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Easy being green

20 Nov 2018

Easy being green

Swap: Glitter

Children love shiny, sparkly things, but glitter is not only the bane of every parent's craft supply box, it's also a microplastic that's bad for our environment and can even end up in the food chain. Fortunately, you can find biodegradeable glitter made from plant cellulose and other plant-based materials. Or why not make your own? Gather up dried leaves, dried flower petals, or newspaper and use your hole punch to craft piles of pretty "glitter" that can be easily composted. This is an excellent fine-motor activity for children too.

Swap: Plastic wrap

It's so easy to use, and so hard on the environment - and on our health, scientists are finding. Plastic wrap seems to be on its way out, fortunately, with lots of alternatives coming on to the market. Beeswax wraps, which are essentially pieces of fabric which have been painted with a thin layer of beeswax, will mould to the sides of your bowls and can be washed and reused. Honey Wrap do a great job.  Reusable fabric snack bags are a good option for children's lunches, and come in fun colours and patterns. Mason jars instead of plastic containers are another good choice. Fabric bowl covers with stretchy elastic edges are another idea.

Swap: Balloons

Balloons are common at children's parties, but when the fun is over, they get popped and tossed into the rubbish, creating more waste - and although latex balloons do eventually biodegrade, there currently aren't any facilities to recycle them, and if they end up in the ocean they become a risk to wildlife. Mylar balloons (shiny metallic balloons) don't decompose, though. Instead of balloons, why not tie paper or fabric streamers from the letterbox or the spots around your home you'd usually decorate with balloons? And if you're thinking of having a water balloon fight, skip the balloons - try using eco-friendly biodegradable cellulose sponges, or you may find crocheted reusable water balloons which are shaped like balloons but made from wool.

Swap: Plastic straws 

Many supermarkets and restaurants are getting rid of disposable plastic straws - and for good reason. Single-use plastics like straws end up in our waterways and oceans more often than not, polluting our marine habitat and being mistaken for food by sea creatures who eat them. In short, plastic straws are bad news. The good news is, there are alternatives available. Try recyclable or compostable straws made from paper, bamboo, pasta, and maize starch. There are also reusable straws made from stainless steel and silicone - you can purchase skinny brushes for cleaning them too.

Swap: Loot bags 

It seems that no children's party is complete without a take-home loot bag filled with cheap plastic $2-shop toys and sugary lollies. Children love them, but parents loathe them, and the items inside are almost immediately broken, abandoned, and dumped in the bin. Instead of giving out loot bags at your child's next birthday, why not swap them for something more creative and sustainable? A strawberry plant in a little terracotta pot is a fun idea. Or how about a mini gardening kit with a packet of seeds, child-sized gardening gloves, and a small trowel? A packet of crayons and a colouring book, or even a fun-shaped bath soap (made of eco-friendly ingredients), are other things children love. There are lots of ideas to try that don't involve plastic throwaway items.