Mother and son kayak together on Grand Lake, Colorado. The boy is wearing a Frugi sun hat.

Eco-Friendly Sun Protection

With the school summer holidays fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and sunny days with high UV exposure continuing year-round in the Southern Hemisphere, I thought it a good opportunity to write a short post on staying safe in the sun and choosing eco-friendly sun cream, hats and swimwear for the whole family.

 


Eco-Friendly Sun Cream…               Sunscreen…Suntan Lotion…Sunblock…

Since Theo was 3 months and experienced his first strong sun (he was born in the winter in the U.K. so he had to wait a few months!), we have been big fans of Green People’s Organic Children Sun Lotion SPF30.

Made from natural ingredients and containing ‘no nasties’, this eco-friendly sun cream has been gentle on his allergy-induced eczema-prone skin, and is safe for corals and marine life. He has never suffered with redness or burn so it seems to offer good protection (it’s advertised as offering high protection against UVA and UVB rays, with 97% UVB protection). Despite being thick, it isn’t greasy and it’s easier to apply and rub in than many of the other baby sun cream brands.

I recently came across this article, written in 2014, and contacted Green People for a response; I haven’t heard back! I believe they have changed any misleading advertising since this was printed. We’ve certainly not had any problems with it!

We really like the Organic Children Aloe Vera Lotion and After Sun as well.

 

Eco-Friendly Sun Hats

I have two requirements when choosing a sun hat for Theo: it must shade his face adequately and it must secure under his chin (because keeping a hat on a baby/toddler without a chin strap is a battle I can do without!). I have found two ethical brands that meet these specifications and have become firm favourites.

Frugi is a British children’s clothing company founded on the highest environmental and social standards. They use GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton, as well as recycled plastic bottles and natural rubber for their rainwear. No chemicals, no hazardous pollutants, a fair wage and safe working environment for all their factory workers, and they work with factories to ensure water and energy consumption are kept to a minimum. They also donate 1% of their annual turnover to charity, including one children’s charity, one community charity and one environmental charity.

We have a lots of Frugi clothing and I love their Little Dexter hat with velcro tie, available in sizes newborn-4 years. We used last year’s Little Dexter hat every day during the summer so I immediately bought the next size up when they released this year’s collection (remembering that our seasons are opposite so I size up ready for later in the year)! The velcro’s really soft so didn’t bother or scratch Theo at all but I also found it to be very secure, even in Canterbury’s high winds!

We also use Frugi’s Little Swim Legionnaires hat at the beach. It has a large, soft brim and a great neck cover, and has a UPF 50+ rating, making it a great eco-friendly sun hat. While it doesn’t have a chin tie, it is elasticated for a good fit so it stays put!

If you’re looking for something with an even wider brim, Sunday Afternoons, an American family-run company, make a range of great eco-friendly sun hats with a focus on the highest sun protection. We really like the Clear Creek Boonie, which has an adjustable under-chin strap, UPF 50+ rating and a soft structured brim. What I really like about this company is that they donate to environmental and social causes that protect the landscape and support a love of the outdoors among the next generation.

 

Eco-friendly Sun and Swimwear

Theo’s last two swimming costumes have been Frugi. Even when subjected to regular sun, salt water and chlorine, I’ve been really impressed with how long they last. They offer good coverage and, like the hats, have a UPF 50+ rating. They zip at the back, come in lovely fun designs, and don’t have poppers on the inside legs. This obviously means harder nappy access but can be better once babies are mobile; I found that once Theo started crawling poppers always came undone anyway and were more hassle than they were worth. When he’s toilet trained, we may have to rethink as he wouldn’t be able to use the toilet without our help undressing.

When Theo was a newborn (he started swimming a minimum of weekly from 5 weeks) until about 6 months, he got cold in the water very quickly so I chose swimwear that offered a bit more warmth. Close Pop-In do a range with fleece lining: the baby cosy suit, and the toddler snug suit. Both have poppers at the crotch for easy nappy changes or toileting, the cosy suit opens fully at the front with Velcro and has a built in swimming nappy, and the snug suit has a zip at the back. Word of warning, these are sized quite small so size up if you’re unsure!

We have used both Pop-Ins and Tots Bots swimming nappies. In my opinion, Pop-Ins are better for babies, Tots Bots are better for toddlers. Pop-Ins are a tighter fit around the thighs so are harder to get on a wriggly toddler but offer a bit more of a barrier against those pre-weaning explosions!

For adult swimwear, there are lots of eco brands on the market but personally I find a lot of them quite drab looking. I like Jets, an Australian company whose products are all certified by Ethical Clothing Australia, ensuring that workers’ rights are protected throughout the supply chain. Sustainable manufacturing and the use of recycled materials in their fabric is central to the brand.

 


Enjoy the sunshine but remember to stay safe and look after our oceans! For some other suggestions on how to have an eco-friendly family holiday, check out this post on 20 ways to travel sustainably.

 

Eco-sun-protection Eco-sun-protection
Cheakamus-Lake-Whistler-Canada-breastfeeding

Parenting on the road for happy family travels

D

o you long to travel as a family with your infant or toddler but find yourself hesitating because you fear how the sudden change in environment and lack of routine will impact them? What does parenting on the road look like?

The perceived stress of travelling with young children, the fear of disrupting a routine, and uncertainty around parenting away from the home environment are common barriers to taking that much dreamed of trip.

Parenting is all about adapting and responding to the needs of your child, and this is no different when you’re travelling.

For most children, the only requirement for optimal cognitive, psychological and physical development is a caregiver who is available to consistently meet their physiological and psychological needs.

If you are able to provide for your child and offer a safe environment and relationship from which they can develop the independence to explore the world, you are the only constant they need to travel happily.

