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Tips for a Plastic Free Children’s Party

The party bags, the food, the wrapping paper, the balloons, the decorations – children’s parties are full of plastic. Deflated balloons, plastic party favours, glitter, confetti, discarded party bags and throwaway tableware.

We decided that there had to be another way, we want to celebrate and mark our children’s birthdays with a really enjoyable day for them, but without compromising our principles of low waste living.

Making a children’s party plastic free may seem like the impossible, but once you have done one and have figured out what works for you, then next time you’ll have some things ready and know what to do. (For instance, if you make some decorative bunting, you can hang it up every year). So in the long run it will likely work out cheaper and easier, plus its more personal, and you’ll be helping the planet too!

It’s also an opportunity to educate your children – if they observe all the throwaway items at a party, they grow up with an expectation that this is what a party looks like, you can show them that there can be another way. Most guests will be supportive of your low-waste choices and many may not even notice the difference. After all the kids still get cake and treats, and they still get to do the activity – be it swimming, party games, picnic, bbq, etc.

Here’s some ideas and tips you can use to minimise the waste at your next children’s party.

Invitations

If you want to avoid paper completely, then you can use email, text, or messaging apps rather than sending hard copies (to the parents not the children themselves, depending on the age of your child).

Instead of opting for plastic wrapped mass produced invites, why not try making your own, you can choose recycled paper, Kraft paper, print them, handwrite them, get the kids to decorate them, paint them, whatever you want.

P.S If you wish you could include a note on the invitation that this will be a low-waste party and why, so everyone’s onboard from the outset.

Plastic-free decorations

  • Bubbles: stretch a coat-hanger into a circular wand, dip it in a tray of detergent and water and wave through the air for giant bubbles
  • Hang large sheets of paper/ an old bed sheet for a finger painting wall
  • Bring colourful rugs and cushions
  • Fresh flowers in old jars
  • make your own bunting, from fabric or paper.
  • And if your party is outside, perhaps you don’t need decorations at all.

Plates, cups and cutlery

One of the changes a lot of people make is to switch from plastic to paper tableware, but dirty paper plates can’t go in the recycling bin. A better option would be to invest in a set of bamboo or stainless steel crockery that can be reused each year.

If building your own kit is out of your budget, there are options to rent party kits or you could ask family/friends or even the guests to bring plates and drink bottles.

Say no to straws or use reusable straws that you can wash up afterwards, and your own children (and you) can use throughout the year. Our Kids love their silicone and bamboo straws.

Table cloth and napkins

Bring a fabric tablecloth and napkins — if you don’t have any, try repurposing old sheets and towels.

If you have to use a disposable cloth, look for some butchers’ paper which can double as a canvas with a few art supplies thrown on the table.

Food

  • some plastic free snacks could include: Melon slices, fruit platters, baked goods from the bakery (these usually come in paper bags, or you can use your own containers), chopped fruit and nuts from wholefood store/ refill shop
  • serve finger food
  • bring food from home to the party or store in reusable containers until the party – no clingfilm needed!.
  • try and make as much as you can yourself, using raw ingredients you can purchase plastic free and turn them in to yummy home made cakes/treats, breads and desserts.
Home made cakes in silicone cases so no waste!

The Party Bags

Let’s be honest, it’s usually a bag of plastic tat that is lovingly played with for each of the nine minutes of its lifespan. An additional source of stress and expense for parents, but a firm favourite with most children.

One option is to simply not do them, but if your children cannot compute having a party, and not having party bags, then here are some ways to avoid buying and giving out plastic bags of plastic bits.

The bag itself – instead of plastic bags, opt for paper bags – you could decorate and customize these to the theme of the party, or for each child. You could select fabric wraps and give Furoshiki a try, or if you want a simpler option use recyclable cardboard boxes.

If you’re feeling crafty you can make bags from newspapers or magazines. (This is something my mum used to do if we didn’t have gift bags for someone’s birthday.) And if you’re a whiz with the sewing machine, then making your own your own fabric bags from old t-shirts or pillowcases could be an option.

gifts – this is not an exhaustive list but you could include any of the following;

  • mini pencil or chalk packs in carboard packets,
  • dice
  • wooden pencil boxes (customised for each child)
  • mini jigsaws
  • washi tape
  • silicone straws
  • fabric finger puppets
  • activity books
  • seeds (add a mini terracotta plant pot they can decorate)
  • playing cards
  • fabric pencil cases/purses
  • second hand books or small reading books
  • jars of homemade playdough
  • melt down old broken crayons and use silicone moulds to reshape them in to animals or initial letters

food gifts – usually a slice of the birthday cake and a selection of sweet packets, with the plastic count even higher than the sugar content. Some alternatives or some more sustainable ways to buy can be:

  • wrap the cake in a paper bag instead of plastic wrap
  • you could also include homemade treats to avoid plastic packaging
  • If purchasing edible goodies from a shop, you could try your local refill shop and put them in separate paper bags or celllose food bags (which are biodegradable) mini jars or tin foil, which is at least recyclable (basically anything but clingfilm or plastic food bags!). Our local refill shop has vegan fizzy sweets,.
  • If your shopping in a super market or want something a bit healthier, look for snacks without plastic packaging, such as Bear YoYos (which come in paper packets in a cardboard box) raisins are also almost always available in cardboard boxes too.

