We first met Emma Ross, aka @mamalina at one of our early product launches. We immediately clicked during the workshop and have been stalking her on insta ever since! Her refreshing honesty about travelling the world with little ones, and attempting a zero waste lifestyle with toddlers is inspiring and refreshing on a platform that is all to often filled with pictures of perfection and mass consumerism. We asked her for her tips and tricks for all you mamas out there who are thinking about giving zero waste parenting a whirl.
First of all we would like to say huge respect for committing to zero waste as the parent of a toddler. Its very inspirational! How is it progressing?
It's going well, I think. Every day throws up new challenges and new learnings, but that's the whole point, right?
What are the biggest challenges to making the switch?
The biggest challenge is definitely the extra work it takes - at least to begin with. Of course it is easier to use a disposable nappy and toss it in the bin rather than scrape poop off a reusable nappy and take it to a washing machine; it's easier to grab a baby wipe from a packet rather than damp a cloth wipe and then wash it; it's easier to use a plastic straw if you're out in a cafe rather than remember to bring our own stainless steel one. But it's all about having a 'system'; once you have this in place, it's absolutely fine and it becomes second nature.
What could big brands be doing to help?
At the moment there is a lot of attention on plastic straw usage in restaurants so we've seen companies like Pizza Express crack down on this and they are now banning all straws from their restaurants. Then there's Pret a Manger offering 50p off a hot drink if you bring your own cup (Costa and Starbucks offer 25p off) and the plastic bag levy on supermarkets (there's been an 84% reduction in single use carrier bags since this charge was started) But still, there is so, so much more they can do. In the past few years we saw a lot of focus on food companies using recyclable or bio degradable packaging but what I want to know is why there is still so much packaging in the first place. Or why huge pharmaceuticals are not producing their own brand cloth nappies, reusable breast pads, and sanitary towels. Or why supermarkets seem taken over by plastic packaging? I'd also love to see big brands endorsing smaller brands and sponsoring their efforts. And don't get me started on the government....! Basically, we need to completely overturn the throw away attitude our society has come to adopt.
Are there any brands whose ethos you respect and who are supportive of the zero waste movement?
There's a tonne of small brands who are doing amazing things; Truthpaste for glass packaged, amazing toothpaste (also available for kids), Living Naturally for all things washing, Bambino Mio for all things cloth nappy, Honour Your Flow for menstrual products and And Keep are my go to for all products zero waste - I love their beeswax food wraps. Then there's a whole bunch of zero waste shops opening up; my faves are Hetu in South East London and Bulk Market in East London but my go to is the Unpackaged section of Planet Organic. One day I'll get to Earth Food Love in Totnes! But then I also support my local greengrocer who has amazing package free produce. Also Hubbub and Pebble Mag are my go to online resources / communities for all things zero waste.
What are the most important things you have learned on this journey, and if you had just one tip to parents thinking about attempting Zero waste, what would it be?
Stand your ground and stick with it. I am definitely the odd one out when it comes to my group of friends and how they parent. At first, I felt a bit awkward about it but pretty soon I learnt not to care or be embarrassed by the fact that I was pulling out my own cloth wipes or that my kids were eating leftovers from the day before. Similarly, at first I was shy in the supermarket asking the guy at the deli to put food in my container but I stuck with it and no I don't know any different - which reminds me of another tip - it's much better not to let the waste enter your house in the first place. Say no to offers of bags, receipts (if appropriate!), flyers.. One final thing I love to do is to go zero waste shopping with the kids - I give my three year old the challenge of finding fruit and veg with no packaging to help him find the fun in zero waste (and get our food shopping done for the week!). Oh and finally finally (!), have a 'kit' that you never leave the house without - for example, I always take an empty canvas bag out with me (I love the Do Your Bit ones), my Keepcup and see what else in this video.