Moving towards a plastic-free life

Thankfully more & more celebrities are bringing to light the frightening impact of single-use plastic on our planet – to animals, our waterways, & the chemicals leached from them into our bodies. Sadly, I don’t understand why so many people will only follow an action once a ‘celebrity’ spruiks a cause. Don’t get me wrong, I think they should do it more!

I do not claim to be perfect but as a family of 5, we are slowly moving towards decreased plastic consumption & hope that we can encourage you to make these simple changes too

1. Loo paper – we use Who Gives a Crap – they are made from 100% recycled materials & wrapped in paper (not plastic like the supermarket brands)

2. Paper towel – while you’re ordering your loo paper, add in some paper towel from Who Gives a Crap – again it’s made from sustainable materials (sugarcane & bamboo) & comes wrapped in paper.

3. Coffee cups – sorry to sound harsh but if you’re not using a recyclable coffee cup by now, slap a big “L” sign on your forehead. There’s literally no excuse not to have a reusable cup – we love Frank Green (although my bestie hasn’t loved hers), KeepCup & I love my glass one from The Source. Single use coffee cups are not recyclable. They contribute to landfill. If over 300 cups per year are yours then it’s time to take your head out of the sand & buy one. Now.

4. Pantry staples – I started buying from Naked Foods about 4 years ago. Take up your own glass jars, they’ll weigh them, then fill ’em up. I also love The Source. Check them both out to see if there’s one near where you live. Honest to Goodness are also great – we visit them at Orange Grove Market most Saturdays – if you forget your jars, they will give you produce in paper bags.

5. Water bottles – again, slap that big ‘L’ up on your forehead if you’re still buying single use plastic water bottles. They contribute to landfill, chemicals leach from the plastic into your water then into your body & they cost a lot when you think about it! Buy a reusable water bottle. Now. My sons have glass water bottles w detachable silicone bases for home, we have 5 stainless steel water bottles too which are shared around. We never leave home without at least 3 of them (joys of 3 children – someone is ALWAYS thirsty).

6. Soap – I really dislike those plasticky (is that a word?) soap packets. We are loving the Ecostore soaps – you can even buy them in Woolworths. Ecostore get bonus points IMO as they are a carbon zero factory. How awesome is that?! We also love their washing machine powder (comes in a cardboard box). Their laundry liquids are also great & come in renewable sugarcane plastic. Big ticks all round!

7. If you have little ones, buy some corn starch nappy bags – we love Wotnot brand, they come in cardboard packaging & are about $8 a packet for 50 bags.

8. Produce bags – I love ONYA bags to take to do my grocery shopping, they are great for putting fruit / veg in, rather than doing the juggle of apples, pears & bananas rolling off the scales at checkout (we’ve all been there!). I’ve had mine for about 2 years & they are in perfect condition. They are made from recycled plastic drink bottles, giving those single use products a 2nd life – why not, seeing as they will never degrade?! I also have Ever Eco bags which I’ve had for a year & are in perfect condition. These are also made from recycled plastic drink bottles (also called ‘rPet’).

9. Organic fruit & veg bags for the fridge – we LOVE the Harris Farm organic muslin bags. They keep our herbs, veggies & even lettuce super fresh in the fridge. I can genuinely say (no sponsorship) that they have prolonged the life of many a veggie in our fridge.

10. Toothbrushes – you guys think about how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve had in your life & that not one of them has ever degraded. YUK. No excuse not to switch to bamboo now – my faves are from Harris Farm Markets (Bondi Beach Store) which unfortunately don’t seem to be on their website & Nourished Life. My older children (aged 6 & 8) use the bamboo toothbrushes & the 1 year old has a bamboo but also a Jack & Jill which are made from 100% corn starch & are biodegradable. Plus they won’t break the bank at only $5.95 each. Plus the legends at Nourished Life deliver to your door & I can honestly say I have to hold in my excitement when one of their gorgeous pink boxes arrives on my doorstep!

11. When you’re buying sushi, ask them to hold the soy sauce plastic fish. Even better, ask (nicely) your local sushi joint not to pre-pack them into the boxes. It will save them money & have a positive impact on the environment.

