Artigianato,  Circular economy,  Climate change,  Uncategorized

Anne-Laure: How to be (im)perfectly green mothers with a dress ECOde

You can be (im)perfectly green mothers with a dress ECOde, as Anne-Laure tells us. This time we’re on home ground: after Anne-Laure, who is part of Dress ECOde, announced the arrival of a little creature to me, I kept repeating: “Why don’t you tell what you’re doing now that you’re a mother?”. Because the commitment must be shared, it can be useful for other mothers or mothers-to-be who try to be greener.
Thus this interview was born. We also interviewed Elisa in the past about how to be mothers committed to sustainability. Now it’s our Anne’s (and her baby’s) turn. It’s also a way to celebrate Sasha’s arrival: welcome baby!

Anne-Laure collaborates with Dress ECOde (find out more about her here), and has opened a podcast on the imperfection that is hidden in each of us when it comes to sustainability, The (Im)Perfect Green Girl.
Hi Anne, I couldn’t wait to do this interview to tell you how a (im)perfect green mom wearing a Dress ECOde is living this moment of life! Thank you because in the end you accepted, I know this is a delicate moment, full of new things, lots to do, little time available.

“Hi Arianna, thank you for the opportunity to tell what I’m experiencing in this beautiful adventure of both pregnancy and postpartum.”

Anne, can you tell us how you tried to be careful about environmental impact while preparing to become a mother?

“During my pregnancy, I tried to do the thing I had somewhat trained myself to do for the previous 2 years: limit purchases. I didn’t buy anything for the baby, except the 5 changes requested by the hospital, which I got second hand.
As for me, I continued to follow a vegetarian diet. The only animal derivative that I ate a couple of times a month, if it happened, was cheese. I’ve also had the great fortune and privilege of being able to work from home, so I’ve severely limited my use of the car for commuting.
Finally, as regards maternity clothing, I only bought 4 new items (1 jeans, 2 leggings and a shirt). I had to get them new for a very simple reason, unfortunately I couldn’t get them second hand: when you’re pregnant, you don’t know what size you are. And if you don’t try, you risk buying things that don’t fit you… I chose things that I can still wear today, after pregnancy!
I took the other things from my closet. I believe that most of us have too big clothes in our closet… Here I have exhumed them with pleasure! Shirts, T-shirts, cotton trousers… Perhaps the luck of the summer season has also helped.”

I like the choice of using items that one already has in one’s closet, things that you’ve found that look great on you. You did very well. The first piece of advice we always give is not to buy new things, but to use what we still have in our wardrobe and which we don’t wear. It seems to me an excellent idea, in addition to the commitment that you have tried to carry forward in various aspects. About the first clothes, where did you decide to get them, what was your choice for the first things to dress  little Sasha?

“As I said, the first dresses were the ones requested by the hospital (they asked for 5 bodysuits and 5 pajamas) and I got them all on Vinted, strictly in neutral colors, and with the “new with label” option. I also got some muslins, again on Vinted. Those are my favorite pieces, because we still use them all the time today and Sasha can’t move without a muslin in her hands!
I also received lots of second-hand gifts from friends and my sister: sheets, blankets, onesies… and even soft toys… Tons of soft toys!”

Soft toys are a classic of gifts for children. Who knows how many have arrived and how many more will come! Anne, do you have shops to recommend for purchases?

“Unfortunately I have no shops to recommend. Or rather, we all know the few retailers specializing in items for mothers-to-be, new mothers, babies and children… But they are a bit like the fast fashion chains we know. Almost everything is made in China. I tried to look for shops, even online, for ethical items, but there are really very few of them and above all, let me say it here, they really cost an exaggeration.
I am thinking of maternity or nursing clothing. You find little and what you find of good quality you pay very dearly. I’m thinking of the famous hospital nightdresses… I’ve seen them even for 75-80 euros… Now, you understand that I can’t pay 80 euros for a nightgown that I’ll probably wear a couple of times, and I’ll never wear more in life, if not for a possible second child of course! It doesn’t work like this: a garment can’t cost that much. Same reasoning for the clothes of the little ones. A 0-1 month dress really lasts 1 month. And if it suits you, you can put it on a dozen times at most… And in fact, in my opinion, this is a big problem. There is no middle ground. Or rather, yes there is: the second hand.
Out of curiosity, take a look at Vinted in the children’s categories: there are so many new things with tags… Too many indeed.”

