Zero Waste Families
As parents we have a responsibility to lead by example for our kids, and being eco friendly and trying to be as zero waste as possible, is definitely something worth doing. But how can we make real changes, and not burden our already over complicated and stressful lives?
Here are some small changes which we have made as a family over the last few years. We didn't do them all in the one go, but gradually over time. We changed our habits, so now these things are just what we do as a family. All the small changes do add up!
1. Back to bars
So one of the first things we did was switch to using a shampoo bar. I loved it! My hair felt squeaky clean and the bar has the added bonus of using no plastic, no harsh chemicals and being made locally here in Ireland! I then switched my shower gel for a bar of soap.
2. Reusable coffee cups
Yes, I am the proud owner of a KeepCup and I also brought one I got in my old job out of retirement. I bring them everywhere with me, so I now never have to use a take away cup. Bonus is, that a load of places are now offering a discount for bringing your own cup! Check out the Conscious Cup Campaign here, to see which cafes are signed up in your area
3. Reusable water bottles
I actually noticed how many plastic water bottles we were using when my oldest started in Montessori. She would go with a plastic sports cap bottle everyday and it would come home half drunk, with little bits floating in it, so I would throw out each evening. I invested in a Kleen Kanteen bottle for her, and it's paid for itself about 10 times over at this stage. Now I have two bottles for myself and himself too.
4. Reusable nappies
Forget what your mother did - no more steeping nappies in buckets and boiling in large vats on your cooker. Modern reusable nappies are easy to use, great for the environment and your pocket (less bin charges) and the added bonus of coming in lots of very pretty designs! I gave them a go when my oldest was about 7/8 months old and I'm back using now with my 6 month old. I don't use them everyday - I use a mix of them with disposables as it suits our family. But using just one reusable nappy each day will save around 900 nappies going to landfill by the time my lady is toilet trained! Check out http://www.clothnappylibrary.ie/ for details on how to start, and where you can also rent a beginners loan pack, which is a brilliant way of giving them a try.
5. Reusable wipes
So obviously these kinda go with the nappies. But you can also get for faces and hands if you don't want for bums. I have two sided ones (fleece on one side, Terry towel on the other) that I use to clean madam up after eating. I just wet them under the tap, clean herself and Chuck into the washing machine. No fuss and they actually clean her better than disposable wipes.
6. Reusable wax wraps
So I've started to use these instead of cling film. Very easy to use. I'm actually going to try making some myself (as I have access to beeswax). Since I've started using about 3 months ago, I've used cling film once in that time! A big change and cut down on the plastic.
Yes, the stuff your mother/aunty sold at parties in the 80's is back. Its very practical, comes in a variety of shapes/colours/brands (not just Tupperware branded) and can be used over and over again. I put my cold meats in it in the fridge (think ham, chicken) instead of using cling film to cover the packet. I've also brought empty containers to my local supermarket and butcher and got them to put my meat straight in there, instead of using the little plastic bags. However, you definitely will end up with a press/drawer full of random lids with no bottoms and bottoms with no lids, so be warned!
8. Shopping bags
So we all use reusable shopping bags now, since the plastic bag levy came into place a few years ago. Now I also have cotton and mesh bags that I use in the supermarket. I use them instead of the little plastic bags for my fruit and vegetables or for fresh bread. (Or if you don't have these, why not reuse some of the small plastic bags you already have instead?) When I get past the checkout, I then unwrap as much food into my own bags as possible and leave my non-recyclable plastic in the supermarket. If enough people do this, the supermarkets will have to work with their suppliers to force their hand and reduce the amount of plastic packaging being used. Lidl already have bins at the checkouts specifically for this purpose in certain stores.
9. Meal plan
Did you know that every household in Ireland is responsible for 1 Tonne of food waste each year, with the cost per household between 400eur and 1,000eur? In order to cut down on the amount of food going in our bin, I try to meal plan as much as I can. I do a plan at the start of the week of the dinners I'm going to do for each day, and then make a list of everything I will need. By doing this, I'm no longer getting to the end of the week and throwing out a load of gone off food that I bought with no real plans of how/when to use.
10. Eco friendly toothbrush
I got myself and the hubby some bamboo ones. I wasn't impressed with the brand I got to be honest, as it didn't suit me personally. I need a small toothbrush with a very soft head and the eco ones don't seem offer ones like that currently. However, I got a fantastic one for my 3year old, made of cornstarch! https://www.earthmother.ie/jacknjilltoothbrushkoala.html
11. Switch to a menstrual cup
This is definitely one which took a bit of getting used to! I'd say it was a good 4 cycles before I was entirely comfortable using it, but I would never go back! My menstrual cycles went from 7 days to 4, my bleeding is now a lot less, and I no longer get period pains at all. A total no brainer!
Remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Every small change you make is important.