Parents - are you ready? We have teamed up with the awesome @Mamalinauk to bring you THE
Plastic-Free Parent Challenge!
It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean, and it poses a serious threat for the world in which our children are growing up.
For the whole month of June, we are challenging parents to think about their waste as a family. Focusing on a different area of family life each week, we've got you covered from from breakfast 'till bedtime.
We hope by the end of it that you'll be able to make some real, sustainable switches for life as a family. To help you, we've set out some guidelines each week to get you started, but you can do as much or little as you can within your family's day-to-day. There will also be some prizes... watch this space.
For now - join us, invite your friends and share with us your ideas using #plasticfreeparent. Also make sure to keep an eye on the discounts page to help you on your way, and sign up to the Facebook event!
WEEK 1 - Plastic-Free Meal Time (4th - 10th June)
Food and drink is one of the biggest offenders for unnecessary plastic... So let's see how much of it we can cut out. This week, our Top 3 are:
1. Plastic Wrapped Veg
Ever been to the supermarket and found individual bananas wrapped in plastic? Gee, I wish bananas had their own hard skin to protect them... In 2016, the EU produced 16.7 million tonnes of plastic packaging, most of which was pointless, so let's get cut it out.
The best place to buy loose fruit and veg is a local market - they are more flexible with you using your own bags/containers, usually don't come wrapped in unnecessary packaging, will usually have in season produce and often a considerable amount cheaper too. It's also so lovely to be able to touch and feel what you purchase, and then base your meals on that. So - how many plastic-free veggies can you source this week?
2. Lunches on-the-go
Packed lunches are a MUCH better way to nourish your little ones than store-bought meals: you control the nutrition and what they're packed in, and of course save some pennies along the way. Homemade sandwiches, veggie sticks and pieces of fruit, a reusable beaker (it takes 1 plastic bottle 450 years to biodegrade...), last night's leftovers are all perfect waste-free options. Pack it up in a reusable lunchbox (we recommend the steel kind) or wrap in a piece of cloth or tea towel and your kids are good to go!
One of the WORST offenders for unnecessary plastic is cling-film. Did you know - a lot of fresh food doesn't need to be plastic-wrapped to stay fresh - you just need to know how to store it properly. You can also use old jam jars or kilner jars to store food in the fridge to keep it perfectly fresh.
Left-over dinner? Leave it in the bowl, put a plate on top, refrigerate. Done!
Got time to get a little creative? Make your own alternative to cling-film with just some cloth, melted beeswax and oil.
WEEK 2 - Plastic-Free Bath Time (11th - 17th June)
Time to make a plastic-free splash at bathtime. Here are our 3 recommendations:
Did you know that a lot of leading brands of toothpaste contain plastic microbeads? Last year, these were banned in the UK and are being phased out... So make sure you check the brand and select a microbeadless paste! We recommend Truthpaste who have a special kids toothpaste are even stock their toothpaste in jars.
One of the most common items to wash up on the shore are plastic toothbrushes. How many toothbrushes do you think you have thrown away during your life? Given we're advised to change our toothbrush every three months - in theory by the time somebody is 30 they will have already binned around 120 toothbrushes. This could mean that in the UK alone more than 256 million toothbrushes are discarded every year.
We massively recommend switching to bamboo - the handles are completely bamboo and whilst the bristles aren't 100% plastic-free - they're a lot better than your old one! You can find bristles in soft, medium and hard. Check out the Zero Waste Club who provide new toothbrush heads to simply pop on top of your handle.
3. Soaps and body wash
Let's go naked! Day to day, water is really all you need to bathe young children, and for those a little older: hard soap and body wash is available packaging free and we LOVE it. We recommend LUSH as they have a great varied selection, natural ingredients and are cruelty-free. Their naked products also have a long shelf-life. We also love Dr Bronners whose fun bright colours always add some bun to bathtime.
Mamalina also has a great recipe for baby wash - find it on her blog!
