Guest Post: Play with your food

I may write about food for a living, but that doesn’t mean my kids are perfect eaters. My son (4) eats a decent array of fruit and veg, but my daughter (2) is all about the rice and pasta right now. She’s also asserting her independence at the dinner table with every two-year-old’s favourite word: ‘no’. Right now, the main goal is to make healthy foods a part of our routine. We have a weekly veg box, and the kids love seeing what’s in it each week. I also gently encourage them to try new ingredients and become familiar with different fruits and vegetables by incorporating colourful and healthy foods into their play time. That can mean a teddy bear’s picnic, a homemade pizza playdate or turning a cardboard box into a cafe. Here are five fun and easy ideas road-tested by my two Whirli fans…

1) Rainbow match up

Wooden rainbow by Grimms

Little kids love lining things up: cars, dinosaurs, and – as it turns out – fruit and veg. Set up a quick game while you make dinner, using the Grimm’s wooden rainbow and a colourful assortment of fruit and veg. Line up the rainbow, then ask the kids to sort the produce by colour. My kids treated it like a race, and the game sparked lots of debate (are blueberries blue or purple? What colour is a beetroot?). Encourage the kids to ask questions and describe the look and textures of the foods as they line them up. Incorporate some of the produce into their dinner: we made rainbow wedges with the beetroot, carrot and parsnips.

2) Wonky fruit and veg

Toys Wonky Fruit and Veg set by Plan Toys

In the UK we throw away the equivalent of 1 in 5 shopping bags of food – which adds up to 6.5tonnes of wasted food per year*. Part of the problem is our quest for perfect veg. This is why I love the Plan Toys Wonky Fruit and Veg set. These gorgeous wooden toys include a bendy courgette, a skewwhiff pear and a misshapen carrot, plus a toy knife to practise slicing skills. Talk about the beauty of imperfection with your kids, and – next time you’re in the supermarket, encourage them to look out for ‘wonky’ produce – several stores now offer bags of misshapen but just as tasty fruit and veg. My son likes the idea of ‘rescuing them’ and saving them from going to waste.

3) Play café

Toys: Honeybake Cafe Machine & Card Machine by Le Toy Van

Turn a cardboard box into a café. No craft skills required: just cut a hole two-thirds of the way up to make a ‘counter’ and decorate the box with felt tips and a café sign. There’s so much play value in a toy café. The kids can practise using the till and handling play money, take your order, play with different types of toy foods (include a mix of café treats, and healthy items, like toy fruit) and serve you, their friends or their favourite cuddly toys.

4) Kids and toys’ tea party

Honeybee Market – Baker’s Basket by Le Toy Van & Steep & Serve Tea Wooden Food Set by Melissa & Doug

Get the kids to throw a tea party for their cuddly toys, with a twist – there’s real food for the children, too. Lay out a mix of play fruit, veg and pretend treats, along with a tea set. Add some colourful snacks into the mix. Veggie sticks, wholemeal pitta strips, lentil crisps and cheddar cubes are all good options. They’ll be so involved in their imaginative play; they won’t notice that they’re eating a healthy tea at the same time.

5) Pizza play date

Pizza play date

Two for the price of one: a fun activity PLUS a low-stress dinner. Next time your child has a friend round after school or nursery, set up some bowls with a variety of healthy toppings. Colour is key: think sweetcorn, peppers, courgette slices, cherry tomatoes and diced red onions. Let them smear the bases with passata and then sprinkle on the toppings. Use bought bases, or – better still – make your own. I like this recipe for a no-yeast dough from food writer Amy Sheppard. Because there’s no proving time, you can make it together after school and shove the pizzas straight in the oven.

I hope these ideas encourage both you and your small humans to play with your food. Spend time cooking, creating and playing…and hopefully they’ll be polishing off their broccoli before you know it.

Source:

Love Food Hate Waste

How’s the January toy explosion going?

Were your kids gifted lots of toys at Christmas? How’s the house looking now? Messy? We hear you. It’s one of the reasons we created Whirli.

We spoke to lots of parents and one theme really stood out. Their children get gifted a LOT of toys at Christmas. Big ones, ones with lots of pieces, some they’re likely never to play with. Or play with just once. They’re gifted out of love and are greatly received, so you don’t want to tell friends and family not to bother. But, come January, it’s clear that some simply weren’t value for money. They take up space in your house, yet they’re not played with.

