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As a family, we’ve been working really hard to try and reduce the amount of waste we produce, in particular, single use plastic. It really is quite difficult to do – everything from the supermarket seems to be wrapped in plastic, and wherever you go, you have disposable this and throw away that handed to you. I get it – it’s easy and convenient, and as a family with two full time working parents and four children, I’m all about an easy life.
However, as much as I want an easy life, I want a world left for my kids, and my grandkids and their kids to enjoy, and to be honest, the way we are going, they’re isn’t going to be one. I’m a bit of hypocrite I guess – I’ve chosen to have four children (overpopulating the planet!) and I drive a car. I also definitely don’t do all of these things on this list all of the time. I felt pretty shit about that until I saw this quite in a group on Facebook:
‘It’s not about a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly, it’s about a billion people doing it imperfectly’
I now realise that making even one small change at a time is making a difference, albeit a small one. If we can all make one small change, think of the impact that would have on our environment. It would be huge!
Here are just a few (relatively) simple changes you can make
This is one I say, but don’t do. We have used cloth nappies in the past when Alex was in nappies. We didn’t use them for Ben and don’t use them for Elizabeth. Sadly, that is down to convenience – I already struggle to keep on top of washing with five of us; throw another baby plus nappies in the equation and I fear we may suffocate under the avalanche of washing. Not only that, but the initial outlay of money is out of our reach at the moment. However, I LOVED using cloth nappies, and if I could, I would do it again with no hesitation. Not only are you saving thousands of nappies from being sent to landfills, but they look super cute as well. If you are able to make the swap, I highly recommend it.
We will be using a combination of reusable wipes and normal baby wipes. We did use reusable wipes when Alex was a baby alongside the nappies and still have a few of them left. We haven’t bought any wipes since Ben has been toilet trained. We use flannels to wipe faces and hands and when there is the odd need to wipe a bum, the leftover cheeky wipes come out. We will be using them again when at home for non-poo nappy changes, and flannels for face and hand. It’s not perfect, but even avoiding using wipes a couple of times a day is a step in the right direction.
This is one we have made a lot of effort with and while still not perfect, we manage to remember them about 70% of the time. We are apparently getting water fountains put in around North Wales to refill them, but we’ve found that most places are happy to refill with tap water. If we do forget them, we either buy a can of pop or take the bottles home to refill and use a few more times.
Take away cups
This is one of my biggest downfalls. I love me a takeout coffee. If we are going out for a long day, I do try and take a flask out with me but it’s not the same. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke: coffee is my thing. More places are amenable to refilling reusable cups but it’s remembering to have one with me. Greggs are brilliant for it though, so I do tend to head there. They sell a decent reusable cup for £2 and it comes with a free coffee in there, so it literally costs pennies. Plus, it’s a pretty decent coffee!
This has been brilliant in so many ways. I love fizzy water, and while it’s cheap to buy in the supermarket, I won’t because I don’t want even more plastic. The Soda Stream means I can make it whenever I want and add flavourings if I want. It’s also great for encouraging me to drink more water. It’s really easy to use – simply fill the bottle up with tap water and pop it under. Press the button down and within a few seconds, you have perfectly fizzed water. You can even control how fizzy you make it. Once the gas canister has run out (lasts for about sixty litres), you can take it to various shops and trade it in.
Period Pants & Cups
I wrote a blog post about this last year, which you can read here. Obviously, it isn’t something I’m needing to worry about now, but in general, it’s been the easiest change of all to make. I swapped out tampons with plastic wrappers and applicators for an Enna cup, and have ModiBodi pants for those days where something is needed, but the cup is too much.
This is the next change I want to make. The boys and Graham take packed lunches to school and work most days, and while we have mostly made the swap to reusable tubs (old takeaway containers), sometimes we do end up using tin foil or sandwich bags. Tinfoil is marginally better because it can be recycled but it’s still not perfect. Beeswax wraps work in the same way but can be reused over and over again. Plus, they look pretty!
Using plates to cover food
This is the easiest change of all for anyone because it doesn’t involve any extra work or cost – in fact, it will save both. Instead of using cling film (god, I hate that stuff!) or foil to cover leftovers in the fridge, use another plate, or put it in a container – leftover takeaway containers are perfect for this.
This is something I would love to do but sadly, living in a house with next to no spare storage means it’s not always easy. Buying in bulk or the biggest packs usually saves money and reduces the amount of packaging. For example, pasta. We use a lot of pasta and each small pack is wrapped in a considerable amount of plastic. Not only that but in the delivery process to the shop, it’s probably wrapped in shrink plastic as well. Where possible, we buy the huge packs which mean (slightly) less plastic. The same goes for things like loo rolls.
No plastic bags.
This is something we should all be doing anyway at the moment, and again, it’s easy enough to do. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect. Some night we randomly stop off at a shop to grab a few bits and realise we have no bags in the car. I do have a rather lovely bag that folds up to go in my bag, so I’ve got into the routine of putting it straight back in my handbag. Every plastic carrier bag you don’t use makes a big difference.