I’ve come up with the idea of this interview series because I realised how people feel so overwhelmed about all the bad news we are flooded with by media outlets. On one hand, the truth is, if we carry on like this, the future will be grim. On the other hand, we also need to read positive and uplifting stories, like this one on going green with kids and families trying to live more environmentally friendly. By doing so we can see how lots of lots of good people with green hearts are trying to save the planet, and they are succeeding!
However we all have to be part of the change, as I’ve read it lately and totally agree with this statement form the Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Introducing Sarah Stockley from Kippers and Curtains
What or who inspired you to make changes towards a greener lifestyle?
I think I have always been aware of the impact we are having on the environment. Since having my first baby in 2006 – we took a lot of hand-me-down clothes, books and toys off of family and friends and also bought a lot of second hand things like high chairs and baby walkers. I would always rather re-use items that are still in good condition. I do think though, that so many more Mums are now going down the eco-friendly route which is great, cloth nappies weren’t really trendy when I had my babies, I didn’t really even consider them but if I had my time again I totally would try them out.
Do you have any favourite site or person you follow for inspiration?
I get inspiration from so many people on social media, I follow our local zero waste shop called Pedricks Zero Waste, Abigail does a lot of Instagram stories and hosts eco-brick workshops and introduces lots of local brands. I am so lucky that the shop is a 10 minute walk from home. She sells loose foods, fruit, vegetables, cleaning products and locally made produce.
What aspects of being an environmentally friendly family did you tackle so far?
I have been upcycling things for years now. The majority of our furniture has previously been dumped and we have bought it indoors and given it a new lease of life – none of it is new bar a few Ikea units. I have been trying for a long time to reduce our plastic use, we recycle everything that we can, I would rather buy loose fruit and veg – when I can get to the market as it is far cheaper there. I don’t drive so I literally walk everywhere, my kids are used to having to walk so they rarely complain.
What are the changes that you implemented so far?
It is still a gradual process. When I can I go to the Zero Waste shop and fill up my jars rather than buying things in plastic packaging. We have reusable shopping bags that I have to try and remember to take out with me! I use left-overs to make other meals, and any waste gets composted. I shop second-hand for the majority of our clothes, I do love charity shops and eBay. I also mend things, today I have sewed up a rip in one of our throws and a hole in our beanbag.
Did you find it hard to make these changes?
Not really. As I say it is a gradual process. I just have to remind everybody to think before they go to throw things away. Can it be recycled or re-used? I have been using old t-shirts as cleaning rags and saving food that may have been scraped into the bin to use for lunch the next day.
What was the hardest thing to give up or change?
I don’t feel that we have really given much up to be honest. I would say just not consuming so much unnecessary food, I used to shop daily and just pick up stuff that I fancied (we didn’t actually need it). Cans of drink, chocolate, crisps….. things that I am probably better off only having in moderation anyway.
And what was the easiest thing to give up or change?
The endless supply of plastic bags. I used to have bags full of bags! I now have around five reusable bags, I keep one or two folded up in my handbag so if I do need to pick up things when I am out I don’t need to buy another bag.
Do you feel the changes you achieved so far are encouraging you to do even more?
I am definitely thinking more before I buy things. I am actually planning out meals in my head and buying what we need to make them and choosing market produce when I can. I used to go into a supermarket with no idea what I wanted to buy and just walk around putting stuff in my basket then realising I already had it in the cupboard.
How do you get the children involved?
They help with the recycling, they also enjoy coming to the Zero Waste shop and weighing things out. We have taught our kids how to forage for wild food since they were little. Recently we’ve made dandelion fritters and used nettles and goose grass as well as our favourite wild garlic. It is good for them to see that not everything comes in a plastic package. Last summer we also helped out on an allotment and the kids really enjoyed it.
Did you manage to save some money too? Or is this lifestyle change actually proving to be more costly?
Some of it is more costly for sure. The bamboo plasters cost more than I had imagined to pay. But then shopping at the market works out much cheaper. We save a fortune on clothes and furniture as most of it is second-hand. So I would imagine we even out any extra costs.
How did your family respond to the changes?
They have always been pretty good and are willing to try new things. I am looking to get my daughters some more eco-friendly products like the deodorants and period pants soon. My husband even prefers the bars of soap and shampoo bars.
Do you have any trips or trick which really helped you?
Just looking at the amount we were throwing away! Especially food waste, it really makes you think how much money is going in the bin. In our flats we have 5 large recycling bins and one communal food waste bin. I literally now only throw out egg shells, peelings and tea bags any food that can be added to something else now does.