What’s the issue?

So when we created Whirli, we knew we needed to offer a gifting solution. A way in which friends and family can participate in toy swapping. We started by listing common stories:

  • kids like unwrapping! They don’t always appreciate a voucher.
  • sometimes kids receive duplicate or inappropriate gifts
  • parents can’t always predict what their kids will like or discard
  • parents wish they could spread these gifts across the year

Whirli Gifting Features

We then started feature building! The must-haves were to offer:

  • physical toys that can be gifted alongside a voucher
  • gifts that can be turned into Whirli credit and fund a subscription
  • gifts that can be swapped
  • a gift list that can be shared with friends and family

So when you think of your Whirli subscription, think how it can benefit your lifestyle across the year. How you can include friends and family, how you can cut down on waste and get the best value for money.

Next year when we ask “How’s January going?” hopefully your response will be “much better thanks!”

Top 5 toys for healthy living

January is the month to get our binge eating in check after over-indulging at Christmas. Everyone is eating salad, drinking green juice and getting back to their gym routine…not sure how long it’ll last at the Whirli HQ.

But, if you’re all about healthy living this month and want your kids to join you, I’ve compiled a list of toys that can help.

1) Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set by Melissa & Doug

Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set by Melissa & Doug
16 tokens

This colourful and realistic sushi making set is great for encouraging kids to try new food, not just sushi (there’s even wasabi). The bento box includes a variety of sushi they can pick up using chopsticks made with velcro, which makes it easy for their small hands to use. Not only does it improve fine motor skills but also allows them to learn how to use chopsticks.

2) Cutting Fruit Wooden Play Food Set by Melissa & Doug

Cutting Fruit Wooden Play Food Set by Melissa & Doug
15 tokens

There’s no better way to teach your kids to eat fruit than through imaginative play. They’ll love pretending to be a grown-up by preparing fruit. The chunky fruit pieces are held together by velcro so when the little chef cuts the fruit on the chopping board it makes a satisfying crunch noise. Healthy eating never seemed so fun 😋.

3) Honeybake Cafe Machine by Le Toy Van

Honeybake Cafe Machine by Le Toy Van
30 tokens

Coffee has great health benefits! Let the kids become accustomed to visiting coffee shops with this retro coffee maker. It even has a milk frother…need I say more? Next time you order coffee, they’ll ask for their babyccino.

Here’s a cute coffee cup teether for the little ones so they don’t feel left out.

Coffee Cup Teether by Fisher Price
5 tokens

4) Skipping Rope by Sunnylife

Skipping Rope by Sunnylife
12 tokens

Skipping is one of those classic fun activities that encourage kids to get off the couch and keep fit. Friends can also get involved in playing more complex games whilst singing skipping songs. When they’re done with it, you can have a go for an effective cardio exercise – tried and tested at the Whirli HQ. 

5) Honeybake Biscuit and Plate Set by Le Toy Van

Honeybake Biscuit and Plate Set by Le Toy Van
20 tokens

It’s all about having a balanced diet right? So we need a sweet treat once in a while. These colourful cookies might even inspire your little one to become a budding baker.

You can upgrade the fun and grab this Le Toy Van Honeybake Tea Set for café pretend play with friends and family. 

30 tokens

Also, January is filled with endless birthdays…so let’s face it…the kids are gonna treat themselves to ALL the party bag goodies.

What better way to encourage the kids to have a healthy start to the new year! You know the drill…when they’re done, swap the toys for something else 📦. 

Top 5 toys for December

The Christmas period is here which is fun but we know it can be a little bit daunting because you know your house will be flooded with gifts…sometimes duplicate or unsuitable ones. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with our gift list!

What’s a gift list?

It’s a new feature which allows you to create a gift list and share it with friends and fam. When they buy a toy from your list, it can turn into Whirli credit and fund your Whirli subscription. It’s not quite magic but it’s a great way to make this Christmas more affordable and less wasteful. Read more about it here.

Here’s our pick of the best toys to add to your gift list, starting from 7 tokens – because we know friends and fam don’t need to spend a fortune to give an awesome present.

1) A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
7 tokens

Christmas stories can be hit and miss, and it seems like it’s all been said before in a few classics. That’s why we can’t recommend this witty book enough from the award-winning writer Matt Haig. It tells the story of how an ordinary kid, Nikolas, came to become Father Christmas. It features magic, elves, trolls and kidnapping…need I say more? The kids will love it too!

