How easy is it being a green mum?

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LET'S face it: children are cute - but they take an awful lot of work.

LET'S face it: children are cute - but they take an awful lot of work.What with nappies, bottles, nursery, school, homework and playtime, is it possible do the busy and exhausting job of a parent while also thinking of the environment? Hannah Gray spoke to three "green mums" to find out.

Read our Tips on being a green mum

Nicola and Scarlet Reed

"My husband and I think that we should look after the place that's looking after us. I want my daughter to have somewhere nice to live and grow up in, I don't want her to be in some hell hole with no countryside and no air to breathe."

That is the philosophy of Nicola Reed, a part-time remedial and sports massage therapist, and mum to Scarlet (2).

Nicola (40) and husband Kieran (40), who live near the city centre, are trying their best to be good, green parents.

They used washable nappies on Scarlet, as they believe that putting disposable ones in landfill is not good for the environment.

"We don't want this world to be a massive rubbish tip. and that how it's going to be, I think," Nicola said.

The family also recycle as much as possible, and try to only buy things which come in recyclable packaging.

Scarlet's clothes are hand-me-downs or from charity shops and her toys are second hand, for example from Freecycle or eBay.

"There's so much good stuff out there that's had no use," Nicola said.

Some parents may not like the idea of buying second-hand toys for their children, but Nicola insists that you can make them nearly as good as new. We met just before Scarlet's birthday and even her present wasn't brand new.

"You can clean them up and spruce them up," Nicola said.

"For Scarlet's second birthday she's getting a second-hand sit-on rocket.

"It's a bit battered, but she's not going to care.

"I'm trying to bring her up to understand about the world and what we're doing to it, and that it is a waste to throw things away. If you don't need to buy something new, why should you?"

Nicola gets an organic vegetable box delivered each week, and cooks from scratch every day.

She tries to buy as much organic food as possible, although she admits this isn't always easy.

"It's getting harder and harder because everything is getting so expensive," she said.

She tries to buy eco-friendly cleaners and liquids for around the house, and also makes her own bread.

"It's just better for you, you know what's in it. You're not getting any rubbish," she said.

Both parents are vegetarian and Scarlet is also being brought up on a meat-free diet, but she will have a choice when she is older.

Nicola watches her daughter's diet carefully and gives her hemp oil to replace some of the nutrients she would get from meat or fish.

Nicola believes all this is paying off.

"She's healthy, she's rarely ill, she's a nice size, she hasn't got an ounce of fat on her. She's healthy and happy and she loves her food," she said.April and Isabella Sotomayor

April Sotomayor, who lives near Oundle, agrees that it can be difficult not to become a rabid consumer when you have a child.

"It's hard when you have a baby, because you feel very compelled to buy lots of things which you many not need," she said.

With such consumption comes waste, so April (27) and husband Pedro (32) are determined to limit what they buy.

They use real nappies and line-dry them, buy organic food and April even makes her own reusable baby wipes using cloths which she then soaks in a solution containing lavender oil.

When April's daughter, Isabella, who is now five months old, goes on to solid food, she will eat home-made organic food rather than anything pre prepared.

So why does April think it is so important to live in this way?

"I think in terms of parenting, your child is going to see what you're doing and especially with all the on-going carbon crisis we need to lessen our carbon footprint. If we want to make a better world for our kids, they need to see it's easy to do it and I think if they're raised doing it, they will do it themselves," she said.

Obviously at the moment Isabella is very young and her parents are doing most of the green work. But what kind of thing will they be trying to teach her as she gets older?

"Just to show her how to reduce her wastage of things, to turn off the tap when she's cleaning her teeth, not taking super long showers or baths, to recycle, to walk or cycle instead of driving," April said.

Jill and Euan Foster

FROM the nappies he wears to the food he eats, little Euan Foster (2) is a green baby through and through.

And so he should be – his mum Jill is Peterborough Environment City Trust's sustainable development education officer, in charge of helping schools across the city to look after our planet.

Before that she had worked for the city council as an environmental education officer, so she knows a thing or two about being green.

She also knows a few sobering facts about nappies – for example, if Henry VIII had worn disposable nappies, they still would not have started to decompose, nearly five centuries after he died.

Although Euan did eventually end up completely in real nappies, to start off with his parents used a combination of these and disposables.

Jill said: "When we first had Euan, we didn't start using real nappies entirely, and we saw the disposable ones building up. He went through seven or eight nappies a day, and your bin fills up and it's not something you can continue long-term."When Jill (34) and husband Steve (41) first started looking into real nappies, they were able to get a trial bucket from the Real Nappy Network, which had seven or eight types, so you could try them and see which worked best for you and your baby.

The organisation has regrettably had to stop this, as the funding was withdrawn.

Now Jill's advice for mums looking into real nappies is to ask other parents what they've tried and liked, as they may also be able to lend you some so you can try before you buy.

Little Euan now has his botty clad in a bamboo nappy which feels like towling.

This has a removable pad in and a fleece liner over the top, all of which gets washed.

It has cost his parents about 300 to buy the nappy kits, as he has had to have a second type with poppers when he learned how to under the velcro on his first type.

But these nappies will see him through to when he is potty trained and can then be put away ready for any siblings he may have to use, and his parents are convinced they are a saving overall on disposables.

The nappies do not need soaking before they are washed, and it only takes two loads a week to clean what the youngster gets through.

Washing them only requires half the detergent that other loads do, and you don't need to use conditioner.

Jill is convinced there are other benefits as well.

"When he's had his real nappies on, he definitely doesn't get nappy rash, but when he's in disposables at nursery, he comes home with a bit of a red bum and he's not as happy," she said.

Jill and Steve's dedication to the environment does not stop with nappies.

"We buy most of his clothes at second-hand sales because children grow out of clothes so quickly," she said. "We are National Childbirth Trust nearly new sale aficionados. Apart from shoes and things he's been given as gifts, everything is second-hand."

The couple also use second-hand sales to buy books and toys, which both helps the wallet and cuts down on packaging.

Euan is also treated to fresh, home-cooked meals rather than jars or pre-packed food. Jill cooks in batches and freezes portions so on the days when she is busy or working, he can still have something nutritious to eat.

The only time Jill has tried to feed him a jar of baby food, he ended up spitting it all over her face.

Jill and Steve are also determined to make Euan's activities as environmentally friendly as possible.He doesn't spend much time watching TV, and is instead encouraged to be outdoors.

The family are growing pumpkins, sunflowers and tomatoes, and that latter are Euan's pride and joy, and on the receiving end of lots of hugs and kisses.

Jill said: "We want him to know where his food comes from and to be happy rummaging around in the mud in the garden."

This fondness for gardening is also a covert way of helping to improve his already nutritious diet.

"He's not that keen on tomatoes, but I'm hoping the fact that he's grown them will help him decide he does like them," Jill said.

Not that Jill need have any real worries about what he's eating, as he already has a far more healthy diet than many boys his age.

"If you put a plate of food in front of Euan, he would eat the vegetables first and then think about possibly eating the rest. I think if he had his way he would live on a diet of bananas and melons, because they're his favourite," she said.

There's no doubt that warming a jar of food is more convenient than cooking it yourself from scratch, and a chucking away a disposable nappy is much easier than washing a real one, but Jill believes that organisation is the key to being green.

She said: "I think that is the thing, it is planning, remembering to put the nappies in the wash and making time to do batch cooking, remembering to water the veg, but when you're a mother you have to plan anyway."

Read our Tips on being a green mum