Cutting down on plastic waste should be an important matter for any modern household – and should definitely go beyond simply taking the recycling out once a fortnight.
Here, Charlotte Baldwin, shares a few simple ideas for reducing plastic in a busy household, including how you can better educate your children about the importance of recycling and get them started on a path to eco-consciousness.
The need for reducing plastic
Currently, an average household of four people uses around 2,760 plastic products a year – most of which will go to waste, as half of all plastic products made are for one-time use. All of this adds up to the eight million tons of plastic waste that is dumped into the ocean every year. This highlights why it’s so important that everyone does everything they can to help in reducing plastic waste. Simple lifestyle changes will help you do this with ease.
Repurpose and upcycle
One of the most obvious but beneficial things you can do, and teach your children to do, is to re-use and repurpose plastic instead of just putting it in the recycling bin. For example, you could easily re-use ice cream containers to hold other items or for food storage/freezing – you can even upcycle them so they become a feature in the kitchen. Alternatively you can get the children to decorate them and create pieces of artwork. You could also buy plastic products that have been repurposed by others. By doing this you get the products you want but don’t add to your plastic footprint as the items have been previously used.
Another factor that adds massively to global plastic waste is the use of plastic bottles. Children’s packed lunch boxes frequently contain water or juice bottles made of plastic. All too often these bottles are simply thrown away after use. By swapping to a reusable water bottle instead you could save so much unnecessary waste (and money)! This enables you to teach your children how every piece of plastic they save is helping the planet. Plus, children love picking a water bottle just for them! [my 10-year-old and her friends are obsessed with the BOGI ones – Fran].
Reusable shopping bags
For families whose shopping is likely to fill more than a few bags, it’s especially important that you use reusable bags. Many shops sell themed tote bags, so you can get your children to chose the designs they want and have them help you pack the bags when you get to the till. This not only gets them involved with the day-to-day chores by making them a little more fun, but also helps to teach them about reducing plastic consumption at the same time.
Say no to cling film
Many people underestimate how environmentally damaging cling film is, and also don’t realise just how much they use on a daily basis. It can add up quickly, especially in bigger families with lunchboxes to fill and leftovers to wrap! Cling film takes hundreds of years to degrade once it gets to the landfill, which typically happens as many people don’t recycle it. Why use it at all when you can use beeswax wraps and reusable storage containers? These are much safer for the environment and – in the case of containers – are great for children, since different coloured ones are available for them to choose from; they can even customise them.
Watch your shop
When doing your weekly shop, it’s not just the reusable bags that you need to watch out for. Think about the packaging of the products you’re buying. For example, you could buy laundry detergent in cardboard boxes rather than bottles as cardboard is much easier to recycle than plastic. While walking around the supermarket, you’ll soon see other small changes that can be easily made.
Each of these small steps will instantly help reduce your family’s plastic footprint and teach your children about saving the environment along the way. Every little thing you do helps when it comes to saving the planet!
About The Author
Charlotte Baldwin, Operations Manager at IQ Cards:
IQ Cards is a fundraising company that provides schools and establishments with the necessary tools to fundraise via selling high-quality and unique gifts designed by pupils. Several of the IQ cards team are mothers and PTA members themselves appreciating and understanding school protocols extremely well. IQ Cards is an approved supplier for Parentkind. For more information please visit: http://www.iqcards.co.uk/
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