A Guide to Sterilising Baby Equipment


A Guide to Sterilising for Babies

One of the wonderful things about breastfeeding, if you can do it, is that you don’t need to worry about sterilising. You just whip out a boob and it’s breakfast time! If you’re not breastfeeding, or even if you are expressing to bottle feed, you will need to ensure that all your breastfeeding equipment is sterile, at least for the first six months of feeding.

Although babies will develop immunity, for the first few months their immune systems are still getting up to full speed. Killing off any lurking bacteria will help prevent baby from developing illnesses like gastroenteritis which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration – all of which can be dangerous for babies. Sterilising feeding equipment will help keep baby healthy.

What do you need for sterilising?

Bottle brush

Dishwashing liquid

You’ll need to clean everything as soon as you can after baby has had a feed, or you’ve expressed using a breast pump. Once everything is clean, you can sterilise in a few different ways:

  • Boiling
  • Cold water with sterilisation chemicals
  • Steam – electric or microwave

How to sterilise:

You need to ensure that everything is properly clean before you can sterilise effectively. Putting unclean bottles or teats into the steriliser, whichever method you choose, won’t work properly if they’re not clean.

This means washing all bottles, teats, dummies and parts of bottles and breast pumps. Wash them in hot water, with dishwashing liquid. It’s best to do this with a bottle brush, so you can get into every part of the bottle. The best bottle brushes have teat cleaners, so that you can get into all the awkward parts of the teats and round the tops of baby bottles effectively.

Don’t forget to rinse all the dishwashing liquid off properly, by running everything under clean, hot water. It’s worth checking that you’re using an eco friendly dishwashing liquid that doesn’t contain ingredients such as triclosan.

Make sure that you wash your hands well before you sterilise baby feeding equipment, or making up a feed for baby.

Cold water sterilisation: this method uses chemical tablets containing bleach. Make sure that there is no air trapped in the bottles or teats, and immerse them completely in the solution. Generally, the sterilisation time is around 30 minutes. You’ll need to change the solution every 24 hours. My dislike with this method of sterilizing is that the instructions say not to rinse the solution off before using the equipment. I didn’t want to leave chemicals on, so I preferred to use a couple of different methods.

Steam sterilising: electric or microwave steamers sterilise equipment, usually taking around 5-10 minutes, depending on what type you choose. You can also get microwave steriliser bags[link] for on the go. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as different devices are used in different ways. No chemicals required with this method, as the heat of the steam kills any bacteria.

Boiling: Make sure that whatever you need to sterilise can be boiled. Just bring a large pot of water to the boil on the stovetop, and boil your equipment for 10 minutes. If you’re using latex teats or dummies, it’s worth noting that this method will mean that you need to replace them more often. It is a great way to sterilise glass bottles, however. As with steam sterilizing, you don’t need to use any chemicals as the heat kills the bacteria.

How long do you need to go on sterilising for?

The advice on how to long to sterilise seems to differ according to which website you check. The South Australian Government recommends six months, the Victorian Government recommends twelve. The British Government says six months is good, but twelve months if you’d prefer.

Personally, I figured that by around six months, my babies were putting anything and everything into their mouths, so that was probably long enough. However, keeping all feeding equipment scrupulously clean is a no brainer, and if your baby has had any illnesses sterilisation is probably worth continuing until they are twelve months just to give their immune systems a helping hand.

Hints and Tips

There are small sterilisers for on the go, e.g. microwave steriliser bags and dummy sterilisers. These are very handy when you’re on the go or travelling with a young baby.

If you’re out and about, it’s often worth taking a couple of extra dummies in a clean container so that you’re not without one if your baby drops it.

Further reading:

UK government advice

Victorian Government advice:

SA Government advice


What’s the difference between bioplastic and recycled plastic?

Bioplastic vs Recycled Plastic

Not that many years ago, it was very difficult to find any baby companies offering environmentally friendly products. Now, though, parents face an embarrassment of riches, and it can be challenging to sort through companies’ claims to determine which business offers the best product.

