Upcycling and choosing well
So we are a month into 2018, and a month into trying for a plastic free 2018. Rev. Anna Alls and I began planning this madness about 6 months ago, and could never have predicted how much of a hot issue it would be - every few days a major newspaper seems to be carrying another article about the dangers of disposable plastic of some kind, or tips on how to reduce your plastic use, or news of another major outlet making fantastic commitments to eradicate straws or plastic Packaging asap, and a London announcement about the installation of water fountains to refill bottles from. Just today Asda and Tesco have announced they are scrapping single use bags, after the government has already announced this month that small outlets that had been exempt will now have to charge for each bag. And I can’t tell you how many petitions I have seen (and signed!) since Jan 1st. I think Blue Earth 2 has had a huge impact, and after years of awareness raising from many small charities and interest groups, David Attenborough and the BBC have massively turned the tide.
Starting out I knew we would have to begin with phasing things out, using things up, and making changes as things ran out.
The first changes have certainly been the easiest; finding a milk man with lovely glass bottles of milk and juice that are reused week after week, investing in a soda stream to replace our fizzy drink fix, and getting better at remembering my reusable bottles and coffee cups for when I am on the move. I did forget my handbag in the boot of the car yesterday which meant my reusable cup was there while I was watching my daughter and her friend at a party. I did cave in and take a disposable cup, but got me thinking about the best way to reuse it - seed planting, paint brush washing, and that's before I have even looked at Pinterest! Working out how we get the most life out of those plastic items we do end up using has been a lot of fun - one member of our face book group asked about reusing straws, and it turns out there are millions of ways to make sure they have a second life if you really have to use one that is disposable plastic.
I'm looking forward to having to figure out home made toothpaste, but at the moment I am noticing simpler challenges in my weekly shop. I have invested in reusable produce bags, (paper bags are sometimes available, but there are important and humbling arguments to be made for generally avoiding the disposable, or at least making as many uses as possible of everything) but in my usual supermarket I was faced with a choice of fair trade bananas in plastic or rainforest alliance bananas not in plastic. I've since learned that other supermarkets will allow me to be both fair trade and plastic free on my banana choices, but how many shops I go to a week is a challenge! The reality is that for a major impact to occur, we are going to have to get our retailers to make some serious changes. And to do this they need us to ask for it. Someone I've never met on Facebook (called Tom Walker - his photo is below) made a fantastic proposal - that we save up all the plastic packaging we are lumbered with in a month, wrap it up, and post it to our supermarket at their freepost customer services - if enough of us sent packages it would get pretty annoying!
So if reducing your plastic use is too much for you, you can still make a contribution by sending your waste back! There are so many instances where the packaging could be biodegradable, or entirely absent! I'd love my supermarket to sell loose pasta, barley, etc as some health food stores are now doing - if we want to make change, we need to make it as easy as possible for people! The mood is definitely right and stores and cafes are making important changes - let's help them make some more! And in the meantime, make sure you get as much use out of everything that comes into your hands as possible - there are finite resources, and the disposable cup from each party will outlive the child whose birthday we are celebrating!Oh, and if you are looking for disposables that don't cost the earth, try Vegware