2) Wooden Petilou Forest Stacker by Le Toy Van

Wooden Petilou Forest Stacker by Le Toy Van
15 tokens

This one’s great for quiet play. Your little ones will have fun trying to stack these colourful woodland creatures on top of one another, which is great for developing their problem-solving skills and encouraging colour recognition. When the kids are done with stacking them, they can introduce these creatures to small world play.

3) Hair Dresser Set by Plan Toys

Hair Dresser Set by Plan Toys
30 tokens

Kids will have hours of fun running their own salon and giving their parents and siblings (see pic below) a relaxing treatment. When both parents and siblings have had enough 😆, the little ones can then give their toys a trim before sending them back to Whirli. This kind of imaginative play will help kids develop their creativity and motor skills.

If they already have this set, how about trying the Dentist Set?

Little girl pretending to dry another child's hair
Time for a blow-dry

4) Space Mars Research Vehicle by Playmobil

Space Mars Research Vehicle by Playmobil
35 tokens

Our lovely subscribers love Playmobil…probably because we assemble all the sets before we deliver them, so they don’t have to. This set comes with plenty of accessories such as research tongs, readers and a drill to help kids detect other life forms in space. Oh, and it comes with a double space cannon just in case these aliens aren’t the peaceful type.

You can also upgrade the fun later and grab the other space sets like Space Mars Rover and Space Satellite Meteoroid Laser.

5) Mademoiselle Doll’s Pram by Janod

Mademoiselle Doll's Pram by Janod
70 tokens

Kids who love nothing more than pretending to be grown-ups will adore this cute and sturdy wooden pram – it even comes with a soft blankie for dolls! Playing with dolls help kids to develop their social skills and sense of responsibility – a great way to start teaching them how to look after younger siblings. The pram has an anti-tip system so even the little ones can use it a walker. #SharingIsCaring

Ah there we have it, a list of toys you can add to your gift list, ranging from 7 to 70 tokens. There’s still time to create your list to share with friends and fam to make this Christmas more affordable and less wasteful. You don’t even need be a subscriber to create a list, you just need an account.

One last thing, make sure you get your orders in by 18th December to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.

Gifts that fund your Whirli subscription

Spot the difference

One gift is bought from the high street.

The other is a Whirli gift, which can be turned into £11 Whirli credit.

Why buy brand new, when you can ask friends and family to buy your children a gift through Whirli, and fund your subscription?

Whirli Gift Lists

This week we launched Gift Lists. Lists created by you and shared with friends and family. You don’t even need be a Whirli subscriber to create a gift list, you just need an account.

Friends and family can buy a toy from your list, and when your child receives the toy, it comes with a code. You can then redeem that code on the Whirli website and turn it into Whirli credit.

For example:

A £10 toy = £10 Whirli credit = one month on Toy Sack

10 x £10 toys = £100 Whirli credit = Toy Sack yearly plan.

Why buy brand new when you can get better value through Whirli?

How do I add toys to my gift list?

Log in to your account (you simply need a Whirli account, you do not need to be a subscriber)

Click on the yellow heart, next to a toy.

If on a mobile device, you’ll be offered the choice to ‘Add to Another List’ at the bottom of the screen.

You can then select which list you would like to include or exclude this toy from.

How do I view my Gift List?

To view your gift list, select ‘Favourites’ from the menu at the top of the website. You will see 2 lists, ‘Favourite Toys’ and ‘Gift List’.

How do I share my gift list?

At the top of your gift list you will see a share button which will allow you to send to your friends and family using your preferred messaging app.

What happens if a friend buys a toy from my list?

The list will update for everyone, so you don’t receive duplicate gifts.

Can my child keep the toy?

Yes. Every toy bought through your gift list comes with a code. If you redeem the code on the Whirli website, it is turned into credit and will become part of your Whirli subscription.

If you don’t redeem the code, the toy is effectively yours to keep, forever.

How do I turn my gifted toy into Whirli credit?

Each gift order comes with a code. If you redeem that code, the toy will be turned into Whirli credit and added to your account. To redeem your code, just visit our website https://whirli.com/gift and tap on ‘Redeem Gift’.

