Plastic free July has come and gone in a flash. As a mother, this one is specially challenging. How can I be conscious of my plastic use while entertaining my kids and motherhood in general?
There is always a good excuse
This year, we were traveling for most of July. This made the plastic free concept very difficult. We are all trying to be sane and at the same time keeping everyone entertained and fed. I have honestly tried and failed many times. Asking the server for no straws on the kids cup, only to receive a plastic lid, or even worse a styrofoam container. The constant fails are a big reminder that we have a long way as a society in terms of sustainability.
It is easy to start pointing fingers at each other. To blame the system or think that just one person doesn’t generate a big enough impact. All those are valid points, but I strongly believe that we have a sole responsibility in making our kids aware of the problems and conscious that we need to do a better job at protecting the earth and demanding systemic changes.
I have talked to my mom friends and we all struggle with the same: is it possible to be environmentally conscious and keep your sanity as a parent, to be practical? The answer is YES. And although I am talking about no shame, we need to take ownership of the issue. There are little steps can keep us all sane and slowly create big systemic moves. We can do better, but we are running out of time.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse
You might be thinking you are not ready, but I would like to share with you my five tips for moving your family into a more environmentally conscious mindset.
- Talk to your kids. This one should be easy. Don’t underestimate their ability to understand and connect. Start with recycling, let them know what goes where and get them involved in the process. Soon enough they will be correcting your mistakes.
- Learn about recycling practices in your community. This could drive anyone crazy. Not all recyclers are created equal and the confusion and misinformation leads to tons of recyclable materials send to the landfills. For DC, follow Zero Waste DC on instagram or visit their website. Virginia and Maryland have all different resources based on the county you reside. Get informed and recycle properly.
- Refuse! This one is tricky and honestly hard to remember. DC recently passed a ban on plastic straws. That is great news, but lets not forget about all the other plastic that comes with our food. To go containers, lids, plastic bags, plastic ware. It is everywhere. So, ask politely for no plastic either for your kids at a table or on anything you are taking to go. You might get a weird reaction, or even completely ignored, but hopefully you will start a much needed conversation. The more you ask, the more they listen, right?
- Pack your own. I am not talking about bringing your food everywhere, although that would be great. I mean bring your own cup, container and reusable silverware. This tends to be a big trend on single people who want to be waste free. We might think: Great, but wait until you are a parent. And that is right, but on the other hand, don’t we already carry a ridiculous amount of stuff that we barely use? What’s one more little bag, don’t you think?
- Change to a reusable water bottle and zip lock bags. I used to be one of those people with a big pack of water bottles on my front door, thinking, its ok, I recycle. I then learned that plastic bottles are only recyclable twice and there comes a point where that plastic is no longer reusable. So, I added a couple more stainless steal bottles to my collection and now they travel with us everywhere. And if you don’t want to spend more money, reuse a glass container as use it for your water on the go. Now, the zip lock topic seams a little more challenging. Thankfully there are plenty of items in the market that can offer you a nice replacement. Discovering the Stasher Bags were a total game changer for me. The price tag might intimidate you, but within a couple of months they can equal to the price of the plastic Zip bags that you have used. They also make great to go containers, so keeping one in your purse is a great idea.
I hope you have found this tips useful and that I have helped you make at least one change in your consumption. I wish we all had the time and resources for a compost bin at home, and that we can go without single use plastic. That is a very difficult task now, but we can take steps on the right direction.
I would love to hear about your experiences and struggles with sustainability, so let’s start the conversation in a judgement free space. Are you ready?