Parenting

‘Punk mama’ who had an eco-epiphany saves thousands with new sustainability-focused lifestyle


Sara Bills wants to show parents they can cut down on their waste (Picture: PA Real Life)

Sara Bills describes herself as a ‘punk mama’.

For her, that doesn’t mean not caring about anything but rock n roll, but embracing an alternative way of living.

That includes combining punk philosophies with eco-friendly credentials, to raise her sons as ‘sustainably-ish’ as possible.

The muscian, 34, who lives in Inverness with her partner David Reid and their two sons, aged two and eight, says she had an ‘eco-epiphany’ when her youngest son was born in 2019.

Her new approach to the family’s lifestyle isn’t just doing good, it’s also saving the parents thousands of pounds.

Pupil support assistant Sara said: ‘I want to normalise a “sustainable-ish” parenting lifestyle and make it accessible.

‘It’s about doing what you can with what you have and not being disheartened about not being able to do everything.

‘It’s good for the planet and for your bank balance.

Sara and her partner David want to raise their sons, Austin and Otis, as ‘sustainably-ish’ as possible (Picture: PA Real Life)

‘In three years, by switching from disposable to cloth nappies, we stopped adding to landfill and saved nearly £2,000.’

As lead singer of the “alternative folk-punk” band, Sara Bills & The Hasbeens, which she formed in 2009, with her dad Dickie, 56, playing the drums, as well as being a fixture on the Highland music scene, Sara is studying for a degree in child practice.

Proudly releasing an EP, Spill The Beans, in 2010, the band – who tour Scottish music festivals during the summer months and play the pub and Christmas party circuit during the winter – were planning to work on an album before the pandemic.

With meeting up impossible, instead, she and David, who acts as a roadie, devoted more time to exploring their green values and were proud as punch when Austin made a video presentation on how their family stay as plastic-free as possible, to share with his school mates.

A key part of their new lifestyle is reusable nappies (Picture: PA Real Life)

Sara has also launched a parenting blog, Raising Earth Punklings, as well as sharing her passion for the planet on her Instagram page @earth_punk_mama, where she has more than 3,000 followers, who lap up her eco tips.

She said: ‘Punk rock is all about activism and doing things for yourself, which is my philosophy.

‘I call myself “Earth Punk mama” because I think it sits together quite nicely.

‘And if putting my children in cloth nappies and breastfeeding is an act of rebellion, then so be it!’

This alone has saved the parents thousands of pounds (Picture: PA Real Life)

It was during her second pregnancy that Sara became increasingly struck by the impact having children had on the world around them.

They decided to use washable cloth nappies and reusable baby wipes, as well as breastfeeding for as long as possible.

Their biggest saving has been on the nappies themselves, with the couple estimating the cloth versions cost them £500 less in the first year than the disposable versions.

In the following two years, they have saved a further £700 a year – as they had less to buy – bringing their total saving to nearly £2,000.

Sara had an ‘eco-epiphany’ when she was pregnant with her youngest son, Otis (Picture: PA Real Life)

‘Your initial outlay to use cloth nappies full-time could see you shelling out around £200, to have your stash ready to go,’ Sara explained.

‘But in a year on disposable nappies, you would spend around £700.

‘And then, of course, the cloth nappies should last you that two to three years that children are in nappies for – so it does make you quite a saving.’

Of course, going for reusable options does require extra washing. But Sara believes the effort is worth it.

‘I do a full load of laundry every three days,’ she said.

The couple also use hand-me-down toys and clothes (Picture: PA Real Life)

‘I’ve got about 25 nappies and washing them that often keeps us ticking over.

‘I sit and pre-stuff them with the liners, so they’re ready to go.

‘I actually really enjoy the process – it’s quite cathartic and like a little bit of mindfulness.

‘The thought that all the disposable nappies Austin used are now in a landfill site and will be long after all of us are gone, is enough motivation for us to not want to have that impact on the planet with Otis.’

Other methods of reducing their environmenral impact include getting hand-me-down kids’ clothes and toys, using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, taking their own snacks and lunches out with them, using soap and shampoo bars in metal tins, and replacing throwaway packaging with bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste in glass jars.

Sara hopes to keep up her eco efforts and show other parents it’s possible to reduce their waste.

She said: ‘Lockdown has shown we can make a change and we can make a difference.

‘David and I always joke that going to festivals and raves was good preparation for having kids because you always have to be organised with your bag packed and we were used to getting no sleep!

‘I feel like this lifestyle should be normal, but, much like punk music, other people do consider it alternative.’

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