Easy steps to take for a single-use plastic free life
I am not going to lie, I have spent a fair amount of my time researching about plastics and how we came to live in the world of today where we treat one of the most easy to access and durable materials we can get affordably as something that is disposable.
I mean…think for a second. We should be using and re-using and then using again any plastic items we have (and yes that includes the old grocery bags - which were indeed created for re-using because the paper bags were creating too much waste - *the irony*) because they will not break. They will not dissolve in water, and they will not stop functioning. They will keep going for the end of my life and yours and yet…well, plastic is the most discussed waste issue of this generation. Mind blowing.
I will admit that when I first saw my friends carrying bamboo cutlery to a street market in Australia I thought they were crazy. Flashback to 7 years ago when I was in Thailand and took my own out of my bag (together with my own bamboo straw, cloth napkin and re-usable cup), every thing made sense. And in fact, I remember looking at my now husband and saying that our friends were so genius and how immature I was not to see that at that time.
Living single-use plastic free is not as hard as it may seem - though some things still scare me, like cleaning products - although thankfully brands like we are spruce are coming to market to make our lives even easier now - it is all a matter of habit. One you can build over time and be proud of.
So without further ado, here is how you can tackle this today:
- Create an eco warrior bag (and carry it with you)
I know. It isn’t the most practical thing having to carry kitchen utensils around - but do as I do: put everything inside a reusable bag and leave it ready by the door. Whenever I go out, I just grab it and go. Maybe I won’t need any of it, maybe I will. But I am ready.
What to put in your eco warrior bag:
- Reusable cups:
If going to your favourite coffee shop is part of your every day - or now, social distance ordering it - that is probably the first place to start, if you have not done so just yet. In the UK alone we throw 2.5 billion coffee cups away every single year - enough to stretch around the planet 5 and a half times (I may have just found my new reclaimed material as I type this: coffee cup activewear! ).
Although it may seem like you alone won’t make a difference, believe me, it will. Plus your friends (and the cute barista) will think you are doing your part to save the planet and you may just inspire a person or two to do the same (chain reaction!).
- Bamboo/metal straws (if you like straws):
Ah yes…if the stats of the coffee cups didn’t scare you, check this out: 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK. I don’t know you, but I have grown tired of seeing pictures of straws at the beach or marine life being killed by it.
So if you like straws - which is actually a very unnecessary product for most people in the planet (think about it) then carry a metal or bamboo one with you! They usually come with a brush, are easy to clean and bonus: they are not disposable.
- Throw it back by packing your own lunch:
I actually love making food - is one thing that brings me closer to people and allows me to be creative at home (that is when I am not designing activewear!) so the idea of actually having a lunch box and making my own food is super appealing to me - in which case should be carried in a metal lunch box, a forever plastic container (but by purchasing it in metal you are most likely supporting more sustainable businesses!) or if you don't need a container type of thing you can get a textile bag . If this doesn’t work for you, opt for restaurants that serve meals or snacks packaging-free.
- Cloth Napkin:
Sharing this one because I got to it quite late and as I would refuse taking paper napkins I would end up covered in food or sauces from everything I ate (I guess I am a child at heart 😅). Cloth napkins are 10/10 worth carrying! If you want to have fun with them, you can buy a little handkerchief and embroider them for yourself.
2. Outside your bag
Of course, carrying your things won’t solve all the plastic issues you may have. One of the ones I still struggle with is buying food from shops. Not every shop is eco friendly/sustainable and sometimes things just COME packaged - there is nothing you can do.
For the things you can change though - such as fruits, vegetables and even your own grains and vegetable milk - do so! You can shop bulk and bring your own container if possible and also look for alternatives of the same product that comes packaged in glass. You can also bring your own produce bags for fruits and vegetables so they can be weighted in the scales plastic free and of course, your own grocery bags (or your cement sacks!!)
- At home:
Another thing I had always struggled with was keeping food I had made at home away from plastic. Though that still occasionally happens, I started keeping every glass jar at home (my husband calls me a witch!! 😂) and then re-using them to put food inside whenever they needed to be stored and I have also swiped the cling film for beeswax paper - I know, they are not cheap but they are so worth it, I promise it! You can shape them into anything and they are easy to clean and most importantly, reusable.
The other things:
Whoa…writing this made me realise that SO MANY things actually come in plastic. Aside from the ones I have written above and for the many others I will forget, things like packaging - when you are online shopping from other brands - can be avoided some times. At amazon, for example, you are able to request plastic free deliveries which is great as they use so much unnecessary packaging on their products. Online retail stores…harder. Ideally you should be able to shop plastic free or send the packaging to the retailer so they deal with it but then you must consider other things like carbon footprint and etc, like we do (more on this later).
If you are really keen to ban single-use plastic from your life, the way to think is that everything has an alternative (just like our recycled plastic bottle clothing that require less energy and water instead of normal polyester, which is made from petrol and oh so bad for our planet) and thus there will be a solution you can find!
I hope these tips were helpful to your journey of diminishing plastic from your life! You don’t have to be perfect - I am certainly not - you just need to take the first step and do what you can.
Thank you for reading this blog post and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and engaging with you here or on our social channels!