Presents

Gifts might be the hardest part of a plastic-free party. If you do want to reduce waste with gift you could:

  • ask for money instead, or get guests to contribute towards one substantial present for the child (eg. bike or climbing frame), or ask for donations to a charity instead
  • suggest some more sustainable toys – such as wooden or bamboo, and ethical/sustainable toy brands.
  • suggest preloved gifts, or a toy/gift swap
  • ask for experience-based gifts, like a trip to the zoo or ferry tickets, or a contribution to one substantial present.
  • let guest know that no wrapping is necessary, or suggest fabric or recyclable paper wrap.
My toddler helped wrap and decorate the paper wrap for her brothers presents. We used washi paper tape so it is fully recyclable.

Avoid…

Balloons – Sorry to be the fun police but balloons are a no-no, whether they’re ‘biodegradable’ or not.
If they break free and fly off when they come down they are a risk to wildlife, as birds or marine animals can eat them. And even if they don’t, they will spend years sitting in landfill.

Instant landfill– Please think twice before doing a sweep of your local Pound Shop or the ‘tat’ section of a toy shop. These toys break within minutes and there is nothing that can be done with them other than put them in the bin.

Slime – This is such a ‘thing’ right now and I know kids love a pot of slime, but most commercially available pots are just stretchy slimy blobs of plastic. If you have to have it, then have a go at making your own (recipes can be found online – pinterest is your friend!)

Glitter – Glitter is essentially a micro-plastic and when you can finally get it off your hands/face/every conceivable surface of your home and even some inconceivable places, it gets washed down the sink and passes straight though the filtration systems and on out into our waterways. If glitter is a must, then there are eco-friendly glitters available.

Remember, going zero waste might take a few attempts, but the key is to do what you can in the time you have, then refine your approach next time.

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25 Ways To Reduce Waste Through The Food You Eat

Ways to Reduce Food Waste… With The Food You Have:

Buy less than you think that you need. We tend to over buy on food so remove one meal from your meal plan because you’ll most likely have an unexpected dinner out or leftovers! 

Measure ingredients carefully! Follow recipes and adjust the amount of ingredients to the number of people eating. This will stop you ending up with too many leftovers, that won’t get eaten.

Chop and store the produce when you get home from the shop so creating meals is easy during the week. 

Store your food properly so it doesn’t go bad! Look for storage tips on how to store your produce plastic-free, and how to maximise it’s shelf life. 

Ignore the dates. Best-by, sell-by, and use-by are NOT expiration dates. There’s no scientific way to predict the exact day something is going to expire so use your best judgement with smell and taste. If it tastes fine – it’s probably fine to eat. 

Eat your ends and stems – broccoli stalks are great for making soup.

Save the peels of your onions, carrots and garlic to make a delicious vegetable stock that you can use to infuse more flavour into rice, quinoa, etc. 

Use your freezer to freeze fruits and veggies you might not have time to get to before they turn. 

Use slightly mushy fruits in smoothies or breakfast breads. After all overripe bananas make the best banana loaf!

Make crisps from your potato peelings. Carrots, parsnips etc also work well.

Keep a stocked pantry so you can make all of your favourite meals quickly

Opt for smaller plates of food and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. 

Use your freezer for leftovers! Almost anything can be frozen to prolong its shelf life including bread, soup and pasta sauce.

Make sure you actually eat your leftovers! My husband will also make extra for dinner, which I can then heat up the next day for my lunch.

If you do have any food waste, make sure you compost it! 

Ways To Reduce Waste… Through How You Buy Food

Write down what is inside of your fridge before you go grocery shopping! This allows you to plan meals around the food you already have, especially what needs to be eaten first. It will also stop you buying duplicates.

Opt for looseleaf tea (a lot of tea bags are made with plastic!) 

Choose plastic-free produce and food. Look for items in recyclable packaging, like paper or card, or food that comes in tins, which are easily recycled.

Buy your dry goods in refill shops. We love refill shopping! Our toddler loves to weigh the jars and attach the labels for the till. It’s a great way to cut plastic out of your shopping, you take your own containers (we use glass jars, some new and some reused jam jars, but it could be any kind of container) and fill up with rice, flour, beans, cereal, all sorts!

Don’t buy individual servings of food. Buy larger servings and portion them out at home. Buying in bulk and avoiding individual portions in plastic packaging, can save you money as well as reducing your plastic waste.

Head to your local farmer’s market or greengrocer to stock up on loose veg. Our local grocer even delivers!

Start a small garden. If you can’t quite manage a vegetable plot, try a herb garden in your windowsill. No garden – then join a local community garden where you can compost and even have a hand in growing your own food.

Try to regrow your food from scraps like green onions or celery. 