Today we’re talking plastics. Plastic has long been a dirty word in environment circles, but nowadays there’s a lot of awareness and when it comes to toys, parents can find a variety of so-called environmentally friendly plastics. Two of these that are popping up a lot are recycled plastics and bioplastics.

What is Bioplastic?

Bioplastics are all the rage in the green movement right now. We’ll spare you the complex chemistry of these products, particularly since there are so many types of bioplastics. Basically, though, bioplastics share one key feature in common: they’re made from renewable resources, such as sugar cane or corn, or even from by products like wood bark, bamboo fibre and corn husks. Standard plastics are made using petrochemicals and fossil fuels.

The aim of bioplastics is to ensure that the process of manufacturing the plastics doesn’t rob our planet of its natural resources the same way traditional plastic manufacturing processes do.

The challenge with bioplastics is that the process of making these materials is not always ecologically friendly. Toxic waste may be released into the water or atmosphere. Bioplastics made from foodstuffs like corn raise ethical dilemmas about whether world food prices are increasing to fuel the Western World’s demand for consumer items.

What is Recycled Plastic?

Recycled plastic, as the name implies, is made from recyclable material. This generally means that it can be recycled once again. Like bioplastics, recycled plastics are made from a wide variety of materials, and the environmental impacts of the manufacturing process vary significantly depending on the specific plastic you use.

What about biodegradability?

The word bioplastic doesn’t mean that it’s biodegradable, it simply means that it’s made plant based sources. Some bioplastics are biodegradable, some aren’t.The aim with bioplastics is not always biodegradability, but to make plastics from sustainable, renewable resources.

You may be able to compost bioplastics, but this depends on the material; in some cases only industrial composting is possible. To ensure that the bioplastic you’re choosing is biodegradable, check with the manufacturer.

Recycled plastics aren’t biodegradable, which makes it so important to recycled them again when you’re done.

Are these plastics safe in toys?

As always, it depends upon the type of plastic. If you’re choosing toys made from recycled plastics, make sure that it’s a safe plastic. For a guide on safe plastics, check out our blog post: What do the numbers on plastics mean?

Two trustworthy brands that are available in Australia are Dandelion Re-Play and Green Toys

There’s a new brand in the US making headlines, called Bioserie. Bioserie have developed a bioplastic specifically for children’s toys, and the range of toys is due to be released later in 2014. There’s no word on biodegradability, but they’re free from all the nasties that can be associated with plastic toys.

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Eco Tip – Ditch the Single Use Plastic Straws

There’s nothing better than slurping down an ice cold juice or a smoothie with a straw. Straws are great for babies and toddlers, too, as many babies learn to use a straw early on and this allows them to drink independently from a sippy cup.

Single use plastic straws, however, are a bit of an issue.

  • They’re not biodegradable.
  • They’re not BPA free.
  • They are used in their millions every day. It’s estimated that McDonald’s alone uses 60 million straws per day, worldwide.
  • They are the number one item washed up on beaches.
  • You can only use them once.
  • They’re not recyclable.

This doesn’t mean that you need to give up drinking straws forever, though. There are alternatives!

Glass straws

Yes, you heard right. There are glass straws available. They look pretty cool, and because they’re clear, you can easily see whether they’re clean or not.

However, being the mother of two boys who bit and chewed everything, I can completely understand if you’re reluctant to give a glass straw to a child. Check out these super-strong Pyrex glass straws from Raw Blend. Pyrex is 6 times stronger than normal glass – perfect for kids!

Biodegradable paper straws

Available in heaps of colours and designs, paper straws are a great disposable alternative to plastic straws. They’re ideal for parties, and you can colour co-ordinate them to match your party theme.

Paper straws are great. They’re biodegradable, so you don’t have the litter issues like you do with plastic straws. If they do get into the waterways, they break down. They’re naturally BPA free, so they’re better for our health.

The problem is that these are still a single use item. They’re better because they’re biodegradable, but we’d be doing even better if we used the item over and over again.

Stainless steel straws

Which is where stainless steel straws come in! These will last forever, they can be washed in the dishwasher, they’re fully recyclable and they look pretty cool too.

