Recently the gorgeous and amazing blogger Emma Ross aka Mamalina did a video for the BBC about 5 ways to reduce plastic with kids . Most of the comments were fantastic and positive but there were the odd few who felt the need to state that her little boy had plastic dummy and she had plastic bottles around (detergents etc which she refills) It made me think about how we use plastic in our home still.
No one is perfect. Some people are starting out on this journey only just. It is very hard to be 100% zero waste, extremely hard. Parenting is hard enough. But its about being aware and making changes where you can and in time you will be amazed at how different your life can be.
My children are 4 and 20 months with a 3rd on the way. They are into characters, particularly my eldest who is into Disney princesses and superheroes. My youngest is also starting to get into this but I can still get away just about with him just playing with wooden trains, blocks and puzzles. I am yet to find any wooden or eco friendly toys to meet my eldests interests now.
Like Emma I encourage independent play. I have to. Because while I am not a single parent, there is no co parenting taking place here at all with a husband that works away ( and also lives with cancer so when at home rests most of the time) I have no family around so I will take all the toy help I can get ( and a TV thrown in which I am not ashamed off) We spend a lot of time out but also enough time in. I don’t want to feel bad or guilty for the toys that are plastic that I buy. So I want to create a list of ways you can use plastic or reuse plastic that is already within your home or that you choose to bring in.
Grab a cuppa … I also decide to add some bullet points at the end of swaps to consider for single use items.
As children grow their needs change. I wish so much they would only play with the wooden delights I have purchased but my eldest goes to friends houses and its like candy to him seeing and playing with all the character toys. Yes wooden toys are by far the best they really are but like I said my children are getting past the age of wooden blocks and both have just never taken to trains even though we have an amazing brio wooden train set. I have post here zero waste options for toys which is worth checking out.
Preloved is the way to go if you are planing to buy plastic. So much plastic gets chucked each year and sits there for years and years. Keep using it. We have this Big Yellow Teapot that is over 20 years old and I very much intend to keep it for any grandchildren! The kids love it.
I recently brought some Disney characters all for 20p in the charity shop and some superheroes from a car boot. All of these characters do not ever go out of date (Spiderman and Star Wars have been huge for years!!) So keep them to hand them down if you have space. I wish my mum kept the huge Star Wars At – act that I had growing up or the Ninja Turtles toys. They are likely sitting in land fill. She did keep lego and Barbies however, Again they never go out of fashion!
If you have tuppawear or plastic containers, keep using them. Use them for as long as you can. Do not just get rid of them just so you can buy in stainless steel or are eco options. If you need more storage then look into them but do not get rid of plastic just to make the swap. I have been people do this. But there is no need. Just keep is going as long as you can. If you feel you really don’t want them, then gift them.
Plastic household bottles
Things like cleaning materials etc all come in plastic bottle sprays but see what you can do to reuse them. Have a look at local places that do washing up refills or detergent spray refills. You could look at making your own or the empties to the kids to play with as pretend cleaning gear!
Oh boy Emma got some comments about that. There are very few, that I know of, eco friendly soother/pacifers on the market. Not only that not every child takes to all shapes. Albert and Sebastian only took to a certain one. Some would argue not using one at all. Well not for me! I went through 4 months of seriously crying until the day Albert took his due to silent reflux. Same with Sebastian.
One thing you can do is reuse them. By this I mean with other children. Of course not if they are really grotty and grubby but we use the Avent soothies a lot that are 100% silicone so easy to wash and no moisture can get locked in. Sebastian had them and then they went to Albert. All I did was sterilise them it really is no big deal. So they have lasted nearly 4 years! Same with other more structured plastic dummies. If they are ok then I will keep using them. Worth thinking about.
Being aware is the most important thing. You can immediately begin cutting out the use of straws, coffee cups and take your own (own coffee cup and ever considered stainless steel straws?)
Even looking at eco friendly kids reusable drinks bottles instead of plastic ones that often don’t last, once your child finishes with their current one.
I wanted to end with a few bullet points of things to consider changing
- Books or eco wooden toys instead of plastic party bag gifts.
- Stainless steel containers, beeswax wrap, glass jars for storing food ( can also be used in freezer)
- One I thought of the other day on an insta question Emma got regarding breastmilk is using mini jars ie old pesto jars or similar etc sterilised instead of one use plastic breastmilk storage bags.
- Remember to take out cloth bags when shopping. Maybe go one step further and take out mini cloth bags and reusable containers. Any cheese brought at a deli and meats can be put in these along with loose fruit and veg. Consider using a milk man!
- Cloth Wipes. These are so easy and they also wipe so much better. Wipes are horrific for the environment. S much it makes me sick to even look at them or see them in the shops. Sorry they are VILE. That fat burg on the news will haunt may mind forever! We have a mini wet wipes pouch where I keep pre wet reusable wipes. You can cut them out of old towels even. And I carry a mini wetbag for dirty ones. You will notice a huge difference in what you spend too!
- When buying clothing consider second hand. Not just because its cheaper but so may items, particularly from fast fashion shops (Primarni) go to land fill and are not made to last. You will be reusing, saving your pockets and you and your kids will not be wearing what others are at the time!
- Within the home consider this also. Furniture gets chucked a lot. Consider pre loved, more eco friendly materials and paints, maybe upcycle goods. Its such a buzz and allows you to be creative.
- Look at your plastic home bottles. Do you need that expensive shampoo? Loose soap bars really are with a try I promise you! You can also use these bars on all the children. Consider refill bottles of detergent and washing liquid. You can even make your own! or an Eco egg for clothes.
- The other days the kids wanted to play out in the mud. They wanted a spade. I don’t have one nor do I want plastic either so they had spoons, larger kitchen utensils and a metal trowel.
- I have done many many videos on cloth nappies and an entire playlist here and some blog posts so I won’t go into that here but please check these videos and posts out and do consider them. They are a HUGE change and make a massive difference. Believe me when I say if lazy little me with nearly 3 kids and a mucky workwear husband can manage..you can too! They are so easy!
Thank you so much for reading! If you have started making changes I would LOVE to know!