Jen, Author at Sustainable(ish) - Page 2 of 35

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12 NOT SO FUN FESTIVE FACTS

Christmas is coming - there's no escape!
We're on the downhill slope to the biggest consumer festival of the year, and I think it's about time for a sanity check.

We all want to create magical memories for our kids, but in the process of doing that we're building an appalling legacy for them - plastic clogged oceans, over-flowing landfill sites, and potentially a climate and landscape that may well be pretty much uninhabitable. 

Check out these 'not so fun festive facts' that reveal just how wasteful and damaging our festive consumption can be:

1. 27,000 MILES OF WRAPPING PAPER IS USED EACH YEAR IN THE UK ALONE

And much of it ends up in landfill.
Metallic paper and paper with glitter on can't be recycled and mess up the waste streams. Do the 'scrunch test' - scrunch a piece of wrapping paper into a ball - if it stays in a ball it can be recycled.

2. ONLY 1% OF CONSUMER GOODS ARE STILL IN USE 6 MONTHS LATER

This is a crazy reflection of the sheer speed with which we buy, upgrade or discard and then move onto the next shiny new 'must have'.

3. ONE BILLION CHRISTMAS CARDS END UP IN THE BIN EACH YEAR 

When they could be recycled. Most supermarkets have a Christmas card recycling bin available in the New Year, so no excuses!

4. THE AMOUNT OF WRAPPING PAPER USED TO WRAP CHRISTMAS PRESENTS IS ENOUGH TO GO AROUND THE GLOBE NINE TIMES!

'Upcycle' old newspapers or magazines which can then be recycled 🙂

5. THE EQUIVALENT OF 2 MILLION TURKEYS END UP IN THE BIN EACH YEAR

That's the leftovers that don't get eaten when everyone is fed up of turkey.
If you're going to eat meat (and we do) at least ensure that you honour the animal by making sure none it goes to waste.

6. 500 TONNES OF FAIRY LIGHTS ARE THROWN AWAY EACH YEAR

Repair or recycle! 
Fairy lights can be recycled at your local recycling centre.

7. FIVE MILLION CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS HIT THE BIN EACH YEAR

And that's before we even add in the plastic waste that comes with shop bought Christmas puddings.

8. ONE IN TEN UNWANTED CHRISTMAS PRESENTS ENDS UP IN LANDFILL

This makes me hold my head in my hands and weep - a complete waste of money, resources, and the efforts of the people sweating away in god-forsaken factories somewhere far away to make these things.

9. WHEN CHILDREN HAVE SO MANY PRESENTS THEY ACTUALLY STOP ENJOYING PLAYING WITH THEM

When did it become ok to teach our kids that more is better, than excessive consumption is not only good, but to be encouraged at Christmas?

10. WE WASTE AROUND 250,000 TONNES OF FOOD EACH CHRISTMAS 

That's the weight of the Empire State Building or 100,000 elephants!

11. 81 MILLION UNWANTED PRESENTS ARE RECEIVED EACH YEAR

Working out at an average of 3 per UK household

12. THE UK GENERATES THE WEIGHT OF 3.3 MILLION EMPEROR PENGUINS IN PLASTIC WASTE EACH CHRISTMAS

I love the 'penguin-ification' of this stat, but all that plastic will be sitting in landfill for the next 500+years - this isn't the legacy of a magical Christmas that I want for my kids.

Do you despair at the waste at Christmas?

GET YOUR
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO A

 CRAP-FREE CHRISTMAS!

Crap Free Christmas

Grab a copy of my digital e-guide tackling the big issues around Christmas waste in the home:

  • Advent Calendars & Christmas Cards  
  • Food & Nibbles
  • Gifts, Alternatives & Tricky Conversations
  • Festive Family Guilt

Let's take out the plastic and waste from Christmas

  • Grab your copy now!
  • Instant download
  • check
    Stacks of ideas, suggestions and clickable resources

[019] – 12 NOT SO FUN FESTIVE FACTS

The kids are back to school and now there is no denying that we're on the downhill slope to Christmas and the biggest consumer festival of the year.

