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If you have been following my journey for a while you will be familiar with my attempts in zero waste week to really think and action a reduction in waste. We only have one world, climate change is almost at tipping point. So what can we do? there are many actions we can take individually, one of them is to change our plastic consumption. Have you heard of PlasticFreeJuly? The aim is to highlight the issue of plastic in our world, to encourage people to give up single use plastic. If you are anything like me this can feel truly overwhelming.
I am delighted to have a guest post from Lisa of www.less-stuff.co.uk
The plastic revolution started in 1930 when Richard Drew invented sticky tape. A few years later technology advanced through to the cling film known as Saran Wrap. Tupperware and plastic spray bottles were available to buy just 13 years later, and a couple of years after that you could buy black bin bags. Convenience became king. Plastic kept food fresher for longer. Plastic helped homes stay clean. It was the perfect product for the aspirational modern life people wanted to live in the 1950’s and beyond.
Plastic is great apart from one big problem: it never dies.
A century of plastic is already a pollutant
Because plastic never totally breaks down, it is already polluting our waterways and oceans. Sunlight breaks it down partially but this makes the plastic release toxic chemicals. The plastic leftovers make their way to the sea where they are eaten by marine animals and fish. The chemicals affect hormones and reproduction and birds frequently mistake larger broken bits of plastic as food.
It is not just animals that are adversely affected by plastic. Bags can get entangled in marine engines, mess up fishing gear and clog up propellers. Thrown away plastic is dangerous to people and animals alike.
What difference can one person make?
One bottle of water a day doesn’t seem like much but if you can imagine a pile of the 365 you could get through in a year it would be sizeable. Just one person swapping out single use plastic products for durable, reusable ones is better than no people trying. Recycling is great but it is better to avoid using the plastic in the first place. Here are some quick and easy ideas for changes to make that will save you money too.
1) Give up single use water bottles
Cost £1 to £25, saving over the year £100
I used to buy 6 packs of bottled water at around £1.50 a pack. I’d buy one a week which makes it £78 a year. If you add in the odd one or two I’d buy out and about I was spending at least £100 on water a year. Swapping your disposable plastic water bottles for a reusable one is not difficult. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, filters can be as cheap as £15. Even buying big bottles of mineral water to decant it into your reusable bottle would save you money and the amount of plastic you use. I have a couple of Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles. One with a sports top for the car and one smaller handbag sized one that goes with me everywhere. Bars and cafes are usually really happy to fill the water bottle up and it stays nice and cool in the steel.
2) Take a reusable bag
Cost from nothing upwards, saving over the year £5
Reusable bags are increasingly popular and Vicky has a great instructional for a 10 minute tote bag which even has a handy little pocket. If you don’t want to sew your own you may be lucky enough to have a Morsbag pod near you. Morsbags are cloth shopping bags made by volunteers and given away. It is getting easier to find cloth bags in most shops now. They last longer than plastic ones, are generally stronger and more comfortable to carry. If you buy two 10p plastic bags a week, swapping to a cloth bag could save you over a fiver.
3) Make a wax food wrap
Cost £2.50 for beeswax, saving over the year £15
If you can make toast, you can make a wax food wrap. Use them instead of cling film to cover bowls in the fridge. Wrap them around blocks of cheese or half avocados to keep them fresh. You can even freeze some things in them. Wax wraps can only be used for fruit, veg, cheese and cake. Because you can only wipe them clean you cannot sanitise them enough to use for meat and fish. You need a square of material, the good bit from the back of an old shirt would be perfect. Cut the square about 10 inches across, put it on a baking tray and sprinkle with beeswax pellets. Pop into a warm oven for a few minutes until melted. Take out of the oven when all the wax has melted into the material and lift by one corner for a few seconds. It is usable as soon as it is dry.
I’m a total convert to wax wraps. I was buying a tube of cling film every month or so and hating having to throw it away when it was used. I know you are supposed to be able to wash it and reuse it but that is far too faffy for me!
Save £120 a year with 3 easy changes
What would you do with £120? Make 3 little adjustments to how you live to save yourself at least this amount every year, and help out the environment while you are doing it.
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Thank you Lisa – I am definitely making the wax wraps. It has been yet another project on my mental to do list, this week I commit to making the wax wraps.
If you enjoyed this article as much as I then you will also be interested in this article regarding solving plastic packaging.