I think the only problem with these is that you can’t see through them for cleaning, but this is easily solved with a straw cleaning brush that you can just run up and down the straw. Easy peasy.

Bamboo straws

You can even buy drinking straws made from bamboo. They’re not particularly easy to find at the moment, but as bamboo becomes more popular, I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of them.

Bamboo straws are great – they’re natural, they biodegrade, and bamboo grows very quickly and without pesticides. They’ll last for ages, and then you can compost them. What a great idea!

If you’re looking for alternatives to plastic straws, check out the range of stainless steel straws here at Hello Charlie.

Helpful links:


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The many uses of castile soap

The Many Uses of Castile Soap

The Many Uses of Castile Soap

Castile soap is one of the multi-functional heroes of my house. I love it because it contains all natural ingredients that I recognize and that are good for the environment and for my skin, but I also love it because you can use it for so many things!

Uses for castile soap

You can use castile soap for so many things! Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

1. Wash your car

Add it to some warm soapy water to use for getting the dirt of your car, then rinse your car as normal with fresh water.

2. Use castile soap to bath your pets

Just wet your dog with warm water, then use a couple of squirts of castile soap (peppermint would be good) to make a lather. Keep the soap out of their eyes and ears, then rinse your dog off.

If you’re going to wash your cat, use the unscented baby version, as cats can be allergic to essential oils.

3. Use castile soap to wash your baby

Just use a little bit on a soft facewasher or cloth and gently wash baby’s body. This will help control where the soap goes, and means you won’t get it in baby’s eyes. Although a good castile soap is all natural, it doesn’t mean it’s tear free, so keep it away from baby’s face.

4. Use castile soap to clean your toilet

Yep, you read that right. Just make up a spray from 2 cups of water, 1/8th cup of castile soap, and ½ teaspoon of tea tree oil.

Spray the inside of the bowl (and the outside if you want!). Put some baking soda on your toilet brush and use that to scrub the inside of the bowl. Wipe down the outside of the toilet bowl with a cloth, flush the toilet and away you go!

There’s a more detailed post here from Lisa Bronner.

5. Use it as hand soap

I have an old liquid soap pump that I leave on the kitchen bench, and every few weeks I fill it three quarters full with water, and one quarter full with citrus castile soap (my favourite for the kitchen). Diluting your soap like this does mean that it has a shorter life span, but as our kitchen sink is where we all wash hands after feeding dogs, cats, preparing dinners, coming in from outside, etc, we go through hand soap in the kitchen pretty quickly.

This way, I cut down on the amount of soap the kids use (they sure do love to squirt soap, although I’m not sure what they actually do with it as their hands always seem just as dirty afterwards!), but you still get a good lather up.

6. Use it in the shower

It’s so mild on skin (even the tingly peppermint soap) that my notoriously dry skin is completely fine. I love the thick, creamy lather you get up, too.

My husband uses it for shampoo, too, although I find that it doesn’t seem to work so well for my hair.

7. Use castile soap to wash clothes

You can use castile soap to make a laundry liquid. You can do 64 washes with just one cup of soap, according to this useful recipe.

8. Wash fruit and vegetables with castile soap

Just add one tablespoon of unscented castile soap to 2 cups of water, and keep it in a squirt or spray bottle near where you wash your fruit and veg.

9. Scrub your stovetop with castile soap

Make up a solution of 1/3 castile soap to 2/3 water. Sprinkle some baking soda on your stove top, spray the castile soap solution on it, leave for ten minutes or so and then give it a scrub. You can also use this method on the bathtub or bathroom tiles.

You can use the diluted soap mix as a general purpose cleaner around the house, or for mopping floors, too.

10. Get rid of garden pests

Put a teaspoon of castile soap into a litre of water, and spray it on your plants. Works a treat!

What is castile soap made from?

Castile soap is made from vegetable oils, not animal fats and petrochemicals. The name comes from where the soap was made, in the Castile region of Spain, although there are records showing that it was made even earlier in Aleppo, in Syria, thousands of years ago.

The basis of castile soap is olive oil, but you’ll find that other vegetable oils are used, such as coconut oil, hemp oil, palm oil and jojoba oil.

