Plastic free for one Year & 5 months

So here we are May 2016, 17 months after I started this journey to live see if I could live Plastic Free for the year to raise the awareness of the Plastic Pollution. Its a little bit over due I know, but I start this post last December…..but other things happen in life & you just have to do the thing that’s in front of you with the energy you have.  So here we are now, this post is in front of me & I would love to share my findings from my journey.

Rather than bore you with the gory details of each piece of plastic that came across my path I’ve added monthly tally’s below but first thought I would sum up the key areas of reoccurring plastic.  The problem & more importantly the solution, the behaviours I’ve adopted to avoid it.

An Entire year of collected Plastic on my floor – ariel shot (via the couch)

So the key areas of plastic waste in no particular order are………..drumroll please…….

  1. Plastic seals, containers & tubs from Vitamin Supplements

  2. Plastic Envelope windows from mail

  3. Plastic Packaging from online purchases

  4. Plastic when Travelling

  5. Plastic from Gifts

PROBLEM – Plastic seals & containers Vitamin Supplements

These were on my list of exceptions but it still bothers me that I had so much.  It does stand to reason though as I work for supplement company & a lot of these came through as damaged goods.  I very rarely purchase so I guess I saved a few from landfill perhaps, if that counts?

SOLUTION  – I’ve completely cut back this year & have been more mindful of getting what I need from the food I eat.  Paying more attention to eating well & preparing simple but nutritionally rich food mindfully.  I still use a couple of supplements but I can’t get these from my diet, things like Evening Primrose Oil & the like…trust me its for everybody’s  benefit!

PROBLEM – Plastic Envelope windows from mail

Its amazes me how many things I still got in the post & mostly from charities.  You donate one time & your on their mailing list forever!  I want donations to go to the actual issue rather than constant junk mail that goes in the bin.

SOLUTION – Each time I get one of these in the post, I call or email them & ask to be removed from the list.  If its something I’m keen to keep informed with I opt for the email version.  Simple solution but it does take time to make the calls so start a list but don’t let it get too long like I did!  Some places like banks have the option to do make the switch online as well.

PROBLEM – Plastic Packaging from online purchases

With the convenience of Online shopping comes a SWAG of plastic.  This plastic is often removed & binned when you shop in store so you don’t see it.  With online stuff you get to see it all.  October was a total fail & my Plastic tally almost doubled with one package.  I wrote an email sharing my disappointment but not a peep from them in return.  They got struck off my list of places to purchase from.  Sometimes that’s all you can do, not buy from them again.

SOLUTION – I’m really mindful now about the companies I purchase online from.  Very rarely do you know how a package will be packed but there is a way around this.  At the point of payment there is often a section where you can leave a comment.  I use this section to ask if my package can be wrapped in a certain way.  Ask for items to be wrapped in cardboard or paper & to not use plastic.  Chuck in a comment about avoiding it for the reason of Plastic pollution.  I figure the more you speak about it the more people will know…even if it filters in on a subconscious  level. The more awareness the more action there will be.  I’ve found this works pretty well & only 1 out of 10 things I order online still come in plastic. 

PROBLEM – Plastic when Travelling

Travel is a tricky one.  I travelled to Bali & Mexico last year & while I thought I was ultra prepared I still managed to end up with plastic.  I flew American Airlines to Mexico & I was shocked at how much plastic they were still using. Plane food  & service is plastic city.  Food is heated & served in plastic trays, with plastic cutlery, wrapped in single serve plastic, with plastic single serve condiments with convenient single serve plastic/foil pouches with wet wipes all washed done with you drink in your plastic single use cup.  Plastic, plastic everywhere!    Unless of course you are behind those curtains & lets face it how many of us travel beyond economy where plastic reigns supreme?  Water in plastic bottles in countries with unsafe drinking water and not to forget the single use Plastic bags which are handed out by the truck load with your shopping purchases.

SOLUTION – Be Prepared!  Its the only way.  Take a kit with you, with things like, a stainless cup, water bottle,  straw, a container for foods, a cutlery pouch & a reusable bag for shopping bits.  Pack warm bits for the plane so you don’t need to use their plastic wrapped blankets. Sounds like a lot of things to take but you can keep it pretty simple & you will save lots & lots & LOTS of single use plastic this way.  We don’t want to trash the beautiful place we are travelling too!  I wrote a post last year about travelling lightly & there are some tips you might find useful there.

PROBLEM – Plastic from Gifts

Gifts are not actually the problem, we all love them but what they can be made from or wrapped in can be.  I have to say it was far & few between but I still got the odd Choccie wrapped in Plastic.  

