Did you know that every little bit of plastic ever made, still exists today? They may not be in their original form, some are “downcycled” (made into a low grade product for one more use), but most are broken up and floating around in our environment. That is a disturbing thought…every little bit of plastic ever made is still here!
The issue with most plastic products is they NEVER break down. They will continue to pollute our environment for decades to come. Scientists have predicted that by the year 2050 there will be more tonnes of plastic in our oceans then tonnes of fish! 2050….that is a mere 32 years away. Can you imagine your child snorkeling the barrier reef and seeing more plastic then fish? If there is even a reef still to be seen!
I am sure you have heard all about “Eco July” or “Plastic Free July”. But what is it really all about?
Eco July is about raising our awareness and accountability of our environmental impact. It is about taking small achievable steps to eliminating our reliance on single use plastic. It is also about showing our children, and future generation, how to be more conscious of their impact on mother nature, to live more lightly.
Becoming an Eco Mum!
Motherhood is a particularly difficult time to live sustainably. We have so many disposable products being pushed at us, and life is so busy trying to fit everything in, it is really hard to find the time and energy to avoid the easy plastic options. The key is to take small steps, and do one thing at a time. Incorporate it into your life, make it work for you, and then look at what else you can do next. If you try to go green all at once you will likely find it overwhelming and give up on it entirely as hippy green nonsense!
This July, try these easy eco alternatives
The focus of July is the increasingly massive problem of our use of plastic and the waste it produces, and how to change our behaviours to lessen the impact on our eco system. The team at Milk and Love spends a lot of time examining how to live more lightly during motherhood, and sourcing products to help us live a more environmentally sustainable way.
As we've said before (and will continue to say!), you don’t need to make big drastic changes to begin with. The goal is to start off small, with achievable changes that you can sustain for life. You gradually become more aware of your environmental impact, and take steps to reduce it. Your children will learn from you how to live a more environmentally aware life. Every change makes a difference.
Choose clothes made with natural fabrics, instead of synthetic fabric
In Australia alone, they estimate that more than 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather end up in landfill every year. If the fabric is polyester, which is essentially plastic, then it takes approximately 200 years to break down. Many people dump bags of hardly worn cheap polyester clothes at second hand shops, thinking that the clothes will go to others in need. Unfortunately no one wants to buy these cheap, ill fitting synthetic clothes, and they end up in the bin, with second hand shops overwhelmed with the sheer volume of fast fashion they receive.
As Vivinne Westwood was famously quoted "Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody's buying far too many clothes." Choosing good quality clothes that will last instead of disposable cheap clothes is a great place to start! As an extra bonus, you'll probably feel more stylish and comfortable wearing good quality clothes made with natural fabrics too!
Swap plastic bags for reusable ones, or use boxes
One very small, but super easy change is to reduce plastic packaging from your shopping. You can ditch the plastic shopping bags and buy reusable shopping bags. There are so many great stylish and reusable bags out there. There are even cute reusable bags with fun prints you can buy for your child. The great thing about these bags is that they fold up small enough to stow in your handbag. If you're like me and tend to buy one or two things every now and again when you don't have your reusable bags on you these can save you from that extra plastic bag.
We recommend keeping your stash of reusable bags in the back of your car so that when you do the shopping they're already there. While we are on the topic of grocery shopping, another super simple change to make in your habits is to avoid buying pre-packaged items, or putting fruit and veges into plastic bags. There is no need to add an extra layer of plastic.
Replace plastic water bottles and take away coffee cups
Another big offender is single use plastic water bottles and take away cups. They clog our drains, litter our streets and end up in our oceans. Unfortuantely take away coffee cups are lined with plastic, and they can't be recycled.
There are a couple of things you can do to reduce your usage of plastic water bottles:
1. Re-acquaint yourself with water bubblers in public spaces!
There are studies that suggest that the chemicals leaching out of the cheap plastic that are used in making disposable bottles make it lower quality than water directly from a tap (regardless of the marketing messages on the front!). The recommendations when drinking from public water bubblers is to let the water run for a little bit before you drink, and don't touch the bubbler with your mouth while you're drinking.
2. Keep a reusable water bottle on you that you can refill anywhere. We love these double lined stainless steel water bottles that keep water colder for longer. Shop reusable water bottles.
If you're trying to reduce your take away coffee cups there are two options:
1. Use a reusable coffee cup and pop it in your bag, so you don't forget it! We love these stainless steel coffee cups that look so stylish AND keep your coffee hot for much longer.
2. Alternatively, take a moment to actually drink your coffee at the shop - sit down for 5 or 10 minutes and take a moment to yourself to enjoy your coffee and your surroundings. It's a lovely way to slow down a little bit and be present in the moment.
Swap plastic straws for silicon or stainless steel
Straws are another easy culprit for unnecessary plastic. Plus they have a tendency to escape bins and landfill and cause harm to our marine and land life. You can ask for your drink without a straw when you're ordering.
HOWEVER, if your kids love them (as mine do), you can buy some stainless steel ones or silicon ones that have a much longer lifetime. You'll also need to get a straw brush to keep them clean.
Choose Reusable Cloth over Disposable Plastic products
There are many other swaps you can make in your life to reduce your plastic use. Some suggestions include:
- Swap plastic disposable breast pads for reusable washable breast pads or compostable disposable pads
- Try adding some cloth nappies into your life, and reduce (or eliminate) the disposable nappies
- Choose toys made with natural materials (such as wooden toys and cotton soft baby toys) over plastic and ask friends and family to help you reduce plastic in your house by choosing the same. You can even send them over to Wooden Wonderland which has a huge range of wooden toys for all ages of kids!
Continue your journey with like minded parents
To continue to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle we encourage you check out some of these resources below. If you have other resources, please share in the comments below!
ABC's War on Waste resources for information on Australia's waste problems and ideas to overcome.
Eco Living Facebook Groups:
- Milk and Love Mums for all sorts of conversations about breastfeeding, gentle parenting and reducing waste
- Zero Waste facebook groups are active in lots of locations around Australia, just search 'Zero Waste'
Together we can help to make the world a better place for our children, and our children's children. What small steps do you think you could take to help?