It was only when I had my daughter that I really started worrying about the environment. With a little person to care for, I suddenly saw the existential threat of climate change for what it really was. I mean, what was the point in making sure her carrot puffs were organic, with out-of-control global warming on the cards? She doesn’t need just her own health. She needs a healthy world to live in.
So since she came along, I’ve made some eco-friendly lifestyle changes. I’ve become vegan. I don’t drive. I’ve switched to a green energy provider. My latest quest is to cut down on plastics. And here’s where things have come unstuck. You see, while I diligently refill washing-up liquid, laundry liquid, fabric conditioner and shampoo bottles with eco-friendly products, I’ve not stopped buying my little girl the endless plastic gubbins that seems an integral part of modern childhoods. Her bedroom is awash with plastic kittens, jewellery, hair accessories, play phones, false teeth, clockwork toys and a whole load of the neoliberal propaganda that is Shopkins – which means I’m buying environmentally damaging stuff for the person who motivated me to take action for the environment. That’s not just irony eating itself, that’s irony eating itself, sicking itself up and then eating itself all over again.
The plastic tat has to stop. I’m haunted by visions of tropical beaches awash with plastic ponies, their pink flanks fading slowly in the sun. Those things will take thousands of years to decompose – harming countless marine animals in the process. But it’s so much easier to make changes for yourself, rather than enforce them on your child – especially when, like all kids nowadays, my daughter has plastic pushed at her from all sides.Take children’s magazines. Long gone are the days when the ‘free’ gift was an annual event. Today every issue comes with a whole load of ‘free’ plastic bric-a-brac attached – all handily held in place by plastic packaging (even the fabulous National Geographic Kids does this!). Birthday party goody bags are another plastic-fest. It’s someow become the done thing to help destroy the future of every single kid at the party by cheerfully waving them off with a load of brightly dyed, moulded petro-chemicals. And the Christmas stocking is the same. Apparently nothing says “you’ve been a good boy/girl” than a clockwork dinosaur or a fortune-telling fish. The result is what you see in the photo – a load of plastic guff that ends up in drawers, down the back of the sofas or discarded somewhere inconvenient (usually the bathroom floor, readily positioned for a barefoot).
So this Christmas, it’s time for a change. I’m not saying my daughter’s getting a tangerine and a 5p piece in her stocking. But Santa is definitely going to be more eco-conscious. I’m thinking books, chocolate, packets of seeds, wooden beads, a cinema ticket, dried mango or other fruit, a home-made jar of biscuit mix, mini soaps, pencils, mini sewing kits, socks, a bath bomb, a green science kit and a groovy hat If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know!