables. We’ve opted for beaming Baby’s biodegradable nappies.  No unwanted chemicals are to be found here, also claiming to be 77% biodegradable within 4 years (normal nappies take about 400), the most biodegradable nappies in the UK. So if disposable nappies are going to be used, this is the best option out there. Once we find our feet we will start using our pop ins, but for now this gives us a bit of breathing room to settle in to life. Also the regular pop in we have are still a little too big for our boy!

Nappy changing extras.

Ok, that’s nappies sorted but when changing nappies there also tend to be some kind of wipes involved as well as a bag for disposing of that smelly wet nappy. We run into the same issues here, unwanted chemicals and waste. Midwives recommend plain cotton wool and water as a gentle and biodegradable option. We’ve found these cotton pads that are made of fairly traded organic cotton (we may write a future post on cotton and the ethics of organic cotton the good and the bad). Baby wipes tend to be filled with chemicals suspected of contributing to nappy rash, eczema etc. But we can’t deny their convenience especially when out and about, though none meet all our criteria. Water wipes are 99.9% pure water which we like, but are primarily made of polyester, i.e. plastic. Not so good, making them a single use plastic. Beaming baby make biodegradable wipes in partially biodegradable packaging, but include far more ingredients, albeit natural ones, but we’d rather stick to water only. These are made of cotton, but then cotton uses more energy to produce than plastic. swings and roundabouts!

Fortunately a friend kindly pointed us toward cheeky wipes! These are to wipes what pop ins are to nappies! a reusable, washable, zero waste solution! complete with convenient containers for storage. These look very promising and we are keen to try them once we exhaust our current supplies! This eliminates the single use problem, unwanted chemicals or issues of landfill.

Finally nappy bags. We’re currently using beaming babies 100% biodegradable , which do a fine job, however we’re asking the question of whether we need them? Sure out and about those dirty nappies need to go somewhere, but at home? A proper bin will probably suffice. Fortunately his poos don’t smell that bad yet!

Clothing

Another big part of having a child, dressing them! This one’s really simple, second hand, all the way. Baby clothes get so little use, they wear them for a few short months before growing out of them! We’ve been so fortunate to have friends who have had babies before us who have kindly donated their unneeded baby clothes. And we now have others in line to receive these items when we’re done! It’s such a good way of doing things, sharing and passing on. On top of this charity shops are always a winner, baby clothes are crazy cheap. There are more than enough baby clothes in existence, let’s keep using them. Of course people love to buy new babies clothes as a gift. That’s all good, just be sure to pass them on when they’re too small so they can get a nice long life.

Bathing

Next up is bath time! babies get mucky from time to time and need a good wash! However washing too much has proven to be detrimental to a baby’s skin. We’ve had several friends comment on how washing their baby less has been better for them, with one story of how reduced washing resolved problems of eczema and painful sores! we were advised to avoid washing our boy for as long as possible, maybe 2 weeks or so. Baby’s have such gentle, delicate skin which is why we try to avoid all the chemicals. Bathing once a week or so is all you need, with regular wipe downs of bums, hands and other mucky bits. It’s less work for us, less water being used and makes for a happy baby. Again we won’t be using anything in the bath when do bathe him other than plain water. And for moisturiser we’ll stick to some sweet almond oil, its light, rich in vitamin E, hypoallergenic and gentle on baby’s skin. We use this one. The non-organic option is significantly cheaper, we opt for organic for our baby to avoid any chance of pesticides or other chemicals being present in the products we use to protect his sensitive skin. Our thoughts are if we are using less products overall we can spend more on the ones we do buy where it matters.

Feeding

Breast feeding is an incredible thing! A zero waste, super nutritious way to feed your baby that requires basically no equipment, travels everywhere with you and self regulates. Its so wonderfully designed. And as we all know ‘breast is best’, it’s wonderful for your baby, and it’s so worthwhile persevering with it. But it’s not always that simple, sometimes women can’t breast feed, in our case only one breast is working property, and he can’t get all he needs from breastfeeding alone. This is ok! We can only do our best. Sometimes bottle feeding is necessary, whether expressed breast milk or formula. Sadly this then requires tons of equipment, bottles, teats, some form of steriliser, packets of formula. Baby’s health and well-being has always got to be the most important thing, but there are still a few steps that can be taken.

