Stephanie Bell speaks to Tuesday Goti, from Co Antrim, who made radical changes to her lifestyle after her daughter Ara was born
From reusing nappies to buying second-hand baby clothes and ditching plastic toys, green parenting is on the rise.
More and more modern mums and dads are taking steps to protect the planet for their children while also trying to raise little eco-warriors.
And thanks to a huge movement online towards green living, following in their footsteps is as easy as making a few simple everyday swaps.
You can even save money along the way!
Co Antrim mum Tuesday Goti is leading by example. She made radical lifestyle changes to reduce her carbon footprint when her daughter Ara was born 16 months ago.
Tuesday (35), who is studying counselling and psychology at Belfast Metropolitan College, is an animal rights activist and vegan.
She has always been interested in the environment but admits it is only since she became a parent that she decided to make some drastic lifestyle changes.
“Green parenting is something I am very passionate about and believe we all should be trying our best to follow,” she says.
“We only get one planet, and we need to tread very carefully as we need to leave it to our children and their children.
“I believe we should not live selfishly, or we will be leaving our children to face the consequences of our mistakes. “
Tuesday cuts no corners when it comes to her daily life and what steps she can take to stop global warming.
Since Ara was born, she has used only cloth nappies instead of disposable ones as well as reusable bamboo wipes instead of baby wipes.
With so many cloth nappies to wash every day she has swapped her usual chemical-laden washing powder for natural soap nuts.
Soap nuts, or Indian soap berries, have become increasingly popular in recent years because they contain a natural cleaning essence called saponin.
They are the fruits of a small tree called Sapindus Mukorossi, native of the Himalayas and the mountainous region between India and Nepal where they have been used for centuries as a natural detergent.
Tuesday says not only do they protect the environment, but they save her money and what’s more they work! Her clothes emerge spotless from her machine.
“You can buy a massive bag of soap nuts online or in a health shop for around £6,” says the Lisburn mum. “You put a few of them in a hemp bag that comes with them and then straight into the washing machine.
“You can reuse them a few times so that each wash costs around 1p. They do an amazing job as I have never had a problem with clothes not being clean,” Tuesday says.
“Using cloth nappies means my washing machine would be on every day and I know that is not very environmentally friendly, but I still feel it is better than the 500 years it takes for a nappy to decompose.”
Every year in the UK, an astonishing three billion nappies go to landfill. That’s eight million every day!
The environmental impact is huge, and at an average outlay of £700 per baby, so is the monetary cost of the nappies themselves.
The growing move to help rid the world of the burden of disposable nappies has led to the setting up of a “Nappy Library” where you can borrow cloth nappies for as little as £10 for a six-month supply.
There are a number throughout Northern Ireland which you can find on www.uknappynetwork.org.
Clothes too are a huge contributor to global warming. The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.
Tuesday opts to do her bit by buying all of her and her daughter’s clothes second hand.
Again, thanks to a growing online community of eco-conscious parents, there is a mum’s network of swap sites for baby clothes.
Tuesday says: “I don’t buy anything new for Ara to wear. When she was born, I bought one new outfit to bring her home from hospital but looking back I realise even that wasn’t necessary.
“I go to charity shops and mums’ websites where a lot of parents swap clothes. I would do up a bundle and post it to someone and I also swap between friends.”
The internet is flooded with ways to reduce your plastic usage, but this is one area where even Tuesday struggles.
As 90% of toys are made from plastic it can be challenging for parents.
Tuesday refuses to buy new plastic toys but she concedes that the few she does buy are second hand from a charity shop.
She believes there is too much pressure on parents to needlessly buy huge amounts of plastic for their children: “I don’t do plastic toys and I buy most of my toys from charity shops too.
“My house is full of books, paints, Play-Doh and toys; there is everything a child would need. Ara certainly doesn’t go without.
“Guilt is a big thing with parents and many feel guilty if they don’t buy their children the latest new shiny plastic toy, but children don’t need possessions to be happy. It is our time and love and our presence that is important and of course, a healthy planet!”
Food is a big aspect of Tuesday’s efforts to reduce her carbon footprint.
She has been a vegan for years because of animal welfare concerns but is now even more driven by environmental factors and has taken time to learn the facts which she found startling.
She explains: “I learnt that animal agriculture is destroying our planet.
“Animal agriculture uses nine times more water and seven times more food than humans consume worldwide.
“Meat and egg consumption represents the largest share of food supply emissions in all EU countries; 49-64% from dairy with 16-36% from dietary emissions.
“I cook everything from scratch, and I am growing my own vegetables.
“I batch cook everything in bulk and freeze it so that there is no food waste.
“I’m also conscious of the plastic packaging in supermarkets so I buy most of what I need at the farmer’s market where I can bring my own hemp bag.
“I don’t do takeaways because of the emissions caused by getting it here and also the packaging it comes in. If I do get one, it is a very rare treat. I prefer to do ‘fakeaways’. If I fancy a Chinese, I will make my own.
“If we go out for the day and I know we will eat from a chippy I will take my own forks so that I don’t use a plastic one and I will ask them not to put the food in a plastic bag.”
Fossil fuels is one of the biggest threats to the planet and as governments try to work out how we are all going to live without gas, oil and electricity, Tuesday is keeping her use to a minimum.
She says: “A study by Imperial College in 2019 found that looking at how we travel and reducing our use of fuels for heating came second and third after changing our diet in what we can do to protect our planet!
“I use draught blockers at my doors and wear a jumper rather than put the heating on. I only put the heat on to dry my baby’s nappies but it’s only on very sparingly to get those done.”
Tuesday has many other eco-friendly products dotted around her neat Lisburn home and notes she and Ara use only bamboo toothbrushes.
Her dedication to helping in the battle to save the planet has seen her become a popular speaker at local and national events including an International woman’s Day conference and Stormont.
She even devotes one day most weeks to picking up litter on the sands of Holywood beach.
She adds: “I think it is important that as parents we do our bit for a healthy planet and also instil it in our children so that they grow up to be environmentally conscious.”