Olympic champion Hannah Mills says she thought ‘long and hard’ about the environmental impact of starting a family.

Mills, the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time, is expecting a baby in mid-October with partner and windsurfer Nick Dempsey.

A passionate environmentalist, the 34-year-old started the Big Plastic Pledge in 2019 and attended the United Nations Oceans Conference last week.

In planning her future Mills mulled over the potential negative environmental impact of bringing up a child.

“Having a baby has an impact on the environment, for sure, in terms of all of the resources and everything,” said Mills.

“I did think long and hard about the impact that has on the planet in itself. I thought about what I can do to mitigate that as much as possible.

“Everyone’s got different reasons for caring about the environment and wanting to do my bit. Getting pregnant hasn’t changed that, it’s motivated me to work harder.

“It’s a tricky one, the point is we all need to think, make conscious decisions and understand how we can best mitigate the impact.

“I’ve been incredibly motivated by this for a number of years now and trying to make a difference.”

Cardiff-born Mills has lived by the sea throughout her life, starting sailing aged eight on family holidays to Cornwall.

She has naturally stepped away from competing but remains a member of Great Britain’s SailGP team and Global Purpose Ambassador for the event.

In travelling the country to spread the word about environmental awareness to the younger generation, Mills isn’t always confronted with the next crop of Greta Thunbergs.

Engagement with green issues seems split along geographical and socio-economic lines.

“Some places connect with the cause more than others for various reasons, it definitely depends,” she said.

“Often kids who have spent more time in nature and by the ocean, out and about getting stuck in with the environment, are more receptive.

“It depends on what they’re exposed to. A lot of what we’re doing is about raising awareness of climate change and equally offering opportunities for kids to physically get involved.”

SailGP will return to Plymouth for the second year in a row on 30 and 31 July 2022 and will feature nine teams battling in short, intense races in identical hydro foiling F50 catamarans at speeds approaching 100 km/h.

One of the pillars of the series is male and female sailors competing side-by-side.

The Olympic 470 class that made Mills’ name will be mixed at Paris 2024 after the successful debut of the Nacra-17 class at Tokyo 2020.

“In a lot of roles on the boat, sailing doesn’t have physical barriers,” said Mills. “The missing link has just been opportunities.

“It’s a really powerful platform to showcase what’s possible, to show men and women competing together on the same footing, it’s huge.

“It brings a lot of families together watching these mixed events, everyone in the family thinks that it could be them out there doing it.”

Mills retained her Olympic title with Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 boat class in Tokyo and next on the agenda is skipper for the inaugural women’s America’s Cup, slated for 2024.

She is hoping to return to SailGP competition as soon as November.

“As a competitor, I’d love to come back sailing as soon as possible,” she said. “Equally I have no idea how I’m going to feel after the birth!

“I’m really realistic that you can’t control any of this, it’s potentially a once-in-a-lifetime event. I want to enjoy everything about starting a family and it’ll be clear when I can come back.”