Like many other things, pass on/sell sterilisers. We were given ours by a family at our church which was very kind of them, this saves us money and means it gets more use. The main thing we’ve done is bought glass bottles. We’re not big fans of plastic in general, but particularly when it comes to containing foodstuffs. As we’ve been seen with BPA, chemicals from the plastic can leach into the contents, especially when the plastic is heated (think sterilising and washing). we’ve also found plastics tend to hold on to smells and colours and don’t wash as well. We much prefer glass for food and drink. As a friend also pointed out stainless steel is another good options. Here is a rundown on some of the glass options, here are some stainless steel alternatives, and here are the glass bottles we use (mainly for their compatibility with our breast pump).

Waste in the Hospital

You can never know how things will go with a baby. We naively assumed we would be out of the hospital within 24 hours of the birth exclusively breastfeeding. While the birth went very well, we ended up in hospital a further 5 nights. We also needed bottles, teats and formula as our baby wasn’t feeding enough as well as some issues with breast feeding. This meant we had to use the hospital’s single use plastic bottles and teats which we painfully had to put in the bin on a regular basis. While it couldn’t be helped we felt so guilty doing this! After several days, a waste-conscious midwife made us aware that there was a recycling bin hidden away the she was desperately trying to encourage people to use! Using this was an improvement but we wished we had come prepared to bottle feed with reusable bottles (preferably glass) and teats with a more restricted flow that would help support breastfeeding better. We really weren’t happy with the teats there as it felt like we force feeding him with an uncontrollable flow of milk. This is definitely something we would come prepared for if there were to be a next time! Dad’s bring lots of snacks! And a bag to take home any recyclable packaging from them. And don’t beat yourself up like we did!

Dummies 

We didn’t think we would need a dummy, they get a bit of a mixed press and so we weren’t going to use one unless we needed to. It’s become apparent that when our little boy is distressed sucking on something really helps him to soothe himself and calm down. Problem was he ended up doing this on a bottle or the breast and ended up feeding too much and throwing it back up! He’s very happy sucking on our little fingers but this makes it rather hard to do anything else. So we’ve taken the plunge and ordered some dummies. As we’ve said before we have concerns about plastics and food and drink and so we have some hesitations about using a dummy made out of plastic and silicone as it will be spending a lot of time in his mouth! Chemicals are often added to soften the teat and add colour. Fortunately there is a natural alternative, there are plenty of natural rubber dummies to be found, no plastic, chemicals and fully biodegradable. Most are also made of a single piece of rubber leaving no nooks and crannies for bacteria to breed. Here is a selection of four choices out there. Here is where we found ours.

So there we have it, these are the things we’ve learned and been talking and thinking about this week about bringing up a baby in the best way we can that also cares for our planet. I’m sure there’s loads more out there we’re yet to discover, or things we could do better, so do drop us a comment if you have a tip or suggestion we’ve missed. We’re loving this new journey of being parents, and we hope this little series has been helpful in some way!

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Review: Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper

We came across who gives a crap through a recommendation from the Green christian group. On first inspection a huge plus was that they give away 50% of their profits to help build toilets. Over 2.3 billion people (thats about 40% of the world) do not have access to proper sanitation, this leads to all kinds of preventable illnesses and deaths amongst children. Clean water and proper sanitation is the most basic of all human needs, so this was a huge plus for us before we even considered issues of sustainability and the product itself. We really dig companies who care about people and the planet.

 

As you can see it all comes in a cardboard box, each roll is individually wrapped in paper, no plastic to be seen anywhere here! This is a massive plus in regard to our aspirations to live a zero waste lifestyle with the bare minimum of plastic. The rolls themselves are made of recycled paper, no trees are cut down to produce these, a massive plus for sustainability. There is also no inks, scents, dyes or any other nasty chemicals added to the paper, which is important to us, chemicals are something we want to avoid. So far, this seems a pretty perfect product, no plastic, made from recycled materials and no chemicals. And if thats not enough buying this stuff is helping those in need providing them with proper sanitation. We were pretty sold before we tried it. But is it any good?

