In 2018 I gave birth to my son. That’s when things really changed. I want my child to be healthy, to grow up in a world with clean air and water, to experience how amazing nature is. I went on a mission to drastically reduce our waste and how much plastic we use as a family. Once you start to open your eyes you can’t unsee what you were once blind to... plastic is everywhere.

—Ashley Fox, Certified Positive Psychology Habits Practitioner and NLP coach.

It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the severity of climate change. When we think about the topic, we often feel a sense of impossibility and hopelessness. It’s a daunting reality that is often neglected due to the sheer size of the task at hand. But in Cayman, we smell Mount Trashmore every day, we feel the ever-intensifying storms each summer, and we see mangroves and coral reefs diminishing year-by-year. As parents, all we want is for our children to grow up healthy and happy on this beautiful island. But they can only do this if their environment permits it, and that’s where we come in.

Much like climate change, parenting a household can often feel impossible and hopeless so it’s understandable that climate consciousness falls to the wayside in a bustling household. We sat down with Ashley Fox: Sustainability Life Coach-in-training, avid beach clean-up volunteer, plastic-free living advocate and mother of one, to find out the easy changes you can make at home that positively impact the environment and teach your children to be climate-conscious.

Lead by Example

Take actions in your family home to demonstrate how you can make a positive impact on the environment. Reduce your household consumption and unnecessary waste by cutting down on the amount of plastic in your home. Of course, this does not mean you should throw away every bit of plastic in your cupboard. Re-use what you already have until it's no longer any good. Then you can replace it with more eco-friendly alternatives. Promote recycling in your home and go regularly to the recycling bins together. Whilst there, explain how recycling helps the planet.

Recycling Locations in Cayman

Save this handy list of all the recycling centres across Grand Cayman.

Volunteer Together

Plastic Free Cayman announces beach clean ups on their Facebook page each month. It’s a great family activity that keeps households active and eco-aware. You could even organise your own two-minute beach clean as you enjoy a weekend walk on the shore. Just remember that it’s important to stay safe. Wear gloves and protective footwear, and make sure to keep a keen eye on what little ones are picking up so they don’t touch anything sharp or dangerous. Visit plasticfreecayman.com for more information.

Let Children Ask Questions… and be Prepared with Answers

The science of climate change can be confusing and difficult to understand, but you don’t have to know the specific ins and outs to have a conversation about how your actions affect the planet. When little ones ask questions, be prepared with answers so they know they can open up to you about any worries or anxieties they have when they see images of, or hear about, climate disasters.

Helpful Tip

Prepare a 'zero waste kit' containing a tupperware, coffee cup, water bottle, reusable straw, cutlery, and a glass jar. Keep it in your car or your personal bag so you never get caught off-guard!

Litterless Lunches

Stop filling lunchbags with unnecessary plastic. Make use of paper bags (available in Foster's), tupperware and reusable water bottles. Buy loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket or, even better, the Farmer’s Market, to cut down on plastic waste.

Go Outside

This is such an easy one. Spend some time in nature and nurture a love of wildlife, animals and the ocean. Employ active conversations whilst out on your excursions to encourage an understanding of the environment. Try gardening, snorkelling and diving. Grand Cayman is rich in outdoor spaces just waiting to be explored and appreciated. These are the areas that we need to protect.

Grow Your Own Food

If you’re lucky enough to have the space to grow your own food at home, this is a fantastic way not only to lower your household’s carbon footprint (and grocery bill!), but also encourage a child’s relationship with the environment. Children can learn new skills, have fun and eat tasty and nutritious food whilst they do it. If you don’t have garden space to do this, try propagating store bought herbs in your kitchen or plant some basil seeds in a pot on your balcony. They are so easy to grow and you can teach your child how delicious they are in pasta sauce or on top of pizza.

D.I.Ys

D.I.Ys are really helpful, plus they are super fun! One great idea is to find a recipe online to make your own playdough. Not only does it remove plastic waste and the nasty chemicals, but your little ones will love spending the afternoon making it. Try baking crackers or your own healthier granola. Have fun with homemade pasta and bread, and even make your own paper chains for birthday parties! The possibilities are endless and the fun, even more so.

Meat-free Mondays

You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by adopting a plant-based diet, however, this is a huge change that can be very difficult for families. Join the horde of households that have adopted ‘Meat-free Mondays’. Explore new ingredients, textures and flavours and see it as a way into a vegetarian or vegan diet. As you cook your veggie or vegan meals, talk about why you are doing it and how this little change helps the planet in such a big way.

Be a Conscious Consumer

We can often feel like our actions make very little difference, but you always have a vote with your dollar. Choose to be a conscious consumer. Cut down on the amount of plastic you directly or indirectly purchase. Look for plastic-free gifts throughout the year to make Christmas time and birthdays much easier. Being on an island, it is often difficult to get your hands on these kinds of products. Buy these items when they appear in shops across the year. Also, try buying experiences rather than material gifts. They’re often more cherished!

Share with Family & Friends

We are all in this together, so why not share things with family and friends. Pass clothes, toys, books and games around households. Not only does it promote conscious consumerism, but it is very sociable as well. Similarly, utilise charity shops. Donate your unwanted items and buy the things you need there as well. Visit Ecocay.com for secondhand clothes as well as lots of other eco-conscious products.

