Sustainability has become far more than a buzzword. I think we’re finally at a place where most people know that we really need to do something for the sake of our children and future generations. But whilst the governments around the world move at an agonising snail’s pace to finally take big action, we at home can make some really simple changes that can reduce the impact our families have on the environment.
I’m not going to tell you to ditch the nappies, baby wipes and all the plastic packaging we get from the supermarkets – we all know how much that would help – but it’s far from easy to achieve. So I’m going to focus on the really easy changes you can make. After all:
We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.Anne-Marie Bonneau, @ZeroWasteChef
Carry reusable bottles/cups with you
I think a lot of people are already making changes like these, particularly with companies such as Costa and Starbucks incentivising the idea by offering discounts on your order. But it’s so easy to be caught outside of the house without a drink and end up buying something from a coffee shop or convenience store.
Carrying a water bottle around with you is not only good for the planet, but it’s better for your wallet and your health, as few of us drink enough water. It also instills good drinking habits in our children.
Switch out the handwash
There’s only me and the boy at home most of the time but we still manage to get through handwash pretty damned fast – I imagine for bigger families, you’ll be flying through those bottles (if everyone’s washing their hands 🙈). You can get all sorts of gorgeous, colourful soaps that smell lush and can easily compete with the likes of strawberry lace handwash!
I’ve got a nice suction wall-mounted soap dish and the soapy water just drips down onto the surface below – it’s far easier to give that a quick wipe down than to wipe up the grime that ends up on those handwash bottles.
Ditch the single-use sanitary towels
There’s a few different ways you can do this, including cloth pads/pants that you can get that simply need a wash before you can reuse them, but here I’m talking specifically about a menstrual cup – more commonly known by the brand Mooncup. For those of you who don’t know, a menstrual cup is a reusable silicon ‘cup’ that is inserted into the vagina to catch the menstrual blood rather than absorb it, like a tampon. They don’t need emptying as frequently as you would typically change a tampon or pad and they can last up to ten years! Menstrual cups don’t tend to leak if they’re fitted properly and you can usually tell if they aren’t as they just feel a bit different. There are YouTube tutorials on the best way to insert them (non-graphic, don’t worry!) and to make sure you’ve got a good fit.
For me, switching to a menstrual cup has been such an easy transition. It feels so much cleaner than sanitary towels. Once upon a time I might have been a bit grossed out by the idea, but I think becoming a mum desensitises you to a lot of things! If you’re not used to tampons, like I wasn’t, you do need to remind yourself that you’re wearing a cup as it’s easy to forget it’s there!
Ban the crap toys!
I find it crazy that in this day and age, restaurants and shops are still giving away crappy plastic toys that end up lost or in the bin just days later (if they last even that long). As parents, let’s boycott the fast food restaurants, chocolate eggs and magazines that entice children in with their miniature toys and start a culture change where we encourage our children to value quality over quantity. Babies and toddlers want to play with anything but their own toys most of the time and older kids can understand the reasoning of saving up for a really good toy – even if they don’t necessarily agree with it at the time. Invest in toys that keep on giving or that all the kids can enjoy (if they’ll share!) and, even better, buy them in a charity shop or second hand from Facebook marketplace or Shpock. And if all else fails, bribe them with something else!
Get involved with Terracycle
Ok so I put this towards the end as it isn’t the easiest on the list – it does require a little effort. But if you’re passionate about making a difference by recycling every day items that you use at home that would otherwise go into landfill – it’s absolutely worth it.
Terracycle is a scheme that recycles the ‘non-recyclable’ and raises money for charity. The scheme local to us here in Gloucestershire raises money for the charity Kicks Count which raises awareness of the importance of pregnant women knowing what’s normal for their baby’s movements so they can quickly notice if something might be wrong. As at February 2020, Gloucestershire residents collecting waste for Terracyle have raised nearly £2500 for the charity – and stopped well over 600kg of waste going into landfill.
Some examples of household waste that the scheme accepts:
- Baby food pouches
- Crisp packets
- Chocolate, biscuit and cake bar wrappers
- Tassimo coffee pods
- Toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes
My next steps…
My next change is to find a plastic free deodorant. It took me a long time to find a deodorant that I liked and worked well for me so I know this might not be an easy switch. But I’m willing to give it a go! I’ve always been a bit of a ‘buy in bulk’ kind of person so it pains me as I’m still trying to get through all the plastic products that I’ve bought in the past – but when they’re gone I can make much more positive choices for me and my family.
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