Plastic free July is an initiative in Australia that challenges people to refuse to buy single use plastics throughout the month of July. Millions of people across the world took part this July. Plastic is a big problem, a lot of it is ending up in the ocean and having a serious effect on marine life and ecosystems. While more definitely needs to be done on an industrial and production level, when you learn that by 2050 there could be more plastic in our seas than fish it really brings home the importance of trying to live more sustainably.

Plastic Free July

Doing our bit

I kind of felt I was already doing my bit. I recycle fastidiously and look to buy low plastic packaging wherever I can.  Instead of buying bottled water I take a drink of water out with me wherever we go. I’ve cut down on buying disposable nappies and sanitary products by choosing reusable nappies and a moon-cup. I was still surprised by how much plastic is hugely a part of my every day.

Useless plastic

Plastic free July has really brought home how much single use plastics are being pumped out without a thought for our environment. There’s no doubt that plastic is very useful, however, there are so many products made of single use plastic that just don’t need to be! Single use plastic is a big issue because it is mainly these types of plastics that are washing up on our beaches and poisoning our oceans.  Some products that don’t need to be plastic for instance:

Plastic Could Easily Be…
Plastic bags! One of the ‘top four’ pollutants found everywhere from floating through the ocean to lining the stomachs of sea birds.

 

Paper or hemp
Plastic wrapped veg Paper bags
Plastic lined single use coffee cups Cardboard
Microbeads – so small they get past the filters in the waste water treatment and fish think they are food Sugar/Oatmeal scrub

Hard to avoid

There are so many plastic things I still use:

  • Toothpaste tubes & tooth brush heads
  • Clingfilm
  • Shampoo/body wash bottles
  • Teabags! – What on earth?!
  • Bin liner bags
  • Food packaging that seems unavoidable (yoghurts, pasta).

 

Plastic Free July weeks 3 and 4

For the future

During plastic free July I cut down on my plastic use a lot. The thought of even one less plastic bag floating around a beautifully blue pacific ocean in Hawaii or even the cold North Sea at Tynemouth makes it worth it. The best thing I have gained though is more awareness. And that’s what it’s all about really. If we can spread some awareness and follow that up with a little bit of education our kids can enjoy a beautiful world just as we have.

Read more to see how Week 1 and Week 2 went.

 

I’ve pledged to refuse single use plastics for the month of July, read how week 1 went here. Needless to say, there is room for improvement. If you’re interested in challenging yourself to go plastic free you can join in on the Plastic Free July website and get loads of tips and ideas there. You can also take a fun plastic usage quiz.

Plastic Free July

Week 2 has definitely been more of a challenge to keep up with. I still need to buy reusable straws and a coffee cup but have definitely cut down on my cling film usage, opting instead for reusable containers for left over’s in the fridge.

I’m still surprised daily how much throw away plastic is produced. Buying a quick lunch in a supermarket is a struggle. My favourite supermarket sushi comes in a little plastic box and even the sandwiches packets have that piece of plastic film over the front.  I am making more thoughtful choices though when buying from supermarkets which can only be a good thing. I have not used the little plastic bags for fruit and veg for years now, they’re fine in the trolley and fridge in all their naked glory (just give them a good wash before eating) but there are things that seem unavoidable. All kinds of bread come packaged in plastic, even the freshly baked loaves. Yoghurts for the kids are pretty much a non-negotiable unfortunately, and I haven’t got as far as ‘going naked’ for the bin so I am still using the bin liners.

I am on the look-out for any local farmers markets where I can buy fresh berries and fruit in paper bags or cardboard punnets instead of plastic. If you are local and know of one do let me know in the comments below.

This week I have succeeded in:

  1. Opting out of plastic bags for my home shopping delivery and recycling the ones they sent for the meat.
  2. Remembering my reusable bags when out shopping in town.
  3. Choosing to use Tupperware to store food instead of cling film

Next week I plan to:

  1. Buy and use reusable straws.
  2. Buy and use a reusable coffee cup.
  3. Plan lunches ahead so as not to buy lunch on the go from a supermarket.

Do you think you could live plastic free? Join in with the Plastic Free July challenge for the rest of the month and let me know how you get on.