Top 5 toys for November

It’s officially November which means it’s nearly Christmas (nobody panic 😱!). Luckily, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of toys to treat your little munchkins

1) Triclimb Pikler Triangle

Triclimb Pikler Triangle

This is on top of our list – a folding climbing frame with plenty of uses. It helps build your child’s strength and independence as they use the frame to stand, grip and climb. It also keeps babies entertained (just attach toys to the top rungs) and encourages imagination (throw a sheet over the top and voila you have a tent). We’re sold!

2.1) Fold n’ Go Arendelle Castle Playset

Has the tune to ‘Let it go’ been stuck in your head ever since your little one first watched Frozen? If so, the Fold n’ Go Arendelle Castle Playset and figurines of Elsa and Anna will go down a treat – watch as they re-enact their favourite scenes and make up new ones! Oh, and it’s fully portable so they can easily take it along to a friend’s house.

3) Quadrilla Castle Escape Marble Run by Hape

Withstanding the test of time, Marble Run is next on our list. As you’ll remember from being a kid, the setting up is part of the fun. Keep them entertained for hours as they get creative with construction and develop their problem-solving skills – do we spot a future architect?

4. Doll 3 in 1 Pram by A.B Gee

Doll 3 in 1 Pram by A.B Gee

Playtime just got a whole lot more realistic with this 3 in 1 pram. Let your child pretend to be mum or dad as they push their dolly around in this versatile pushchair. The carrycot and pushchair seat are interchangeable so that they can use the pram with dollies of every size. Now, you’ll have no trouble getting your youngster out and about for a walk.

5. Toniebox Starter Set by Tonies

Toniebox Starter Set by Tonies

Looking for something a bit different? Tonies Toniebox is the latest way to introduce your child to the world of audio and storytelling. Bringing play and storytime together, this sturdy little box, when paired with a cute Tonie Figurine, plays audiobooks, songs and even your own stories. Fire up their imaginations!

So, there you have it, our top toys for November. Treat your child to one of these and swap it when they’re done 🙌.

Top 5 toys for October

Halloween is lurking around the corner so we’re going with a spooky theme for this month’s list.

🎃 Here are some cool costume ideas for trick or treating and some frightfully fun toys to swap:

1) Sugar Skull Day of the Dead

Sugar Skull Day of the Dead`

In need of the perfect Halloween costume? Don’t bother buying one when the kids are only going to use it for one night. Instead, grab one from us and when they’re done, swap it for something else. Don’t worry, we’ll even wash the chocolate stains out for you when you return it 🍫. 

We love this because the colourful and floral costume from the Mexican tradition is a nice change from spooky skeletons. 

2) Skeleton Costume

Skeleton Costume

For a spookier (but funky) costume, opt for this glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume. The jumpsuit is super comfortable, perfect for running around and sneaking up on the neighbours. 

3) The Lion King Simba Furry Costume

The Lion King Simba Furry Costume

If you want something adorable, then you have to get this cute Simba jumpsuit. This is the perfect outfit for the little ones that are still obsessed with The Lion King. It’s also great for imaginative play around the house or simply re-watching the Lion King films for the 100th time. They’ll probably fall in love with this outfit…but it’s ok they can keep it forever 😍.

4) Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by Playmobil

Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by Playmobil

Once the kids have recovered from their sugar high, they can continue the spooky fun with this Ghostbuster set. The cute but creepy giant Marshmallow Man is menacing the whole neighbourhood, grabbing anyone and anything with his grubby hand. It’s the fearless Ghosbuster’s job capture this supernatural pest using his ecto goggles, proton pack and proton beam. Upgrade the fun and grab these sets too – Spengler with Ghost and Venkman with Terror Dogs.

Ghostbusters Spengler with Ghost

Ghostbusters Venkman with Terror Dogs

5) Scooby Doo Mystery Crew Figures

Scooby Doo Mystery Crew Figures

This list is incomplete without the loveable Scooby Doo from the popular cartoon classic. Kids will have a spooktacular time solving mysteries with the whole crew. This is also great for hours of imaginative play – they’ll love coming up with spooky scenarios with their siblings or friends. Just make sure to grab the groovy transforming mystery machine so they can chase the monsters and lock them up.

Scooby Doo Transforming Mystery Machine

So there you have it. There’s no need for last minute mummy loo roll Halloween costume 😂. Hope you and the kids have a great Halloween!