WEEK 3 - Plastic-Free Toilet Time (18th - 24th June)
We think plastic stinks. Consider these 3 areas for toilet time:
1. Nappies + nappy sacks
Disposable nappies a huge source of waste in any household with young children and are the single largest contributor to landfill in the world - In the UK, 8million disposable nappies are binned EVERY DAY! Reusable nappies are super efficient, comfortable and not to mention, super cute and economical if reusing for multiple children or sourcing second hand.
2. Baby wipes
Yes, even wet wipes contain plastics and make up to 93% of matter causing blockages in UK sewers. Once flushed, they can cause huge problems for wildlife in rivers, beaches and sea beds. Water and a flannel or cloth will do, and can be transported in a sealable tin/box if you're out and about.
We love Cheeky Wipes - reusable, affordable microfibre cloths for your kids, or alternatively just cut up pieces of old cloth or T-shirt - an awesome way to up-cycle old clothes.
3. Toilet paper
Although itself made of paper, most brands come wrapped in plastic. There are toilet papers available made from recycled paper and come completely plastic-free such as Who Gives A Crap. Why not give it a go?
WEEK 4 - Plastic-Free Play Time (25th June - 1st July)
Time to have fun! What creative ways can you come up with to play plastic-free?
Here's what we've come up with:
1. Arts and crafts
From biodegradable glitter to upcycling old trinkets to finding treasures in nature, there are a load of ways you can get creative at play time. Watch this space for a video of creative ideas with Muddy Puddle Adventure group!
2. Plastic/Battery operated toys
Toys toys toys... did you know that 8.5 million NEW toys are thrown away in the UK each year? We have SO many plastic-free, waste-free options. There are of course plastic-free options like wooden toys, board games which we love so much, but these can be expensive if they're not already in the family.
Why not give some pre-loved toys a new home? Charity shops and second-hand stores are always fun of things to keep your little ones entertained (of course, we always recommend washing things you buy second hand, to be on the safe side!)
Time to get messy! Put on your aprons and see what you can make. From sourcing plastic-free ingredients to reusable baking paper and, of course, avoiding that cursed cling film, there's no end to what can be created in the kitchen. Mash up black bananas to make delicious banana bread.
WEEK 5 - BONUS - Plastic-Free Parent Time (2nd - 8th July)
Parents, now it's all about you! Put your feet up and enjoy some well deserved plastic-free me time:
Time to relax in the bath with a glass of red and candles? Cheap candles often come in a plastic-wrapped multipack and don't last for long. Higher-quality candles may be more expensive, but they last longer, smell nicer and you can pop them in a jar, tin or holder - completely plastic-free! We love Pur Candles which are all hand poured and contain absolutely no nasties, only natural products.
You can also remodel old, melted wax into a candle with some new wick. Really get your money's worth and avoids any more packaging.
2. Tea and coffee
Gosh do we love hot drinks but let's be mindful about how we consume them. Did you know that several leading brands of teabag contain plastic?
We recommend a switch to a loose-leaf tea or 100% biodegradable teabags. Coffee can also be a huge offender... In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cup PER DAY! So don't forget to take your reusable mug for coffee on-the-go.
Capsule machines use a huge amount of plastic per capsule - stick with a good old French Press which is also fun for minis to plunge once it's brewed. We are huge fans of the Keep Cup glass edition cup for transporting our brews.
And always remember: if you're out and about, never forget your reusable mug to get that cuppa to go!
3. Sanitary items
This one's for the ladies. Think how many disposable sanitary products you go through each year... Such a lot of waste and they sure aren't cheap. There are eco-friendly alternatives made from biodegradable materials, or you could try out a reusable cup. We love the Fair Squared menstrual cup made from Fair Trade natural rubber and totally silicone and plastic free. Alternatively why not look into Thinx pants or reusable cloth pads. Find what works best for you!
Plastic-free parenting... Sorted! Remember: The challenges are designed as a guideline. Find out what works best for your family and don't forget to share it with us by sending it in or using #plasticfreeparent!
~ Plastic-Free Me & Mamalina