Which brings with it not only a dose of magic and goodwill to all (hopefully) but also the stress, the overwhelm and All The Stuff.

In this episode I share with you 12 'not so fun festive facts' that demonstrate quite shockingly the waste we generate each Christmas, and the impact that the waste is having on the planet.

We all want to create magical memories for our children but we need to make sure that those memories aren't destroying the very planet they live on.

USEFUL LINKS:

 

Which fact shocked you the most?
Would you LOVE some help to have a
crap-free Christmas this year?

GET YOUR
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO A

 CRAP-FREE CHRISTMAS!

Crap Free Christmas

Grab a copy of my digital e-guide tackling the big issues around Christmas waste in the home:

  • Advent Calendars & Christmas Cards  
  • Food & Nibbles
  • Gifts, Alternatives & Tricky Conversations
  • Festive Family Guilt

Let's take out the plastic and waste from Christmas

  • Grab your copy now!
  • Instant download
  • check
    Stacks of ideas, suggestions and clickable resources

[018] – THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO DO TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Wednesday 24th October is International Climate Action Day - Yay!
But wait, hold on. 
What the hell is climate action? And what does it mean to regular people like you and me?

Surely 'climate action' is something for governments and big business to be concerned with? 
Not for me to have to worry about in between school runs and work, and refereeing the kids.
After all, what kind of impact can we have as individuals?

A lot as it turns out!

A study on 2016 found that household consumption
(of everything from food to electricity) 
is responsible for more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions 
and 50—80% of total land, resource and water use.

So our actions count - they count for more than 60% of global greenhouse emissions.
Wow!

The key, the ONE thing we can ALL do to take climate action TODAY is simply this:
BUY LESS, BUY BETTER

 It works for pretty much everything:
- Buy fewer clothes, and when you do buy, buy ethically produced.
- Eat less meat, and when you do buy meat go for local, organic free range meat.
- Use less energy in your homes - switch to LED lighbulbs, turn the lights off etc etc, and switch to better energy ie renewables.

USEFUL LINKS:

What will you NOT buy today?
What better buying choices will you make?
Do let me know - leave a comment or come and find me on social media (@sustainableish)

FEELING INSPIRED TO
TAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE(ISH) STEPS?

Get Sustainable(ish) 101
My FREE download of 101 easy, do-able ideas and tips to help you make sustainable(ish) changes for you and your family!

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…CLIMATE OVERWHELM

I wanted to write today about climate change.
And I've written and re-written this blog post about four times - it just wasn't flowing and saying what I wanted to.
I messaged a friend to whinge about it, and explained that I'm feeling frustrated and powerless and "wanting to DO SOMETHING" and she said I should write about that.
So I am.

I can't be alone in feeling this way about climate change, so I'm hoping that by starting the conversation, by providing the space for it to take place, we can help each other.

Ever since the latest IPCC report came out a couple of weeks ago, I've been preoccupied with climate change - worrying about it, worrying about the future my kids might face, wondering why more isn't being done, why the governments of the world aren't galvanising.
And swinging between despair and hopelessness, and then resolving to do MORE, and then wondering what more I can do, and then back to the hopelessness again.

I feel like shouting and crying and ranting but it feels like shouting into a void. 
When the IPCC report came out, it generated headlines, and media coverage. For about 6.5hrs.
And then nothing.
No 'declarations of war' on climate change. 
No galvanising of the world's leaders to start legislating and taking the 'unprecedented action' called for in the report.
No coming together of a terrified, angry public demanding that action be taken.
Just Brexit. And Trump. And more Brexit. And some Royal news. Oh, and Brexit.

I feel powerless a lot of the time. And I feel guilty admitting to feeling powerless. 
Part of the whole ethos of Sustainable(ish) is that our choices matter, no matter how small.
And I genuinely believe that, but at times like this it can feel as inconsequential as 'wafting a tea towel at a house fire' (to quote a recent Guardian piece).

