How To Become A Plastic Free Family
Plastic Free Family – Not only is the fight against plastic a lot easier as a family unit, but it also helps ensure a healthy future by ingraining environment related awareness into the younger generations.
Since you are here, it means you already have a certain level of awareness regarding the harmful effects of plastic pollution. Just in case you are not fully aware of its magnitude, here’s a quick news flash – About 8-10 million tons of plastic trash gets dumped into the ocean every year. Not only does it kill millions of marine animals and sea-birds, but it has infiltrated our food sources and already entered our systems. Here’s a great article on how it has now turned into An Era of Plastic Overkill.
The seemingly harmless everyday household items such as plastic water bottles, bags, straws etc., although might hardly even grab your attention, but have serious consequences as far as the planet is considered. Those single-use plastic items, some of which gets thrown away after barely 2 minutes of usage, constitute over 40% of the plastic trash in the ocean. The pace at which we are currently polluting the ocean with plastic, we are bound to leave a very toxic environment for our children, and the future generations to live in.
It turns out, though, that the key to providing a healthy environment for our children, lies in the children itself. First of all, you don’t usually have to convince a child to care for the environment and the wildlife. They are instinctively wired to care for the environment they live in. Kids often get deeply saddened when witnessing a whale choked on plastic or a turtle entangled in a fishing line. They are instinctively moved to take action to help the creature, and if it were pointed out that plastic is the ultimate cause of this suffering, they would happily ditch plastic.
When the family as a whole takes a conscious effort into reducing the amount of plastic that enters the house, it is the children that are empowered the most to carry such initiative forward.
Implementing a plastic free family system is easier than you might think, and if your curiosity is still alive, then it could also be a lot of fun.
11 tips to get your Plastic Free Family lifestyle:
1. Stop Shopping With Cheap Plastic Bags
When it comes to plastic pollution, plastic bags are one of the biggest culprits, choking the waterways and poisoning the landfills. Over a million bags are given out every single minute and gets discarded within 2 minutes. Reusable cloth or paper bags are an excellent green alternative to the flimsy plastic bags. Unlike the cheap looking plastic, cloth bags provide a much more creative and better-looking option – an incentive for kids to switch over to the cloth bags. This Reusable shopping Bag and Portable Travel Bag, are two such alternatives available on our iBanPlastic store.
2. Avoid Contamination By Replacing Plastic Water Bottles
These are probably the easiest to switch, because of the many, glass and stainless steel alternatives already available in the market. The best way to incorporate this change among the kids is to let them select their water bottle as per the colour or design of their choice, thus making it a personal item that will be used for a long time. If you’re looking for simpler options, here’s a Stainless Steel Water Bottle, available on our eco-shop.
3. Stop Sucking On Plastic, Get A Reusable Straw
Here’s a classic example of cheap, convenient and habit triumphing over the health of the environment – Plastic straws. Manufactured in the billions and discarded immediately upon its single use. 500 million are thrown away daily, in just the United States. The worst part, it’s not even really required, and it’s just as easy to take a sip directly with your mouth. You should try it. But if still out of habit or necessity, you would like to use a straw, opt for a reusable one made out of environmentally friendly material. For one, it definitely looks more stylish – another incentive for the kids! Here’s one such option – Stainless Steel Straws
4. Stop Gifting Pollution, Choose Eco-Friendly Birthday Gifts.
Here’s your chance to be an inspiration not just to your own, but other kids as well. As those birthday’s approach, instead of taking the easy way out and purchasing a plastic toy, push your kid instead to be more creative. Get involved if you can and help them make handmade items. It’s even a great timing to learn some baking!
5. Be Creative To Avoid Plastic Packaging
Every time you make a purchase, especially online, you are inviting a good portion of plastic into your house. So, the next time you or your kid wants something, instead of reaching straight for your credit card, try to think your way around plastic. A lot of items are just fine or sometimes even better when bought second-hand. With a mutual understanding among kids, borrowing or barter works as well. And if possible, nothing beats the learning experience of a good ‘Do It Yourself’ session!
6. Cone Over Cup For Your Ice-cream
The ice-cream cup is yet one more seemingly harmless item that goes unnoticed for its contribution to the plastic pollution crisis. Explain to your kids the harmful effects of small plastic pollutants such as the ice-cream cup, when it makes its way into the ocean and gets ingested by marine animals. We pretty sure, your kid will opt for a cone. Besides, you can’t eat a cup!
7. Don’t Wrap Your Lunch In Plastic
On average, almost 70 pounds of lunch trash is thrown away by kids between the age of 8-12 years. Along with each portion of lunch thrown away, the plastic wrap or bag it is in also gets tossed off. This is so because plastic is cheap! Instead of using plastic, why not use a wrapper made from cloth? Kids could even use their old jeans etc. to make themselves their own personal lunch wrappers. Besides, it’s not very healthy to have your food in constant contact with the flimsy plastic bags and wrappers.
8. Don’t Be A Beach ‘Bum’, Carry Your Plastic Back
Nothing beats a good family time at the beach. And don’t you especially love it when the beach is clean? Of course, you do! So the next time its family beach time, have a ‘no trash left behind’ policy and bring back all those beach balls, frisbees, floating ducks, lunch bags, water bottles etc. You could even keep your kid in charge of maintaining a checklist, giving them a sense of adult world responsibilities.
9. Items Brought In Bulk, Brings In Less Plastic
Plastic is unavoidable nowadays, every time you make a purchase. One way you can cut down on the plastic packaging of each individual item is to instead buy in bulk. Some things like pasta, cereals etc. are even available loose, when purchased in bulk. You could carry your own reusable container in such cases. Of course, don’t forget to carry your reusable organic shopping bag along.
10. To Recycle Is Your Right and Your Responsibility
Any plastic that doesn’t get reused or recycled ends up in a landfill or in the ocean. The extremely harmful effects of plastic pollution are now well-known. The millions of marine animals and seabirds that get killed due to plastic, that’s all on us. Explain this to your kids, and they will immediately understand that, plastic is our responsibility! When it comes to kids, the rest is pretty straightforward. Just team up with your kid, and separate out the items that can be given out to the local recycling plant.
11. Take The Fight Outside
Keeping your house clean of plastic is a great start. But you can further empower your kids into following an environmentally friendly lifestyle by taking the fight against plastic, outside! So every now and then, on a free weekend, join a local beach cleanup group along with your new plastic free family and set an excellent example for your kids and other ‘onlookers’ on taking responsibility for our collective mess.
If you can’t find a local group already taking this initiative, then don’t hesitate to form your own such group, even if it’s just your family, to begin with. Clean The Beach Boot Camp, is one such initiative that started small but soon became a global movement against beach trash.
We hope this article has been educative and motivating enough to get a family discussion on plastic started in your homes tonight. If there are any plastic-pollution-fighting activities your family already participates in, that we missed, then please do let others know by posting it in the comment section below. Also, if you agree with us so far, don’t forget to share this with other families you know.