Ways To Reduce Waste… Through What Food You Eat

Eat with the seasons and enjoy the bounty of your region. Maybe even try your hand at preserving foods or give foraging a go (Please do check identifications and make sure you are 100% confident in your identification of wild plants. Know which parts are safe to eat and how to process them)

Go heavy on the plants, and reduce your consumption of animal products. The University of Oxford found that eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Researchers found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

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10 Tips for a Plastic-Free Kitchen

You’re in your kitchen. What’s one thing you find almost every place you look? Plastic.

Clingfilm, cheap sponges, plastic wrapping, plastic bottles of cleaning sprays, plastic bristled dish brushes, nail brushes, plastic bottles of hand soap, plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets, bottles of washing up liquid, plastic tupperware, plastic spatulas, the list really is endless…

Dealing with all that plastic may seem overwhelming, but don’t panic! The kitchen is actually one of the easiest places to get started on your plastic-free and zero-waste journey.

Why Make Your Kitchen Plastic-Free?

Whether you have been living the zero waste life for some time, or are new to the journey, let’s have a quick refresh on why you should care about reducing your use of plastic and aiming for a plastic-free kitchen. 

  • Plastics are made from non-renewable fossil fuels and creates a lot of pollution when produced.  
  • Chemicals can leach from plastics into food, especially when heated, when plastic is old or in contact with oily foods.
  • Many single-use plastic items are used in the kitchen – like plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic containers for food and cleaning products.
  • Recycling is not the solution (only about 9% of plastics are recycled).

So here’s my Top Ten Tips to get you started…

  1. Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products, like these plastic free cleaning sachets. You can also have glass spray bottles for your cleaning products.

2. Avoid cling film by switching to wax wraps.  And swap plastic baggies for reusable silicone bags, or store your food in glass containers like tupperware or jars. You can also use silicone lids or fabric bowl cover.

food wrap

3. If you’re a baker – invest in silicone cup cake cases which a reusable. You can also purchase silicone sheets to replace greaseproof baking paper.

4. When you need new utensils, pick a bamboo, stainless steel or wooden replacement. Remember – anything that is now plastic, used to be made from some other material. As you get rid of plastic plates, cups and stirring spoons, return to items made of wood and metal. This gorgeous set from Huski Home are made of sustainable coconut wood.

5. Use washable or compostable cloths or reusable fabric kitchen roll instead of paper towels. If you do want to stick to disposable kitchen roll, opt for a plastic free packaging, like paper or biodegradable materials and choose a bamboo kitchen roll, which is much more sustainable than paper.

6. Plastic dishes and cups are a staple in some kitchens – especially when kids are around. But plastic is linked with hormone disruption and that’s something you want to avoid, especially with kids. Instead of plastic for your children, opt for inexpensive ceramic dishes or a set of wooden or bamboo table ware. My two love their shaped bamboo tableware!

7.Swap plastic sponges for compostable bamboo dish scrubs, fabric unsponges or biodegradable varieties, that won’t shed microplastic in to the water system and ultimately our oceans.

grey dishbrush

8. Between cooking, cleaning, emptying bins etc, your hands need a lot of washing when you’re in the kitchen. Cut down on plastic bottles of hand soap by choosing either soap bars or refill your liquid soap at a zero-waste shop.

9. For cleaning the dishes, choose a dish soap bar – this eliminates plastic bottles of washing up liquid, and is also much better for the environment and water ways. This bar is so mild you can even reuse the water for your plants!

dish washing soap bar on worktop

10. Plastic-free your laundry routine – even stain removers are available as bars. You also have the Eco Egg as an option, both for washing and drying.

A plastic-free kitchen is neither a hard, complicated nor an expensive goal to achieve.

Simple swaps will be easy on your budget, as well as the planet.

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Plastic-Free Picnics

Now that the summer weather has officially arrived and restrictions are easing, we’ve started thinking about going out more, or you know, going out at all! (I think my son was surprised that there are more than 5 people in the world!) After over a year in shielding we had to have a good think what we would need to go out and about now we have two small people in tow, if we wanted to go to the beach or for a picnic.

So here’s our tips & ideas for a sustainable summer, including my Top 10 Sustainable Swaps & Product Recommendations.

Tips & Ideas for Plastic Free Picnicking

  • Make your own dips & salads, rather than buying pre-prepared ones in plastic packaging from the supermarket. A great homemade hummus recipe is this one from The Pesky Vegan. You could even have a go at making your own crackers or pittas to dip in your homemade sides.
  • If you’re having soft drinks, choose options from cans or glass bottles, rather than plastic bottles, we love cordials as you can stretch them so much further by diluting with water. If you want to you could give making your own cordial a go (extra hippie points if you forage your own elderflowers 😉 – seriously though foraging is great fun, but only forage for small amounts from areas with plentiful supply and only if you are 100% certain of what the item is and that it’s edible. Here’s two great articles on foraging for beginners from National Geographic and BBC Good Food.)
  • You can get some great snacks for on the go from your local zero waste shop or refill store, popping kernels for making your own popcorn, or choose from a selection of nuts and snacks like spiced chickpeas, banana chips, etc. You could also use their assortments of nuts and dried fruits to make your own custom trail mix.
  • Avoid ice in bags from the supermarket, by making your own at home in silicone ice cube trays (we have tons of these from making and freezing portions of baby food for when our daughter was weaning), or freeze bottles of water use a coolers in your picnic bag, they’ll keep your picnic nice and chilled and your drink will have melted en route and be lovely and cool. You could also try frozen grapes which will cool drinks and make a great snack when you’ve finished.