So how can we come together to do more?
I have 30k followers on various social media channels - I feel like collectively we should be able to 'do something'.

I don't have the answers - as my lovely friend pointed out, if I did I'd win the Nobel prize.

So let's start the conversation - let's brainstorm together:
- What are YOU doing to tackle change and live more sustainably?
- How are you engaging your local community?
- What MORE can we all do?
- How can we all come together to amplify our actions?
- What can I do to help YOU?

Here are some of my brainstormings to get us all started - please do feel free to add - either reply to this e-mail or comment on the blog post version of this post, or find me on IG or Twitter (@sustainableish).

DO SOMETHING

When faced with the enormity of an issue like climate change, that sense of powerless seems only logical.
But it is vital to remember that we are not powerless - the question needs to not whether we can make a difference, but how we can make a difference.

Every action, no matter how pointlessly small it might seem matters. It creates change and from there the ripples spread.
So whether it's remembering your re-usable water bottle, changing your lightbulbs to LEDs, hanging your washing out to dry on the line, or choosing a veggie meal for tea, it ALL counts.


SHARE WHAT YOU'RE DOING

Social media has made this SO easy - snap a picture of you with your re-usable water bottle, or a selfie as you walk to work and share it.

We need all things sustainable(ish) to be mainstream, so the more people that are seen to be doing this stuff, the more people will start making changes too.

START CONVERSATIONS

I got on my eco soap box last week and said that we need to talk about climate change - and we really do.

Whether it's to our political leaders, to our peers and colleagues, to our kids (in age appropriate ways) or to our friends and family - let people know that this is an issue you care deeply about. That you're terrified about the future. Let them know what you're doing, and ask them what they can do to help or join you.

COME TOGETHER

Find your tribe - it can really easy to feel isolated and alone, especially if your friends and family aren't quite in the same place as you.
But know that you are NOT alone.
Again, this is an area where the internet excels - it allows us to find like-minded people from all around the globe and to share our struggles, our triumphs, our solutions.
If you aren't already in it, come and join the Sustainable(ish) FB group, and check out hashtags like #climateaction and #climateoptimist on Twitter and IG.

Locally, join your local transition group, or start one up. See if you have a Repair Cafe near you and volunteer (even if it's to make the tea and coffee!). Host some 'green drinks' in a pub once a month, or a coffee morning.

GET POLITICAL

Contact your local MP - ask them what they are doing, both personally and politically, to take action on climate change.

- Contact your political leaders and ask the same questions.

- Vote - when it's election time, vote for the party that has the most robust climate change policies and that makes tackling climate change the number one priority it needs to be.

OVER TO YOU - WHAT ELSE?

Let's keep this conversation going - it's OK to feel overwhelmed and powerless sometimes. 
But then we need to find ways to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves up, and come together to amplify our actions and make our voices heard.

So hit me up - what else can we do?
What are you already doing that I haven't put out there? 
How can we come together more easily and more effectively?

Comment on this post here, or tag me (@sustainableish) on social media.

FEELING INSPIRED TO
TAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE(ISH) STEPS?

Get Sustainable(ish) 101
My FREE download of 101 easy, do-able ideas and tips to help you make sustainable(ish) changes for you and your family!

[017] – SUSTAINABLE(ISH) TRAVEL WITH EARTH CHANGERS

Travel.
We all want to do it- whether it's to experience the world and different cultures, or simply to get some R&R in the sunshine away from the gloom of the British winter or the fickle nature of English summers.
But for most of us on the sustainable(ish) spectrum, it probably comes with a good smattering of guilt layered in - worrying about the carbon footprint of our flight, or wincing at the volume of single use plastic that aeroplane travel seems to generate.

So are you condemned to spending our holidays in cold damp caravan parks in North Wales (as an aside I love caravan parks, and I'm sure North Wales is lovely. And not always damp.)?
Does climate change and our desire to not exacerbate it mean that foreign travel is off the cards, and our kids will only ever see foreign climes on the tele-box?

Thankfully not, according to the lovely and supremely knowledgable Vicky Smith - founder of sustainable travel company Earth Changers.
Apparently, and this blew my mind, it is possible to travel not only in a way that is LESS negative, but for our travel to have a net POSITIVE impact on both people and planet. I genuinely had no idea - to my mind prior to this chat, air travel was bad, end of. I hadn't really given much (any) thought to the impact that tourism can have at the end destinations, and as it turns out, with a little bit of thought and research, this can be a really positive thing all round.
Hurray!

But before you start dragging your suitcases down from the loft and contemplate shaving your legs, listen in to find out how you can make your holiday and your travel as sustainable(ish) as poss.

ENJOY.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…ONLINE INFLUENCERS

"Online influencers"...
These are the people you might be following on social media, who through their huge followings hold influence over the things we buy, the TV programmes we watch, what we eat, and more.

Online influencers have clout. They have power.
It's a bit like the Great British Bake Off featuring a certain ingredient, and then suddenly the supermarkets sell out because we all want to have a go ourselves.
If they show off a product they've bought (or more likely been given by retailers) on their social media channels, a proportion of their following may well go and buy this thing too.

There are some 'good' online influencers out there - people like Rob Greenfield who use the followings to highlight important issues like plastic pollution and climate change.
But there are lots more who seem to have no idea that they are in a position that comes with responsibility.
Take fashion vloggers for example, many of whom have followings in the millions, who take to the airwaves with alarming regularity to show off their 'hauls' - their latest purchases of vast quantities of cheap fast fashion. 

Watching Fashion's Dirty Secrets on BBC1 recently I was gobsmacked and slightly cynical trying to believe that the fashion vloggers they interviewed claimed to have no idea about the devastating effects of fast fashion on both people and planet.
Are they seriously trying to tell us they had no idea?
That they thought the planet could support pumping out such massive volumes of cheap clothes indefinitely?

Who do they think made these clothes?
What did they think they were made from?
How did they think the fabric was dyed?

This makes me unbelievably f*cking angry.
Ignorant at best and blatantly, shamefully irresponsible.

It's not all fairy dust and glitter (although, ermmm, microplastics alert).
And it's not rocket science either. 
It just needs a moments thought to work out that to make clothes the raw materials all need to be grown and harvested and processed. They need to be dyed, and sewn, and shipped over here.
That people are involved in this process every step of the way, and that the planets resources are what makes those clothes.

Deserts are created, rivers are dead, children miss out on an education and a childhood. People die.
So we can have an endless cycle of cheap clothes to wear once and then discard.

If you're going to promote something, and 'influence' people to buy the same crap as you, at least have the good grace to be educated about it, and to know the true cost of what you're promoting.

[016] – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…CLIMATE CHANGE

​This is the first in a new series for the podcast of commentary type episodes, some might even say rants, about some of the big sustainable issues we're facing right now.
I hope you enjoy!



I couldn't sleep last night, and I got to thinking, and then to worrying, and then to freaking out, about climate change.

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) report said that we need to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C and highlights the differences we might see with a 1.5C rise versus a 2C increase. And it turns out that that 0.5C is pretty critical.
And even more worryingly, the report states that we now have just 12 years to take action to prevent a climate crisis.
12 years.
That's 2030 - which sounds an age away, but it's not. 
It's 12 years. I've been with my husband for longer than that (he may argue that it feels way longer...). 
In 12 years time my kids will be 22 and 19. They should have the world at their feet. 
But if nothing changes they might well be looking at us in disbelief and disgust that we didn't act when we still could.

This matters. 
This matters so much it physically hurts me to think about it.
And time is running out if we want to create a better, truly more sustainable future. 
If we want to mitigate the worst effects of the climatic changes we have already created.

In a recent study into how MPs understand and respond to climate change, one of the findings was that "politicians speaking and acting on climate change must construct a ‘representative claim’ to justify their proposed actions, and to show why and how they are in the interests of the represented." And that our MPs don't feel like they have that justification as they aren't hearing from us, their constituents, that climate change is an issue we want them to take action on.
We can change that.
Very quickly we can change that.

