It's Plastic Free July 2020
The “Plastic Free July” campaign has been running since 2011 and its tagline is to “Be Part of the Solution”, offering the opportunity to find millions of global companions reducing their plastic waste for the betterment of our world.
“Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities"
The website is packed full of ideas about how to reduce your use of single use plastic. I highly recommend the straight-forward and common sense approach of this campaign, and totally endorse its messaging.
I’m going to divert my messaging slightly this Plastic Free July, to shine a light on the lesser talked about issues of the harmful nature of plastics, all the while underlining the importance of limiting plastic usage and plastic avoidance. I think by now we are all aware of the negative impacts that plastic pollution creates for our oceans and our planet. For instance, by 2050 it is estimated that their may be more plastic (by weight) than fish. However… are we all aware that plastic has negative health effects, which could put our children’s health at risk? Are we aware of how to limit our plastic consumption and household plastic overload, to reduce our exposure to harmful plastics?….
5 ways to go plastic free for your baby, your child and your family this July:
1. Sign up for the Plastic Free July challenge, and get to know more about all the issues https://www.plasticfreejuly.org and some quick and easy swaps to make
2. Get to know what a “plastic” is in the first place, otherwise it’ll be impossible to identify to avoid. Types of plastic - this is an issue that I still find very confusing (!) as I’m no scientist, so I draw on the expertise of others here, as I write about in my earlier blog
I have had SO many conversations with people about products for babies and children that contain plastic, and the response I hear is “I had no idea that that was a type of plastic” or “I had never even thought that that was a type of plastic”. Plastics are EVERYWHERE, the little blighters seem to have an access-all-areas pass, and are not afraid to use it.
This is a pretty nice little no-frills plastics guide for anyone wishing to explore further.
If you know what types of plastic are out there, and in what products they are lurking, being armed with this information you can choose which you want to avoid.
3. Do a plastics audit in your home: This is what myself (and I believe quite a few of my friends and family) have done. Go to each room in your house, and do a quick headcount of all the plastic items. It’s pretty shocking the first time you do this! I made a decision about which items needed to be kept (normally because there are currently no plastic free alternatives! for example, I can't find a plastic free buggy on the market...) and what could be easily swapped with plastic free alternatives. (I talk about this a little more in my New Year’s Eco resolution blog). I then gradually over quite a long period of time shed the plastic items and replaced with products made from natural materials or recycled products, or even homemade items. For example, to reduce plastic waste in the bathroom, I now make all my own homemade soap, scrubs, lotions, toners, balms, and oils. And for example in the kitchen, I never ever store anything in plastic, but instead opt for recycled jam jars for storage, some recycled kilner jars from a good friend of mine who left them before he went to live overseas, and also use jam jars as drinking glasses. This last one will up your plastic free credentials as well as your hipster credentials ;-). If you like making your own products and items to save plastic waste, check out my homemade sun lotion and homemade bum wipe tutorials.
It’ll possibly be quite shocking to count up all the plastic items that our kids use that are stacked up in our houses. But honestly, these are the plastic items in my house that I worry about the most… for all the reasons outlined in (4) below.
4. Be aware of how toxic plastic is and why you need to avoid it for your health and the health of your family. Learning about and acknowledging the seriousness of the issues surrounding the toxicity of plastic and it’s potentially harmful affects on myself / unborn child / baby / family, was the driving force behind the launching of this website, blog and online shop. I outline the case in more detail here: https://plasticfree.baby/pages/a-case-for-plastic-free
I think that it’s in popular consciousness now that plastic is bad for the environment, our seas, our oceans, our wildlife… but we don’t so readily seem to be talking opening and frequently about how harmful it is to human beings. We appear to just be pursuaded by the argument that different types of plastics are safe until proven otherwise. And it really, really makes me cross that there is simply not enough clarity or airtime is given to the issues of plastic safety for our babies and our children - I fear this is simply to do with the commoditisation of plastic; it’s profit making ability seems far more important to world leaders than that of the health of the next generation. And yet the studies speak for themselves - most plastics that we come across in day to day life are potentially toxic and should be avoided.
“Instead of pointing to a few problematic types of plastic that should be avoided, the testing instead revealed that issues of toxicity were widespread—and could be found in nearly any type of plastic.” This is a clear indication to me that reduction of plastics in the home (and indeed at our children’s nurseries, schools, play areas, and so on) is vital..... 'You’re not going to just drop dead [from hormonal activity in plastics], but it could contribute to diseases that may manifest over decades, or it could affect unborn embryos and fetuses,” Vandenberg says.” '
5. Buy less, so when you do buy, make it a plastic free choice
I am not rich, and at the point of writing, I am not even well off (possibly quite the opposite!), but I do make plastic free choices whenever I possibly can within my household budget. The way that I do this is to buy less, so that when I need to make a purchase it can be for a plastic free item, sourced ethically or made from natural materials - these items do sometimes have a higher price tag. I borrow or use second hand whenever I possibly can, and lend what I have to friends (I think my sister’s maternity wardrobe and newborn baby clothes that she lent me have decked out myself, my son, and many other mother’s-to-be and newborns within a 5 mile radius of my home!). The ‘plastic free’ market place is relatively new and it will create, in time, a pressure on product developers to make affordable alternatives made from natural materials. For now, I crack on slowly by adding plastic free baby and child products to my home bit by bit, little by little, as demand and cash flow permits. I urge you to do the same. Have a search of my shop for some options, if you fancy it.
Be the change! :-)