Reinventing kids’ birthday parties

5 ways to reduce birthday party waste

I had my first child in my early 30s and being the first in the family to have kids, the classic children’s birthday party was a distant memory to me. I’d forgotten the format, the protocol and all the stuff needed to make it an event.

There’s the venue, the presents, the gift wrap, the card, the cake, the invites, the food, the drink, the entertainment, the room decorations, the balloons, the party bags, the candles (don’t forget the matches!), the rsvps ….aghhhhh.

And I quickly realised how single-use they are. Other than the gifts themselves, and maybe the candles (if you save them), almost everything is thrown away and bought again the following year. It’s exasperating, expensive and wasteful.

So, on a mission to reduce how much I spend and make my life easier the following year, here’s 5 ways I reinvented the birthday party to make it better for the environment, my conscious and my pocket.

1. No more balloons

With most venues allowing minimal set up time, the majority of that time is used to blow up balloons. It probably ranks my least favourite job and leaves no time to do anything else. Balloons are also terrible for the environment and a hazard to wildlife. Bits of shredded plastic, usually tied with a long, plastic ribbon. Plus, if you want a dramatic helium display, they’re expensive. The average helium canister is around £20 and should be disposed of responsibly – not just chucked in the bin.

So this year I used tissue paper balls and paper fans. They come with a cardboard casing which protects the decoration when collapsed. And they are assembled in 1 second flat. All 30 balls were up in 5 minutes and when tied around the room, create such an impact. Then, at the end of the party, just collapse and store, ready for next year. Plus, they come in a range of amazing colours and designs.

Credit: Etsy

2. Invest in cotton bunting

This is also a time saver and looks awesome when up. I got myself some brightly coloured, fabric bunting. Simple to put up, easy to take down, then can be folded away for next year. Store it flat and you won’t even need to iron it the following year.

3. Make an entrance

If you’re holding the party at home and usually hang a wreath on your door over Christmas, reuse that hook to display a birthday wreath.

Credit: www.brit.co

Made from brightly coloured pom poms, they make a statement and as an alternative to balloons, they are a fun way to welcome your guests. A 2 second job to hang on the door and a 2 second job to take down. Store is in your new ‘party storage box’ and bring it out with everything else the following year.

4. Paperless invitations

Invites are usually the first thing to go in the bin. There’s lots of online invitation templates on the internet, some free, some paid. And if you like keeping invites as a momento, get one printed just for you.

5. Paperless gift wrap

Wrapping paper is ridiculously wasteful and to ensure it is strong enough, it is lined with plastic. So even if you pop it in your recycling, it is likely to be destined for landfill. There’s also the sticky tape to consider, which adds to the plastic waste.

So this is a big step, but wouldn’t it be great if we wrapped our gifts in fabric? In Japan they practice furoshiki.

Credit: www.musubilondon.co.uk

A cloth folding technique that makes even wrapped wine bottles look great (I’m not for one second suggesting a wine bottle is an appropriate gift for a child, merely that tricky shapes are easier wrapped in cloth!). Fabric is far easier to reuse than paper and if it gets a bit crumpled, get the iron out and it’s as good as new. Then when you receive a gift, you keep the cloth and use it to wrap one of your gifts. The fabric doesn’t have to be bought – it can be made from recycled fabric such as unused children’s clothing, charity shop scarves, or tea towels. It definitely takes a community to get the cyclical act of sharing and reusing each other’s fabric, but how amazing would this be if it was adopted by the mainstream.

Credit: www.mypoppet.com.au

So there you have it. I achieved tip 1 and 2 and 4 this year. Next year I may make myself a pom pom wreath and I’m considering fabric wrapping.

It’s also important to remember this isn’t about banning plastic. It’s about choosing things that can be reused. Plastic is especially hard wearing and is a great material to store and bring out year after year, so don’t dismiss it if it is the best option. But we do need to get out of this cycle of single use – whether that be plastic, foil or paper. So the next time you’re planning a birthday party, think about what you’re buying and if you’ll be throwing it away in a matter of days.

Top 10 toys for September

Summer is officially over, which means it’s time to swap the outdoor toys for fun indoor activities. But, what a relief that you don’t have to store those garden toys in the shed!