Theo is now well accustomed to life on the road, long flights and car journeys lasting multiple days. He has seen more of the world than the average toddler and has had experiences that many adults are still waiting to tick off their bucket list.

Although he has demonstrated himself to be a natural traveller and he takes it all in his stride, like all children, he can get grumpy when he’s tired, overstimulated, bored or hungry. Parenting is all about adapting and responding to the needs of your child, and this is no different when you’re travelling.

 

We remain flexible, our plans change, and we choose activities that we will all enjoy. While we’re travelling, every day is different, we regularly jump time zones, we rarely stay in one place for longer than a week, and we have absolutely no routine with regards to eating, sleeping or anything else for that matter.

This lifestyle works for all of us and we all adapt easily, but I have no doubt that three elements of our parenting approach assist Theo in adjusting to the chaos of travel, and help him feel safe and secure in an ever-changing environment: breastfeeding, babywearing, and bed sharing.

This is what works for us. Remember that not every child is the same and this won’t necessarily be right for all families; follow medical advice relevant to you, listen to your own child’s cues and be their constant source of comfort and support, however works best for them.


Breastfeeding

I am still feeding Theo on demand, anywhere and everywhere. He feeds multiple times a day and if he’s unwell, teething or just a bit out of sorts, it can feel like I’m doing nothing but feeding him, all day long and then all night.

 

Although sometimes exhausting, this is exactly why I do it; he obviously feels he needs it more during these times and, as a parent, I am there to support him through life’s ups and downs.

As he gets older, his problem-solving capabilities and strategies for regulating his emotions will obviously become more sophisticated, but at this moment, breastfeeding helps him deal with the emotional turmoil of toddlerhood.

I include travel in this sentiment; every day he is taking in a whole host of new information, some sensory, some emotional and some hypothesis-driven. This can be a lot to process for such a little person, and some time to connect with Mum and feel safe in arms is often just what the doctor ordered.

 

Breast milk is amazing. It not only contains exactly the right balance of nutrients, antibodies and hormones for the child for whom it is intended, but it also changes according to circadian rhythms and over the length of an entire breastfeeding journey in order to meet the child’s individual needs at different times of day and at different stages of development.

Breast milk can soothe pain, fight illness and induce sleep so it makes sense that Theo increases his breast milk consumption when he feels under the weather, particularly if he doesn’t feel up to eating much solid food, and I can rest assured that he is getting everything he needs until he feels better.

Breastfeeding is not just about the physical need for milk though. No, Theo no longer needs breast milk to support his physical development, but this doesn’t mean it is the right time to stop as he clearly still benefits from all that breast milk offers him and feels comforted by the act of breastfeeding.

 

I am a firm advocate of child-led practices, whether it be play, eating meals, separating from primary caregivers to sleep or to be left with an alternate caregiver, selecting one’s clothes, or indeed weaning from the breast. Every child is different and it is important to follow their lead. Theo will let me know when he is ready to wean by refusing an offered feed and/or failing to ask for milk.

Weaning should be done without tears or distress, and it shouldn’t be received as a punishment. Certainly, refusing Theo milk now would cause him great upset and I’m sure would leave him wondering what he had done to be denied. When he is ready, he won’t bat an eye at a missed feed.


Babywearing

I have a variety of slings, wraps and carriers that get used daily (we have used a pram/stroller maybe a dozen times since Theo was born).

As a newborn and until Theo was about 4 months, a stretchy wrap was ideal for everything apart from hiking so I used a buckle carrier as well (the Ergobaby 360 Performance).

I then moved on to woven wraps, ring slings and a mei-tai (I love Little Frog’s woven wraps and ring slings).

Since the age of about 18 months, my preference has been buckle carriers (we’ve got a lot of use out of our Connecta and Connecta Solar). For longer, harder treks, we also have a sturdy backpack-style carrier (an Osprey Poco AG Premium).

 

Being carried in a sling has always been Theo’s favourite place to snuggle for a nap, and this remains unchanged. When the world is buzzing around you, a sling offers the peace of a rhythmic heartbeat drowning out the chaos, the warmth of being held in a tight embrace, and the comforting smell of a caregiver.

 

I tend to carry Theo on my front facing me as I prefer that we are able to socially engage with eye contact, smiles, conversation and by pointing out elements of our surroundings to one another, but we do also back-carry and forward-face on occasion.

When he is not napping, being carried in a sling is still a time to connect with me, not just physically, but also by being engaged in social interaction that helps him figure out his changing environment.

 

If you choose to carry your child, remember to always follow the TICKS rules for safe babywearing.


Bed sharing

We have bed shared with Theo since birth, following safe co-sleeping recommendations.

Although it wasn’t our intention to bed share before he was born, it was clear that he was much happier being close to us, it was easier to soothe him through the pain of multiple allergies and silent reflux, and it has undoubtedly supported our breastfeeding journey.

When he was really little, we found using a Sleepyhead pillow in our bed gave us peace of mind and we were easily able to stuff it in a suitcase. Along with our stretchy wrap, it was one of our best buys for those early months! He outgrew this at about 6 months (around the same time you might ditch a Moses basket/bassinet) and since then he has just slept directly in our bed.

 

Whenever he decides that he’s ready to sleep on his own, there will be a room waiting for him, but for now, we all get a better night’s sleep when we’re cuddled up together so it works for our family.

It has also made travelling a lot easier, not to mention cheaper. There’s no need to lug a travel cot around, we avoid any potential excess baggage fees, and we can book cheaper accommodation with only one bed.

For Theo, it doesn’t matter where we’re sleeping or that he doesn’t recognise the room; he knows that I’m right next to him. If he wakes in the night, there’s no need to cry out for me, or sleepily wander unfamiliar corridors in search of us; he just reaches over for a cuddle.


