How to Reduce Trash in our Household

Have you heard about the documentary « Demain tous les cretins ? » (« Dumb and dumber: are we losing our smarts? » )? It was broadcast on ARTE, the French-German channel in November 2017. If you have not, it is worth watching it, I really recommend it, and here is the link. The film presents the work of French and American researchers showing that endocrine disruptors have negative effects on cognitive abilities and behaviour: lower IQ, more hyperactive children and more learning disabilities…

The biologist and global expert on endocrine disruptors, Barbara Demeneix, one of the eminent researchers who participated in the documentary, explains in her book published on 25th October 2017 (Toxic cocktail, how endocrine disruptors poison our brain, Odile Jacob), how the mixing the chemical substances contained in various products (food, household and hygiene products) creates a toxic cocktail, not to say an explosive cocktail.

On the blog, you will find a series of articles written by Inès (mother of two boys, who also seeks solutions for a more natural way of life. She is an aspiring holistic health coach striving for a low waste lifestyle ). Inès will show you the right actions to adopt in order to clean up your direct environment: interior of you house or flat. If you still have not read the previous article on health benefits of essentials oils, here is the link.

Nina

 

We all make trash. It’s inevitable. With kids the trash seems to immediately double. Zero Waste or Low Waste is a lifestyle one chooses with the aim to make as little trash possible (Bea Johnson: Zero Waste, 2 Adults & 2 Kids TED Talk). By going by the 3-R’s: reuse, recycle and reduce, it attempts to create a more circular system, instead of a linear one that goes in one direction, which is ultimately waste product. Nowadays everything is packaged in plastic. It has become a habitual issue as most of what we consume are industrial-made food and products. It’s not only the diapers and wet wipes that are the problem, but also the packaging that all new toys, clothes and products come in, which not always can be recycled.

Being the mindful mama I am, I’ve decided to make it my mission to reduce the trash we consume by making some minor adjustments in the products we consume. It might not sound like much to some of you, but every little choice matters in my opinion. And to some others of you, it might sound like it’s way too much work. All a matter of perspective. We are creatures of habits, meaning we can get used to almost anything. All that is required is the will to change with the right attitude. Not only do the alternatives better our situation on Mother Earth, but it also reduces the chemicals we expose our children to.

Cloth diapers

Reusable diapers are back in trend. They are washable diapers, which come in different variations. The ones I would recommend are the “all in one” washable diapers, which are the most practical to use. It takes a while to get the “feeling” for them. However, once you do, you’ll be happy you made the switch. It’s economic and eco-friendly. Plus your conscious will be cleared with all the trash you’ll be avoiding. Let me highlight that disposable diapers don’t biodegrade meaning it can take up to 500 years for 1 diaper degrade! I admit that I still use diapers on my own kids during the night and when we are out, but they are biodegradable diapers which is my next subject.

Biodegradable diapers

For those of you who are not ready to commit to washable diapers. There is an alternative, which are biodegradable diapers. The only biodegradable diapers on the market today are from the Scandinavian brand, Naty . They have a line of eco-friendly products for babies, toddlers and even moms. I love their forward-way of thinking and the gentle thought they invested in their products.

Cloth Wipes

Cloth Wipes

Another alternative to using wet wipes, which leads to trash, would be cotton cloth wipes. I make my own cloth wipes with a bit of hot water, coconut oil and melaleuca (tea tree) oil. Not only does it smell amazing, but they are sensitive enough for my baby’s delicate skin. Find in the notes my tutorial for DIY baby wipes for you to learn more .

Water is your Best Friend 

Another option would be to fill up a bowl with lukewarm water and dip in your cloth wipes to clean your baby’s bum. Make sure the cloth wipes are made out of organic cotton. For those of you, who are committed hard-core, what I still do with my youngest, is take their stinky butts to the bathroom and washed them off either in the sink or once they get bigger in the bathtub. Plus point is the no fussing during diaper changing, as they love the water. Use water to wash their faces and hands instead of wet wipes. If you’re lucky to live in a place like Switzerland there are fountains everywhere with drinkable (even spring) water.

