One of the mama instagrammers that I follow (@mamalinauk) recently posted a ‘plastic-free parenting’ challenge for the month of June. Each week, she recommends focusing on reducing plastic use in certain areas of our parenting lives.
- Week 1: Mealtime (plastic wrapped produce, lunches out-and-about, and saran wrap)
- Week 2: Bath time (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and body wash)
- Week 3: Toilet time (diapers, wipes, toilet paper)
- Week 4: Play time (arts and crafts, plastic toys and batteries, baking)
I have been thinking about how to reduce single-use plastic for a month or two now. I would say that our house has pretty typical middle-class American consumerist patterns: despite my hatred of clutter, we do end up buying way too much shit and a lot of that comes with single use plastic (via plastic bags, packaging, the object itself, etc).
In the last month, I’ve made a concerted effort to not use produce bags at the grocery store and to bring our cloth grocery bags. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here—on the contrary, this seems like responsible 21st century living 101-type stuff that I should’ve been doing years ago. India is the latest country (as of the day I’m writing this!) to pledge to ban single-use plastic as a country. With our current federal government, I can’t imagine making such a radical commitment, but that doesn’t mean that we as individuals can’t try.
Despite my attention to our single-use plastic at grocery stores, I never really thought about reducing single-use plastic as a parent. But @mamalinauk’s challenge has started to make my brain wheels turn: where are other places in my parenting life that I can reduce waste in general (and single-use plastic specifically)? There was a brief moment while I was pregnant that my husband and I talked about cloth diapers, but (and I’m totally calling him out on this, LOVE YOU), he was really against the idea. I’m sure if I had been more opinionated, my husband would have at least considered it.
In fact, my husband overall doesn’t feel he has the emotional energy left over from his job (he works a TON, and if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t either) to dedicate mental energy or time to this issue at this point in our lives. So, I told him I would try to do it for us. While we may not be willing to make the switch to cloth diapers yet, there are other areas where I will focus on plastic-free (or plastic-reduced?) parenting for the next month:
- Grocery shopping and food–My older sister is awesome at sewing and has made us reusable produce bags and snack pouches that I will integrate more fully into our day to day lives. Next step is using the farmers market more, because even though I try to not use produce bags, SO much produce comes wrapped in plastic! I didn’t notice it before my grocery shop last week! Oh, and I won’t get plastic straws when I’m eating out.
- Bath hygiene—after we finish with A’s current toothbrush, we will either buy him bamboo ones or an electric one that will last much longer. I will also try to find soap/hygiene products at the local farmers market that does not come in plastic bottles.
Good luck and happy wiping (with reuseable wipes?),