I think by now, all of us are aware of the impact Blue Planet II has had on lots of people – it’s everywhere we look.
Don’t touch the plastic straws! Well, there is a lot more to it than that, but that, like many others, is one of those easy, first steps to switching your habits from plastic to something a bit more earth friendly.
As a family, we started on a plastic free / zero waste / reusable journey a while ago and made many of those easy swaps right at the start. And for now, it is just a case of being organised and including them in many of our family adventures.
By slowly introducing the changes, it makes it much easier and manageable to incorporate into your lives and it doesn’t feel like such a mammoth task to do it.
This #passonplastic message is doing the rounds at the minute thanks to Sky Ocean Rescue (lots and lots of programmes on plastics available via Sky).
It shows what are some of the easy swaps for all the plastics in our everyday life. I think a few a little beyond those initial first steps so we will concentrate on the highlighted ones for now.
No to take away cups
Currently, most of these cannot be recycled and they do not break down easily either. So, what’s the deal? Do you need those Costa or Starbuck cups to add to your fashion status, or could you rethink whether you need that coffee and if you do, could you use a reusable cup for it instead of a single use disposable cup? I think in most cases, the answer would be a yes. They aren’t heavy to carry around, they keep it hotter for longer and in most places, you even get a little back for using it!
Most of the coffee shops will sell their own branded ones too so you don’t even have to go too far to get one. But we might discuss these further in another post!
No to plastic bags
So only a few shops here charge for bags and I think that is one of the reasons people here aren’t too good when it comes to bringing along our own bags for our shopping. If the plastic bag charge applied here to all single use bags, more and more people would bring their bags and think about how they use them.
There is no reason to have a plastic bag from every shop that you buy something from (nor any need to get it double bagged!). Your goods can (for the most part!) share a bag quite happily.
There are lots of really nice reusable bags out there, many places will at some stage give them away. I have quite a collection from lots of different retailers and producers by this stage, including a fantastic Morsbag made from the cubicle curtains up in Nobles!
Just try and remember to pop one into your bag (ladies) when you are out and about. Plan ahead and save getting a plastic bag from the shop.
No to plastic cutlery
This is a little harder to plan for especially for an impromptu trip to the chippy. It isn’t always possible or ideal just to refuse the implements, but you could carry around a small spork (spoon and fork) for these times. It is also possible to get some nice bamboo sets or even just carry your regular cutlery with you in your bag.
I have several sporks – stainless steel and plastic – I am not binning things that are still functional – and have recently replaced with small bamboo sporks which I think are pretty amazing!
No to plastic straws
Here is the biggie! This is the one that everyone seems to be much more aware of since that photo of the turtle with the straw stuck up its nose hit our TV screens. You do have to ask yourselves when you are out, do you really need that straw?
Does it actually make your drink taste better or is it just there to add to the coolness of whatever it is you are drinking? This I don’t think would apply in McDonalds, but for some of our lovely cocktail bars, just ask yourself the question before you order.
This is the best time to make sure you definitely do not get a straw – cut the waiter off before they start and be clear that you do not want their straws. Now, if they were to offer you an alternative to a plastic straw, either paper, wheat, stainless steel or bamboo, feel free to make a different choice! Personally, we have both bamboo and stainless steel and I love them both. I carry them with us when we are out in their own little pouch along with our sporks – but if I knew I was heading for cocktails, I would be making sure to pack them and use to enjoy with my cocktails. But this is my opinion.
No to plastic bottles
Again, this is an easy one. Buy a flashy reusable bottle (or not a flashy one!) and bring it with you. These bottles are available everywhere. Many places will give them out for free, or you can pick them up at many of our wonderful outdoor events during the year. Fill it with water and there is no need to buy single use plastic bottles. None. We use stainless steel bottles and we carry them everywhere with us, so we have no reason to buy anything when we are out and about. Once you get into the habit of taking them with you, they just become part of your routine to go out anywhere.
No to excess packaging
This is a tricky one. So many things we buy are covered in way too much packaging. We can either stop buying things (akin to the zero waste theory) or just be smarter with how we buy things.
Look at what it is you are buying and think how it could be bought in a way that would be better for the environment and with much less plastic. A good example is our fruit and veg. In most of the big supermarkets, it is pre-packed, covered to within an inch of its life with plastic coverings and there is no need.
There is also very little choice for a product which is free from all of this. However, there are options for a different type of shopping – there is the Food Assembly, buy it loose, farmers markets, and some of our other retailers will offer it packaging free. And if you bring some of your own bags or produce bags, you can pop them into those!
I know where to get my fresh fruit all packaging free and it is only a small detour to make on my way home, but one that is very worthwhile and I am glad to make it. Do we need our apples and bananas in a bag? Do we really need 4 cans of juice wrapped in plastic outer? Do we need all those bags of crisps which are individually wrapped to be wrapped again in one big bag?
These to me are a handful of small changes which when you think about them, are not that difficult to start with. If you are willing to give a few of these a go, conquer them and move onto the next, I think you will notice a difference both in how you consume and regard things, but also a difference in your pocket.
Admittedly, it can be more expensive to buy things loosely, but think of all those bottles of water you won’t be buying and all those 25ps you will be saving at your favourite coffee haunt?
I think one person can make the difference, and we can all work together to start ridding the world of all the plastic we have been consuming and dumping for too long.