Okay, time to put the nerd hat on! The oil is mixed with an alkali: sodium hydroxide for solid soap, and potassium hydroxide for liquid soap. Although these are harsh chemicals, the magic of saponification (the chemical reaction that takes place between the oils and the acids during the soap making process) means that these disappear and become glycerin and potassium or sodium salt.

If you’re still feeling nerdy, and want more information about how this process works, check out a couple of links I’ve included at the bottom of the article.

You can also add essential oils to make it smell nice, and some Vitamin E and citric acid to keep the soaps fresh. And that’s it – that’s all you’ll find in a good quality castile soap. That’s why they’re biodegradable, and so much better for your skin and the environment than other soaps which can be a complex chemical mashup of detergents.

Castile soap is:

  • Kind to the environment, as it is non toxic and biodegradable
  • Gentle enough to use for the whole family (although it is best to choose unscented versions for babies and young children)
  • Cheap! It can be diluted and used for many purposes

Like any other product that you buy, make sure that you check the ingredients on the back rather than the greenwash on the front of the pack. Hello Charlie stocks the Dr Bronner’s range of liquid castile soaps. We use them at home and at work, and we can highly recommend them!

Further reading:

Saponification: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponification

Soap making: https://www.drbronner.com/our-story/legacy/quality-soaps-explained/

Lisa Bronner blog: http://www.lisabronner.com/


Eco Tip – Recycle Soft Plastics at Coles Supermarkets in Australia

We can recycle heaps of stuff in Australia – aluminium cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass, hard plastic, paper. But did you know that you can recycle soft plastics at Coles supermarkets around Australia? All those plastic bags that won’t go into your recycling bin are now being turned into outdoor furniture, playgrounds and signs for communities and schools. How good is that?

You can pop any of the following plastics into a REDcycle bin in your local Coles, and they’ll be recycled:

  • plastic shopping bags
  • bread bags
  • frozen food bags
  • rice and pasta bags
  • biscuit wrappers
  • lolly packets
  • cereal box liners
  • fruit and vegetable bags
  • old green bags
  • newspaper and magazine wrappers
  • any soft and flexible plastics that you can scrunch up in your hand!
  • There are REDcycle bins in over 470 Coles supermarkets throughout Australia. See the list of Coles supermarkets with REDcycle bins here: http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/locator
Recycling soft plastics at Coles Supermarkets

Ten of the biggest Australian food companies, including Birdseye, Arnotts, Cadbury,Tip Top and Sunrice, have teamed up to take responsibility for their product packaging, and they’re covering the costs of collection and recycling of all these plastics.

In just six months from December 2012 to June 2013, consumers recycled more than 82 tonnes of soft plastic – that’s 20.5 million pieces of plastic!

All this plastic goes to Replas in Melbourne, who turn all these plastics into products as diverse as outdoor furniture, bollards, fencing and playgrounds. All their plastic waste is collected in Australia.

If you don’t have a REDcycle bin near you, you can even post it to:

RED Group

Att: Plastic Packaging Recycling

80C Maffra Street

Coolaroo Vic 3048

For more information, have a look at this video from Replas on the ‘Pull Through Effect’ and have a look at the kinds of products that can be made from recycled plastics.

Fighting coughs and colds – naturally

Natural Remedies for Colds and Coughs Blog Header

Natural Remedies for Colds and Coughs Blog Header

Top Tips to fight coughs and colds – naturally

It’s winter here in Melbourne, and with the cold weather comes coughs and colds. Both the children and I have been battling a horrible cold all week, so we’ve been testing all the remedies in this week’s blog.

If you still manage to get a cold, what’s the best way to shake it off?

1. Have a cuppa

The heat from a hot drink will help loosen the mucus so that you can cough it out (and you really should cough it out – keeping infected mucus in your chest is really not a great idea!). A hot drink will also soothe a sore throat, at least for a while.

2. Stay hydrated

Every sneeze, every honk into the hanky means that you’re losing moisture, and becoming less hydrated. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, herbal teas and soups. Keeping up the hydration also helps to keep mucus thinner and less sticky, so it’s easier to cough up. Just make sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine.

