Free to Go Plastic Free?
The plastic free movement has been gaining more and more momentum recently, as people become aware of the harmful effects plastic has on our environment, our bodies and climate change. In less than 70 years, we have managed to create 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, and by 2050 our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight – it is very clear that plastic is a huge issue. However, many people following the movement may doubt whether it’s a plausible or even possible lifestyle.
‘Life Without Plastic’ Via Treehugger.com
Our project manager Olivia recently started her plastic free life and has a few words to say on the subject:
‘Living plastic free is easier than you might think – sure, it takes preplanning, a bit of work, experimentation, investments, some frustrations and inevitable failures, but above all these first two months in my @livplasticfree journey have been deeply fulfilling.
Fulfilling knowing that my weekly bag of rubbish won’t end up in landfill or our oceans (Blue Planet II made it only too clear why this HAS to stop); fulfilling to become increasingly aware that our individual actions do make a difference; but most importantly fulfilling to be part of an ever growing movement who through popular pressure are affecting real change.
I hope that through my actions I can inspire and motivate others, but for now I just want to source some toothpaste in a glass jar that doesn’t taste like dirt – this should be easy right?!’
Here are ten tips to help you get started on you plastic free journey today:
1. The first step to take is to take a look at how much plastic you are using – this will give you a starting point to reduce from, as by just noting down how many plastic coffee cups or disposable razors you use in a week you can gain an idea of where you need to cut down most. As our Programme Producer Victoria says: “Progress not Perfection!”
2. Then start to make small changes that cut down your use of plastic. For example, buy a reusable stainless steel water bottle so that you are not continuously buying bottled water, and what about bamboo or stainless steel lunch boxes?
3. Another easy change to make is to ensure that you always have reusable shopping bags accessible. Making people pay 10p for a plastic bag from Tesco’s may be a step in the right direction, but simply keeping a few canvas bags to hand when shopping can really make a difference in the amount of plastic we use.
4. Being plastic free whilst going out and in social situations also doesn’t have to be tricky; invest in a reusable metal straw so you don’t have to use plastic ones in bars and restaurants – it’s a small utensil that you can easily fit into a handbag or jacket pocket.
5. Try to make use of farmers markets and local food stores where less produce is in plastic packaging. Find stores and markets that use paper packaging, or bring your own plastic container to a market that you can reuse each week.
6. Start making your own cleaning products: mix vinegar and water for a multi-purpose spray, or make toothpaste using baking soda, salt and essential oils.
7. For people who menstruate, there are also several alternative sanitary products you can use to reduce your plastic use – try out a menstrual cup that you only need to replace after years of using it, or washable cloth pads.
8. Start making a few foods from scratch as well – like yoghurt or condiments to avoid using up plastic containers. You could also try and find a milk delivery service near you that uses glass milk bottles, or just give up dairy all together and get crafty making your own oat or almond milk (get the nuts from a whole foods store straight out the jar into your canvas bag, or a jar from home).
9. Buy things second-hand or through sites such as freecycle and gumtree. This way – if it’s really necessary – you can purchase a plastic chair or table second hand, getting as much use out of it as possible. The amount of still functioning products we throw away and replace is a big part of the problem.
10. Finally, joining a community of like-minded plastic reducers can really help make a plastic free life an easy one. Through plastic free groups you can share tips and ask questions to make the experience easier.