A New Perspective from a New Mum

Catriona Hawkin


New parenthood is a joyful, exhausting and life-changing time. Perhaps it’s the sleepless nights or the maze of nappy changes and washing piles, but you start to see the world differently. Some things seem less important (washing your hair), some things more (biscuits).

I have had an interest in the climate debate for most of my adult life, but it has always been as a quiet side conversation. Perhaps it’s because the volume switch has undeniably been dialled up recently, or perhaps it’s because I’m seeing the world through my new mum goggles, but I have found myself thinking more about the climate crisis and my carbon footprint. How big is it and how do I reduce it? What kind of planet do I want my daughter to grow up in?

So after the first few blurry months of new motherhood, I decided to find out more and join Zero Carbon Harrogate (ZCH). ZCH brings together a group of residents from the Harrogate District to support the development of a low carbon and sustainable economy and improve the quality of life for its residents.

The climate crisis can feel overwhelming and the choices we are faced with to reduce our carbon impact can sometimes seem confusing and difficult. As we start to feel the bite of the cost of living crisis, families already have a lot to manage and it would be easy not to prioritise carbon impact in our family decision-making.

However, many of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint are easy, they make our local environment a better place to live and they enrich our lives. As part of my work with ZCH I have challenged myself and our family to think about the simple things we can do in our everyday lives to play our part.

We’re making sure we conserve energy where we can and making our home as energy efficient as possible, within our budget. This means we’re saving some money. To help you get started you can find energy saving tips on the ZCH website www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk/energysaving

As a family we love to cook and eat together. As grocery prices rise, we’re focusing on good-value home-cooked food, making use of our freezer and avoiding food waste. By cooking more plant-based recipes, we are able to spend a bit more on high-quality produce from local butchers and Yorkshire farmers when we do enjoy a meat-based meal.

Of course, scientifically, the most significant carbon decision I’ve ever made was simply to have a child. But our baby girl is our greatest gift and proudest achievement. And I can’t imagine life without our family dog and his uncomfortably large carbon pawprint. No one person or family can save the world, but it’s about figuring out what low carbon choices will work in your family lifestyle. Even better, what will improve it.

One of the lifestyle choices I’m looking forward to making is leaving the car behind for the morning run and walking with my daughter to nursery or school. We’ll have to get up and out a bit earlier and no doubt there will sometimes be some moaning (from us both). But there will also be time to enjoy the walk and to talk.

I’m sure one day she’ll tell me what she’s learned about climate change and give me some new tips for our family to try out. Of all the low carbon actions we can take, perhaps simply talking to our children, whatever age they are, about them is the most important one.