Plastic Free July

 

 

 

Plastic free July

Single use plastics have a huge environmental impact. Things like straws, plastic bags and water bottles take hundreds of years to biodegrade and are ending up in our oceans the world over and being found in the stomach of every type of marine animal from fish to birds. More than this there is now known swathes of ocean where cubic metres of micro plastic particles are gathered floating around the ocean, dispersing toxic chemical into the environment. That last bit really shocked me but if you want a real shocking fact how about the estimate that up to 50% of our oceans could contain plastic by 2020? Or that by 2050 there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

Plastic Waste

Alternatives

Plastic free July is an idea that started in Australia in 2011 and has grown to 1 million people taking part worldwide last year. The idea is to dedicate one month to refusing to use single use plastics. There are some really simple things you can do to get started like take a drink of water out with you in a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water and using reusable shopping bags. There’s absolutely loads of ideas on the Plastic Free July website.

Epic Fail

I’m joining in with thousands of others across the globe for 2017 plastic free July. Week one quite frankly I’ve used quite a bit of plastic! Which might normally be considered a bit of an epic fail but it’s not. Here’s why; signing up for the challenge has made me really mindful of every time I’ve used a single use plastic. It’s actually quite surprising how easily it sneaks into your everyday. The main culprit for me at the moment is cling film. I use a lot of it for picnics and wrapping up left over’s for the fridge. I’m will look into getting some glass or stainless steel lidded containers and for now I am using all my lidded Tupperware.

Things I already do

I already do a few things like using reusable nappies (not as much as I used to now), I always take out a bottle of water with us when we go out anywhere in a plastic reusable bottle because that’s what I have. I’m still using oat milk from our allergy days and that is packaged in waxed cardboard not plastic. And I recently switched from single use sanitary products to a Mooncup on the recommendation of a friend and although it took a while to get used to, it. Is. Awesome.

Things to Change

Some things I will be looking to change for week 2 of the challenge are:

  1. Buy a metal reusable straw and picnic cutlery.
  2. Look at alternative food storage options.
  3. Buy a plastic free reusable coffee cup.

Come and join the movement ! It’s so simple and easy to do. You can register on the website for a weekly tips email and join the facebook group.

Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists. That’s enough to make anyone want to ditch the straws at least! Let me know if you are doing the challenge too and we can go along together, or if you try not to use single use plastics generally anyway in the comments below. I love reading comments. Thanks! 🙂

I’ve been thinking about taking my little boy for his first hair cut. It’s one of the ‘firsts’ parents talk about and write in memory books. Beb is 15 months old and he’s still got that fluffy baby hair (I love it!) but it’s long enough that I find I’m side swiping it across his forehead to get it out of the way. I feel a bit unsure about getting his hair cut though and it was this feeling that got me thinking about children’s hair cuts in general.

Little Boys with Long Hair

Hanging around in the home ed community a lot lately, I have noticed a lot of the boys have long hair. Not long-ish, or grunge-y type long, but waist-long flowing golden locks. I’ve met so many boys with the same hairstyle I began to wonder if it is a home-ed thing? And if it is, then why? Why long and not blue or spiky or anything else?

Should You Cut Your Baby's Hair?

I like sharing pics of the back of his head on Insta.

I started thinking about Beb’s hair and when I should get it cut. The word should was what struck me. ‘Should’ according to what? Well-meaning advice? The infamous red book? I decided just as soon as it got a bit long I would take him for his first hair cut. He’s going to hate it. I just know. Then like a bolt from the blue it clicked into place. Maybe the mums of the boys I have met being the awesome thinking outside of the box type people they are, have chosen to disregard the unwritten rule book of children’s hair cuts. And maybe there are some very good reasons they have.

Rights and Decisions

Perhaps it’s more than just a hairstyle. Perhaps the thinking behind it is to enable their children make decisions about their own appearance and not enforce perceived norms upon them in the meanwhile. I mean, who decides boys or men have to have short hair? Do I have the right to decide for my child how he will look, or what is the ‘right’ way for him to look?

