Keeping beach visits simple (and rubbish free) with children

There is a lot of debate around having rubbish bins at the beach, with the big question being – do they really help keep our beaches clean?

Here are a few simple ideas on how you and your whanau can help keep our beaches rubbish free

1. The first question we need to ask is if it is really necessary to take plastic toys, such as buckets and spades, diggers etc to the beach. Make the trip easier by leaving the toys at home.

2. Encourage your child to explore nature and create castles, sculptures and natural objects from the beach. Find crabs under the rocks. Collect shells, driftwood (and leave it at the beach, unless you know you are going to use it later). Explore the cliffs and rock pools.

3. Pack 1 bag, like a backpack if your children are walking or beach bag if you have a pushchair.  You only need one towel and all the children can share. Many of our beaches have shaded grassy areas to sit. It is OK to sit on the grass or sand.

4. Pack snacks from home into a lunch box and take water bottles (these will be your heaviest item). It may be easier to pack a large refillable bottle and some reusable cups if you have more than one child. If you are getting a take away ask the shop if you can return the rubbish to them afterwards. I’m sure they would be happy to oblige.

5. Some Mums say they need tissues and where do you put the snotty ones, or wipes for dirty hands. Just as you would take your dirty nappies home with you, you can also take these small items home with you. Wipes are not really environmentally friendly. Take along some damp flannels (or wet them at the taps at the beach). Put them into a wet bag and wash them later. These can be used to clean hands, faces, noses and bottoms. ( A packet of 10 flannels from the Warehouse will set you back $6 – compare that to the cost of wipes.) You can now get compostable rubbish bags. Put one in your bag for the dirty nappies, ice cream serviettes etc.

6. We can also encourage our children to look out for rubbish on our beaches and involve them in picking any up (adult supervision required for this of course to ensure it is safe to do so).

Let us teach our children to be environmentally aware and at the same time enjoy the beautiful natural environment around them.