5 ways I've changed my family routine to be more environmentally friendly
More and more people are becoming concerned about global warming and their own carbon footprint.
As parents, we worry what world we are leaving for our children and how we can lead by example.
With parenthood comes a lot of waste but the mammy and daddies of the world are not taking this one lying down and are becoming greener in an effort to combat climate change.
I have to be honest when I had my son I wasn't as conscious about cutting down on waste. With my second child and with plenty of hindsight, I realise there was a lot more I could have done. In the last year, I've looked into different ways that myself and my family can help this global issue.
Here are some things I've implemented into my routine at home to help preserve our planet.
Recycle / Compost
Most households recycle but many of them don't know that a good portion of plastics bought during a grocery shop can't actually be recycled. Always check if the product can go in your recycling bin, too many non-recyclable plastics in a bin could result in it being sent to landfill rather than being reused. Likewise, make sure what you chuck in the bin has been washed as food residue is viewed as contamination and can't be recycled.
Compost if you can, not only is it great for reducing waste but it will also save you money on your general bin charges. Again check before you bin. I was sticking teabags in my compost bin for ages and only recently found out that they're coated in plastic.
There's been a huge rise in online groups involved in the freecycle or 'pay it forward' movement. These groups provide a place where people can donate household items or clothing in good condition to be used by someone else. While I was pregnant, I managed to gather most of the things I needed just from these groups including a highchair and breastfeeding pillow.
In the last couple of years, I've become addicted to clothes swaps. Not only can you declutter your wardrobe but you can pick up new bits that you wouldn't find in the shops. Currently, the only swaps that I've seen have been for adults but if I ever see one for kids I'm gonna be on it like a car bonnet.
When it comes to becoming plastic-free the struggle is real. I never realised just how many things are packaged in plastic. I think the most disappointing thing is when I can't buy fruit and veg without it unnecessarily being wrapped in plastic.
Several shops have started making a concerted effort to ditch plastic but in the meantime, it's on the consumer. When possible, opt from plastic-free products or products that come in reusable packaging.
Most plastic straws never see the inside of a recycling bin and instead end up in our oceans endangering the natural wildlife. I've seen a lot of people argue that straws should just be completely banned but for anyone with small children or with a disability, it's not that simple.
There are plenty of plastic-free alternatives though. Steel straws are completely reusable but may work better for adults and bigger kids while bamboo straws are easier on little mouths. If you're stuck between a rock and a hard place coming up to a birthday party and need a multipack of straws, opt for paper over plastic.
This seems to be the one that frightens most people and I'll be honest I was scared too but it wasn't as hard as I had originally thought. Disposable nappies clog up a huge amount of landfill space and take decades to break down.
Cloth nappies can be used time and time again and will not only cut down on the number of disposables ending up at the dump but are extremely cost-effective in the long run. They are a one-off purchase and won't run up your bin charges.
There are lots of groups online and cloth nappy libraries in Ireland where you can try before you buy. I would suggest borrowing a cloth nappy pack as there are lots of different brands and what works for one mum may not necessarily work for you.