SOLUTION – Mmmm now this is a tricky one. They come from the heart so it & the gift giver may not be trying to avoid plastic so you can’t shove your thoughts down their throat but we are also trying to make changes that affect us all.  I try to lead by example rather than be confrontational but sometimes hard conversations come up.  Without sounding like a ungracious troll of course! I started with my family,  often they will ask if there is anything I need.  This is a perfect opportunity to ask for something you might like to support your Plastic free journey.  Maybe a safety razor, some natural deodorant, a reusable coffee cup or a fancy stainless steel lunch box!  I also asked if they could quite simply avoid things with plastic, wrappers & all.  I’m also a big fan of homemade gifts, especially baked goods!  Until people start to “see” plastic you may still get it, but letting people know what you are doing helps immensely.  Have that hard conversation & you may also find it inspires them to make changes as well.

So here’s the actual tally & weights of what I used in the last part of last year, which truly does seem a life time ago now.

Jul-15 New plastic  
  3 x Plastic bags (one shopping bag)  
  2 x Food seals (from jars)  
  1 x food label  
  1 x “Biodegradable” wrapper from mail  
  1 x pull tag from vitamins  
  2 x envelope windows  
  1 x old hair tie  
weight gm 40 83
Aug-15 New plastic Past life Plastic
  2 backing from postage envelopes one old bread tag
  2 x vitamin lids Elastic packing case
  Seal from food jar bottle
  Protective wrapper from new blender blade tea wrapper
  movie ticket Vacuum cleaner end
  4 x boarding pass Sewing needle wrapper
  bag tag from plane  
  clothing label tag  
  window from cotton bud box  
  5 x envelope from mail  
  Seal from food jar  
  cat flea treatment  
weight gm 56 49
Sep-15 New plastic Past life Plastic
  single use bags from packaging Chai tea wrapper
  4 x windows from mail  
  Vitamin tub  
  silica container  
  food label  
  fruit label  
  3 x seals from food jars  
  2 x hair ties  
  1 tea wrapper  
  cat flea treatment  
  1 single serve tartar sauce – forgot to ask for no sauce  
  2 x seals from inside bottles  
weight gm 76 4
Oct-15 New plastic Past life Plastic
  4 single serve wrapper blister pack
  blister pack Old phone cover
  cat flea treatment Incense wrapper
  2 x food labels Food label
  2 x food seals Clove oil tub
  seal from inside bottle  
  Vitamin tub & scoop  
  Plastic casing  
  Security seal vitamins  
  Chocolate wrapper  
  3 x package wrappers – via online postage  
  2 x plastic sheets from flowers  
  2 x foam packaging  
  2 x clothing tags  
weight gm. 170 36

October old stash

Nov-15 New plastic Past life Plastic
  2 foam boards  
  1 bubble wrap  
  25 single small bags  
  2 packing bags  
  116  
Travel plastic 2 x plane food containers NIL
  Cup  
  4 x boarding pass  
  Bag tag  
  5 x tea wrappers  
  2 x weird drink stirrers  
weight gm 53  

Mexico traveling stash = American Airlines fail

November Packaging stash = online shopping fail

Dec-15 New plastic Past life Plastic
  Chocolate pouch Apple ear buds – washing machine accident!
  4 x single bags from xmas cards  
  2 album wrappers  
  2 foam packing squares  
  4 x food seals  
  Clothing label  
  Food label  
  Packaging bag via online post order  
weight gm 35 13

So the total Plastic I consumed for my year Plastic Free was 2.09kgs in total.

Out of that only 0.8kgs could be recycled,  as indicated on the product label & while I put it in the recycling bin there is no guarantee that it was actually recycled. Plenty of what with think is getting recycled isn’t due to factors like contamination.

The Rest?  Landfill.  Plastics wrappers, Styrofoam, labels on jars……..all to landfill. That’s 1.26 kgs that will be around for thousands of years, long after any of us have gone.  Its a sad fact.

I did rescue what I could to reuse another time to make the most out of its life but eventually it will end up in landfill or worse, the ocean, polluting & killing marine life & making its way back into our food chain.

So the question is, or rather was now we are nearly half way into the year, will I go back to my own Plastic ways?

No Freakening Way!

Since the start of 2016 I’ve continued on with no sign of stopping or going back.  Things have become much easier I’ve found.  This project has now become a lifestyle, like a food preference, say something like not eating sugar.  Once your found alternatives, see & feel the benefits it makes no sense to go back. It inspires me more me when I get feedback that others have changed behaviours.  Its why I began this project to start with. To set a positive example, be a wayshower, to start a conversation about what we can do to stop the snowball from getting bigger.  To halt the move towards the tipping point.  Without these types of conversations we will be wading through the Plastic polluted waters asking “what have we done” very shortly!  We MUST have the hard conversations & change our damaging consumerist behaviours before its too late…and I refuse to think we cant change our ways.

So from here on in expect to see & hear from me a lot more as I continue with my Plastic Free lifestyle & challenge you to make changes, to see Plastic & Pollution around you & to ask yourself what YOU can do to stop this impending disaster.

Thanks for sharing my journey so far & I’m excited to share a whole new chapter in living a Plastic free & generally giving a shit about the planet & her creatures lifestyle!

Welcome to giving a shit with me!

Much love Sarah xxx