The Plastic Edit

Back in 2008 we decided to try and reduce the amount of non recyclable plastic that came into our home. This led us to think about the “stuff” we throw away, what happens to all those bottles, jars and packets we put in the council recycling bins and to think harder about the “lifecycle” of the things we bought.

This was partly a response to watching a film called “Message in the Waves” (which you can sometimes find on iplayer – it’s similar and equally distressing as Liz Bonin’s documentary “Drowning in Plastic”, which you can find online). We had also being trying to reduce our environmental impact in other ways, flying less, investing in insulation, ditching our second car and buying more locally grown  and reared food.

Over the next ten years we had plenty of successes and failures. We still have a problems with the plastic packaging in our supermarket food deliveries and items ordered online, but we are noticing more companies switching back to paper and card packaging and supermarkets are finally beginning to respond to consumer pressure and making slow (very slow) progress.

So, now that living “plastic free” has suddenly become an aspiration for so many, how does our experience fit into that?  We have never tried, and probably never will be a plastic free home, much as I would love to buy all my dried goods from the bulk buy shop, carry them home in kilner jars a la Instagram, this is never going to happen (Our lives are too busy, chronic illness makes it hard for me to carry heavy or bulky shopping). Instead, we adopted an approach that works for us:

  1. Buy once, buy well
  2. Buy what you need, use what you have.
  3. Make it, mend it, bake it, grow it or swap it before buying new – or preferably second hand.
  4. Consider everything you buy too precious to throw away.
  5. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all!

Number four  is really hard, but mostly it’s about giving things a second life. Plastic food bags can be washed and re used (so can kitchen foil and plastic tubs).  Old t shirts can be torn up to make dusters or yarn (great for making bulky storage baskets – you’ll find loads of instructions online).

I’ve made a list of each room in the house and how we cut our plastic / made more ethical and environmental choices. You might find these helpful – and if you have other suggestions – please let me know.

 

 

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