Small Steps To Make A Big Impact by Kate Duggan

It’s not always easy to be eco-friendly, but there are ways you can work together as a family to lead a greener life.

Discuss the issues

Talk to your family about what you want to achieve and why. You might be surprised at what they come up with. After watching ‘War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita’, my children announced they were giving up jelly pots and other plastic-wrapped snacks. Can you commit to walking or cycling to school rather than going in the car? Can you all agree to use reusable water bottles rather than buying drinks while you’re out?

Recycle

Make recycling easier by labelling your bins so it’s clear what goes in each one. Print pictures to stick on the lids if you have young children. Short on space? Ikea sell space-saving stackable storage bins.

Crisp packets, biscuit wrappers, toothbrushes, contact lens packaging and baby food pouches usually aren’t collected by the council, but they can be recycled by TerraCycle. Alternatively, Ellie’s Fund has recycling collection points across the UK to raise money for brain tumour research, see www.elliesfund.com/recycling.

Get crafty

Most children love crafts, so why not look at a few eco-projects? You could make beeswax wraps together (an alternative to cling film) or soy candles to give as gifts. My children decorated some organic tote bags (£1 each on eBay) to donate to the local shop for customers to borrow.

Go wild

Cut down on the weeding and do your bit for insects by letting an area of your garden go wild. Encourage birds by hanging up some bird feeders and bird boxes, or planting large shrubs or a hedge for them to nest in. Don’t have a garden? Search the RHS website for pollinator-friendly plants for pots and window boxes.

Reuse

Try to reuse before buying new. You could melt wax crayons down in silicone cake moulds to make new chunky crayons for example. Kids desperate for plastic toys? Buy them second-hand on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

Take action

Get your kids involved in campaigning! You could encourage them to write to your MP or send letters to ask favourite brands to reduce plastic waste. You could even take part in family-friendly climate marches together.

Make the switch

Some of the things that make the most difference actually take the least amount of work. Switching to a renewable energy supplier such as Bulb, Ecotricity or Octopus only takes a few minutes. Most green energy companies have excellent customer service ratings and sometimes work out cheaper than the larger companies.

Move your money

Banks often use your savings and loan repayments to invest in companies you may not want to support. It’s easy to move your family’s money to a more ethical provider. Charity Bank, Triodos and Ecology Building Society all offer a range of ethical investment opportunities and savings accounts. Want to stick to a high street bank? The Co-operative Bank has a strict ethical policy that sets out what it won’t invest your money in.