“Green Parenting” with Emma Gibbs
A Life Lived Lightly, Founder
Emma Gibbs, a mother, journalist, and the founding editor of the blog A Life Lived Lightly (currently living in Melbourne Australia), has been living an “imperfect” zero-waste lifestyle for more than 18 months. Here’s what she has to share about her green parenting journey.
Q & A with Emma:
1) What is one thing about motherhood/pregnancy that you were least expecting?
The biggest surprise I have had about motherhood is just how much it has changed me.
Before I had my son, I assumed that I would stay the exact same person, just with a baby in tow; however, becoming a mother has caused my priorities, my interests and my whole outlook on life to completely shift.
This is especially the case when it comes to living a more sustainable lifestyle. While I always took small steps to be “eco-friendly”– turning off lights, recycling, trying not to waste food, etc – it wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized how important it is to safeguard the planet for future generations.
I never in a million years thought I would be a stay-at-home mum (I work as a freelance journalist while looking after my two-year-old son full-time), who leads a zero/low waste lifestyle.
A few years ago I was basically the antithesis of this. I loved shopping for fashion, traveling, and saving the planet was the furthest thing from my mind.
2) What three things have you found to be the most challenging when it comes to living sustainably (eco-friendly, ethical fashion, etc.) & raising children?
- It can be difficult to get friends and family on board with your choices. They all love to spoil our son, and as it comes from such a well-meaning place, it’s hard to deter them from buying him toys and clothes. Even when we’re out and about people like our friendly librarian or barista will offer my son stickers or (wrapped) lollies, and it feels mean-spirited to say no. Most people look at me blankly when I explain we’re trying to live “zero-waste”!
- Traveling (with or without kids) also presents challenges, as so much of the food available in airports/in transit is packaged in plastic… and when a toddler is hungry they are hungry NOW! When we’ve traveled I’ve always been prepared with plenty of food from home, but when that runs out it’s tricky.
- Cloth nappies can also take some getting used to… we’ve tried various types with a few hits and misses. Fortunately, we’re just about to embark on toilet training with our son!
3) What three tips (things that worked best for you) can you share with other mothers/fathers to help them along their eco-conscious/slow fashion journey?
- Tackle the big waste generating areas first if you can, as these will have the most impact. Start composting your food or give cloth nappies a whirl.
- Share your eco-friendly goals and values with friends and family. You may inspire them to make their own changes.
- Do your research and don’t get sucked in by greenwashing. For example, use resources like the Good On You app to find good quality, sustainable children’s clothing brands that can be trusted.
4) Living an eco-friendly/slow fashion lifestyle isn’t always convenient or easy, but why does it matter that we at least try our best (there’s no such thing as perfection).
The cumulative effect of making small, eco-friendly changes will, over time, reduce your overall carbon footprint, so it’s important that we all try to do this.
We should be an example to the younger generation… it’s their world and future we’re protecting so what does it say to them if we continue to harm the planet as we are?
My son is only two and already he understands that food scraps “go to the wormies” (our worm bin). I love that he will grow up with an appreciation for looking after the environment; it’s one of the most important lessons we can teach him.
5) List three of your favorite ethical and eco-conscious children’s brands (toys, clothes, food, etc.)
- Hevea for items like bath toys, bath mats, and teethers. Hevea’s products are made using natural rubber sap and rubberwood, which is biodegradable, sustainable and non-toxic. Their packaging is FSC certified and they have initiated an upcycling program. They also have bottle teats and dummies, though my son never needed these.
- EverEarth makes wooden toys from FSC certified sustainable timber, finished with non-toxic water-based paints. The company practices eco-friendly production methods and have a “plant-a-tree” initiative when you purchase an EverEarth toy.
- Aster & Oak use GOTS certified cotton for all their children’s clothing and have some great designs for newborns to size 4/5.
*Note: when purchasing anything brand new I always request minimal packaging (no tags, promotional flyers, etc) to be included in the shipment. You can also find these brands second-hand on eBay.
6) Bonus question:
“I don’t believe we as individuals should be held responsible for our consumer and lifestyle habits — it’s nearly impossible to live a sustainable lifestyle and honestly, I have other things to worry about — I am a busy mom! Rather, I believe it’s up to our governments and businesses to lead the way, to change their policies, etc. Climate change, ethical fashion, plastic pollution, child labor, etc. these are top-down issues, not bottom-up issues, my choices won’t make a difference.” Agree or disagree? why or why not.
Of course, governments and big business are largely to blame for the mess we’re currently in when it comes to the state of the planet, but to say that as individuals we have no power is untrue.
Change can absolutely happen from the ground up if enough of us voice our displeasure with the way the system is currently run.
Every dramatic social change in history started with the people rising up – the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the abolitionist movement – they all arose from collective action.
Already we are starting to see our youth challenge the status quo with School Strike 4 Climate, while the ever-growing forces of Extinction Rebellion suggests more and more people are fed up with the way our planet is being harmed by the powers that be.
Never underestimate the power of the people to elicit change.
Connect with Emma