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Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

9 tips to reduce plastic and get sustainable during pregnancy and parenting

Thu, 2021-01-21 17:46

There’s just too much plastic in everything – and that includes maternity wear, nappies, bottles, and baby clothes. Here’s how to cut back on plastic during pregnancy and parenting, and raise awesome environmental activist children in the process.

Plastic-free periods

Long before you might be lucky enough to see that double line on the (plastic) stick, it’s worth looking into the most planet-friendly ways to go through the monthly menses.

One estimate reckons the average sanitary pad has as much plastic as four supermarket carrier bags. Yikes. Luckily, there are some incredible solutions for plastic-free periods. These include silicon cups, plastic-free tampons, washable pads to replace disposable ones and even designer ‘period pants’.

Maternity clothing

What can you expect from your wardrobe when expecting? Well, to state the obvious, many of your clothes won’t fit you for a while. But there are a few nifty solutions.

Make do with what you have with waistband extenders, which you can buy or even make yourself. Those expecting in winter can even buy coat extenders which zip into your existing coats. This is win-win – you get to wear your favourite clothes and reduce the demand for new clothing that only adds to fast fashion’s terrible polyester problem.

Go for second-hand maternity wear – many pre-loved sites and apps have maternity-specific pieces. Finally, try upcycling large garments (dad-to-be’s old shirts perhaps?) into something belly-embracing that suits your style. If you do buy new, consider loose-fitting shapes that can see you through from big bump to fashion-forward mum.

Nappies and wipes

Each baby goes through around an estimated 6000 nappies in their infant years. In the UK alone, an estimated 2.5 billion nappies are used every year, with more than 90% of them ending up in landfill where they will take over half a millennium to break down.

Alternatives to plastic, disposable nappies and wet wipes include washable and reusable cloth or biodegradable versions. But these can be ineffective, impractical and expensive. Clever combination-solutions include washable cloth inserts inside a leak-proof outer nappy, and washable cloths. Even so, washing hundreds of nappies, wipes or liners a week might not be realistic either. Go easy on yourself, and do what you can.

Check out the variety of sustainable nappies, and learn about some options for your family. Perhaps consider gently easing into the plastic-free life only when you understand the schedule of things a bit more. When you’re ready, you can even try out reusable nappies from a local nappy library.

Bottles and dummies

Plastic bottles have a bad reputation, even in reusable form. A number of companies have started making glass baby bottles, which are as specially-designed and shock resistant as you’d hope. If you or your baby aren’t quite ready for glass, there are stainless steel and bamboo options too.

For bottle teats and dummies – commonly found on pavements and in landfills the world over – there’s currently only one eco-friendly material that can reliably substitute silicon. Find natural rubber pacifiers and bottle teats at Hevea, which has a wide selection.

Children’s clothing

Numerous websites have sprung up to offer second-hand children’s clothing (some with maternity wear sections too). Here’s a selection:

But even second-hand, this is still a lot of shopping. After all children go through seven discrete sizes of clothing in their first two years.

For a super smart sustainable fashion solution, check out innovative childrenswear designer Petit Pli. The company creates rainproof, machine-washable, concertina origami-like clothing for children to grow into.

As well as solving an age-old problem, and making your kids look hypercool, engineer founder Ryan Yasin is dedicated to reducing waste in fashion. The brand uses the most durable materials necessary for his energetic little customers, who he calls ‘extreme athletes’.

Toys and wheels

Plastic feels ubiquitous in toys, but there are alternatives. Try handmade wooden toys from Bella Luna Toys, and opt for pioneering plastic-free toy companies like Le Toy Van, Eco-Tots and Envirotoy.

Some classics are naturally eco-friendly. Try Retro Toys for the gorgeous aesthetic as well as the green credentials. And even old plastic-laden favourites like Lego have started to look at alternative materials so will hopefully become more sustainable in future.

For prams, buying second-hand is a smart move financially as well as environmentally. Try the usual pre-loved sites, Freecycle and dedicated shops like Rascal Babies and Second Hand Prams. Note that it’s not recommended to buy car seats second-hand, for safety reasons.

Crafts, gifts and parties

When you’re in the swing of things, you may want to avoid plastic in arts and crafts activities, children’s parties and gift wrapping.

Opt for more eco-friendly craft gear and biodegradable glitter – and teach your little ones early that all that glitters need not be plastic. Teach your children to love pencils and paint, and keep (good quality) plastic pens well so they can be used more sparingly and last longer. Find fun ways to get crafty with nature’s gifts – autumn leaves make great collages, for example.

For celebrations, consider making or buying upcycled cloth bunting, and using recycled wrapping paper and plastic-free party ware.

Children’s books

Once old enough for bedtime stories, give them a head start in their environmentalism by choosing empowering stories of the wonders of nature and tales of little change-makers.

Don’t forget to consider the issues and the heroes of the books you choose, as this will shape who your children will see as their role models. The next generation of climate activists deserve to be a lot better informed on the interlinked nature of environmental and social justice – and you are uniquely placed to help them with that.

Your child’s first stories have the power to inspire them into a fulfilling life – and perhaps even professions or vocations – that will shape a kinder, greener and healthier society.

Think ahead and pay it forward

It’s worth thinking about what’s going to happen to anything you buy when you no longer need it. This is important when it comes to plastic particularly – and don’t forget that includes most textiles, which are commonly made from polyester or polyester blends, which can’t be recycled easily.

With any gear you can, sell it, or hand it down to another family, to give it a chance at a second life. And remember that not everyone can load up new baby stuff. If you are fortunate to be able to do so, donate what you don’t use anymore to a scheme like the Baby Bank Network.

The post 9 tips to reduce plastic and get sustainable during pregnancy and parenting appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Penguin facts – 9 fascinating things you might not know

Wed, 2021-01-20 12:45

It’s always a good time to celebrate the majesty and silliness of penguins. Here’s a rundown of the most fascinating, funny or important penguin facts we could find.

1. Giant penguins once roamed the planet

The first bird actually called a penguin was the now-extinct Great Auk found in the North Atlantic. Tragically, early explorers and their contemporaries found Great Auks a little too tasty, and the birds were all killed off.

Fossil evidence shows that penguins evolved before the dinosaurs died out, and there are remains of giant, people-sized, prehistoric penguins.

2. The world’s smallest penguin stands just over 30cm high

In comparison, the worlds smallest penguins are the Little Blue penguins. They are just over 30cm high on their flippers. (Yes, you’re thinking you could fit one in your bag, and keep it in your bath, arent you…?).

3. You’ll only find wild penguins in the Southern Hemisphere

All wild penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, and although they are synonymous with the ice, only two species live on the continent of Antarctica. The Galapagos penguin is the only penguin that ever naturally ventures into the Northern Hemisphere on especially long feeding trips

4. Penguins’ black and white ‘tuxedo’ helps them avoid predators

Most penguins have black backs and a white belly. This makes them harder to see from above because they blend in with the dark ocean beneath them. And looking from below, their white underside matches the bright sky overhead.

And speaking of tuxedos, this might just be our favourite penguin fact of all:

The word for penguin in mandarin is 企鹅, which translates roughly to "business goose."

Indeed, penguins always look like they’re dressed in suits.

Happy #WorldPenguinDay! pic.twitter.com/Gqy8kBBaJv

— Melissa Chen (@MsMelChen) April 25, 2020

5. Penguins use some clever tricks to help them move faster

To move fast through the water, penguins use a technique called porpoising. To move quickly over the ice, they switch to tobogganning. Curiously, porpoises neither use toboggans nor do they use the word penguin as a verb.

Penguins porpoising in the Antarctic Ocean. Although they’re hilariously clumsy on land, penguins are amazing swimmers. In the water, Chinstrap penguins can reach speeds of 20mph – four times faster than the best human athletes. © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Scientists have discovered that emperor penguins, the largest species, use a special bubble-power go-faster technology to increase their speed under water.

