But, look at that! I got so used to living without consciously buying plastic, that I went past my 40 day self-induced deadline! Wey hey! So, I guess that I had better sum up the experience in some way or other:
Yes, plastic is an amazing, useful material, with its diversity of uses and properties;
However, we’ve stupidly, over-produced and used it for many unnecessary things; and now we have a vast problem…..
I t’s been great being pro-active about something I feel passionate about but also, at times, depressing – because it’s really made me focus on the multitude of unnecessary plastic out there.
I dropped in at Waitrose today, bought some plastic wrapped celery, left the wrapper on the counter – and wondered; if we collected all the pointless plastic from shopping in just one supermarket in Abingdon (which is a town with a population around 36,000) what would it look like? How big would the pile be? And then multiply that around the country, world…etc…then one sees the problem…
So, where to from here?
I intend to be more proactive by way of joining my local plastic-cutting group meetings, hoping to put pressure on supermarkets and spread the word.
I intend making those eco-bricks I found out about. This will hopefully give me practically zero plastic waste.
And I intend to buy all my fruit and veg plastic free in future, and bulk buy anything else i need to cut down on plastic waste.
I intend to buy and use those fruit and veg sacks I mentioned; I’ve decided they are a better idea than paper bags…which don’t last very long.
I will update this blog from time to time. The main problem is that we have been complacent for too long, blinkered or naive re the extent of the plastic problem; A few years ago; I hardly thought twice about shrink-wrapped goods. Now, I feel a need to raise the profile of the plastic problem; to get through to others, pull their blinkers off to show how ridiculous, wasteful and dangerous the situation has become.
The fight against plastic goes on…it’s time to say ‘goodbye’ to plastic.
Did you know that 3.6 billion toothbrushes are made every year and many of those end up in the ocean/landfill? However, look what I found – at Waitrose; a ‘Humble’ toothbrush. The packaging is made from cardboard and compostable paper and the toothbrush is made from bamboo which can be disposed of in the compost bin. The bristles are made of ‘nylon 6’ which can be disposed of with plastics…after removing with pliers/ chopping off head (toothbrush head!). Besides this, every purchase benefits children in need projects. ‘The Humble Co’ is a Swedish firm and can be found on Facebook.
On running out of a few basics at home, I recently became acutely aware of the fact that if I hadn’t any plastic supplies prior to starting my plastic ban, I wouldn’t have managed as well as I have. I have run out of rice and lentils. Also, my grey roots have become exceedingly noticeable… as I have banned myself from hair dying products. I am also aware that the tins of tomatoes, beans and fruit I have been buying may have plastic coatings inside.
Yesterday, we went to Millets Farm, looking for a bird feeding station…(they sold the same grotty brand as I had already purchased from Argos…’Gardsman’ which doesn’t stand up straight due to useless threads that join the poles…grrr) but on a more positive note, I plundered their loose fruit and veg and noticed that they have some frozen foods that can be shovelled into plastic reusable containers; stir-fry mix, fruit salad mix, sweet potato fries and much more!
And this must be one of the most diabolical and unforgivable uses for plastic: ‘ This awful netting has suddenly gone up all around UK purely to stop birds nesting so developers can legally destroy our trees and hedgerows (birds, wildlife, bees, hedgehogs, insects, environment, health and well being). Say no to this and sign this petition. ‘ https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/244233…
Firstly a message from ‘1 million women’ – (a brilliant site), on what the EU community are doing re plastic; sorry to be political, but what a shame we are isolating ourselves from them – when they consider eco-policies so well; the Eu has approved a ban in Europe of the following single-use plastics ; namely, plastic straws, plastic cotton buds, plastic drink stirrers, oxo-degradable plastic bags and polystyrene cups. The ban will take place in 2021.
Did you know there is an ‘Abingdon Cuts Plastic’ Group that meet monthly? They are a subgroup of Abingdon Carbon Cutters and are affiliated to Surfers Against Sewage. Their aim is for our town to have (single-use) plastic-free status by the end of 2019. They emailed me and asked if I’d like to attend their meetings, which I will as and when I can.
The drawstring fruit and veg bags are reusable and the mesh allows air to circulate. However, the site does state that they are made from ‘high quality polyester net’…so I won’t be buying them just yet! They cost £6.99 for a pack of 5 .
