So you've fully embraced the whole plastic-free living movement, single-use plastic packaging is no more in your house, plastic bags are a gonna, reusable water bottle, check, picking up plastic on your beach walks, yep, but you seem to be stumbling in one area when it comes to your plastic-free efforts, your kids & you're not the only one! It seems like every toy out there for kids is basically plastic tat, that's not just bad for the environment but possibly our children's health as well. So what can you do . . . although some plastic is unavoidable, it’s not impossible to drastically reduce it so here are our top tips for plastic-free (ish) living with kids!
1. Educate. Talk to your kids about plastic pollution, teach your kids about the planet and the importance of its protection, explain why you're picking up that plastic on the beach, why you recycle, help give them the information they need to make informed choices when they are older. For fun ways to teach your kids about plastic & the planet check out National Geographic Kids page.
- Only 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled.
- 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea each year.
- 1 million plastic water bottles are bought worldwide every minute.
- 9 billion fewer plastic bag has been used in the UK since the 5p bag charge.
- 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly, which could encircle the world 7 times.
- The average person eats 70,000 microplastics each year.
- In the North Pacific Ocean, there is 6x's more plastic debris than plankton.
- Over the past 50 years, plastic production has doubled.
- Plastic bags were first introduced to supermarkets in 1977!
- According to the national geographic 73% of litter found on a beach is plastic.
2. Choose the cone! It's just a little change to choose ice cream in a cone instead of a tub on a nice sunny day but you've just saved the waste of the little tub & plastic spoon!
3. Communicate your desire to live plastic-free to friends and family members, yes some may not listen, but most will – little one's birthday coming up, request books or heirloom wooden toys, explain that these types of gifts can be kept for many years to come so will be more used & loved.
4. On the go snacking. Make your own snacks & you've just saved on all the plastic wrappers from the sweets & crisps you would have inevitably ended up having to buy on family days out. Take your snacks out and about with you in bee's wax wraps, fabric pouches & drinks in stainless steel water bottles, for extra eco-friendly brownie points!
5. Play. Children' products are the most intensive users of plastics amongst consumer goods, about 15 times higher than the plastic usage in food packaging, with 90% of all toys & tableware for babies and toddlers between the age of 0-3 years being made solely of plastic!
By choosing sustainable toys that are built to last & made for keeps they can be passed on to new members as familys grow instead of ending up on landfills. Fabric or wood are always good choices.
7. Felt tip pens, they get used once, the lids get left off, they dry up, they end up in the bin, you buy some more & start the whole process again. Their's loads of eco-friendly crayon option available now, chalk or colouring pencils.
8. Plastic-free mealtimes. We all know plastic takes a really long time to break down but did you know their potential health risks as well. BPA amongst other nasties are often added to plastics to make them more durable but are known to disrupt hormones and can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to weight gain and hormone imbalance. Which makes going plastic-free at mealtimes a must, with bamboo, wood, & stainless steel being perfect alternatives.
What about the plastic that manages to sneak into your home? Don't beat yourself up just because you have some plastic in your house, it doesn't mean your efforts aren't valid. “Plastic-free” doesn’t mean throwing away every bit of plastic that enters your house, and you're inevitably going to accumulate some plastic toys over the course of your child’s life, be it gifts off others or that toy your little one just had to have. So don't get hung up over it & as they say in frozen...let it go....let it goooo!
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax ~