How are you? I am sorry it has been a while but I haven’t forgotten about you.
Plastic Free July has now been finished for over a month and I am wondering how you are feeling about the challenge today. How did you get on? Have you changed your habits? Are you surprised about the sheer amount of plastic surrounding us?
After my first Plastic Free July I was rather overwhelmed by the amount of plastic packaging everywhere. I found it really frustrating and nearly impossible to start making changes. The main lesson I have learned was to take one step at the time. It is impossible to change everything immediately, so remember small changes already make a difference.
To help you get on your way to plastic free living, here are my top 5 tips for getting started:
Bring your own bag
Before the introduction of the plastic bag charge, Scotland used over 800 million single use bags every year (that is 800,000,000 equivalent to 2,191,781 bags a day). Since then, the use of plastic bags dropped by 80%, (that’s 650 million bags). Considering that we need oil and energy to produce plastic bags, both of which are finite resources, and we only use these bags once before sending them to landfill is beyond bad, if you don’t want to call it completely mad. Even worse is, that a lot of these bags end up damaging the environment. They are littering cities, towns, roadsides, forests, beaches and even the sea. A lot of people are unaware the damage these bags cause to animals: they get poisoned by the toxic components which are released as the bag disintegrates, they choked to death when they get caught in the bag, they starve to death because their stomachs are full of plastic bags.
Using a cloth bag or even reusing your old plastic bag as many times as possible is already a great step towards less plastic in your life. I have a range of cotton bags and I always carry one with me. Once I have emptied it at home after a shopping trip I put it straight back in my bag. If I go for a larger shop I take as many as I have.
Use a reusable water bottle
In Britain, we are generally lucky enough to be able to drip our tap water. So there is really no need to buy plastic packaged bottles every single day. It might only be a few pennies but again the impact on the environment is enormous. I have a range of bottles collected over the years. I have a small and large metal one, which I like for hiking and when I am out and about. I also have a re-purposed glass bottle that I use at work. It has a wide mouth which means I can throw all sorts of things in to flavour my water: cucumber slices, lemon or orange wedges and herbs or spices. The wide mouth makes it easy to clean the bottle in comparison to my metal bottles.
Bring your own coffee cups
I am not one for takeaway coffee. I prefer sitting down and enjoying a cuppa in peace, watching the world go by and just relax. I know, a lot of people love/need/want a coffee on the go and that is okay but every year Britain throws away about 2.5 billion takeaway cups. A lot of us think, these cups are recyclable but as they are a mixture of paper and plastic it is currently not possible to actually recycle them. After “Hugh’s War on Waste: The Battle Continues” it seemed like things might change but sadly, I don’t believe this has happened. So, if you love your coffee to go, now is the time to switch to a reusable cup.
Say No to Straws
Straws are another big issue when it comes to giving up plastic. You may have seen the video where people remove a straw from a turtle’s nostril (Be aware if you are squeamish):
It really says it all. Do we need a new straw for every drink? Do we need a straw at all? I am aware that cocktails are nicer with a straw so I use reusable metal straws which you can order online and which come in different variations. I have also heard of glass straws but I am not sure how safe these ones are in a handbag on a night out?
A lot of our daily plastic is connected to the food we eat. It seems everything comes in plastic bags: fruit, veg, bread, sweets, crisps… The list is endless. Food is my biggest problem when giving up plastic but here are a few things you can buy plastic free:
fruit and vegetables: apples, carrots, peppers and onions are easily found loose even in supermarkets.
fresh bread: artisan breads are becoming more and more popular in Edinburgh and the UK and more and more supermarkets offer fresh bread and rolls loose in their stores.
Swap for more sustainable packaging: choose glass, tin and cardboard over plastic and avoid unnecessary additional plastic packaging. I have seen quite a few glass jars which have a plastic wrapper around the lid – I never buy them.
And this is it: my 5 top tips to start reducing plastic in your daily life. I hope you found these tips useful and they motivate you towards a plastic free life.
Now I would like to hear from you: Which plastic products are you struggling with to give up? Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of plastic? Or are you finding it easier than expected? I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for reading 🙂