The ecozone nuts are an alternative to washing detergents and are said to be 100% natural and envirotnmentally friendly. But do they do the job, has anybody out there used them? They are priced at £5.99 at 300g.
The ‘guppyfriend Washing bag’ catches microfibres and microplastics. They are made from a super-fine mesh known as Polyamide 6.6 Unfortunately, it costs a whacking £29.99 to buy.
The sponge cleaning cloths are 100% biodegradable and cost £5.99 for a pack of 5.
I slipped up a little the other day; Yes! On coffee again – I bought a Douwe Egberts glass jar of coffee, with glass lid, but it has a naughty plastic seal inside the lid.
However, to redeem ourselves, my husband has found a loo paper solution, in the form of Waitrose white bathroom tissue in a cardboard box. Expensive at 85p a box – each containing 65 x 2 ply sheets. He also bought ( in desperation) a toothbrush. The manufacturer is ‘TePe’ and the toothbrush is made using 100% green energy. The toothbrush handle is made from sugarcane and the bristles are bio-based. The toothbrush is said to be 96% biobased plastic, although, crazily enough the packaging is mostly plastic…Hmmm…you win some and you lose some!
‘Who gives a Crap’ is a site dealing solely in providing paper-wrapped loo-paper. (This used to be in every supermarket but I can’t find any now!) I was keen to order some loo-rolls (although the name was a little off-putting!) On going on-line I discovered that one can’t do a one-off buy – you have to choose a regular order option (hmm…for your regular deposits in the throne room).
Well, it had to be done….or tried, at least. Here’s the recipe I used for my homemade toothpaste:
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp coconut oil
10 drops of peppermint oil
RESULT: It tastes very salty…and I’m wincing as I type in the memory of the flavour. But it’s worth a try……………….or is it? I’m wondering now, how do I stop it becoming unhygenically contaminated by 4 different toothbrushes (owned by members of my family) dipping in and out of it? I’m keeping it in a sealed plastic box (one I already possessed). I suspect once my children have tried it, they will go out and buy their own toothpaste!
I looked on Colgate’s website for their opinions on homemade toothpaste: ‘There are many products that DIY enthusiasts can make on their own, but toothpaste shouldn’t be one of them. To protect your teeth, make sure to buy toothpaste with cavity-fighting fluoride. ‘ well; you might say – they would say this because they want us to buy their toothpaste! However, they state the following reasons:
Homemade toothpastes leave out flouride which keeps enamel strong
Bicarbonate of soda may be harmful to enamel. (As it is often suggested as a natural alternative oven cleaner, I can appreciate this!)
It may be difficult to keep it sanitary.
You may need to keep it in the fridge.
Conclusion: Maybe this is one plastic product I will have to buy? The other alternative is ‘tooth tabs’…available at Lush in a no-no plastic bottle, or sold for 5p each at ‘The Market Garden’ Eynsham.
And, on the ‘goodness of goats’ – My husband bought me this shampoo bar today – wrapped in paper…hoorah! And, it is suitable for irritating skin conditions (which I have). Feedback coming soon on this product. It was bought in Abingdon at our local excellence market (on a Saturday every 3 months). See the pic for the website.
Unlike plastic bags (which the report says are produced from the waste products of oil refining) paper requires forests to be cut down to produce the bags. The manufacturing process, according to the research, also produces a higher concentration of toxic chemicals compared with making single-use plastic bags.
Paper bags also weigh more than plastic; this means transportation requires more energy, adding to their carbon footprint, the study adds.
Perhaps something like these bags are the best idea. They can be bought from various online sites. The ones in the pic are described as: ‘REUSABLE ORGANIC COTTON PRODUCE BAGS BY GREEN TULIP ETHICAL LIVING’ £1.50 each.
I’m not sure why this site is only targeted at women…but, it does give so much useful information re fighting plastic! Their statement is: ‘WE ARE WOMEN AND GIRLS FROM EVERY CORNER OF THE PLANET BUILDING A LIFESTYLE REVOLUTION TO FIGHT THE CLIMATE CRISIS.’ (…sounds good to me!) I get posts from them on my Facebook page, such as: 8 ways to reduce your plastic footprint, how to stop toothbrushes ending up in landfill, a plastic free bathroom toolkit, how to stop plastic microfibre pollution…and much more!!!…I may just have a look at their toothpaste recipe!
