So we are several days into our non -plastic buying experience. And I can’t say it is easy. I am someone who lives away two nights a week during term time with my husband doing his best whilst working a nine-to-five with an hour + commute. However, we are largely managing.
Today I made time to go to the market and successfully get non-plastic wrapped cheese and prawns. Admittedly, for now they are still having to be stored in plastic, but we are determined to not add more plastic to landfill so are using up plastic before buying non plastic alternatives.
Someone asked me why I was doing this. And I had to think about it. I really just did it a bit on a whim. I decided post-Christmas my new year’s resolutions would include plastic (I also gave up buying new clothes for me and eating meat in our home). I can’t even tell you why I added it in – I would say I cared about the environment but cannot claim I had a massive awakening about the terrible effects of plastic on the world (I have an average awareness of this at best, which is just growing through more and more research). Equally, I hadn’t had any reason to question why so many things were made from plastic (I assumed it was cheaper) and hadn’t considered there might be health costs associated with the use of plastic. I just decided. So it makes it quite tricky, as my friend pointed out, to make decisions about what plastic things I might need to allow in my life. Without knowing what motivated me exactly, it makes it a lot harder….
Things I do know
I can tell you my eyes have been opened to the amount of plastic we are using. Trying to find food is O.K. mostly, but only because of where I live – I have really good markets and have a great shop (Beeches of Walkley) in walking distance who are letting me put everything in paper bags. Equally, getting milk is easy but only because we have a milkman – whereas so many people don’t have this option.
Someone mentioned early on that not buying plastic is really only an option for those who can afford it. In some ways this is not as clear cut as I thought, as financially a lot of things seem cheaper, plus you stop buying things. However, in terms of time given, I would argue that it is only possible to try to do (in terms of research, finding places, and travelling between shops) if you have spare time. I imagine spare time is something many people don’t have, which is why I am hoping to put up this Saturday a list of places that people in Sheffield can buy things and a list of places online where you can buy things.
Things I have decided I can include in my life, even though they are plastic (read on before you say I am quitting too early! )
I have started to think about what things I will need to buy despite them being some. So far this is the definite list:
Cellotape and Glue – So this is because I intend to make my own cards and envelopes (as I do like writing to folks and giving Christmas/birthday cards). I justify this, really, because I think it will be less plastic overall than buying cards which are, often, individually wrapped in plastic.
Books – so books are often have a slight layer of plastic on the covers. I am a student so need to buy books, but I am also someone who loves books. Although I borrow a lot of books from the library, I will undoubtedly still want books for studying. Similarly, I like buying books for others. My logic is that books (hopefully) will not end up as waste – once read I either keep them, pass books onto others or send them to a charity shop.
Bicarbonate of Soda – So this comes in plastic. However, I intend to buy this to help towards making things – such as deodorant (alongside Lush products) and other beauty products. Again I figure how much I will be using this versus what I would be buying instead that would be plastic covered, means that this is the sensible option.
Toothpaste – for now I am planning to continue buying a fluoride toothpaste – after chatting to more people. However, I am still thinking over this one and am researching for the least plastic option out there with fluoride.
Buttons and Zips – So, at the moment I am O.K. with buying charity shop stuff and gift if this is all the plastic they have on them. This may change but I am trying to balance how far it can go.
Beer and Wine making equipment – So, I am making and brewing my own wine and beer. In terms of plastic use, I am decreasing this by asking folks (unashamedly) to pass on wine bottles that have had corks in rather than buying new ones. However, the cleaning equipment comes in plastic and as yet I haven’t even started to research how to create from non-plastic products, so until I do this stuff will be staying.
Tins – Tinned food often has a layer of plastic on the inside. This is, as someone said to me recently, probably for a good reason. However, it is still plastic. The reason I am undecided is that although Tins can be recycled, I need to learn whether this plastic actually limits their recyclability.
What I think my motivation is….
As you can perhaps see I think I am beginning to think I have given up plastic because I don’t like the waste culture. Chatting with my husband last night on our date night we talked a lot about how much plastic we just throw out as a culture and how we have never noticed it as much as we do now we have stopped throwing it out. Therefore, if I can find ways of limiting the throw-away waste that ends up in landfill I think I am happy.