Watching My Family and The Galapagos this week renewed my obsession with plastic.
We produce over 280 million tonnes of plastic per year. Every bit of plastic that has ever been produced is still on the planet. Even though we can now see miles of plastic floating in the ocean, we are still producing plastic at the same rate.
This is madness.
How do we stop? Do we wait for manufacturers and retailers and governments to decide that it is a bad idea?
They will never do this, because this is a complicated problem and most of us live in Capitalist cultures.
This is ruled by supply-and-demand.
We need to take personal responsibility for our own consumption.
Think about your bin and recycling this week. Bearing in mind that it has been revealed that only one third of ‘recyclable’ plastic waste in the UK is actually recycled.
How much have you added to that ocean of plastic this week?
It is thoughts like this that I am aware of when I am shopping. And it is amazing what a difference it has made.
These are some of the changes I have made in the last 6 months:
- I no longer buy bottles of water ever. I used to occasionally forget my re-useable water bottle and buy a bottle. I don’t any more.
- I always have a re-useable coffee cup in the car. If a barista looks askance at me for asking them to fill my cup rather than their disposable cup, I explain why.
- I don’t buy pre-prepared salads or dips any more. I really liked these. When I waver, I remember the ocean. We try to make big batches of salad at the weekend, which do for mid-week lunches for a few days.
- I don’t buy fruit and veg or meat from supermarkets any more. This is expensive. But it makes us think about our consumption in other ways too!
- We are using bars of soap, solid shampoo and plastic-free deodorant. Next up is replacing plastic toothbrushes and razors with bamboo and metal alternatives.
- Cleaning products are difficult. I buy Ecover products, but many come in plastic bottles. I am choosing washing powder in a box, and I have reduced the amount of cleaning product I use. I scrub a bit more!
- I don’t use hair-styling products and my make-up is minimal, but I am now aware of the packaging with these products. If anything comes in unnecessary packaging, I’m not buying it. I might be less beautiful, but the planet will be that little bit more beautiful.
Things that I have not tackled yet, but also need to think about are:
- Stationery. I have a stationery fetish, so this is going to be hard. I bought Sellotape the other day that had completely unnecessary double packaging.
- Clothes. We have just started giving our children a clothing allowance. I don’t want them to buy really cheap clothes that have been unethically produced, but I do understand that they want to get the most for their money.
- Electricals. It sits uncomfortably with me that we have so many gadgets in our house and that their life-span is so short.
I talk to friends and family and colleagues, and we now share tips and ideas. One of my colleagues signposted me to this website for toiletries. Lush is also great too. I love RE for re-used and recycled gifts and household items.
Next up on my mission is talking to the organisations I am involved with. At work this week we were each given a little bottle of hand sanitiser and, inexplicably, a little plastic holster, so that we can clip it to our belt if we want to. I never knew my life was incomplete until I received that little red holster. Really, this is madness. And I will be emailing our Chief Exec!
I have had a disappointing email exchange with Sainsbury’s. I wanted to let them know why I’m not buying their fruit and veg and meat any more. They sent a standard email back saying that the environment is one of their priorities. Which is why their plastic trays have the ‘recycle’ stamp on them. Sorry, Sainsbury’s, but this is just not good enough. They have lost my loyalty. I would be interested to know how other supermarkets respond. How many complaints does it take to make a supermarket take notice? Is it just sales figures that they listen to?
Do you have any recommendations for plastic-free shopping? What changes could you make? What are the most painful sacrifices for you?
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