Saturday 11 August 2018

10 Ways I'm Reducing My Plastic Footprint - and you can too

10 Ways I'm Reducing My Plastic Footprint - and you can too

When I was younger hardly anything was plastic. Shoes and handbags were made from leather, shopping bags were cloth, milk came in returnable glass bottles and so did fizzy drinks. We shopped at the green grocers and they just put the vegetables loose straight into the bag, soft produce such as tomatoes were put into paper bags first.

Meat was from the butchers and was wrapped in grease proof paper, then white paper. Chips were wrapped in newspaper, we were told that newspaper ink made the paper clean, it was more likely to be poisonous!

When I had my first child there were no disposable nappies or wipes. We used cloth nappies and a real sponge to clean. Slowly plastic found its way into every part of my life. I have a fleece made from plastic bottles, I use wipes to clean the worksurfaces and the floors. I store food in the fridge covered in plastic wrap (cling film). I put my vegetables in plastic bags to transport home.....

Like many others I am aware of the damage plastic is doing to our enviroment and am trying to reduce the amount I use. I'm not obsessive but feel that everything I do is a step in the right direction.
This is how I am reducing my plastic footprint - and you can too.

1. Cling Film

I love cling film, I only use it to cover food that I put in the fridge but it's so handy. I like it because I can see what's under it, I can put food on a plate and cover and put in the fridge. When I open the door I can easily see what is on the plate, if I put it under foil or in a container I forget what's there and find it days later and it gets wasted.

Instead I am using glass containers with lids. I can see what's in the dish and the food stays fresh. OK, the lids are plastic but they are reusable.

2. Wipes

I have changed from disposable baby wipes for changing Bees nappies to reusable wipes. There are many different brands, we are using Cheeky Wipes (Bee's mummy bought them for me). We like these as the wipes are bamboo and are so soft. Beware of using microfibre (plastic) cloths as washing releases small particles, worse than micro beads.

For his hands and face we use a cotton flannel, I have always used a flannel as I find it is so much better than wipes.
I still use floor wipes for the laminate flooring as I have some left but will be changing to cotton cloths when they run out.
I use a spray (Method multipurpose) on a cloth for my work tops, so much better than wipes as it cuts through grease and leaves a pleasant smell.

3. Straws

This is easy, I never use straws so giving them up was a doddle! I do have a huge packet of plastic straw that I bought about two years ago for Bear, I am not sure how to safely get rid of them. If you do like straws then there are lots of alternatives, one being metal.

4. Vegetables

I must be honest, I rarely shop. Grandad does it all, but he now only puts things in bags that he thinks need to go in them, so if he's buying a melon, or a lemon he won't use a bag. We're not plastic free in this area but slowly moving towards it.

5. Packed Lunches

We use foil for sandwiches and reusable tubs for everything else. We would put sandwiches in plastic bags but foil is so much easier.

6. Water/drinks bottles

I do not buy bottled water, I can't see the point in the UK where tap water is safe to drink. WHO is doing research into plastic found in bottled water which makes me think it's not good to drink although I do drink lemonade from plastic bottles and that probably has micro pieces of plastic too.
When we have picnics we take a flask for us and drinks for the children in their non-spill drinking cups.

7. Plastic clothes hangers

I always leave these at the shop, they are awful. Clothes hang badly on them and they cannot be recycled. I use wooden hangers, they are much kinder to clothes.

8. Shopping Bags

Wales levied a 5p charge on all single use plastic shopping bags in 2011, in the first three years this reduced the amount of single use plastic bags by 71%. We were already mostly using reusable bags as the ones that were free were so thin they'd break and the shopping would spill out. We try to use the cloth or canvas reusable bags now but still have lots of "bags for life". Once they wear out we will replace with a more enviromentally friendly one.

9. Hidden Plastics

Plastic is hidden in all sorts of things, these hidden plastics can be worse than the obvious as many are microplastics and these are eaten by sea creatures when they inevitably get into the water supply.

Some of these I only found out about recently and they surprised me;

tea bags - they all have plastic in them, an alternative is loose tea. I am looking at buying a single cup diffuser so I can enjoy my cup of tea without the mess.

glitter - I dont use glitter but have done, I quite like it! I didn't even think of it being a problem

microfibre cloth and synthetic fabrics - every time we wash our synthetic clothes thousands of plastic fibres are washed into the water system, it is thought these may be worse than the microbeads that hit the headlines a few years ago. I have fleeces and clothes made from polyester cotton, I hate to think how many fibres I have washed into the sea over the years.

I don't wearing synthetic materials as I get static shocks easily and they contribute to body odour, but cotton tops are getting harder to find, most seem to be polyester.

10. Finding an alternative

Wherever possible I am trying to find an alternative to plastic. It's a slow process as I like the convienience of plastic. Bamboo seems to be a versatile and green alternative to plastic. It is biodegradable and sustainable.

We recently visited the Eisteffod in Cardiff, alcoholic drinks were served in plastic beakers, as is the norm for outside festvals, but these were different. OK they were plastic, but we were charged a pound each for them and each time we wanted another drink we took our cup to the bar and they swapped it for a clean one. We then brought them home. They are recyclable and sturdy. There were no plastic beakers lying around! I think all events that cannot use glass for safety reasons should do this. i also think that you should be able to take your own.

I am slowly reducing my plastic footprint, I have a very long way to go. Are you doing it too? What are your favourite replacements?



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