Motherhood: 8 Ways to reduce waste
I fell into Motherhood by chance and it has been the most intense and rewarding life experience ever. They say the hardest work is always the best work – unpaid on top of that. Having a child was never on the cards, not to mention the impact on the planet.
I’ve tried my best in 2020 – the year of the coronavirus to prepare for the birth of my child with as much as I could, mindful of my environment footprint and and my eco-anxiety on an all time high.
Of course the naysayers would say why did you have a child then? If we wanted to take the finger pointing hypocritical belligerent approach, we might as well all not wear clothes, shoes, have electricity or own any electronic device and exist for that matter. Every little small step counts and collectively it makes some difference, despite the thoughtless actions of large corporations in the name of profit.
I got lots of inspiration from Pinterest for minimalist nurseries. Less is more. And in a place like Hong Kong where apartments are tiny and real estate is gold, it definitely helped to keep things tidy. My flat still looks like a shipwreck as I haven’t had the heart to get rid of old furniture that sparks joy as we’ve worked and moved around a fair bit collectively as a couple and picked up many things along the way. (well mostly me, I still regret leaving my traditional wooden bathtub in Beijing – but it would never have fit anyway into a tiny Hong Kong flat).
- Reusable cloth diapers. Our parents and generations before were doing this for the longest time. My brothers and I were raised on cloth diapers too. I found new and secondhand Grovia, Charlie Banana, Alvababy diapers on the circular economy and have managed to cloth diaper in the day time (6-8 diapers) and a disposable diaper at night and when we are out (which is hardly thanks to Covid and social distancing). It’s also more economical in the long run as diaper costs add up. Baby G turns 5 months next week and we average 128 diapers every 2.5 months, which is about roughly 1.7 diapers a day.
- 90% of baby G’s clothes I bought were secondhand as I don’t have that many friends with handme downs with the age gap. Retykle has been a wonderful resource for everything from sleep sacs to clothes and the quality of everything is excellent. I know Green Ladies in Wanchai has Green Little that stocks lots of secondhand toddler and kids clothes, that’s definitely another option when he gets older.
- I am trying hard to reduce plastic in our lives and children’s toys are FULL of plastic. My mother in law kept her children’s toys so we have wooden vintage toys from my husband’s childhood and they are over 40 years old!
- 2020 has been a strange year of trickles of work thanks to Covid19. I made the best of the luxury of time to DIY and craft. From mobiles to the decor in the nursery (using leftover fabric to make buntings), recycling paper to print graphic symbols.
5. Apart from the car seat, stroller and Ikea crib that we bought new, everything else we have is secondhand. I kept my pregnancy low key and mostly secret as I was anxious how it’d all turn out, so I didn’t have the fortune of inheriting too many handmedowns from friends. I’m sure we would have had plenty more handmedowns if we were in Singapore or France.
6. Making clothes – like how my late grandmother did in the old days. She was widowed during the war and became a seamstress to support her 8 children. Her frugal and ingenious nature made sure no fabric went to waste. She used to cut small triangles and sew them all together to make blankets – I saw a similar art piece at Art Basel a couple of years ago selling for several hundred thousand dollars. Every Chinese New Year, she made us all new pjyamas, so we didn’t have to waste money buying new ones. This was all pre- fast fashion era of course.
7. I gladly accepted my friend’s bag of maternity clothes as I didn’t plan to invest in outfits that I would only wear for this specific period while growing a human. Fortunately, she has excellent taste and I couldn’t be more grateful for all these “new” old things to wear. Everyone’s pregnancy experience is different and some really relish this “magical” moment to splurge, but I’ve always hated shopping and have eco anxiety about adding to the landfill, so this was absolutely perfect that she found the bag while packing her relocation boxes, given her twins are already 5 this year!
8. Whittle down the baby’s essentials list, based on several friends’ lists and their notes and comments on the list, I skipped a good many items on the list.circular economy, cloth diapers, eco, motherhood, secondhand, sustainable