Don't take my Coffee!

This blog is the first in our Green Parenting series, where we explore how many eco-friendly options are out there to help us reduce our waste. In this first episode, We'll look at some of the great alternative choices available for children’s nappies, oral care and hand soap.

I love coffee! Let me say it again - I LOVE coffee! Startup life is hectic and busy. I’m often dealing with things I know close to nothing about, or everything I might think I know is turned upside down and shaken all about. There is no real comfort zone, although I keep trying to create one, usually just before I’m thrown out into the wild again.

But there is always coffee! That familiar but oh so unique smell. A taste that is bitter and sweet at the same time... coffee! But there is one cup of coffee that is more special than any other. That first coffee in the morning, when everyone else is still asleep. Sitting on the sofa and drinking a warm cup of amazing coffee, made from quality light roast fair trade best-of-the-best coffee beans, with foamy, warm almond milk. This special moment I take with my coffee to read the news and simply enjoy that tranquility before another crazy day beckons.

But then, there it was - the most disturbing article - that pierced my bubble of pure bliss...

‘Climate crisis to hit Europe’s coffee and chocolate supplies’

What!? Why?! No! The climate crisis is finally hitting too close to home. I need to save my coffee! (and occasional chocolate, but if giving up chocolate means I can keep my coffee - I will take it!) Anyhow, it’s obvious that things need to change.

There are so many articles and studies about being more environmentally friendly, that even when trying your best, they make you feel slightly overwhelmed. Most people have no idea what steps to take.

Being a parent makes everything even more confusing. During a moment of personal confusion, I came across an interesting study entitled ‘The greatest impact individuals can have in fighting climate change is to have one fewer child’ (followed by selling your car, avoiding long flights and eating a vegetarian diet).

To my engineering brain this made no sense, and my mum brain (the same one that can’t even remember where I put the keys to the car I should be selling) was feeling very sad about this! Children in countries where education for girls is easily accessible, are not our biggest issue, they are our biggest hope!

What are the most eco-friendly nappies?

In England and Wales alone, we go through around three billion nappies a year. That figure is huge. Disheartening even. So, what are the best nappy options for eco conscious parents?

The excellent eco-friendly option: Reusable nappies are a great option if you want to reduce plastic going into landfill. Plus, they’re a far sight nicer and easier to use than the old terry towelling ones our parents had to suffer with! Steadily growing in popularity, natural nappies come in a variety of beautiful patterns and designs, and can be placed in a nappy bin before going in the wash. However, if you don’t have much time on your hands, reusable nappies can be a bit of a chore as you need to find both the time and space to wash them.

Popular reusable nappy brands include, Bambinomio, littlelambnappies and CharlieBanana.

The good alternative: If dealing with soiled nappies and adding extra loads to your already busy washing machine is not something you can bear, there are some good alternatives to the traditional single use nappies. I am particularly impressed with Beaming Baby nappies, who sell single use nappies that biodegrade within four years instead of the 400 that most standard nappies take. Mama Bamboo is another good alternative that sells sustainable bamboo nappies free from harsh chemicals and 100% biodegradable packaging.

What’s the most eco-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste?

Toothbrushes have barely changed at all from their original design in the 1930s, and unfortunately most of them are still made from plastic. Urgh. Non-renewable, non-biodegradable and with only a six-month shelf life—there has to be better eco option for us. Right!?

The excellent eco-friendly option: 100% compostable and biodegradable toothbrushes are now available to buy, and are ideal for growing milk teeth. You can also buy tablets as a plastic free alternative to toothpaste. The tablets are pretty small, just chew on one for a brief moment and start brushing. Kids love them!

Some examples of brands: wild and stone , JackandJill and denttabs.

The good alternative: The main constraint to using an eco-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste is time, most of the brands I’ve mentioned aren’t sold in supermarkets or the high street shops. However, if you don’t mind a little online shopping, you can find them on specialist websites such as The Eco Shop and PlanetWood. And if you do buy a bamboo toothbrush, once you’ve finished using it, simply snap the head off and pop the handle in the compost as the bristles usually aren’t compostable.

Some of the big oral care brands have eco-friendlier alternatives for their traditional toothpaste such as Colgate for good, but little effort has been done on the packaging. Unfortunately, I have not come across any big brands providing an alternative to the plastic toothbrush. Please ping me if you know of any who do!

What is the best hand soap?

Oh hand soap... who doesn’t need a good hand soap these days? With my kids washing their hands more than ever, an effective soap for sensitive skin while fighting off germs is a must.

The excellent eco-friendly option: Soap bars with no plastic packaging and containing no artificial chemicals are now easier to find in most supermarkets or online. My favourite brand is The Proper Soap which is handmade in the UK, it’s 100% antibacterial, vegan friendly, plastic free and each one smells heavenly!

The good alternative: Soap bars can be a bit difficult to transport when you are on the go. A good alternative is to use refillable liquid hand wash. Bio-D or Faith in Nature are both sold in refillable packages and are SLS and paraben free, which is ideal for sensitive little hands. But if you fancy using something a little different, take a look at this organic peppermint hand hygiene spray from Dr Bronners which won Best Organic skincare at the Green Beauty awards.

So, there you go - three easy eco-swaps! Now, please, help me save my coffee, so that I can keep on growing this company and continue to provide you with a more sustainable option of dressing your baby in clothes that are both beautiful and ethical to boot!

Hele / Co-founder

A true believer in the climate crisis and the power of coffee, Hele Väärsi is one of the founders of 9plus1, a baby clothes rental service which allows customers to rent eco-friendly, ethically manufactured, premium brand baby clothes.