The oceans are in deep trouble. Fish, birds and marine mammals are suffering because of our plastic usage. So it’s time to find ways to minimise our effect on the planet. Here, Martin Dorey, dad, writer, surfer, founder of the #2minutebeachclean and author of a new book about plastics, No. More. Plastic., gives his top 5 tips for helping kids go plastic free.
Make your own snacks
One of the best things about cutting down your plastic usage is finding better ways to do things. And this applies to snacks. Plastic sweet wrappers and crisp packets cannot be recycled and are often found on Britain’s beaches. There are some snacks that don’t come in plastic but most do – which means it’s time to make your own!!! Everyone loves a home-made flapjack or low sugar muffin. And it’ll create no waste!
KIDS’ TIP: Vending machine at school? None of the wrappers can be recycled, so how about starting a campaign to exchange it for a fruit tuck shop?
Try reusable bottles
I’m always finding drinks bottles – and their little plastic caps - on the beach. Some, like Fruit Shoots, are hard to recycle because they are made with coloured plastic. So if you’re not 100% sure a bottle will get recycled (many don’t) the best thing is to do without. Try a Soda Stream if your kids love the fizzy stuff, or get them a snazzy new stainless steel water bottle and refill it using the Refill App. Plus, it’s fun discovering new places to Refill.
KIDS’ TIP: How about turning your school into its own Refill station? Talk to your teachers, or mum/dad can raise it with the parent group at school.
Remember that straws really do suck
You’ve probably seen the video of the turtle. Nobody wants that again. Plastic straws always turn up on beach cleans. We use millions of them every day and then just chuck them away. It’s definitely time to make better choices. You can buy steel or bamboos straws but, if you worry about cleaning them, buy a box of paper straws and keep a few handy. “Biodegradable” and “compostable” straws are great, especially with thick milkshakes, but they have to be disposed of properly rather than just thrown away, so paper or re-usables are best.
KIDS’ TIP: Try to avoid plastic cutlery/ketchup sachets when out and about.
Be more aware of what things are made of
Glitter, tickertape, tinsel and other shiny things are almost always made of plastic. There are some biodegradable glitters available, but they can be pricey. There’s lots of fun to be had in home-made crafts. If you are celebrating birthdays and special occasions you can still do it in style without plastic. Kids love making paper chains or improvising their own decorations using dried fruit, paper, card of flowers. It’s a lot of fun to do!
KIDS’ TIP: Does your school use glitter? Can the PTA fund a biodegradable alternative?
Make bath time bubble – but with less plastic
So many of our washing and bathing products come in plastic bottles. Lots of them can be recycled, but it’s better to do without if possible. Some cosmetics companies sell bath bombs, bubble bath and shampoo bars so you can lather up without hurting the planet. Larger shampoo/bubble bath bottles may be cheaper, and are often more cost-effective. Try decanting into re-usable bottles if bulk buys are too heavy.
KIDS’ TIP: Work out how many shampoo and conditioner bottles you use in a year. Can you think of ways to help your family to get the number down?