Slow Living

Six Simple Swaps to go Plastic Free with Kids in the Kitchen

In my journey to making our day to day lives and our home more sustainable and having fewer toxins, I have been trying to free our lives of as much plastic as possible. There are many reasons to want to go plastic free in your kitchen: it’s better for the planet, more sustainable… but my primary reason was to keep the toxins away from our food.

6 simple swaps to go plastic free with kids

Here are a few facts: Plastic contains a lot of toxic chemicals. BPA, BPS, Phthalates, and PVC are some of the most commonly found and the heavy hitters. These chemicals are known to cause problems with your endocrine system that can lead to hormonal imbalances, cancer, spontaneous miscarriage, early puberty, and more. The CDC found that 93% of Americans over the age of six have BPA in their urine and bloodstream. YIKES!

These were just some of the facts that put me over the edge to ditch as much plastic as I could in the kitchen – because we are in the kitchen ALL day long! Dishes and silverware come in contact with our food daily, which means it’s likely that those chemicals are going to make their way into our bodies. And since we homeschool, we are constantly at home cooking and eating. And eating and eating and eating….. because boys. ;) So I wanted to find plastic free items that were safe for my family

Just a quick sidetone… we are not perfect! We aren’t even close to 100% plastic free in our house, but we are constantly making strides in that direction. The kitchen was a room that took high priority for me, though, so I would say we are 95% plastic free here now. And disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

So here are six simple swaps we made in our kitchen to go plastic free with our kids:

  1. Plates/Bowls

    dsc_5348 copy

    We have two sets of plates and bowls. We have a set of Corelle plates and bowls that we keep in our cabinet. These aren’t only used for kids, obviously, but the plates and bowls are smaller than our regular dishes. They’re lightweight, but don’t break super easily. However, we do have a toddler, as well as tile floors in the kitchen. So we also have a set of stainless steel plates (that even have dividers – yay!) and bowls that we keep in a low cabinet. They’re easy for the kids to reach, plus they won’t break if they’re dropped on the floor. They will, however, make a really loud and obnoxious noise if your toddler chucks them across the room. Ask me how I know. ;) We do have a few wooden bowls that I’ve thrifted, and we used for baby bowls before I purchased the stainless steel ones. They’re great to use as snack bowls!

  2. Cups

    dsc_5190 copy

    We have only two types of drinking glasses/cups in our house currently (okay, and also coffee mugs… because coffee). We have stainless steel cups (large and small) and mugs for the kids, and we have mason jars for our other dining glasses. My older kids use these too sometimes, but we keep the stainless steel cups in a lower cabinet by the plates. When we swapped from plastic to stainless steel cups, I was worried we would end up washing a hundred cups a day, since they’re all the same color. So I bought these silicone cup markers that stretch over the cups (and yep, they’re totally designed for beer glasses!). Each child has their own color, so they can set their cup on the table/counter and drink from it all day. It’s made my life easier, when they remember to use them. ;)

  3. Water Bottles

    dsc_5065 copy

    My kids really just drink water during the day, so I want them to have a good quality water bottle. Plus, it helps to cut down on the number of cups we wash… in theory anyway. ;) I’ve tried a LOT of different water bottles, found these Safe Sporter water bottles that we have LOVED and have lasted for years! They do have a plastic spout at the top, but the entire inside of the bottle is stainless steel. They’re easy to clean and easy to use for the kiddos. We have the larger size for my older boys and a small one for my toddler.

  4. Baby Bottles/Sippy Cups

    dsc_5293 copy

    Bottles
    When my youngest was a baby, he had a lip and a tongue tie that we discovered fairly late. Because of this, he had some complications that ended with me exclusively pumping and bottle feeding him. I hadn’t done a lot of bottles with my other kids, so this was new territory for me. I didn’t even own any bottles! I tried a few different bottles, but absolutely loved the Joovy Boob bottles! We had them in a both five and eight ounce sizes. With the silicone sleeves, we only lost one bottle in the 1.5+ years we used them. And they were dropped A LOT. I can’t recommend these enough.

