A few years ago, I’ll confess to being a bit smug about my ‘saving the planet’ credentials. I’ve never had a car, I’ve got solar panels, I had a bag for life before there were bags for life. I’m doing my bit, right? Eco living. Of course it became apparent through programmes like Blue Planet that it’s just not enough. The emerging realisation that we’re all eating and drinking micro plastics every day with unknown long term health consequences is just horrific. So I embarked on a journey to slowly, one step at a time you might say, get plastic out of my life and generally do a bit more. It’s overwhelming, difficult to know where to start and I didn’t really have a plan; I’ve come to the conclusion you don’t need one, you just need to start. In the spirit of sharing what’s worked for me, here’s what I’ve done and I hope this will give you some ideas for ‘doing your bit’ in whatever ways work for you.
Where to start? For me it was soap. If I replaced liquid soap dispensers with bars of soap, I could get rid of a load of plastic from my house. And the packets look and smell so pretty, I’ve had handmade soap from the Orkneys as a present, and I’ve bought lovely soap bars as presents for other people willing to be nudged into doing the same swap. It was not without hazards, and I’m glad no one had to see my naked attempts to chase one of the slippery suckers around the bathtub! But you live and learn and I have now solved this with little handwoven bags that you can hang up in the shower and lather up beautifully.
And once you’ve got used to soap, it’s a small and obvious step to shampoo, conditioner and kitchen and bathroom cleaner, which all come in bar form and are now happily ensconced in my little bags all over the place. They work just as well as the chemical-ridden stuff I was using before. I don’t know exactly but I think this has removed at least six plastic bottles from my house at any one time as well as making sure I’m not polluting the water we all drink…my smugness level is creeping back up!
Next on the list was washing powder and I’ve already started buying cardboard packets rather than plastic bottles. I’m about to take it a stage further with the refill service, following on from dipping my toes in the refill water with washing up liquid. That’s the thing about this journey, once you get started you don’t have to think too hard, the next steps just follow on naturally and easily.
Today the sun has made it’s first appearance for what seems like an age, so I’m trying out the sun screen I bought last year, with less chemicals and in a tin rather than a plastic bottle. If it works on my pasty freckled skin and stops me doing the usual impression of a lobster wearing Arsenal kit I’ll be happy.
What’s next for my goal of eco living? So far I’ve probably only scratched the surface but a lot of people just scratching the surface is better than accepting that we are all doomed. Buying fruit and veg from places that don’t smother everything in plastic is getting easier and eating less but better quality meat is good for the body as well as the soul. My wardrobe is also getting far more interesting as I join the pre-loved and sewing revolution and avoid the high street uniform. Neither my wallet nor my lifestyle have been compromised by any of this and it feels good to be in control of my small but growing contribution to the health of the planet…do join me, one step at a time!