So today, after listening to this, I want you to tweet your MP, or send an e-mail, or write them a good old-fashioned hand-written letter (or all 3).

  • Ask them what they are doing on climate change
  • Ask them what their party is doing in response to the latest IPCC report
  • Ask them how they intend to make that the government take the 'unprecedented' action necessary to secure the future for our kids

Don't be fobbed off with politicians bullshit answers - keep asking - channel your inner John Humphrys.

Make your voice heard.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…CLIMATE CHANGE

I couldn't sleep last night, and I got to thinking, and then to worrying, and then to freaking out, about climate change.
If I'm honest, it's something that's never really far from my mind - it's a kind of constant companion of low level anxiety that can sometimes elicit a visible twitch when I see people not using a re-usable cup, or sitting in their car outside school with the engine running (WHY?!! I totally have NO clue what that is all about? Apart from anything else, you are sitting there literally polluting the air that your little darling is going to be breathing in two minutes time when the kids all pile out of school you absolute moron. OK, clearly that's another topic for a rant another time).

I know that there are people like me who worry - I see them every day in my FB group, and on my Twitter and IG feeds.
But when I look up from the computer screen, I don't see them.
I rarely have conversations with other mums at the school gate about plastic pollution, or fast fashion, or the big one - climate change.
Actually, that is changing - certainly around plastics. This is an issue that really seems to have caught everyone's imagination, thanks largely to programmes like Blue Planet II and the recent BBC 1 documentary Drowning in Plastic.
Plastic is very visible. We see it everywhere - in the shops, in our trolleys, littering our parks and pavements, and then on the TV we see the tons and tons of it floating in the ocean. And its heartbreaking. And we can clearly see the cause and effect, the impact of our own plastic use on the wider environment.

But climate change isn't like that is it?
It's very invisible - we can see the weather, but we can't really see, or grasp the wider climate and how that's changing. And the catastrophic effects that that will have, and is already having.
Freak weather is becoming more and more un-freakish, more 'normal'. But even that doesn't seem to be jolting us out of sleepwalking into a climate, a planet, a future that may well be far beyond the worst we could imagine.

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) report said that we need to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C and highlights the differences we might see with a 1.5C rise versus a 2C increase.
For example:

  • The Artic sea ice would disappear completely in the summertime once a century if we can limit temperature changes to 1.5C
    If we have a  2C rise, it will disappear once every 10 years. 
    And you might think "oh, that doesn't sound too good, but so what?"
    Well, if the polar ice melts, sea levels rise, leading to massive flooding, massive displacement of people, and loss of agricultural land. Essentially more people squeezed into a smaller space, and less land to grow food to feed them. 
    Cue arguments. Heated arguments. Between countries. In other words more wars.
  • At 1.5C 8% of plants that have been studied would no longer be able to be grown as the climatic conditions they are suited to would have disappeared.
    At 2C this figure rises to 16%. Which means less food to go around, on top of a growing population.
    Cue arguments. Heated arguments. Between countries. In other words more wars.

I might be painting an overly apocalyptic scenario, and feel like I should apologise if that's the case. But I am genuinely terrified that this is future my kids and grandkids are going to face. That this is what WE are creating for future generations.

We have already gone beyond 1C of warming, and based on current levels we could be headed for a temperature rise of between 3 and 5C. 
Now if the future looks 'fairly apocalyptic' at 1.5, or even 2C I can't even bring myself to start imagining what it's going to look like at 3-5C.

According to the IPCC report we now have just 12 years to take action to prevent a climate crisis.
12 years.
That's 2030 - which sounds an age away, but it's not.
It's 12 years. I've been with my husband for longer than that (he may argue that it feels way longer...).
In 12 years time my kids will be 22 and 19. They should have the world at their feet.
But if nothing changes they might well be looking at us in disbelief and disgust that we didn't act when we still could.

This matters. 
This matters so much it physically hurts me to think about it.

