New Year’s Reductions

Cara McKee, a writer and mum-of-three living in Largs, is on a mission with the kids to help Mother Nature, one less plastic bottle at a time…

It has become a thing that every year the kids come up with something we need to reduce as a family in our own tiny attempt to make the world a better place. 2017 was the year we avoided buying palm oil because its production causes deforestation, meaning less trees (Miss 7 pointed out that trees help us breathe) and less orangutangs, because they live in the trees. It’s amazing how widespread the use of palm oil is, so if you’re hoping to shop a little kinder here are our three top tips:

1) Check ingredients and be willing to try another brand.

2) Warburtons make our favourite white-sliced bread with no palm oil.

3) Aldi’s chocolate spread (Nutoka) is totally yummy and uses sustainable palm oil.

2018 is going to be the year we do something about plastic. The kids heard that China have decided to stop taking our plastic bottles, and although it does seem a bit mad that we’d ship rubbish to China, what do we do now? Some plastic might go to landfill rubbish sites, but plastic is really bad at breaking down, so it just stays there, being rubbish. Alternatively, it could get burnt, which is okay for making energy and getting rid of the plastic, but again, not great environmentally…So, we had a think about the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I think we are pretty good at recycling. We put four times as much recyclable waste at the kerb as waste for landfill, but it is pretty windy here, especially at this time of year, and the street tends to get covered in blown rubbish on bin day. The kids are worried that’s no good for wildlife. Miss 10 is particularly worried about hedgehogs being affected, and Mr 12 reminded us of the plastic bag ‘jellyfish’ we’d seen at Deep Sea World, which showed us how plastic in the sea can look like jellyfish and so get eaten! That would be a rotten lunch.

What about reusing? Mr 12 has some ideas about fashioning a helicopter, or making armour or weapons for a Fortnite cosplay outfit, but I don’t think that’s going to make much of a dent, so we need to reduce. Here are our big ideas:

1) To get something like a SodaStream, which would let us make up our fizzy drinks at home (even tonic water, gin fans) without needing lots of plastic bottles (I’ve totally fallen for the awesome Heavy Bubbles advert on YouTube, although watch out for the swear word at the end).

2) The head teacher tells me that loads of kids bring disposable bottles into school with their water each day. We’re going to make sure we use reusable bottles instead.

3) We’re going to look at ways of reducingthe packaging we buy, using refills and avoiding things that are over-packaged.

Wish us luck. This mission is hard, but not impossible!

Cara works in her local library, loves to write poetry and will have poems appearing soon in the Dove Tails anthology (Scottish Artists for Peace) and in Dawntreader and Reach Poetry magazines. Find her at

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