Last week, I went to a local garden centre, ‘Millets’ and came away with some great loose fruit and veg., but NO plants …and why?…..Because, they were all in plastic plant pots. This has led me to wonder, why don’t garden centres have recycling bins for plant pots? I have just acquired a garden shed and after tidying up the garden realised that I have too many of the damn things to fit into my shed. I intend to contact a few garden centres; namely B&Q, Homebase and Millets…to see what they can do!
Confession time; On Friday, whilst shopping at Waitrose, I happily added a newspaper to my shopping basket (free if you spend more than £10…I think). On arriving home, I opened the paper only to discover that the magazine inside was lurking in PLASTIC PACKAGING!!! What an oversight on my part. But it made my husband feel less guilty about the plastic packaged card he had previously, absent mindedly bought…
Also, my son has returned after 3 months in Guatemala. He presented me with this postcard.
A typical fruit and veg market in Guatemala. I asked if the produce displayed were in green plastic sacks…..but no, they aren’t – they are in leaves and baskets. Good!
Finally, A friend posted a really interesting link to a websitethat sells biodegradable bags for taking to the supermarket and weighing fruit and veg. They are see- through and washable.
Although, most produce in the farm shop was plastic wrapped (including the cheeses on the cheese counter) there were plenty of loose fruit and veg to choose from ; yeh! I forecast cauliflower cheese, cabbage coleslaw, rhubarb fool, chickpea and sweet potato curry, leek and potato soup…the world’s my unshrink-wrapped oyster! The walnuts we’ll use for snacking.
Unfortunately; my husband absent-mindlessly bought his Mum a birthday card that was encased in plastic. Just goes to show how we have become so blinkered to plastic being there. Really, this is one type of plastic which HAS to go; it is just thrown straight in the bin and is totally unnecessary!!!! He is still feeling guilty.
The following post appeared on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. It is horrific, I don’t know how reliable this information is; I am only reposting.
A Beached Whale in the Philippines Died Due to Ingesting 88 Pounds of Plastic.
‘According to National Geographic, whales (and other marine animals, for that matter) can easily mistake plastic bags for food. When whales eat plastic, their bodies are tricked into thinking they are full, when in actuality, they are not ingesting any nutrients. Whales cannot digest the plastic, so as their stomachs fill up with plastic, they might get sick, lose weight, and become unable to hunt. “At some point their stomach fills up with trash and they can’t eat real food,” Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, told National Geographic. “You’re not getting any nutrients in and you’ve basically completely clogged your digestive system.”
It’s two weeks now since we gave up buying plastic! It’s difficult, it’s like living back in the 70’s but has definitely focused my attention on just how much unnecessary plastic there is in life. I hope when the forty days is up, the effect will linger and we will never go back to our plastic wasting way of life again! At the moment, I am still able to rely on plastic bought prior to our challenge…old pasta in plastic bags lurking at the back of the larder cupboard for example. Things can only get trickier!
Challenge: Who can find the most ridiculous example of plastic packaging and send the photograph either to here or to my email?
I was wondering when plastics first appeared in our lives? The first synthetic polymer was invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt. A New York firm offered $10,000 for anyone who could provide a material like ivory. This was because billiards had become very popular . These first plastics were made using cellulose from cotton plants.
In 1907 Bakerlite made its appearance (see the pic of the phone) – it was invented by Leo Baekeland. It was marketed as “the material of a thousand uses,”
Nylon was invented during the war, helping to preserve natural resources; it was used for parachutes, ropes and body armour.
Plastic rubbish in the oceans was first observed in the 1960s..
But, if mankind had not invented plastics, would I be using this laptop to type this blog? Plastics have also created life saving medicines. Replacing natural materials with plastic has made many of our possessions cheaper, lighter, safer and stronger. Food stays fresh longer.
I can see the advantages; however, my issue is that we have overused it. We have become lazy and wasteful. The one use plastics definitely have to go first!
‘ We’ve worked hard to put together our GoBrik help to help with community collaborations. GoBrik lets you log your ecobricks and work on projects together with your community. You can join a community to work with, and you can see a map of communities that need ecobricks or that are have too many. ‘https://www.ecobricks.org/dropoff/
Why make ecobricks? It alleviates pressure from landfill and helps to clean up the environment. In urban areas residents find that the trash littering their streets can be used in a positive way.
My sister has actually been to an ecobrick workshop! I’m hoping she might give some information in my comments box!