We caught up with Alex Stedman to discuss all things sustainable parenting: from reusable nappies to the changing bag essentials she can't live without!
"Hi I'm Alex, I am a lifestyle editor and have worked in the fashion and lifestyle industry for over 15 years, having started my career in magazines and print journalism. I set up my lifestyle website The Frugality in 2012 and now focus on that and my social media channels full-time with my husband. We live in North London with our two children and have been renovating our family home for over 4 years now!"
Is being sustainable important to you as a parent? What green lifestyle habits or changes do you feel most strongly about?
Yes definitely, I think the main ‘big’ thing I am interested in is waste. Apart from the obvious local recycling schemes, I am also big on household waste like food (we meal plan, batch cook and use up everything before doing our next shop), clothing and bric-a-brac (I am a carboot sale fanatic) and love reusing and repurposing items for the home.
I think weaning is such a great time to use up excess food - I made so many purees to serve last time or I’d just stir them into pasta sauces, a good way to use up everything you have.
Reusable nappies, obviously are a great way to introduce sustainability into your home - just try one pair for an hour or so before bed to start if it feels daunting.
I try not to buy pre packaged food as so many are hard to recycle in your home (especially pouches - there are often minimum weights or you have to sign up to a scheme and drop it off), I would always make my own little meals to take out with me in reusable tubs/pouches.
Have you been using reusable nappies with your children for long or are you new to this?
I’ve been using reusables with Cato for a couple of months now, but we used them with my daughter for 1.5 years and found it to be a really positive experience. It feels great re-using them as the cost then automatically lowers, too.
We know the switch from disposable to reusable can be a little daunting to some parents. Do you have any tips to make the transition less scary?
If it scares you, just try it once a week for a few hours! Just treat it like an item of clothing. I found being at home this last year helped a lot, as you face your fear in case of leaks etc and when there aren’t any, you can then build up your confidence to start leaving the house with them!
Everyone does it differently, but what is your reusable nappy washing routine? Any advice you’ve received that’s worked particularly well?
We always seem to have a wash on, so it felt very easy for us to just empty the nappy bin every time! We have just started using fleece liners and these are very easy for cleaning - everything just comes off very easily! Previously we were using biodegradable liners. My main tip is to fold back the velcro fastening so they don’t catch on your muslins - I watched a video online on how to put them in the washing machine and dry the easiest - it was a real gamechanger!
What are your changing bag essentials for when you’re out and about? Why do you choose these brands and what do you love about them?
We used to travel with so much in our changing bag but have really got it down to an art this time! I don’t have a ‘changing bag’, just a big tote where I carry bits in zipped pouches. For changes, I carry a change mat from Rae Curated Baby, Weleda nappy cream, reusable nappies (at least 2-3 depending on where we’re heading which lately hasn’t been anywhere far!), a wet bag to carry used nappies home, cheeky wipes and a small zip bag to carry them. We also always use a muslin to dry his bottom between changes (and also to absorb a wee in case one happens mid change!). We might have a rattle or muslin for Cato (I love the Sebra rattles or the Etta Loves muslins) but generally his older sister holds his attention a lot more which is lovely.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have made you think about sustainability, purchasing habits, fashion etc differently?
I read Lauren Bravo’s book ‘How to Break Up with Fast Fashion’ and follow a lot of great influencers on social media - Emma Slade Edmondson and Hannah Rochell are both great women to follow. I have been using Anna Jones’s ‘One’ cook book too which has been giving me loads of great recipe inspiration to avoid food waste.
Have you made any big changes to your lifestyle in the last couple of years?
I have really cut down on clothes for myself, I didn’t buy any maternity clothes this pregnancy and just survived on old things, clothes borrowed from friends and looser silhouettes already in my wardrobe. I try to buy from smaller brands that are doing their bit in regards to sustainability and we travel abroad far less - I used to travel all around the world for work (I’m talking an 11 hour flight to LA to shoot a cover for 24 hours and then home) and since having children I chose not to, both for personal and environmental reasons. I love travelling but try and think more about our carbon footprint.
How do you teach your little ones of the importance of protecting the planet?
I honestly think it is starting to become second nature for them, Peggy learns about recycling and caring for the planet at nursery, we read books about nature at home and I try to refrain from too many plastic toys and always upcycle things in the home. It starts with us and I hope I am doing my bit to educate our children.
Read more about Alex's reusable nappy journey in our Reusable Nappy Week blog, just click below!