12 ways your family can cut back on plastic

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  Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2018

12 ways your family can cut back on plastic

Library Home  >  Sustainability
  Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2018
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'Plastic' might rhyme with 'fantastic', but in the century since it has revolutionised manufacturing, packaging and everyday life, plastic has become something a little less endearing.

It chokes marine life, litters landscapes and for this reason Earth Day 2018, on Sunday 22nd April, is dedicated to ending plastic pollution.

To help make a difference, here are 12 ways that your family can reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics for the good of the planet.

1. Embrace nude food

Nude food is simply food without excess packaging. So instead of using cling wrap and sandwich bags, pack your child's lunch in reusable containers. Stainless steel bento boxes cut down on plastic altogether, and Biome has lots of zero waste, ethical options.

2. Go glitter-free

Glitter looks gorgeous, but it's actually made of micro-plastics – tiny pieces that get into waterways and can enter the food chain via marine animals. A child care chain in the UK has banned glitter from its nurseries, but another option is to buy eco-friendly glitter for the craft box or make your own using salt.

3. Choose cloth nappies

A staggering 3.75 million disposable nappies are used each day in Australia and New Zealand, and all those plastic nappies can take up to 150 years to break down in landfill. So before you go down the disposable route, think about using cloth nappies instead, like those from Pea Pods.

4. BYO shopping bags

Every Australian state and territory, except for NSW, has committed to a ban on single-use plastic bags. So whether the ban is in force, coming soon or your choice, take reusable bags to the supermarket.

5. Reduce plastic packaging

Once you're at the shops, buy fruit and veg loose (not sealed in plastic) and avoid individually wrapped items. This could mean buying one big tub of yoghurt instead of five little packets, making your own muesli bars and investing in a reusable water bottle.

6. Grow your own herbs

It's a real waste to buy a bunch of basil encased in plastic when you can pick a few leaves straight off the plant. So, teach your child where food comes from and cut down on plastic with some home grown herbs.

7. Be careful with cosmetics

Microbeads are the small bits of plastic found in some cleansing and polishing products, like face scrubs. They've been banned in the UK and US, but in Australia a 'voluntary phase-out' is happening, so head to Beat the Microbead to see which products to avoid.

8. Skip the chewing gum

It's horrible to think of marine life chewing on plastic, but that's exactly what our kids are doing when they devour a packet of gum. Yes, chewing gum is made of plastic so take it off the treat list.

9. Choose wooden toys

Plastic toys might last for years and years in landfill, but wooden toys have truly timeless appeal. They're free of chemicals, nice to touch and encourage imaginative play. Plus, the EverEarth brand uses sustainable timber for its toys (available in Australia).

10. Wear natural fibres

Cotton, wool and leather are great alternatives to synthetic clothing and plastic shoes. As well as reducing our plastic footprint, natural fibres 'breathe', so little feet and busy bodies can feel more comfortable.

11. Stop using straws

Single-use plastic straws might be a stripy, bendy fun for kids' drinks, but they're something your family (and the planet) can do without. The same goes for disposable plates and cutlery.

12. Get involved with Earth Day

And last, but not least, Earth Day is happening on 22nd April. This is a great chance for individuals, families, groups and schools to join the movement to End Plastic Pollution. Click here to see how you can learn, act and engage this Earth Day.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 10 February 2020

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