How to Parent Plastic-Free

Our blog on plastic free with a baby gives tips for how to tackle nappies, wipes and bottles, but as a parent of older children, you’ll probably find yourself fighting a rising tide of plastic in the form of toys, clothing fabrics, and snack packaging. As always, there are solutions – here are some tips for plastic free parenting.


As blogger Bettina (@plasticfreeHackney) says, “Bringing up kids these days can seem like you’ve signed up to a plastic tat subscription service”. The marketing is relentless, and sometimes it’s just a case of saying no. But choosing to buy second hand – from NCT sales, charity or preloved shops (eg Daisy Daisy in Wotton-under-Edge or Kidstuff in Brimscombe nr Stroud – both good for kids’ clothes too) – is a great way to minimise new plastic.

Hand-me-downs are invaluable, and look out for local toy libraries – in Gloucestershire these are in short supply, but do ask your local council as new services sometimes become available. Make your own too – let the kids raid the recycling box, or get out into nature to find loose parts for play. And if you do need to buy something new, search out the great range of ethical, plastic free toys that are now on the market.


Many modern textiles are plastic based, and as with toys, second hand and hand-me-downs are easy ways to avoid buying new. Even natural fabrics such as those made from cotton and bamboo have their own environmental footprint, so buy with care, choosing organic wherever possible, and looking out for textiles that incorporate recycled materials.

Packed lunches and snacks

Your local zero waste shop is your friend when it comes to plastic free snacks and packed lunches – dried fruit, nuts, popping corn, granola bar mixes, and so on. Beeswax wraps can be folded into handy pockets, and a lunch box with divided sections is helpful for avoiding the need to wrap different items.

Anne-Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef, has great suggestions for plastic free snacks and Greenify Me have 33 more. Getting the kids involved in the baking is a great way to instil good habits, and older kids can make their own.

Read more on plastic free parenting

12 gifts for kids that aren’t stuff
City to Sea’s guide to plastic free parenting
Greenpeace: 9 Ways to reduce plastic and get sustainable in pregnancy and parenting
Friends of the Earth: Plastic free kids
VIDEO: What my kids eat in a day – from zero waste blogger, Mamalina
VIDEO: Plastic free parenting

Image Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash