5 great alternative products for eco-living
Kate Meads has been an advocate for the earth for many years, running workshops right around the country on cloth nappies and waste-free parenting.
These ideas are just a few suggestions to get you thinking about ways you can make a change to limit the impact you’re having on this precious earth. Don’t be daunted – if you take care of the small things, the big things will take care of themselves.
It has taken my family years to achieve what we have and it was baby steps all the way. I’m doing pretty well at living sustainably, but I am not perfect. I drive a V8 for goodness sake.
However, in my day-to-day life I try to make resourceful choices and do my best to have less impact on the planet. I see around 5000 families each year through my workshops and I’ll be happy if I can inspire those families to do just one thing differently. It is not about feeling guilty, it is about making the effort to change something. If every person makes one small change each day, the results over time will be huge.
Reusable food pouches and wraps
Food is one of the biggest culprits of needless packaging. If you use plastic zip-lock bags you can certainly get more than one use out of them with a simple rinse and dry, but if you want an even sturdier alternative, try pouches like the Kai Carrier. They can be reused around 40 times and are also dishwasher and microwave safe. Just pop in your fresh, homemade foods, including yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetable purées, and freeze or store in the fridge for a few days. I also send my son, Daniel, off to school with his crisps packed in a reusable Kai Carrier snack pack.
Tupperware is an oldie but a goodie. I have a set of containers I purchased at a Tupperware party when Daniel was just a baby and we still use them for crackers and fresh fruit in his school lunchbox.
But the real game changer for me is beeswax wraps. These are a really exciting addition to my kitchen and have changed how we store our food. Plastic wrap is no longer welcome at our place, instead we use beeswax wraps to cover cheese and leftovers. Check out honeywrap.co.nz, beewrapt.co.nz or littlbit wraps.
Reusable breast pads
On average disposable breast pads will cost you $0.78c per change where as a set of three reusable pairs of pads costs around $15-$30. One of my favourite websites for everything to do with your breasts is breastmates.co.nz. A number of cloth nappy companies also make reusable breast pads; check out peapods.co.nz and cheekycherubs.co.nz.
Of course, I have to mention them; I am The Nappy Lady after all. Today’s cloth nappies are easier than ever before. No pins or folding and you don’t have to soak them or bleach them. They work just like a disposable nappy but instead of throwing it in the bin you throw it in the washing machine.
The average baby will go through around 6000 nappy changes. The great thing about cloth nappies is that even if you only use them a couple of times a day when you’re at home, you are still making a significant difference. Over one year those two cloth nappies will prevent 730 disposables from going to landfill. That’s the equivalent to 22 bags full of rubbish. It makes sense and it makes cents.
Reusable menstrual products
I love talking about these at my workshops because I always get really interesting reactions. Yes, there are modern reusable menstrual products and I know you're probably thinking - "how gross!"
The cool thing is that they are nothing like they used to be. Years ago when you got your monthly they called it your 'rags' because that is exactly what women used. There are now modern versions of ‘rags’ which are reusable menstrual pads, or ‘mama pads’ as they are sometimes known. Many places make them or import them but the brands I am most familiar with are, Glad Rags, Love your Muff and cloth-nappy makers Charlie Banana.
The other option is a reusable menstrual cup. I started using one of these around ten years ago and they are amazing. It is a little cup that you insert and it catches the blood.
I used to suffer from terrible cramps when I got my period and since using the Diva cup this has completely stopped. I have saved myself at least $1200 over the time I have been using the Diva cup and I have prevented a huge amount of sanitary waste from going to landfill, too. There are loads of different types, costing anywhere from $20-$70 each depending on the brand, and they are a fantastic long-term investment. Check out environmenstruals.co.nz, mamacloth.co.nz, or ecomoon.co.nz.
Reusable drink bottles
In recent years there’s been something of a revolution with water. I admit to being guilty of it – buying a bottle every time I stopped at the service station, but when I realised I was paying more per litre for bottled water than I was for petrol, I decided enough was enough.
The best option is to buy a good quality, reusable water bottle and fill it yourself. I made a significant investment last year purchasing an ECOtanka bottle for each member of the family. I made sure mine would easily fit into my handbag and now I take it with me everywhere.
Find out when Kate is coming to your town by visiting her at thenappylady.co.nz.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 29 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW