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Guest Blogger: Bryony Lewis, Founder of T & Belle.


THE ECO-FRIENDLY MUM – DOING IT FOR THE KIDS!


The sea has been part of my life in a huge way, I’ve been lucky enough to live close

to the beach for as long as I can remember. I’ve played in it, swam in it, dived in it,

sailed on it and sometimes just sat and watched the rhythmic crashing of the waves.

I watched the BBC’s ‘Drowning in Plastic’ documentary, I read articles, watched

videos and I really started to notice all the plastic packaging on our everyday

essentials and how much we were throwing away. It made me pretty sad. I promised

to do better, to do my bit, but then life happened, motherhood happened, and

motherhood is HARD!


At the beginning of 2019, as I was coming out of the haze of the first 6 months with a

new baby,

I decided that instead of giving up chocolate or vowing to take up running

(I suspect neither of these would have lasted the first month), instead I would try to

reduce my plastic consumption. My aim is to make gradual changes in the hope that

this becomes a new way of life and not a short lived fad.


I wanted to start blogging to chart the ups and downs of our plastic reduction journey

with a baby and a toddler and to show that even if you are scatterbrained and

disorganised, you can change small simple things and still make a BIG difference.

There are lots of ways to reduce plastic use for your family in a way that doesn’t

impact the already huge mental load of being a parent (and actually can sometimes make life easier and save money – woohoo!).


Here are a few ways that I’ve reduced single use plastic in our house so far:


Baby Wipes

I loved the convenience of baby wipes, once I would use them for pretty much

anything. Even if you’re not sure about switching for nappy changes, even just using

flannels for food cleanup at home will save a huge amount of waste.

With two sticky

children and countless sticky surfaces to wipe, I found that using small light flannels

actually made life easier. They remove food much faster than wipes (who ever heard

of a child who wanted their face wiped) and as long as I clean kids then highchair

then floor, I can use the same cloth and chuck it straight in the washing machine to

go round with the next load.


Makeup Remover Wipes

Yes, more wipes! These were a staple in my bathroom for many years, and pretty

much my only beauty regime in the early months of motherhood with both children

(let’s face it, who has time for cleanse/tone/moisturise with a screaming newborn that

won’t be put down). A couple of months ago I swapped these for makeup remover

gel and lovely soft washable makeup remover cloths and I’d never go back now, the

cloths are so much more gentle on my skin and remove all my eyeliner and mascara

really easily.


Reusable shopping bags

This one is a no brainer right? Well as long as your brain is functioning enough to

remember the bags! I’ve taken to stuffing the side pockets of my changing bag with

lightweight fabric tote bags which works about 95% of the time and means that I

usually have a bag for impromptu shopping as well.


Food

This is where the vast majority of the plastic waste in our house comes from, we are

using our local grocer and butcher more, as well as trying to find time to bake or

cook from scratch (I’ve found that involving my toddler in cake baking actually turns it

into an entertainment activity, which is quite handy). I’m also starting to avoid things

like individually wrapped biscuits or multi-packs of tins which are wrapped in

completely pointless plastic. If I have leftovers to go into the fridge or freezer, I pop

them in a reusable pot, or use a washed out butter/margarine tub (I haven’t found a

good plastic free replacement for this yet). I’ve bought a lunchbox with little

compartments so that we don’t need to use cling film.

It has been hard to get into this new mindset, especially when I sometimes just don’t

have the time or energy to search around for plastic free alternatives, but

supermarkets are starting to listen to the public and are slowly beginning to

implement plastic reduction strategies, so I’m hopeful that it will soon get easier to

make the eco-friendly choice.


Buy Pre-loved

This is one of my favourites, as it helps reduce waste and can also save you huge

amounts of money. From jumperoos to Lego, we now buy all sorts of items through

Facebook marketplace and Gumtree rather than buying new. When we are finished

with them, they are often sold on again or passed on to friends with younger

children.

The added bonus of this is that you can buy things pre-assembled, and thus avoid

trying to put them together as soon as they have been opened whilst listening to

screams of ‘but I want to play with it now’ directed at you repeatedly as you try to find

the correct sized screwdriver.


Gifting

This has been a huge concern of mine for years, whilst I love gifting and really enjoy

searching for presents for people I know well, I have definitely been guilty of buying

gifts in a rush, or for someone I don’t know well that are probably hugely wasteful

and are contributing to the accumulation of ‘stuff’ in someone else’s house! My go to

gifts for children are now books (because no-one can ever have too many!), clothes

and experiences like days out, cinema tickets or annual passes. I often go for

experiences, treats and days out for adult gifts too. If I want to buy a physical

present, I am trying to shop small and buy from eco-friendly sustainable companies.

Next Steps… On my hit list for the next few months are: beeswax wraps, cloth

nappies (for some reason this terrifies me!) and sanitary products (I’m lucky enough

to still be period free at the moment thanks to breastfeeding my 9 month old, but I

plan on trying mooncups). I’ll be blogging my experiences with as much honesty as

possible!


When I started my company, T & Belle, my biggest focus was on how I could bring

my designs to life whilst trying to make as little impact on the planet as possible.

I searched for a printer for my greetings cards who would use 100% recycled card,

sourced plastic free packaging materials and made easy swaps like replacing

sellotape with paper tape. I have recently started producing my own designs on

organic cotton children’s t-shirts and my first design is a reminder of why I am doing

all this – to preserve our beautiful planet for the next generation.

I’d love for my children to enjoy everything that the sea has to offer as much as I have over the

years.



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