Hi fellow earthlings,
5th of June was World environment day and today is World Oceans day. I know there was also World Jo-Jo day and World VCR day in between, but I hope you can agree with me that those two are of less importance. And I believe that if you are here reading my blog you already know how bad the plastic is destroying our oceans and why we have to stop supporting the companies that still choose to pack their product in plastic. There are a lot of articles, graphics, videos out there all about how to help the environment and avoid plastic and live a zero waste life. It can be really intimidating when you star reading all the lists of things you should stop buying and using, from polyester clothes to your toilet paper. But don´t worry, nobody can do it all at the same time, nor can we go completely zero waste.
But I know that if you are here, you care and you want to help. And we all know that it´s not always easy to change our habits. It takes time and persistance. Recent research led by a team at the University College London uncovered just how long (on average) it takes for something to become habitual. They believe it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. So let´s make it easy and stick to each of this changes listed below for at least 2 months and then add another pack. Take as much time as you need, but don´t stop until you become a pro at avoiding plastic. Until it becomes a habit and a challenge.
FIRST 2 MONTHS: JUNE & JULY
First of all I have to say, that you should not run and buy anything new. We do this low budget! I´m sure you can just use a lot of things that you already have at home. You don´t need to buy a nice reusable bottle when an old bottle of tomato sauce or juice works just fine. You don´t need a new coffee mug if a jar can also do the work. Use what you have. And this is what I have:
- a bamboo coffee mug that I got for Xmas. Till now my coffee mug was never refused anywhere, from petrol stations, coffee shops, even train bars, airport coffee shops, …(*since this was writen it has been proven that bamboo mugs are not suitable for hot bevarages, because the bamboo fibers are glues together and at hight temperatures aka coffee the formaladihde/glue can leak into coffee. So I have stopped using them and switched back to stinless steel one)
- Soul reusable water bottle I got at work for my bday. I also have Grayl purifying water bottle if I travel to places where tap water is not drinkable.
- a really old tote bag by a brand I use to sell 10 years ago. I have probably 20 other tote bags. And they are so practical it should always be with you. Whether you decide to buy some fruits, bread, use it as a day bag, use it as trash bag if you decide to do a beach clean up, …
I have these products with me all the time. When I travel anywhere, go to work, go on holidays. They are a great start on your plastic-free journey. Pack a reusable tote bag in your day bag or backpack so they will be ready in case you decide to go shopping. Fill your water bottle (big or small) and carry it with you to stay hydrated during this hot months. And if you love coffee, tea, go to an even outdoors, …. bring your coffee mug with you as well. I never plan to have coffee, but than I go to the city or petrol station and smell it and all of the sudden I want coffee more than anything. And this is when I´m so proud to bring out my own mug.
AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
Now that you are successfully avoiding plastic bottles, bags and single-use coffee mugs. It´s time to go to the next level and start using a reusable lunch container, straws and cutlery.
- Reusable container can be glass, metal, plastic …. anything you have at home. You don´t need to go buy new glass or metal container if you already have some old plastic one at home. Of course, when possible it would be good to not use plastic for your food, so it would be good to eventually change it. With the container, comes also a habit of preparing your own lunch for work. If you were surviving on sandwiches, fast food and pre-made frozen meals, this new habit will be great for your health.
You can also use a reusable container to buy deli products (olives, dry tomatoes, …), bulk products (pasta, beans, oats..), to pack sandwiches and pizza for instance and avoid plastic or aluminum wrap, pack snacks (fruits, nuts,…), bring it to camping or bbq, so I don´t need to use any plastic there. I bring it also to my farmers market to buy strawberries or cherries and leave the plastic container (that they sell them in) there so they can reuse it.
- Straws I have bamboo (from the Philippines) and a set of metal straws. When I was traveling around the Philippines they would be with me all the time, together with wooden chopsticks (easier to travel with than cutlery) and a wooden spoon. The straws (and spoon) came handy with all the coconut drinking & eating. If you drink a lot of soft drinks or cocktails in summer, definitely pack one. And don´t forget to tell the bartender “No straw, please.”
- Metal cutlery I can´t even tell you how many times I forgot to bring it on a trip, felt bad and bought a new metal set to avoid plastic. So as a result we have probably 20 knives and forks at home. So pack a set, grab a travel set or practical spork and always bring it with you.
I also prepared a set (container, bottle, cutlery, bag, coffee mug) for our car. So I have them in case I forget to pack some for our trip.
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Now that you are already using all those reusable products anywhere you go, avoiding plastic, feeling proud and making a big difference in the world. I bet you also started to notice plastic everywhere and you want to stop bringing new plastic to your home. You can switch some products we use on daily basis. They will simplify your life, save you bunch of money, be a lot healthier for you and the planet. I can´t imagine traveling anywhere without:
- bamboo (or other biodegradable) toothbrush
- soap bar for body and hair
- menstrual cup a link to a full article about menstrual cups on the bottom of this post.
- safety razor You can read the post about what´s in my Toiletry kit right here.
CONGRATULATIONS FOR BREAKING UP WITH PLASTIC!
Now you are probably really into it and you want to swap some other product for more eco-friendly ones. Here are some of the easy swaps you can make to eliminate even more plastic from your life:
- Chalk toothpaste
- Coconut as your face and body cream
- Natural hair dyes
- Natural plastic-free deodorant or bicarbonate soda
- Rye flour as shampoo
- Wooden comb
Of course, these are not the only items we can swap. Pay attention to things you use on a daily basis and search for an alternative. Whatever you might need, I´m pretty sure somebody has come up with a solution already. Try to buy food without packaging and remember that avoiding plastic should come before recycling it. Sad fact is that only around 9% off all the plastic we collect gets recycled.
Thank you for making a difference and saving the oceans,