Although the year has come to an end, my journey has only really just begun….. so I thought I would share with you a few of my triumphs and failures in my attempt to go zero-waste / plastic-free. Neither of these have been as easy as I had assumed and both are attempts that I want to improve on. Surprisingly I have actually found like-minded people where I live and have shared in our annoyances at not being able to find certain items or in shops closing down that were our go-to places – which has helped me not feel so pathetically bad at this!
- ALL of the presents I gifted this year were wrapped without plastic! (And mostly didn’t contain plastic!) I tried as hard as I could to buy people thoughtful gifts which were personal and not plastic….. which basically ruled dvds and cds off of the list!
- I have recently started a campaign to reduce single use bottles throughout the campus. Together with a team of colleagues we’re starting an awareness campaign about the effects of single use bottles with the aim to reduce consumption and eventually reduce sale of these items!
- I managed to buy a stainless steel re-useable water bottle with a bamboo lid!!! Absolutely no plastic present!
- As well as reducing my plastic consumption I have also been reducing my palm oil consumption, in an attempt to reduce the effects of palm oil on the wildlife (such as orangutans and their habitat). Please see my post on this topic for more info: https://greenangelsmagic.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/palm-oil-effects-and-consequences/
- I’ve been upcycling clothing (with the help of my mum’s sewing) to reduce the plastic I am discarding (such as zips, elastic and buttons which would normally be discarded along with the clothing).
- No more plastic biscuit waste! Instead I have been making snacks like flapjacks, cupcakes and mincepies. Most of those ingredients come in glass jars or paper packaging (except the brown sugar – but this still means it’s less packaging than lots and lots of biscuits would be!).
- No more crisp waste! I have been selectively not buying crisps due to the waste they have and instead buying alternative items such as fudge, breaded treats etc. that are not plastically packaged.
- Most of my toiletries are plastic free (including my shampoo and conditioner). Lush, does bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, as well as recycling a majority of their plastic containers. I now only have plastic toothbrush (soon to be replaced with a bamboo one), and plastic items for deodorant & moisturiser.
- I finally found biodegradable cotton buds! This was my major break through in the whole year! Only found in one shop, which is a 30 min train journey from my house, and costing over double what the plastic ones cost! The only downside is that it has a little window to view the product (which is plastic).
- After my local grocery store shut down, I was very disheartened about being able to buy my groceries plastic free. Supermarkets are obviously not a great choice as they all cover everything in plastic. The local farmers market also occurs on days when I’m at work, and hence unable to attend. Luckily I’ve found out that my campus does a veg stall (unpackaged) …. I’ve just got to remember to visit the stall on the right days!
- Dry products (such as oats, pasta, lentils, beans, nuts etc) have been IMPOSSIBLE to find without packaging. The veg stall on campus apparently used to sell bulk dry products but cut back due to a lack of volunteers, so this has become a major problem area for me…. one that I don’t know how to solve.
- This one I won’t spend much time on but I feel needs to be mentioned…. female hygiene products. They are the bane of my non-plastic life. Will definitely be purchasing alternatives…. soon-ish.
- Pens! I have no option but to write in pens for work because people moan when it’s in pencil (apparently not professional), but pens are a plastic nightmare. There seems to be no alternative – and I go through A LOT of pens! (please let me know if there is an alternative!)
- A lot of my films I own on dvd, rather than using Netflix or other such companies. I prefer the traditional method of looking physically through the cases to find one that I feel like watching….. the only problem is that the cases (and the discs) are plastic. This is the same for cds, and any form of console game.
- As I am only transferring across to non-plastic items as they break, this has made me feel a bit anti-progressive. Although it means that I’m not breaking my bank by switching quickly, it also means that I’m constantly seeing all the plastic around me….. and that’s very demoralising.
- Going on a trip abroad unfortunately increases plastic-needs. Plastic bags for toiletries in hand-luggage, plastic bottle because they refused to let you take water in your refillable bottle through security, plastic labels on luggage, plastic-wrapped meals, and plastic liners in bags to stop everything getting soaked. Oh and suncream, insect repellent and tablets (malaria/pain relief etc.) ALWAYS comes in plastic 😦
- Many people don’t realise how hard changing to a plastic-free lifestyle is and will buy items for me that are plastic – such as food stuffs or presents, which can put me in an awkward situation. Accepting plastic into my house because it’s a gift, or upsetting my friends over a gift.
Hopefully I can solve a few of these failures by next year, and step a lot closer to plastic-free / zero-waste.