Welcome to the Nui Organics Well Worn Series. Every season we work with a handful of talented, sustainable, and purpose-driven creators.
Over the years we have met some amazing women and families who demonstrate what we believe sustainable and intentional living is all about. This Well Worn series is to introduce you to these families to inspire you on your journey and give you a glimpse into the lives of others making small changes every day towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Progress not perfection.
First up, introducing Sara McCarty, Founder of RunWildMyChild.com - her outside kids website helping busy parents get kids outside and into nature.
We want to know all about you and your family! Can you give us a little introduction?
Hello! I’m Sara McCarty, a mom of 3 (ages 10, 8 and 4) and the Founder of Run Wild My Child (runwildmychild.com), a resource website, online community and podcast all about getting kids off screens and outside, one adventure at a time. We live in St. Louis, Missouri and love our location, with easy access to wooded nature trails, crystal clear creeks, rivers and streams, limestone caves, expansive prairies, and tons of wildlife. You can usually find our family exploring a creek, fly fishing, hiking, duck hunting, camping, canoeing, biking, or geocaching.
My husband and I met in law school and together we’ve hiked an active volcano, swam with sharks, explored ancient Mayan ruins, fly-fished mountain streams, skied black diamonds, climbed waterfalls, rafted through underground caves, and camped in the snow…just to name a few of our outdoor adventures. But our biggest adventure by far, has been parenting.
From the time they were tiny, we got our kids outside. Honestly, at first it was more about survival than any real intention of raising outdoor kids. We discovered that it was just plain easier to parent outdoors (happier kids, less fighting, better sleep…win, win, win), so we got outside as much as possible. We thought we’d discovered some parenting secret that no one was talking about!
Since then, we’ve tried to raise our three kids to be independent, outdoorsy, nature-lovers. My oldest is really into fly fishing; at 10 he can tie his own flies/knots, handle a fish with ease, and casts better than most adults. My daughter loves wildlife; she can catch any frog, bug, crawdad, or butterfly that crosses her path and treats all animals with kindness and compassion. And our little one…he’s really just there for the snacks!
We know you love the great outdoors. Have you always been a nature lover? If not, when did it start?
I grew up in the country, outside of a small river town in Northeast Missouri. I spent all my time immersed in the woods, playing in our creek, turning the old abandoned horse shed into a schoolhouse, and sneaking cherry tomatoes out of the garden. I found solace in nature, but I never really considered myself “outdoorsy” - this was just the way all the kids in my area grew up (it was the ‘80s after all).
However, my dad was Mr. Outdoorsy. He spent every free minute he had fishing, canoeing, camping, hunting, or gardening (or prepping for any one of these activities) and he often took us kids with him. He read the conservation department magazine religiously and kept a nature journal filled with facts about rainfall, whippoorwill calls, morel mushroom locations, and deer sightings. His deep love of nature and curiosity about the world around him couldn’t help but rub off on his kids. I think we all have a deeper respect and appreciation for nature than most because of him.
If you had to describe your philosophy about life in a few sentences, what would it be?
Wow, tough question! I think (hope) that I approach life as an endless learning experience and adventure. I’m a voracious reader and I believe that I learn something from every book I read (even the bad ones). And I see my adventures with my kids the same way. Every outdoor adventure we have is an opportunity to learn something new, to try something new, to experience something new. We’re always learning and adding new facts, memories, and lessons to our foundation. As long as we keep an open mind and are willing to get out there and experience new things, life will never be boring.
What does a sustainable lifestyle mean to you?
A sustainable lifestyle (especially with a big family), is something that happens intentionally over time. I believe in small everyday actions that add up over time to make a big impact. Living sustainably means that we are intentional with our choices in what we buy (and whether we buy it), what we leave behind, how we care for the environment, and the message we give to others. It comes up in decisions we make every day (sometimes hundreds of times a day).
But also, living a sustainable lifestyle means exactly that…making choices in a way that’s ‘sustainable” for our family. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of things we “should” be doing (or not doing) and the eco-friendly products we “should” be buying. But after a while, all that can become too much and it’s easier to go back to doing nothing. However, if you can make small changes over time, and maintain those until they become habits before adding more to your plate, you can implement a lot of changes and make a big difference.
Can you share your experience in teaching your kids about sustainable living? Do they understand why it’s important?
With little kids, it can be hard to get concepts like environmentalism and sustainability across. They have a hard time processing the world beyond what they can see and sometimes talking about topics like this can be scary for kids. However, that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t understand or can’t do their part. My experience teaching little ones about taking care of nature is mainly done through example and with stories about caring for our planet and wildlife, that aren’t scary or filled with doom and gloom. The great thing about little kids is that they are filled with hope and possibility and they’re ready to change the world (and believe they can!).
As my kids get older, they’re beginning to truly understand the reasons why we do things a certain way (or make certain decisions). Spending time in in nature has given them a first-hand look at what litter and pollution can do to the outdoors. Rarely ever do we go out and not spend a portion of our outing cleaning up trash from others. They’ve seen fishing line wrapped around seabirds, plastic in the bellies of fish, and streams littered with broken bottles.
They’re connecting the dots now and understand that action and purchases have consequences. They love nature and are starting to realize that it’s going to take a lot of help and action from everyone to care for it.
What has been your biggest aha moment in your sustainable living journey?
Last spring, the Run Wild My Child team decided to host a Sustainability Challenge to show busy parents that it can be easy to make small intentional eco-friendly changes in their home and life. I worked closely with our Sustainability Expert Chelsea Furlong on putting together the materials and presenting action items in a way that was encouraging and not overwhelming for parents. It was eye-opening!
