8 kid-friendly, eco-friendly plastic substitutes

The plastic items we use on a daily basis has become such integral parts of our world that even the thought of cutting it out of our lives can seem intimidating. Why not take baby steps and expose your child to the idea of reducing their use of plastic! This simple step will encourage them to become more informed about its impact on our planet and empower them to look for other solutions!

The idea is not to throw away everything that is plastic in your life, but rather to not buy NEW plastic products. The plastic you have already purchased will end up in the landfill anyways, so if it is in your home and being put to good use, it’s better there than in the landfill! However, next time you have to replace these items, think about going plastic-free!

In this article, we focused on 2 areas where your children spend a lot of time:

  • School
  • The bathroom

Watch for more instalments as we unearth other “baby steps” that your child can take to have a big impact on the planet and their ecological footprint. We encourage you to share YOUR tips and tricks that you are incorporating in your life with our community by commenting below. Together, we can make an impact!

For school:

1. Packing lunch:

Gone are the days of pre-packaged lunches. Cut the plastic (and sodium) by replacing pre-packaged lunches with some delicious homemade food, packed in reusable or biodegradable materials.

Try out these items next time you’re preparing lunch:

  • Beeswax wraps: Similar to cling wrap, these cotton and bee’s wax based products help preserve your food while being reusable: simply wash and re-use, they last for months and sometimes years! Try these the next time you want to wrap your sandwich, vegetables or snacks. Fun Fact – the very first beeswax wrap was created by Toni Desrosiers, a female Canadian inventor who also founded Abeego, the original bee’s wax wrap company.  Support this Canadian brand by choosing her products on your next visit to Bulk Barn or your local grocery store. Get Abeego Beeswax Food Wrap here.
  • No More Ziplocs: These single use plastics are used to store everything from sandwiches to pencils before ending up in landfills or worse, our oceans. Try encouraging your child to replace these bags with stainless steel containers, mason jars or the above mentioned beeswax wraps!

2. Cutlery:

Ditch the Dollar store plastic cutlery and replace them with reusable or biodegradable, compostable wooden utensils.

  • Choose a reusable option if your child can be trusted to bring them home and not “forget” them in the garbage!! Take a look at this bamboo utensil set by Totally Bamboo on Amazon.com
  • If you feel that you must have disposable options for certain occasion then try these utensils, they are made of 100% smooth birch wood, are non-toxic, are eco-friendly and biodegradable. This pack from Vimov, available at Amazon, comes with 100 forks, 50 knives and 50 spoons. Your child will be the talk of the cafeteria!  

3. Bottled Water:

This is an obvious one. Bottled water comes with a multitude of warnings and effects on both our bodies and the environment. Of the warnings, the ones regarding Bisphenol-A or BPA are the most serious. BPA, usually found in plastics, has the potential negatively affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland of babies and young children.

Did you know?

  • In America, 
    • Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38. Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year.
    • Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.
    • The energy we waste to produce bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.
(Source: Ban The Bottle)
  • And in Canada, 
    • 1 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out in Canada each year.
    • Canadian use approximately, 2.5 billion litres of bottled water each year.
    • Canadian throw away approximately 57 million single-use plastic straws everyday or more than 2 billion each year.
(Source: Waste Reduction Week Canada)

Cut bottled water completely with a BPA-free stainless steel water bottle like this Simple Modern 17 oz bottle that comes in a variety of fun colours!

4. Straws:

Everyone knows about the big movement to eliminate one-use plastic straws. I like to encourage my kids not to use straws at all but for smaller children, it is still fun to drink from a straw, and there are many people who require a straw to consume liquids. Why not stock your cupboard with a set of eco-friendly, environmental-friendly, reusable, and washable BPA-free stainless steel straws?! These are readily available at most stores but you can find some online at Amazon, including the Sellurite brand online on Amazon.

If you still prefer a disposable straw, check out these paper straws by Alink that are biodegradable and available in a variety of fun colours and designs! Even large corporation such as A&W are joining the trend by announcing that they will ban all plastic straws from their locations and replace them sustainably sourced and biodegradable substitutes.

In the bathroom:

5. Floss:

Flosspot Elegance Collection Zero Waste Floss: This cute mason jar is refillable, making it a once in a lifetime container purchase! The floss is made of 100% silk floss which is completely biodegradable, it will go back to the earth in only a few months. The packaging is also entirely toxin-free with a corn-based cello for outside packaging.

6. Toothbrush:

Brush naked Bamboo Toothbrush : Bonus this comes as a package of 4 toothbrushes with cute colours on the handle to differentiate per child! Coming from Brush Naked, a Canadian family-owned company, these eco-friendly toothbrushes have handles made 100% of Moso Bamboo; each toothbrush is wrapped in a 100% biodegradable cello wrap made from wood and cotton pulp, the box is also completely recyclable. Bristles are a bit trickier…. While Brush Naked does make entirely biodegradable bristles, those only last 2 weeks whereas a nylon toothbrush will last at least three months, thereby creating less garbage. Taking into consideration that the bristles only accounts for 1% of the mass of the entire toothbrush, we feel it is a good choice and still a huge win for the environment!

Did you know? Moso bamboo grows quickly, can be harvested in just a few short years, naturally repels water, is antibacterial and is gone months after disposal, unlike plastic which can take centuries.

7. Body Wash and Soap:

Replace body wash with bars of soap not wrapped in plastic. Your local Bulk Barn carries several all natural bars of soap unwrapped that you can purchase completely free of plastic. Of course, you can also choose to shop at Lush who was one of the first company to offer unwrapped bars of soap, shampoo and even conditioner. Experiment with different scents and colours and choose the one that your child likes the best!

8. Cotton swabs for your ears:

These single-use items are convenient, but they may be causing more harm than good for the environment and your hearing! When purchasing these items, making the right choice can have a HUGE impact. Several brands make their stems of plastic (such as Joe Fresh at Loblaws), so while you may be saving a few cents, you are creating a piece of trash daily that will be around for centuries to come.

But do not despair, we found great options available to help avoid plastic.

  • Q-tips®: everyone know that brands and according to their website, Q-tips® cotton swabs are made with 100% pure cotton (non-sterile)- all natural materials. But most importantly, the applicator is made of bonded paper and paperboard which is sustainably sourced. These cotton swabs are Biodegradable when composted. The sleeve & tray pack is recyclable once the window is removed. You can purchase these online here or at your local grocery store or Walmart.
  • Organyc’s cotton swab: we love this American company, very dedicated to reducing the use of chemical and plastics. They makes swabs made with certified organic cotton and recyclable cardboard stems. The box is made from recyclable and biodegradable materials also! Their swabs are available online here.

If this resonates with you, consider our Love My Planet English eco-camps for your children. In a fun and engaging way, children will learn how to make small positive changes in their world to reduce their ecological footprint with HANDS-ON activities. Experiential learning at its best!

Camp Tournesol is an experiential learning organization dedicated to make a positive impact in each camper’s life.


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