We’ve all heard how having a family leaves quite a sizeable carbon footprint on the planet. The nappies, the amount of plastic products we find ourselves buying, the extra water used for laundry and washing…the list goes on. But when we need those things, what can we do to ensure that we are minimising the effects that having a family is having on the environment?
Nappies: disposable nappies have their advantages; they’re quick, there’s minimal fuss getting them on and off, and they’re quickly and easily disposed of. With the multitude of other things to get your head round with a newborn, the last thing any of us want to do is make something more complicated than it has to be. However, re-usable nappies are continually changing in design, meaning that many of the leading brands are just as easy to get on and off as disposables. In fact, the majority of re-usable designs work just like a disposable would. Its just the disposing of that is a bit different. Instead of straight into waste, and then into landfill, they go straight into the washing machine to be used again. Seems like a fantastic solution. So why aren’t more parents using them? In short, most of us are probably put off by the perceived extra workload of washing a load of nappies every day or two. However, once you do it a few times, it just becomes part of your daily routine, like putting on the dishwasher. Cost is also a consideration for many families whose incomes are already stretched. Yes, buying a bulk load of re-usables is a costly endeavour, but some calculations show that you end up saving money in the long term when compared to buying disposables for around three years. Investing in re-usable nappies may seem like the more overwhelming choice, but it is a choice that will contribute to a healthier environment, as well as helping to reduce your own carbon footprint. You can keep using them for as long as your family grows, something to be passed down to each new family member, which is quite a nice thought.
Toys: my goodness, the amount of money parents seem to find themselves spending on plastic stuff is something you never really think about until it happens to you! Everything, it seems, is plastic! However, there are lots of lovely websites out there that specialise in selling high quality wooden toys, as well as toys made from other sustainable materials. Wooden toys have the added advantage of becoming something which can be passed down the generations too. When you think about the amount of single use plastic toys that end up in landfill, there’s no disputing the fact that choosing to buy toys made from wood or other ecologically sound materials is the far more environmentally friendly choice.
Plastic: Tupperware, food wrap, toothbrushes, bubble bath, cleaning products. All the things you absolutely need to keep your home and your little ones safe, clean and healthy all seem to come in plastic. But just because it’s everywhere you look, doesn’t mean there isn’t another choice. There are eco-friendly alternatives, they just take a bit more looking for. Tupperware and food wrap is essential in the weaning and toddler stages, as well as the lunch box stage and, well, all through life really! However, there are some fantastic alternatives to food wrap that is made from Beeswax. It comes in lengths you can cut to size, is washable, and can last up to around a year, depending on the brand. A great, and probably healthier, way to store food without using plastic! You can even get wooden or rubber-based toothbrushes now. They may be a little pricier but, again, the fact that it would be one less plastic toothbrush clogging up landfill makes it an eco-friendly choice. And to reduce the amount of plastic bottles kept in your cleaning cupboard, a simple cleaning solution of water, baking soda and a few drops of lemon is a natural and cost effective way of keeping your surfaces clean.
Living in general will always leave some degree of a carbon footprint on the planet. But by making a few changes in our daily routines and consumer choices, we can all become small trailblazers for the future generations and the planet they’ll be inheriting.
For more ideas for leading a more eco friendly life please visit www.planetchildren.co.uk