‘I wash my kids’ hair with cider vinegar instead of shampoo and limit the toys we buy’

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A mum has revealed how she washed her kids’ hair with apple cider vinegar and avoids buying them plastic toys in an effort to overhaul her family’s lifestyle and help the planet.

Jagroop Sahi, 31, began making massive changes after her first child Arvaya was born a little over four years ago.

She began by removing harsh chemicals and toxins from her daily routines to help give her unborn daughter the best start in life and instead focused on organic, natural and sustainable products and practices.

Everything from skincare and haircare to food, toys and even nappies was looked.

Now a parent to two children – four-year-old Arvaya and seven-month-old Sienna – with husband Amar, Jagroop admits it took a while to get everything right.

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She told MyLondon: “We tried the ‘no shampoo movement’, we use coconut oil and apple cider vinegar with essential oils as shampoo. I’m the only one in the family who isn’t free of shampoo, but I’ve moved to shampoo bars instead.

“At the beginning of giving everyone vinegar as shampoo, that was atrocious, because my daughter used go swimming and her and my husband would go into the pool and just stink of vinegar.

“It took a while to get the essential oil concentration to vinegar [ratio] correct, so that they don’t just go around smelling of fish and chips.”

Jagroop and her family all use coconut oil instead of moisturiser, which she says has saved a fortune as they no longer all have individual pots of moisturiser.

And they have experimented with things like cloth nappies for the baby and silicone sponges for the kitchen.

The Sahi family also try to reduce the amount of toys they buy and try to find sturdier playthings while repairing existing toys.

“We try not to buy plastic toys,” Jagroop said, “but sustainability is actually about trying to reduce your wastage: if something breaks, if you can fix that thing, it doesn’t matter that it’s plastic.

“If you can’t, give it to someone else who could fix it, try to keep it in the loop without it going in the bin. When you’re throwing something away it’s going somewhere: it’s either ended up landfill, it’s ended up in the ocean, it ends up somewhere.

“So, let’s try and keep things in the cycle without bringing in too many unnecessary new things.”

Not everything has worked – like with the apple cider vinegar shampoo, it can be a lot of trial and error – and Jagroop says one of the biggest mistakes she made at the beginning was trying to do too much too quickly.

“In the beginning, I got overwhelmed,” she said.

“We went vegan, we did everything [at once], and we stopped after two weeks. Sustainability is really hard actually, it can be, and I think if you try and do it all in one go, it can be really overwhelming. That’s the biggest lesson I learned.

“With my first child I tried to do the cloth nappies, full bang, and it didn’t work. But this time around I’ve tried the cloth nappies again, but we’re doing it really slowly. We’re changing just one a day to a cloth nappy, two a day, three a day.

“We’re not completely perfect. But the number of nappies you do save, even by making that switch a couple of times a day, makes such a big difference.

“But now we don’t really feel it, because you don’t feel like you’re ever losing anything, you’re just swapping it out for more sustainable products.”

After spending many years living in London, with Amar having grown up in Harrow, the family moved to the village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire to bring up their kids in the countryside and “get the best of both worlds”.

“They get a big open field, and then you’re so close to London – it’s just a short drive in,” she added.

In terms of the financial impact of sustainable living, Jagroop says that “things kind of balance each other out”.

Where a product like a big tub of cold pressed, raw coconut oil might seem expensive, the family gets its money’s worth by using it as shampoo and moisturiser, among other things.

The cost of her organic food shop has definitely got more expensive in recent months but she puts this down to high rates of inflation.

Jagroop says living a more sustainable, mindful lifestyle translates into the way she goes about her day-to-day life and raises her kids.

“It started to give us a different perspective,” she said.

“As we started to get more and more into our sustainable journey, and started to do things our own way, we started to look at that in our parenting as well.

“Slowly, slowly, we started to adopt these approaches – like gentle parenting, attachment parenting, Montessori education, giving them independence.

“Because we had a similar approach to sustainability, like if it’s not working for you, let’s change something, learn as you go, it kind of made us realise that we as parents are still learning, we don’t know everything.

“Let’s start being open and honest about that with our children and show them that actually, you know, even at this age, you don’t know everything.

“We’re all learning, just the same way we have with sustainability. If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it, apologise, learn from it, and then try and be better.”