Is plastic-free parenting possible?

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When I first thought about trying to cut down our single-use plastic use as a family I was incredibly daunted by the prospect. I thought it would be expensive, take way more time than I had spare, and would lead to us having to give up lots of the things we loved. 

I have learned a lot, and I still have a lot to learn but we’re on a journey and get closer to our goal of being as plastic-free as we possibly can every day.  

I have found, that some options are more expensive but there are other things we’ve been able to stop buying so it has balanced out. Some things do take more time, but now that we’ve added new ways of doing things into our weekly routine this doesn’t feel unmanageable. And, we’ve found alternatives we love as well as finding we care so much more about trying to cut down that we’ll happily choose to give up some things. Here are some of the changes we have made so far.

Out and About
  • When lunchboxes and water bottles have needed replacing we’ve bought metal ones and water bottles and we all have re-useable cups for hot drinks, including for Big brother.
  • We didn’t use straws much apart from when the kids were given them and now we whip out our metal and bamboo ones and say, ‘no thanks!’
  • When our cling film ran out we didn’t replace it and I haven’t missed it since!
  • It takes a bit more planning but every week I try and do a food shop with as little plastic as possible. This means less spontaneity and sometimes going out of our way to find things in different shops but actually it’s helped with our budget ultimately as we are limiting what we can buy. Wonky and reduced veg in supermarkets are absolute winners for us when it comes to food. 
Baby & Toddler
  • We didn’t use reusable nappies with baby number one but we’ve managed it with number two and we’re loving it. We’ve managed to get lots of our ‘stash’ secondhand and have found it way easier than we expected.
  • We use cheeky wipes instead of baby wipes but any kind of cloth wipe works well. I’ve actually found them way more effective at wiping than disposable ones.
  • When it comes to birthdays or new toys we try really hard to direct people to our plastic-free wish list but we also buy second-hand or swap with friends. I’d rather re-use secondhand plastic and save it going to landfill than buy new plastic.
  • There are so many recipes for homemade beauty products and I’ve had fun experimenting. Currently loving my homemade soap, using a shampoo bar and apple cider vinegar to condition.
  • I’m completely converted to my metal safety razor, when I concentrate it does a way better shave then my plastic razors used to.
  • We buy our toilet paper in bulk unwrapped now so we just get months worth of rolls delivered in a big cardboard box. 
  • I’ve enjoyed experimenting with homemade cleaners and am amazed at the effectiveness of lemons, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda when it comes to cleaning our house!
  • We also have masses of wipes/cloths which all just go in the washing machine when used. I haven’t bought a cloth in over a year now.

Those are just some of the changes we’ve made. We’re constantly trying new things and learning lots as we go.

The little steps matter and each thing we do is better than doing nothing. There was a quote which was all over social media a few months ago from Anne-Marie Bonneau (a zero waste chef) who said:

‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.’

I think that’s the biggest thing I’d love people to hear when it comes to thinking about plastic-free parenting. We don’t need to change everything all at once. 

Throwing out all your plastic only sends it to landfill sooner so even first thinking about how we extend the life of the plastic we already own is helpful. Or, when we do buy something plastic thinking about how we make it multi-use. For example, re-using a plastic tub as much as possible before we throw it away.

The biggest change for me has been that the more I’ve researched and made changes the more I’ve found that my attitude has changed. I’ve become more passionate and more keen to make changes and it’s gotten easier.

If you haven’t started your journey yet then why not pick one small change you could make this week? 

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