Top 10 Sustainable Summer Ready Swaps

1.Reusable Straws:

Plastic straws generally can’t be recycled, so straws have to be sent to landfill, where they take a long time to degrade, can leach chemicals like BPA, break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by wildlife. There are however several alternatives:

Stainless Steel Straws are washable, and much more durable. They are BPA free and unlike plastic will not interact with and leak chemicals into the drink you are consuming.

Bamboo Drinking Straws can be reused hundreds of times and can be composted at the end of their life cycle. Our bamboo straws are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to plastic, made without the need for any harmful pesticides or chemicals.

Silicone Straws tend to be light and durable, these ones are made from 100% Pure Food-Grade FDA/LFGB certified Silicone, they come with a lifetime guarantee from ecoLiving!

2. Travel Cutlery Set:

Avoid the traditional plastic cutlery of picnics past and invest in a reusable travel cutlery set, made from bamboo or metal which you can carry on you for takeaways, work lunches, food on the go etc. They’re stylish as well as sustainable and it stops all that waste of single use plastic going to landfill.

bamboo travel cutlery

3. Reusable Water Bottle:

Instead of endless plastic bottles, opt for a reusable stainless steel or glass bottle. They are durable, and you can find ones that maintain the temperature of the drink inside, so you can have a refreshing drink throughout the day. They’re great for around the house as well as out and about, where you can refill them with water – look out for councils or shops that are part of the refill scheme.

Our Reusable Glass Bottles are made from BPA free and fully recyclable materials and provide a clean and pure drinking experience.

4. Lunch boxes

Picnics and packed lunches are massive sources of plastic waste – from the plastic lunchboxes themselves, to plastic tupperware, ziplock pouches, clingfilm, snack packs and individually wrapped plastic food packaging.

Avoid the plastic lunchboxes and opt for a stainless steel version, or one of our Huski Home rice husk lunchboxes, made using the by-products of the rice industry. Many lunchboxes have sections, so you can do away with the individual tupperware and snack packs and put your own products in loose. If you do want Tupperware you can opt for glass or glass/bamboo combo versions. Or why not store snacks in reused jars, we have snacks in old curry sauce jars that we’ve cleaned and relabelled.

5. Wax Wraps

Similarly you can avoid the clingfilm and plastic packaging by choosing wax wraps for your sandwiches and other homemade goodies.

food wrap

6. Takeaway Cup

Whether you want a hot drink or an iced coffee, a fruity tea or just juice, taking a reusable travel cup with you let’s you ditch the disposable and many have the benefits of being insulated or double walled to keep your drink at the right temperature for longer.

7. Travel Wash Set

A great choice for the holidays we are now allowed on, whether you’re desperate to jet off or you’re choosing a Great British Staycation, maybe even just for long awaited visits to far away friends and family – a travel set is a great option for you to be low waste and avoid all those plastic travel miniatures, without having to take your full bars from home in individual tins.

safety razor

8. Sun Cream in Tins/Refills

Yes this is now an option, some zero waste shops are now able to offer sun cream refills and the majority will likely have aluminium tins of sun cream available. I find the tins are easier to get the sun cream out of rather than faffing with the spray bottles that don’t work unless they’re completely upright.

9. Toothbrush Case

Great for when you’re away from home, bamboo toothbrush cases keep your brush clean and hygienic. We have both adults and children’s toothbrush travel cases in the shop.

10. Reusable Bag

Keep your picnic out of plastic and opt for reusable bags to carry your stuff on trips out or for shopping. Fold up, cotton or net bags are brilliant for stashing on you so you don’t have to pay for plastic bags if you do any impromptu shopping.

This organic cotton bag is a great choice as it folds up small but is spacious and stylish.

Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your zero waste needs.

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Living more Sustainably with Kids

With the magnitude of stuff that comes with babies and children you might think that living more sustainably with kids is impossible. All that stuff comes with a lot of waste – and many children’s products are typically plastic based or disposable.

Here are a selection of swaps you can make to start reducing waste! Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your sustainable living needs.

1.Reusable drinks bottles:

Instead of endless plastic bottles or cups, opt for a reusable stainless steel bottle. They are durable, and you can find ones that maintain the temperature of the drink inside, so your little ones can have a refreshing drink throughout the day. They’re great for around the house as well as out and about, where you can refill them with water, same as you would your own bottle.

