Plastic Free July: The Parenting Edition

You’re probably about to roll your eyes and think ‘here she is, harping on about plastic again’…well yes, I am at it again but if it got Sir David Attenborough onto the stage at Glastonbury, then I’m pretty sure it’s a hot topic! So, I’m going to revel in the fact I’m on trend for once and possibly help you to save the planet at the same time…go me!

Plastic Free July is a global initiative encouraging everyone to reduce their consumption of single use plastics throughout the whole month of July.

Plastic Free July is a great idea but it does seem a bit daunting, especially as plastics seem to crop up EVERYWHERE (yes, I’m STILL not over the teabag revelation).

Your family might use plastic straws, water bottles, and bags for just a few minutes but, those items don’t disappear when they’re thrown out. Single use items like these account for more than 40% of plastic waste, and each year 8.8 million tonnes of plastic waste flows into our oceans. Unfortunately there’s no positive spin on this, it’s endangering wildlife, polluting the water and putting human health at risk!

The stats are frightening, but you’ve got a secret weapon to curb your family’s plastic use: your kids!

Many children care deeply about wildlife and they certainly don’t want to watch a sea turtle suffocate from a plastic straw, or see a seahorse clinging onto a cotton bud. From a young age most kids seem to understand that they are inheriting the planet and that it’s their responsibility to look after it. Small changes to your family’s routine can empower your children to make a real difference in the fight against plastic.

Get them started with these top tips:

Keep it Real

Keep reminding yourself that every piece of plastic you choose to refuse is a win! Don’t give yourself a hard time if you can’t manage to massively reduce all your plastic use…simply remembering to take your own bags to the supermarket is a great start. Give each of your kids a reusable shopping bag and they can help to pack at the checkout. Nothing wrong with a bit of child labour!

Singing out for the Summer

At the ice-cream shop, always choose a cone over a tub and plastic spoon…whether you have a flake or not is still your call! Take it further by helping your children to talk to the owner/manager about switching to compostable utensils. Your kids might just be cute enough to change someone’s stance.

Plastic free yumminess!

If you’re planning a trip to the beach, make sure those plastic buckets and spades, beach balls, and inflatable flamingoes don’t float out to sea. Put your kids in charge of tracking their items and making sure all the toys are back in the car at the end of the day.

Beach babes

It’s festival season, grab some eco glitter! We have been using it for a little while now, it’s slightly more powdery in texture but I’m sure you’ll feel happier knowing your children’s faces are covered in plant based particles instead of microplastics. Read my other post for more tips on how to make your festival season more sustainable.

Or go the extra mile and invest in a ready made eco festival kit like this one we were kindly gifted to take along to our festivals this Summer. Available from Pic ‘n’ Mix it contains everything you need for a plastic free weekend of festival fun!

Our kit on location at Timber Festival
Credit: Pic ‘n’ Mix Festival Kit
Order yours using code PNMDINO10 for 10% off. Click HERE
Me & Eli wearing our eco glitter at Timber Festival

Going for a picnic? Instead of packing your sandwiches in plastic food bags, reach for reusable wrappers made of cloth or waxed paper. Then toss an apple or a banana in the bag instead of a plastic-wrapped snack.

Leave baby wipes for cute little bottoms and take a dampened face cloth out with you in a wash bag for mucky hands and faces! This is also a great tip for hot Summer days as you can pop it into the freezer the night before and it doubles as a cool soother on the forehead or back of the neck when your littles are out and about.

Pick it up

We’re parents, seriously how much time do we spend in parks and playgrounds? Pick up 3 pieces of litter/plastic every time you visit and take it home to dispose of it correctly, recycling where possible. Get the kids involved and join a community litter pick near you, Stanley was all about the grabber when we did one a few months back!

Litter picking level: Expert

Wear it Out

Buy second hand plastic toys from local selling sites. If things need to be made of plastic let’s make sure they are well used before they are discarded!

Equally, donate or sell on once the toys have been outgrown. Playgroups, nursery’s, your local café, and doctors surgery will be grateful for a handful of toys to keep little ones entertained.

Work it!

Have you got a water fountain at work? Encourage colleagues to bring in reusable cups to keep at their desk and ban the disposable plastic cup from the office.

Little Green Fingers

Get the kids into gardening, it’s a great excuse for them to get dirty and they will love eating goodies (strawberries, peas, carrots, potatoes are all kiddy friendly as a starting point) that they’ve grown themselves.

Join a local kids gardening club if you don’t have the space at home. Read about our experience of our local club here.

Stanley’s super strawberries

Be Supermarket Savvy

What’s your family’s favourite meal? What do you cook most often? Make one meal completely plastic free by sourcing plastic free ingredients. Some supermarkets are now happy to wrap your purchases from the deli/butchers counters etc straight into your own containers.

Google It

Learn where plastic is hidden, do I need to mention the teabags again? Additional rambling: I’ve actually stopped drinking tea, I’m not sure if it’s the whole plastic revelation thing or that I never got back into it fully after my last pregnancy? Who knows, but it’s cut a tiny bit more plastic out here. Talk to your kids about reducing plastic, what changes you will all need to make as a family and why.

Plastic Projects

Make ecobricks with the kids, my boys really enjoyed doing this and it’s a great project for schools and kids clubs etc to get involved with too.

Working on our ecobricks

What is an ecobrick?

An ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed with plastic to a set density to create a reusable building block. Ecobricks are used to make modular furniture, garden spaces and full-scale buildings such as schools and houses.

The concentration!

Whine and Dine

Buy a reusable straw, pop it in your handbag and take it with you. Same goes with a reusable cup, most coffee houses will reduce the price you pay if you’re using your own cup so you’ll save some pennies too…happy days!

If your eating out try and avoid buying kids plastic bottled drinks (I know, I know it’s easier said than done when they’re about to go postal in a VERY public place…may the odds be ever in your favour!) and instead ask for a glass of squash and whip out your straws.

Ban the Bottle

Let each of your kids select a reusable water bottle, then give them the responsibility of hanging onto it. Look for other bottles in your home that can be banished. For example, let them choose their own bar of soap instead of purchasing a bottle of liquid soap for the bathroom. Sames goes for shampoo and conditioner.

And Finally…

Did you know it only takes 21 days of doing something new for it to become a habit? If every family could introduce one small change in their plastic consumption and then make it a habit, our planet will be heading towards a much brighter future.

Credit: plasticfreeJuly.org

Good luck!

All images are my own unless otherwise credited.

Disclaimer: We were gifted our Eco Festival Kit in return for coverage across my blog and social media channels.

I’m sharing this post with:

Confessions of a New Mummy

Shank You Very Much
Twin Mummy and Daddy