As we celebrate Earth Day- a day to do our bit to protect our planet- we turn our attention to what we can do as parents of toddlers to help out. While it may not seem like the ideal age to focus on such matters, one might argue it’s better to start your little ones young on such important issues by giving them the right tools as soon as you are able.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking: 

  1. Swap branded or character items for neutral items: Toddlers are notorious for going through phases- mine is obsessed with Peppa Pig and Hey Duggee at present. While it’s positive that they demonstrate a passion for something, as parents we can fall into the trap of buying branded items for our children. So rather than investing in character bedding, lunchboxes, clothing and toys- opt for more neutral items that will stand the test of time rather than something they are bound to grow out of and will want to replace once the fad is over.
  2. Swap prepackaged lunches/snacks for homemade: It’s tempting and easy to buy pre-mixed bottles of juice and snack packs to throw in a nursery lunch box, however making everything at home and opting for fresh snacks can really reduce your plastic and cardboard waste. For instance- buy a reusable water bottle and fill it every day with water and dilute, give them a piece of fruit instead of a processed snack and cut up vegetables and put them in a reusable container instead of a packet of crisps. These are not only healthier but can all be transported in receptacles that can be washed and used again. 
  3. Swap plastic straws for stainless steel ones: If you tend to give your toddler a straw with every drink at home- invest in some stainless steel ones which granted- do cost a little more but can be cleaned and reused over and over again, rather than ending up in the trash. 
  4. Swap car journeys for walks: Instead of taking your toddler to the shops where you might end up buying them a new toy- take them for a walk or to the playground instead. While they are not the ones driving the car- you may use your vehicle to take them somewhere that provides some sort of entertainment. The truth is, they will get more joy from simply being outside. 
  5. Swap the supermarket for your local farm shop: Supermarket produce is notorious for using more packaging than local businesses and if you take your toddler to the supermarket, you will probably end up buying more than you bargained for anyway. Our farm shop has chickens and toddler sized trolleys so our daughter loves to go there and little does she know- she is doing her bit for the planet at the same time. 
  6. Swap takeaways for baking/cooking at home: Takeaways are another source of excess packaging that are often marketed at children. Even a cookie from your local bakery will come in a plastic/paper bag that needs to be discarded. If you want to treat your toddler, prepare these at home instead. It’s not only a great bonding exercise for you both, but you can enjoy the end product without creating any waste if you already had the ingredients in your cupboard anyway. 
  7. Swap toys for free things found in nature: Rather than buying your toddler a new toy- encourage them to find treasures in nature instead. Toddlers get great pleasure in picking up sticks, examining pretty stones, splashing in puddles, picking flowers and dipping their hands in streams- to name just a few. They really are happy with things that are readily found in gardens and on walks- so take full advantage of this. Don’t invest in large companies, invest in your planet instead and teach your toddler to do the same. 

RELATED: Parenting: Seven tips for managing your toddler’s paperwork

Today is National Administrative Professionals’ Day, the perfect day to reflect on your paperwork practices where your toddler is concerned. If you’re a parent, there’s one thing you will know all too well and that’s little ones come with a lot of papers, especially if they are in nursery. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with your child’s paper clutter, here are my top tips for keeping on top of it….

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