These days, everyone wants to make eco-friendly choices (well, at least that's what the research is showing). But wanting to make the change is a lot different to the practicality of making the change- especially when you're a busy parent with a hectic home. Sometimes, the sustainable option is not such an easy thing to implement and at EcoCubs we know full well that if the eco-friendly path isn't an easy path, it's not likely to happen! So that's why we wanted to make this quick list for all the mums and dads out there, who want to make sustainable happen but are already struggling with the day-to-day chaos of a busy household!
All of these hacks are ones we personally implement at EcoCubs and that we find we can do on a daily basis, because trust us, we are all about making eco EASY! Remember, progress not perfection- in the words of that great cliche "small changes all add up"
Hack 1- Recycle your Soft Plastics
We've said it before and we will say it again- recycling your soft plastics is SO easy! Sure, if you can stop buying them all together that's great, but not really realistic- my children love their dinosaur pasta just as much as the next kid! Thankfully I now know how easily I can recycle its packaging thanks to the accessibility of Austalia's REDcycle program.
I should probably quickly clarify that our curbside recycling bins are for hard plastics only. Soft plastics, generally classified by how easily they can be scrunched up in your hand, are not able to be recycled in our household bins. Enter REDCycle- a program that will take and recycle these soft plastics and repurpose them in to other materials that can be used in places like playgrounds (!) Their bins are available in both Woolworths and Coles, all around Australia, so you can easily just drop them off when you’re doing your usual grocery shop.
To find out more about the REDcycle program, hop on over to https://www.redcycle.net.au/faqs
Hack 2- Change out your Laundry Detergent
This one was a cinch for us! Not only are most of the laundry detergents available at the supermarket excessively packaged in harmful plastics, but the formulas of the detergent often contain a lot of dangerous chemicals that can be irritating to human health and poisonous to our waterways. We could make our own (hats off to those who do!) but we don't class that as an eco-EASY hack over here.
So a simple switch on this one was to stop buying them from the supermarket, instead opting for a sustainable laundry detergent that we could have delivered straight to our door. We chose Dirt Laundry because it's formulated with 100% plant-based and biodegradable ingredients, and comes in sustainable, refillable packaging. All deliveries come with a refill pack that you can return to the company (for free!) helping make a zero-waste laundry routine! Full transparency, the cost is more upfront, however the detergent is highly concentrated, so you use less per load- making it go a long way. We also love the fact that it isn't heavily scented and actually washes our clothes really well. As a bonus, they now have a gentle wash (for items like wool) and a stain remover spray available- so it's a one stop laundry shop for us!
Other brands with the same concept (but we haven't tried so can't personally vouch for) are
Hack 3- Switching Cleaning Products
Our solution came in the form of Koala Eco. We chose this brand because we loved that they’re Australian-made and all natural, combining high concentrates of pure Australian essential oils with plant-derived biodegradable ingredients. They claim that their products work as well if not better than chemical cleaners and we have to say we agree. Plus the smell is AMAZING- think eucalyptus, tea tree and citrus. As far as packaging goes, their bottles are made with 100% recycled and recyclable materials, so no new plastic is created in their packaging process. They also donate to the charity 'One Percent for the Planet' every time a purchase is made.
Personally, we use their subscription program for our bathroom, kitchen and general cleaning products, opting for the refills, and find it to be very affordable! And it is so easy knowing they will arrive automatically- we just choose how often we need a restock- and let Koala Eco do the rest.
Similar programs (but again, ones we haven't used and can't vouch for) include
Hack 4- Think before you Buy
This is an easy one because it doesn't involve you having to cull out all of the existing items in your home or overhaul the systems that might already be working great for you! It's simply about doing exactly what it says- think before you bring any new products in to your home. Ask yourself- Is this product needed? Is this product going to contribute to unnecessary waste? Is there a more sustainable option available on the market?
We've found this a great way to slowly reduce the environmental footprint of our home without feeling overwhelmed by the products we already have. Products that we repurchase often, such as dish sponges and brushes, cooking utensils, pegs and body care, and products that we need to introduce in to the household, such as dinnerware for the kids (sidenote: this is how EcoCubs came about), the clothes we wear (we especially try to avoid polyester and fast fashion) and even kid's toys, are all a part of our slow moving plastic-free overhaul. It's just a case of choosing the sustainable options in lieu of what you might have purchased before.
Bamboo cleaning products from The Earth Mumma (she actually has a whole range of reusable products for all different areas of the home)
- Stainless Steel Pegs (we purchased ours from a store that is now closed, but we have seen so many around)
- Our EcoCubs Dinnerware (a no brainer of course!) 100% plant-based dinnerware that can be composted when you no longer have a need for it plus no harmful nasties for your little bears
- Little Sunshine Kids for a huge range of eco-friendly toys and products for kids. It's my go to for birthdays and Christmas!
Hack 5- Access recycling programs from the comfort of your home
I'm sure we are not the only family that hates the buildup of clutter in the home, especially when it comes to kid's items! I love a good clothing cull just as much as the next OCD parent, but I must admit I do feel the guilt of it- especially given the mounting pressure on the charity clothing bin programs (it costs them millions of $ to dispose of unwanted donations each year). There are in-store programs that offer recycling for clothes, such as H&M, but that involves me going somewhere. I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes my schedule favours a simpler solution that doesn't require a specific trip to the shops.
Thankfully, there are now quite a few programs that you can access from the comfort of your own home, requiring a mailbox drop at the most.
The Iconic's Giving Made Easy Program. This one is for clothes that are in good knick already and in a condition that could be given to a friend. We like to use it for the boy's clothes once they've outgrown them, which seems to be every month! All you need to do is download the pre-paid label through this link on The Iconic's website, package your clothes up and chuck them in the post! Does it get any easier than that?
Upparel's Clothing Recycle Collection- This is for all the clothes, linen and materials that don't make the cut for other people. Think unwanted and unusable- of which, my kids produce plenty! The beauty of this program is that they literally pick it up from your home! Yes, you have to pay and the cost is based on the weight of what you need to have picked up (starting at $24aud for 1 box up to 10kg), BUT you receive a credit for the Upparel store that you can use to purchase some pretty funky socks! Even better, the socks are made from fully recycled materials. And as a part of the program, Upparel guarantee that not a single item received will end up in landfill.
- The Flora and Fauna Recycling Program- This is my go-to for all of the beauty and body packaging waste that I have from the products I haven't been able to go low-waste with! Think serums, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, razor handles, floss containers and anything else beauty and body related that is in plastic packaging! Simply box it all up (I find it easier to chuck the used packaging in a box that's waiting to be full enough to send off), address it to Flora and Fauna's address found here, and pay to ship it back. Yes, it will cost a little but as a way of saying thank you, they do credit you a $10 voucher that you can use in their store! And for the convenience of not having to go anywhere but the post box, I'm ok with it!