All children are different and although the practices of breastfeeding, babywearing and bed sharing are wonderful for us and help Theo feel safe wherever we are, they may not be the right choice, or indeed a choice that is available, for every family. Follow your child.

Some children will find a lack of routine, an unexpected change in environment and periods of transition difficult regardless of how you try to comfort and reassure them.

If this is the case for your child, I recommend creating a storybook appropriate for the age and development of your child, and reading this frequently in the run up to your trip. Include pictures and simple words to depict your family packing your belongings, waving goodbye to your home, details of your journey and chosen method of transport, your destination and what you will do there, and when you will return. If possible, print images of wherever you’ll be staying so you can talk about the area and even the room they will be sleeping in, but make sure that whatever you include in the story, you are able to stick to!

I wish you happy travels with happy little ones!


Where can I buy the items mentioned in this post?

The in-text links will take you to the item listing on Amazon. I receive a small commission if you buy something using these links (but not if you leave the page and then go back to it later). This enables me to keep writing this blog and producing useful information.

When choosing a baby carrier, I recommend finding a sling library near you so that you can try out different options and figure out what you find most comfortable and will work best for your needs.


I am a Clinical Psychologist and wrote this article from both a professional and personal perspective. I am, as always, happy to hear from readers so don’t hesitate to send me a message with any questions. However, if you have any concerns about your child(ren) with regards to anything mentioned in this article, please speak to your doctor.
This article was written for and first published by The Natural Parent Magazine
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20 tips for sustainable travel

With 2018 just around the corner, are you looking for some worthwhile new year’s resolutions?

Do you want to be mindful of the environment when you travel and make choices that will reduce your footprint? Perhaps this feels overwhelming or you’re unsure where to start? Perhaps, like Scott from The Line Trek, you are sceptical about eco lodging and wonder whether it’s worth the extra cost, but still want to do your bit? (You can find some great suggestions for eco destinations that are definitely worth it here!)

I asked a few fellow travel bloggers for their sustainable travel tips and together we came up with this fantastic list, ideal for some new year’s resolutions as we head into 2018!

Being green doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming; many of these ideas are free or of minimal cost, and won’t take any time at all, leaving you to enjoy your travels with a clear conscience.

We can all chip in by making small changes in our every day lives. Sustainable travel is something we can all aspire to!


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First up, Scott suggests practising ‘random acts of earth kindness‘:

“While hiking in El Chalten, Argentina (Patagonia) recently, I witnessed a man carrying a plastic bag and picking up random small trash as he was hiking. ‘What a brilliant (AND FREE) idea’, I thought. (Though I must admit that my husband has been throwing away random trash at beaches for quite a few years now). Next time you’re walking down the street and you see that candy wrapper lying on the ground, don’t just shake your head… pick it up!!”

What a great idea! Theo, at age 2, is already a determined litter-picker. He knows that we never leave rubbish behind and that it needs to be sorted into the correct bin, so you can see that it bothers him when he finds rubbish on the street, at the beach or in the playground, and he’ll happily carry it with him until he can dispose of it properly. We teach him about the importance of looking after our planet and it’s great to see him developing good habits already.

 

Emma from Small Footprints, Big Adventures also collects rubbish from the beach with her family. She comments that it’s sad how much they find, but it’s a great lesson for her two children . If you have kids that enjoy a bit of fun family competition, why not turn it into a game to see who can collect the most?


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Continuing the bag theme, Scott suggests ‘BYOB‘:

“No, not ‘bring your own beer’, you lush! Bring your own bag.” A cloth shopping bag takes very little space in your suitcase or backpack, and can easily be carried with you daily. You’ll have a convenient tote for groceries and will cut down on single use plastic bags that are littering cities across the globe, sitting in landfill for centuries and destroying ocean wildlife.

Emma points out that having cloth bags handy is useful, not only for shopping, but also for storing and transporting laundry.

Like these guys, I keep a spare cloth tote in my handbag at all times so I’m never caught out.

I also recommend taking reusable fresh produce bags to both supermarkets and farmers’ markets (I like these from The Rubbish Whisperer) so you never have to use plastic bags. They’re small, lightweight and easy to stuff in a bag for the day just in case you stumble across a market on your travels.

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Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups:

Use a stainless steel water bottle and refill it rather than buying bottled water. I love our Klean Kanteens, particularly the insulated ones that keep water cold throughout the day (we have a 20oz in ‘Bamboo Leaf’ green and a 32oz in ‘Winter Lake’ blue, both of which are great for hiking and other sports). They have a range for the whole family with a variety of size and lid options. Theo has his non-insulated Kid Kanteen bottles in place of a traditional sippy cup, his insulated one has been ideal for taking out on hot days, and we also get a lot of use out of the 10oz cups (they’re great if you’re at all worried about breakages on hard floors in an airbnb, in restaurants and on patios).

 

If you’re travelling somewhere with no access to clean tap water, rather than buying single-use plastic bottles, take the time to either boil your water first, or treat it with water purification tablets.

If you absolutely must buy bottled water, consider getting one large bottle to share rather than an individual one for each member of the family.

 

Take away coffee cups can’t be recycled as they have a plastic layer on them, which can’t be separated during the recycling process. Klean Kanteen to the rescue again!

The insulated ones are just as good at keeping drinks hot as they are at keeping them cold. They don’t leak and they will keep your drink at the right temperature ALL day. Coffee shops tend to also give discounts if you supply your own cup, so this is a double win!

If you’re a coffee shop addict or are planning a trip somewhere cold and would like to have a warm drink to sip on while you’re out and about, consider using one of these 16oz wide lid ones (we have it in ‘Roasted Pepper’ red). It’s also great for smoothies and storing ice lollies for the kids…and the big kids!


