Going plastic-free seems to be a bit of a buzz right now – and rightly so!
We’ve all seen it – Attenborough’s expose of the devastating effect that plastic pollution is having on our environment. It is hard not to feel moved by the turtle desperately trying to pull free from a mesh of plastic or the hammer. Every time I watch the clip it brings me to tears and it inspired me, and so many others I know, to take steps toward a greener, plastic-free lifestyle.
I’m not going to be so bold as to say that my household is plastic-free, we are far from that. But we are working towards that dream; we are slowly making changes that mean we could, one day, be plastic-free and zero waste.
Not all of the changes we have made will be suitable for everyone. Myself, my husband (and pooch) live a life of privilege. We have good and regular wages, we enjoy cooking and have the skills to cook the vast majority of our food from scratch. We have free time around work that allows us to put a little bit more effort into being sustainable in our lifestyles. And, living in Devon, we have a lot of amenities close to us that allow for a greener lifestyle.
Supermarkets are notorious for wrapping everything in plastic! Tins come shrink-wrapped, bananas and salad are contained in non-degradable plastic bags, and even muesli is stored in plastic cartoons.
I have seen a lot of talk about direct action – of shoppers removing the plastic and leaving it in the shop. I have mixed thoughts on this. I fail to see how, unless done en-masse, this will make any difference. This action also risks the staff simply discarding the plastic in a landfill bin as opposed to recycling. Instead, I do my own direct action and shun buying fruit, vegetables, pulses and cereals from the supermarket. Tinned goods I do buy – just separately to avoid the shrink wrap.
I’m blessed to have a fantastic greengrocer just a few doors down from where I live. It is mostly organic and locally produced and the woman who runs it can tell me exactly where the produce came from. I buy the majority of goods from there where I can purchase the fruit and veg in old-fashioned brown paper bags. They also sell kilo bags of muesli and oats – the bags are, of course, made from paper. I’ve asked if she can source many of the grains and pulses that in my daily diet; couscous, bulgar wheat, and lentils. I’m hopeful these will follow shortly so that I can add a few more notches to my plastic-free belt.
Switching to shopping locally for produce has reduced the amount of plastic I’m using but also reduced my food waste as I buy what I need instead of the multipacks so often grabbed at the supermarket.
Carry reusable coffee cups and water bottles
Shop reusable coffee cups & water bottles
This is something that I have done for a long time. I carry a reusable thermos mug with me wherever I go. It means that I don’t need to use plastic lined coffee cups with plastic lids when travelling but it also means that I don’t burn my hand as much. A reusable coffee mug also means that the amount of stained white blouses I own has decreased as I dribble coffee less. I also get a discount on coffee with most coffee shops, simply for showing up with a reusable cup.
I also carry a water bottle with me wherever I go. Even when abroad! I’m yet to find a cafe or shop that won’t refill it for me for free – although trains is another matter entirely! I feel its shocking that I can get my water bottle refilled on a twelve-hour flight to Cuba but can’t on a two-hour train journey to London!
Business can also go plastic-free by installing water purification systems that don’t rely on those huge plastic water coolers that leave a destinctly chemical taste in the water!
Use Handmade Soap & Organic Beauty Products
One of the biggest producers of waste in my household was from beauty and hygiene products; the bottles of liquid handwash, shampoos, moisturisers, body scrubs, shower gels.
I have reduced this substantially by making my own body scrubs made from sea salt, brown sugar, honey and olive oil. My lip balms and essential oils are made by my sister-in-law and, although they come in little plastic pots, we reuse them by refilling with fresh balm. Lush run a similar service where all their plastic pots can be taken back to store for recycling and you recieve reward points for doing so.
I have also switched to handmade soaps – ditching my expensive liquid soaps for these long-lasting, natural, organic options. They are sulphate free but still create a wonderful lava on your body. You can buy them in a variety of flavours; the lemongrass and poppyseed variety has a fantastically mild exfoliating quality to it.
Have you started reducing plastic yet? There are so many other tips and tricks that I’m starting to use and I’ll definitely share more tips as I get them on my instagram!
Have you started your own plastic-free journey yet? I’d love to hear any tips you have!