Meet an Eco Parent!
This is the very first blog 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 Rachel for contributing her answering these questions!
Meet Rachel Stein and her family, from London / Essex, UK
Follow Rachel on Instagram - @raising.stein.beans and @hippynut and on Tiktok - eco.rach.and.jonah
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family:
I’m Rachel, married to Ric with our 3 beautiful children Lyla 7, Carmel 5 and Jonah 10 months. I’m a former primary school teacher now self employed with many many jobs - from teaching preschool phonics and maths play groups, to graphic design, hair braiding and now designing and selling cloth nappies with @hippynut.
We part time homeschool our girls (they’re home 2 days per week) and it’s the perfect balance. We are a practicing Jewish family, who try our hardest to love the earth that we’ve been gifted by staying as waste free as possible and giving back where we can
What does a day in your life look like?
Wake up at 7, I feed the baby whilst Ric gets the girls cleaned and dressed. I get myself ready (never leave the house without a fresh face and tidy hair). Ric works from home so I usually leave Jonah home for his nap when I take the girls to school - on homeschool days we just laze about until 10am.
I run my classes during Jonah’s nap time, and once Jonah is up from his nap we go to a baby group/ meet friends for lunch/ do an out of the house homeschooling activity.
On school days, once the girls are home we relax with some tv before dinner and bath, but on homeschool days we use out afternoons for crafting or socialising with other homeschooling families.
Bedtime for kids is 7pm and then Ric and I Netflix and chill most evenings.
Would you describe yourself as an ‘eco parent’ or a ‘green parent’?
I try my best to be. I don’t allow myself to stress too much about my eco choices, as some things are unavoidable (like school being a 10 min drive away, or takeaway containers usually being plastic). But where possible, I make as many eco friendly choices.
What is your top eco hack for babies / kids / family?
Cloth nappies, preloved clothing from ethical brands, growing as much produce at home as possible. I find getting bigger kids involved with eco/ waste free choices helps to encourage their love for eco life too.
Do you have any advice for parents hoping to avoid plastics (and other materials with toxins) in baby / family products?
Hire kits and incentives!! There are so many brands of plastic and waste free products offering trials and incentives on their store. It seems tough at first but once you’re in the swing of it, it’s second nature. And remember - this way of life is all your children will ever know, so they will naturally make these choices as parents.
Do you talk to other parents about your own sustainable choices?
All the time, often falling upon deaf ears and met with ‘you’re mad!’
But my main aim in life is to spread awareness about sustainability. I’m used to being called a hippy now, but I don’t mind - I just ended up dying my hair blue to match my new title! 😹
What is the biggest challenge that you face as an ‘eco’ parent?
Eco guilt! Only squeezy bottles of Mayo and ketchup sometimes available, all fruit and veg in plastic packaging and farm shop now open at times I can get there, or my favourite conditioner only available in a plastic bottle. It’s easy to beat yourself up over making these choices.
What are your favourite eco friendly baby / family products?
Cloth nappies, cloth wipes, reusable snack pouches, homemade skin care and bath products/ shampoo and soap bars.
Do you have any advice for parents who want to raise an ‘eco’ baby / child?
Make the choices consciously with your child. Let your older children choose which nappy print the baby will wear/ which ones to purchase. The beauty of reusable products is that there is style in them too. My girls adore picking which bees wax wrap they’ll wrap their lunch in, or which colour metal straw they’re using today. Let them be part of the decision making and they’ll actively feel involved and important, meaning they’ll enjoy the choice more!
What is the best thing about being a parent?
Just one thing??? When they learn something new, and you see their face just light up when they get it. From baby milestones all the way into adulthood (I suspect), it never gets old watching them succeed.
Has being a parent changed you?
Hugely, it’s helped me face my fears (I had a lot of phobias), helped me to connect on such a deep level with my husband, and healed family relationships where I began to understand choices made in my own childhood.
How do you pass along advice for sustainable living to your family / child(ren)?
With my parents, inlaws and siblings - I literally buy them Eco swaps every month. I say ‘I got you a gift’ and give them a wax wrap, unpaper towels, produce bags etc...
9 times out of 10 they love the samples I’ve given them and ask for more. When it appears as a gift, they absolutely lap it up, hahah.
Anything else you’d like say?
Waste free, sustainable living isn’t perfect, but it’s the change we need to make for our children. I’m learning every single day, but the most important thing is staying true to yourself. People ask me why I’m not vegetarian or even vegan with all my sustainable living and waste free beliefs - I’m not there yet, I may be one day but everything comes in time, and if you force yourself to do something you’re not ready for, you just won’t do it well.