So why aren't we all talking about it more?
Why isn't THIS what the governments of world are focussing on rather then in-fighting about bloody Brexit or getting judges of questionable moral standing elected to the bench?
Why is it still socially acceptable to sit outside the school gates with your engine running, or to spend your Saturdays buying yet more cheap disposable fashion that you will only wear once?
Why does it feel like shouting into the void if I post stuff about this on my personal FB page where the people seeing my posts aren't necessarily in the same sustainable(ish) bubble as me?

Time is running out if we want to create a better, truly more sustainable future.
If we want to mitigate the worst effects of the climatic changes we have already created.

I get that I am preaching to choir here - that by the very fact you are here reading this blog post, or following me on social media, it means that you are already on board.
But I've been thinking a lot about how we as individuals can help to bring about changes that are "unprecedented in scale" - and it's quite frankly overwhelming. How can my actions even budge the needle the teeniest of fractions, when we need bold, cohesive, massive action from the world's governments, from industry, from big business?
I've come to the conclusion that not only do I need to make the changes that I can, I need to be more vocal (hubby will be snorting into his cuppa at this point - I am already pretty vocal, especially in the crucial 10 minutes before we need to be out of the house to get to school on time).
I need to make sure that my voice is heard.
We all need to make sure that our voices are heard.

In a recent study into how MPs understand and respond to climate change, one of the findings was that "politicians speaking and acting on climate change must construct a ‘representative claim’ to justify their proposed actions, and to show why and how they are in the interests of the represented." And that our MPs don't feel like they have that justification as they aren't hearing from us, their constituents, that climate change is an issue we want them to take action on.
We can change that.
Very quickly we can change that.

So today, after reading this, I want you to tweet your MP, or send an e-mail, or write them a good old-fashioned hand-written letter (or all 3).

  • Ask them what they are doing on climate change
  • Ask them what their party is doing in response to the latest IPCC report
  • Ask them how they intend to make that the government take the 'unprecedented' action necessary to secure the future for our kids

Don't be fobbed off with politicians bullshit answers - keep asking - channel your inner John Humphrys.

Make your voice heard.
Get angry - we have every right to be angry about this.
And then channel that anger into action.

Things NEED to change. 
And they need to start changing NOW.
The time is over for sitting by and wringing our hands and complaining about other people, about the government, about industry, not taking action. We need to call them out. We need to demand change.

Do it NOW!
If you aren't sure who your MP is, or how to contact them, you can find out here.
And if you're not in the UK, still contact your own government representative.
Let's do this!

PS. There's a blog post here with another 4 easy things you can do TODAY that will have a big impact on your carbon footprint 🙂

PLASTIC-FREE(ISH) PARTY BAGS

Party bags.
OMG. Is there a parent alive who actually likes them?
They are an additional source of stress and expense for kids parties, and whenever I speak to any fellow parents about them, I get them same rolled eyes and pained expressions.
But the kids LOVE them.
I have no idea why a piece of cake, a balloon and a handful of plastic tat that breaks within 3 minutes is so exciting, but apparently it is - I'm embarrassed to say that my youngest seems to think that they are the most important part of any party.

One option is obviously to take a stand and simply not do them. 
And if I was braver I would love to do this. But my youngest simply cannot compute having a party, and not having party bags. So I've had to get inventive, dare I say even creative, with our party bags to avoid buying and giving out 'instant landfill'.
Here are some ideas for plastic-free(ish) party bags:

The bags themselves

- Good old paper bags are a great option
You can buy recycled paper ones here online from Eco-craft - the plain ones are a great idea as you can get the kids to decorate them, which depending on whether you have boys or girls at the party will take anything from 30 seconds to 45 minutes. All of which time they are seated and not marauding around destroying things.

- Make your own paper bags
If you're feeling crafty and have time on your hands (if you do, please can you come and organise my kids parties for me) you can make bags from newspapers or magazines - there's a tutorial here.

- Make your own fabric bags from old t-shirts or pillowcases
If you're a whiz with the sewing machine, this might be an option for you!
T-shirts are super easy to make bags out of - turn it inside out and sew up the bottom of the t-shirt, enlarge the neck hole and chop off the sleeves, turn it the right way round again and you're done!

