Dealing with single-use-plastics is now high on the agenda. We’ve all seen the devastating effects of so much plastic waste in the oceans, in the atmosphere, in landfill… And the fact that we ‘outsource’ our waste to the other side of the world for them to deal with, is obscene.
But, where to start…?
Edmund Burke said – “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little”
So, hopefully to give encouragement, here’s a brief look at my journey so far…
A simple New Year’s resolution – to minimise plastic packaging and goods coming through the door…
Plastic has been an amazing invention… the modern world wouldn’t turn without it… so maybe needs to be treated more like a precious commodity and only used when really necessary. Trouble is, so many different types make it complex… look at the number in the middle of the little triangle on plastic products. I’ve started researching which ones are recyclable and which are not.
I’m not having to feed five ravenous kids any more and only work part-time, so have more time to think about these things.
My advice is, don’t try and go cold turkey. To cut out single-use plastics totally in one fell swoop is impossible and overwhelming. Better to change one habit at a time -once you’ve established one, move on to the next.
I’ve been working on this for a while… I’ve had an eco-coffee cup for about two years, never buy bottled water, always take my own bags to the shops, use loose leaf tea (there’s plastic in most tea-bags). So now I’m ready to move on…
No more milk in plastic bottles. I’ve found a milkman who delivers three times a week. The milk is more expensive, but worth it.
No fruit and veg that’s wrapped. It means going without some things but, this is great opportunity to try other foods and explore the shops. There are Zero Waste shops popping up here and there too and it’s great to support them. I’m taking my own containers for bread, cheese, meat etc. – staff in the shops haven’t objected.
It’s cleaning products of every kind that are my biggest challenge. Home-made toothpaste is fine, but a first attempt at washing-up liquid was a disaster, so I’ve enrolled on a soap making course. In the mean-time, I’m using up what I’ve got, and hoping the course will come up trumps…Please, don’t tell my kids, but I’ve knitted a couple of dish cloths (bamboo and cotton yarn) for when my sponge ones die..oh, and the loo-roll is running out..can’t find non-plastic wrapped ones. And what happens when I run out of lipstick!
Unlike aluminium, paper and glass which are highly recyclable, plastics are not, which is why it is vital we refuse and reduce first.
If you’ve got kids, get them on the case. They’ll come up with great ideas when they know the damage plastics are causing. They’ll even be happy to forgo balloons and Kinder eggs. To get your friends on board – eco coffee cups, aluminium flasks, nice shopping bags make great presents.
Better to think in terms of carrots and not sticks!
by Alison Martin, Community Champion
“Sustainable Merton has been a great find. Having like-minded people to share ideas and knowledge with, and to decide together how sustainability is best achieved has to be the best way forward” – Alison
(Sustainable Merton is not endorsing any of the product listed but merely sharing it for information)