Help your children understand the importance of saying no to single-use plastic & choosing more sustainable options
Plastic is a problem and a serious threat to the sustainability of our planet. My kids have started to notice the amount of plastic that’s disposed of on a daily basis – whether washed up on the beach or dumped in trash cans and, as a family, we’re trying really hard to limit single-use plastic in our home. The thing with plastic is that it doesn’t break down, even recycling it isn’t efficient – and most of it ends up polluting the ocean and the environment and being ingested by terrestrial and marine animals. It’s pretty scary but there are lots of ways to avoid or reuse plastic and to get your kids excited about doing their part. Here are just a few – I’d love to hear your ideas too so please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start raising plastic-free kids together!
Read More: 5 Easy Ways To Say No To Plastic
Keep a stash of canvas bags in the boot of your car or reuse the plastic supermarket bags you’ve already got. A few supermarkets in this region are starting to make commitments to switching from plastic to paper – Organic Foods & Cafe already use paper bags or pack up your shopping in the boxes that their produce arrives in. And if you’re heading to the store for one or two things then just say no to any kind of bag and carry your items out or pop them in your handbag – these little changes will start to make a big difference.
I’m amazed by how many of us still buy single-use plastic bottles of water – it’s so unnecessary! Get the whole family kitted out with insulated water bottles that’ll keep your liquids cold for hours and just refill. And if you’re throwing a kids birthday party, buy paper cups from Party Camel (or better still cups which you can reuse) and fill up big jugs with juice or water rather than giving out the tiny plastic bottles, most of which they’ll have one sip from and then discard.
And as for the big water bottles we get delivered for our water dispensers at home, we’re now considering an under-the-sink water filter by Liquid of Life. They cost approximately aED 950 to install and will last 12 months – and will remove all impurities and chemicals while retaining minerals – oh and if you move home you can take them with you!
If you do have a few plastic bottles at home, get the kids to create their own mini gardens by using them as planters – even if you don’t have any outdoor space you can create a window ledge/balcony garden or make a few hanging baskets (lovely for bringing the outside in). It’s important to reinforce the message that we should be encouraging up cycling and reusing rather than perpetuating the ‘throw away’ culture that’s gotten so out of control and this is a really good way to start.
Most of the disposable coffee cups from our favourite cafes aren’t recyclable – and as for those plastic lids? Disaster! If you’re stopping by your local coffee shop for a takeout then bring your own reusable cup and get them to fill it for you – ok yes you’ll have to rinse it out yourself afterwards but really it’s zero hassle at all (and remember our kids learn by our examples).
It’s not easy telling a child that the straw they really really want to sip their drink though is a bad idea but these bits of plastic are some of the worst offenders on the planet because they’re typically used for a matter of minutes before being thrown away. Explain to the kids that because of their small size, straws are often mistaken for food by animals and that they can make those animals really sick (there’s a video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose which is unbelievably sad and may be worth showing the kids if you feel they could handle it). Start to say no to straws when they’re served to you in restaurants and buy the kids their own reusable straws or compostable paper straws which are so much better for the environment than plastic – Amazon does lots of different versions.
The avocado that’s been put on a plastic tray which has then been wrapped in plastic? No thanks! I make it a game for the kids to find the most environmentally friendly produce when we go to the supermarket together – they take such pride in bringing me tomatoes that are in a paper bag or honey that’s in a glass jar rather than a plastic one. I try wherever possible to choose glass over plastic (ketchup, mayonnaise etc) and we buy Koita Organic milk which is packaged up in Tetrapak cartons (plastic free and recyclable) and cookies in paper packaging rather than the plastic tubs. Think about getting your fruit and veggies delivered – Greenheart Organic Farms will send your yummy fresh local produce in a cardboard box and Kibsons give you the option of choosing paper over plastic bags.
Rather than wrapping sandwiches in plastic wrap, use the little paper sandwich bags (available at all supermarkets) and buy reusable stainless steel containers/lunchboxes (there are cute tiffin style ones available on noon.com) and please please don’t use disposable plastic cutlery, there are lots of bamboo options out there now.
Even if it’s not your own, if you see litter on the beach or the desert or anywhere that it shouldn’t be then pick it up and dispose of it correctly. My little girl Violet has become militant about this to the point where she’ll march around people picnicking on the beach if they’ve discarded anything around them and make a point of taking their rubbish to the bin – and I’m so proud of her for doing so.