Clean up kids

Neal Layton offers younger readers some great tips to help their families cut down on plastic use, which is so damaging to our environment

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Plastic pollution is posing a big problem for our environment. Living by the sea, it’s an issue my family and I cannot escape. It became such a concern for me that I decided to write a book about it for children – which my kids ended up getting really involved in too.

In A Planet Full of Plastic, I explain why plastic doesn’t biodegrade and why that makes plastic pollution such a problem – but I also talk about the exciting ways people are finding to tackle it. From scientists to engineers to families doing their weekly shopping, we can all do a bit, and make a big difference.

Here are my top tips to share with the children in your life to get them involved in fighting plastic pollution.

1. Refuse. When you’re shopping with your family, look at the things going into the trolley. Are they packaged in plastic? If so, try not to buy them – there might be alternatives without plastic packaging you can buy instead. If people buy fewer plastic things, companies will make fewer plastic things. And don’t forget about single-use plastics – do you really need the straw that’s about to go into your fizzy drink?

2. Reduce. One of the easiest ways to stop using plastic is to think about whether you really want or need the thing you’re about to buy. Don’t spend your hard-earned pocket money on an impulse buy or sweets wrapped in plastic. Instead, save up and get something you really love and will use for a long time.

3. Repair. Our electronic devices, from toys to alarm clocks to phones, are often cased in plastic. When they break, don’t automatically go out and buy something new. Electrical items can quite often be repaired. Why not pop into a repair cafe near you? Check out repaircafe.org/en.

4. Reuse. Get creative with the plastic you already own. Our houses are often filled with single-use plastics that could in fact be used for something else. Encourage the kids to get creative.

• A plastic bottle can water plants or even become a bird feeder

• Plastic cups make perfect pots to grow seeds in

• Decorate an old tub and turn it into a pen pot

• Turn old food trays into paint palettes.

5. Recycle as much as possible. Lots of plastic items we use in the home can be recycled after we’ve finished with them. We need to make sure we do, as much as possible. Parents can be too busy, so this is something young people can help with.

6. Return to nature. Sadly, not everyone disposes of plastic responsibly, and a lot ends up in nature where it doesn’t biodegrade. So grab some gloves and take part in a clean-up near you, whether it’s on a beach, in a park or on a street. You could do it for two minutes or 20, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation. Visit beachclean.net for some tips. ν

A Planet Full of Plastic is published by Wren & Rook (£12.99)

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