I believe it Anne… also in the other categories, for adults, in accessories, there are so many garments, so many new objects that I can’t hardly believe it is the same for children. Probably  in this category the fact that many gifts are received has more influence.

“Here I send a message to those who read and will listen: do not buy things or clothes for a new mother. She will be so overwhelmed that she probably won’t even have time to wash and put on the 39 bodines, socks, and various ties that she will receive as a gift.
Rather give her time. House cleaning, a pan of lasagna and things to freeze, take out the garbage, offer a hairdresser service or a beautician at home,… No bodysuits, no soft toys, no dresses… I ask you with all my heart the heart.”

It’s funny to ask for time to take out the garbage or for other things, but actually Anne I find it a beautiful message. True in all circumstances. Whenever we give a gift we should always think about what the other person would like to receive. Even more so if you are attentive to sustainability, because you risk turning what you give away into waste. We had dedicate an article on the subject for Christmas. I very much agree with you on sending this message. I actually find it precious to meet a difficulty that a mother may have, which is precisely that of lack of time, immersed in a new moment of life so different from before and with little space for herself. Thank you. When looking for clothing for your little girl, is there anything you’ve done that you’re having a hard time finding?

“Yes, a cap. I had a hard time finding a winter cap. I searched on Vinted earlier and didn’t find what I was looking for. Then, I went to the haberdashery in my town but they didn’t have them, their supplier no longer sold the made in Italy ones… I ordered a cap on the ethical fashion website, but after two weeks they called me to tell me they had run out. So, I had to settle for a well-known brand of children’s clothing, with standard materials… It was cold outside and she couldn’t go out without a hat! I got it a little bigger so will use it a little more I hope!”

This research struck me, I remember Anne. We met, we talked about it, we tried to see traditional shops. A cap that is taken for granted to be worn by children, especially towards the winter season. I can understand the frustration. Companies should understand what the logic is. Apart from the dresses, how did it go with the rest (the cot, the cradle, the games, etc.)?

“I must say that I was very lucky for all the rest of the accessories: my sister gave me a cot, a bouncer, a car high chair, a sensory mat, puppets, soft toys and little books… And even a colleague of mine gave me a trio used very little in perfect condition… This was really a beautiful gift. I don’t know if he will listen to this interview but I take the opportunity to thank him again. I have few games for now, many come from cousins. I received some very nice new games, for now all made of wood and I’m very happy with them!”

When I try to explain the beauty of the second-hand circuit, it’s also in this. It’s not just the item itself, but knowing that you’ve recovered it. To receive it as a gift from someone you know. There is joy on both sides, the happiness of having given something that can be useful to the other. Something that you find extra now, that becomes a desired object and with so much value for another person. Among the things you’ve done, which is the one you feel most satisfied with, most proud of yourself?

“For now it’s the fact that I’ve managed to keep the minimalism I’ve always wanted from the beginning. But Christmas is coming and I think we will receive many things! But that’s okay. I think it is right that she grows up with the various ways of doing of the families from which she was born in order to be able to compare them and then choose when she grows up what she considers more coherent, more fair.”

It seems an approach that indicates a lot of flexibility. We often find ourselves saying that this is what we need when we think of taking a path towards sustainability. Having a softer approach can lead people around to take a similar path. What instead have you found and find it difficult to do to be greener?

“There are 2 things I’ve had to compromise on: self-production in the kitchen and cloth diapers. Anyone who claims to be able to cook lunches and dinners with a newborn is lying! It’s not physically possible. I could hardly take a shower. Sometimes I couldn’t even eat. Oh yes of course cook! So I ordered a lot of ready and packaged food. And I still do. However, trying to favor local productions thanks, for example, to buying groups such as L’alveare che dice sì.
For diapers, on the other hand, I started very excited, then I started seeing the (crazy) prices of new cloth diapers on the internet. They drastically reduce the environmental impact, for sure. But they have an economic cost (about 25 euros each) and above all a mental one (I assure you that washing diapers is really the last thing you want to do when it’s finally silent in the house at 2 in the morning… So now I’ve got 4 new and 4 used diapers. I use them all in the same day, when I feel like it. Then I wash them all together and on the other days I use disposables.”

Thank you for your opinion on cloth diapers too. It’s something subjective, I realize. I interviewed my cousin and her partner many years ago. The experience with washable cloths was a completely different thing, she recommended them despite the care that you too say, and she found herself fine in the end. In my opinion it depends on many factors. I thank you for having given this testimony, because someone who may find it difficult recognizes him/herself in your words and does not blame him/herself because perhaps he/she is unable to make this choice. Thanks also for tips on food: if you have difficulty, you can find some solution. That of buying groups remains valid in general. Continuing on this sort of analysis of things done/not done, I ask you: what could you have done better and instead out of laziness you gave up or said “I can’t do it”?

“There are so many things that I had to take steps back on. But I’ll tell you that I’m glad I did it so. Because I would have lost my physical and mental health, which is the first thing especially in such an intense period, physically, emotionally and mentally. They are to be protected, always and in any case. A dear friend of mine once told me: ‘As adults, we have so many principles that we try to follow closely. Then the children arrive… And everything changes!’. Now, everything maybe not, but I had to review my priorities, that’s for sure. I am slowly learning to live this new reality.”

Physical and mental health are definitely a priority, as you say, even more so now, where you find yourself taking care of the life of another person who practically depends entirely on you. In this situation and in general, they are really two fundamental aspects for the life of the human being. What is the aspect in which you commit yourself most of all, the one where you try to be more sustainable, more attentive to green aspects?

“As for me, I’d tell you the food, which continues to be vegetarian. I have to say that I gave myself a piece of cheese, when the fridge and the stomach are empty and sometimes. Instead, for her, I undertake to limit purchases to what is strictly necessary and almost always buy second-hand things.”

You have already given a lot in this interview, but I ask you again: is there any advice you would like to give to mothers who want to be greener?

“It’s difficult to give advice, it was understood from this interview that there is nothing perfect in what I do right now, in this moment and above all I don’t aim for perfection. If I had to make a suggestion, it would be to buy the bare necessities before the birth, without getting caught up in anxiety, without listening too much to friends and relatives. Also buy second hand, don’t be afraid to buy second hand or even borrow. Ah, yes here is some advice, that perhaps I would have liked to receive among other things. Look for mom groups in your area. Counselors, local groups and associations. For one reason only, to network. I’m very honest, the loneliness you experience and feel during a pregnancy, especially during a first pregnancy, is really tough. Meeting other mothers even once in a while can really be of great support and by the way maybe you will know who can lend you that thing you need instead of buying it new.”

Thanks Anne. I chose to talk about this topic, about being a mom and also imperfectly green, and even with a Dress ECOde, with you precisely because I knew you’d adopt a very sincere, honest and down-to-earth approach. Because it’s very easy to tell stories, make videos, show how simple it is to be green mums. It’s very fashionable now and in recent years, maybe sending the message: ‘Yes, we can all do it!’. Of course, it is a path that is within everyone’s reach. Beautiful, but it is necessary to explain that it requires commitment, so that we don’t blame ourselves if we encounter difficulties. It is normal to have difficulties. And every time I find myself listening to them, and personally facing them, I reflect on an observation I often hear made: ‘Companies should enable us to do this, do that, eat this way, move this way, be able to buy …’. It is a concept that I repeat very often of multi-level responsibilities. We are all responsible, not just companies, governments. Everyone has to do their part. I realize listening to you in this interview, collecting the testimonies and very often in first person, to understand how much we actually still feel like rare birds. How much you dream of entering a shop or having easier access to solutions that are truly more sustainable! We’ll get there,  the future is this, the future is here, it’s a matter of still having a little patience and commitment. Sharing like yours is welcome, even on a theme that is that of loneliness. It seems like a fabulous and splendid world, there is the joy of a new life. There is the emotion of having a son, a daughter next to you. However, there is also an aspect that shouldn’t be underestimated, which is that of the sensation, perhaps not always up, a little down, which may be due to this feeling of being alone. It can be crossed in this as in other phases of life and let us break down this taboo. Mental health, together with physical health, which we have said is a priority, is one of the issues increasingly linked to sustainability. I thank you for this too, as for all your sincerity, here in the interview and in the collaborative work you carry out within Dress ECOde.

Thanks Arianna. I really enjoyed doing this interview. All the best and hope to see you very soon. Ciao everyone!”

Ciao Anne, ciao little Sasha!

 

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