We’ve made huge strides in reducing plastic pollution since the Earth Day Network Campaign announced this as its mission on this year’s Earth Day on 22nd April. Plastic Free July saw millions of participants across 170 countries limiting single-use plastics, and big corporations including Starbucks, McDonalds, IKEA and Costa Coffee have committed to phasing out the use of plastic drinking straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, plastic-coated paper plates and cups and more.
Here are some of the steps we’ve taken to cut down on plastic usage at home:
I think every French home has one of these market shopping bags, and just about every farmers’ market has a stall selling these and other baskets pretty cheaply. They’re hardwearing and pretty. I like the one with long straps so I can easily carry them on my shoulder. I also limit the plastic we bring into our home by buying vegetables and fruit loose from the market – the plastic used to package groceries in supermarkets is crazy, and fresh, local, preferably organic produce is always better for you and the environment.
We also have some cotton bags similar to these for produce; they’re great for the things we get from the bulk bins at our local health food shop, such as dried beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. As a bonus, food from bulk bins tends to be cheaper (and often fresher) because you’re not paying for plastic packaging. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, they’re really easy to make your own.
Water Bottles and Drinking Straws
We’re big fans of Klean Kanteen‘s BPA-free stainless steel reusable water bottles. They’re more expensive than the plastic kind, but really durable, and I love that you can change the caps as your child grows; right now Noah has the sippy cap, but he’ll transition to the sport and leak-proof loop caps as he grows.
Henry is obsessed with straws, and whilst they’re not a necessity, I’m all for anything that will encourage him to drink more water. We used to ask for straws in bars and restaurants, but now I make sure we have these stainless steel reusable straws in my bag. They come with a little cleaning brush, but I find that if we give them a quick rinse after use they’re really easy to keep clean.
The compounds in cling film are potentially toxic to our health, and studies have linked toxins in plastic to cancer and fertility and foetal problems. Lately, we’ve been using Bees Wrap, a bees wax coated fabric that uses the heat from your hands to mould to what ever it is you want to wrap and store. They can’t be heated and obviously aren’t vegan, but they’re washable, reusable and even compostable. You could also make your own.
We have a wooden brush and metal dustpan, which is super hard wearing, and can be used to clear still-hot ashes from the fires.
I’ve also been making my own daily natural cleaner which I’ll post the recipe for soon. It is super easy to mix up, smells lovely and is free from nasty chemicals, so is great for Noah’s high chair, worktops and table surfaces. I store it in this amber glass bottle.
We’ve switched from plastic to these bamboo tooth brushes from Humble Brush.
We also buy enormous bottles of Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap. The soap is organic, fair trade certified and packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle and is free from synthetic preservatives, detergents and foaming agents. I love the rose scent and we buy the baby unscented version for the boys. I use it on everything from the boys’ hair to the natural home cleaner I use every day, and in a pinch you can even use it to wash dishes and hand wash delicate clothes.
Reducing our plastic consumption is an ongoing process and something I’m constantly learning more about. I’d love to hear your tips, advice and ideas in the comments.
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