2. Bamboo toothbrushes:

Every year over a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away worldwide, ending up in landfill, in the sea or washed up on a beach. Using a bamboo toothbrush with a biodegradable handle is a small change but together we can make a big difference. Toothbrushes are not recyclable and their packaging may not be in your area either. With how frequently we switch them out, a sustainable option is necessary and it’s one of the easiest swaps. And they’re not just for adults too, we stock both baby and child sizes as well as our adult brushes. My eldest loves brushing with her “dee-eth” with her tiny Truthbrush.

toothbrush

3. Plastic Free Lunches

Children’s lunches are massive sources of plastic waste – from the plastic lunchboxes themselves, to plastic tupperware, ziplock pouches, clingfilm, snack packs and individually wrapped plastic food packaging.

Several alternatives include:

  • Silicone reusable food pouches, we make our own smoothies and then refill the pouches, so we can take them out and about with us, or as a quick and easy snack for our toddler to grab from the fridge. When you’re finished, wash them out (ours are even dishwashable) then they’re ready to use again.
  • Wax Wraps to replace cling film or foil, to wrap sandwiches and the like. Seal in freshness without the unrecyclable plastic.
  • You can buy larger quantities , bulk buy, or visit a refill shop to obtain snack items with less or no plastic. Then divide these up in to portions yourself instead of purchasing individually wrapped varieties.
  • Avoid the plastic lunchboxes and opt for a stainless steel version, or one of our Huski Home rice husk lunchboxes, made using the by-products of the rice industry.

4. Bamboo Tableware:

When it comes to feeding our small ones, many of us ask ourselves “what is on my child’s plate?” – Is it nutritious? Is it a choking hazard? etc. But many of us rarely ask “what is my child’s plate made of?”. The majority of kids’ tableware products are made from various forms of plastic that can contain BPAs and other potentially toxic chemicals. BPA has been known to leach into foods and liquids it comes in contact with, especially when these plastic products are heated.

Bamboo is a great alternative to plastic kids’ tableware because of the non-toxic factor. Since bamboo is grown without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, bamboo plates are non-toxic from the get go.

Additionally, the inherent strength of bamboo makes bamboo plates durable without risking bending or cracking, while also being lightweight. Bamboo kids’ plates are also non-stick as well as heat, stain, odour, and water-resistant – all important factors during mealtime!

5. Wooden Toys

Having more durable wooden toys, which are better for the environment, and can be beautiful additions to the home, is a more sustainable choice then their weaker, more easily broken, plastic counterparts. Also, if you opt for open-ended toys, like wooden rainbows, stacking blocks and ‘loose parts’, there are lots of different ways a child can play with them, hence they get bored less easily.

6. Reusable Straws:

With children, especially small ones still learning to use cups or being given glasses while eating out, straws are often necessary. However, plastic straws generally can’t be recycled, so straws have to be sent to landfill, where they take a long time to degrade, can leach chemicals like BPA, break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by wildlife. There are however alternatives( which can be easily taken out and about to be used on the go):

Bamboo Drinking Straws can be reused hundreds of times and can be composted at the end of their life cycle. Our bamboo straws are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to plastic, made without the need for any harmful pesticides or chemicals. The entire process is safe, non-toxic and completely organic. Each straw is 100% organic, handmade and biodegradable. Our toddler gets on with them just fine.

Silicone Straws tend to be light and durable, made from 100% Pure Food-Grade FDA/LFGB certified Silicone, they come with a lifetime guarantee from ecoLiving! They are also a great option for children who love to chew straws, as they are chew-proof, so no more cracked, flattened and ruined plastic straws.

colourful smoothie straws close up

7. Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap bars

Let’s face it kids get dirty a lot, there’s painting, splashing in muddy puddles, playing in the garden, baking, sensory play and just plain life, like food or drink spills. That’s a lot of reasons to need a bath or a hair wash, and that means you get through a lot of bubble bath, soap and shampoo etc. All of which you can purchase in bars instead, drastically cutting down your plastic usage. With the added benefit of less chemicals and harsh ingredients on your children’s skin.

8. Ethical Clothes/Preloved Clothes

Opting for second-hand clothes is both financially beneficial and eco-friendly. Charity shops, facebook selling groups, local swap meets, nearly new sales, and hand me downs from friends and family are great options to get ‘new’ clothes for your little people – who we all know are constantly in need of clothes as they grow so fast. Most of our children’s wardrobes are second hand – purchased from local selling sites and gifted from family (some of our daughters clothes have been worn by 3 or even 4 of her cousins first – now that’s getting the full use out of an item) Then when she outgrows them, what we don’t keep for her baby brother to wear later, we sell on local groups or donate to charity. And only when a garment can truly not be reused in anyway, either worn or repurposed, then it is sent to textile recycling at The Tip.

Those clothes that we do purchase new for our children are made of sustainable materials, so they have less impact on the planet, and also usually last longer as well. This includes bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Babies skin is thinner than adults skin so GOTS certified organic clothing and bedding is very important, especially for newborns. Because they are very durable and quality garments, there is usually plenty of life left in them once our children outgrow them so we can sell them on or donate them for another child to wear. This keeps items away from landfill and extends their life – it also means one less garment being made and the impact of the production that goes with that.