I learned more about sustainability when creating that guide than I think I’d ever known! Each day of the challenge covered a room in your home or area in your life where you could make changes. I learned SO MUCH about what I was doing wrong and how I could do things better.
For example, I didn’t realize how much of our “recycling” didn’t get recycled. I didn’t know how many things couldn’t be recycled (that I was putting in our recycling by mistake). I didn’t realize how much plastic waste I was consuming until I took inventory. I didn’t know how many resources it took to make fast-fashion clothing that I had purchased.
The more I learned, the worse I felt. I realized I’d been making mistakes and doing things wrong for years. I felt guilty for my purchases and actions. Honestly, I felt very defeated. But Chelsea was there to give me grace (and convince me to do the same for myself). She commiserated with me on how overwhelming it can all feel and started me on the path to making little changes. She took away the guilt and the overwhelm, and that’s exactly what we designed the challenge to do for others. It was an amazing experience and I hope it’ll help other parents in their sustainability journey.
As a natural and sustainable clothing brand, we can’t help but ask you about your philosophy on clothes and your favorite materials for your family’s clothing. We would also love to hear your honest thoughts on your experience with Nui.
When you spend a lot of time outside, clothing can make or break your experience. The older my kids get and the more time we spend outdoors, the more important it is that we have high-quality clothing that lasts a long time, can be passed down from kid to kid, and performs its function well (whether that’s keeping my kids warm, dry, cool, protected, or comfortable).
Merino wool is definitely at the top of our list of favorite materials for kids (and adults) clothing. It’s biodegradable, a renewable sustainable resource, naturally UV resistant, quick-drying, odor-resistant, and hypoallergenic. What’s not to love?
As a mom that runs an outdoor kids website and spends a lot of time outside, we get to try out a ton of items and brands. Trust me when I say that not all products are created equal and we have very high standards. Nui Organics clothing knocks it out of the park for us. The clothes are buttery soft, they come in beautiful colors (perfect for photos!), and the company is committed to sustainability. My kids reach for their Nui Organics layers over all others. They’re clothes you feel good in and feel good about purchasing.
Do you have a “go to” outfit you like to wear in your everyday life?
This answer has changed dramatically over the last few years. I recently left my corporate job of 15 year as a securities attorney. In that capacity, my daily outfit consisted of high heels, pencil skirts, and cardigans. Now, I work from home and spend the majority of my time either in front of a computer (writing about our adventures) or outside (making the adventures happen). I seek out comfortable clothing, made by brands that align with our core mission, and make me feel confident.
We discovered you on Instagram @runwildmychild and love your page! What do you hope to share with people about what you stand for?
Aww, thank you! Run Wild My Child is the ultimate online destination for all things kid-friendly and outdoorsy. We are a resource website, a podcast, an online community, and a movement! Run Wild My Child was created to emphasize the importance of outdoor play and to inspire, encourage, help and support parents prioritize time spent outside. Our mission is to help busy parents get their kids outside and back to nature, one adventure at a time.
The Run Wild My Child Creative Team now consists of 20+ parents from around the globe that all share a passion for getting kids outside and want to share their experiences. Our team is diverse in experience, location, age, and ability of kids, ethnicity, and interests, but we’re all committed to raising amazing humans outside and helping other parents do the same.
On our website, we offer super helpful (and completely free) content all about outdoor activities, nature crafts, kid-friendly travel, gear recommendations, and more! We’re also continually coming up with new ways to help encourage and inspire parents to get their kids outside, by hosting challenges and creating some fun downloadable digital products. We also offer city-specific outdoor family-friendly travel guides, put together by local moms in the area that have tried, tested and recommend all the activities listed.
Over the next few years, we’re moving a bit beyond little kids. As our kids get older, we’re facing new challenges and pushback to our outdoor adventures. Big kids, tweens, and teens need outdoor time in nature more now than ever before, but there aren’t many (any) resources out there for helping with this. We’re going to change that as we adapt with our kids and discover new ways to connect with them and with nature.
If someone were just getting started on their sustainable living journey, can you share a few tips to help them start?
Of course! I think at the beginning of your sustainability journey, you need to start small so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Maybe start with one room in your home (in our Sustainability Challenge we recommend starting in the bathroom, since it’s usually the smallest room and you can do a lot there) and make small changes over time. Little changes add up over time and can make a big impact.
But remember, that the first step isn’t to go out and spend a bunch of money replacing the things you already own or buying lots of new eco-friendly things. The most sustainable product is the one you already have in your home! Use that first, make it last before buying something else, find a way to repurpose it and give it an even longer life.
Sustainability is a lifelong journey. Start small, with manageable goals! Take your time. Then continue your journey by making the next best choice, and making the next small change that is practical for your family.
We imagine you spend a lot of time in nature. Do you have a favorite place?
I have so many favorite places, it’s hard to choose just one! However, I guess I could say that there’s a special place in my heart for the area around Montauk State Park on the Current River. This is a little trout stream a few hours from us that my husband loves. It’s where we first camped together and fell in love. I actually grew up fishing this river with my dad and it’s such an incredible experience to be able to do that with my kids. We also host a big campout here every fall with a bunch of friends and a million kids. It’s a weekend filled with good food, great people, and enough laughter to get us through the next few cold months feeling warm and fuzzy.
If you could leave the world sharing a few words of wisdom that would help them live better, more sustainable lives, what would you tell them?
Start small. Think big. Make mistakes. Do better. Lead by example. It’s all worth it.