Like most of us, I’m worried and ashamed in equal amounts about the way we’ve let plastics choke our oceans, threaten wildlife and pollute our beaches. It seems plastic has become such an accepted and everyday part of our lives, its dangers have gone unnoticed until recent headlines have hit home hard.
Fighting for a plastic-free planet
A case in point was the huge public reaction to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet where everyone’s favourite TV naturalist took an unflinching look at the damage plastic pollution was doing. Seeing a beautiful albatross feeding her chicks plastic was nothing short of heart-breaking. It certainly got me thinking about what I could do to make a difference.
Wrapped in love, not plastic
The first thing I did was to look how Little Beau Sheep could do its bit by reducing the amount of plastic wrapping used in packaging. I love what I do and hate the idea of accidentally contributing to the growing toxic tide of plastic. I already offer a natural alternative to plastic dryer balls and looking to do more as and when I can.
Bringing the plastic-free message home
Next, I also wanted to make sure we’re doing as much as possible at home to cut down on plastic. It’s surprising just how much we all use without really thinking about it, so I sat down and looked for some easy wins that could reduce our plastic use as a family.
With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to share our ‘Fantastic Plastic Reduction Plan’ with you – and if you share it with others then we really can start to turn the tide on plastic pollution…
My Fantastic Plastic Reduction Plan
- The final straw: drinking straws are fun, especially for little ones. Who hasn’t got great memories of blowing bubbles in juice or joining them together to make super length slurpers? Thing is, these single-use bad-boys are a real menace as far as pollution goes. So at the risk of falling out with my two little ones, I’m calling time on plastic straws.
- Bottling out: this is an easy one – no more disposable bottles of water. Just a fabulously funky bottle that I refill from the tap. Hydration’s never looked so good.
- It’s in the bag: having a reusable bag in the car or my handbag at all times means I don’t have to buy a separate carrier for every shopping trip – and I save 5p a go too, which all feeds the family piggy bank.
- No to microbeads: long used in face washes and exfoliants, these plastic beads of around 5mm in size have found their way into the oceans and the fish that live there. As well as poisoning the fish they also poison those who eat them – and that includes us. Whilst the UK government is due to bring in a ban on microbeads later this year, I’ll be using natural yet equally effective scrubs with biodegradable ingredients such as apricot stones, rice, and bamboo in the meantime.
- Lighters out: no-one loves a cosy log fire or fragrant bath-time candle more than me. And it’s always handy to have a lighter around the place to get things, well, lit. But plastic lighters are a real menace to ocean wildlife. Once dumped, they don’t degrade and birds often ingest lighters with fatal results. From now on, it’s good old matches made from good old wood.
- Heads up: toothbrushes are another single-use plastic that all too often end up in the sea or on a beach. When I think about how many we get through as a family of four each year, it doesn’t leave a pleasant taste in my mouth. So we’re investigating zero waste options – likewise no-more disposable razors in the Beau Sheep bathroom either.
- Not my cup of tea: did you know that many teabags contain plastic? It came as a bit of a shock to me, especially as tea is a BIG THING here in Yorkshire. Thankfully, there are tasty alternatives out there offering a plastic-free take on your favourite brew. Even better, dust-off that teapot (remember them?) and lash out on some good old-fashioned loose-leaf.
- Smell the coffee: the coffee from those little pod-machines is almost as good as having a barista in your own home. But what about those plastic pods when your caffeine hit has long gone. Yep, you’ve guessed it, they hang around for, oooh, about 250 years. Which is why we invested in a very clever bean to cup coffee machine, so you get fresh coffee without the side order of guilt. And whilst we’re on, it’s great to see that many big coffee chains (and little independents) are giving a discount to customers with their own cups. With the non-disposable variety hitting bins by the tens of thousands every day, it’s definitely time to wake up and smell the coffee on this one.
- Kinder clothing: as a full-on fan of wool, I try to avoid any synthetic materials when I’m buying clothes for me and the family. But it’s often easier said than done, especially when one of my two little princesses have their eye on a dressing up outfit or something sparkly. Thing is, when synthetics are washed, they shed plastic and microfibres into the water which end up in our seas. The good news? Check out this clever device which captures the bad bits and stops them from polluting and poisoning the waters we all love and rely on.
- Bursting the bubble on gum: after cigarette butts, chewing gum is the biggest form of litter on our streets – and one which won’t bio-degrade or break down in water. In fact here’s a scary stat: to prepare for the 2012 Olympics, it took clean-up crews three months to remove 300,000 pieces of gum from less than two miles of street. Eeek! Besides the sheer cost and man-hours involved, once in our waterways, gum polymers build up toxins in fishes…which then surface once more in the food chain. So gum, you’re gone. Outta here. And don’t come back.
- All that glitters: if banning straws doesn’t get me in trouble with my two, then this surely will: old school glitter is no longer welcome in our home. There, I’ve said it. You want to know why? Glitter is in itself a nasty microplastic, albeit one with a lovely sparkly face. Like it’s beastly brethren, it gets into the food-chain through marine life, which I want no part of. Thankfully, as this handy BBC article explains, there are eco-friendly alternatives on the market, so perhaps I can still add a little extra sparkle to play time.
This is just the start. I’m also looking at arranging milk deliveries in glass bottles and already buying unwrapped fruit and veg where possible. I also want to get my girls (and Mr Beau Sheep!) into good habits that will soon become second nature. Only then, I think, can we start to make real progress. Are you with me? If so, why not share this article and spread the plastic-free word?
All the best
P.S Just seen this! What a great way to put used gum to work 🙂