There’s been much in the media in recent weeks about the impact of plastics on the environment and it’s something that I’ve been conscious of for a while now. I’ve always been keen to recycle what I can, and take steps to minimize plastic consumption where possible, but it feels like there is a tipping point being approached.
The recent BBC / David Attenborough series really highlighted the impact of disposables on the environment and the marine life, and it’s great to see that there are some big chains that are starting to incentivise reusables and to cut out the use of disposable plastic straws. I’m under no illusion that this is, in part, a PR exercise, to suit public opinion but if that’s what it takes then I’m happy for now. Cutting plastic waste is a real issue and even small steps make big differences.
I’m keen for D, E and H to grow up with an appreciation of the natural world and understanding of how they can reduce their own impact. I am far from perfect on this, but we are learning and slowly but surely are reducing the disposables that we use. I wanted to share some of the ways that I am trying to encourage the children and us as a family to incorporate reusables into everyday life.
We use cloth nappies and have done so with all three children. The stats on how long disposables take to break down are truly staggering plus the cloth nappies are prettier and they really aren’t that much work. I wash them two to three times a week and it’s a quick job to fold them when they are dry. We like the Tots Bots Nappies – they have stood up well some five years and three children on and they’d be fine to be used again. We also use cloth wipes – the chemicals in baby wipes are not what I want on my children’s skin plus they actually clean up much better than wet wipes. We use cheeky wipes, and they’ve been a superb investment and one I have recommended time and time again to other mums to be.
Another reusable we have been embracing for some time now is stainless steel drinks bottles. The three children all have Klean Kanteen bottles, and I have recently got a Qottle. The children’s bottles have sports caps and the Qottle is insulated meaning it keeps things cold or hot for an impressively long time! My Qottle is perfect for taking protein shakes to the gym (I can’t abide milk unless it’s cold!) and hot drinks in the park. I can prep a protein shake and some 4/5 hours later it is still cold and I have had hot drinks in there that I’ve forgotten about and they’ve been steaming hot when I’ve poured it out to clean the qottle some 10/12 hours later. The other benefit of bottles like Qottle is that I can ask for my own cup to be filled, rather than relying on (plastic lined) takeaway cups. The added benefit of stainless steel is that it doesn’t end up getting that plasticky taste – we have had a plastic bottle in the past and they end up tasting funny after a while, as the flavours of the drinks they’ve carried sneak into the plastic. The stainless steel bottles have been a good investment for us and I think we will probably add to the collection at some stage in the future.
Being aware of the little things you can do to reduce plastic waste is really key. We have started to use bars of soap rather than bottles of shower gel and squirty hand soap. Yes, the bars come wrapped in plastic BUT they last longer and the plastic is less than the bottles, so it overall reduces the plastic waste. I’ve got a kit for soap making and I plan to have a go at that in the next few weeks with the children. Once we have finished the current squirty soaps they will be replaced with bars of soap, and we will experiment with making our own as a more permanent solution.
Other ways that we are looking to reduce plastic waste is to extend the use of wipes – the cheeky wipes have been a perfect buy for us and have been used so much. I have recently ordered some reusable kitchen roll and makeup wipes that I’m looking forward to seeing arrive, I’ll share images on my Instagram when that arrives with me.
Other ways to encourage cut down on plastic consumption are that when we are out and about, we try to choose non packaged fruit at the supermarket, having our own reusable straws in the bag (we love the ones from miucolor – they’re easy to just pop in the bag as they don’t take up much space at all plus they come with a handy little cleaner. The children like the novelty (at the moment!) of using these straws too, and we can be sure we aren’t using disposable plastic straws. Little things help too, like taking our own bags to the shops, not picking up leaflets and magazines when we don’t really want or need them.
Taking little steps to introduce reusable makes a big difference to the amount of plastic consumed – have you got any other practical ways we can introduce reusables into our everyday life?