Hi, I’m Carmen!
I’m a mum-to-be and I live with my partner Jordie and our dog George in beautiful, tropical north Queensland. I was a primary school teacher with all my heart for years and years until I got pregnant and started thinking differently about a lot of things. Now I rather educate people about topics that are really important in life instead of trying to interest 12 year-olds in subjects they will probably never ever need again after their next test.
Not too long ago I decided that the way I was living (although already more environmentally friendly than the average person’s lifestyle) could still be improved.
I started reading books and blogs about zero waste and realised that it felt right. Living zero waste automatically means no more plastic, which is not only good for the environment but also for our bodies. Since then I got rid of a lot of things in the kitchen and replaced them with glass: containers, bottles, storage jars. The sponge I’m using now is made of compostable coconut and I completely ditched paper towels or disposable cloths and use washable cloths instead.
In the bathroom I switched to a compostable bamboo toothbrush and started making my own toothpaste and deodorant.
I’m lucky to have an amazing no-packaging/bulk-foods shop in town where I buy all my non-perishables like flours, beans, spices, tea, nuts, dried fruits and even chocolate but also washing powder, soap and shampoo.
I make lots of things from scratch which is a bit more time consuming than buying stuff in the supermarket but for me this isn’t a sacrifice but my hobby. Other people relax in front of the TV or like playing soccer, I enjoy creating healthy meals and experimenting with alternative household products. But even if you burn every second dish you are attempting to cook and don’t have time to make your own toothpaste, zero waste is not about giving up anything, it is about finding alternatives. If you love take out because you are too busy to cook, just get take out – but bring your own container. If you don’t want the hassle of using washable hankies, buy recycled tissues and throw them in the compost instead of the landfill.
Veganism has been playing a big part in my life since I went vegan more than ten years ago. Initially, I went vegan for the animals. I had already been vegetarian since I was 12 but realised that I’m still inflicting pain, suffering and death upon all the cows and chickens whose milk and eggs I stole.
Another big turning point occurred when I found out that I’m pregnant. Suddenly I wanted to be (even) healthier (than I was before). These days I’m trying to avoid gluten and industrial sugar and to eat raw as often as possible. When I go shopping, I only buy organic. This kind of diet feels easy for me as long as I am at home or at least have a well equipped kitchen that I can use. I realised though, that it is almost impossible to maintain these high standards when I go out for food or when I’m travelling. So I’m trying to eat healthy at home but enjoy whatever I can get out in the “real world”. As long as it is vegan of course!
Apart from the ethical and the health aspect, veganism is also the way to go if you want to live really sustainably. A huge amount of global greenhouse gasses is due to animal farming. It is also very unsustainable to grow crops to feed them to animals that we then eat. With the same amount of crops we could feed many many more people. Lastly, meat production also uses up so much more water than producing the same amount of grains.
Natural pregnancy and birth
The way we perceive the world and lead our lives starts way before we get born. It actually starts as early as conception, maybe even before that. Therefore it is extremely important for the baby which choices we make during pregnancy and how our babies comes into this world. Imagine the two extremes: one baby is not wanted, his mum doesn’t talk to him during her pregnancy, she is probably also constantly worried or doesn’t feel very well. She gives birth in a hospital, an anonymous place full of bright lights, weird smells and unknown noises. Maybe the doctor tells the mum what to do and she even gets some drugs that also transfer onto the baby.
Another mum is thrilled when she finds out that she is finally pregnant with the baby she has so long wished for. She looks after herself by listening to her body, eating healthily and enjoying her pregnancy. This baby comes into this world at home, surrounded by familiar smells and noises and people he already knows: his parents, the midwife who has accompanied his mum during the last months and maybe even a doula. This mum is relaxed because she knows exactly what is happening in her body and she has been working towards this day for the last 9 months, maybe even longer, knowing exactly what she wants and what not.
Which baby would you rather be?
I think is is important to take responsibility for our own bodies and not pass this responsibility on to our doctors. Therefore it is essential that we don’t just do “what everyone does” but get as much information as possible about all the different possibilities we have during pregnancy and birth. Did you know that you don’t have to see your GP every couple of weeks? Did you know that nobody can make you have an ultrasound scan? Did you know that there are no mandatory vaccinations? There might be good reasons to see your GP regularly or do certain tests or scans, but you should always know why you are doing what you are doing – and what the positive and negative outcomes are.
The term attachment parenting (AP) was coined by Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha and is an approach to raising children according to their needs instead of a strict set of rules.
Breastfeeding, babywearing (in a sling instead of putting the child in a pram) and bedsharing are just a few aspects of AP the way Dr. Bill has introduced it. I also want to add elimination communication (no nappies) and baby-led weaning (letting the baby feed herself instead of spoon-feeding purees) to this list.
Some people might respond now that it is easy for me to say “I want to raise my child this way or that way” and that it might turn out to be way more complicated once our little girl is actually here. The most important thing however, is to think about all these things and make an informed decision about what I think is a good way to raise a child. Even if I realise that, once my baby is born, everything turns out to be totally different to what I am expecting now, at least I know my options and don’t just do things because everyone does it a certain way.