Meet an Eco Parent - Meet Damaris

eco-friendly plastic free parent plastic-free plastic-free parenting


Meet Damaris Russell, from Somerset, SW England!

Follow Damaris on Instagram and Facebook - @rainbowvegansrock on FB and IG

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family
I have two children, an 8 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. We live in a tiny village in Somerset UK with our cat Serenity. I've always been quite eco aware because my Mum used to recycle many years ago, before we had curbside collections in the UK. I started to taking sustainability a lot more seriously when I had my son. When you have your first child something changes and suddenly you have this little person who relies on you to protect them from the world. 

What does a day in your life look like?
Hmm ok so my day starts with a workout at about 6am then it's getting ready for the day, breakfast and school run. Once I'm back I have a few hours to work on either my sustainable blog or my Virtual Assistant blog, sometimes I'm doing some client work too. Then it's lunch and after lunch I get my youngest from pre-school. I really appreciate having the undisturbed time to work now that she's in preschool. After that it's some admin tasks and playing with my little one and then getting eldest from school. It's a good mix of working and family time, which helps a lot as I'm a single parent.  

Would you describe yourself as an 'eco parent' or a 'green parent'?
I definitely would, I knew that I wanted to use cloth nappies even before I had my first child. It just seemed the option with the least amount of waste and costs the least amount of money long-term. Being eco friendly does come into every thing that I do for myself and my family, I'm always thinking about conscious purchases and buying secondhand as much as possible. 

What is your top eco hack for babies / kids / family?
I would probably say that cloth nappies would be the top recommendation, it's not as scary as you'd think and if you take care of them you can always sell them on after you're done with them too.
Getting outside when you can as well, as an introvert I do get quite used to being at home but sometimes just being out in nature with the family can just refresh you and them. It makes all of the difference. 

Do you have any advice for parents hoping to avoid plastics (and other materials with toxins) in baby / family products?
That can be a difficult one, the best way to deal with it is to tell your friends and family that you're avoiding these types of materials and products. When you have a baby, well meaning friends and family want to buy you so much stuff (they're excited, I get that) however you just end up inundated with things. If you specify some non toxic branded baby products or even just specify wooden toys only then you can get the message across that you'd prefer these type of things for your children.

Do you talk to other parents about your own sustainable choices?
Yes I do, most of my parent friends know that I make sustainable choices when I shop even if they don't always themselves. You never know when you're planting a seed for people. I don't talk about things in a judgemental way, I just state why I do certain things. 

What is the biggest challenge that you face as an 'eco' parent?
Now that my son is a bit older, the biggest challenge I face is when he particularly wants something and I have to explain that I can look for said thing but he has to be patient because I would need to find it secondhand or save up for it. Children aren't always patient when they decide they really want something. 😅
Another challenge I face on a weekly basis is wanting to make more sustainable choices and choose packaging free foods. However in order to keep my family healthy I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables, being on a very tight budget means that I can only really bulk buy certain things and can't go fully zero waste right now. Definitely a lot of eco guilt around this one, however I do the best I can for the moment. 

What are your favourite eco friendly baby / family products?
I love the open ended style Montessori toys for young children, like the Grimm's rainbow. They're quite expensive but they encourage creative play and you can always sell it on once your child has grown up. I also love using shampoo bars and tooth tabs for my children. My youngest only needs a smudge of toothpaste so I just make one tooth tab last a few days until she's old enough to understand not to swallow it. 

Do you have any advice for parents who want to raise an 'eco' baby / child?
Do the best you can but try not to feel guilty if there are some sustainable swaps you can't make. Get outside as much as you can, choose experience style gifts when you can. Even if you're on a budget, kids love going to the park and the beach which is usually free or doesn't cost, much depending on where you live. 
Once your children are a bit older, make sure you talk to them about environmental issues. Answer any questions they have honestly but age appropriate as you don't want to scare them. If you can, teach them how to grow their own food or herbs (if you don't have the space). 

What is the best thing about being a parent?
When they're asleep. Kidding..
It can be difficult when you're a parent and worried about what the future might be like for your children, but I always find it encouraging when my eldest shows that he's listened to what I've told him about the environmental issues and what we can do. 
As parents we are raising the next generation of potential eco warriors and hopefully we will be able to arm them with the skills to deal with whatever the future holds. 

Has being a parent changed you?
Yes definitely, when my son was born everything changed for me. I knew that I had to make more sustainable swaps in my day-to-day life and try and improve things for his future. That's also why I continue to use my platform to share beginner sustainable swaps and hopefully it will continue to inspire people to make some changes themselves. 

How do you pass along advice for sustainable living to your family / child(ren)? 
I've already talked about this a little but I encourage my children to ask questions and to continue learning themselves. My son's school do teach them about the issues around plastic products which is great. It's definitely easier to talk to older children about the environmental issues, when they're younger you can get children's books which are tactful and age appropriate. 

Anything else you'd like say?
Lastly I would just say do your best but take it a step at a time. Once you run out of something then switch to a more sustainable version. Don't try to do everything at once. 
If you can, also switch a few of your meals in the week to plant based meals. It will make such a big difference because meat and dairy products are the worst things to eat for the environment. In the UK we're really lucky that there are so many meat substitutes available now. See if you can find some sausages or something else that you like and incorporate it into your weekly meals.   


Follow Damaris on Instagram and Facebook - @rainbowvegansrock on FB and IG


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