Most people will admit that being and adult isn’t quite what the expected. And even more people will say that about parenting. Every parenting experience is different but I don’t know any parent that isn’t familiar with the word ‘routine’. We spend our lives in a routine and knowing roughly what is coming next. Then along come the summer holidays and the routine goes out the window. No need to rush around as much, no preprepared school meals, no ‘normal’. This has some serious perks, of course. We all need a rest and the chance to recuperate. The same can be said as every school break approaches. The trouble with a break in routine is some of the positive steps you take in your lifestyle, such as healthy eating, exercise or waste reduction, can also go out with window along with the weekly normal. So how do you make sure you remain waste conscious whilst entertaining the kids for six weeks (or longer if outside of England)? I have found 5 easy ways to keep waste down during the summer holidays whilst also keeping your kids happy and occupied.
Homemade Ice Lollies
With any luck the sunshine and heat will last throughout the holidays. And even if it doesn’t the summer break is the perfect excuse to relax the rules and let the kids eat all the ice cream. Of course ice cream means lots of packaging, unless you make it yourself that is. You can make ice cream using my recipe HERE, or you can make ice lollies. Both of these are super easy and the kids can help, making it fun for them. For the ice lollies you can make it really simple and just freeze some squash or you can freeze chopped fresh fruit and water together. All you need are some eco friendly ice lolly moulds. I have found some gorgeous stainless steel ones HERE.
Drawing is a great activity for kids over the summer. If your kids are like mine, colouring, painting, drawing and other arty activities can keep them occupied for hours. But the downside to this is all the paper. Even if the paper is ethically produced are you really going to hang a summers worth of art up on the fridge for all to see? Probably not. Which means it will end up in the bin. Outdoor chalks are a much better option as they wash away with the rain and don’t leave any lasting damage. Plus this allows the kids imaginations to go wild with larger art and canvas. Or you could draw out a traditional hopscotch grid and let them play away. Get some chalks HERE.
Plant Seed Bombs
I believe it is important to keep the kids interested in nature and to teach them how plants grow. Most plants and seeds come in plastic bags or pots which means there is always something to throw away. Seed bombs don’t. The seeds are encased in a biodegradable material, usually a paper composite, you simply plant the whole thing in the ground and watch it grow. Get some HERE.
Bake Bread Together
Baking bread isn’t for everyone I admit. But it is fun to give it a go, even if you don’t think you can do it. It is also a great sensory activity for the kids as the dough requires a good amount of kneading. Making bread is one the big changes I made when I was reducing my plastic waste. I don’t have a local bakers and all the supermarket bread comes in plastic. Even the bread delivered by the milkman is the same plastic covered stuff I can buy in the shop. So I started to make my own bread. I will be sharing my tried and tested recipe very soon. But there are plenty online if you want to give it a go. And I even priced it up; if you but the supermarket flour, not the branded stuff, it is over a third of the price of the supermarket bread. And the more you practice the better you will get. Even if you aren’t the next Paul Hollywood there is nothing like the smell and taste of freshly baked bread. And when you have made it it is even better.
Reusable Picnic Items
A picnic is a staple of the British Summer Time. For us parents it is one of the easiest activities we can come up with and the kids seem to love nothing more than a picnic lunch or dinner. It is easy to assume that to reduce our waste and environmental impact we need to stay at home, but that isn’t true and it is boring. There are plenty of items on the market now that help us reduce our waste and a picnic is actually one of the easiest things to make waste free. To wrap the food use beeswax wraps (available HERE) or use a soy wax alternative if you would prefer a vegan option. Alternatively you could use these amazing stainless steel lunch boxes (HERE). Bamboo cutlery is reusable and recyclable when you are done with them and they have reached the end of their usable lifespan (available HERE). Reusable drinks bottles take care of the liquids (HERE).
The final thing to consider with a picnic is how to keep it fresh and cool. Obviously there are plenty of those gel freezer blocks available. However no one seems to sure what the substance inside them actually is. Whilst generally considered non toxic (you would hope so wouldn’t you!) I probably won’t be replacing ours when it eventually cracks. Instead I have linen napkins that I soak in water and then freeze. These can then be wrapped around food or used as an ice block.
Another way to reduce plastic is to buy a wicker picnic basket rather than a nylon one. Plus many of these picnic hampers come with all the cutlery included so you are also prepared for a picnic at a moments notice. Find various amazing ones HERE.
Bonus: Go Litter Picking
As a bonus activity you could even go litter picking. Ok this may not seem like the most fun thing in the world, but if you are out at your local park and you have the litter picking equipment it would be great to teach your kids how to give back to the community and also teach them the importance of not littering. Good deeds bring good karma.
What will you be doing?
So what will you be doing to keep waste down during the summer holidays? I suspect as time goes on I may think of a few more ideas and tips which I will keep you updated on. I hope you found this useful and if you have any tips to add then please let me know.
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