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Continuing the beverage theme, say “no” to straws:

 

Unless you have a medical need for them, straws are totally unnecessary. But, for some reason, on occasion we like sipping our drinks through a tube, and I’ve never met a child who doesn’t enjoy using a straw. So, I always have a couple of stainless steel straws in my handbag. We love our U-Konserve straws.

I’m always ready to refuse a plastic straw but have learnt that you need to speak up quickly (particularly in countries where it is customary to give iced water to customers as soon as they walk in the door, which I love but I wish they’d ditch the straw!), and that sometimes you will be left feeling frustrated when you’re given one anyway or they remember for the adults but bring water for kids in a disposable cup with a disposable lid and straw (why?!?).

According to National Geographic, Americans alone use 500 million straws daily. While these small, lightweight bits of plastic seem fairly innocuous, they are having a catastrophic effect of marine wildlife.

You just have to look at our beaches to know that straws don’t get recycled and many will end up in the ocean. Fish, shellfish, mammals and sea birds consume them (meaning they also end up in our food chain, which you can read more about here), and sea life gets entailed in them (you may remember this horrible video of scientists removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nose after it went viral in 2015 – please note that this footage is distressing).

 

So, say “no” to straws.

‘What do you store dirty ones in?’ you ask? Try one of these reusable wet bag pouches from Planet Wise.


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Use reusable food bags and wraps:

Ditch the cling film and plastic ziplock bags completely!

We use our Planet Wise sandwich bags every single day. The leak-proof design and waterproof lining makes them ideal for both wet and dry snacks (fruit, both fresh and dried, nuts, seeds and rice cakes are favourites here), and we cut down on packaging waste by buying in bulk and then only taking out what we need for the day. The zipper means Theo can easily help himself whenever he’s hungry, and they can be machine or hand washed.

 

On the left of the photo are three from the tint range, which are slightly opaque (as they don’t have the fabric outer layer like the ones on the right) so you can see what’s inside, and are top rack dishwasher safe (although I haven’t been brave enough to try this!). Personally, I prefer the look and feel of the fabric range, as they come in a huge variety of fun designs. I find the tint range more industrial and stiff, but both serve the same purpose equally well so this is entirely down to individual preference.

Emma uses her reusable snack pouches to store bits of rubbish while the family are out and about without access to a bin. What a clever idea! You could also use them to store small toys or art supplies while travelling. The bright colours would make it easy to quickly locate the item that will keep your little one entertained before all hell breaks loose (if you need eco toy recommendations for stress-free journeys, check out this post)!

 

If you’re packing a picnic lunch to take out with you, sandwich wraps are brilliant! No more soggy, cling film wrapped sandwiches! We have both Keep Leaf and Planet Wise wraps, both of which fold around your sandwich and secure with velcro. They open up into a convenient plate so there’s no need for a disposable one. The two brands are different shapes but a similar size, both fitting one sandwich comfortably and two stacked on top of each other at a squish.

I find that Keep Leaf is more susceptible to stains (the inside layer isn’t as robust as the Planet Wise ones) but they are more flexible (so better for folding around fresh bread rather than packaged, uniformly-sliced bread) and the stitching around the edge is more ‘finished’. Like the sandwich bags, Planet Wise do both a fabric and tint range.
Beeswax food wraps are ideal for use at home (I use mine to put over leftovers in the fridge and wrap around bread or cut fruit to keep it fresh) and for out and about (I always use them to wrap cooked corn on the cob and crudités). I have used both Abeego and Honeywrap while travelling and would recommend them both. They take up no space at all in your luggage and will significantly reduce your waste.

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Take away in your own containers:

Emma and her family try to avoid getting take away food in order to minimise their use of disposable containers and cutlery. “Eating in restaurants and cafes, and making our own breakfasts is working well for us.”

For maximum flexibility, I recommend staying somewhere with access to a kitchen; airbnbs are my go to choice for families, but many hostels also have good kitchen facilities. We tend to make our own breakfast and I’ll often do a packed lunch (although not always), and then dinner can be had in or out.

 

When we eat out, we often take away restaurant leftovers, particularly when portion sizes are large (yes, USA, I’m looking at you!)? Klean Kanteen canisters are great for this. That’s lunch the next day sorted!

The canisters come in insulated and non-insulated. Use the non-insulated ones for storing leftovers in the fridge or for larder storage.

The insulated ones are perfect when you want a hot meal later in the day but won’t have access to a microwave. Heat it up before you go and then place in the canister, where it will stay hot for the rest of the day. This is also really handy when camping!


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Use bamboo cutlery:

Keeping a set of bamboo cutlery in my bag means I never have reason to use disposable cutlery. Like straws, these can cause significant harm to marine wildlife. Street food and food markets can be wonderful places to experience the local cuisine, but both can cause a lot of waste. By taking a reusable canister and bamboo cutlery, you can easily minimise your footprint. Bambu make sets for children, consisting of a fork and spoon, that can easily be taken on days out and on plane journeys.


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 Recycle and compost:

Be responsible for your rubbish and take the time to access recycling and composting facilities where possible. It doesn’t take long to sort your rubbish into the correct bins!


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 Walk, bike or use public transport:

Most cities are very walkable, many have bike-sharing services, and public transport is a great way to explore a city beyond just the tourist spots, and an even better way to meet the locals. If you’re staying in a city, there is really no need to rent a car, call an uber or hail a taxi. You’ll save money, reduce pollution and keep fit! We walk everywhere when in cities and I really wouldn’t be without a sling or wrap!


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Don’t use hotel miniatures:

Yes, it may be space- and weight-saving for your luggage, but the complimentary little bottles of shampoo and other toiletries offered by hotels are incredibly wasteful. Sadly, most locations won’t reuse these by refilling them for the next customers and instead, any open bottles go straight in the bin.

Consider whether you can use your own toiletries and leave these little bottles unopened. The lure of something for free might be tempting, but the cost to the environment is not worth it. Airbnb hosts tend to have large bottles of shampoo available for guests, just as you would in your home. Hopefully the hotel industry will start to use refillable alternatives and be better advocates for sustainable travel.


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Consider your toiletries and detergents: 

Choosing products that are going to be less harmful for the environment can seem a bit of a minefield. We’re hit with clever marketing that makes claims that we can’t follow up on easily. I’ve done some research on your behalf so let me recommend a few brands that I trust and use regularly.

Obviously, whatever products you choose, everything has some impact on the environment, so make sure you only use the recommended amount.

 

Green People make the lovely Organic Babies and Organic Children range of toiletries suitable for the most delicate and sensitive of skin. We use the Organic Children SPF30 Sun Lotion and Aftersun on Theo. They’re natural, non-greasy and offer high UVA and UVB protection, as well as being reef-friendly so we don’t contribute to damaging coral reefs. We also like their shampoos and bath and shower gels that come in a range of fruity fragrances.

Weleda have a great range of calendula products that are gentle on skin and have a subtle fragrance. We have used their shampoo and body wash, nappy cream, bath cream and body lotion. The natural oils have really helped soothe Theo’s eczema when at its worst.

Violets make a great range of toiletries, laundry products and household cleaning products. Of their toiletries, we have only tried their mosquito repellent, which has a much more pleasant fragrance than most bug sprays and has worked well, even when camping near water. As it’s made from all natural ingredients, I feel much better about putting this on Theo’s skin than other mainstream brands. Their laundry powder, earth-friendly mineral bleach, and sanitiser and stain remover all come in handy foil bags ideal for travelling.

Kokoso coconut oil tubs get used a lot by all of us. I’ve used it on Theo since he was born, firstly to treat cradle cap and flakey newborn skin, and then to treat eczema and dry skin conditions. I use it as my daily moisturiser and as make-up remover. One tiny tub to meet multiple needs makes it a must have for every travelling family!


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Brush with bamboo:

A toothbrush takes approximately 450 years to decompose in salt water, so make the switch to a bamboo alternative to help keep plastic out of our oceans and off our coastlines. We’re using Go Bamboo brushes in adult and child sizes. The handle is made of natural bamboo and an edible wax, making it suitable for compost. We also use their compost-suitable cotton buds.


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Use a menstrual cup or cloth sanitary pads:

Both Emma and I use a menstrual cup (unsurprisingly, Scott didn’t weigh in on this one!) and we both also recommend cloth sanitary pads or period-proof underwear over the nasty, scratchy disposable alternatives.

Cups are easy to use (you just empty the contents in the toilet, rinse, reuse, and wash in warm, soapy water at the end of each cycle), comfortable, and can be worn during the night and while swimming.
If you use cloth pads, these Planet Wise wet and dry bags are the perfect size for storing both clean and dirty ones while out and about, and can be either hand or machine washed.

I like these larger Planet Wise bags, in small, medium and large, for use at home/wherever I’m staying so I can wait until I have a full machine load to wash. They’re also perfect for cloth nappies, wet clothing and swimming gear so these are a recommended purchase even if you’re not using cloth sanitary pads!


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Conserve water:

Scott reminds us of some basic, water-saving measures: “Don’t run the tap while brushing your teeth, don’t heat up the water for 10 minutes before getting in the shower, or take a 30 minute shower for that matter (no matter how good it feels!). Sometimes water has to travel many many miles to your tap; it’s precious, treat it that way!”

He’s absolutely right, but I’d also add that we should all be considering the huge energy expenditure in treating water so that it’s suitable for human consumption. Since arriving in New Zealand, we’ve witnessed mass irrigation on a scale that we hadn’t previously imagined, not just in farming, but in everyone’s gardens (good old British weather means it’s never been an issue at home!).

Sprinklers are kept running everywhere to ensure that even the patch of grass between the road and pavement are kept permanently green. While, of course, it is a good thing (and earth-friendly) to water your plants, I’m of the opinion that using treated water on grass 24 hours a day during the summer months is unnecessarily wasteful.


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Re-use your linens:

If you’re staying in a hotel, make sure you hang your towels so you can reuse them, saving both water and energy. Likewise, let housekeeping staff know that they don’t need to change your sheets every day.


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Turn off appliances:

Switch off lights, the air-conditioning and electrical appliances when you leave your hotel or Airbnb for the day. Does the room really need to be ice cold when you get back? Probably not.


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Shop local:

Get your groceries from the local farmer’s market, where energy is saved by not having to ship goods hundreds of miles, you can enquire in to the environmental policies of the farm and the conditions in which animals are reared, and you support small businesses. We also really enjoy taking Theo to pick-your-own farms to stock up on fresh fruit.


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Buy recycled or ‘upcycled’ goods:

You can often find amazing and totally unique souvenirs made by local artists using recycled materials. Something a bit different to take home with you!


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Ask about photography:

Sarah Trevor from World Unlost reminds us that travelling sustainably isn’t just about preserving the environment, but also the history and culture of our destination.

 

“When visiting museums, galleries, churches and historic sites, make sure photography is allowed before you snap that picture. Flash photography in particular can harm precious, centuries-old artworks. When in doubt, ask.”


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As the saying goes, ‘take only photographs, leave only footprints’:

My heart aches when I see and hear of people who think it’s acceptable to collect rocks, corals, wildlife and other ‘memorabilia’ from their travels. Contributing to the destruction of both man-made historical sites and the natural world is never acceptable; we have a responsibility to preserve these wonders for the next generation.

