Easy way to start #PlasticFreeJuly and carry it on past July
So, we’re now a week into #PlasticFreeJuly.
How’s everyone getting on? Have you made any changes in the first week? No matter how small, trust me they count.
So, a little bit about my journey and how I become aware of plastic’s and went ahead to change my lifestyle.
My sustainability journey began with firstly becoming cruelty free. My sister watched a documentary on Netflix about the diary industry and went from vegetarian to vegan pretty much overnight. Listening to her experience I thought about what products I was using on my clients and myself. I started reading and realised that products were tested on animals which didn’t make me feel good. I switched to cruelty-free products in 2017 and then 2018 I started sourcing products that were also vegan. Now all of my personal skincare and makeup products, along with my bridal kit is 100% vegan.
Now along this journey, I started reading about ingredients in products that I was using. I become aware of micro-plastics and products that would get washed down the drain and they wouldn’t biodegrade and then would harm aquatic life. I became aware packaging of the products that weren’t bio-degrable. I started thinking about what products I was putting in the bin and what would happen to them. I feel like it’s so easy for us, that once a product is washed down the drain or popped in the bin it kind of becomes out of sight out of mind. We aren’t taught what happens we just think we’ve done our bit and the council or whoever will take care of the rest of it. Essentially once it’s in the bin or down the drain it’s no longer our problem. However, once you become aware of the journey of the product maybe it might help to change our thought process and lifestyle.
So how does my story tie into #PlasticFreeJuly. Well once I started researching and finding out about the products, ingredients and packaging and the effects they had on my body and the planet, I made it my business to change my lifestyle and hopefully have a positive effect on the environment. I started making as many changes as possible some of which are still a part of our lifestyle today, and some I’ve had to digress back to. It’s not ideal but trust me going plastic free in a month or a year is not do-able (well at least I found it wasn’t when I tried.)
So, take a minute to look around you, and recognise the materials that surround you. You may be in your living room, you may have floorboards, décor, wallpaper, lights, photos, sofas, coffee tables. Now let’s think about the bathroom – tiles, mirror, shower tray, bath, bath products, hair products, skin products, cleaning products, plant, towels etc. Most of those products will either be plastic or contain plastic. Unfortunately, it’s a material we just can’t get away from.
Why is it such a popular choice of material? It’s cheap, lightweight in some cases, durable, cheap to work with and cheap to source, and it can be made into so many different things - tupperware, clothing, packaging to preserve food items.
My point is it is everywhere, and for us to completely cut it out would be impossible. I feel like a lot of plastic shaming happens this time of year. Yes, we need to cut down on our plastic use especially single-use plastic use. But we need to acknowledge, firstly it doesn’t happen overnight, secondly, it’s not an easy lifestyle change. We’ve literally been taught that plastic is essential, plastic is better and plastic is necessary. We have to make an effort to think out of the box as to how we can eliminate using plastic. Let’s talk about clothes pegs for a second, so they’re traditionally made out of wood. Plastic clothes pegs are more popular now, we can get them in different colours, shapes and sizes. But once we discard them (and replace them with new plastic pegs) they’ll go to the landfill or sea and literally just sit there. Nothing happens to them, and that’s the issue.
What I have found over the past three years (this is how long we have been trying to live more sustainably and eco-consciously) rather than making drastic changes, baby steps are best. So, if I said to you now don’t buy veg that’s packaged in plastic – it won’t be easy for all of us. We may not have a veg market nearby, buying plastic free can mean paying more money.
Instead I feel a better place to start is to recognise the types of plastics we are purchasing, recognising how to recycle them properly, (or if they can be recycled at all) and I feel that in time will help to reduce plastic waste.
Now imagine it will take us a while to make this change, essentially shopping will take slightly longer, we may have to do extra research, yes, we’ll get there but it will take a while. In the same way companies will not be able to and physically cannot become plastic free overnight. If we can’t do it as a single household in a month a company who has been manufacturing for years, using certain suppliers and meeting guidelines will not be able to change their ways over a month. It’s a process and can take a while. So, I feel it’s best to look at the positives and changes that are being made, and avoid plastic shaming companies.
Right so, let’s talk recycling symbols. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll start looking at everything you buy in a different way.
First thing to do is check what plastics your local council are happy to take to recycle. These are some of the plastic items that I cannot put into my recycling bin (my paper and plastic go into one bin. I’m hoping you read the list below and think I knew that – if you didn’t that’s fine too).
plastic carrier bags
greasy food packaging (e.g. pizza boxes)
hard plastics i.e. CDs, DVDs, toys or sweet tubs
plastic film and flimsy plastic
food pouches (e.g. pet food pouches)
Secondly start reading the recycling instructions or symbols when purchasing products.
This symbol (Plastic resin Symbol) states what type of plastic the product or packaging is made from and it can be recycled (do check if your local council have facilities to recycle this type of plastic).
This symbol (called the Green Dot Symbol) can be mistaken for this packaging can be recycled. It actually means the manufacturer has made a contribution to recovery and recycling of packaging. This type of plastic cannot be recycled.
Do you think you can find that same product made from a material that can be recycled? I’ve found a lot of my skincare and bath products are packaged with this label on it. I’ve been looking at package free products or products packaged in glass.
There are other symbols – you can find more information online. However, I’ve found being able to recognise these two symbols has helped me change my shopping habits. So, imagine by not buying products that are made from or packaged in a plastic that has the Green Dot printed on top, we’re making a decision to not buy a plastic that basically will ‘live’ pretty much forever. By replacing that item with a product that shows the resin symbol or a product that is packaged in a different material altogether is a better change as we’re buying consciously.
Try it out next time you go shopping. Make sure you allow enough time as it takes a while but it’s a small easy tip that you can implement in your life July onwards.
The last thing you can do is start collecting any plastic that can't be recycled via you local council. Firstly just collecting it will show you how much you produce as a household, and collecting it in one bag hits home. We did this at home and had so much! We then took it to Morrisons to recycle as they were accepting then, and the next month we had drastically reduced, that was just from checking what could be recycled prior to purchasing.
One of my lovely followers also sent me the information below on how to recycle your plastics that our local councils won't take. It's a charity called Kicks Count and you'll be able to find someone close to you who has recycling bins for certain types of plastics. She said it would be best to email the person to double check the plastics you have and how best to separate them. Also remember to wash all your plastics and dry them too.
It seems like alot to do and lots of organisation, but after a month it become second nature. That's it from me, gosh it's been a long one today. I don't share much about eco-friendly lifestyle changes as I feel like it doesn't fit my Insta grid well however I'll keep posting on here. Let me know what you think below.
See you next week for my next #PlasticfreeJuly blog post.