I know this thinking will probably face some criticism, after all I choose his clothes everyday for him and so forth. I do make a lot of decisions for him and on his behalf, some of which he is generally unhappy about (nappy changes spring to mind). But while he is busy being a baby and later, a child playing or running around a park, not thinking about his hair or other people’s opinions of his hair, would it hurt for me to wait a while and let him make his own decisions about his appearance? Is his first haircut setting me on an oblivious path of only being able to consider my child’s autonomy when it suits me?  It’s such a minor thing, hair. I wonder if leaving his hair to grow out until he wants to make his own decision on it allows a stronger message to reach my kids about making our own personal choices.

Should You Cut Your Baby's hair

Another picture of the back of his head.

Prejudices

Maybe these Mamma’s have gone before me and reached the same fork in the road and have considered their actions the same way I am. Isn’t that always a comforting thought to remember people have walked the same path before you?

A simple haircut that seems a small thing has thrown up a chance to consider my parenting, and to help my children navigate their way through society’s pre-set ideas about how they ‘should’ look. I had a real a-ha moment there in my kitchen thinking about kids with long hair. Suddenly I had even more respect for the women and families who are encouraging their kids to be who they are by actions and thoughts as well as words. What an amazing gift to their children.

As a famous company strap-line says, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.’ I’m glad Beb’s first hair cut got me thinking about these things. I still even after this soul searching will more than likely take Beb for his first hair-cut. What can I say, I’m not strong enough to confront society’s prejudices so openly quite yet? Maybe that’s another blog post.

 

There are lots of reasons to choose to educate at home. School is becoming a more and more pressured experience for children; socially due to class group numbers and also academically due to testing. Teachers are being continually stretched and change is needed. Schools are doing the best they can with the limited resources assigned to them. Above and beyond all this nobody knows your child better than you, and you are able to provide an education that suits your child individually. Imagine having the time to invest in their interests, listen to their thoughts, and answer their questions. Imagine them feeling able to openly share their opinion without fear of the embarrassment of being wrong or having to vie for a place among 29 other voices.

Home Ed and Regulations

U.K. law is that every child deserves an education but you can decide how that education is delivered and therefore you can choose to educate your child at home. I received a letter from my LEA explaining this is more detail. It says: ‘There are no set guidelines as to what subjects a pupil who is electively home educated should be taught…home educating parents may wish to provide an education…either in a formal and structured manner…or in an informal manner which is responsive to the developing needs of the child.’ Which I found very useful actually and it goes on to list quite a few things I will not be required to do such as follow the national curriculum, mark work or make extensive lesson plans. Fundamentally it suggests that the parent knows their child best, and so can choose how to educate.

Home Education

Concerns

But I’m not a trained teacher I hear you cry. This is often a top concern for many parents considering home education. Rest assured there are many different ways to learn and you don’t have to be a trained teacher to facilitate your child’s learning. In fact, you have been doing it all their lives already! One of the first activities often set to 1st year uni students is finding their own personal learning style. Answer a few questions on a psychometric test to find out if you learn better through watching somebody do something, by writing about the process of how to do something, by doing the new skill yourself or a mixture of these. There are personality tests which can give you an idea of a person’s dominating characteristics (leader, creative, for example) which in turn can help decipher how that person may best learn a new skill or new information. Why wait until university to invidualise your child’s learning? As a parent you do not need quizzes or personality testing to understand how your child learns best you probably already know and if you don’t it won’t take long for you to notice it. From that point you can really encourage your child and bring them on.

Music Education

Ways to Learn

Learning is much easier when it’s about something that interests you, or that you have a reason to learn. Turn to YouTube for a video on how to fix a blocked shower drain and I bet you learn how to unblock it quite quickly. The same logic applies to maths or any other subject. If you have a reason to learn something, it’s amazing how easy it is to learn. The same for learning style, you may find it easier to follow a hair tutorial on YouTube than to try to follow it from a wordy text for example.

Children are amazing at learning. They really have it down to a fine art. They are made to learn, and you are equipped to educate them.

Read more here about how we Took the Plunge into Home Ed

(The terms ‘your child’ and ‘home educating parents’ are used, I would just like to say that I am referring to anyone who wishes to home educate, carer, auntie, grandparent or otherwise.)