Introduce Children to Books, TV Programmes & Movies on the Subject

If you can’t quite find the right words to help your child understand what our carbon footprint is, or how the world is getting hotter, or why fishes are disappearing from our oceans, books, films and TV shows are invaluable. There are so many options that not only help children understand climate change in an age-appropriate way, but provide entertainment for all the family! Each one helps young ones to conceptualise what's going on.

Children's Books, Films & TV

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss - This beautiful 1971 book was also made into an animated film in 2012.

WALL-E – A 2008 Pixar film about a solitary robot on a future, uninhabitable Earth in 2805 left to clean up all the rubbish.

The Tomorrow Book, Jackie French – A hopeful book about the possibilities from the greener world of tomorrow.

Disneynature Movies – Documentaries that tell the tale of many different animals. Every story is narrated by a famous voice including Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex.

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home – The Children's companion to David Attenborough's documentary.

Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet – All of David Attenborough's TV documentaries are beautifully shot, informative and entertaining.

Greta and the Giants, Zoë Tucker – A wonderful book inspired by Greta Thunberg's stand to save the world.

Clean Up!, Nathan Bryon – This book follows a little boy whilst on holiday as he discovers the pollution that’s spoiling their island home.

Down to Earth with Zac Efron – Teaches viewers about the importance of sustainability, nutrition and more as the hosts travel from the Amazon to Paris to Los Angeles, learning about environmental efforts around the world.

The Bee Movie – Bees are crucial to the health of our planet. Not only are bees vital to the ecosystem, but without them we would be in serious trouble, as this movie explores.

The Curious Garden, Peter Brown – One boy's quest for a greener world, one garden at a time.

Buy Local

Living on an island, we all rely on overseas imports every day. This importation of goods massively adds to Cayman's carbon footprint, and sadly, it's improbable that Cayman will ever be self-sustainable, given the Island's population density. One very accessible change we can make is to visit the Farmer's Markets on-Island. This way, we remove the emissions needed to transport food thousands of miles, and instead eat from Cayman's own soil. It's also a great way to support our local farmers and artisans. There are weekly Farmer's Markets at Camana Bay and the Cricket Grounds.

Talk

Be direct with children, explain how their actions affect the world around them. Of course, you should keep the conversation light and use language that will resonate with them. For example, tell them how, “The plastic in the ocean makes the fishes sick.” As adults, we feel a sense of doom surrounding the subject, so imagine how the adults of tomorrow feel. Continue to end conversations with hope. As a planet, there's still time for us to make a positive change, and save little ones from a potential disaster.

What’s really important to remember is that as a parent, you can’t expect to go from 0-100. By employing just one of these ideas, you are starting the ripple effect of change and teaching little ones how they can do better. The planet doesn't need a handful of people to be perfect, rather, it needs us all to be imperfect. As Ashley continued to remind us, “You don’t always win every time. Give yourself grace and do what’s sustainable for you and your family.”

Helpful Websites & Resources

PlasticFreeCayman.com – This not-for-profit has excellent resources on running a zero waste home, plus information on youth action and volunteering.

Ecocay.com – An online store with a wide selection of eco-friendly, plastic-free products.

Caymaneco.org – Provides helpful information specific to Grand Cayman such as a recycling Q&A and well as broader information such as Climate Science 101.

Handy Hints

In conversation with Ashley, we picked up some really helpful ideas that you, as a consumer, can implement in your home very easily:

  • Bulk Buy: sometimes, you simply cannot avoid plastic, so if you're going to buy it, buy as big as you can to reduce waste. The bulk section at Foster's supermarket is a great place to start.

  • Glass Over Plastic: glass can be endlessly recycled and and you will never risk chemical nasties leeching into your food.

  • Avoid 'Greenwashed' Products: sadly, many of our everyday items have become victim of 'greenwashing'. Do your research on what can be recycled in Cayman. Only plastic items marked with a 1 or 2 on the bottom can be recycled on-Island, so don't be fooled by that 'eco-friendly' coffee cup!

  • Switch up Your Searches: Try using Ecosia.org for internet searches. Ecosia is a not-for-profit organisation which dedicates 100% of profits to climate action, with at least 80% financing tree-planting projects. Have a search and see!

About Ashley Fox

Enrivonment Article Ashley Fox

I am Ashley Fox, a certified Positive Psychology Habits Practitioner and NLP coach. Over the course of the last three-and-a-half years I've been on a mission to reduce our household waste drastically and our household is now 85% plastic-free. Climate change, plastic pollution – these are all phrases that can trigger some people. It can feel so overwhelming, hopeless and confusing. That's where I come in! I’ve created Reinventive, Sustainable Mind as a programme to help people step into their power as a consumer. I want to make sustainable living easy, accessible and fun for each individual's lifestyle. I am currently building a waitlist for people that are ready to take their next step in reinventing their mindset. Thank you for being here; thank you for caring. Let’s be the change and walk into solutions, together. Email: Reinventive.Sustainable.Mind@gmail.com Instagram: @Reinventive.Sustainable.Mind