I’m the girlfriend you text when you’re scratching your head reading labels in the grocery store, the confidante you blurt your “I can’t tell anyone else!” bathroom shenanigans to and the handy science nerd who comes through with the best cost-cutting, time-saving health tips you don’t know how you ever lived without.
“Educate yourself and your family as you go on your “low-waste” journey: I do my research before I make swaps and share that information with my children so they understand why/what the swap is for.” – Maranda Miller
Meet Maranda Miller, mother to two amazing daughters (aged 10 and 14), nicknamed Big and Little, from Bronx, NY.
Here’s what she has to share about her zero-waste journey.
Q & A with Maranda Miller:
1) City of residence: Bronx, NY
2) Place of birth: Louisville, KY (my maternal family has a farm in Crab Orchard, KY where we would stay/visit often)
3) How long have you been living a low-impact/zero-waste lifestyle? What inspired the shift?
I started the plastic-free/zero-waste journey in November of 2018. But I’ve been living an eco-friendly lifestyle for a while now – more so out of necessity and also because it was just the way my elders taught me to live.
For example, my maternal grandparents never tossed out our food scraps or uneaten items. Rather, food scraps were used as food for the farm animals. Additionally, I was always one to reuse bags (i.e., sandwich or produce bags) until they reached their last leg – it was mainly to save money but was also my way of using something to its fullest potential.
I started my family on the “low-waste” journey because I want my children and their children to have an Earthly residence. I can’t say “I care” but then not take the appropriate actions to protect Mother Earth.
4) What is one thing about motherhood/pregnancy that you were least expecting?
I honestly did not expect that my childhood experiences, or the lessons I learned as a kid, to provide me with any parenting insight– but they have. I am continually amazed at how both Big and Little (my children’s nicknames) remind me of my sister and me as kids. I often catch myself reliving similar experiences which have helped me to better understand why my parents responded the way they did. 🙂 (Naturally, my parents laugh about it).
5) What three things have you found to be the most challenging when it comes to living sustainably (eco-friendly, ethical fashion, etc.) & raising children?
1. Not being able to control everything: I really try to keep us on a “low-waste” path, but we’re not perfect (can’t always predict life, if you know what I mean). For example, my goal was to get most of this year’s school supplies in an eco-friendly format. We quit having paper tissues in the house with the plan being that we would buy eco-friendly tissues for school. Unfortunately, and as life would have it, my oldest needed the tissues the very next day and none of our local stores carried any eco-friendly tissues. So, I had to suck it up and buy whatever we had access to.
2. Some eco-friendly swaps just aren’t possible and it’s okay: My youngest has severe food and environment allergies so there are certain swaps we just can’t make, and I have to be open-minded about it.
3. Food waste and packaging waste is hard when there are multiple people living under one roof: I think it’s self-explanatory, but it has been hard cutting certain food items from our home. I would love the ability to just make our own snacks, but I don’t always have enough time. So we are still working on reducing our need for items that are packaged in plastic.
(Big and Little at the bulk food store. Photo courtesy of Maranda Miller)
7) What three tips (things that worked best for you) can you share with other parents to help them along their eco-conscious/slow fashion journey?
1. Educate yourself and your family as you go on the journey: I do my research before I make swaps and share that information with my children so they understand why/what the swap is for.
2. Involve your children in the process: I try to include my girls in everything I do. This not only allows them to participate, but it gives them a voice and allows them to speak up whenever we do something. For example, they have started voicing concerns on items we purchase or even sharing what they’ve learned with others.
3. Failures are okay: we will never be fully plastic-free (them hidden plastics and life). So, it’s okay if you don’t always make the perfect swap. It’s okay if you forgot to let the server know that you didn’t need the plastic straw. We are human and have to remember failures are okay and actually provide us more room for growth/success.
8) List three of your favorite ethical and/or eco-conscious brands:
I’m not big on brands – I prefer focusing on items that will effectively serve a purpose and that are plastic-free/zero-waste
a. Glass jars (any kind will do): help me to store items especially food.
b. Bar soap: I am glad we made the switch to bars. We utilize different brands depending on what we are using them for.
c. Reusable Water bottle: I won one a Swell bottle in a giveaway and I take it with me everywhere.
9) 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.
I definitely disagree with this statement. Individuals have to be willing to make a change and/or sacrifice certain items for Mother Earth. We also have to be ready to speak up so that our governments and businesses understand the importance of the climate crisis. If we leave it up to governments and businesses to do it all we won’t even make it to the expected 12 years left of Earth as we know it. I mean look at the recent events/activities that have happened – fires and catastrophic weather events. We owe it to our children to at least try. Plus, some aspects of the sustainable living journey are relatively easy lifestyle changes. Everyone can get a glass container that they can repurpose/reuse rather than tossing/recycling. The key is to find what works best with your budget, time, and life limits.
Madeleine is a Franco-American podcaster and blogger on a mission to inspire and empower women to live healthier, more eco-friendly, and conscious lifestyles. On her blog/podcast, The Wise Consumer, she covers topics ranging from nutrition and recipes to ethical fashion and eco living tips. When not working Madeleine is either spending time with family, developing new recipes, or trail running.