While hiking in the redwood forests of California recently, I was also upset to see that people had carved graffiti into the trunks of these magnificent trees. I can absolutely appreciate the creative expression of street art (check out this post for a wonderful example of street art in Churchill, Canada), but ‘so-and-so hearts so-and-so’ and ‘Dave woz ere’ is very different and doesn’t belong on the back of a bus-stop, let alone an 800-year-old tree. And don’t get me started on the trend of people leaving padlocks at tourist spots!

 

So, take your photograph, soak it all in and take the time to notice all the fine details so you can commit them to memory and recall them at will, instantly transporting you back to this spot, but leave everything as you found it.


So, in making your new year’s resolutions this year, consider these sustainable travel tips. I hope you’ve found it food for thought. Wishing you a very happy new year with lots of travel, fun and eco-adventures!


Where can I buy the products mentioned in this post?

The in-text links will take you to the item listing on www.babipur.co.uk I do not work for BabiPur, nor do I receive any incentive for recommending them, financial or otherwise. I am simply a loyal customer and always recommend them as a great place to buy eco friendly toys, clothes, reusable nappies/diapers and sanitary products, slings, household items and toiletries. They are a trusted ethical retailer and you can rest assured that they’ve done their research into the best eco brands and products on the market; everything they stock is made from sustainable materials and the manufacturing processes are both socially and environmentally ethical. Their customer service is second to none and their online presence is friendly, personal and transparent. I have always received purchases in double quick time and everything arrives in recycled or reused packaging. Spend over £40 for free UK postage, and international postage is very reasonable. Top marks all round!

 

 

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Reusable washable cloth nappies diapers nappy diaper. Collection of TotsBots EasyFit Star, Close Pop In, TotsBots Bamboozle and PeeNut Wrap, Baba+Boo Pocket Nappies and Milovia Pocket Nappies

10 Tips for using cloth nappies (diapers) while travelling

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o you love your cloth nappies/diapers but feel yourself reaching for disposables whenever you’re away from home? Maybe you feel a pang of guilt about the extra landfill waste but don’t quite know how to manage reusable products when you’re away from your trusty washing machine…and how on earth do you get them dry???

I was adamant that we would not be ditching the fluff every time we went away, but everyone I spoke to seemed to think it was impossible to use cloth nappies away from home and advised that we may as well pack some disposables. Even Alex had his doubts.

But, guess what?! It’s just as easy as at home! Here are a few tips so that you too can carry on using your cloth nappies wherever you are in the world!

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Work out how many nappies you’re going to need so you don’t waste valuable packing space. I like to wash mine every 2-3 days, I allow 1 day of drying time, and I take 1 day’s worth of spares (which has come in handy but I’m an ‘overpacker’ so you may not think this is necessary!), so I pack 4-5 days worth. Obviously your total number will vary depending on the age of your child (newborns need more than toddlers!). Don’t forget any extra inserts or boosters you use.

 

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Similarly, work out how many cloth wipes you need using the same formula as above! We also use cloth wipes for sticky hands and faces at meal times and as make-up remover pads, so I also pack extra for these purposes.

 

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Remember to pack liners. We use TotsBots fleece liners. They can be washed with the nappies and wipes, help keep your nappies stain-free, and ensure that your baby’s bum stays dry, thus preventing any itchy rashes. I pack one for each day-use nappy and two for each night-use nappy (we use TotsBots Bamboozles at night because of their excellent absorbency. However, because the whole nappy gets wet (unlike inserts), I like to use an extra liner to ensure the line around Theo’s waist also stays dry.

 

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At home, you may use a bucket or pail to store dirty nappies (I use a TotsBots bucket and mesh liners), but on the road, you’re going to need wet bags! I love Planet Wise wet bags as they contain smells and hold in the moisture. I use the medium size for out and about, and the large size for storing at wherever we’re calling ‘home’. I find that taking two of each size is enough for longer trips. They’re all machine washable so I stick any used bags in with each load of nappies and wipes.

 

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Choose nappies that are space efficient but will also meet all of your needs while you’re away. Your night nappies might be a bit bulkier, for example, but I consider this necessary bulk as I’d rather avoid changing pyjamas and bed sheets in the middle of the night!). It is also helpful to have some that dry quickly. Ultimately though, your nappy choices will probably depend on what you already own and what works best for your little one; they’re all different shapes and sizes so what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. We use a selection of the following: TotsBots EasyFit Stars, TotsBots Bamboozles with PeeNut Wraps, Milovia pocket nappies, Close Pop Ins, and Baba+Boo pocket nappies.

 

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Don’t forget about detergent. If you have a preferred detergent that you want to bring with you, measure out how much you’ll need based on how many washes you’ll want to do. Of course, you can buy detergent while you’re away but be aware that if, for example, you prefer non-bio, this isn’t easy to buy everywhere, and likewise for powders vs. liquids. Ecological brands are also not readily available in supermarkets all over the world. We managed to take an open box of detergent as hand luggage all over North America. We were a little surprised given stringent airport security in the States, but no one seemed too bothered about our box of mysterious white powder!

 

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Right, you’ve packed everything you need, but where are you going wash them?

We often choose to stay in an Airbnb (where you can enter ‘washer’ and ‘dryer’ as search filters) but have also stayed at hotels, motels, guesthouses and campsites/RV parks that have laundry facilities on site. These are typically coin operated machines that you can stick on and come back to later. I’ve been offered free wash cycles as a ‘thank you for using cloth’ at a number of campsites and motels!

Those that don’t have facilities for guests, may still allow you to use their housekeeping machines. Only at one hotel have they not allowed me to use their washing machines (but their housekeeping staff snuck a load on for me anyway when their manager wasn’t around!).

