Plastic is arguably one of the most important inventions of our time. Plastic has fundamentally changed how we produce, use, and consume things. The invention has revolutionized technology, improved hygiene in the medical field and enhanced convenience. Originally, plastic was actually praised for being an environmentally friendly solution to ease pressure on natural supplies on materials like ivory. Plastic is great, our use of it is not. We have become addicted to it – using throwaway bottles, single-use packing of food, using three straws on a drink, picking up plastic bags every time we make a trip to the store… The list goes on and on.
Almost a year today, I saw a TED talk that changed my life. It was presented by Beth Terry, the author of the blog myplasticfreelife.com, a blog that follows her experiences over the last seven years to completely eliminate plastic consumption from my life. And just like that, I was convinced. I needed a radical lifestyle change. I decided to start at two months without creating any plastic waste and work my way up from there, and boy was it a challenge. You never realize what you have till it’s gone, right? Choosing not to use plastic certainly makes things difficult, but it is so rewarding in so many ways. Here are my top tips on how to reduce your plastic footprint and live a more earth-friendly lifestyle.
The most significant areas of plastic use (and the easiest places to cut down) on your plastic footprint are:
- Plastic bottles – what’s the solution? Buy a canteen (a permanent water bottle). I have used the same one for about seven years now and it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Fill it up at home in the morning, at work, at school or at the library and you’ll be amazed at how much money you save. Plus most businesses will happily fill it up for you if you need a top up.
- Plastic bags – buy a reusable cotton bag and you’ll be making a huge difference on your plastic footprint. Plastic bags are lightweight and billow in the wind, often landing on our beautiful coast to be ingested by marine animals and causing devastation in the marine habitat. Cotton bags can be folded up and placed inside your bag so you are never without it.
Changing those two intensive plastic areas will be a huge step forward, but you can always do more. My favourite change was to stop shopping at major supermarkets and instead go more local. I shop at my local bakery, at my local grocer and I get vegetables from a local organic farm. This way I get to really understand where my food is coming from, if it is grown ethically, and control my impact on my food miles more effectively. Signing up for the Fife Diet scheme is a great guide to eating local, delicious food all year round and I highly recommend it!
Lifestyle changes are hard, but they are so rewarding. Once I cut plastic out of my life, I realized how much I had been accumulating in the past. If you’re interested in learning more, please visit my blog and see my A-Z plastic free guide. Even if you only select four or five of the changes, that is still removing plastic from the waste cycle and making a positive impact on our planet. I encourage you to reflect on your lifestyles and see where you can make changes and enhance a healthy, ethical, planet-friendly and plastic-free life!