Low environmental impact travel with kids

On a double edged sword, all of my Mum’s family are in Europe meaning we don’t have them nearby BUT on the plus side, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to travel to visit them.

I am aware of the environmental impact of flight & on this trip, I was much more conscious of the impact of the trip overall.

The things I highly recommend packing are: recyclable bags (thankfully in the UK free single use plastic bags don’t exist anymore) – I packed 2 cotton bags.

Second of all my ONYA bags – they are made from recycled plastic & are like mesh bags to put anything in – I’ve been using them for fruit & dividing up snacks for our daily outings. Third is reusable water cups – I brought our Frank Green cup which normally is for my coffee but the kids are using it; as well as my Klean Kanteen coffee cup, plus a baby sippy cup.

I brought my Nourished Life stainless steel straws although I’ve found that we haven’t used them often, perhaps as we always have our water with us.

As a side note, I’ve been disappointed with the lack of places offering water to refill. Big thumbs up to Pret at South Kensington & Borough Market for their well signed spots to refill water bottles.

For my baby, I brought about half a dozen reusable baby spoons to use anywhere we went to eat.

We’ve eaten apples & pears off a cousin’s tree. We’ve enjoyed freshly laid eggs from my Aunt’s chooks & stuffed kilos of brambles straight off the bushes into our mouths!

I’ve refused bags more often than I can count & even after saying no, some retail teams have automatically (habit?) just gone to put my purchases in a bag….until I bark at them “no bag thank-you!”.

I have been really shocked at how dirty London is & how rubbish is (depending where you live) just thrown outside the front door. No wonder the foxes are thriving! On the flip side, I am impressed that degradable compost bags are provided & collected. In Edinburgh, you need to buy your own “green bags” but food scraps/compost is also collected. How about that Australia??

Another huge area is transport. Admittedly there have been occasions where we have caught a taxi – with 5 people, 4 suitcases, 3 backpacks, a pram bag & almost always another bag we have accumulated on the way, the stairs/escalators leading to packed tubes are not always a viable option. We also flew from Sydney to London; then London to Edinburgh. We drove around the Scottish Highlands in a rental car. We caught the train from Edinburgh to London.

There are areas I have failed in include single use coffee cups. We have consumed many pre-packaged sandwiches (non-recyclable packaging) – I’m not proud of it & put it down to convenience. We have purchased 3 or 4 single use plastic water bottles in the 4 weeks we’ve been here, but have refilled them daily. I have seriously stood & had internal debates about produce in supermarkets: do I select organic (my preference) when it is inevitably from somewhere overseas & i try to minimise food miles? The organic fruit & veg also seem to be packaged in more plastic (not able to be purchased as loose individual items). I had a royal f**k up when I bought organic apples, not looking at the origin thinking apples are in season now (I’d eaten some fresh off a tree in the Scottish Highlands) & realised once home they were from New Zealand. Pathetic as it sounds, I was disappointed & angry at myself. I pride myself on making my consumer dollar count. On the flip side, big thumbs up to Tesco in Dingwall who have a clearly marked produce section of fruit/veg grown in Scotland. We were fortunate to be there for the tail end of the berry season & took full advantage of it.

So I want to know for our next trip, what other tips do you have to lessen or offset our environmental impact?

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War on Waste

Watching War on Waste on ABC the last two weeks, I iniitally felt despair, followed soon after by motivation & determination.

I always thought I was pretty good when it came to minimising waste & optimising recycling but turns out I can certainly lift my game in two particular areas.

Food waste: a staggering amount of food waste is thrown out by Australians every year. Put in financial terms, it would be close to $3,000 per family. I am committing to better utilisation of my food (not letting it turn rotten); as well as composting.
So what are my food scraps that cant be used? I’ve been keeping an eye on that too – banana peels, apple cores, pear cores, plum stones, banana skins, avocado skin & stones, radish tops, eggshells, coffee grinds, soggy leftover cereal, tea leaves, strawberry tops, leftover baby food that cannot be used, herb & kale stalks, outer leaves of cauliflower & outer husks & cobs of corn. I have 2 plastic containers that I keep in the fridge & fill with any food scraps. I am surprised at how quickly they are filling up.

Soft plastics: once again, an overwhelming statistic that only 1-2% of our soft plastics are recycled. You may have noticed the REDCYCLE bins at coles / Woolworths supermarkets, then again you may not have because for some bizarre reason they don’t seem to want to encourage people to recycle their soft plastics. The test is: if it’s soft plastic & can be scrunched into a ball, throw it in the REDCYCLE bin. You can pop onto their website & enter your suburb to see the closest bin – mostly in Coles & Woolworths. This psoft plastic waste is then re-purposed by the legends at Replas – currently predominately being made into commercial furniture but it would be great to see it move to homes & non-commercial usage.

Since watching War on Waste episodes 1 & 2, I have HALVED my rubbish. I am fortunate that my Mum is part of a Community Garden so I am able to give her my fruit & veg scraps to add to their compost bins. I have also started a separate “soft plastic” disposal just above my normal rubbish bin which I will then take to the RedCYCLE bin at the shops (for locals reading this, Coles Edgecliff is the closest).

My biggest bin contributions currently are nappies – I use a brand made from 40% sustainable materials (Tooshies). Their wipes are compostable. I also use compostable nappy bags made from corn starch which are from Wotnot (via Nourished Life).

I need to either stop using baking paper, or find a more environmentally friendly alternative. Suggestions anyone?

I have recently started using Who gives a Crap paper towel, which is made from sugarcane & bamboo – & is biodegradable.

Rubbish bin liners themselves – check out Compost-a-Pak. It seems like a no-brainer but so often when we see images of rubbish tips, the overwhelming thing is the tied up rubbish bags. Let’s support companies like this.

Got 20 seconds? Sign this petition to get Coles & Woolworths to stop wrapping small amounts of fruit & vegetables in plastic & styrofoam. All you need to do is put in your first name, surname, email address & postcode. Your name does not have to be published if you wish. When I signed it today there were over 193,000 supporters.

Got another 20 seconds? Sign this Greenpeace petition to ban plastic bags in NSW. Let’s hope we don’t get a pathetic ban like Tasmania whereby they just used a loophold & introduced thicker bags that they could then call “re-usable”.

Coffee drinkers, I’ve got my eyes on you. It’s time to care. Cafe owners too – rather than discounting a customer for bringing a re-usable cup, how about penalising someone for not bringing one. I guarantee charging 20 cents extra per coffee for a disposable cup will motivate people to remember it. as an Owner/Manager, could you also look at the expanding ranges of compostable coffee cups.

FUN SITES TO FOLLOW IF YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS
Be an Unf**ker – these guys are awesome at short, succinct posts that make you realise what a f**ker you are being to the environment. If you action even half their posts, you’re doing well!
The Greater Good Project
Take 3 – it’s not their only message but how simple is it to pick up 3 pieces of litter when you’re next at the beach?
Obvious Bits – follow them, it may just be a lightbulb moment for you
ME (Alice aka 6 Clean Ingredients) –  come visit me on Facebook or Insta. I am a firm believer that making your own meals from scratch goes a long way to helping the environment. See what I’m growing in my garden, feeding my growing boys, low-tox products I’m using for my baby girl, how I’m embracing minimalism & doing my best to be an eco-warrior & of course pass on everything I am learning to you!

Please share this post – if it helps just 100 families change their habits forever, I would be absolutely thrilled (& Mother Nature will send you a big hug) xx Alice

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