If there are no laundry facilities on site, there may be a local laundrette (we have used many!), or they can be hand-washed.

Of course, if you’re only away for a long weekend, there may not be any need to do any washing at all; just bring your nappies back dirty and do it at home.

 

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What about drying them? The sun is your best friend when it comes to simultaneously drying nappies and removing any stains. If possible, get them outside. If this isn’t an option (or it’s not sunny), I’ve hung nappies on every hangable object in our room/apartment. It doesn’t make for the best decor, but needs must!

 

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Don’t forget to pack a swim nappy or two! We love TotsBots swim nappies and find that having two is ideal for any length of trip. They can be added to your usual nappy wash or hand washed with swim wear, and they dry incredibly quickly. Perfect for the beach, pool, and any other water-based fun, you don’t need to use disposable swimming nappies while you’re away at all! We’ve left Theo is his ordinary cloth nappies when we have an impromptu swim in a waterfall, stream or fountain and have failed to pack swimming gear, but they do get a bit heavy, so I recommend carrying a swim nappy with you just in case!

 

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Finally, if you don’t fancy washing and stuffing nappies on your break, remind yourself that the manufacturing of disposable nappies puts a huge strain on our planet and that a disposable nappy will sit in landfill for approximately 500 years. If this isn’t motivation enough, can your nappy-wearer help you? Theo loves helping me put wipes in piles and placing fleece liners in his nappies. It can easily be turned into a fun game with loads of opportunities for learning; naming colours and objects on the prints, counting, sorting, and stacking.

I hope these pointers have been helpful. I promise that using cloth nappies while travelling is no different to at home!


Where can I buy cloth nappies, wipes, wet bags and ecological detergent?

The in-text links will take you to the item listing on Amazon. I receive a small commission if you buy something using these links (but not if you leave the page and then go back to it later). This enables me to keep writing this blog and producing useful information. However, I prefer to use independent ethical retailers. I always recommend www.babipur.co.uk as a great place to buy eco friendly toys, clothes, reusable nappies/diapers and sanitary products, slings, household items and toiletries. They are a trusted ethical retailer and you can rest assured that they’ve done their research into the best eco brands and products on the market; everything they stock is made from sustainable materials and the manufacturing processes are both socially and environmentally ethical. Their customer service is second to none and their online presence is friendly, personal and transparent. I have always received purchases in double quick time and everything arrives in recycled or reused packaging. Spend over £40 for free UK postage, and international postage is very reasonable. Top marks all round!

Plan Toys dino cars

Screen-free travel: Choosing eco-friendly toys to take on long journeys

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o you have a long journey coming up but feel worried about keeping your little one entertained for the duration? Whether you’re travelling by car, plane, train or boat, the thought of a confined child for a prolonged period, attracting glances riddled with judgement and silent loathing from fellow travellers if your child so much as makes a peep, is enough to make many parents wonder whether the journey is even worth it. We started doing long journeys with Theo when he was 10 days old (this first journey was the 327 mile drive from the Lake District to London for Christmas, which took 7 hours with a newborn) and he’s been on 24 flights to date, countless multi-day-long car journeys, and several long boat and train trips. We choose not to use screens to entertain him, so have no child-friendly apps and he doesn’t watch any children’s tv or films. That’s not to say that he won’t enjoy an in-flight movie when he’s older, and certainly no judgement if you do use screens, do whatever works for your family, but, if you want to travel screen-free, let me reassure you that it is possible. I’ve compiled a list of our favourite toys to travel with, all of which have been invaluable not just during long journeys but also to stick in a bag for when we’re out and about. Of course, you don’t need all of these; consider the length of your trip, the length of your journey, the age and development of your child or children, and your luggage allowances. It’s also worth remembering that children will play with anything and will find ways to entertain themselves that us adults won’t have even considered. Theo will happily run up and down the plane aisles, read the in-flight magazine and play with the tray table or remote control, but it’s useful to have a few toys on hand too. These are just our personal favourites and all of them are sustainable and ethically made. 


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Tegu magnetic blocks are a firm favourite, both with Theo and with Alex. For toddler and engineer, the possibilities are endless! We have an 8-piece and a 6-piece set, plus a set of 4 wheels. These are small and light enough to make them practical for travel, but diverse enough in terms of colour and shape to provide options for imaginative building projects. Theo is really into vehicles so the wheels are an essential component of our set and worth forking out the extra cash for. The sets come in convenient felt pouches so individual blocks don’t end up buried and hidden at the bottom of rucksacks. Their internal magnets, as well as providing Theo with a sense of magical wonder when they click together, also reduce the potential for loss, and make it easy for little hands to manipulate individual blocks to form structures limited only by the imagination. Great for creativity and fine motor control, these blocks have no minimum or maximum age limit.


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The Grimm’s mini rainbow is a 6-piece wooden stacker, cut from a single piece of sustainable lime wood and naturally stained using non-toxic water-based colour. This allows the grain of the wood to show through the bright colours. A tiny and much cheaper version of the popular 12-piece rainbow tunnel and the larger 6-piece rainbow, the mini is a pocket-sized open-ended toy for all ages. ‘What is it?’ is a silly question posed only by adults. It’s a tunnel, a bridge, a car ramp, a boat, a rocking chair, a tower…it’s whatever your child wants it to be.


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Our four Plan Toys dino cars have been taken on countless adventures! Plan Toys are made from beautiful, smooth rubberwood and come in dappled, appealing colours. These Dinos are the perfect size and shape for little hands to push up and down plane aisles, or along restaurant tables while waiting for your meal. Ours have also been out for competitive races along tree trunks and are taken to graze on park lawns. All Plan Toys products are made using either rubber trees that no longer produce latex, or Planwood, a material made by compressing the sawdust produced in the Plan Toys factory, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. The whole process is carbon-neutral and non-formaldehyde glue, organic colour pigments and water-based dyes are used to finish and construct the toys.