Here are our top 10 toys to swap:

1) Lion King Mighty Roar Simba Interactive Plush by FurReal

Lion King Mighty Roar Simba Interactive Plush by FurReal

Are your kids still on the Lion King hype? Then they’re going to love this interactive and cuddly Simba, perfect for imaginative play. The impressive part is he can challenge you to a roaring contest, which means you have to try and roar louder ⁠— great for anger management.

Also, if you had an awful day, you can pet him for some reassurance and he’ll say “you’re the best”.

2) The Lion King by Tonies

The Lion King by Tonies

How about listening to the Lion King Tonie for bedtime? It also has the classic singalongs like Hakuna Matata 😍.

Not sure what I’m raving about? A Toniebox is an audio player that plays songs and stories when you place the little figure (a Tonie) on the box. It’s one of the most exciting toys this year! Check it out here.

3) The Jungle Book by Tonies

The Jungle Book by Tonies

When you become sick and tired of hearing the kids sing Hakuna Matata ALL day 😩, I recommend trading the Lion King Tonie for this one. They’ll enjoy listening to Mowgli’s adventure of self-discovery as he is forced to flee the jungle back to human civilisation. 

4) Mindful Kids

Mindful Kids

You don’t need your kids to go on a retreat to India to learn about mindfulness. Teach them from the comfort of your couch with this deck filled with 50 creative and fun mindfulness games. It’ll help your kids feel calmer, improve focus and learn kindness 😌.

5) Air Balloon Mobile by Le Toy Van

Air Balloon Mobile by Le Toy Van

Mesmerise your baby with this mobile decorated with colourful shapes — helping them sleep so frazzled new mums and dads can relax a little bit 😅. Mobiles are one of those items that babies outgrow quickly, so get yours here and you can swap it for something else after.  

6) Family Fun Summer Camper by Playmobil

Family Fun Summer Camper by Playmobil

Summer Nostalgia is real. Treat it at its source by offering your kids this camping set. This campervan has EVERYTHING, from a fully equipped kitchen to surfboards, so it’ll cover all the cool activities they did – even the fry up they had for breakfast 🍳.

7) Timber Tumble by Plan Toys

Timber Tumble by Plan Toys

This game is a bit like Jenga, but the life of a cute beaver lies in your hands — no sweat. It’s a fun strategic game for the whole family. Each person takes a turn to push a log out from the dam using the stick, whilst making sure the beaver is balancing on. The one that balances the beaver for longest, wins. You can imagine how much patience this game will encourage as well as fine motor skills.

8) Stage Playset by Peppa Pig

Stage Playset by Peppa Pig

This is THE playset that will pull your kids away from the TV. They’ll have fun coming up with creative stories with this interactive stage. There’s so much detail to encourage imaginative play, including a variety of backdrops and sound effects. But the best bit is the hidden drawer which allows you to pack away all the accessories 😆.

9) Wobbel360 Board by Wobbel

Wobbel360 Board by Wobbel

If you loved the Wobbel Board, you need to try this too! It’s not just a balance spinning board, it can transform from an elephant’s back to a boat – that’s the beauty of open-ended play. This will fuel your kid’s imagination and allow them to express their creativity. Bonus point: it can support adults too, tried and tested in the office 🙌.

10) Baby Laptop by VTech

Baby Laptop by VTech

If your little one can’t get enough of playing (destroying) with your laptop, treat them to this one. It’s an interactive laptop that introduces them to uplifting music, animal noises and the alphabet. Overall, it provides a fun learning experience whilst bashing bright buttons (it’s sturdier than a MacBook). But the main reason we love this is you can control the volume so it won’t drive you mad 🙈.

Ah there we have it, our top toy recommendations to help say goodbye to summer. Hope you enjoy them!

Guest Post: Top 5 ways to be Zero Waste

Joy and Lyall run Sustainable Jungle and they’ve been sharing ways in which you can kick start zero waste living with their top 5 tips and tricks.

For the last two and a half years we’ve tried (and still try) to live a more sustainable life. Fine tuning the ways in which we do things, from buying groceries and clothes to throwing trash away and composting.

All in an effort to minimise our footprint and leave the world a better place.

Of course, the lifestyle we have now is very different to the one we started out with. We’ve made small (and big) tweaks along the way. Some have been easier than others and we took our time to make adjustments in almost every aspect of our lives. 

It’s been a purposeful journey and we like to think that we’re a little more conscious of our place in the world and the impact (positive or negative) that we’re capable of having.

