“What is your biggest struggle with being sustainable with your kids?”
Our final major sustainability with kids challenges came to us in the form of a room… the bathroom to be exact! From top to tail, teeth to toenails, sustainable options are few and far between, but here are some of our suggestions on how to green up your little’s loo.
One of the biggest challenges in the bathroom, is not just the amount of plastic a bathroom ritual can require, it’s the fact that most Brits don’t properly recycle their bathroom waste. That’s right we recycle approx. 90% of our kitchen packaging, but only 50% from the bathroom.
Our #1 tip for making an impact… Add a recycle bin to your bathroom!
Next, it’s time to reduce some of the plastic items that come with this territory. It’s not easy, the bathroom is a plastic labyrinth!
In the Bath:
Getting Clean: Well…for kids in the UK there’s only one clear plastic free choice really. And that’s your’s truly - Rowdy Kind, the UK’s first zero waste skincare brand for kids! Our range covers everything from Hair to Toe, plus some bubbles for fun - Check us out!
- Quut - design and develop sustainable, strong and smart toys. All products are BPA, Phthalates, latex free and recyclable.
- Begin Again - At their Colorado workshop, their team of toy designers love the challenge of creating memorable play that is made from plants instead of plastics.
- Plan Toys - operates based on their “Sustainable Way” promise - which includes Sustainable Material, Sustainable Manufacturing and a Sustainable Mind.
- Oli & Carol - hand make a selection of eco friendly toys from natural rubber for your littler ones.
- Lanco - make a wide range of rubber ducks, from classic to comical from natural rubber
Many of these are available at known retailers across the UK such as Babipur and Kidly, as well as our friends Envirotoy - a UK based independent shop with a Plastic Free Promise (even the packaging!).
*** Stay tuned… we will be offering some soon too!***
This is an area that LOADS of you said you want to make more sustainable, but are really nervous about making the right choice - teeth aren’t something you want to experiment with! We felt the same, so we spoke to a dentist, asked the NHS and got in contact with the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists.
Here’s where we netted out:
Visit and Listen to your Dentist first!
Number 1: less than 60% of kids visit the dentist every year. So before you make any switch in your little’s dental routine, get those pearly whites looked at by a pro and ask their advice!
Studies have shown that for manual toothbrushes it’s not the design that matters, but the technique (read here). So if your kid is an awesome brusher with a plastic toothbrush they will do a great job with a bamboo one too! The crucial issue we were told was brush head size, it must be small enough to reach comfortably into the cramped spaces at the back of the mouth. Our sustainable swap recommendation is Truthbrush for a beautifully designed mini bamboo brush!
BUT what if your kiddo isn’t getting passing grades on their brushing? That’s why many dentists continue to recommend electric toothbrushes for kids. Happy days! There are now heads for your electric toothbrush that tick the sustainability boxes (or are a big improvement - and progress is half the game)! LiveCoco operates their own closed loop recycling system for electric brush heads, including for kids. If your kid is a little older they may be very comfortable with adult brush heads, in which case Truthbrush makes a fully bamboo sonic head.
In the search for sustainable toothpaste, the issue of fluoride came up in our research… a lot. Although some people are worried about fluoride, we were told by the experts that fluoride is a must-have in a kids’ toothpaste, and definite no-no’s include abrasive alternatives such as baking powder or charcoal, or whitening toothpastes.
The NHS recommends fluoride at a minimum of 1000ppm for kids up to 6 years old, and this recommendation is backed up by many studies (*Watch out, many eco alternatives do not have this amount!) There are some great resources and visuals HERE on how much toothpaste children up to 6 should be using. They also say you can use a "family" toothpaste - one with about 1350-1500ppm of fluoride, just follow their guidance on how much to use at each age (a smear for littles, a pea-sized amount for bigger kids)
The challenge becomes finding a sustainable solution that will also do the proper job! But there are some options out there to improve your paste:
Happier at 1450ppm provides a familiar, yet superior, solution to single used plastic tubes - their toothpaste tubes are aluminium! The cap is still plastic, but they offer pre-paid postage to return them for reuse and a smart little key to help you get every last bit out of the tube - brilliant! They don't use SLS, triclosan, parabens, petrochemicals, colours, artificial flavours or artificial sweeteners. Its ingredients stack up against most kids' toothpastes too, minus some of the PEGs and artificial sweeteners. It is an adult paste, so the taste may be too strong for some kiddos palate, and be sure to adhere to the quantity advice on the NHS website.
From 7 and up your child can be a bit more independent and rely on a stronger fluoride toothpaste. If you’re keen to ditch the tubes, these Eco-Living toothpaste tablets are made in the UK and have fluoride at 1450 ppm.
If you’re worried about Fluorosis, studies show that your child would have to swallow toothpaste regularly in order to have this impact their teeth. Dr Anne-Marie Glenny said, ‘the risk of tooth decay and its consequences such as pain and extractions is greater than the small risk of fluorosis. Children would have to swallow a lot of toothpaste over a long period of time to get the severe brown mottling on the teeth.'
The NHS recommends kids regularly floss from 12 years old, and many dentists recommend starting even earlier to get in the habit. Luckily, you can now get bamboo floss picks and interdental brushes which in addition to not being made of plastic have a blunter end then the plastic ones so your kids are less likely to do inadvertent damage to themselves with the pointy bit!
Other Bathroom Bits & Bobs:
Though kid specific solutions can be a bit harder to find, they also use less products in the bathroom overall (Phew), bath time cleansing and oral care are the biggies! But, to finish off here are some final options we found to replace the remaining plastic bits and bobs:
- Hairbrushes - Swap to bamboo, like one from the wide variety offered from Peace with the Wild
- Hair ties - Yep, these have plastic too! Try these plastic free ones from Tabitha Eve
- Sun Cream - Okay, this could be a whole other blog, reef safe, not reef safe, cancer causing ingredients - sunscreen is a whole other can of worms. We recommend you check out Shade for a natural, high quality, and of course plastic free option!
- Face Cloths & Wipes - I’ve never gone through so many paper towels as when my toddler started eating.. Wowza. The smart swap here is to buy re-useable faceclothes and wipes which are readily available online and in store.
- Toilet Paper - Not kid specific, but another plastic wrapped culprit. Luckily more and more options are popping up such as: Who Gives a Crap (We do!) and Bumboo. Or take another peek down your regular supermarket isle. We hear tell of some recycled toilet paper now being available in paper not plastic, but it may not yet be available in your local store (for example Sainsburys)
- Diapers - I know what the cloth bum mums are thinking right now… “BUT WHAT ABOUT DIAPERS.” The reality is, this wasn’t something that parents flagged to us as a struggle. Perhaps because there’s already a well known solution (cloth!) that people are well aware of. So we didn’t dive into diapers this time (teeth was a big enough adventure for now)... but there will no doubt be a diaper blog in our future!
So that’s a wrap on our four part Sustainability Struggles & Solutions blog series! We hope you learned half as much as we did researching for it.
Thanks for following along with us!
Kate & Anne Marie