After visiting Thailand last year I was inspired to reduce my plastic consumption. We visited the island of Koh Lipe, where plastic water bottles have been banned. Instead, the island's hotels and merchants only sell 'Trash Hero' metal water bottles. Across the island, hotels and eateries provide free stations for refilling your bottle with purified water. This is such an inspiring initiative, especially considering the revenue that the island could be making from the sale of plastic water bottles.

This is the type of sacrifice and action that we all need to take, to make a dent in the problem of plastic waste.

Because, really, if a small, second-world tourist destination in Thailand can rally the whole island, any excuse we come up with is pretty weak.

You know what plastic does? It friggen sucks, that's what.

Plastic doesn't break down in the environment - EVER! 'What about recycling?', I hear you ask. Props for sorting your garbage, but unfortunately, most plastics are only good for one round of recycling, into a lower-grade product at best. After that, it's off to join the rest of the plastics in landfill, where they'll stay - forever. By comparison, glass and metal are not degraded in the recycling process and can be re-purposed over and over again.

Every bit of plastic that you've ever used still exists. Think about that. Mind blown?

What doesn't go to landfill ends up in waterways. It's estimated that 100 million sea mammals die each year from consuming plastic. And that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. :(

Read on (or skip to the tips) because there's some easy (dare I say, super fun) things you can do that won't require you to grow dreadlocks or knit your own underpants, etc.

You have to do something, though. If not you, than who? Because it's not going to be the ignorant dumbhead buying the 24-pack of plastic water bottles every week.

Yes, there are occasions I find myself at the supermarket without a calico bag in which to place my packaged shit. It takes time to retrain old habits, after all. Make your decision to change though, and gradually you'll become more conscious about your preparation, and your choices. I actually find it a pretty fun game now to look for alternatives (woot!). And I feel pretty swish about myself when I do.

Here are my top tips for reducing your plastic footprint:

1. Look for non-plastic packaging at the supermarket. Buy sugar and flour in paper, not plastic. Grab your OJ in a cardboard carton. Your oats in a box. Seek out condiments in glass. A super fun game for the savvy shopper ;) It could also be a fun game for the kids (if you want to be at the supermarket for 5 hours). 

2. Gather your veggies sans plastic bags. There's no need to put each individual piece of fruit in a bag. I put mine straight in the trolley, but you could bring BYO box, too. Choose veggies that aren't wrapped in plastic. Bananas don't need to be wrapped in plastic! THEY ALREADY HAVE A WRAPPER. Opt for a whole tomato, rather than a punnet of baby toms in plastic. You get the idea.

3. Collect yourself some cute calico bags. You have permission to leave your green Woolies bags at home when you go shopping for clothes. In fact, please don't tote those around like makeshift handbags. Much daggy. Very faux pas. Keep a calico number in your car and what-not for spur-of-the moment shopping adventures. 

4. Revamp your takeaway beverage habit with a reusable cup, like KeepCup. Better yet, save your pennies, invest in a mug, and make use of your office coffee machine.

5. Bake homemade cookies and save the planet at the same time! Nuff said.

6. Explore the wonderful world of cloth nappies. I can hear the mamas laughing through my screen, but I'm still going to try these out if and when the time come for me to be a mama bear. Google 'eco nappies', 'cloth nappies' or 'bamboo nappies' - the options seem to be endless, and some of them are pretty stylin'. Have a go at saving disposables for trips out of the house - every stinky nappy counts (it kind of hits home when you realise that the plastic from the nappies you wore as a baby, still exist.)

7. Get back to basics with beauty. From bamboo/charcoal toothbrushes to Lush shampoo bars, there are many ways we can pare back the cosmetics cupboard. A jar of coconut oil is a versatile bathroom staple that can be used for hair treatments, lip balm and an in-shower moisturiser. Try replacing bottles of shower gel with a bar of dreamy charcoal soap (my fave here). Give my homemade lemongrass sugar scrub a birl. 

8. Re-usable containers are your go-to for storing leftovers. Reach for your Pyrex or Tupperware before the cling film or snap bags. 

9. Peruse the supermarket for eco laundry items. It's a plastic nightmare in those aisles, but if you look carefully, there's usually at least one (often only one!) non-plastic packaged version. Think laundry detergent and dishwasher powder. If stuck, another option is to buy in bulk or in concentrated forms.

10. Put down the bottle of Fiji Water. I repeat, put down the bottle. That pretty label may look eco-friendly, but oh, it's not. The simplest tip of all: get a reusable water bottle, and refill it from the tap. When you want to treat yo'self to a soft drink, try the options in aluminium or glass.

11. Look for plastic-free alternatives such as icecream in boxes, wrapped in paper, rather than in a plastic tub.

12. Invest in quality-made products that last such as wooden/steel garden tools and ceramics, rather than plastics that crack and have to be replaced.

13. Rethink gifts for children. Kids get given a LOT of stuff, often in the form of plastic. For tactile/educational toys, look at alternative options made from wood and textiles. Books are always a wonderful idea, as is something they can use outside. Get creative and help them make a cubby out of a cardboard box (they'll love it) or take them on an outing as a present, like a trip to the movies.

14. Go plastic-free when entertaining crowds. If your party calls for disposable dinnerware, choose cardboard or bamboo plates and festive paper straws over plastic. 

15. Be a creative gift giver. Before you get to the checkout, try to think about the practicality of the stuff you buy. Maybe the gift of an experience would be well received? It's hard to go wrong with a voucher for the movies, a nice restaurant or spa! 

Thanks for reading, and happy converting! Do you have any other ideas for going plastic free? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. X

Don't forget to subscribe for new blogs every Monday!

No comments: