Things we are doing to reduce our plastic consumption, a London family
Things we are doing as a family, to contain the Plastic Monster, a London family
A little bit of context - the Plastic Monster!!!
Of course we have all heard of the Plastic Monster and how it keeps growing every day fuelled by human consumption on planet Earth.
The Plastic Monster has many faces, many forms and is present everywhere.
It is our job as parents to work with our kids to find ways to contain it and overtime make it smaller and eventually make it disappear, is that really even possible??
As an adult I believe that policies and governments have a strong role to play in guiding the market, setting boundaries around production and putting the needs of future generations, first before any other types of consideration.
However as an adult I also know that markets dominate in today's economies and what can be sold, is produced and whatever happens with the by-products left behind, is an after-thought.
The problem of the plastic monster is that it has never been as big as now because of the accumulation of things we buy and consume and the realisation that most of the things we consume are not recyclable.
The first question to resolve (for me) is to ask why do we produce such things that we are not capable of recycling?? And the answer should be that we should stop and start producing things that are recyclable in the first place.
But in reality things are much more complex (??) and difficult to control. Therefore we adults and children in the world that are consumers and do care about what we are leaving behind, have to be creative, assertive, mobilise and encourage others to find everyday ways to contain the Plastic Monster.
But there is good news - the Attenborough effect
A recent report has referred to the "Attenborough effect" following the ‘David Attenborough’s acclaimed TV series Blue Planet II and Our Planet, released on Netflix, which has encouraged people to reduce the amount of disposable plastic they use, in the last year. Considerations of sustainable materials are becoming more common when it comes to choosing items we consume.
What do we do as a family?
This is what we do as a family to try and keep the Plastic Monster under-fed. At the end of the post, I will also list other resources that are far more competent than me with relevant facts and practical suggestions.
- Plastic bottles - we really think twice (or even more) before buying one. In fact I do almost everything for us not to buy one. I always have a water bottles in my bag and when we're out and about, I ask to refill, no cafes or pubs, ever say no to a "thirsty child"! Even at airports there are refill stations or I ask cafes/restaurants directly. And you can carry an empty water bottle with you through security to refill at the other end!
- Plastic bags - we have bags on us before going to the shops. We keep all plastic (wrapping, grocery bags, delivery bags) in a separate box and give it to the delivery man that collects it after delivering our online shop without plastic bags.
- Plastic containers - I really don't know what to do with them, as meat, sausages, fish almost anything fresh from the supermarket comes in them and they are not recyclable. I know that I could buy meat from the butcher (but its expensive) and also reduce our consumption of meat (which we do, to once or twice a week).
- Plastic straws - we have discussions all the time about them and I have bought a kids book "Finn the Fortunate Tiger Shark and his Fantastic Friends" that tells a great story of how fish are affected (in their stomach) from plastic pollution. In fact I gave the books as birthday "party bag" presents one year, instead of the "plastic tat" that every parent complains about (and wastes money on). Order bulk copies of that book, and help fight the Plastic Monster and raise awareness. Also you will make the writer of the book Georgina Stevens happy and over the moon (she is a local mum in Roehampton).
- Snacks and crips bags - thats' a hard one as every kid is so used to having an own individually wrapped snack that it's a hard battle to fight. When I can, I bake (cookies, cake) and put them in a box from our delivery boxes stack. For crips I try and choose ones that come in just a plastic bag (again hard as there are so few that do not come in a metallised plastic film). Crips and snack bags are not currently recyclable (!!) and the amount of bags Walkers crips alone produces in its Leicester factory is 7,000 bags every minute. Walker have committed to making their packaging 100% recyclable by 2025, having produced in the meantime an additional 28bn plastic crisp packets by that date! Walkers have set-up collection points all over the UK where crips bags of any brand can be collected. Let's go and try them out.
- Presents - the amount of plastic contained in a present is one of my main consideration often and I tend to buy books/non plastic/ethically made presents to friends and family.
- Single use coffee cups - despite not being recyclable they are sold everywhere although the alternative of using your own re-usable coffee cup is being incentivised by discounts on the coffee. On the other hand the market of beautiful and valuable reusable coffee cups is huge and it has been grasped by Ecoffee who want to democratise reusable coffee cups as "the perfect product for the Instagram generation.”
- Educate grand parents and others - kids are very sweet when it comes to introducing behaviour change and by commenting on things that can help raise awareness against the Plastic Monster, in their own innocent way.
Resources and useful links
Ways to reduce plastic use as family in London
Reducing plastic as a family is easy, the National Geographic
Take action, educate and involve school, Kids against Plastic
Refill station in Tooting Market that has everything from food, to toiletries, detergents, accessories
A Greener Tooting, a blog and campaign raising awareness and suggesting practical swaps