The plastic issue has gained way more traction in the last year. Ordinary people are becoming more aware and making changes in their own lives to reduce their plastic intake. It’s a talking point – and when in shops and restaurants people are praising for us refusing plastic bags or straws. It’s incredible, I never thought I’d see this happen so quickly.
But we still have more to do. Awareness is the first step, the next is action. I’ve been living a reduced plastic life for a couple years now and I’m telling you it CAN be done. With a truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute worldwide, reduction of plastic intake is essential.
Recycling (although great) is not the answer. In the UK only half of what we put in our recycle bins is actually getting recycled. The ‘contaminated’ stuff is getting dumped in overflowing landfills and we’re still paying other countries to take our waste. Some of these countries don’t have good enough waste systems of their own so it ends up being dumped in their landfills.
“The UK exports around twice as much plastic packaging for recycling as it processes domestically – mostly to Asia.” – Unearthed report
I don’t want to do into detail of the affects of this plastic on our oceans. If you’ve found yourself here my guess is that you’re already aware of the extent of the damage and you’re looking for ways to make a change. If you don’t know what I’m talking about or if you want to know more about it I’d recommend watching the Netflix documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’.
The whole situation can be really overwhelming to begin with, I’ve been there. You’re one in 7 billion, can you really make a difference? The answer is yes. This beautiful community of sustainable / plastic free / zero waste living started with single people and now we’re making huge waves of change together in the world. So join us! There’s loads of things you can do to make a difference.
Try soap and shampoo bars. They’re not just great for travelling but reduce an incredible amount of plastic. PLUS I just love the smell of them. I use LUSH but there are loads of great brands selling similar products (for cheaper). If you’re new to shampoo bars you have to try it for at least a month. Your hair takes some time to get used to the lack of chemicals but it’s so worth it in the end.
Shop local! I’ve recently discovered a community market near me that sells not just yummy organic fruit and veg but also has a refill station for dried foods and cleaning products! I actually look forward to going to it every week to top up my jars of rice, nuts and I can even get liquid shampoo and shower gel for Francis who isn’t the biggest fan of shampoo bars and soap.
If you don’t have anything like this near you consider getting a veg box delivered. It’s fun to get a different selection of vegetables each time, it gets you out of the grind of making the same meals every week.
Invest in a couple of bamboo sporks or a small cutlery set to pop in a bag. The amount of waste I’ve managed to avoid with these things is actually incredible. They take up no room at all and they cost barely anything either so if I end up leaving a couple of them in an airbnb in Croatia by accident it’s no big deal…
Get a water bottle or a flask. If you regularly drink coffee / tea or don’t have access to a tap when you’re out and about, one of the best things you can invest in is a flask or water bottle (or both!). I’d recommend spending a little more on a metal / bamboo one as the hard plastic containers, even BPA free ones, still may be able to leach chemicals into your drink… eek. Most coffee shops are now offering money off if you bring your own cup as well so you are even saving money! Win win!
If you can’t find items in a supermarket plastic free, leave the packaging at the til! Loads of people are doing it now as a peaceful protest and it seems to be very effective. I have to admit I’ve never been brave enough to do it but between refill stations, markets and veg boxes I usually buy very little in the supermarket.
Don’t be afraid to ask for items plastic free. It’s a really great talking point at the moment. I’ve asked plenty of times for no straw, no bag, a glass instead of a plastic cup, ‘do you have any of these without plastic packaging?’. More times than not you’ll get people respecting your decisions and being as helpful as they can. Some people love talking about it too, you may even be able to strike up a conversation.
The main thing to remember is that going ‘plastic free’ is not a simple task. At the beginning it takes a little more planning but as you get used to it it becomes second nature. If you feel overwhelmed by all of this just choose one to focus on first and then bring in more things over time. If you screw up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember that a plastic free lifestyle is not about being perfect. It’s about taking practical steps towards you becoming a more sustainable human. 🙂
If you have any more tips please comment them below or if you’re completely new to this I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or head over to Instagram!