How easy is it go plastic free for the average family?

Making the reusable plastic swap

Author: Gemma

Most of us will have seen the big drive by the BBC and other media forces to make us aware of the damaging effects of plastic. If you haven’t seen one of their programmes it would be hard to have missed seeing one of the heart breaking images of ocean wildlife caught up in amongst this man made debris. Socially there is a huge shift away from plastic with the banning of plastic straws, independent refill shops popping up and more and more pressure being put on super markets and big retailers to go plastic free.

My husband and I have been troubled by the plastic revelations especially news that plastic particles have been discovered in the snow in the Arctic which suggests the particles are travelling through water and are in the air we breath. So we have decided to try and do our bit and cut down on the throwaway plastic we use. After watching the BBC Programme ‘War against plastic’ we were lead to believe this would be an easy process but if I am honest at the start of this journey it is seeming almost impossible.

The harmful effects of plastic
Image source Getty Images Via BBC

Firstly, none of the Super Markets near us seem to be remotely interested in attempting to go plastic free. Lets name and shame Tesco as they are our biggest and closet super market so the one I spend most of my time in. We needed to replace our kitchen surface cleaner so chose to buy the more durable bottle that advertised a refill could be bought so saving on the packaging, alas no refill can be found on the shelves of my Tesco. Since Devon was a few months old we have used biodegradable nappies and wipes, recently following a tummy bug our nappy supply quickly depleted and we needed to urgently replace them, heading back to Tesco on searching their shelves there were no biodegradable nappies, wipes or nappy sacks. There was no choice but to buy standard nappies and I must admit my heart sunk.

Now I know a lot of you will be shouting, shop around go to Amazon, but I have moral problems with the beast that is Amazon, if I am trying to save the world should I buy an item that is probably going to be wrapped in plastic for postage and is going to use a lot of Diesel to get to my front door, when I have to visit a super market anyway. I don’t mind paying a little extra for more eco- friendly products, whilst they aren’t mainstream I understand it is a sacrifice I have to make but it does seem so financially wasteful when I have to pay extra for a product and then pay for it’s postage on top.

Plastic takes 500 years to decompose
Image Credit: Jon Tyson Unsplash

I look around our house and there is a lot of plastic, unknowingly we have been happily buying into the plastic lifestyle for years, never fully appreciating the effects it can have. Simple things that never crossed my mind such as the millions of plastic pens we seem to own, the container for our toothpaste, the container for my eye drops, the milk carton, the wrap for the birthday card I just bought, that clear window on the envelope for the letter that just fell through my door, the wrapping for my samitary towels and the towels themselves. Going plastic free isn’t going to be easy and it definitely isn’t a quick process, I don’t believe in wastefulness so will use a plastic product until it needs replacing then I will look for a more eco-friendly alternative. Plastic is a convenience, it suits our hectic lifestyles, we can consume products without having to think about their origin and without having to make a plan. If as a family we are determined to go plastic free then we are going to have to change our habits, cook fresher meals from scratch and make a plan for the week and slow our pace of life down. For example tonight my husband will walk in the door as I walk out to go running, when I return at 7.30 we will both be tired after a long day at work so dinner needs to be quick and easy, in the fridge we have a stirfry, 3 items, noodles, veg and a sauce all individually wrapped in plastic! Cutting down on plastic is going to require more forward thinking.

But there are items we have successfully changed and I hope to keep regularly updating you all with the progress we are making and the swaps we have made and importantly the financial cost of it all. We swapped over to reusable bottles a long time ago but what happens when that plastic reusable bottle then needs replacing? Does it count if I buy biodegradable detergent wipes but the plastic wrap they come in isn’t recyclable? So far we have taken a trip to Costco and stocked up on the large clothes detergent and fabric softener. I have swapped from compact tampons to cardboard applicator ones, without noticing a difference, I have found a drop off to recycle the water filters and most exciting of all a refill store has just opened in town so we will be paying that a visit, which I will later be blogging about.

This isn’t going to be an easy ride but I like a challenge!

Photo credit: Jon Tyson Unspash

Getty Images

Title Picure: Brian Yurasits

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