12. The last tip would be one that you hear from me ALL. THE. TIME. As a consumer, every cent you spend is like a voice to the companies you buy from – buying their apples in a plastic container wrapped in plastic rather than the loose ones tells them to produce more plastic. Purchasing parsley not wrapped in plastic sleeves (like the legends at Harris Farm) says we are cool with that – we all wash our herbs when we get home anyway. Refusing to buy single use plastic water bottles tells the producers we don’t want this rubbish (literally) in our lives. Supporting companies who utilise biodegradable corn starch based packaging & produce encourages these companies to produce more of the awesome products & hopefully eventually bring down their prices as a result of increased demand.

I still have a lot of room for improvement & am shocked by how much soft plastic rubbish we create. Being conscious is not enough & I am striving to improve all the time.

I’d love to hear your tips on moving to a more plastic free life – leave me a comment on Facebook.

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2018 Intentions

I had great aspirations for 2017 of how productive I would be. The reality was that 2017 hit me for six. I kicked off the year with a 2 month old, 5 year old & 7 year old. I wasn’t back at work (my paid job) until April. I felt like I was chasing my tail constantly, & when I wasn’t chasing, I was passed out in a heap somewhere, mostly with a baby attached to my boob. Every day I told myself I would work at night but instead I would eat dinner mindlessly & stare at a TV.

2017 was the year I discovered Netflix – more specifically Outlander, The Crown, Call the Midwife & Land Girls. An epic time waster if ever there was one.

so 2018 is going to be more productive, right?! I am not setting “resolutions” but “intentions”…

  1. To live life authentically – a bit of a wanky buzz word, I agree but my take on this is to just own it if you f**k up, & put your hand up to say I did bad, but I’ll do better next time. Perfect example today was I met up with cousins from the UK. We ordered a coffee which I had already mentally noted served their coffees in ceramic cups (tick), but then i got a call saying someone was waiting at my front door who i had totally forgotten about so I raced off & 15 minutes later on my return, my cousin had kindly got my coffee put in a take-away cup. So I’m saying I screwed up. Last year I always had a reusable coffee cup with me but within a month (again, see ya 2017), i lost my 2 favourite reusable coffee cups – frank green & klean kanteen you are missed. Feel free to return to me..
  2. it’s ok to disagree with a “trend”. I don’t like the texture of chia pudding. Plus growing up with a pond at home, it bears way too close resemblence to frog spawn. I think goji berries taste like dirt. Too much maca in something makes it taste like stinky socks. You don’t have to love it just because it is the new “superfood”. But as a side note, I am genuinely a kale addict – I can’t get enough of it!
  3. It’s ok to change – I constantly question products I buy. A brand I used 6 months or a year ago, may not be my choice now. I may have thought it was ‘healthy’ or low-tox but now know better. Or there may have been some products I no longer support due to their ethics. For example I used to think it was ok to buy soy-wax candles & now I know it is potentially genetically modified soy & burning it does not support my health. So coconut wax candles are IN. I used to buy plastic toothbrushes & now I realise how much they contribute to our plastic pollution so I buy bamboo.
  4. No more buying “healthy” snacks – I’m looking at you organic corn chips, sugar-free chocolate & protein bars. Making my own is totally acceptable, but sometimes I would buy a product in a supermarket purely for convenience & assure myself it was “healthy” when in my head I know they’re not.
  5. Food choices: Less cheese please! I literally can’t say no to a nice cheese. I need to stop buying it & not sit in front of the cheese platter at a function!
  6. Be loud & proud: I may be becoming that person my friends recoil from when they see me & I’m pointing at their single-use non-degradable coffee cup but I’m going to keep owning it (& death staring everyone in the supermarket piling up their trolleys with unnecessary plastic bags). It’s 2018 peeps, I’m going to troll you if you think it’s cool to use plastic bags, throw-away coffee cups & straws. I’ll go easy on you for this half of the year but by Christmas I’d also like to see y’all starting to compost your food scraps, definitely recycling your soft plastics & purchasing ‘imperfect’ fruit & veg where possible. Be warned, I’ll test you & check where exactly you’re taking them so there’s no hiding. While you’re at it, start getting a loo paper subscription from Who gives a Crap; & start buying (compostable) bamboo toothbrushes. Don’t underestimate the power YOU have, especially when you begin to install these values in your children.

Until next time, say it how it is & own up when you f**k up!
Let me know what your intentions are for 2018….

A.

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?