9. Cloth Wipes

Most baby wipes are made of non-biodegradable materials and obviously can only be used once. They are a massive source of waste at landfill and also despite not being flushable (even the “flushable” and “biodegradable” varieties are not truly suitable to be flushed) they often end up clogging up our sewers and waterways.

Cloth wipes are more cost-effective, create less waste in the landfill, and help you avoid the use of irritating soaps and chemicals on your baby’s delicate bottom.

Cleaning up with cloth is as simple as just add water and wipe, though many people use homemade wipe solutions and you can purchase store-bought solutions if you prefer. You can keep them in special wipe boxes, or just use wet bags for on the go. They are available in a variety of materials, cotton is the usual go to or for luxury feels, you can buy ultra soft minky, velour, or bamboo cloths.

10. Cloth Nappies

Get eco-friendly by opting for washable cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies. Disposable nappies are made of synthetic materials, filled with chemicals, so besides being non-biodegradable, they can be harmful to your child’s tender skin. And obviously, you can only use them once.

A cloth nappy is a reusable nappy, usually made from cotton or other natural materials. The picture that might come to your mind when we hear the term are those squares of cotton that our mothers used. Now I’m not talking about terries or the endless soaking and boiling of previous years. Modern cloth nappies are easy to clean, dry pretty fast, have poppers or velcro (no fiddly or sticky pins) and come in a multitude of prints and designs. As far as cleaning goes, nappies and many wraps just go in the wash at 40 or 60. No need to soak or to boil wash.

It can sound surprising that cloth nappies are more cost effective than disposables because they can call for a hefty initial investment (though you could always purchase preloved from selling sites to save money). But in the longer run, they turn out to be less expensive than disposables, even better if you can reuse for more than one child, and you can always sell on afterwards.

Most estimates of how much you will spend on disposable nappies are around £850-£1,100 per child. If you choose to use a nappy disposal system, it adds in the region of £200; otherwise you’ll need to add the cost of nappy bags.

However, we paid just shy of £300 for our daughters nappies, they were brand new and are a popular and fairly top end quality brand, we also bought additional spare inserts. She has been using them for 2.5 years and our son has been sharing for the last 6 months. If they were in disposables that could have been up to 7,200 nappies between them so far. That’s a lot of plastic off to landfill, not to mention a lot of money. And while our daughter has started potty training and wont be using nappies much longer, our son will be wearing them for around another 2 years, after which we can sell them on and get some money back. Yes you have the costs of washing but if you wash your nappies two or three times a week at 60 degrees, and take into account the cost of electricity, water and detergent, then the grand total is about £1 a week, or about £130 over two and a half years.

So disposables could’ve cost us £2000 for our 2 children, instead of the £300 we spent on cloth nappies and maybe £260 on washing, as we do wash ours more than twice a week as we have two in cloth. That’s a saving of up to £1440, and we still have the potential to make some money back when they sell on.

According to WRAP, the UK adds 3 billion disposable nappies to landfill every year, so making the switch to reusables can really make a difference. They are not as hard as you think and most local councils offer a nappy voucher incentive when you buy your first set of nappies. I would highly recommend ‘The Nappy Lady‘ she has all the advice you need and offers a great support service too.

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Walking in a winter wonderland… (and other nature activities for kids)

winter activities

Most people don’t see winter as the ideal time for getting outdoors with our children; the days are shorter, being in the UK the weather is often less than inviting, and it’s hard to motivate ourselves to leave the comfort of our cosy houses. But children just don’t think this way. As far as my toddler is concerned, when it comes to getting outdoors the weather is pretty much irrelevant. As long as they’re dressed to suit the weather, children will happily romp around regardless. And in the world that our kids are going to grow up in, it is important that our children are eco-conscious and aware of the environment and natural world around them. The sustainable ideas for winter nature activities that are listed below can be a great way to instil the love for the environment and nature in your kids and have some great family time.

Make a birdfeeder

Winter is the perfect time to feed the birds in your garden and is a great opportunity to observe them. There are so many great ways to make simple bird feeders with kids (Pinterest is your friend here). Set the feeders up in your garden where you can easily observe them from a window.

Winter scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are fun outdoor activities for kids that can be enjoyed all year-round. Winter scavenger hunts can focus on items that can be found outside in the colder months, like pinecones, acorns, frozen puddles, evergreens, etc. You can find a lot of examples on Pinterest or make your own.

Make a winter mandala

Making a mandala, especially from natural items, is a wonderful activity to do any time of year. In its simplest form, a mandala is a circular structure with a design that radiates out symmetrically from the centre. You can find natural mandalas in flowers, tree rings, spider webs, seashells, and more. There is no right or wrong way to make one which is why it is such a wonderful way to engage children to make their own mandalas using items they find in nature.

Go for a walk to collect items to use in your winter mandala and let the children’s imaginations create something beautiful! This is a great time to discuss symmetry, shapes and colours, and just let their creativity roam.

Go on a Muddy Puddle Walk

On of my daughter’s favourite things to do outside is to jump in muddy puddles (Thank you, Peppa!) So pop on your waterproofs and head out to the park, the woods, wherever and have some fun splashing around in muddy puddles! 

