Doing my bit a year on

Over a year ago I wrote about the changes that I – and we as a family were trying to make. Since then things have moved on somewhat and i feel as if we do much more, even though we don’t do enough. Partly it’s financial, some changes are expensive, partly it’s practical, walking/catching the bus/taking a train is not always practical or affordable. I do confess that we have embedded habits and practices which are hard to remember to change!

Last year, 2018:

Like most people I am shocked, alarmed, worried about our dependence on plastic. Most of us have seen the horrifying images of rafts of rubbish and plastic – one particular almost unimaginable pile of the stuff is floating in the Pacific and covers an area more than twice the size of France – twice the size of France!! That’s nearly a million and a quarter square kilometres!!
So I am trying in my small, very small way to do my bit. However it isn’t necessarily cheap… buying milk in bottles is lovely and I’m sure it tastes better and it keeps the milkman in a job, but it is actually expensive. Buying food is difficult too – not many places wrap cheese and meat in anything other than plastic, and again there is a cost factor. I have bought my own paper bags so shopping for fruit and vegetables I can put them in something other than plastic. We buy tinned goods – but sometimes tinned have a plastic liner, apparently. Most frozen goods are in plastic bags and buying glass bottles and jars of fruit and vegetables is expensive, and to be honest, we don’t like the taste as much as frozen. It’s not practical to buy all vegetables fresh – we do try!
I use actual soap rather than goo from a bottle – but the rest of the family don’t. I have tried solid shampoo bars (expensive) and I don’t like them as much as regular plastic enclosed shampoo.
I came across a site with 100 tips for living plastic free – a lot of them involve not just an initial expense, but an ongoing expense, even though they are good ideas (most of them) and I would follow most of them if I was wealthy.

I then listed sixteen ideas and how possible/practical they were. Here are the ideas, and I have starred those we do, and added n/a as not applicable to others:

  • Carry reusable shopping bags *
  • Give up bottled water. n/a
  • Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers n/a
  • Carry a stainless steel travel mug *
  • Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws n/a
  • When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table” in the middle of the pizza box n/a
  • Treat yourself to an ice cream cone ***
  • Cut out sodas, juices, and all other plastic-bottled beverages
  • Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags *
  • Return containers for berries, cherry tomatoes, etc. to the farmer’s market to be reused
  • Bring your own container for meat and prepared foods
  • Choose milk in returnable glass bottles *
  • Buy large wheels of unwrapped cheese n/a
  • Try to choose only wine bottled in glass with natural cork stoppers
  • Let go of frozen convenience foods n/a
  • Choose plastic-free chewing gum n/a

So here are the next suggestions…

  • Learn to love the bulk bins.
  • Choose plastic-free chewing gum.
  • Clean with vinegar and water.
  • Baking soda is a fantastic scouring powder.
  • Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.
  • Hand wash dishes without plastic.
  • Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges.
  • Wash clothes with homemade laundry soap and stain removers.
  • Use natural rubber gloves.
  • Check labels of personal care products!
  • Switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap.
  • Give up shampoo in plastic bottles.
  • Try hair salves and pomades in metal tins or glass jars.
  • Colour hair with henna purchased without plastic packaging.
  • Baking soda is the best deodorant EVER.
  • Try solid shave soap instead of canned shave cream.

Here is a link to Beth Terry’s page. There are loads of great ideas but for normal people on a normal income with busy lives, many of them are just impossible, however willing and desirous people are to be plastic-free.


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