Ness Knight Talks Reusable Nappies
Meet Ness Knight!
Ness is an explorer, conservationist and ocean advocate who has completed a diverse collection of expeditions in extreme environments around the globe. Ness has also recently welcomed her little baby Ava to the world, and we wanted to catch up with Ness to talk about how she navigates motherhood alongside running their family farm, as well as all of her amazing global conservation work. Ness has also recently made the switch to TotsBots reuasble nappies, and we want to find out how she's been getting on!
Firstly, we’d love to hear more about your conservation work, and what led you to now having your amazing farm?
I’ve been exploring the far reaches of our planet for a decade now, and during that time my purpose evolved a lot. In the early days I was young and looking out to catch the world first’s, testing my mind and body to their limits, and sometimes to the point of risking some nerve-wracking life-threatening experiences (losing consciousness 200 meters from a fresh lion kill being one…). But when you go out into the world and travel, it changes you profoundly. You fall in love with the wildlife and tribes you immerse with, and in turn feel compelled to share their extraordinary stories. That never felt like enough, though. I needed to make a tangible impact, and so I began self-filming documentaries about raw, extreme and dangerous events that were happening to the wildlife had fallen in love with on my expeditions. I’m part way through one about the illicit rhino horn trade, embarking on a journey to follow everything from the poaching in Southern Africa, to the middle men (criminal syndicates) and the end consumers in the Far East. You paint a target on your back when you get involved in these sort of investigations, but it is the only way to really uncover the truth about the illegal wildlife trade. It’s a fine line to walk when you become a mother, though, as I can no longer justify some of the risky scenarios I would have previously not thought twice about! Having a homestead and farm that is based on regenerative agriculture practices means I can directly impact the food chain for the better, and allow my daughter the opportunity to grow up surrounded by wilderness, and learning what it means to be a guardian of the landscapes we work. It is no longer good enough to simply be sustainable. We have crossed the tipping point for which regeneration needs to be our unified effort. Thinking ten or twenty years to the future and planning for that is not far enough. We need to live knowing that what we do now needs to be with a 100 to 200 year vision of planetary health. That’s part of the reason why I love TotsBots so much. It’s a really easy switch from disposable to renewable that makes a huge impact when you multiply that by hundreds of thousands of parents investing in the same effort. The ripple effect of that kind of change can’t be underestimated!
What is family life like on the farm?
Life on the farm is both the most challenging and most fulfilling endeavour I have ever undertaken. It’s honest work, and it’s hard work. Those dark, bitterly cold winter days when you are mucking out sheep poop with a 5-month-old strapped to you is not by any stretch of the imagination glamorous. But those days are balanced out by the days when you lean down to pull home-grown, organic veg out of the ground and lift it straight to your little one’s mouth knowing it is bursting with the highest nutrition you can find. Walking out during lambing season with her in one arm and a newborn lamb in the other to set it out on green pastures to frolic about with a dozen other boisterous lambs is just magical. She lights up in a way I don’t see with man-made toys and carefully curated, plastic playpens. We have just planted a few thousand saplings on the farm that will, one day when she is grown up, turn into a vibrant forest. Nothing compares to being out in the wilderness with her. After all, it will be her world soon.
Sustainability is something you are so passionate about, has this played a part in why you wanted to start using reusable nappies?
It is absolutely why I have made the switch. None of us are perfect with the footprint we leave on the planet’s surface, but we each have to choose the first steps we are willing to take that lessen that impact. Often, myself included, we balk at the prospect of change because we believe it will challenge our comforts and lessen our enjoyment of a thing. I’ve found the opposite to be true now that I’m on the road to self-sufficiency. I buy items that are higher quality, that last, that are sustainable, and end up cherishing them because they work, and because they simplify my life. That frees up space mentally and physically. I learned this first-hand when I spent time with ancient tribes. Those I spent time with live remotely and know that if they don’t look after the wilderness around them, then it will stop looking after them. It is a symbiotic relationship of care and respect that revolves around thriving. These peoples live simply, and in doing so spend their time and efforts clocking in social and human experiences that fill their cups up. I want to find a way to translate that into my family life at home wherever possible, because let’s face it, we are bombarded with so much in the western world that it is hard to pan back from the noise and get perspective!
Did you have any initial worries at first?
I did worry about whether reusable nappies would leak. But so far, I have had none at all. Well, apart from the odd, inevitable poonami which no nappy, no matter how well crafted, could possibly imagine to hold in! The other concern I had was time. Would it add to my already pressed schedule of being a mother and a farmer with the need to wash them? To be honest, no. I spent as much time walking to the nappy isle in the supermarket as I have walking to the washing machine and pressing a button. So no concerns there anymore. Finally, I did wonder whether they would be comfortable for my baby girl. As it happens, they have totally illuminated any pulling or rash. Can’t fault anything at the minute, I’m really happy!
You began your reusables journey with a complete kit. Was it easy to decide on what nappy suited you and your lifestyle?
Getting the compete kits was exactly the right decision for me, as I was totally new to reusable nappies and needed to get a feel for everything and how each type worked. I’ve since added a couple of nappies to the collection – mostly because TotsBots brought out a new farm themed nappy and… well… of course! Everything was included, from extra liners to a changing mat (which I take with me on the farm for urgent nappy changes on the go on hay bales in the barn) and also a carry bag for outings. The bucket with mesh bag for dirty nappies is a no brainer to store them up till you have a big enough pile to wash.
Which TotsBots nappy did you prefer to use and why?
I don’t think I can choose between them, because the daytime ones are utterly needed and super practical, and the night nappies are just so comfortable and soft for her. I suppose if I had to choose, it would be the farm themed nappies haha!
Do you use reusable nappies out and about or just at home?
I use them everywhere. It’s my commitment to making a better choice for our planet, so bringing back a dirty nappy I’ve changed while out is really no big deal at all. I can’t say it affects my life one bit to do that, so they come on farm duties and off out to run errands.
What advice would you give to others looking to use reusables for the first time?
I would say just do it. If you need to, start small with just a few nappies to get used to it. If you know you want this to be your next move towards sustainability then go for a complete kit as it takes the guess work out of knowing what you’ll need. Either way, just start and don’t be nervous to try it!
What has been the biggest surprise about using reusable nappies?
The biggest surprise was how the reusables eliminated any hint of rash. Totally gone! I love that. Well done TotBots!!
Have you got any sustainable swaps or tips that other parents can incorporate into their daily lives?
Oh, where do I start!? Grow your own veg, even if it is just in a few containers on a balcony. The taste difference (and nutrition) is huge. If you buy herbs from the store, get cuttings from them to grow whole new herb plants and have a never-ending supply, all from just one plant. I switched my razors, ear buds, toothbrush and so many other personal items from disposable a long time ago and never looked back. Also, try out shampoo and conditioner bars that come in card packaging not plastic. Finally, search for any local farms that practice regenerative agriculture and use them. They are committed to regenerating soil, wildlife and nutrition back into the land and food we eat. It’s a must for our future of food.
We loved our chat with Ness, learning more about her incredible work and also her efforts when it comes to sustainability in so many aspects of her daily life!