Start Geocaching

Geocaching is a great way to explore outside and it’s a great outdoor nature activity for winter. It is free, easy, fun, appropriate for all ages, and it’s outdoors and amongst nature! People set up hidden treasure “caches” and then upload the coordinates so that other people can find them. You use an app on a smartphone to find them so it’s great way to lure techy kids outside!

Explore a beach (or other nature abundant area)

Obviously this depends if you live near a beach or not, if you don’t why not try a nature walk in a local woodland or nature reserve. You can look for minibeasts, birds, plants and other animals.

Living in Cornwall, we like to make the most of the fabulous coastline available to us, whatever the weather. So beach trips happen even in the winter, the wind, the chill and the rain included. We just wrap up warm and waterproof the toddler, as far as she’s concerned if she’s in her puddlesuit and wellies she’s unstoppable anyway.

Beaches in the wintertime are magical places. While the cooler temperature makes the water far too cold for swimming, there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy during the winter months. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend some time at your local beach, looking at shells, drawing in the sand, and observing birds and marine life. Look for a place where the sand is dotted with rocks so that the water get’s trapped when the tide is low; you will find many critters in these small rockpools. You can take magnifying glasses for identification and paper or journals to do some observation drawings.

Taken this week at Looe Beach
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How to: Salt dough Decorations

One of the favourite craft projects in our house is homemade salt dough! My daughter loves making salt dough ornaments, and I love that I always have the supplies on hand to mix up this salt dough recipe.

This Christmas we’ve spent a day making salt dough ornaments for our tree. It’s a wonderful family activity that ends with us having beautiful ornaments that will last for decades!

Recipe

The recipe for these ornaments doesn’t get any easier. You need exactly three ingredients:

  • Plain/ All-purpose flour (4 cups)—I recommend sticking with all-purpose flour here because it’s affordable, it’s easy to work with, and it creates the most consistent color.
  • Table salt (1 cup)—Again, make sure to add the salt to preserve these ornaments! Just go with the generic brand table salt here.
  • Warm water (1 1/2 cups)—The warm water helps the dough come together a little bit easier. Plus, you’ll knead the dough with your hands, and warm dough is so much more comfortable to knead in the winter!

Chances are, you’ll have all the items you need to make these ornaments already in your house. Here’s a general list of what we used to make our ornaments:

  • Mixing bowl and large spoon
  • Parchment paper/silicone baking mat
  • Rolling pin
  • Biscuit cutter
  • Toothpick, straw or skewer—for poking a hole for the ornaments to hang from
  • Baking tray
  • Craft glue to make a varnish for the ornaments
  • Paints and paintbrushes
  • Ribbon/twine/wire for hanging the ornaments
  1. In your large mixing bowl, place the flour and salt. Stir until well combined. Then, slowly pour in the warm water while stirring. Keep stirring until you’ve added all the water.
  2. You’ll get to a point where it is too hard to stir with a spoon. Put it down and use your hands to mix it well, like you would any other dough.
  3. Once the dough starts to come together, keep kneading with your hands for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable.

Now that your salt dough is made, you can use it just like you would modelling clay to make sculptures, or you can roll it and cut it out to make ornaments or salt dough handprints. This time we made Christmas ornaments:

If you’ve ever rolled and cut out sugar biscuit, you’ll be an expert at doing with the salt dough! (This is my daughters favourite part) Here’s the process:

  1. Sprinkle a little flour on your parchment paper or silicone baking mat and roll out the dough until 2-4mm thick. You want to err on the side of a thinner dough because if it is too thick, the ornaments tend to split or break easily because of air pockets that get trapped in the middle.
  2. Then cut out your shapes using cookie cutters, and put on your silicone baking sheet or you baking tray lined with parchment.
  3. Take a skewer, toothpick, stainless steel straw, or any other pointy/pokey object, and poke a hole in the top of each ornament for a ribbon to hang from.

Bake the ornaments in a 120°C oven for 1-2 hours depending on the siege and thickness of your decorations. This isn’t an exact science, because inevitably, your shapes won’t be 100% even in thickness. They are done when they feel hard. They are really done if they start to brown (don’t worry if they do go a bit brown, you can just paint over the brown bits!). Let the ornaments cool completely before decorating.

I used acrylic paints and gave my daughter her regular paints and brushes. I stuck with the colour scheme of the room the tree is in, and my daughter used the toddler method of all the colours at once – but it’s really up to you to get creative on how you want to decorate.

Once all your decorating is dry, you need to seal these ornaments so they last a good, long while. While the salt does an excellent job of preserving the salt dough itself, sealing the ornaments will help keep all the decorations you just lovingly decorated looking great for years to come.

Make the “varnish” with one part glue to two parts water. I just do one coat on each side and let it dry completely in between. We used our cake cooling racks for this.

