Yesterday I came across an Instagram account called Pointless Packaging and it has brought home, for the first time in a long time, the seriousness of an issue that should be much closer to my heart than it is: my excessive use of plastic.
Although, like most normal and decent people, I try to do “my bit” whenever I can, I’m ashamed to admit that subconsciously at least, there is a part of me that just finds myself thinking: “what’s the point? Can I really make a difference?”
Sure, I’ll stop using straws because *I know* that they kill the turtles, but is there really that much point when 500 million straws are used ONCE and then thrown away in America?
Sure, I have a recycling bin now but then of course I read that news story a few weeks ago that Britain’s recycled plastic is ending up in landfill (and no I didn’t just see that in the Daily Mail) so why am I bothering?
Sure, I reuse my plastic bottles over and over again (even after I use the lids and use them so much they lose their shape) but what good is that when 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away by Americans every year?
It’s depressing. The statistics are depressing, they’re shocking but worse than any of that? They are overwhelming. They are so overwhelming. So overwhelming that most of us spent most the time being too overwhelmed to actually do anything about it.
Or that’s what it is like for me at least. I hate the statistics, I hate them so much, I hate to hear them, but I CANNOT ignore them.
We’ve seen the pictures. The whales, the turtles, the beaches. We know that every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution finds it’s way into the ocean. We know that 150 bottles litter each mile of the beaches in the UK. That’s shocking until you realise that it’s nothing compared to the approximately 5000 litres of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beaches in the UK.
According to Surfers Against Sewage 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and one million sea birds and killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
I was talking to my vegetarian flatmate about this yesterday, it was the thing that kicked me up the arse to actually write this article. At the age of seven she decided she didn’t want to eat meat anymore; the decision she has made every day for the last seventeen years means that she is not responsible for the death of an animal.
But then, as she pointed out yesterday, just by buying a bunch of bananas in the co-op she is accidentally responsible for god knows what in god knows which sea killing god knows how many animals. And that’s not fair. You try to do good, you try really hard to do good, and for what???
It’s a horrible thing to say, it’s a horrible reality. But we cannot get away from the fact that we are ALL responsible and it’s hardly even our fault.
Alex tried to give up plastic for Lent, he really really tried. He couldn’t last a day, you cannot live in London and work a normal job and have a dog and a house and a commute and not starve to death and last longer than a day.
Go to the shops, see it for yourself… it’s everywhere, PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE.
And it is overwhelming and frustrating and it’s a problem so huge in magnitude that you don’t even know where to start. But the fact is; there is something you can do. There is ALWAYS something you can do.
No matter how small your step is, you can at least take A step. Ao here are some of the little steps that I have taken towards a plastic free life (well…. an attempt at one anyway).
No more bottled water
Yes, you’ve heard this before, and it’s just as annoying when I say it. WHAT if you get really thirsty when you’re out and about, and you go to buy some water only to remember your pledge and then you’re miles away from home and then before you know it you collapse of dehydration?! I hear ya. But c’mon. Just buy a few re-usable bottles; metal, glass, thick plastic even if you promise not to chuck it out straight away. Fill them up, put them in the fridge… et voila, nice cold bottled water. Before you set off put one of those bottles in your bag.
You are lucky enough to live somewhere that you CAN drink the tap water. Celebrate that at least. DO IT.
Embrace your inner Grannie AND GET A BAG FOR ALL YOUR LIFE
I don’t care if you have to fill your pockets with cucumbers, your bra with lettuces, stuff the space between your chin and chest with Kit Kats; DON’T YOU DARE SAY YES TO A PLASTIC BAG. To avoid the lettuce-in-bra situation there is a very easy solution: put a Bag For Life in your car, put one in every bag you own, fill your pockets, put up a sign by the front door.
NO MORE ONE TIME ONLY BAGS PLEASE.
Carry your own straw with you… everywhere
(apart from to the airport because it might be considered a weapon).
Yes, you may well look like a wanker, you’ll definitely feel like one but THINK OF THE TURTLES. Seriously, think of the turtlessss. No more straws. You don’t need a straw, no one really needs a straw. Having said that, there are some exceptions to that rule, some people do, SO, you can get your hands on a metal one HERE – slip it in your handbag and sleep soundly after a night on the piss knowing that you might jut have saved a turtle.
Make your own lunch
This is not just money saving advice, although you’re so welcome for the reminder that you pledged to do this every day of 2018 and the last time you took something homemade into the office was at the beginning of February. There is so much plastic wasted in a £3 meal deal it’s painful. So how’s about you make something delicious, pop it into a re-usable tuppa-wear container of some kind, SAVE THE DAMN WORLD and feel like a smug af bitch whilst you do it.
Buy the manky looking vegetables
And by ‘manky’, I of course mean the ones with dirt on them. They’re dirty because they are covered in beautiful nature. Don’t go for the very orange carrots in the very wasteful plastic bags. Loose carrots covered in soil ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
Reusable mugs are your new favourites
You guys know I love coffee and the people that provide me coffee as much as the next gal but nothing hurts me more than the constant waste of the cups. Go and get your hands on one of those reusable reusable ones that they sell on the counter of Starbucks or better yet, take your own thermos.
You might think it’s a bit keen but then again, you are keen, so think of this as the key to the elite coffee drinkers association.
Snap up some biodegradable poo bags
For your dog, not for you, obviously, you’re fine to keep using the loo tbh. Bua does about eight poos a day, I realised after a week of having her that we were going to need to find eco alternatives. Any fellow dog owners out there, we use THESE.
Old school milk deliveries are key
Hey, I’m a London gal, a London gal with an allergy to cows milk no less, I don’t know how this works, but I do know that my mum has recently reverted back to glass bottle deliveries at her house and they are a) adorable and b) so much better for the environment. After they’re finished, you wash them out, pop them back on the doorstep and they are then taken back and refilled. HOW PERFECT???
I know we are seeing videos of recycling being thrown into landfill with the non-recyclable shit, but, butttttt, if there is even just a little chance that these are being dealt with properly then we do at least need to try, right? RIGHTTTT???
Pack in the makeup wipes
I have said it time and time again but I meeaaannnn it, makeup wipes are absolute devil things that are so bad for the environment and for your skin. Does anyone remember the story of ‘fatberg’ in 2014??? It was a blockage in a sewer pipe under Shepherd’s Bush, jammed by a blockage of fat and rubbish the length of a Boeing 747. Thames Water said wet wipes were the major cause (slightly unrelated but read about my skincare here for tips on living without them here).
So will any of this really make a difference? Pledging your allegiance to biodegradable bags with which to pick up your dog’s shit, surely you can’t save the world with a promise like that???
Gals, I don’t know. But it’s GOT to be worth a try.
It is overwhelming, you are, after all, a very small part of a very big problem.
But you can make a difference. One fewer straws, one less bottle, one bird saved from ingesting a piece of packaging from some nice shiny looking carrots that the co-op conned us into buying.
We can make a difference, no matter how small, all you have to do is try.