One of the biggest things you can do to help protect our planet for future generations is to ditch the single use plastic. Even plastic that can be recycled (and many can’t be) can’t be recycled infinitely. After only a few times, it will start to degrade, then will either be ‘down-cycled’ and reused for a different purpose, burned for energy or sent to landfill, where it will remain for hundreds of years.
Here’s a few tips for reducing plastic use and being kinder to the environment.
Reusable Drinks Bottles – If your kids are like mine, they have eleventy billion drinks a day. We’re pretty good as a family on this front, as we have quite a few reusable drinks bottles for the kids. However, when it comes to us as adults, we are less organised and end often end up buying a drink in a single use plastic bottle, but recently we have bought shiny new drinks bottles for ourselves too! Its very exciting and the kids have been really helpful at reminding us not to forget them.
Milk in Glass Bottles – its used to be the only way to get milk (showing my age!). But in recent years, plastic has become more popular. We’ve had a milkman for many years but for a long time had the plastic/poly bottles delivered. When we finally made the switch to glass we loved it. There’s something so satisfying about putting those empty glass bottles out for the milkman to collect on his next delivery. And the kids noticed the change too which prompted conversations about how we can all make small changes which can add up to a big change.
Do Your Food Shop On-line – There are so many reasons for this – save dragging the kids round with you, save time, you only buy what you need, you can do it in your PJ’s at 11pm at night. It’s a winner for me. I’ll pay that delivery charge every single time just to not have the toddler meltdown whilst I decide which pasta shapes to buy. But there is also another reason. It helps the environment if you get your shopping delivered. One delivery van driving around to multiple houses on an efficient route will help to reduce the number of cars on the road making individual trips to the shops. Which is a good thing.
🥕 Support local businesses and enjoy delicious fresh produce delivered to your door, with fruit, veg, meat and more. There’s plenty of local suppliers to choose from here.
Shop Savvy – If you’re shopping in person, don’t put your bananas in a plastic bag if you don’t need to. It doesn’t save you any time and bananas actually already have protective covering – isn’t nature great? Seriously though, we’ve kind of become used to wrapping everything in plastic for some reason, even when we really don’t need to. Obviously sometimes it’s unavoidable, but this is about reducing, not eliminating. There are also now some shops where you can take your own reusable containers to refill everything from pasta to shower gel.
🛒 Check out Open House, ‘Gateshead’s Planet Conscious Zero Waste Shop’ in Low Fell, offering a wide range of food, drink and household items, in-store or for delivery. Plus find helpful tips throughout Plastic Free July on their Facebook page.
Reusable Shopping Bags – International Plastic Bag Free Day is July 3rd every year. We all have reusable shopping bags at home – and hopefully remember to take them with us every time we go to the shops!
Go Paperless – mobile phone bills, energy bills and bank statements can all be viewed or sent online. Just think how much paper this could save if we all made the switch. I actually prefer it, otherwise I feel like I have to find a place to keep all this paper – you know, just in case.
Turn it off! – Energy conservation is one of the most important things to help you reduce your carbon footprint – and it will help reduce your energy bills too! #bonus
Use LED Lightbulbs – Not only do LED bulbs last longer, they are also more efficient and so will need replacing less frequently – saving you money in the long run.
Baby Wipes – They have plastic in them. It’s sad but true. Lots of families are now beginning to use reusable wipes, not just for nappy changing, but for those face and hand wipes too. You can buy these fairy cheaply on Amazon or you can even get pack of 10 washcloths form Ikea for about £3.50 which you can obviously wash and reuse. I’ll definitely be stocking up in preparation for weaning in a few weeks! On the same note, reusable nappies are obviously mega eco and budget friendly. I know they’re not for everyone but it’s definitely something to think about.
👶 Parenting North East hold a regular ‘Nappy Natter’ (currently via Zoom) to chat about cloth nappies, and they offer a range of options for hiring cloth nappy kits with everything you need to test them out. Find out more here.
Eco-friendly laundry – for more sustainable and cost effective laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets, try a fee sample of smol direct to your door. smol provides packs of eco-friendly tablets small enough to fit through your letterbox. Order online for delivery, with savings of up to 50% compared to big brands by cutting out the middleman and selling direct to consumers. Packaging is 100% plastic free and child-safe, made using vegetable-based ink, and is 100% recyclable. Capsules are fragranced using ethically sourced essential oils, with fully soluble and biodegradable capsule films. Moreover, with fewer chemicals than the leading brands and no animal derived ingredients, smol is firmly committed to doing their best for both people and planet. Sign up for a free trial here.
Walk – This has obvious health and economic benefits, but will also help reduce your carbon footprint. I am guilty of jumping in the car far too often for such short journeys, which, by the time I’ve sat in traffic, I could have probably walked quicker – even with the 3 yr old in tow. I’m going to pledge to try to walk more, and this time of year is a great time to start.
Don’t Waste Food – I am also guilty of this. Things go out of date and I have a very real fear of becoming unwell from a dodgy yoghurt, or even worse chicken! Planning your weekly meals will not only help you shop better and save you money, but it will also help reduce food and packaging waste. You can find a handy meal planning guide and recipes here. Knowing what is in your fridge and using stuff up before the Use By date will mean less waste. We sometimes have what is known in our house as a ‘mummy food experiment’. I’m basically just trying to concoct something with all the things that are about to go off. The results are often hilarious, but the kids seem to eat these weird and wonderful creations. Why not give it a go?
Recycle – everything you can! Most of us aren’t going to be able to eliminate single use plastic completely, partly because the supermarkets still have a long way to go and partly because we still need plastic for some things. But we can all make a concerted effort to recycle everything that we possibly can. Councils are committed to reducing waste and increasing recycling and are trying to make it easier for us to be more conscious about waste.
Birthday Parties – this may be one to save in your mental file for a later date when more normality returns to kids birthday parties… but did you know thatParenting North East provide a Reusable Party Kit for hire, so you can save money and avoid all of the disposable tableware. It includes plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, table cloths and more, plus you can even hire bunting, banners, and a re-useable pass the parcel kit. Find out more here.
This month, I am going to commit to try really hard to walk more and use the car less and to be more organised in meal planning to reduce waste. Hopefully it’ll start to become the norm for our family. What will you commit to changing?
Thanks so much to our guest blogger Vicky. If you have family or friends in Stockport be sure to let them know about the Stockport Mumbler website.