We love Rachael’s story! Her brave decision to lead a sustainable life and fighting the war on plastic is so motivational! We have called her the green grandma, a powerhouse of eco living. A vegetarian, green fingered, allotment keeping, hard working, mum. We cant get enough of her helpful tips and small changes that make a big difference.
Over to Rachael!
I wasn’t always the green grandma! I was a teenage mum having my eldest daughter when I was just 17. Initially shocked and a little scared, I was very lucky to have a supportive partner (now my husband), a wonderful mum and family. So, with their support, we gathered everything I would need not only for the baby, but for a home.
When I was seven months pregnant my partner and I rented our first flat together. Our families helped us get on our feet, with donations of furniture and household goods. Being so young took away any fear. I was not fearful of anything; just had this overwhelming feeling of nesting, creating a home for us.
‘I was there to learn and prepare they were not going to put me off!’
My mother in law was training to be a midwife at the time, she gave me lots of literature on pregnancy and birth (it was before the internet), this really helped me through the pregnancy to eat well and look after myself. I went to antenatal classes, I was the youngest by about 10 years, the other women did not speak to me and I did feel judged, but I have always had inner strength, I was there to learn and prepare they were not going to put me off!
Being young, fit and healthy, I sailed through the pregnancy and birth without any problems. My first hurdle came with breast feeding. I had read all of the literature ‘Breast is best’, and I was successful for a couple of days, but my milk never came in. I had support from my midwife, mum and mother in law, I just couldn’t do it. With bruised nipples and no milk, I gave my daughter a bottle. I cried every time I feed her for two weeks, I felt such a failure. Then something clicked in my head, I looked at my happy, and content baby and thought its OK ‘she is thriving!’ I came to my own conclusion ‘Breast is best, as long as you can do it.’ If not, babies thrive on powdered milk too.
‘praising good attitude, kindness, caring,’
My first realisation that parenting doesn’t really follow any book, and if your children are thriving you must be doing something right! I went on to have my son, and then my youngest daughter. The best guidance I can offer parents, is choose your battles, always be fair and consistent. My main parenting style is using ‘positive reinforcement’, praising good attitude, kindness, caring, achievements etc. I went to college after I had my eldest daughter, and studied early years child development; it definitely helped me on my parenting journey. I now have three beautiful children aged 27, 22 and 15.
As my children have grown , and my grandchildren have arrived, I have developed a passion for the environment, it must be my maternal instinct for caring. I really do care about climate change, about the carbon footprints and negative impact we are having on our earth, with every single action we are taking. So I have spent the last year working out ways the average family can reduce their footprints, looking a food, packaging, consumerism, and lifestyle choices. Making small significant changes that can really make a difference. This was the start of becoming the green grandma !
‘Making small significant changes that can really make a difference’
Many things happen in life that make you question how you live. Emotionally we had had a really tough five years. We had also overspent on a replacement kitchen (it wasn’t whimsical it needed replacing). This led us to discovering a leak in the bathroom, which we then replaced too. Then, two of our children needed help one in renting a flat and the other needed a car, so we helped. This all happened in the space of a few months, anyone with an open plan mortgage will know it is very easy is to add to the debt!
So it all got me thinking, and I sort of had an awakening of had we spent our whole lives in a ‘work to buy’ things lifestyle. So I started to think about what we actually needed, compared to what we actually brought. I realised we actually need very little! We have always recycled, and given to charity, and tried to live a little mindfully. Now I wanted to live better. I want to live the next part of my life, making a much smaller carbon footprint. I wanted to live consciously.
Check out the green Grandma’s easy changes
- Loose fruit and vegetables – I tried the supermarkets (sometimes more expensive), so I scouted the internet for a nearby farm shop. I found two, beautiful places to shop but they too were more expensive. Finally I found a nearby international supermarket, beautiful affordable plastic free fruit and veg!
- All family members committed to reusable water bottles. I didn’t have to buy any bottles, we already had them. Use what you have! We drink the tap water so no waste there, I did purchase a reusable bamboo coffee cup, for coffee refills.
- Cloth bags, we had loads just got into a habit of taking one out with us.
- Composting, for vegetable/fruit peelings, brown paper, toilet roll tubes, egg boxes, grass cuttings, leaves, teabags/leaves. This has definitely reduced our landfill rubbish. I also learnt about complete eating where you eat stalks, keep skins on fruit and veg, it reduces waste even more.
- Food waste- don’t buy too much! Eat what you have.
- We got a milkman, refillable glass milk and juice bottles.
- Looking at packaging don’t be brand loyal, we look for plastic free options. Find a refill shop, I have manage to find a place to buy unpackaged nuts, pasta, cous cous and washing up liquid.
- Foraging – blackberries are everywhere in the UK in August.
- Growing my own. I even grew my own bamboo canes.
- We swapped out liquid soap/shampoo/shower gel for hard soap bars. Changed to bamboo toothbrushes.
- Cleaning swapped to ocean saver pods, little pods that are popped into your own pre-used spray bottle. Eco soapnuts and homemade softener for laundry.
- We save jars/tubs/paper/gift bags for (save everything useful) for reuse!
If you would like to make a difference you can follow Rachael on Instagram Be more like the green grandma!
How do you find parenting ? Do you worry about climate change? Have you changed your habits for the good of the planet? Maybe you have experience with having grandchildren? We would love to hear from you. Contact us with your story.