    Sippy Cups
    We haven’t used sippy cups in awhile in our house, because my youngest didn’t really like using them. But we have used a couple safer, most sustainable versions that are worth sharing. The Kid Basix Safe Sippy is one we used often, you can use it with or without a straw inside. With some of my older boys, we used the Thermos FOOGO sippy and then their water bottles, and we also had the stainless version of the Munchkin 360 cup. My youngest never took to it unfortunately, so we ended up using it without the lid as a regular cup. But I know that many mamas LOVE the 360 cup, so I love that they came out with a safer version!

  5. Silverware

    dsc_5167 copy

    Most of our kids just use regular silverware, but by the time my youngest was born, I had already ditched all of our plastic silverware. I needed some safer baby spoons, so I found these great bamboo baby spoons that we loved and still use, plus these “sporks” that have silicone on one end, with a wooden handle.

  6. Straws

    dsc_5297 copy

    I’m not sure why, but my kids think everything tastes better through a straw. We had some plastic reusable straws for awhile, but they seemed to get pretty gross pretty easily. So the switch to stainless steel reusable straws was a pretty simple one for us. We have some skinny straws (straight and bent) as well as some wide, smoothie straws. If you’re worried about safety with little ones, you can also use silicone straws. But the stainless steel straws have worked fine for all of us, even my toddler.

Now don’t let this list overwhelm you! We didn’t switch all of this at once. I took one category at a time and swapped them over a period of months or years. Each change you make is important for your family, as well as the environment! Having a toxin-free home is a goal that will take me years and years to accomplish, but every time I swap something out for a safe, non-toxic version, I feel that I’ve made one step toward keeping my family healthy.

If you’re worried that it’s more expensive, it’s really not. When we were using plastic cups and water bottles for our kids, I noticed they would break down and fall apart very quickly. Stainless steel lasts so much longer, rarely breaks, and doesn’t degrade in the dishwasher in the same way that plastic does. I haven’t had to replace any of our dishes (other than the glasses that have broken on the tile floor!) in years. We started using mason jars for drinking glasses, because we found them to be so much stronger than our regular drinking glasses. They are less likely to break, plus they’re multi-purpose: we use them for storing leftovers and taking food on the go as well as drinking out of them!

dsc_5646 copyIf you’re looking for more tips and ideas of how to change your habits and your home to be more sustainable for the environment and for the health of your family, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of a book I recently had the privilege of reading. My friend Kelsey Jorissen’s new e-book The Holistic Home came out in November and it’s all about making small changes throughout your home to live a more sustainable life.

The Holistic Home is chock-full of ideas for detoxing your kitchen and bathroom, tips on composting, ideas for safer products, and DIY recipes. It’s perfect for someone who is just beginning their journey of sustainable, non-toxic living OR someone who’s been on this path for awhile, like me. I consider myself pretty savvy in the natural living world, as I’ve already swapped out all my personal care and cleaning products to natural, non-toxic alternatives, but I still learned so much from Kelsey’s book!

Kelsey’s passion is definitely sustainable living from an environmental point of view, whereas my sustainability journey has been stemmed from a desire to live a non-toxic life from a health perspective. Obviously the two go hand in hand – I’ve always been conscious of my impact on the environment, but I just tend to look at health first, environment second. Kelsey has taught me SO much about sustainability from an environmental outlook. I loved reading about composting in her e-book, because composted some at our old house, but haven’t started back up since moving a few years ago. I’m excited to use her tips to start again. Kelsey also inspired me to switch to compostable garbage bags!

 

 

 

dsc_5650 copy

The Holistic Home is on sale through Wednesday 1/30, so make sure you grab yourself a copy while it’s discounted, with code newyear30.

And after you grab that,  be sure to join my Natural Wellness group on Facebook! I share all kinds of tips and tricks on kicking the toxins out of your home and helping to support our health naturally. If you’re really ready to dive in to this natural life, grab your Premium Starter Kit. This is THE BEST way to get toxins out of your house and replace them with safe, natural, plant-based products.

6 simple swaps to go plastic free in the kitchen with kids

Advertisements

Our Homeschool Room and Play Room Tour

We’ve lived in our 1880s farmhouse for about two and a half years now, and in that time, I’ve rearranged the bedrooms about fifty bazillion times. Seriously. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my sewing room shift from room to room. It had become pretty clear that while I wanted to have my own sewing space, it just isn’t the season for it. Our family needed and would get much more use from a playroom/school room. So my sewing space is once again shared with our master bedroom, like in our previous home. And the brightest room in the house is now our playroom/school room. It’s probably the best room swap we’ve done yet, and I’m excited to show it to you!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

We recently got an IKEA, making all my organizational dreams come true. ;) I knew I wanted to have one wall with books, toys, and learning materials. We have other books throughout the house (because I’m a firm believer that reading needs to be part of your family culture), but here we’re housing our non-fiction reference books, my teacher’s manuals, and some picture books.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Since we have a toddler in the house, I put the learning materials that have small pieces up on the higher shelves. We used to have a lot of these items in bins, but I love having most of them in baskets now – they’re a little more open and easier to access. I kept some of the choking hazards in bins with lids, because of aforementioned toddler. ;)Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This is nearly all the toys we have in our house. We have legos and a few Star Wars toys upstairs, since they have small pieces. Our play kitchen is in our family room, where we tend to do our Morning Time and read alouds. It’s nice to have some toys nearby for the littles who get easily distracted. We also keep board games in a closet and bring them out only when we’re playing them. I’ve been working hard to declutter and keep our home more minimal. To be honest, this isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but it’s definitely better for my mental health and for our family in general.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

I knew I wanted some ALEX drawers from IKEA, and this size was perfect for all of our craft supplies, papers, coloring books, and blank books for story writing. Storage for papers and art supplies was the biggest problem I needed to solve. I love that this gives us a confined space for it (meaning, we can’t go crazy and buy all the things – we can only fit so much!) and it’s so nicely organized. Remember that storage cushion?? It’s currently filled with the boys’ sweatshirts, which makes it nice and comfy. :)

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This room had some little shelves in this random spot when we moved in, and since we haven’t done anything to change this room (including the wallpaper… which I have mixed feelings about) they seemed like the perfect spot for our Nature Shelf. We spend a LOT of time outside and in nature study, so this was a must have. And yep…. those are skulls. Life with boys!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

The other corner of the room has a table we found in our basement when we moved in, plus the rest of our art supplies and school books. In this smaller set of ALEX drawers, the boys each have a drawer for their personal school books. The top drawer houses things like rulers, erasers, tape, etc. The baskets hold chalkboards, extra paper rolls, dry erase boards, and clip boards. The shelf on the wall is my toddler proofing… markers, scissors, glue, and pencil sharpener. Basically a mom’s worst nightmare if a toddler gets their hands on them. ;) Having this dedicated creative space is awesome for my kids – they’re always creating, drawing, and writing. We tend to “do school” all over the house, so this won’t necessarily be used primarily for formal lessons, but it’s nice to have some options. I’m searching for some new kitchen chairs, and when I find ones I like, our current chairs will move in here to replace the hodge podge of stools. But hodge podge works well enough!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This sweet little spot is one of my favorites. I recently found a little vintage table and chairs, and it’s PERFECT for my youngest. The other kids actually like it too. I keep my vintage sewing machine here (next to my sad attempts at having a green thumb), mostly because I don’t have another place for it right now, and I hate to keep it hidden away.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Someday I’ll have my own sewing room again, but for today, I’m happy to have this beautiful space where my kids can learn and play. I know this room will evolve as we use it, and I have some plans for some wall decor that will come eventually. But I really love how it turned out, and it’s actually becoming one of my favorite rooms in the house. When it’s clean, anyway. ;)

