A beginner's guide to being a more sustainable family

April and August

Alyce Kirk, as told to Lottie Dalziel

For Alyce Kirk her "eco-awakening" happened when she became a parent for the first time and realised the impact that our actions have on the earth, and that her two girls, April, 7 and Violet, 4 won’t have the same luxuries we had. 

From then on, reducing her families waste was a non-negotiable but it came with its challenges. Here she talks about how to be realistic about your families lifestyle and her top tips for other families wanting to make a difference that will help the planet.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced trying to reduce your waste with kids?

Balloons! Every time we visit a shop there is someone ready and waiting to hand the kids a balloon. I’ve even had one shop assistant call me a “mean mum” for politely declining a balloon offered to my daughter.

kids

My kids also attend lots of parties where small plastic gifts are handed out at pass-the-parcel games and in lolly bags, I don’t want my kids to miss out which always makes declining hard. My eldest daughter particularly is like a little magpie and will pick up little trinkets everywhere she goes. In saying that, the older the girls get they are more understanding of the impact their choices make. 

Any tips for new mums trying to reduce their waste?

Cloth nappies can be intimidating when starting out, but the modern cloth nappies are so easy to use compared to when my mum was using cloth. The biggest concern my friends often voice is the fear of having to touch poo, so let’s be honest, you will probably end up with poo on you regardless of your nappy choice so give them a go!

tomatoes

As kids get older, I would also encourage parents to involve their kids in discussions about why you want to live a zero-waste lifestyle. One of the most powerful experiences my eldest daughter had was seeing first hand the impacts of plastic waste on turtles when we visited Borneo. To this day she is our biggest champion for refusing plastic bags when offered them; she tells anyone that will listen the similarities bags have to jellyfish when in the water. 

What are your favourite zero-waste activities to do with the kids? 

We love the outdoors and are lucky enough to live not only in a national park but also minutes from local beaches. We can be found exploring rock pools and collecting shells at the beach most weekends. 

I’ve also found memberships to be great for kids too. We currently have one for our local wildlife park. They don’t even use plastic cards for members but instead keep their own database. We pack a lunch from home and visit the animals for the day. And the local library is also a great membership to have. The girls can borrow a huge selection of books they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Our local library also has storytime once a fortnight. 

eggs

We also have backyard chickens, our own compost and a (struggling) veggie garden. Spending time outside with kids is so beneficial, I am surprised how many of my daughter's friends come over and have no idea when some of their food comes from. In saying that, as I make my own nut and plant milks, my eldest asked me once to ‘make’ some cow’s milk for her to try and was shocked that I couldn’t just whip up a batch in the kitchen!

Are you ready to make your home green-er? Here are our favourite baby and kiddie products.

Alyce Kirk, is Banish's resident Parenting Editor and mum of two girls who is trying to reduce her footprint and empower her kids to make the best choices for our beautiful planet.


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