3. Breathe in some steam

It’s an old remedy, but it’s a good one. Once again, the steam will help to loosen mucus. You’ll breathe easier and be able to cough without it being quite as racking. To make the steam, you can either run a hot shower and sit in the bathroom for a while, or do it the old fashioned way – pop some hot water in a basin, put a towel over your head and lean over the basin and breathe.  You can pop some herbs in to the steaming water to help clear your nose – eucalyptus, thyme, peppermint or rosemary will help, or add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to a steam bath. Don’t use these if you’re pregnant, or on small children.

Lie down on your stomach, have someone place a towel over your back and give you some firm pats to try and help expel mucus. Spit out any mucus that you cough up.

Another alternative is to use a humidifier to add some moisture to dry air. Check out the gorgeously stylish ones from Aroma Bloom.

4. Sort out your sore throat

Try gargling with salt water a few times a day. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it really does work. A somewhat sweeter option is to have a spoonful of honey. Honey works well on coughs and can help prevent secondary bacterial infections. Add a couple of spoons to a cup of herbal tea. Don’t give to honey to young children, though.

5. Get some rest

Rest and relax. Get someone else to help out with the housework, have a nana nap or just get to bed early. This will give your body a chance to fight the germs. It may sound easier said than done, but if you’re run down, you’re much more likely to get sick, so take care of yourself!

Menthol infused ointment under the nose can help relieve a blocked or stuffy nose, and the menthol has a mild numbing agent that can help relieve the pain of a nose that’s raw from blowing or wiping.

6. Rug up

The old wives’ tale about getting cold means you’ll catch a cold does have some truth to it. If your body is busy trying to get warm, it’s too busy to fight cold viruses away. When you do have a cold, getting a temperature is your body’s natural way of fighting germs – germs can’t survive in the higher temperature.

7. Use a menthol balm

Menthol infused ointment under the nose can help relieve a blocked or stuffy nose, and the menthol has a mild numbing agent that can help relieve the pain of a nose that’s raw from blowing or wiping.

Rubbing a natural menthol balm onto your chest before you go to sleep will help you to breathe easier through the night.  Try one of the natural ones from Badger or Little Innoscents, and you’ll be able to use it on children, too.

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure! Stop yourself from getting a cold in the first place, with these When the first of my children started to show symptoms of a cold, I should have done everything I could to prevent myself from catching it.

Of course, it’s best not to get a cold in the first place! Here’s our top five tips to prevent yourself from catching a cold:

1. Eat a balanced diet

The first thing is to make sure that you’re eating properly. Lots of fruit and veg in your diet will ensure that you’ve got all the vitamins and minerals that you need to fight any viruses that come your way.

2. Get some extra vitamins

While I’m not a big believer in vitamin supplements, getting some extra vitamin C in your diet by way of some of the delicious mandarins that are in season at the moment will certainly help out. Add a few extra cloves of garlic to your dinner, too, as garlic has long been considered to prevent colds. Have a curry, and add an extra spoonful of turmeric to ward off germs, too.

3. Exercise moderately

Get out in the fresh air. Exercising moderately will keep you healthy, and if you get out and get a walk in the fresh air, you’ll get your body temperature up, too, which will help fight off germs.

4. Get some fresh air through your house

Open the doors and windows in your house. Get rid of the toxins and germs that build up you’re your house is sealed up against the cold. Germs can’t escape if you don’t let them out, which means they’ll circulate and everyone will catch the cold. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to clear the air.

5. Wash your hands.

Wash your hands properly, and you’ll stop germs transferring. If you’re out and about and can’t wash your hands as often as you’d like, use a natural hand sanitiser like Squeakie, MelroseEO or Envirocare.

What are your favourite natural remedies for preventing and fighting colds and coughs? Share in the comments below.

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How to Make Your Own Reusable Baby Wipes

It’s really easy to make your own baby wipes at home. You’ll save money, you know exactly what’s going onto your baby’s bum, and you’ll be saving the environment all at the same time.

Washable baby wipes are brilliant – they really clean up the mess, and even a really bad blowout only uses a couple of wipes. On the occasions that I did use disposable wipes, I found that I needed more disposables than reusables to clean my babies up.

I used reusable wipes both at home and when we were out and about. I got into a routine, and I found it pretty easy. We were cloth nappying, so I used to throw the wipes in with the nappies. Even if you aren’t cloth nappying, though, it’s pretty easy to use washable baby wipes.

Vanessa’s Make Your Own Baby Wipes Recipe

Here’s how I used to do my reusable wipes. Wash them, and hang them in the sunshine to bleach naturally.

I have a big glass bowl, and I always put the next day’s wipes into the bowl (ususally about 15-20 wipes) and poured a kettle of boiling water over the top. Then I added a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of lavender oil to the water, mixed it around a bit and allowed the wipes to cool. The boiling water kills any leftover bacteria not killed by the sun, the tea tree oil adds some natural antibacterial protection, and the lavender gives a bit of soothe (and hides some of the tea tree smell, which I dislike!).

Once the wipes cooled, I wrung them out, popped them into a plastic container with a lid, and put them on the change table. I had a smaller container for getting out and about with, and I always had a biodegradable nappy bag to put any dirty wipes in.

I found this method really straightforward, and I did it for years with both my boys.

Another Foolproof Method for Making Your Own Baby Wipes 

The other option, which I like to think of as the dry wipes option, is that you make up a spray solution and spray it directly onto the wipes when you’re ready to use them.

There are loads of recipes for the spray solution, but here’s a really easy one:

  • 1 tablespoon of Dr Bronner’s pure castile soap
  • Couple of drops of essential oil (you can choose whateveryou like for antibacterial or aromatherapy)
  • 3 cups water

Mix it up and pop it into a spray bottle. You’ll need to do this every week to make sure that the spray doesn’t go off.

I’ve also seen versions of this where the water is replaced with three cups of chamomile tea (chamomile is a traditional remedy for nappy rash).

You can also use these solutions with cotton wool, like the Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Pleat or Baby Cleansing Pads.

Which cloth to use for reusable wipes?

Cloth wipes are pretty easy to make with some facewashers, or even some cut up flannel material (although in my experience, you really need to take the time to stitch the hems of flannel material, otherwise it frays). I’ve also tried Chux wipes after reading this idea somewhere, but I can tell you that these are a terrible option!

Here are three great brands that we stock at Hello Charlie:

Nature’s Child Organic Cotton Reusable Baby Wipes

Cost: 3 pack $9.95 (Buy Some)


Charlie Banana Organic Cotton Wipes

Love these – they’re so soft that our whole family uses them as facecloths, and I love them for removing makeup!

Cost: 10 pack $17.95 (Buy Some)


GroVia Cloth Wipes

Super soft terry cloth wipes. Not organic or bamboo, but they’ll still reduce your eco footprint.

Cost: 12 pack $17.95 (Buy Some)


Pea Pods Reusable Bamboo Wipes

Nice and soft, and in their own handy wash bag.

Cost: 5 pack $9.95 (Buy Some)


Under the Nile Organic Wipes

Gorgeously thick and soft and made from 100% organic cotton

Cost: 12 Pack $27.95 (Buy Some)

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What do the numbers on plastics mean?

What do the numbers on plastics mean?

What do the numbers on plastics mean?

Which plastics are healthier for you and more easily recyclable?

Do you know which plastics contain BPA?

#1 plastics: PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)

These are usually soft drink bottles, water or juice bottles. Easily recycled into products such as polarfleece, bottles and even carpet fibres.

PET can break down over time and leach, so it’s best not to reuse these bottles. Recycle them straight away.

PET does not contain BPA, as it isn’t used in the production of PET plastic.

Is it safe?

#2 plastics: HDPE (high density polyethylene)

Used for milk bottles, juice and water bottles, as well as detergents, cleaners and skincare products. It’s usually white or opaque.

HDPE can be recycled into all sorts of products, including pallets, other bottles, bins, pipes and even into park benches and children’s playgrounds. It’s also increasingly being used as recycled plastic toys.