This life of less waste or minimalism comes in a bunch of forms but for us it’s probably best expressed as zero waste living. It’s really an ideal, no one can ever truly be zero waste. But that’s missing the point. 

To quote the old adage, it’s the journey not the destination.

What is zero waste?

Zero waste is trending. Even if you haven’t got your pulse on the topic of sustainable living, it’s likely you’ve heard this phrase (somewhere) before. 

In a nutshell, the concept of zero waste is to send nothing to landfill. It’s a strategy or goal (however you like to put it) to eliminate waste. The “Circular Economy” or “Cradle to Cradle” is often used to describe this model as opposed to the mainstream approach of “Cradle to the Grave”. Single use plastics is probably the best example of the latter.

Without getting too technical, the aim of zero waste is to address the source of the problem. Be it a behavioural one that is habit driven or the way in which products are designed so as to be reused again and again. The result is that no waste is ever created. Much like the way mother nature operates. 

Currently, our means of dealing with the linear approach is to recycle. This, in contrast, focuses on the final result. The end of an item’s short or single-use life when it becomes trash. 

Unfortunately, recycling is not the answer. There are serious flaws with this “solution” and most of the world’s populous are completely unaware of this. 

Recycling is not zero waste

You may have been diligently recycling for years but in reality only about 12% of plastics are recycled. 40% goes into landfills and 32% makes its way into rivers, streams, waterways and eventually the ocean. 

We know. It’s hard to look past these disheartening figures and see a silver lining. We have certainly felt that way before and often there are times when we still do. 

But there is a way around this. It’s about focusing your attention in the right direction. It’s about what you can do, not on what the world isn’t. 

As we said, some call it zero waste, some call it sustainable living or just living a less wasteful life. However you like to frame it, it’s the response, on an individual level, to change the status quo. That is to change your habits, your way of life into a more sustainable one. 

Zero Waste Tips and Tricks

1. Reusable cups and flasks

It’s ditching the disposable coffee cups and handy bottles of water for a stainless steel one that will last forever. Store it in your bag on your way to work, or in the bottom of your pram so you don’t forget it. Remember, you can always refill your water flask using your nearest refill water station, rather than buying another bottle.

2. Remember your bag for life

It’s a tricky habit to get into but store it in the bottom of the pram, or pop a small bag at the bottom of your work bag, so you always have one to hand. Once you get into this habit, it’ll always be there when you need it.

3. Composting food waste

It’s not a widely known fact but food dumped in landfill mixes with non-organic material and produces methane. Correctly disposing of your food waste to reduce not only the trash going to landfill but also carbon emissions is a very environmentally effective and cost effective alternative. Many councils now offer a food waste disposal service or get yourself a composting bin in the garden.

4. Reusable cloths

Stop, stop, stop using wet wipes, facial cleansing wipes, cotton wool, paper towels, disposable dish cloths, disposable household cleaning wipes. They either contain plastic or are wrapped in plastic and are terrible for the environment and our sewers. Instead buy a set of washable cloths that can be reused again and again. Top tip: buy them in different colours, sizes or textures so you know which ones should be used where. For example, pink cloths are for the face and hands, orange ones are for babies bottoms and green ones are for washing the dishes!

5. Don’t buy brand new

Think about what you need to own and what you can borrow. Do we need to own everything that we own? There are many companies out there giving consumers the option to rent items rather than own them. Great examples are to rent clothing, furniture, tools, baby clothes and of course toys!

Start slowly but start now

There are so many small (and big) changes that each of us can make that will overtime have a huge impact. The hardest part of this journey is the start. It can seem overwhelming and many think that it takes a lot of work to be “zero waste” or to live a sustainable life. But nobody is truly “zero waste” or living a perfectly sustainable life. We’re all somewhere on the spectrum. 

The point is to just get going and move in the right direction. However small and however slowly. Our suggestion: start small and with one habit. Once you’ve built that into your daily routine, then add another and then another and before you know it, you’ll be looking back over the last while and realise how different your lifestyle has become. And just adding up all the positive changes you’ve made, you’ll see how big of an impact even just one person can have in the world. 

We’ve found this journey to be fulfilling and purposeful, so much so that we even created our own blog about it. 

Just remember, every choice you make, from the products you buy to the brands you choose to support is casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in.

Joy & Lyall