Some days you feel like you're on top of it. An eco ambassador leading the good fight for the planet. Then reality kicks in and you forget your reusable shopping bags... again… and as you use cling wrap on the leftovers from dinner, then wipe the bench with single-use paper towel because the dishcloth isn’t hanging in its usual place, you’re suddenly feeling right back there at square one. Not an ambassador at all, merely an eco wannabe. Or are you?
We get that life is busy. Especially life with young children. Sometimes it’s a good week if you get a load of washing done AND brush your hair. But as the planet marches on towards what sometimes feels like environmental armageddon, the younger generations are living proof that eco-warriors are out there (seventeen year old Greta Thunberg is now a household name worldwide) and the pressure is mounting for everyone to do their bit.
Becoming a little bit greener as a family doesn't mean you need to chain yourself to a tree in a rainforest. That's why we’ve come up with simple changes you can make. Changes that will lighten your load, lessen your carbon footprint and have you treading lightly across our planet.
Worth noting... in many of the below suggestions there’s a link to a wide variety of Australian businesses that have a foot firmly in the eco-warrior category. So, with these green tips, you can support the environment and support local in one easy step!
Ditch the plastic.
Nearly nine million tons of plastic waste fill our oceans every year. Ugh. Australia has stepped up in recent years. Now you're hard-pressed to find single-use plastic bags handed out freely in supermarkets. The flow-on effect meant that Australians were forced to step up too. A good nudge in the right direction towards a less plastic future. So, what else can we do to reduce that crazy amount of plastic sneaking into our oceans? Ideally, keep a reusable bag with you at all times. There are many types to choose from, ranging from bags that bunch into a golf-ball sized space and fit into a purse. There’s canvas which is a little more sturdy and there are old-school baskets which are perfect for carrying fresh produce bought at the market. Here's a guide to different options for reusable bags. As long as they aren't single-use, you are making progress!
Don't be a slave to fashion.
Children outgrow clothes so quickly and given the environmental impact of making clothing, it's more eco-friendly - not to mention economical - to embrace hand-me-downs and second-hand clothing. In the early years especially, it isn’t unusual for baby clothes to get only a couple of wears before they no longer fit. Try second-hand shops, garage boot sales, local online groups or let your friends know that you'd welcome clothes their child grows out of. Then keep the cycle going and pass them down to your friends’ babies as they’re outgrow by your children.
Wash in cold.
Wash clothes in cold water. Your machine will use much less energy when it doesn't have to heat up the water, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill!
A plant-derived laundry detergent with no artificial fragrances and sulfates. Gentle on skin and gentle on the planet, yet tough on stains. Cue soap nuts. Soap nuts are actually small berries which are cracked open and dried in the sun, producing a golden shell. These shells - grown and used for centuries in places like Nepal - can then be placed in your washing machine instead of detergent and fabric softener. Containing a natural form of soap, called saponins, soap nuts will leave your clothes clean, soft and without scent. Containing a very high percentage of saponins . Foaming when they come into contact with water, which removes dirt and oils from clothing. Soap nuts can also be boiled into a liquid concentrate and used as a general-purpose cleaner, shampoo or hand soap... so many uses!