HDPE is considered to be a safe plastic. It does not contain BPA.

#3 plastics: PVC (polyvinyl chloride or plasticised polyvinyl chloride)

Used for things like plastic food wrap, plumbing pipes and cooking oil containers.

PVC can contain BPA and phthalates – it’s best to avoid plastics with the #3 where possible. PVC plastics can also leach DEHP, which is suspected of being a human carcinogen.

Is it safe?

#4 plastics: LDPE (low density polyethylene)

Used for bread bags, supermarket bags and some food wraps.

Considered to be a safe plastic, but it’s not very often accepted by recycling programs. Supermarkets will often have supermarket bag recycling bins in store.

Is it safe? 

#5 plastics: PP (polypropylene)

Sometimes a cloudy plastic, like in sauce bottles. Sometimes it’s clear, and sometimes it’s coloured, like in yoghurt pots.

Does not contain BPA or phthalates, and is recommended for use as baby bottles, among other things. Easily recycled into things like worm farms and recycling bins.

Is it safe? 

#6 plastics: PS (polystyrene)

It’s used in disposable plates and cups, as well as one off packaging, especially around electrical goods.

Polystyrene or styrofoam is another one to avoid, as it is not easily recycled and can leach styrene – a human carcinogen.

Is it safe?

#7 plastics: other (all other plastics, including acrylic and nylon)

This is a tricky one, as any plastic that doesn’t fit into numbers 1 to 6 are lumped into #7 plastics – ‘other’.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid #7 clear plastics, especially polycarbonate (PC) as this contains BPA.

However, there are other plastics in this category that are BPA free and safe – these are the #7 opaque plastics.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), which Lego is made from, is a safe plastic. BabyBjorn also use ABS – it’s BPA free.

Plastics made from corn starch resin are lumped into the #7 category, and these are BPA free too.

Nylon is BPA free, and it’s a #7.

The trick with this category is to avoid clear plastic #7, and to buy from a brand you trust (which means asking the manufacturer or supplier some hard questions!)

Is it safe? That depends on the plastic. 


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Websites where you can donate everyday items

Shoes for Planet EarthHow your unwanted stuff can help disadvantaged people …

I spent a couple of weeks over the Christmas break having a bit of a clear out at home. We have a small house, which is a good thing, but it means that we really need to keep on top of all the ‘stuff’ at home.

I donated a heap of stuff to our local charity shops, but there’s always a few things that I’m not sure whether or not you can donate. Hence the pile of outgrown children’s shoes in our hall cupboard – they’re too good to throw away, but can you donate them to charity shops?

Thankfully, I’ve just come across a great list of websites where you can donate everyday items.


Send your old shoes to Shoes for Planet Earth for children in need in Australia and overseas. A few tips on donating shoes:

  1. Give them a clean, either by hand or by popping them into the washing machine;
  2. Tie them together in matching pairs so that they stay together;
  3. No holes and good soles, please – the shoes need to last a whole winter;
  4. Send any spare shoelaces and inner soles, too, as many shoes come without these;
  5. Why not pop in a couple of dollars when you send your shoes to help get the shoes to those in need?

Leap on to the website for info on where to send them.


Send your unwanted bras (especially nursing bras!) to disadvantaged women in Fiji, the Phillipines and Vanuatu. Find out why bras are important to women’s and infants’ health by hopping on to their website. You’ll also be able to find out where to send the bras to.


Recycle your old mobile and help fight youth cancer. CanTeen are raising $15 million to establish a network of specialised cancer facilities for young people across Australia.

Print a label from the website, and post it to Youth Cancer free of charge.


OPSM recycle glasses for people in need, both here in Australia and in developing countries. Old glasses are cleaned and repaired, then fitted to someone who needs them. Give the gift of sight, just by dropping your old glasses into an OPSM store.


If your child’s drum kit was a one hit wonder, why not donate it to the Australian Children’s Music Foundation? The ACMF helps disadvantaged children access music programmes and helps out with free musical instruments. It’s music to my ears!


Taken from The Week, 17-23rd February 2012.

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