Meet an Eco Parent!
Meet Cathy Mears-Martin
Author of Eco Protection Squad, from Hampshire / New Mexico
Follow Cathy on Instagram:
…and check out her websites here too:
Meet an Eco Parent! This is the another post in our very special "Meet an Eco Parent" series, which gives you a chance to meet a parent from the UK who considers themselves an 'eco parent' or a 'green parent'; those parents who really think about sustainable impacts when raising their children, and are dedicated to their families and to the environment.
Thank you to Cathy for answering these questions!
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.
My husband is a biologist and I am a children’s book author/ambassador for plastic free periods and Helping Hand Environmental/ co-host of podcast Practically Period Podcast, previously a programme director turned planet friendly campaigner. We have a 1 year old son and 2 crazy rescue puppies who we adore.
What does a day in your life look like?
I take the dogs out for a walk while my husband gets himself and our baby ready for the day. My son is on 2 naps a day at the moment and has progressed from wanting to sleep on me to sleeping alone for his naps which means I now have time to do some work. I have just started an admin role for a local not for profit and so I spend his nap times either working on my book characters and stories, admin for the charity, content or research for social media / my websites or researching activities to keep a 1 year old entertained! I try to make as much homemade food as possible for us and I try to grow a few vegetables (with varying degrees of success!). I also make my cleaning solutions at home so depending on what needs to be made, I will do that. Housework and cleaning is more of an afterthought though!
Would you describe yourself as an ‘eco parent’?
Yes although I use the term planet friendly parent. I have also been referred to as a ‘crunchy’ parent which cracks me up! I’m going to let you look that one up if you haven’t heard it before 😊
What is your top eco hack for babies / kids / family?
Homemade wipe solution and reusable wipes is my top tip for 4 reasons: easy enough to do, saves loads of money, less waste and no nasty toxins on your babies bottom! I make a solution from water with a few drops of tea tree oil and a carrier oil and have it in a bottle by his reusable nappies and the wipes. When out and about, you can bring a small spray bottle for the solution and have your wipes. A wet bag for dirties is definitely needed! All in all, reusing wipes and homemade solution has cost me about £5 for 1 year – I asked for wipes and the oil I wanted to use as gifts before my son’s birth so it is just the cost for the tea tree oil. I haven’t included washing costs but these wipes just go in with the rest of his laundry.
Other shout outs though are reusable period products (saved about £500 since switching!), a bidet, homemade cleaning spray, reusable kitchen roll (LOVE this – I made my own as well as supporting a company, need a lot of them with a baby!) and reusable make up wipes.
Do you have any advice for parents hoping to avoid plastics (and other materials with toxins) in baby / family products?
Homemade will always be the best option and I personally do a lot of research into brands that I am comfortable supporting if it is something I can’t make. I also reference trusted online and in person shops that people can use, such as Plastic Free Baby, as the person running the shop has done the leg work and only sells planet and baby friendly options. I choose sustainably sourced wooden toys over plastic but something to flag with wooden products is the glues and paints used also need to be toxin free and baby safe. Some cheaper options on certain sites may use wood but it doesn’t mean they are as safe or sustainable as you may hope.
My biggest piece of advice is to start small and don’t think you have to do it all in one go. I didn’t start reusable nappies until the cord fell off and eased into it with my husband who was unsure about them. It is a learning process and the biggest takeaway I could share is to be kind to yourself. You will slip up, but just dust yourself off and try again. Find what works best for you.
Do you talk to other parents about your own sustainable choices?
I share online through my social media, on my website and I even run reusable wipes and nappies workshops in my local community where I have managed to get some used reusable nappies and they can take one for free. I collaborate with the local children’s programme who also provide the ingredients and containers for the wipes so people will make a solution to try as well.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as an ‘eco’ parent?
Availability of items and time. It can be time consuming doing nappy washes and researching any product before purchasing. I personally mentally can’t deal with the waste and toxins so would rather find the time than go with an alternative.
Do you have any advice for parents who want to raise an ‘eco’ baby / child?
Be kind to yourself. Pick a few areas that you want to make changes and start with one. Habits take about 60 days to set, so give yourself a new challenge each 3 months. Talk with your kids and see if they have suggestions too, and create a wish list of changes to make. Make it fun and educational and don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it right. Every single change, no matter how small it may seem, has an impact. Go for it 😊
What is the best thing about being a parent?
Watching his eyes light up when he is happy or learnt something new. His little wiggly dancing. His smile warms my heart so much and I adore my baby kisses and snuggles. Also watching his relationship with our puppies cracks me up! Who needs TV?!
Has being a parent changed you?
Definitely – I was environmentally conscious a few years before being a mother but since having my son, my drive to share, campaign and educate others to help the shift has become more focused and ambitious! I want to ensure he has a future and that he can appreciate the wonders of this world in their glory.
How do you pass along advice for sustainable living to your family / child(ren)?
Conversation. I try to keep it open and make suggestions vs telling someone what to do though!
Anything else you’d like say?
Start small and remember, the best thing you can do is vote for the government that puts nature and our environment first.