The more people I talk to about waste and single use plastics the more people admit that they have changed something in the way they shop, choose products or recycle. Your actions to refuse a plastic bag or refill your water bottle are helping to reduce the load on our planet. This is all good news.
My encouragement in the last couple of weeks has come from watching the War on Plastic programme on the BBC? Anyone else watching this?
War on Plastic is great. Keeping it real and close to home are the hardy volunteers on the The Street going through the exact same emotions I am, looking at single use plastic in their homes and starting to work out how they can each find alternatives that work for them. Dispair, surprise and determination in equal measures, brilliant. The wider picture is more difficult to see how to change: the global one – the reality of UK waste being shipped around the world for ‘reprocessing’; the supermarkets wrapping everything in ‘convenient’ plastic wrappers; the producers who are far from doing their bit to consider the plastic in their products and packaging.
When I started looking at my waste I had no idea how this issue about single use plastic would challenge me. I hadn’t once considered the plastic bottle around my shower gel or the tube containing my toothpaste (or the box the tube came in for that matter); other than a cursory glance, before I put it in the bin, to see if it could be recycled. My approach has changed significantly in the last few weeks and all the thinking is beginning to pay off.
I have used these simple steps to help me change what I buy:
- I use my shopping list to highlight the products that I need to visit a different store for which helps me plan my week for getting into town rather than just visiting the supermarket.
- Planning also means I can sort out what refillable containers I need to take with me. Bags, bottles and jars become essential kit.
- My basic rule is to buy all my fruit and veg loose as far a possible – this means using my green grocer or the farmers market since these are easy for me to get to. I work hard to avoid plastic trays and wrap but it isn’t always possible.
- For everything else I want to know I can recycle it. Products in tins, glass jars and cardboard are OK but where there is an inner plastic wrap or individual wrapped items I am looking for alternatives.
- Everything that I buy that comes in a plastic tub/ packet/ wrapper is under scrutiny and I am hardening my stance so that I don’t buy things some weeks to reduce the waste.
- On the plus side we have discovered a sweet shop locally that sells sweets loose which is amusing the children. I will be making more use of the health food shop and local zero waste shop as I run out of items I can now buy as refills.
I keep praising myself for the little changes and acknowledge the frustration that alternative options are sometimes not easy to access.
The new ways are beginning to feel less weird though and therefore more comfortable. And I know I am not alone – my little actions count and together with you we can make a massive difference. Keep up the good work this week and remember you are not alone!