Over the last eight months, or since the beginning of the year I've made a shift to living more consciously... Basically thinking about the impact I have personally on the world, people and the environment especially in regards to waste and more specifically plastic. I've actively chosen to reduce the amount of plastic waste I create by trying to avoid it completely. This is pretty difficult as at present it seems to be the cheapest and easier form of packaging to be using. But I've made some changes in my lifestyle and routines and thought I should share them for anyone who is trying to do the same and needs some guidance or inspo.
Packaging is unavoidable with long life, frozen or dried foods. I now will only buy products that are in metal, glass and cardboard and vary occasionally plastic when the packing is actually recyclable. I don't know if you've notice that most plastic wrappers that dried goods like pasta, rice and porridge come in aren't actually recyclable and have to be thrown in to the general waste bin.
Buying what you need and avoiding plastic bags/ nets or containers. Again a lot of fruit and veg come in plastic because 'it keeps it fresh' and if it isn't already in the packaging there are plastic bags for you to put your fresh food into. Why not boycot these and pick the fruit and veg you need and put it in your basket, all naked and whatnott OR! bring your own lightweight veg bags or use the paper bags that are next to the mushrooms !
Have a visit to a zero waste supermarket where you can take your jars and containers to fill up on your dry goods! A lot of the time it is actually cheaper than the supermarket comparisons!
Buy your fruit, veggies and fresh foods from your local farm shops, grocers or farmers markets not only are you helping out local suppliers but the produce is usually seasonal, sustainable and not wrapped in plastic.
Have you checked out odd box and other similar companies that save wonky/ surplus fruit and veggies from going to waste? Genius!
Try bulk buying at least it cuts down on mass packaging and a lot of suppliers use Eco friendly or recyclable packaging such as real food source, infinity foods, suma - however with suma you have to order over £250 worth of stuff so find friends who want bits too?
Convenience foods!... Convenience foods are a massive plastic waste culprit! Pret's in London won't even offer you a porcelain mug even if you're eating in because apparently people in London don't have time to sit down or maybe they cant be bothered to wash up? Similarly Starbucks, Costa, McDonald ect ect. plastic plastic plastic. When I was in the states they told me it was against company policy when I asked them to put my coffee in a keep cup.... whaaat?
I've started to grow herbs on my windowsill and soon want to create a little veg box in my back garden to grow some veggies!
I try to make 'on the go snacks' as much as I can to reduce the amount I buy when out because they are 9/10 times wrapped in plastic. However shoutout to the brands out there like snact who use compostable packaging!!
-Beauty / cosmetics-
I didn't realise how much plastic waste is created from beauty cosmetics!
I haven't bought any make up/ perfume since switching and when my bits run out I'm going to be using Eco brands like Zao that re-fill the containers, what a great idea!?
I've made a switch to using soap bars and homemade items for shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, exfoliators, hand soaps and facial cleanser.
Some of the brands I use:
Art house unlimited
Hemp heros ... Mix their soaps with water and essential oils and voilaaaa
I've come across biodegradable cotton pads and buds from Corman organyc beauty and I've bought re-usable cleasning pads to remove make up. When they're dirty you can wash them on a delicate cycle. I found theses on a website called soap daze!
You can buy plastic-free toothpaste called truthpaste that comes in a jar or I've actually started making my own with: 4 tbsp of baking soda, 4tbsp of coconut oil, 3tbsp xylitol (a natural sweetener makes it taste between and that is also good for you teeth!) and 10 drops of peppermint oil for that freshness you want from a toothpaste!
Deoderant... I haven't actually used deo for over a year now (eww you smelly hippy!) but I know there are some plastic free brands out there that use metal/cardboard packaging or you could give making it yourself a go with lemon or teatree essential oils
Coffee, sugar and coconut oil body scrybs!
Get yourself a bamboo toothbrush instead of the plastic ones!
Of course all you festival fairies will have already switched to biodegradable glitter !
Ecover offer a refill system where you can take your old cleaning spray, hand soap, washing up liquid an/or washing detergent plastic bottles to refill at certain supermarkets (Google your closest refill point) or if you have a zero waste supermarket near you they'll do the same!
I've also found washing powder in a biodegradable brown bag from Oxfam which saves on the plastic completely.
-Reuse reuse reuse! -
I'm a big advocate for reusing what you already have! So I've bought reusable straws (bamboo and ones that you can fold up and keep in your bag), reusable water bottles (get yourself a pretty copper one which has Ayurvedic properties too), reusable bags, reusable coffee cups, jars, tins..ect.
I take my re-usable cup everywhere, even when I go to festivals or away on holiday...no excuses! People might look at you like your weird but also, who cares really?
So I've really cut back on the amount of clothes shopping I do. I try to shop in charity shops and buy vintage as well as fairtade, clothes that are made locally, from small businesses or are handmade. I also try to avoid online shopping because I think they play a game where they see how much unnecessary packaging they can send you for one item !
I've come to realise that lots of people either don't recycle or don't know how to recycle! You need to remove labels and wash bottles, jars, cans, cartons trays before you throw them in the recycling. Often contaminated items won't be recycled !
Plastic carrier bags can't be recycled at home you gotta take them to the supermarkets along with plastic packaging that loo rolls come in and some packaging that frozen items come in...like peas and spinach (check on the back- I know sainsburys own brand are recyclable).
Get compostable bin bags to avoid plastic bags!
-Nights out -
Saying no to straws- or at least reuse one straw for the night. If bars/clubs/pubs are using plastic cups ask if you can reuse the same cup too, it's easy!
I've emailed organisers after events suggesting ways they could reduce the plastic problem. I know I sound properly sad but I've got to a point now where I don't care if I'm 'sad' or 'embarrassing'. I've suggested reusable cup schemes, increasing the amount of recycling bins available, avoiding plastic bottles/ cups and switching to using metal cans or compostable cups instead. Some events already so this so it's possible! It just takes a little more effort.
I've honestly got to the point of taking plastic home in my bag after a night out so I know it's been recycled. Hahaha, ok I admit I go to extremes.
I've also written to supermarkets, food suppliers and MPs to ask them about their environmental policies and whether they've thought about plastic free options. A lot of organisations are trying to cut down on plastic too but it's a slow process and we all need to have an input. Since moving to a plastic free way of living I've tried to motivate and inspire my friends, family and followers to at least to think about what they are buying and how they can also help to reduce plastic. We can make a bigger impact if more people are on board! No one is expecting you to be an activist overnight but you couls start by buying yourself a reusable water bottle? Every little helps and all that jazz!
I hope you've enjoyed reading and feel inspired to join me on my plastic protest, haha.