6. Penguins are media superstars

Penguins have been immortalised on the big and small screens: singing with Mary Poppins, stealing the Muppet Shows show, dancing their hearts out in Happy Feet, protecting the oceans with the Octonauts, and being a criminal mastermind in Wallace & Gromit.

Despite having brands of books and biscuits named after them, penguins show little interest in literature and are confounded by biscuit wrappers because they lack opposable thumbs.

7. Adelie penguins have extremely complicated love lives

Adelie penguins love rocks. They use them to make nests and they are in short supply. So what to do to get more rocks? Well, female Adelie penguins think nothing of offering sex to neighbouring males in exchange for a pebble. Pebble promiscuity is just the tip of the iceberg though. Early Edwardian scientists in Antarctica deemed the sexual shenanigans of these cute birds too shocking for the public to know about.

8. Penguin poo is visible from space

Penguin poo can be incredibly useful. Not only is it sometimes visible from space, but projectile pooing can be a handy way of deterring predators, or making a social comment.

Penguins who had been the star attractions at Edinburgh Zoo for over a century had their beaks put out of joint when pandas arrived there a few years ago. Some of them resorted to a dirty protest aimed at the queues of panda visitors.

9. Penguins need our help

Greenpeace has been working with scientists to study penguin colonies in the Antarctic, and they’ve made some scary findings. Penguin numbers in the colonies they studied have dropped by almost 60% – with some colonies losing as much as 77% of their population since they were last counted in the early 1970s. The scientists here are talking about a ‘fundamentally changed’ ecosystem, and say that all the evidence they have points to climate change as the main culprit.

As wildlife struggles, we urgently need new ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic and across the world. With these in place, animals like these penguins have the space to recover and adapt to our rapidly changing climate, safe from harmful industries.

Now you’ve got the facts about penguins, it’s time to help them out. Sign the petition asking the UK government to help deliver a strong Global Ocean Treaty, which would make these new ocean sanctuaries possible.

This article is adapted from an original by Greenpeace USA

The post Penguin facts – 9 fascinating things you might not know appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Bee-killing pesticides are making a comeback. Here’s how we can stop them.

Thu, 2021-01-14 13:14

“We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” These were the words of Michael Gove when he introduced the ban on bee-killing pesticides in 2018.

Fast forward to this year, and the government has just given the green light for bee-killing pesticides to be sprayed in the UK. The pesticide being used has been banned for being poisonous to bees, but it’s just been approved to help grow sugar beet in the spring.

Bees need our help – and we need theirs

This is about bees, but it’s also about us. If we keep harming bees, we risk our food supplies. About a third of our food is dependent on pollinators, of which bees are some of the most important.

A third of bee populations are already shrinking. We can’t allow pesticides to destroy our environment and kill any more bees.

Can you quickly sign this petition urging the Environment secretary to enforce a total ban on bee-killing pesticides?

Sign the petition

So what’s changed since the government banned bee-killing pesticides in 2018? Well, it’s certainly not the science. Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are still bad news for bees. Studies have shown that these pesticides can affect bees’ navigational abilities and breeding success, and they are unsurprisingly ravaging other insects as well.

The government say they’re allowing emergency use to protect growers of sugar beet. But this is a short-sighted and dangerous approach to take. We rely on bees to help pollinate lots of crops like apples, beans, squashes and almonds.

The Environment Minister can reverse this decision

George Eustice has the power to change all of this. As Environment Minister, he can show he’s on the side of nature by enforcing a total ban on bee-harming pesticides. He’s approved this emergency use of a deadly pesticide, but we need to remind him that we’re in the middle of a climate and nature emergency.

If lots of people sign this petition we can pile pressure on the government to quickly reverse its decision and keep bee-killing pesticides away from our environment. Can you get the Environment Minister to act fast?

The post Bee-killing pesticides are making a comeback. Here’s how we can stop them. appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News