We’ve been using this loo roll for about 4 months now and we’ve been very happy with it. The unused rolls look rather attractive on the shelf and there’s some nice humour in the packaging. In use, the loo roll is soft and absorbent and does what you expect it to. It’s not quite as soft as the fancy andrex type loo rolls with all their fancy toilet roll tech, but its not as rough as the cheap stuff. It’s a solid dependable adequately soft mid range toilet paper. Only criticism we can offer is that sometimes the sheets don’t neatly tear leaving a  little dangly bit of paper. It’s no biggie but a little annoying.

IMG_4277.JPG

In terms of price you’re best off buying in bulk, we paid £36 for 48 double length rolls, this works out as 13.5p per 100 sheets. For comparisons sake Tesco’s cheapest loo roll is 11p per 100 sheets, Andrex’s all singing all dancing loo roll is 35p per 100 sheets. So its actually very reasonable. There is a higher initial cost due to buying in bulk which is not for everyone. They also offer a 100% bamboo roll which we would expect to be softer at 22.5p per 100 sheets, we’re all for bamboo being more widely used, but the cheaper recycled paper is more than adequate for our needs.

loo roll comparison

All in all we wanted so much to like this product it would have been pretty awful for us not to have liked it. We have been very pleased with it as a toilet roll, and it sits so well with our consciences too, for its sustainability and ethics.

If you want to try it, use our link to get £5 off your first order, and tell us what you think of it!

 

Our Favourite Book!

If you haven’t heard of this book, then where have you been?

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is one of our all time favourite sustainable living books. It is the one that will instantly make an impact if you put what it says into practice which is why we love it. If you are just beginning to explore eco and sustainable living, then this book is a really great place to start. It has inspired many a clear-out in our own home, and has helped us make wise choices when it comes to purchasing more items for the home!

Get your copy here  and let us know what you think!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever

*This post contains affiliate links which means we make a little bit of money when you purchase through this link! However, we don’t recommend anything that we don’t personally LOVE!

De-cluttering is Good for the Soul

Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed?

In our 21st century world, we are all busy. Busy with school, work, church, football, friends, family… the list goes on! I know I have, on many occasions, got home after a long busy day, and just crashed. However, it can even be hard to relax at home!

I think, perhaps more than ever, there is a need for us to de-clutter, not just our things, but all areas of our lives. It is not good for us to be living on the edge of breakdown! We need to slow things down. If you feel totally overwhelmed by the business of life, I am going to suggest that you are busier than God ever intended you to be. I am going to offer a few ideas of areas of your life that you could begin to de-clutter.

  1. Clothes! One of the first things we do in the morning is get dressed. We open a wardrobe heaving with clothes, most of which are either too big, too old, or ‘might come in useful one day.’ We make the simple task of getting dressed yet another stress to add to our lives. A few months ago, I had a ruthless sort through my clothing, and honestly, life has been so much less stressful since! My wardrobe now has a few nice clothes that I love to wear rather than a pile of things I didn’t like. Plus, a charity shop got a huuuuge donation! Put aside an afternoon to sort through your wardrobe. We used the Kon-Mari method to sort ours, where you ask each item, ‘does this bring me joy?’ If not, it has to go!
  2. Social Media. We are constantly bombarded with social media on a daily basis. in fact it is very hard to escape it! I personally have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love keeping in touch with friends and sharing funny posts. I love our Simple Life Community Facebook Page! However, the constant interruptions from social media in our daily lives can become a huge source of stress. If this is how you feel, then de-clutter! Remove the Facebook app from your phone. Spend an hour (or more if you need to) going through your Facebook ‘friends’ and streamline. I would be very surprised if you really were friends with over 500 people! Unlike some pages that are really just advertising to you. I recently did this and couldn’t believe the number of pages I had ‘liked’ over the years! I was basically willingly signing up to advertising. It felt so freeing to remove these influences from my life.
  3. Calendars. Do you feel busy ALL of the time? Do you always have a meeting, a commitment, a club, or a team to go to? Are these things at the expense of what is most important to us? We all have to do a number of tasks each day, but the trick is for you to be in control of your calendar without your calendar being in control of your life! If you never feel like you have the time to rest, schedule rest into your day. This will probably mean that another activity has to go, but honestly, your health and wellbeing is more important. Make a list of your priorities, and then make commitments based on those priorities. For example, serving at church is a priority for Simon and I. It is something that we would always make time for every week, often at the expense of me taking on another few hours of work. Also, having a full day off each week is so important to your wellbeing. However, it can be a BIG sacrifice. I recently had to say no to an offer of work, because it was on my only day off in the week. Boy, that was tough! But for my wellbeing, well you can’t really put a price on that.