Five Tips for Sewing with Young Kids Underfoot

I’ve been in a season of slow, simple sewing. Have you been in a season like this? I’m a homeschool mama with five young kids, including a toddler whose favorite pastime is coloring on the walls and climbing onto everything he shouldn’t.. some days I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone sew an entire handmade wardrobe. Most of the projects I’m sewing lately are things I can complete in one sitting, generally a pattern I’ve sewn a dozen times, with slight variations here and there. I’ve sewn a bunch of garments recently that haven’t made it to the blog, for myself and the kids. None of them earth shattering in their execution, but all of them well-loved and well-worn.

I’m learning a lot these days about taking seasons as they come. I’ve had years and months where my sewing machine has been in constant use, and others where carving out time seems a bit trickier. Recently I was talking with some friends about how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to find the time to sew myself jeans, so I had to buy them instead. At first, it felt a little like a failure. I know how to sew jeans – I’ve done it several times, and before I got pregnant with my youngest, I had drafted and sewn a pair that I’ve been dying to tweak to the point of perfection. But my jean-sewing season will come back, I just need to give it time.

If you’re in a season like this, here are my best tips and encouragement for you:

1. Find a way to sew alongside your kiddos: For me right now, this means a shared space. I have my sewing tables set up in a corner of the room, the kiddos have an art table on the other side, and there are toys for my toddler and younger kids to play with as well. This could mean that you have a special bin of toys for your kids to play with only while you sew or that you give them a bucket or art supplies and let them create something alongside you. There’s something beautiful about creating together!

2. Use pockets of time: five minutes here and there to put a pattern together, cut it out, and prepare your fabric. When you need longer stretches of time, sew during nap time or after they’ve gone to bed. During some seasons, late night sewing isn’t an option, though (hello middle of the night feedings and teething toddler, I’m looking at you!), so make use of times when your kiddos are content to play.

3. Keep it simple when needed: What I’ve found is that small, simple sews can be deeply satisfying in a season where it’s hard to accomplish much. Pillow covers, simple tees, and pajamas are the way to go if you need to keep it simple, but still feel accomplished. When you start sleeping through the night or your toddler is more content to play alone and not demand every second of your attention, more complicated projects will return to your table.

4. Babywear, Pack ‘n Play, or highchair: find a way to safely contain your baby or toddler nearby. I’ve definitely worn my babies and toddlers in a sling or Ergo while sewing or put up a Pack ‘n Play next to my sewing machine. I had a “duh” moment recently when my friend Jodi shared an Instagram story with her toddler eating in a high chair while she sewed – brilliant!

5. Give yourself grace and remember it’s a season: this has been a constant mantra in my mind lately, and I’ve been so encouraged by friends reminding me of this. It won’t always be like this, and I don’t want to wish away these years when my kids are at home with me. Whether you’re a homeschool mama like me or you volunteer daily in your kids classroom or you work in or outside of the home, it can be hard to fit in time for hobbies and passions when you have littles! Embrace the season you’re in and prioritize the things you love, even for just a few minutes at a time.

Whatever season you’re in, whether you’re cranking out projects or looking longingly at your serger when you pass it by, remind yourself that each season has it’s time. Be present. Remind yourself that seasons change and kids get older. Let yourself be okay with whatever sewing time life has for you right now. And be intentional to carve out more time when you can.

Some nitty gritty sewing notes: this is my go-to sewing pattern (quick and easy!) – the Alex and Anna pajamas from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I did make a matching pair for my six-year-old (mostly because he desperately needed pajamas, and I found a pattern in that size already cut and ready to go), but he refused to comply with my adorable matching jammie photo shoot that I had in mind, so I have proof of his pajamas over on Instagram too. These are jammies are the ultimate in comfort, since they’re sewn with jersey from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. All the RCF love and heart eyes over here, y’all.

Speaking of heart eyes….

Gah!! I can’t handle the cuteness of this age, even if he does color on all my walls.

Happy slow sewing, friends. :)