I do love New Year. I particularly love today, the 31st, the last day of the previous year – it’s almost an in-between day, a “door” day, between the old and the new. Today is a great chance to reflect on the last twelve months – the memories you have made, the highs and the lows with all the promise of what might be still to come in the next 12 months ahead. All of the next year untouched but full of hope.
Nearly 3 years ago (!) I decided to try and live as plastic-free a life as possible. And that first year I was super-hard core really eliminating everything in all areas. This second year in may respects has been more sustained – all about keeping up the habits of life created in the first – so things like trying to buy vegetables not wrapped in plastic, bread not in plastic, using re-usable cups, boxes, cutlery. Saying no to straws, saying no to plastic whilst eating out. Saying no to plastic bags and yes to having our own with us. But there has been a few compromises for my husband and for me. He is happy to report cans are back in his life (recyclable). I have bought plastic things a few times for work and have recently taken up art again which has some plastic attached to it (with the refillable watercolours). We are also exploring reducing dairy so have taken up alternative milks which at the moment are all in cartons which are plastic lined and can’t be recycled. It’s hard to believe that so much of the vegan market have endorsed plastic (many of it un-recyclable). My hope for 2018 is that this changes.
However, we decided making our own bread and pasta was and is fine but making our own milk at this stage feels too hard and so we now have this as a compromise in our life. We have, also, occasionally bought the odd bag of spinach as this feels like the hardest of vegetables to get plastic free and I missed it greatly. And let’s just say Christmas and our New Year breakfast for around ten folks has been, and will be, far from ideal (though we have tried). I guess, overall, it is fair to say year two has been a bit more about compromise and figuring out how to try and live as ethical a life in regards to plastic without forgetting other ethics (e.g. dairy and meat produce in terms of environmental impact) and forgetting things that give us joy (art and spinach in my case!).
Overall I have not done enough writing to people this year about reducing plastic, so that is on this year’s to-do list. One joy for me is that 2017 has been (it feels like) the year more people have become aware of the unsustainable use of plastic in the majority of the Global North. It has been written on more in newspapers and I am seeing it more and more on my social media feeds. Much thanks, I believe is due to Blue Planet, with images such as the dead baby whale, a by-product of the toxins of plastic absorbed by the mother whale over time, creating a connectable emotional image for many. As many of us watched I believe many of us recognised that – We – did- this. If you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it.
Highlights of the year have been people connecting with this idea that living without plastic is possible or at least reducing plastic and reusing what we have is really possible – no matter your current lifestyle. I have been in conversation more this year with people on this topic than ever before. This has been really rewarding. Some of these conversations have been via this blog but actually more has been done in person. Thank you for these conversations and thank you for caring.
If in 2018 you fancy giving up/ reducing your plastic there are some great memes out there with ideas of what list of ‘things’ to give up such as this from less.plastic (who began around the same time as us!)
My list might look like this:
1.What one piece of food do you buy that comes wrapped in throw-away plastic that you could switch to buying in something reusable/ more sustainable?
2. How would it feel to always have a drinks container at the ready? Would that work in your bag/ handbag easily?
3. Is there a household item you use that is plastic that you think might be possible to buy in another more sustainable material?
4. How much do you really need that straw/ single-use plastic cutlery?
5. How much joy does that use-only-once (single-use) plastic item really give you?
6. How hard is it for you to carry a shopping bag with you on your person, on your bike or in your car?
7. How far is it to your nearest library? (Yes plastic, sadly, is on books folks.)
8. How about trying an on-screen service rather than buying the latest DVD?
9. How scary would it be for you to try to live without plastic for 30 days? (30 days is the start of any good habit).
May 2018 be a blessing to you and those whom you love. I hope you might try even one of my questions out for a while. Reducing your plastic is something we can all do if we wish. I hope you will have a go and continue the conversations with others. Together we can make a difference.