I have SO much more to say on the topic of de-cluttering, but I hope that I have given you a few ideas to go and try out yourself. Life is better when it’s Simple!

Joanna x

5 one-time switches to save the planet

You may be passionate about saving the planet and lowering your environmental impact. It’s highly likely seeing as you are reading this! However, it can be so easy to have good intentions, but never do anything about it. I have come up with 5 one-time switches that you can make today, that will lower your environmental impact today!

Reusable cloth bags. These are super cheap to buy, and better for the planet! If you want to save waste every time you shop, purchase some cloth shopping bags. They are superior to plastic, as they won’t break so easily, and will last much longer. When they do eventually break, they are simple to fix, and are fully biodegradable.

Handkerchiefs. It is estimated that we get through 28000 tissues in a lifetime. I’m sure I get through more than that with hay fever, colds, and allergies! All of these get thrown in the rubbish bin. Switching to handkerchiefs is an easy way to eliminate all of this waste. I know for us, this has hands down been the most effective switch we have made. Our rubbish bins are noticeably more empty! We bought 10 handkerchiefs for around £5.50 on eBay.

Kitchen cloths. Paper kitchen roll is so easy to get through, what with cooking three meals a day, and conquering various spillages and cleaning tasks. Switching to kitchen cloths saves on all of that waste. You can even get some with rather fun prints on, so your kitchen will look awesome.

Say no to straws. When you go out for drinks with friends, or even hosting a children’s birthday party, leave the straws behind. They create unnecessary waste, and they won’t be missed! If you have to have straws, consider buying reusable ones like these metal straws.

Bring your own water bottle. Plastic water bottles are a nightmare! Not only are they not good for you, as they can leach harmful BPA into your water, they are very wasteful, and expensive too! Buy your own glass or metal water bottle and enjoy fresh water wherever you go. I am never far away from my glass water bottle. It was pricey, but I love it! You can definitely get cheaper options though. Do some research into it and comment down below with your findings! And incase you are interested, here is where you can get my water bottle.

So there you go! 5 easy one-time switches you can make right now that will lower your impact on the environment, and help you to live a sustainable life every day! I would love to hear from you. have you tried any of these tips? Got any of your own? Comment on this post!

Meet Simon and Jo

As a newly married couple, we were keen to settle into married life and hit the ground running! We both have big dreams and aspirations, and long to make a difference in the world. We started married life when Jo moved into Simon’s two bedroom flat in Twickenham… well… Jo and all her stuff..!

After 6 months in Twickenham, we had 10 days to pack our lives up and move to Durham, so we threw all of our possessions into a van and drove for 6 hours to our new 3 bedroom house. Like most people, our collection of things began to grow to fill our big house, and so did our feeling of discontentment. We could NEVER manage to keep our house neat and tidy. Stuff seemed to be everywhere all of the time! We also struggled to keep organised, and often felt overwhelmed with daily life, let alone stressful jobs, and mountains of rubbish piling up outside our front door each week. Something had to change!

It was completely by chance that Jo stumbled across the Zero Waste Lifestyle by watching this video about a woman who produced no rubbish. ‘I wish my life could be that simple!’ She thought! And it was really from that point onwards that Simon and Jo began really thinking about how they could look after the planet.