November 2, 2023
Discover our zero-waste products that the whole family can use, all designed to reduce environmental impact.
As parents, we all want the best for our children. But there is so much to do to create a better world that it can seem daunting to know where, and how, to start. For instance, we are hearing more and more recently about the plastic crisis: An environmental disaster that affects both life on earth and in the ocean. Does this mean the solution is to completely eliminate plastic from our lives?
In this article, we’ll help you understand the origins of the crisis as well as sharing five super-simple tips to help you adopt a zero-waste lifestyle as a family.
Scientists strived to produce a durable material such as plastic from natural resources like tortoise shells or gutta-percha (a latex gum) over the course of centuries. But it wasn’t until 1907 that the first synthetic plastic came into existence, thanks to Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland. Labelled “Bakelite,” this revolutionary material combined two chemical compounds – formaldehyde and phenol – and sported a brownish hue that was similar in colour to wood. And above all else, it was suitable for mass production, which made it especially interesting for sectors such as transport, telecommunications and construction1.
Bakelite – whose production was discontinued in 1940 – gave way to other, more sophisticated forms of plastic like polypropylene, polystyrene, PVC and even polyethylene. These plastics – each possessing unique characteristics – can have different uses. PVC, for example, is used in the medical realm due to its impermeability to germs (reducing infection risk), while polystyrene, which is highly insulating, is used in buildings.
But it’s not the long-term uses that concern the experts: Rather, it’s the mass production along with the amount of single-use plastic that is used. Rest assured, we have no intention of recommending changing your home’s insulation for you to qualify as a zero-waste family!
Over the last 50 years, plastic production has doubled globally. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 400 million tonnes is now manufactured annually. That's more than the weight of the Earth’s entire population2. The worst part? About half of the plastic we consume is only used once3. Items such as straws, utensils, lids, caps and those infamous grocery bags (the list goes on and on) are known as “single-use plastic.”
More often than not, this plastic is not recycled, incinerated, or dumped into landfills. Rather, it’s abandoned in the ocean. Every year, 14 million tonnes of plastic is emptied into saltwater bodies, which dangerously threatens marine life as well as human life4. Subjected to UV rays, wind, ocean currents and other environmental factors, plastic will disintegrate into microplastic or nanoplastic particles which are then ingested by both marine animals and humans. In fact, each human ingests more than 40 pounds of plastic in their lifetime, in all probability without ever knowing5.
It is crucial that governments, municipalities, businesses and individuals join the fight against single-use plastic pollution to offer a better future for our children.
Products made from single-use plastic are omnipresent: They’re an integral part of everyday life. Fortunately for parents, there are simple actions that can be taken to create a zero-waste lifestyle for their families.
More than a million plastic water bottles are purchased throughout the world every minute. You can help offset this trend by always having a reusable water bottle on hand for both you and your children. And there are so many cute options that keep water colder for longer! Pro tip: Don't limit yourself to just water… you can use a reusable bottle for all your favourite drinks (coffee, tea, etc.)
One great way to teach children to be more eco-conscious is to teach them how to make informed choices. Challenge them to prepare zero-waste lunches for school! Simply have containers (like a bento box) and reusable bags at their disposal. Bonus: There’s a good chance that by avoiding individually packaged snacks, your kids will benefit by having healthier meals!
Are your children still quite young? A simple way for parents to reduce daily single-use plastic usage is to use cloth diapers or diapers made from biodegradable materials. Every year in North America, 30 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills7.
Approximately 36% of all globally produced plastic is used for packaging8. Companies need to find ways to lower that percentage, but as a family wishing to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, you can choose brands that are already doing so, both for your own well-being and for the well-being of your little ones!
Opt for products that are packaged in FSC-certified biodegradable cardboard certifié or that are offered in aluminum bottles or in eco-refills that are used to fill children's shampoo and shower gel containers.
If you've ever been part of a children's party, you already know that all too often they’re a single-use plastic palooza! Garlands, cake decorations, plates, cups, utensils and so much more end up in the recycling bin as soon as the celebrations are over. Were you aware that less than 9% of the plastic in the world is recycled9?
Rather than raiding store shelves before each birthday, we suggest using a pretty tablecloth with your non-breakable outdoor tableware, then decorate the table and cake with the birthday boy or girl's favourite toys. You can even use cardboard to create a garland and have everyone decorate it with you!
Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle as a family is one of the very best ways to provide a healthier future for our children. To learn more about the consequences of single-use plastic, please consult the following blog posts:
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Written by Team ATTITUDE