String up the ornaments using pretty ribbon or twine, and then put those beautiful new ornaments on your Christmas tree! These could also be used to make wonderful, thoughtful gifts

Our tree this year with its lovely new salt dough ornaments
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10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps

10 zero waste bathroom swaps

The bathroom can be a big source of waste. It is typically home to a multitude of plastic and disposable products. When your personal care products run out, evaluate what you actually use and need and switch over to sustainable options as needed. Use up what you already have, or donate unopened personal care products to local shelters or charities.

Here are 10 simple swaps you can make in your bathroom to start reducing waste today! Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your zero waste bathroom needs.

1.Soap:

Does a simpler swap exist? Change out your body wash for something a bit more natural… like a bar of soap! You may also want to make or invest in a “soap saver” bag to find a use for those little bits leftover at the end of each bar. If you prefer your liquid handsoap, then try your local refill store so you can keep filing the same container and save tonnes of plastic.

2. Bamboo toothbrush:

Every year over a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away worldwide, ending up in landfill, in the sea or washed up on a beach. Using a bamboo toothbrush with a biodegradable handle is a small change but together we can make a big difference. Toothbrushes are not recyclable and their packaging may not be in your area either. With how frequently we switch them out, a sustainable option is necessary and it’s one of the easiest swaps. We stock Truthbrush in both adult and child sizes, our daughter loves brushing with her tiny Truthbrush.

toothbrush

3. Toothpaste:

Toothpaste tablets or pastes sold in glass jars are great alternatives to the unrecyclable plastic tubes that toothpaste usually comes in. Truthtabs foam and clean just like toothpaste, you simply pop one into your mouth, bite and brush.

4. Cloth Face pads

Instead of using make up wipes and throwaway cotton wool face pads everyday for your cleanser, toner, make-up remover etc., why not swap to reusable cotton face pads. You simply use as you would a cotton wool pad but instead of going in the bin, you pop it in the washing machine instead and then use again. They come in a variety of patterns and coloured prints and are so soft and gentle on the skin. Be sure to look for GOTS certified cotton.

5. Bamboo Cotton Buds

If you are a plastic cotton bud user then why not switch to bamboo? The ecoLiving ones in our shop are 100% biodegradable. Plastic cotton buds are often found on the beach, in our oceans and always found in plastic containers in the shops. These cotton buds have a bamboo stick and come in a recycled paper box. Bamboo is a sustainable product, it needs no pesticides or fertiliser to grow. It’s a super fast growing grass that is more efficient at taking CO2 from the air and producing more O2 than trees. In addition plastic-free bamboo cotton buds can be disposed of by simply throwing them into your organic waste or compost.

bamboo cottonbuds

6. Natural & Plastic-free Deodorant

You can swap out your ozone destroying aerosols, or your landfill destined roll ons for unpackaged solid deodorant bars or deodorant pastes available in more eco-friendly aluminium tins. The added benefit of this swap is the more sustainable alternatives are usually much more natural, meaning its a win-win as you’re putting less chemicals on to your skin. Natural deodorants work differently than their counterparts, so prepare for an adjustment period while your body adapts.

7. Safety razor:

Unfortunately as the metal blades are embedded in plastic, billions of plastic razors and cartridges are thrown away every year. Switching to safety razors are a great way for plastic-free shaving. Safety razors use one single blade made from stainless steel, which is easily recyclable. You’ll likely also find that you’re able to achieve a closer, smoother shave without the razor burn and irritation that modern razors can cause.

If you’re a regular shaver, then this switch will save you money! Disposable razors and blades can be incredibly pricey, while new and vintage safety razors are standardised and have used the same style of blades for years. You can get replacement blades which are high quality and inexpensive. With proper care, the blades can last a good while, while the handle should last a lifetime. You can also eliminate cans of shaving cream with a bar of shave soap and a brush. Shop our Jungle Culture safety razor here.

safety razor

8. Toilet Paper

Just like paper towels and napkins, toilet paper requires a ton of resources to be used for a few moments before being thrown away. It is also usually shrink-wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. Instead look for 100% recycled content or an alternative fibre like bamboo, or hemp. These rolls often come wrapped in paper as well.

You may even want to move on to family cloth like we have. Cloth wipes pair nicely with a bidet attachment on your toilet to eliminate the need for toilet paper altogether. It may not be for everyone but when you’ve got two small children squeamish goes out the window, plus when you already use cloth nappies and wipes for them you can easily make up a regular full wash load and it’s not really any different to washing soiled baby clothes in your machine.

9. Menstrual Products

A menstruating person will go through thousands of single-use products in their lifetime. Each requires resources to produce and can be very expensive if you add it all up. Invest instead long-lasting reusables to suit your needs, comfort, and budget. There are several options, including menstrual cups, washable pads and panty liners, period underwear, or any combination of the three.

10. Shampoo & Conditioner bars

Did you know shampoo and conditioner come in bar form too. This was one if the first eco swaps we made when we started out. Conventional products come in plastic bottles or soft tubes that are difficult to recycle, not mention that new bottles must be purchased time and again. If you have more than one bottle on the go, you may also have yourself some unnecessary shower clutter. They are so easy to use! Lather in your hands, massage it throughout your hair and rinse.

These changes may take some time to work into your routine, but soon they will just part of your daily life