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Also by Plan Toys, we love the nuts and bolts. I bought this for Theo while travelling. He had developed a determined fascination with our Klean Kanteen bottle tops, insisting on twisting the lids on and off himself, and these seemed the perfect solution to potential spills and toddler frustrations at the lid being too tight. Screwing and unscrewing the large pieces on the bolts allows him to practise this skill without getting soaking wet, and can be played with anywhere. They are also designed in a way to allow imaginative play. We’ve built people and flowers with ours, and Theo finds it hilarious to wear them as funny noses!


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If your child likes threading toys, I highly recommend the Haba number threading dragon and the Bajo lacing fox. The dragon features ten chunky beech wood pieces, each numbered and painted with natural paint in rainbow colours, making it suitable for both younger travellers and those developing their counting skills. The fox, with smaller holes and two shoelaces to thread and tie, is more fiddly and therefore better for slightly older toddlers, preschoolers and primary-age children. Theo will concentrate on them both with such intensity and undivided attention, practising them until he’s mastered it. They’re both fabulous toys for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.


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Lanka Kade make beautiful chunky rubberwood puzzles that range from just two or three pieces to large numbered and alphabet sets. We are currently playing with the three-piece elephant and four-piece train, which are compact, lightweight and ideal for Theo at the moment. I have a ten-piece numbered gorilla stashed for the future (he currently only knows numbers 1 to 3 and wouldn’t be able to identify these in written form yet), which I’m looking forward to watching him play with and will still be small enough for travel. I feel very proud watching him turn the pieces over, trying different orientations and celebrating with a big grin when he figures it out.


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We are big fans of Holztiger and Ostheimer wooden figures but, unless your child has one that’s a particular favourite, they are a bit too heavy to be practical for travel. We love Green Rubber Toys as a much lighter alternative. Their realistic animals are suitable from birth, made from durable natural rubber and non-toxic paints, and, with no holes to collect mould, they can also be used as bath toys.


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If your child enjoys peg puzzles, I can recommend Hape puzzles. The boards are smaller than some other brands and can easily be slotted down the back of a rucksack. I store the pieces separately in a little drawstring bag, which Theo can access as and when he wants it. Puzzles like these don’t seem like the ideal travelling toy, but can be broken down to make storage easier. They are ideal for those practising their fine motor control and problem solving.


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Plan Toys tins are great for older toddlers, preschoolers and primary age children. There are six different tins available; we have only tried the mini balancing cactus (here is the larger version). Theo loves trying to build the cactus by carefully slotting each piece into the last. It retains his focus and concentration, but the base moves easily on smooth surfaces so it can also be frustrating for him. It will topple less as he learns to apply his strength appropriately for different tasks, but for now knocking it down on purpose is a great game! In the coming months and years, I expect he will start to enjoy playing this as a game with other people: who can add or take away a piece without tumbling the rest?


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ÖkoNorm do a full range of crayons, colour pencils, paints and modelling clay, all made with non-toxic, renewable materials. They even have vegan options as an alternative to their beeswax crayons. Colouring is a constant hit while travelling, and it’s a joy to see Theo be creative, explore mark-making and develop his pencil control. The clay does get in fingernails, so have some cloth wipes handy, but it’s a great artistic outlet that’s practical for confined spaces, and can be stored and reused.


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I have gone back and forth on whether or not to include the Plan Toys first shape sorter on this list so I’ll pop it in here as a sneaky eleventh item. We like it, but we don’t love it. While it is a wonderfully compact toy that is great for developing skills in shape sorting and colour matching, it can also be quite frustrating.

The string that links the three coloured shapes together and connects them to the base, is too short in my opinion. It can be tricky for Theo to manipulate with ease and he finds it confusing that the string can block him from pushing the shape through, even when he has it in the correct orientation. Without the string, it would be like any other shape sorter and would be disastrous for travelling; I have visions of bruised individuals, angrily shouting that they’ve had a wooden cube chucked their way yet again. With the string, however, it is very restrictive, but has nonetheless helped Theo practise shape and colour identification.

 


So there is my list of our favourite eco-friendly toys to travel with. Of course, all children are different and you may have other tried and tested suggestions that work for your family. I’m always keen to hear new ideas so please feel free to add to this list by commenting. Books, stickers and snacks (lots of them!) also go down well here! If you’re new to travelling with young children, don’t let the thought scare you. People are generally very understanding that children cannot sit still in the same seat for hours at a time (nor can this adult!) and that, when travelling by plane, their ears will pop (I tend to breastfeed during takeoff and landing to minimise this). You will likely find that at least a few fellow passengers and airline staff want to help you entertain your child and will happily play peekaboo over the seats. You never know, even the most sleep-hating child may drift off to the hum of the engine, and if not, I hope you see something on here that you think your kids will enjoy!

 


Where can I buy these toys?

The in-text links will take you to the item listing on www.amazon.co.uk. I receive a small commission if you buy something using these links (but not if you leave the page and then go back to it later). This enables me to keep writing this blog and producing useful information. However, I prefer to use independent ethical retailers. I always recommend www.babipur.co.uk as a great place to buy eco friendly toys, clothes, reusable nappies/diapers and sanitary products, slings, household items and toiletries. They are a trusted ethical retailer and you can rest assured that they’ve done their research into the best eco brands and products on the market; everything they stock is made from sustainable materials and the manufacturing processes are both socially and environmentally ethical. Their customer service is second to none and their online presence is friendly, personal and transparent. I have always received purchases in double quick time and everything arrives in recycled or reused packaging. Spend over £40 for free UK postage, and international postage is very reasonable. Top marks all round!