8th August 2019No Comments

Plastic Free July – There’s more than meets the eye

I'm quite a few days beyond July, but wanted to wrap up with some thoughts on Plastic Free July and beyond. There's definitely more to it and lots of layers, so wanted to share that with you. Some rambling thoughts, so let's get to it shall we?

Plastic is for sure a massive problem in our world. It pollutes our oceans, water systems, food and is one of the biggest nuisances the world has ever had. BUT - it's just one part of an overall web. Everything is connected in some way or another.

You can't support plastic free living without thinking about sustainability. For example how our food is grown and how we consume, to then thinking about carbon footprint (hello meat and dairy industry), to then ethics. How people in the supply chain are treated and animal welfare, how transparent is the production? Oh so many questions.

As we all become increasingly aware of the various environmental and sustainability issues in the world we live in, we try to learn and do our bit right? The first thing to realise, is that being completely plastic free or zero waste is actually impossible in the current linear economy and way of living. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try - do what you can whenever possible.

For so long, big corporates have got away with keeping their production processes a secret so allowing them to keep standards low and mark ups high. What we don't know won't hurt us right? But what about when it's micro plastics in fish or chemicals in the water we drink? Those are things we know to be true now. Netflix has some pretty special documentaries about the meat and dairy industry and food so definitely worth a watch to swot up.

Luckily as consumers we hold a lot of power in how we buy and how much we put pressure on brands and companies to clean up their act. The more we become aware of our habits, spending and educate ourselves, the more they have to change. Change in society sure takes its time but it can happen. With this in mind, you might have seen lots of brands pop up with a solution - reusables, ethically made fashion, plastic free alternatives. It's pretty amazing that individuals have taken it upon themselves to create a solution to help people buy better and change habits.

So why haven't we changed as quickly as the solutions have become available? Well, here's where things get messy... Societal change is a big shift that needs to take place which involves both individuals and big organisations to be on the same page. On one hand, we should keep piling on the pressure so that big corporations have to change. But the majority of the population are none the wiser about the problems or solutions because these ideas aren't so freely available everywhere. Or publicised.

On the other hand, the big corporations need to fix their consumption and ways of production to stop hurting both people and planet. But guess what? That's the more expensive and cumbersome way. For too long, it's been about having the most speed and cost efficient way to make something. The disregard for Earth's materials and thinking that human kind is more important is part of the reason we are in this mess. So in short, it comes down to money, money, money. Profit is the name of the game at any cost. Quite literally.

By covering up production processes and material sourcing, we've never thought twice about it and neither are these things ever talked about or shared. Until you dig deeper and educate yourself. This is also why the mass majority of people don't question it. Here's where another layer called privilege is added. By me being able to talk about these issues, address them and provide solutions is for sure a privilege. There's been some articles and writing around the zero waste movement being quite a privileged thing and I have to agree to some extent.

The knowledge is freely available if you've gone out to make a change yourself and become part of the bubble. But what about those that are limited to their lifestyle or don't have access to the same things both material and financial? How can we make it so we can spread the awareness? For some, there's certain health conditions that limit the types of food they can eat, disability can limit consumption or mobility, so sometimes it's not an option to go plastic free. Living a low impact lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive, you do what you can that's all. The small changes often make the biggest difference.

I've seen another side to the various movements with a lot of shaming around not doing 'enough' or having flaws in the way you consume or share your views. But the truth is no solution is perfect, no one knows everything there is to know and neither does everyone have the access to things that ensure the perfect zero waste, low impact life. So what I mean to say, is that we should most definitely try, but not feel bad for when we can't get it all right.

Aside from educating ourselves on the problems and their solutions, it's also about a mindset shift. We can take action by buying better, reusing and so on, but you might find that it takes a bit of getting used to. A bit like building a good habit, it's about training yourself and you will forget in the early stages - I know I did! From remembering to take your reusable cup and ordering your first pack of reusable wipes, to taking reusable bags to the food shop. We've been so used to one thing that it takes a bit of work to rewire ourselves! Just taking a second before making a decision can be all it takes.

Phew that was much longer than I had expected! These thoughts are all off the back of my own reading, education and hearing from others. I don't claim it to be perfect or right, but this is my understanding. I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts, comments or questions!

3rd August 2018No Comments

A round up of thoughts on Plastic Free July

So July has been an interesting one hasn’t it? We’ve had an actual summer this year, to the point of having to do rain dances to bring some moisture back, the World cup and.. #PlasticFreeJuly. As I continually tweaking my lifestyle to be more mindful so joining in was a natural next step. However, it did throw up some thoughts and realisations as you’ll see…

It requires a bit of planning

After looking at my daily habits I knew coffee and water were absolutely something I needed to sort, so a Keepcup and Bobble were in my bag at all times. But, on the days where I was going to be out all day, I had to plan ahead to see whether I could eat lunch out or had to pick something up on the go. Our weekly grocery shop had a full overhaul too; we split our shop between three places to eliminate plastic which was a struggle to say the least

It’s not easy when travelling

We were away in Portugal for nearly two weeks so we took our coffee cups, bobble and steel straws which really helped keep us in check! Unfortunately, any supermarkets we went into, everything was covered in some kind of plastic packaging. Apart from the fruit and some veg. But anything that needed to last in hot weather was in some kind of plastic.

You will be on autopilot one day!

It wasn’t perfect every day and yes, I did end up with something plastic a couple of times. There were days I didn’t prepare in advance and found myself having to grab something in between meetings or appointments. Or I didn’t have time for breakfast and was starving and needed something quick before hangry set in. Sometimes it just wasn’t avoidable.

There’s not enough alternatives – yet

The beginnings of plastic alternatives like recycled outer packagings or compostable plastics are being introduced (Teapigs use one to package their teabags in). Lots of new materials are being developed that are biodegradable, but like anything new and different, it’ll be a while until it’s adopted into mainstream industries.

Convenience is a working progress

Finding plastic free products daily, generally hasn’t been too pressing until it came to replacing things around the house like foil, sandwich bags, laundry items. Local supermarkets or grocery stores didn’t readily have these, so I had to go on a hunt for them separately. It wasn’t ideal in busy periods when we didn’t have time to go and physically buy them from the handful of places we found. Convenience is still something that needs to be worked on, but I’m sure it’ll be come easier as the demand grows.

Take action no matter how small

One of the biggest things I realised, is that taking action and making even a small change will make a difference. I’m not sure why, but there seems to feel like a need to have an overnight change in our habits, but changing a behaviour takes time. Especially on a mass scale. Through education we can all make choices daily to lessen our impact.

There’s still plastic in my life

I’m far from waste free and still have products that are plastic, especially beauty products from my days in the industry. It’s just not practical for me to just throw things out – they’ll still end up in the same place whether I use them or not. Instead, I’ve taken the approach to do things bit by bit and use them all up, then replace with better choices as I go along.

This is a much bigger issue

The more I’m investing myself in altering my habits, the more I read and see that this is so much more than me. We’ve all seen the distressing videos of a sea of plastic, but we also see local supermarkets still receiving plastic bags. The production doesn’t seem to be slowing down and it poses the question – what exactly needs to happen for a lasting change? What part of the chain needs to be broken for it to be better?