Image from Life with Crazy Rachel

Edibles

Some ideas:

- Cup cakes, or a piece of cake wrapped in a good old paper napkin, greaseproof paper or foil (avoid clingfilm!)

- Number shaped biscuits - I use this shortbread recipe here and number cutters for the appropriate number for the age of the birthday boy/girl and pop a couple in the bag

- Chocolate buttons - these go down a storm.
Melt a couple of bars of fair-trade chocolate and then use a teaspoon to smoosh giant buttons onto a lined baking tray. Decorate with sprinkles and leave to set.
You could either do little jam jars of these in lieu of a party bag, or pop some into a small paper bag inside the main party bag.

- Chocolate coins or chocolate eggs - if you remember at Christmas/Easter time stock up on foil wrapped Christmas coins and eggs!

- Pick 'n' mix - who wouldn't love a bag of pick 'n' mix - my kids would have to wrestle me for it. Just don't put it in those plastic cones!

Gifts

- Books
This one will earn you brownie points with the party go-ers parents, but maybe some less enthusiastic from the kids..!
The Book People often do packs of books where the individual books work out at less than £1 each, so this can be quite an inexpensive option. 
Either gift on their own, or as part of a party bag if you're feeling very generous.

- Seeds
A pack of something like sunflower seeds can work well if you have a spring/summer party. Have a competition afterwards to see you can grow the tallest sunflower.
Or cress seeds to make a cress head can also be quite fun.

- Colouring pencils
Kids can seemingly never have enough colouring pencils. Or at least mine can't.
Check out these ones here made from actual twigs - they're fab!

- Recycled crayons
If you have a stash of crayons that have seen better days, break them all up and melt the in silicone ice cube trays in a very low oven. We did this once with a lego brick mould and they were fab!

- Colouring books

- If you really want to get little eco-warriors excited about all things plastic-free, then their very own metal straw might go down well!

If you just want someone else to do it for you

If you don't have the time/energy to spend devoting your life to plastic-free(ish) party bags, then here are some 'done for you' links:

- Plastic Free Party Bags - does what it says on the tin! There's the option of buying pre-filled bags, or just buying the gifts to fill your own.

- Not on the High Street has an option to select 'eco-friendly' when you search for party bag fillers.

- Ethical Kidz has some nice plastic-free things to put in party bags 

plasticfreepartybags.com

Avoid...

- Balloons
Sorry to be a party pooper but balloons are a no-no, whether they're 'biodegradable' or not.
If they break free and fly off when they come down they are a risk to wildlife. And even if they don't, they will spend years sitting in landfill before they even start to degrade.

- Plastic cones 
I mentioned this one earlier, but these things make me wince - plastic cones filled with sweets and then tied off with plastic ribbon.
Get a good old fashioned paper bag!

- Instant landfill
Think twice before doing a minesweep of your local Pound Shop or the 'tat' section of the toy shop. These toys break within minutes and there is nothing that can be done with them other than put them in the bin. Plus you will be making kids cry when they break. 

- Slime
This is such a 'thing' right now and I know kids love nothing more than a pot of slime, but most commercially available pots are just stretchy slimy blobs of plastic 🙁

- Glitter
God I am the totally the fun police in this post.
Glitter is essentially a micro-plastic and when you can finally get it off your hands/face/every conceivable surface of your home and even some inconceivable places, it gets washed down the sink and passes straight though the filtration systems and on out into our waterways.
If you just can't face the tantrums, then there are eco-friendly glitters available.

Do you do party bags?
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FEELING INSPIRED TO
TAKE ACTION ON PLASTIC?

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Easy swaps, ideas and tips to help you get started on your plastic-free (ish) journey in achievable bite sized steps.

HOW TO CUT YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT TODAY

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the key to avoiding catastrophic 'climate breakdown' is limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C rather than the previously widely talked about 2C, but the consensus is that we need to act fast, we need to act NOW and we need to take action at every level.

Whenever I see articles on climate change in the press my inclination is to look away. 
It's too scary, too overwhelming to be forced to confront the colossal f*ck up we are making of the planet, and to think about the kind of future our kids and grandkids might be facing. Add to that the helplessness I feel when I watch the world's leaders and governments essentially fiddling while Rome burns, spending vast amounts on Brexit negotiations and the like whilst ignoring the most pressing problem of our time.

As individuals it can be easy to feel helpless and hopeless and to then simply carry on as we were before because there seems to be very little point in creating change at an individual or family level - after all, surely we need governments to make changes of the kind of size needed to even start to make a difference.
Well, yes. And no.

We have a choice.
Either to stand by helplessly and watch the planet burn up and become increasingly inhospitable, wringing our hands and waiting for government and big business to take action.
Or we step into our individual power to create change. 
To cut OUR carbon footprint, knowing that these small individual actions collectively add up to reduce the global carbon footprint. 
To put pressure on those in positions of power and influence to let them know that is important. Vitally important. That we care desperately about this, and that we will be using our vote and our voice to elect into power those that are taking this huge challenge seriously, and putting the needs of people and planet above any financial incentives or profits.

And it doesn't have to mean hair shirts and deprivation.
We can ALL make a difference.

Here's 6 ways:

1. Switch your energy supplier

I say this again and again, but it really is probably THE most powerful thing you can do to cut not only your own carbon footprint, but to reduce global emissions too.

It works twofold:
- The energy that your house is using is added into the grid via renewable resources - wind and solar being the most common here in the UK
- It creates a demand for more renewable energy, which helps new technologies to come on board quicker, and means that the price can keep coming down

If you're in the UK try Ecotricity or Good Energy, and check out this podcast here with one of the energy bods at Good Energy to hear more about why renewable energy is such a no-brainer.

2. Eat less meat

I really don't want to go into the whole vegan debate here so I won't - but the key message is to eat less meat, especially beef.
The mantra of 'buy less, buy better' really does apply here. So not only buy less meat, but when you do buy it, support your local farmer and go for meat that has been reared as 'unintensively' as possible.

Meat free Monday is a great campaign aiming to get everyone to have at least one meat free day a week, and the website is packed with recipes and ideas to help you to achieve this.
And this post here has more ideas for how to eat more sustainably.

3. Buy less, buy better

I mentioned this in the section above with regards to buying meat, but it applies to everything - food, clothes, electronics, toys, 'stuff'....

Most of our homes are overflowing with 'stuff', to the extent that there are now professional declutterers who make a living helping us to escape from under the piles of it.

Before you buy, stop and think for a minute about:
- Whether you really need something, or if you just want it
- If you just want it, how much do you want it? Wait for a week and see if you still really want it, or if you've forgotten about it.
- How long will it last? In the case of clothes, buying good quality 'classics' that will always be in fashion is an easy way to avoid being sucked into the cycle of fast fashion.
- Is this something you want to keep in your life for at least the next 5 or 10 years? Will you love it and look after it?
- What will you do with it when you no longer want it? Will anyone else want it?

4. Walk or cycle for short journeys

I'm not asking you to give up your car.
But thinking more carefully about how you use your car can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. 
For journeys under 2 miles, could you walk or cycle instead? Or get the bus?
When you next replace your car, take a look at electric ones - they are coming down in price all the time.

5. Speak up - make your voice heard

Make your voice heard.
Whether that's casting your vote with the money you spend, or actually physically speaking up and letting both businesses and governments know the kind of future that you want.
Vote with your money. Vote with your tweets. Vote with your letters of frustration.
Let people know that this matters to you. That this is important. That you care.

Because this does matter. This is important. We all care.
And we need to act NOW before it's too late and we're left having to try and answer our kids when they ask "why didn't you do more?"

6. Remember...

I hope this helps.
I hope you know just how powerful you are.
And just how important it is that you step into that power and act now. Before it's too late.
Know that you are not alone - we're in this together, and we've got this.

FEELING INSPIRED TO
TAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE(ISH) STEPS?

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