I am by no means a ‘zero waster’ and I am certainly not trying to preach to others, however last year I became very aware of how much plastic we had passing through our home; it was initially highlighted when our local council changed their recycling program – which meant we could only put out three bin bags every two weeks along with the recycling.
Initially I couldn’t get my head around how it would even be possible; what on earth were we going to do with all the other rubbish? There was no way we would be able to manage on just THREE bin bags every two weeks! As it turned out we completely smashed it, both myself and my husband were amazed when it came to bin day that we somehow managed to put out just ONE bin bag! It turns out we hadn't been as good as recycling I thought we were. That was until we had to be.
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with the details of my bin collection schedule, but instead give you an insight into how over the past year we have made some small and relatively simple changes to our lifestyle and cut down on our plastic waste.
2. Shopping Bags: Making sure I always have a reusable bag on my whereabouts, no matter where I go has been a complete game changer! I used to be the kind of person who would get to the shop and realise that I had forgotten the bags, or get to the checkout and realise that I had left them in the car. That was until I discovered these Baggu bags; they fold up so small that you can fit them in your pocket and when they are unfolded they can hold up to 22.5kgs (if you think of it in terms of bags of sugar, that is a LOT of bags of sugar!) These days I always either have one in my coat pocket or in my handbag which means I don’t have to either a). juggle my shopping all the way home, or b). end up resorting to buying a ‘bag for life’ – which let’s face it really isn’t!
3. Sponges: To be honest, for a long time I had had enough of how ugly and murky our manky yellow sponge looked sitting on the side of the sink, but I hadn’t even considered the wasteful side of it. I would have previously had no qualms about throwing out a sponge a couple of times a week, or really anytime it got so gross I couldn’t bare it anymore. I don’t know what made it happen, but I finally realised that all the sponges I was throwing away weren't even biodegradable. I discovered that there are cellulose based sponges that are biodegradable, however when I started searching for this type, I found that they nearly always came wrapped in loads of plastic packaging and more often than not, they also have an integrated synthetic scourer on top which means they can’t easily be recycled after all. I changed to using these colourful washable dishcloths and now I put them in with my regular washing each day. I also use a happy faced wooden brush for more tricky and stuck on bits which will decompose easily when put in with the compost or even my food waste collection. I am now satisfied with how my sink side looks as well as feeling happy that I am not throwing out a sponge every other day. :-)
4. Butter: I got into Lurpak spreadable when I first started university. I remember my friend Jessica coming to stay and we would come in after a night out and eat piles of crackerbread with a thick spreading of the stuff. I’m not sure whether I managed to afford the luxury of Lurpak throughout all of my uni years but definitely in more recent years I could and most certainly did. It seems silly now; I mean why I would have chosen to spend more money on some butter that was diluted with a cheaper oil to make it a little bit easier to spread and came in a massive plastic tub. These days we have a butter dish with butter in, which stays out on the worktop all year round. Guess what… the butter spreads just as easily as the spreadable stuff!
5. Cups of Tea: I drink quite a lot of tea, probably nearing 6 cups a day, sometimes more. Oops. There has been a lot of press about teabags containing plastic, so when I started to look into it I was easily swayed when I discovered that there are all kinds of other environmental benefits to brewing loose tea instead. As a self-confessed tea connoisseur (my maiden name was Brewer, so I’m presuming it’s in the genes!) I also discovered that tea from the pot tastes much better too, although there is definitely a skill to getting it right! Anyway, here are a few of the other reasons I swapped to lose tea: 1). According to The Guardian, in the UK we use approximately 55 billion teabags per year – that is a lot of land fill waste. 2). You can infuse lose tea more than once, I find the second cup has a more delicate flavour but is still tasty. 3). Less energy is required when processing lose tea than in tea bags. 4). Lose tea requires far fewer packaging materials along the supply chain. Finally 5). There are no chemicals used in lose tea, instead it’s just fresh, plain, tasty tea. Overall it’s a win, win choice if you ask me.
Good luck if you are starting to make changes to your plastic usage, I can confidently say that once I started I found it was easy to fit these changes in to my normal routine.
In my next post there will be more swaps, as well as a bit about the reasons for me setting up White Space Home.
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