On becoming more eco-friendly

Karen is mum to 18-month old Willow and lives with her husband, John, in Glasgow. Karen explains how having Willow made her thing about the future and the environment more and the changes they started to make. Karen can be found on Instagram as @mummyandwillow 

Karen Sharkey, John and Willow


Hello, my name is Karen. I’ve been married to John for three years and we have a little girl called Willow who is 18 months old. John and I are both teachers in the same ASN school (special needs school). Before Willow came along, John and I were less conscientious about environmental issues. We did, of course, recycle our household waste and John was keen to ensure all our lighting was swapped to LED. As soon as we got pregnant however, my mindset started to change.

For example, I was pretty insistent on buying things for Willow preloved. My mum kindly offered to buy us Willow’s pram. She was a little reluctant to get it secondhand, but after looking around we got a great Silver Cross one at our local Jack and Jill preloved market. A few months later, John and I also picked up a Mamas and Papas furniture and cot set preloved.

During my pregnancy, I spent time sourcing preloved clothes, but at this point I hadn’t heard of colourful, gender neutral and organic kids clothing brands such as Frugi, Maxomorra and Beeboobuzz. We also researched cloth nappies and even attended a workshop about them. With everything else that comes with being first time parents it was all a little overwhelming.

When Willow (arrived after a emergency c-section) we were in survival mode and finding our feet. After a few weeks we decided to make the change to reusable wipes and cloth nappies. The amount of waste from single use products in the early days was astonishing to us. We haven’t looked back since and began to change many more aspects of our buying habits and household routines.

It was then that I began to use Instagram and that’s when I learned more about organic kids clothing brands. I found myself more and more thinking about the environment and what the world would look like when Willow grew up.

My advice to anyone wishing to do more is to make small changes at first. Swap a single use product with a reusable one. Convenience comes at a cost. Although we wouldn’t swap many of our modern-day gadgets, there is something to be said for how previous generations did things.

Our changes to date include glass bottles of milk, reusable makeup wipes and soap bars.  We save our non-recyclable plastic for an eco bricks scheme run by our school and we continue to use cloth nappies and cloth wipes. Willow is now 18 months old and becoming really independent. She loves helping around the home and especially likes helping to sort our household recycling. A first step for her and hopefully like us, her interest in the environment will continue to grow as she does.

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