Heather Keats, health + fitness coach and personal trainer, shares her experience of balancing plastic free life with a family and travelling to unfamiliar places.
It's plastic free July and we're about to embark on an epic journey to visit relatives in the USA. As a family of five this is no mean feat and while I'm fully aware that our biggest carbon footprint for this trip is shaped like a Boeing 747 (though we will be using the UN carbon offsetting platform), I'm aiming to reduce our single use plastic along the way.
So here's how I, and you, can easily avoid unnecessary plastic in the form of food packaging, kids entertainment and general life stuff.
Scour the charity shops leading up to any trip with young kids in order to find 'new' little toys, notepads, books, stationary etc so you avoid getting whinge-coerced into buying a crappy comic with equally crappy plastic toy at the airport, or worse, one of those plastic eggs from a machine. Just bring out one of your second hand entertainment items each time a kid gets whiny!
Of course if the whine is hunger related, this won't work. Normally my go to snack for all small humans (and chimps) is bananas. Unfortunately, as all parents know only too well, bananas travel even less well than the children themselves. So here we have a choice between individually wrapped packets of crisps, crackers, biscuits etc. Or little bags/boxes of the same items but from a big pack just shared out equally (for the love of sanity don't accidentally give one child an extra raisin, it WILL be noticed). Bigger packets = less plastic. I find that, although it takes a bit more prep, I always end up needing the little these reusable snack bags at some point on the holiday anyway.
Pack your Reusables
Choose Solid Bars Over Bottles
If you want to travel as light as possible, I recommend getting a soap bar like this one that does everything - hair, hands, even dishes. Particularly good for camping. Or you might just want to swap your usual big bottle of shampoo & conditioner for bars which also saves space in the suitcase and avoids leaks when travelling. Remember a tin or tub to keep them in! These make lovely gifts too if you're visiting family.
Bring Your Own
And of course, bring your own reusable shopping bag and keep it with you all the time so whenever you're out and fancy perusing the tourist shops, or get dragged into a museum gift shop by the kids, or perhaps you actually just need to get some essentials, you can at least say no to a plastic carrier bag.
So as you can see there are loads of ways to travel with less plastic it just takes a little forethought when you first start.
Ultimately though it's how and how far you travel that is going to make the biggest impact to your holiday's carbon footprint. This, along with food waste perhaps, ought to be considered first and foremost. But don't let that stop you from doing all you can to keep those emissions low and show big business that you don't want their single use plastics ( from coffee cups & cutlery to crappy toys & crisp packets) any more. After all, every little helps.
Shop reusable cups, straws and cutlery plus solid toiletries and travel essentials at Smallkind.
You'll find Heather on Instagram @shapeourfuture for lots more honest and relatable eco living tips as well as health and fitness for mums.