Second-hand

Second hand clothes, furniture and toys are proven to be safer for our health, as they been washed or used long enough to have loosen any dangerous chemical (Why Second Hand is Healthier for Your Baby). Swap clothes with your friends. Even organize a swap-party! Second-hand is not about the size of your pocket book. Even if we’re fully capable of buying everything new and shiny. Some items, however, are considered to be potentially dangerous to purchase second-hand, such as carseats and helmets. Do your research beforehand. It’s completely common to paint the room before baby’s arrival and buy new furniture. However, people often don’t realize that they’re harmful substances found in all of those new products and paint (High Formaldehyde Levels Found in Baby Furniture). How often have you boughten your kid new toys to realize that they barely play with them anyway. When you buy second hand you’re regret of buying “new” toys or things a lot less, as they barely cost anything. Then when you realize your kid is no longer interested in them, you can let go of things a lot easier and send them on to a new home when it’s service is no longer needed. I admit, however, that the downside to buying second hand is when you’re looking for something specific at times it’s harder to find, depending what it is. But thanks to countless online shops/portals, such as Tutti.ch, as well as thrift shops and flea markets, we have more than one place to look at.

Sustainable Products 

Sustainable Products 

Buy sustainable toys, cutlery, plates, water bottles, snack boxes and metal straws. Buying biodegradable cutlery and plates or made out of recycle material are optimal options. BPA found in plastic for as snack boxes or water bottles, is harmful for our health (7 Reasons to Never Drink out a Plastic Bottle Again). Invest in long term birthday supplies instead of one way birthday decorations, paper plates and cups. Check out my post on conscious birthday decorations for more ideas. Go with biodegradable or recyclable items, i.e. buy a bamboo tooth brush or create your own tooth paste with a simple 3-ingredient DIY toothpaste recipe (DIY Toothpaste by Dr. Axe). Your playroom in options are endless.

Farmer’s Market / Bulk Shopping

Farmer’s Market

Nowadays food is mostly packaged in plastic, which is non recyclable. At the farmer’s market, you find local and fresh produce, which haven’t been transported large distances. Also, the packaging is minimum. I bring my own reusable bags and jars. Local food has a higher value in nutrients. Our health and environment equally benefit from farmer market hauls. We are also supporting our community and promoting small local products.

Bulk Shopping

Find a list of farmer’s market in our area for more ideas on where to shop. Bulk shopping can be done in several health food stores and in zero-waste stores (Zero-Waste Stores in Zurich). Bring your own containers or purchase them directly in the stores and fill up on what you need. You’ll find more than enough inspiration in such stores on how to go trash-free.

Ditch the Plastic Bags

Finally, one of the easiest yet effective options is to avoid plastic bags. Always take a shopping bag with you at all times. In some countries plastic bags have been banned, such as in Chile, the UK and Australia. Plastic bags tend to disrupt the environment in a serious way. They get into soil and slowly release toxic chemicals. Furthermore, animals get caught in them, mistake plastic for food and often get hurt (How Harmful are Plastic Bags?). Another big issue are plastic straws. There has been an estimate from 5 years of beach cleaning that there are 8.3 billion straws found on coastlines globally. And that’s only 0.03 % of all the plastic in the ocean (The Anti-Plastic Straw Campaign)!

Step by Step 

Reducing plastic, trash and chemical products is not only beneficial to our own health, but also contributes to the collective good of our planet. Leaving a smaller imprint on Earth for the future generations to come should be everyone’s goal- especially for us parents. But of course don’t feel pressured to make an entire 160 overnight. Choose one step that resonated with you and start there. Take it step by step, as everything in life is a journey. Important is the steps you are making to head in the right direction. 

 

Inès
a mom of two boys, is an aspiring holistic health coach striving for a low waste lifestyle and using natural solutions for her family’s health and wellness. Check her blog to found out more: www.mi-vida-verde.com.

 

 

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