5 June, 2018 is World Environment Day, and there’s no denying that the way we live is having lasting, even irreversible, impacts on our world. It can all feel rather hopeless, but there are daily ways we can easily help out this planet on which we live. Even the busiest of families can make little changes with a big impact.
By just swapping out a few things in daily family life, we can make a difference.The best thing is that often these swaps help you save money too!
Something generations before us did really well was reuse. One of the key things for reducing the amount of waste that pours into animal habitats and oceans is to bring back this resourceful habit.
Invest in a re-usable coffee cup and water bottle for your kids
Did you know that most take away coffee cups have a plastic lining that can take centuries to biodegrade? When you head out for your much-needed caffeine and a babycino, don’t forget your reusable cup. Kids will love choosing their colour (same with the water bottle) if you buy new, but it can be as simple as a mug, or even a jar. Many cafes offer a reduction when you BYO cup, find one near you on the Responsible Cafes website.
Ditch plastic in lunchboxes
Where possible, use biodegradable beeswax wraps (that you can bury in the garden when you’re done with them) and reusable containers instead of cling wrap. Also reduce those juice boxes and individually wrapped snacks – this is where bulk buying can help your pocket and the environment.
Save all containers
Empty jars, egg containers and plastic takeaway containers are perfect for art, craft and party decorations. When it comes to craft, kids don’t need anything fancy. They’ll get creative with some coloured textas and paint, and in fact it allows their imagination to run wild.
Use reusable bags
Most plastic bags are non-biodegradable, meaning they take decades to break down and are reaching our waterways - also meaning adorable turtles think they’re jellyfish and eat them. Sad face. You can buy a few to store in your handbag and car or thrift a reusable bag out of an old t-shirt.
Switch to cloth nappies
Consider using reusable cloth nappies. You’re saving disposables from landfill, and as long as you make sure you’re adding other washing into the load, you won’t necessarily be running more machine loads. Plus, you’ll have them all ready to go for bub number two, or friends with newborns.
Making careful choices about what you buy makes a big difference in the long run. Particularly when it comes to the materials they’re made out of, and how eco-friendly their production was.
Avoid purchasing plastic toys
Explain to your kids why it’s not a good idea to get any more collectible Shopkins. Not only is the toy itself damaging to the environment when disposed of, the amount of plastic it is packaged in is way over the top! It’s also nice to choose kids’ gifts that have a purpose – check out this list curated by Kinderling Conversation’s Shevonne Hunt.
Buy foods that are in season
By shopping seasonally, you’re normally shopping locally, which reduces food miles, reduces the amount of spoilage and means fresher food too!
Listen to Kinderling Conversation:
Consider incorporating a few meat-free meals into your weekly meal plan – whether it’s Meat-free Monday, or more frequently.
Get clothes second hand
Hand-me-downs, thrift stores and clothes swaps are all great ways to reduce the amount of clothing that goes into landfill. Involved kids in these purchases too, and you’ll be sure they wear them!
While it’s great to make careful purchases and reuse what you already have, it can be easy to just chuck it in the bin and think that’s the end of it. Not everything that is waste should go to landfill. It’s just a matter of checking labels before you toss.
Return medicines to the pharmacy
Disposing your unwanted medicines in the household garbage or down the drain or toilet can be extremely damaging to the environment, as there are potential risks from medications that end up in surface and drinking water. Instead of tipping it in the sink, some/most chemists have a medication return scheme where unwanted medicines can be given back free of charge for proper disposal.
Walk instead of drive
When running local errands, see if you can walk or ride your bikes instead of piling into the car. Often this can be easier with older kids, but even if you trade out one car trip every now and then with littlies, not only are you making an environmental difference, but you’re teaching your kids healthy exercise habits too. Or use public transport – kids love trains and buses!
Get a compost bin
Sure, these sound messy and space-filling. But they don’t have to be! There are small bokashi composting bins or tiny worm farms that can fit on a shelf in your kitchen that don’t smell. Or, you can take food waste to your local community garden for their compost bins. It’s also a great way to show your child how food is grown. You could even start your own veggie patch. If that sounds like too much effort – plant some hardy herbs in little pots that kids can help with. Mint is a great one, and kids start to learn where their food comes from.
Pick up rubbish
As a family when you’re out and about – at the beach, park or walking down your street – teach kids why we don’t drop rubbish on the ground and take home what you find to dispose of properly.
Part of the reason we’re in this environmental wasteland in the first place is that everything is so disposable, and a replacement is just a quick flash of the credit card. To stop this cycle, try to fix something before throwing it out including clothes, toys, kitchen appliances, etc.
With our country disposing so much waste per year, and contributing to carbon dioxide levels, these above steps can ensure that you keep your carbon footprint down and help out the environment every day you can.
Even if you just make one daily change, you’ll be making a BIG change. And if you needed extra motivation to get recycling, think of all the adorable little turtles you’ll be helping.
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