How dirty is your plastic footprint?

As one tiny person in this giant world, it’s easy to think “well just little old me changing my habits isn’t going to solve impending doom”. But actually as a consumer little old you, and little old me, have the power to choose what we buy. If one by one we start to avoid using plastic and recycle consciously, those big ol’ supermarkets will have to start changing their ugly ways.

There’s a lot of rumours and confused truths about what really happens with our recycling. So it’s down to us to use as little as possible and research the best recycling options in our local area.

I am writing this blog because the more digging I’ve done into our current filthy state, the more I feel I should talk about it. I am by no means plastic free but I am trying to refuse and reuse.

Why should you care about your plastic footprint?

Because you and I have a role in protecting our little part of the planet. By reducing the plastic we put into landfill, we are reducing the chemicals that poison the earth and that leak into the ocean. We are telling supermarkets to stop producing waste without thought, we are avoiding that beautiful whale in a distant ocean swallowing that packet which gave us a moment of convenience. Because otherwise in thirty years, our children will have a long list of extinct animals to read about in books.

While we focus on our own actions, around the world others are doing the same. From Mexico, to Kenya, to France, to Japan and all the way to Australia. Even in India small changes are happening that could have an almighty impact in years to come.

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
This is plastic that has come from all corners of the globe. The ocean is throwing it back to us.

What single use plastics are you buying?

If you’re bothering to read this far, I challenge you to stop and write a list of all the plastic items you bought or used this week (at home or while you’re out or at work). If you have kids get them involved. Your list should include any plastic items or wrappers, especially those that can only be used once before it is thrown away or put in recycling. Perhaps it’s your plastic jar of honey, water bottles, cotton buds, shampoo bottles, takeaway containers, straws, coffee cups, cereal packets, plastic bags, cling film, milk cartons, frozen veggie bags, the list goes on.

Now divide that list into what can and can’t be put into your recycling bins (most plastic food wraps, plastic bags, cereal packs, some milk or juice cartons can’t be taken by your council collection),

Finally, how many things on that list could you have avoided buying in plastic? And where are those items of plastic now vs where will they end up? Lewy and I have been doing this for a while and has guilted us into buying more responsibly.

This is my bag of soft plastic that I took to Coles supermarket to be recycled. I hope they keep to their word.

Can you start reducing your plastic footprint today?

13 ways to reduce your plastic:

  1. Choose three of the plastic items from your list and find a way to avoid buying them again (buy loose vegetables, by cardboard alternatives, get creative).
  2. Check the rules for your local recycling collection to avoid causing contamination, and make sure you clean the packaging before recycling it.
  3. Buy yourself a good reusable water bottle, that you always keep on you and won’t have to replace for a long while if cleaned properly.
  4. Buy a cute reusable coffee keepy cup and take it with you everywhere you go. Most places even give you discount now for having your own cup.
  5. Get some trusty tote bags to leave in your car, bag or wherever else may be useful. If you don’t have your own bag, don’t go to the shop.
  6. Spend the time in your regular supermarket (or challenge your kids to help you!), to find the product you need with no plastic wrapper. If you can’t avoid it, don’t buy it. We now use degradable bin bags and have swapped to plastic free toilet roll.
  7. You could try buying your fruit and veg from a local market or shop. You’ll be supporting local businesses, buying local products and using less packaging.
  8. Research where you can refill your recycled jars with cleaning products and toiletries. Granted the prices can be high (sad face). Mr Fruity in Cornwall is my favourite.
  9. Start replacing your toiletries with plastic free alternatives. Bars of soap instead of shower gel, glass bottled shampoo, bamboo cotton buds etc…
  10. Find out if your place of work is recycling. If they are, make sure your team is doing it responsibly. If they aren’t get on their case.
  11. This is a big one: read the back of the packets. Some plastic packaging says ‘can be recycled with other plastic bags’. If so this ‘soft’ plastic can be deposited at carrier bag recycling points (e.g Morrisons/Waitrose/Coles). If it says: ‘isn’t currently recycled’ then that is a big fat loss to the planet – that leads onto point 12.
  12. We still have some of this ‘can’t be recycled plastic’ and have been making our own eco bricks (Lewy is going to build a bench). Check the website online there are a lot of rules around this and it isn’t straight forward. But stuffing our un-recyclable rubbish into a plastic bottle has made us feel very ashamed and naturally reduced what we are buying.
  13. Use a plastic filter in your washing machine to trap escaping fibres. There are different options online and lots of surf shops have started stocking them.

If you’re already bossing it and doing all these things, then make it your mission to get your friends and family to do the same. One for all and all for one! If you have any of your own helpful tips to share please let me know.

P.S I regret buying a bag of sour patch kids last week, if anyone has any suggestions for plastic wrapping free sour sweets LET ME KNOW!

2 Replies to “How dirty is your plastic footprint?

  1. Great advice: we can make a difference individually. I started on my last big shop and it added an element of fun to try and shop for alternatives without plastic. I felt like a real eco -warrior and loved the face of the till operator as my fruit and veg went in one by one like Noah’s Ark! P.s bamboo toilet roll is the bizz πŸ˜‰

    1. It is a great feeling isn’s it! πŸ™‚ Will have to give the bamboo loo roll a go thanks for the tip. Interested to hear how your school is at being sustainable too? x

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